Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Razorback Run 2013 - Race Recap

That's a misnomer, by the way. 
At the rate I was going, I don't think 99% of the participants would have described me as 'racing'!

Date: 30th November 2013 (Saturday)
Start/Finish Location: Harrietville Cabins and Caravan Park
Time: 6.04am
Categories: 42/64/68KM
(22KM start and finish at Diamantina Hut, Mt Hotham)

We arrived at the start area at about 5.30am as instructed. They mentioned during the briefing the night before that there would be a gear check to ensure that participants brought all items on the mandatory list.

My bag felt so heavy!

We were flagged off at 6.04am and off we went along Great Alpine Road and turn right after the General Store onto Feathertop Lane. We then found ourselves on Bungalow Spur track and that's when I thought I was going to wheeze to death.

This was a silent killer climb that caught the stragglers unawares. I walked most of it and soon lost sight of two guys who were initially 300-500m ahead of me. My breaths were short, I was panting and gasping for air so hard that at one point I told YB that it felt like I was having asthma attack.

I told him I couldn't run and it was easier for me to just walk as briskly as I could. The alpines always get the best out of me!

Every now and then, I would cough so badly that my entire body shook. I threw up a bit after an hour or so into the run.

I'm sure it was God's way of telling me that I shouldn't have started the run in the first place!

It was a lovely morning, but Bungalow Spur was not very scenic. It was pure uphill torture (for me) and I was so glad to finally reach the clearing at Federation Hut to make our way to Mt Feathertop Summit.

The view which greeted us at the clearing took our breath away. The Bogong plains that went on and on were so pretty that I wished we had more time to bask in the sun and drink in the view.

Instead, we resigned ourselves to making our way towards Mt Feathertop Summit. We met most of the runners who were making their way back to the junction (see pic above) to head out onto the Razorback Ridge.

As we were nearing the summit, we couldn't help but to get excited over a spot of snow.

Tourists being tourists, we had to take a picture!

And tourists take pictures of runners, too. :)

Look at that view!!!!!!!

I was really happy that the track towards Mt Feathertop Summit (1,922m) was flattish so I could run more instead of walk. This photo speaks a thousand words - it felt like I was part of The Amazing Race where you had to run to the flag. Whee!

He just did TMBT this year! How is that??

We had a lovely chat with Stewart who was manning the flag at that point. He was taking pictures of the runners approaching him and I really hope he has some nice pictures of us! :)

Anyway, back to business.

Running downhill always makes everyone feel better, even one of the guys commented to me as we trudged up while they were descending.

I tried to make up for lost time by running more along the Razorbridge Ridge but haha, I stopped pretty often to make way for oncoming runners as well as to enjoy the view.

At 9.17am, I tripped over a rock and landed on my right knee, while using my left elbow and shoulder to cushion the landing. Ouch! I sat up to make sure that all my joints were intact before standing up to continue running.

(I remembered the time because I was running with my Garmin on watch mode. :D)

In all honesty, it was a first time I tripped during a race. A first!

Both my knees felt pretty sore  but I wasn't sure whether it was my calf sleeves feeling a bit too constricted.

The 22KM runners were coming towards us along the route (they needed to reach Mt Feathertop Summit and then turn back) and everyone exchanged greetings.

Some of the 42KM runners were also on their way back after reaching Diamantina Hut. 

One reason I'm quitting trail running - hiking/trekking seems more relaxing!

We bumped into a lovely group of walkers basking in the sun. After exchanging pleasantries, I requested for a photo of them. In return, they took a picture of YB and I. Thanks! :)

Just before each and every bend of the mountain, I'd perk up, thinking that Diamantina Hut was just around the bend. I was often disappointed. Bah!

We got there, eventually.

Made it within my targeted time. Not too bad then.

We were one of the last 42KM runners to reach the checkpoint. Despite having a dry mouth, I had to force myself to fuel up (with my hard boiled egg which was supposed to be my breakfast but I was to shy to eat it at the start line) before heading out again.
Some of the snacks available. I wished I had taken some Mars bars!
YeeHoo, see the snake candy on the table? Those are the ones referred to as 'snakes'. :)

It was about 23-24KM into the run and we were relieved that we were halfway there.

Once we refilled our water bottles, we retraced our steps, eager to enjoy the view of Bogong again get to the finish line as soon as possible. It was going to be down Bungalow Spur after Razorback Ridge. Yay!

There were some parts along the ridge where the track was so narrow that if you slipped, you would probably roll down into the ravine. *morbid thought*

One of the 22KM runners stepped aside to make way for me and he almost slipped!

I had a look of horror on my face.

Not sure what I would have done if he had really fallen off, offer him my pole to grab on to and I'd pull him up or just pounce and grab on to his arm before he slid down further?

Just food for thought. 

Bumping into runners or walkers on the trail is so enjoyable. There were a few exchanges of "Can't wait for this to be over!" and "I'll see you later at the pub!".

With 18-19KM (from Diamantina Hut) to go, it did seem a bit far but I was comforted by the fact that I was right on track with my targeted time. I gave us 4 hours to reach the finish line.

Running back towards the finish line was a different state of mind altogether, with less photos were taken. YB was too far ahead of me and every time I thought I'd catch up, he would disappear again.

From Diamantina Hut to Federation Hut was about 2 hours / 10KM away and it did seem like it would never end.

I was starving by the time I reached Federation Hut. I was pretty annoyed with myself for taking 7 minutes longer than my target of 2 hours and was even more annoyed about being hungry. I was also repeatedly berating myself for being a slowpoke!

Ate my sandwich reluctantly before we headed down Bungalow Spur.

And I say reluctantly because I can't seem to master eating with my mouth open while running. I have to walk slowly while I eat, so that wastes a bit of time.

And they say women are good at multi-tasking...

The plan for Bungalow Spur was to run down all the way as quickly as possible (without tripping and falling flat on our faces).

Never mind the blisters which had formed on my foot pads.

Never mind that it felt like I had a splinter between my toes. I refused to stop and pull off my sock and shoe to check!

What's another 9KM to go?

I did my best to speed up as quickly as possible, still cautious with my footing. After seeing so many runners with bleeding knees, I didn't want to be part of the statistics.

Some runners from the 64KM category were running scampering past us so gracefully that it was hard not to be envious of them.

Each time my watch beeped every km achieved, I would wish that it meant the end of Bungalow Spur. Eventually I decided to revert to watch mode and kept my eye on the time instead.

Instead of the 2 hours I had allocated for us to reach the finish line, we took 1:40. That's for racing downhill!

Photo from La Sportiva Mountain Series 13' Facebook page.
I was practically dragging YB to hurry to the finish line. Hmmfh!

8:40 for 42KM.
Nothing great but an achievement, nevertheless to finish the race strong after a ridiculous shitty start!

You can find more photos of our run at my Facebook album, which I will soon upload to. (A shout out to Darren and Emma Barlow, you'll find pictures of you in there!)

Note: All photos are copyrighted to both YB and I.

My Thoughts/Race Strategy:
1. I was coughing badly so often during the race that at times I thought I was going to cough out blood! Thanks to those who showed some concern, it was very sweet of you. Being out on the mountains and exposed to cool winds did not help. I shouldn't have started the race at all.

2. In the course notes, the race director provided an approximate time from point to point for someone with an average marathon time of 4:13. I relied on it as a gauge and target to complete each section:
Harrietville to Mt Feathertop Summit (13km) - 2.5 hours
Summit to Diamantina Hut ( 11km) - 2.5 hours
Diamantina Hut to Harrietville (18km) - 4 hours
We arrived at Diamantina Hut 5 minutes shy of 5 hours, which I thought was excellent, given that we had stopped to snap some pictures as well as chat with so many people along the way.

3. I'm pleased with my fueling and nutrition plan. Eating something at every 30mins / 1 hour to curb the hunger pangs kept the energy level up. In total, I consumed 3 energy gels, 1 muesli bar, 2 snack size Snickers bar, 1 hard boiled egg, 2 mini bags of jelly beans, half a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich, and some trail mix. Not sufficient, I know, but the caffeine kick from the energy gels did wonders for me. (I should have had my sushi rice, though!)

Our hydration bladder was filled with 1.5L of electrolytes, and both our water bottles were filled with water to make it easier for us to refill.

4. The walking pole was very useful for both ascents and descents. I don't think I would have moved fast enough without it!

5. My bag was so heavy with the mandatory items that I had a sore back during the first 2.5 hours of the run walk up Bungalow Spur. It felt like I was carrying 10kgs!

Mandatory items:
Waterproof jacket
Waterproof overpants
Long johns
Polypropylene long sleeves
First aid kit with antiseptic wipes, band aids and pain killers
Map (AUD$12.90!)
Waterproof map cover
Beanie / Hat
Torch with spare batteries
Mobile phone
Emergency food
Emergency space blanket
Funnily, some of the runners' bags looked very small and light compared to mine. It really makes you wonder whether they did in fact, bring along all the items mentioned.

I had very sore shoulders for 2 days after the run. (I really must buck up with my core exercises!)

6. Once again, running along the trails is so much more enjoyable with runners and walkers/hikers passing you by with a few words of encouragement, smiles and of course, the excellent view.

I had so much fun!

Thoughts on the event:

The Good -
1. Checking off the participants at the start line and checkpoint. 
2. Sufficient food and refreshment at aid station and finish line.
3. Awesome weather. Lucky us!
4. Awesome view. Loved it!
5. Loads of good looking runners (both men and women), and some are friendly, too.
6. Course notes were provided via email.
7. Participants were given reasonable time to change their categories should they change their mind after registration!

The Not So Good -
1. No gear check at the start line. I thought it would happen as it was emphasized during the briefing but I wasn't checked. Perhaps other runners were checked? Not sure.
2. During the briefing the night before, participants should have been taken through the map thoroughly, if not, with the use of a projector*. There was a fork on the track along Razorback Ridge towards Diamantina Hut and one of the runners asked the race director which route to take. He said that either way was OK as both would lead us back to a single track. He eventually explained that the left one was easier and the one on the right was a bit of climb, although it was the scenic route. As some participants (like me) are first timers to this event or there are some runners who are not familiar with the area, I believe some care should have been given to explain the route and area before the question was posed.

*A visual perspective is always easier.

3. The information on the event at Running Wild website was/is not updated or cleaned up properly. Earlier in the year, there were other categories such as 38KM and 58KM provided but was subsequently cancelled (due to reasons), leaving only 22KM, 42KM, 64KM and 68KM available. You won't find course notes for the 42KM category anywhere so it can be frustrating for some of us who want to plan our race strategy carefully. I believe that it is only fair for sufficient and updated information to be provided on the website to avoid any confusion although course notes were emailed to the participants after registration was done.

Note to hikers and walkers: It would be advisable to take the track from Diamantina Hut, Mt Hotham to Mt Feathertop Summit and avoid Bungalow Spur. That route is too grueling and a waste of time and energy. You're better off spending more time enjoying the view along Razorback Ridge.


  1. oh wow! love the scenery.

    You quitting trail running? Yeah, right. For the month, kan? :P

    1. quit la, i'm such a lazybum on the trails! :D

    2. *snort in complete disbelief*

  2. 'One reason I'm quitting trail running - hiking/trekking seems more relaxing!'

    You're one of three culprits who got me hooked on trail running so you're NOT allowed to quit trail running, at least not until I quit first! LOL!

    Still a good job considering you were still sick and all that! And the view ... I have no words for it!

    1. i think there was a BIG group of runners during the first trail run, no? hahaha, so the blame should be divided equally among all!

      yeah, bloody cough is still with me. Eager for a good long run this weekend if the weather permits. Uhm, when I say 'run', I mean jog+walk. :D

  3. Beauuuuutifulllllll mountain view there..omigosh.

    I could see myself running that trail all day long.

    Congrats on your Marathon Trail finish, you're awesome for taking these photos.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. thanks, Razif! it's always very enjoyable and fulfilling to run on trails, topped with crazy beautiful scenery. If we were a bit more prepared, we would have gone for the 68KM.