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Lake Manchester Trail Run

August 22, 2011

I am new to the Striders and you might not know me. I joined about three weeks ago. I have run with the group on Tuesday evenings a few times and yesterday I managed to haul my carcass out of bed in time to run with the Saturday morning group for the first time (although I might have dreamt it!). Anyway, the Lake Manchester trail run was my first since joining the Striders.

The race is organised by the Trail Running Association of Queensland (TRAQ – http://runtrails.org/articles/). TRAQ put on a number of trail races throughout the year and most of the events have a range of distances to cater for fun-runners to ultra competitors. The Lake Manchester event had options of  6km or 22km, utilising the dirt and gravel tracks in the forest around the lake. Lake Manchester is situated at the very southern end of the Brisbane Forest Park near Mount Crosby.

I entered the 22km run and after driving along some twisting gravel roads I arrived at the race start/finish which is situated close to the Lake Manchester dam. These events have their own distinct ‘scene’ and require a slightly different set of skills, approach and equipment to road races. For example many off-road events are turning ‘green’ and do not supply cups at the drink stations.

The route follows the western side of the lake for about 8km, has a loop over a hill and then returns along the path as the outward route. Having read this description I was lulled into thinking that any route which follows a lake shore can’t be too tough. How wrong I was! The lakeside path has 7 very steep climbs and descents of varying length, which the organiser referred to in his briefing as ‘the Seven Dwarves’. I thought the degree of steepness was very similar to some of the hills in Clear Mountain forest and definitely not dwarfish at all. I presume that Snow White is the monstrous climb encountered on the loop part! The organisers final comment of his briefing caused  ripple of disconcertment through the field. It was this, “if anyone is wearing a GPS, please tell me how long the course is”. That’s the last thing you want to hear when you are on the start line of a long race!

The race started and I settled into a nice pace around about 12th place. I don’t have any recent long run background apart from a 25km trail race I ran in July so this dictated a conservative approach. From 6km the field had sorted itself out a bit and I then ran the whole of the rest of the race with two other runners. I found that I was running slightly faster than them on the down-hills and moderate up-hills but I was losing out on the steep up-hills. Consequently by the time we reached the loop they had put a bit of distance on me. However, the loop had a long downhill section and then a number of river crossings and here I gained on them and overtook them. I think at one point I was about 30 seconds ahead. Then there was a long hill and again on the steep sections I started to lose ground. One of the guys overtook me on the hill and then proceeded to steadily draw away over the ‘seven dwarves’ on the way back but I was pleased to hold off the other chap.

The return journey didn’t seem quite as severe as it did outbound, although that may because I knew what to expect. I was quite pleased with my strength at the end and I actually managed to do the return 2 minutes quicker than the outbound (although that was partly to do with the altitude gained on the outbound route).

At the finish someone who was wearing a GPS confirmed that the course was 22.6km with an overall climb of 544m. I was pleased to have finished 10th but my time of 1:58:46 was some 20 minutes slower than my estimated time based upon my pace at the 25km race I did a few weeks previously! This bears testament to how tough the course was.

So all in all a really great event. A fantastic, challenging course, well organised and a very enjoyable experience. For anyone wanting to try a trail race the next TRAQ event is on 11th September at the Glasshouse Mountains. This event has 10km, 30km, 50km, 100km and 100 miles races (the latter starting the day before). Details here; http://runtrails.org/articles/events/glasshouse.

Dave Holland.

*From the Editor: Thanks Dave for your article.  If you have done a walk or run and can write a report up we’d love that. Contact Stan if you have some content we can put on the club site.  It’s great to welcome Dave to our club.  Dave has considerable running experience, and also brings a love of trail running with him into the club.  I’m sure that we will benefit greatly from his knowledge and experience and he will get us running in places we never imagined we would be soon!

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