What can I say about this race, it was put togethor by Southern Highlands Cycling Club and Canberra Off Road Cyclists as a way of remembering James Williamson, who died on 23rd March 2010 who passed away in the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa. I cant claim to know James, however I was pleased to be racing in the inaugural race.
The race was a 25km loop around Wingello Forest taking in large amounts of the Red loop. In the weeks leading up to the race, my training had not been fantastic due to a rather large crash at the 1st XC round of the CCOMTB club championship in late Jan which put me off the bike for 3 weeks due to the wound getting infected and taking a while to heal. Add to the fact that the day before I had been out with my usual bunch ride with NSCC, lost my front light and basically had to time trail my way up Bobbin Head and all the way along Mona Vale Road before catching the bunch again at the Terrey Hills Country Club, suffice to say my legs coming into the race on Sunday morning where not fresh in the slightest.
I had entered myself into the 75km race, with a view of it being good training for Capital Punishment the following week. Upon arrival at Wingello it was a great set up, with 75km racers allowed to reverse their cars onto the firetrail so that bottles drops could be made, I hope this remain for 2012. I wasnt to sure how to treat the event, first marathon of 2011, I wasnt expecting miracles and thought that if I could stay under 4h or 4h30mins that wouldnt be to bad.
The race started at 9am and I should of perhaps pushed my way further forward for the start, however having no idea of my form I was happy to sit about a 3rd of the way back from the front. The start gun went and we were off, immediately it turned into a bit of a bottleneck at the first corner. I took the opportunity to plant the bike in the big ring and started pushing a decent gear to make up some places, the first singletrack was a bit slow, however once clear and on the fire road I opened up the gas. 1st lap was generally uneventful with me passing a lot of people and not getting passed, my legs were feeling pretty good.
Coming into transition I knew I was going pretty decent as I heard the names of a few quick boys being read out over the PA system and knew that I was only 30 secs or so behind them, upon approaching the KOM point I caught sight of the bright shoes of my mate Gary Haywood (Gazza) and knew that if I was racing with him I was going well. Well I caught and passed Gazza on the KOM and carried on putting the hammer down knowing that I was going very well. I was really starting to hit my straps in the singletrack, carrying a lot of speed and hammering through the downhills. The Yeti was absolutely flawless, inspiring confidence and begging to be pushed harder.
On the final move through the transition I heard the name of a MarathonMTB rider Sam Moorehouse who I ride with at NSCC, he is a solid and quick rider, so that urged me on further, however I was starting to feel slight twinges in my legs and had started to worry about cramps, however I figured that a GU bar and a bottle would help keep them away. I passed Sam at about the half way point of the last lap, he was struggling with cramps and I knew that if I wanted to put time into him, the best place was the singletrack as I was counting on my better technical skills through there, unfortunatly it wasnt to be, I cramped up hard on the last part of the singletrack about 2km from the end and Sam passed me, my legs were pretty much toast and I creeped over the line to finish in 3 h 41m 31s and for a 32nd in Open male finish.
I was really pleased with this result, I raced a lot better than I expected, and came up with a strong result on the bike. I felt like I was really on form which was great for my first marathon of 2011. No doubt not having to smash myself on the roadie the day before would of potentially helped along with pushing to the front to get a better starting position I could of maybe gone a bit better, however I am still really pleased with the result.
Garmin Profile here: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/72713187