Saturday 21st of November: Today was the Sky Rock n’ Run Marathon in which my father and I competed. The marathon was the last race in the Oceania Skyrunning Series 2015. This would mean that amongst recreational runners there would be pro’s with sponsors such as Saloman and 2XU.
We started off our day at 5am in Coppers Creek, Oxford (the race start). Registration was quick and last minute toilet stops were frequent. The race had three events on offer. The marathon, half marathon, and a 15km trail run. Today we would attempt to complete the mountain marathon (42.2km and 3200+ meters of vertical climbing). With a small field of only 50 competitors, this day was going to be spread out.
The race started at 6.30am. We followed trails to the base of Mt Oxford, before starting the first of three mountains we would climb that day. We summited the mountain in 1 hour and 25 minutes after a 930m climb. Upon this, we scrambled across the top of Mt Oxford to the junction. I started to cramp as we came into the junction, but not to worry, dad whipped out a couple of salt pills and I was on the move again.
We descended quickly making up for lost time while climbing. It took us a little over 30 minutes to come down to the Wharfdale junction which was at the bottom of the other side of Mt Oxford. Here we turned left and ran 2km up to our turnoff point at Townsend junction. Here at 14km’s we had a compulsory drink station where we filled up our water bladders and grabbed a few packets of jelly beans.
We started our ascent up Blacks Hill at 2 hours and 50 minutes into the race. This was HARD. We were climbing at between 150 and 250 metres per kilometre. The first elites passed us on their way down as we started climbing. We knew this would be a hard climb. Either way, we made it to Blacks Hill an hour and a half after leaving the water station. We had our race food at the top (bagels) and descended down the hill to pinch a few places back which we had lost a few hours ago. We made it to the water station (26km) at 5 hours. We filled up with water and Coke and grabbed some MORE jelly beans. A quick photo and then we continued along the Wharfdale track to the junction.
Here the real climbing started… It was so hard, that we had to use walking sticks (branches from trees) on both hands. It was slow going and took just under 2 hours to complete a 5km part of the race. We arrived back at the first junction tired but also happy to hear the Land SAR volunteer telling us we were doing extremely well. After a quick snack of salt pills, a Cliff Bar, and a vanilla Hammer Gel we started our final climb to the top of Mt Oxford.
It was very windy and the goal of my father and I was to beat to guys who we had been playing leap frog with the whole race. The odds were looking very good for us as we had close to a 20 minute lead on the guy we dubbed as ‘Blueman’. We reached the top of Mt Oxford for the final time in a total time of 7 hours 40 minutes.
The climbing was all over and now was just the tortuous descent to the finish in Coopers Creek. The knees were hurting, cramp was inevitable, and along with my watch dying we made it to the finish in Coopers Creek. We had achieved our goal to finish before the two men, and I had achieved my goal of running a marathon at 15 years old… Who does that? We had a few quick words with Race Director Adrian Bailey, before relaxing to a nice steak sandwich and prize giving.
It was great to chat with some of the pro’s after the prize giving and gain tips for races to come. Thank you, Adrian, for a great race and the dispensation for me to race even though I wasn’t 18+. So now for the results… I finished with my dad in 8 hours 41 minutes, 32nd place overall, and while racing in the open grade (18-39 years of age) I gained 19th place against the top elites from Oceania. It was great to gain the experience and was a great day out! Now for a good meal and a massage maybe?!