I ran through the crowd, running late for the start of The Great Nosh, I usually warm up on the Trail, but this year I had 12 of my clients running the historic event with me, so there was toilet stops, bag drops, coffees to be drunk and warm ups to be done on the oval, before I let out a call to head down to the track. I knew that if I did not go then, I would not be able to get a good position at the front of the pack.
It was a beautiful sunny mild winter morning for the 37th Annual The Great Nosh a 15km trail run from East Lindfield Oval to Seaforth Oval, NOSH stands for Northside Orienteers and Sydney Harriers, a club which amalgamated with the Bennelong Orienteers. It is Sydney’s oldest Orienteering club founded in 1971. My Uncle Ian use to run The Nosh back in the 70s and 80s, and as I have said before his time gets faster every year! I am still trying to beat his time of 70 minutes. Last year I managed 82 minutes on a wet track, my first attempt I managed 87 minutes. This year I set my goal this year for 78 minutes as last year the winner only beat me by 3 minutes. I hoped that 78 minutes would be good enough to get me a great position.
I spoke to a few of the regular guys at the front of the pack, one of them I ran with for a while on The North Face 100km, we wished each other good luck, and pre-pared ourselves for a very different race.
The siren went off and I sprinted down the fire trail, as fast as my body would allow, I let the blokes pass me, after the 2km mark I was hurting. I was panting, but I got out all my nervous energy in the first 2km. I was in my anaerobic system and I felt like crap. Doubts crept into my head, I felt sick, I thought there were women catching me, but I just had to say to myself , “Just run to your target time, and you will be okay” I went out hard, and that is just how I do it, I always feel rubbish for the first 30-40 minutes and I just have to wait until I to feel better.
Straight up the bush stairs I went, panting, trying to catch my breath. “Oi, oi! This way” I called out to one of the men in front of me as he followed a path to a dead end. I shot up another set of stairs, my legs were burning, but the climbs were short so I knew I would have a quick recovery if I got my legs moving fast again, up another set of stairs and I was on the flat at the top. The lost bloke ran past me again “Thank you” he said. “I have to help someone every year at that spot” I replied back still trying to catch my breath. After a few short climbs I had to run the gauntlet of “single man track”, along descending bush stairs, rocks, creeks, under a cliff of a rock over hang and over few small wooded bridges before I started a climb from water level at Gordon Creek up to the Roseville Bridge. I was still the first female at the 5km point, last year the winner past me at the 6km mark when I was on the bridge, I was pushing my self as hard as I could to hit my splits and to stay in front. I hit the 5km mark in 21 minutes, 4 minutes ahead of schedule, cool I’m on target. I scrambled up the loose and dusty dirt track that is under the Roseville Bridge, past a few blokes. I screamed and yelled, as my legs were killing me. But I knew it was only a short distance to climb before I got a rest so I pushed through the pain and I was up on the Roseville Bridge.
At this point I was able to take a look down to see there was a red headed female behind me, but just one. I kicked it on. I was strong from my training and races in the Blue Mountains, and I thought she would have to be a tough chick to catch me. I knew I could hold her off if she did not catch me in the first 5-8km.
The first time I ran The Nosh, I got to the top of the Roseville Bridge and I looked for a taxi to get me the hell out of there. If I had $50 on me I would have caught a cab to the finish line to meet my dad to pick me up and take me home. I was in so much trouble 3 years ago. No water, no gels, all heart. I have learnt so much about nutrition and how to fuel my body. This time I felt great, I had made it first to the bridge, and I was flying.
I ran down the hill off the Roseville Bridge and consumed a gel and some water, I pushed on up a set of stairs past some Oxfam Trail walkers training for Oxfam. They seemed amazed that we would run up that section of the course. I hit the top and started a slow climb to the 7.5km point. I always smile at this section, as the race is almost over, it is such a short distance after you have just completed a 100km event. The was still a heap of climbing to be done though.
A bloke ran up behind me, I asked if he wanted to pass, he said “Nah, I’ve been trying to run you down for 8km now” after a few hundred meters he recovered and I let him pass. I noticed he was the guy from Northside Runners, we spoke a while about shoes, and the races we entered.
I hit the junction of the Magazine track and where The Nosh split, there was a rock to scramble up, with a rope, then a creek crossing, and a narrow heath track. It was steep and I was hurting again, I was out of breath, I saw the houses and the grassy lawn, of the next climb, I looked behind me and I saw a female. The red-head had caught me.
“You caught me, well done” I said expecting her to fly straight past. When she did not I put my head down and started the climb. I caught the Northside Runners guy, he was walking, “Come on” I said, to get him running again, “I know what this race has in front of me, so I am taking it easy, have you done it before?” I replied “Three Times”, so he started running again. I was pushing with all my power in my legs, I looked back for the red-head, she was still behind but not getting any closer.
I made it to the top, and I excelarated, overtook a few guys saying “I’m first female, there is a female just behind, you can catch me on the hills”, They let me through and I jumped and leaped, and rabbited down the boulders of the ridge, through scrub along a tiny track, out of the bush across more back yards, across a creek crossing and I hit another set of bush stairs. I let the blokes pass me again as I climbed the stairs, they were quicker than me on the climbs.
I hit the top and took off again back down into the glen, out onto a fire trail and I took off again, trying to stay with the guys ahead of me. A South African Man ran past asking me “Is my ear bleeding badly?” There was blood coming from his ear, I panted back “Nah, it will bleed anyway your running so fast”.
We crossed another creek crossing, then up a set of bush stairs. I again checking to see who was behind me. I think she was there but I could not tell.
I ran on feeling strong, cardiovascular I felt great I just could not extend my legs any further, so I was at top speed. I consumed another gel and some water at the 12km drink stop, and continued up the hill, passing a few blokes,as I ran past the football fields,and then up another set of bush stairs, some more rock scrambling, but I knew it was the last climb to be done, so I pushed up it as fast as I could, and I ran out behind more back lawns of houses, where I caught a group of guys, and directed them the correct way to go. I looked back and I could not see the red-head. I sped up, we hit the final fire trail, I was running as fast as I could stretch my legs, looking back a few times and checking for the red-head. I told the guy next to me,“When we hit the bush it is 1km to go, we are almost there” In return he offered me some water “Nah, I’m good.” He looked like he was really pushing it. I checked behind me again, I could only see a guy coming. We hit the final bush section, and I could not go any faster. I knew I had won the female race, and I was happy. I ran over more slippery rocks, up some more bush stairs, and I knew I was getting close.
300m to go and I was still in first position, I did it, I could hear the crowd at the finish line, I was almost there when a young guy ran up behind me, and we sprinted down the to the finishing line racing each other flat out. He just beat me on the line, even though the officials gave us the same time. I checked the ticket and I did the 15km in 77:50. 10 seconds under schedule. I was stoked. A week ago I was on crotches, with a strained calf muscle and a suspected stress fracture in my foot, and only a week later I was winning another race. I was over the moon. Finally I was able to win one of the toughest trail runs in Sydney, and I did it on a wet track. I was ecstatic.