Roller Coaster Marathon, 2017

Run - 26 Feb 2017

Roller Coasters are fun.

Your heart pounds with apprehension as you step into the rickety bucket seat, the metal arms close into place with a dull thud. Then, with an half-expecting lurch forward - your mouth drops open-wide as the next 90 seconds of your life gives you a gut turning thrill humans can’t get enough of.

But, roller coaster runs... well, they just hurt. Period.

It's 3 days and counting since I competed at the 2017 Roller Coaster Marathon running event. If you’ve spent some time on my blog, then you’ll notice a trend... I’m a roadie. I have an inner love of flat, fast surfaces – especially if they’re straight. When I’m racing, I crave the speed - those moments where you feel like you're floating, like a pebble skimming across a dead-still lake.
Unfortunately for me, The Roller Coaster course is just like the name suggestions: Up, down, and all around. Trail runners love it. But I, on the other hand, have never felt so much pain during or after a race – even after a marathon.

It’s like someone decided to give me 100 dead legs, all at once. I haven't been able to bend over, making the basic human tasks, like putting on pants, ridiculously painful. And then, adding to my incompetence, there's getting in and out of the shower - a near impossible task with legs feeling like every fiber has been torn from the muscle attachments, strand by strand. Luckily, my GF has been doing cross-fit recently, so was able to pull me out of the bath.

With all the little tasks taking forever, the one thing I want to do seems so far away; run.

Toeing the start-line we took off, dropping straight down the hillside. Many sections were literally, like, straight down. Other sections zigged and zagged down half arsed tracks that led from Sky High on the top of Mt Dandenong.

This torture continued for  6-7km, with the track flattening out only to quickly hit the infamous "Dodds Climb” at the 8km mark. Knowing very little about the Mt Dandenong area, I quickly noticed this 300-400 hundred meter section of roots, rocks & dirt lining a track which no one runs up - for a very good reason it turns out. Dodds Climb, is ridiculously steep. It's not like a normal steep section of a trail run. No, I'm surprised there wasn't someone at the base offing pick axes and crampons to help the 'runners' with the near vertical accent dead ahead (yes, I’m using words to exaggerate).

The theory, I noticed, is that you do a fast walk up – picture that ugly looking hands & knees, bent over, mountain climb walk you see people do. Well, I tried that for a bit – but then deciding I didn’t enter a race to walk, I started my own accent kind of shuffle. My nose was practically inches from the ground as the track stretch up in front of me. Reaching the top, there started an all-to unfamiliar dip straight back down the other side of the hill.

At preciously this very moment, I knew I was cooked. Craig Appleby and I had been pushing the pace together, but right here an epiphany ignited in my mind: I’m a roadie and I was not prepared in any way to run downhills and ups as aggressively as we’d been going...

So pretty much for the rest of the race, I went into my ‘just make it home’/ 'CBF' zone – running the downs easy, picking up the pace on any slight signal of flat, then shuffling again up all climbs.

Finishing off the race in 2nd place in 1:35 for the 21.5km course was under the old course record by a few minutes. So, it’s a decent result.

But my lesson has been learned – never ever again will I enter a race I’m not prepared to run – especially a trail run. Getting down was painful enough, but the aftermath has been near unbearable.

Next year you won’t see me toeing this line, amping myself up to race at the Roller Coaster Marathon event. I’ll come, support my friends and drink lattes at the Sky-high café while the trail boys battle it out over what only can be described as a Roller Coaster Run - but not the thrilling kind.

Goodbye trails, hello road.