An odyssey through the bush (about: 2000)|
A Runner from Sydney (2/4/01)
The bush race that all bush races in Australia seem to be compared to may appear a modest event with only 500 participants, but you will be glad there aren't more joining you after a few minutes of this race. At 8 AM, 75 minutes after sunrise, the 6-Ft begins with a steep descent, which includes stairs, into the aptly-named Megalong Valley, then follows singletrack and fireroad net downhill to Cox's River. There are two wave starts 15 minutes apart, a year 2000 addition that greatly alleviated the crush of people in the first few kilometers. Once descended to the valley, runners need to climb several fences via innovative stepladders, and also make river crossings that could get the shoes wet... all typical of the Aussie bush race experience. A loooonnng uphill to The Pluviometer had most runners walking, but then the course levels off so you can get a rhythm going. Water stations were numerous and negated any need to bring a water bottle, even in the warm late-summer conditions of early March when the race is run. Volunteers from the bush fire brigade are good support, but you'll find most spectators nearest the road, with 10K more to run. The last 2K is a nearly-indescribeably steep descent along a scree slope and final stairway to the Jenolan Caves, where the finish line is tucked away on the road beneath your descending trail. Having lived in the USA for 40 years, I found this race to be the polar opposite of the big-production NYC Marathon experience geographically as well as logistically, but no less satisfying. Explore one of the dozen guided cave tours if you have any energy left afterwards. I didn't, with a 4:16 finishing time and 11th place, but will be back in 2001. Training? Plenty of long bush runs and big hills!