B2H: The race report that isn’t

January 13, 2015 § 1 Comment

It was a mixed weekend for me, with the cancellation of Bogong to Hotham 36 hours before the gun, in the face of dire weather forecasts. It’s a largely unmarked course in a high and remote alpine area including a river crossing, posing an unacceptable risk to competitors and volunteers. This running race is so prone to natural disasters that it has only been completed once in the past four years. It has been cancelled twice (in 2013 due to bushfires, in 2015 due to rain) and in 2012 brought to a halt half way in blizzard-like conditions. It would be funny if it wasn’t so cursed.

B2H was my goal event for summer. I entered back in August, which gave me four solid months of preparation, but the seed was planted a year ago at the 2014 event, so it was a reeeeaally long journey for me. I trained so hard, and I wanted so badly to beat 6 hours (for the 35km to Langford Gap near Falls Creek) and now…well I’ll never know. But I believe that I would have. I really do!

So how to train for this beast? While I had a solid base of fitness, I focused the four months from September-December on increasing mileage but especially elevation; there is a massive amount of climbing in the first half of the race and leg strength and endurance was the key to moving efficiently over this terrain. Apart from running and cycling I threw some weight training into the mix. In December I climbed 11,500 metres, most of it on foot, the rest on the bike, and then started to ease off.

When (on the Hume Highway half way to our race base in Bright) I read the event was cancelled I was gutted. It wasn’t a surprise since the weather had been deteriorating that final week and the race director issuing increasingly pessimistic updates. But when the axe finally fell I was crushed by the finality of my race being over before it begun. As we drove past a cloud-ringed Mt Bogong I took a photo and captioned it ‘Not enough breath in me for all the sighs.’ It was true.

The weather that killed the race.

Thankfully, there was already an informal series of mountain runs happening in the same area on the same weekend, so (with a heavy heart) I quickly shifted my attention to those. The company of so many other B2H castaways turned this lost opportunity into a found one; a makeshift training camp. Many thanks to the Buffalo Stampede crowd for helping that magic happen. I can now add running up and down Mt Buffalo to my resume!

There’s always a Plan B. At the top of the Big Walk on Mt Buffalo.

So what now? B2H was always a cliff point for me. I don’t mean to be overly dramatic – let’s keep some perspective here – but it was the end of a several-month build and the start of a new phase. Race or no race, for me the next few weeks were always going to be about taking some rest and recovery, training how and when I want to, and hopefully working out a couple of injuries I have been carrying. (About a week before Christmas I had a stack on Mt Taylor and my knee is still busted.) For the next little while my training is taking a back seat to my partner’s, whose favourite race is the Six Foot Track Marathon in March. I love crewing for people and sports photography, so I’m looking forward to being there.
After that it’s full steam ahead again! There’s a list of events on our fridge with my name on some of them. I’m already looking forward to enjoying my running, extending my cycling, continuing weight training and fueling all of it with good food and a houseful of love 🙂

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