This page last updated: Saturday 20 March 2010
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25km Walk Reportby Melanie Jonker
Yesterday I walked my third Glasshouse Mountains event although this time I tackled the 25 km distance. The two previous walks were 10 km distances.
However, while we were being transported to the starting point, the race director slipped in that the course was in fact 27 km. Oh well what's another couple of kilometres!
There were 6 walkers attempting this distance and like all good walkers we stood behind the runners while the race director yelled out some instructions. There's nothing worse than having runners "running over you" at the start of an event. Unfortunately, we missed a fairly crucial instruction and that was to follow the lead vehicle for the start of the course as it had been varied slightly. Now as anyone knows, on trail runs you need to make sure you look out for all the markings - arrows pointing to the next check point, dolomite arrows and tape tied on trees.
So off we all started, the runners setting a good pace in front of us. We noticed they all turned right but as we approached the intersection, we noticed the arrow pointing to the first check point was pointing straight ahead. So we went straight ahead. Two runners turned around and saw us going in a different direction and decided to follow us! That's what you get for not listening carefully to all the instructions! We walked an extra 3.4 kms as a result of this. So in fact, the entire course for us was not 25 km but 30.4 km. It took me and my walking partner Cathy 4:54:32 to finish.
It was a great walk. There were some really steep climbs which "knocked the stuffing out of us" but we kept going, controlling our breathing, putting one foot in front of the other until we reached the top of the hill. Going down some pretty steep hills required just as much concentration. My concerns were spraining an ankle or sliding down the hill on my "behind". Luckily, there were no mishaps. Once we hit "even" areas of the trail it was the time to recover in preparation for the next hill!
Each check point station had heaps of fluids and foods for the runners/walkers - coke, water, sports drink, PowerGel, PowerBars, fruit, cookies, jelly beans, salted chips. The volunteers were so friendly and offered so much support and encouragement.
The weather was perfect. It was supposed to be a fine sunny day with a temperature of 29/30 degrees Celsius. Luckily, the clouds came over during Saturday night and stayed all day Sunday. There were a few sprinkles of rain but nothing too bad. Unfortunately for the 100 mile, 106 km and 58 km events which were held on Saturday, the weather was very hot and it was very sunny. Five out of 8 starters in the 100 mile event had to withdraw. The first finisher was an Aussie male and the second finisher was an American woman. Both finished in just under 24 hours. This is the first year anyone has actually finished the 100 mile event. A fine effort by both runners.
It was a great feeling when Cathy and I walked under the finisher's clock. There's something about trail walking as opposed to road walking. There's so much to see, there's the challenge of climbing the hills as well as the challenge of not getting lost or taking wrong turns! There's the challenge to keep going when your heart is almost bursting and your legs "have turned to jelly". And most importantly - trail walking is fun and there's a sense of enjoyment and adventure whereas road walking is mainly trying to go as fast as you can and that's where I know I lose a certain amount of the enjoyment.
After walking 30 km of trails I felt better physically and mentally than I did at the same point whilst walking my first marathon in July this year. I know this is because naturally I didn't "power" walk the whole trail but rather went a bit slower, had a chat and had fun.
We've been toying with the idea of maybe tackling 58 km next year. Oh boy - that's nearly double what we did yesterday. That means a 5.30 am start and possibly being out on the trail for 10 - 12 hours. It also means there's a few more unknown hills. They could even be steeper and longer! It will also mean some hard hill training.
We had a lovely lunch which comprised fresh salads, meat and some great Aussie fruit - pineapple, rockmelon and strawberries.
All in all a well organised event. I even had the pleasure of meeting four people I had been E-mailing over the months.
There's always a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you've tackled something that's a challenge and you finish it!
by Melanie Jonker (MJJonker@qdlgp.qld.gov.au)
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