After our successful trivia evening we had a few nights sleep before we headed over the bridge to the start line of the 2014 Sydney Coastrek in Balmoral. Like the last three years the sky was covered in dark rain clouds but we were lucky again, it stopped raining just before 6pm – the start of the night 50km Coastrek.
This year we had to sprint hard from the start to get first to the steep steps getting us onto the trek along the Sydney Harbour shore line. We had a team following in our foot steps for the first 10 km and had to keep up a hard sub 5:30min/km pace to keep in front. Lucky for us that team stopped in Mosman to pick-up their compulsory gear and we took that opportunity to put some distance between us.
Katy and Larissa, the two fast girls in our team kept the high pace up all the way to the harbor bridge and we managed to keep the distance to the second team and all along those first 15 km we overtook most of the 100km teams which were still ahead of us. Lot’s of respect to those 100km teams still jogging along, they all started 12 hours prior us and had already 70km in their legs.
After a quick stop to pick up some new gels and food in Rushcutters Bay (km17) we walked up the steep hill towards Double Bay and onwards to Rose Bay – the half way point. Not knowing how far back that second team was we quickly signed in and kept going. The next section was tricky in the dark as we had to single file along the track in the Hermitage Foreshore Reserve towards Nielsen Park and Watsons Bay.
At Watsons Bay, Denis and I had a quick stop at the pub for a drink (no beer just a coke) and then we caught up with the girls again heading out towards South Head Lighthouse and back along the cliffs towards Bondi and Coogee.
Knowing that there were still two 100km teams ahead of us but feeling our legs getting heavier we decided to keep the pace up as much as possible but more to make sure we keep the second team off our back, then trying to catch those two teams ahead of us.
Larissa was pacing us hard and often she and Denis had to wait for Katy and myself to catch up again….soon after a quick stop in North Bondi, where I got myself another coke from the shop the second wind kicked in and I started getting stronger again towards the finish. Just after crossing Waverly Cemetery we saw four weary looking walkers with headlight ahead of us and with a few quick steps we passed the second last team.
Knowing the finish line is only a few km away we worked our way towards Gordons Bay when suddenly we saw another four flash lights in the dark ahead of us.
It took quite an effort from our side to catch them but with less then 1 km to go we could not resist to sprint pass that last 100km team which worked so hard and started almost 18 hours ago. At the finish line everyone was expecting to welcome that 100km team and all were surprised when team Run 4 Vision suddenly appeared from the shadows of the darkness and sprinted over the finish line. 5hrs27min after we started in Balmoral, Denis and I, for the third time in three years, managed to crossed as winner the line in a new record time. For Katy it was not only the first time in her life that she ran 50km non-stop but she also won her first race ever. And for Larissa, our pace maker, well, she looked like she was ready for another 50km and seemed almost disappointed it was over already.
We waited for another 2 minutes and cheered the first 100km team over the line, they finished the distance in a brilliant 17 ½ hours with the second 100km team only a few minutes behind them. We did not wait much longer as a hot shower and cozy bed was waiting, but we learn next morning that the second 50km team was less then 45 minutes behind us and tried to catch us for almost the entire distance up to the last 10km, so I was glad Larissa kept pushing us hard all the way.
My blind buddy Ben with his guide Sen. John Faulkner, did a stellar job and finished in 13 ½ hours – not only an incredible effort, considering that they did their first 50km Coastrek in 18 hours two years ago, and last year took 33 hours for the 100km, but unlike the other two years, this time around they did not finish last but left seven teams eating their dust! Well done team Achilles!
For the last 4 weeks I took it a bit easier, unlike Larissa and Katy, who are training for their next big challenge. Denis, Ben and I kept our running to a couple of short runs each week but I have now set my eyes firmly on the next challenges.
After my planned holiday I will be aiming to repeat my Coastrek time at the Southern Highland Challenge end of August – this time around in a 50km solo race in the Wingello State Forests. Denis, in what looks like a smart move, decided to go for half that distance at the same race. And Ben and John are soon heading to Melbourne to complete their third 100km Oxfam trailwalker – aiming to better their 28hours from last year.
And after August, it is full steam ahead in preparation for another running adventure overseas….the desert is calling again……but that’s another story to come