Salomon Trail Series Race 2: Plenty Gorge

The second race in Salomon Trail Series varied a bit from expected. First up I had been looking forward to the two river crossing across Plenty River. However, the water level had been rising pretty much weekly for the last couple of months. Changing from some simple rock hopping where you could keep your feet dry to thigh deep last Saturday as in the video below.

Plenty of rain this week saw the water level rise to chest deep with a strong fast flow. Too dangerous to send 1100 runners of various abilities across. So the coursefile://localhost/Applications/Utilities/ had to change. A description of the change is best quoted from the Rapid Ascent site:

The new courses will still start and finish at the Yellow Gum Park with short course runners completing a single, 6.9km lap through the park, and long course runners completing 2 laps (minus a bit) to end up with a 13.4km course. We believe the new courses are of a similar quality and style to the original courses and are sure all runners will still enjoy them.

The rain also made a trail with quite a variety of terrain which included, clay, hard pack, grass, single track, rocks of all types and a bit of mud, too one that was absolutely smothered in mud. That combined with some spectacular up and down grades made for a course that challenged everybody's ability to stay upright. It was a very difficult course to pace. I found plenty of time my heart rate approached my maximum and this included some of the descents. It was purely a case of work hard, keep moving, stay upright and see what comes.

I got through the first lap in something a bit over 32 minutes for those 6.7km. This was nothing compared to road racing. I know I could hold about 3:45/km for equivalent distance, but this is not a road race. Kilometer averages were clearly out the window. That first lap I felt fast and I was suffering. Exactly where I should be. Yet with the quality of the field it seemed I was a good step outside the top 10. No problem, I can't control who turns up.

Having been doing a lot of my running in the trails and even targeting my speed sessions to be faster in harder terrain, I have been wondering how I compare to others. What I found interesting is there are quite a large range of skills and tactics used where the terrain throws up lots of different challenges. I found I am not too bad (compared to those around me) when going uphill. Clearly I'm not the quickest, by I tend to pretty much hold my position. The steeper it got, the better I seemed to get as a bit of power walking, or even some hands and feet combinations had me moving past those who moved ahead on the more runnable ascents. As things got more technical and closer to flat I excelled. The bigger the mixture of obstacles and the more twists and turn the better it is for me. Plus down-hilling is clearly my strength up until it get excessively steep. At a certain point, the drop hits a grade that slows more than I want it too. Overall, my skills have are improving substantially.

Into the second lap and the the mud was harder to get through. After everyone else had been over the course already, everything was churned up. It was slower going, but felt great. As the I started lapping some the short course and slower long course runners, the times started to stretch out as passing was limited on a few single track sections. That's fine, and I have finally got my head around this difference compared to the road. It just means a more varied effort in getting a little reprieve while waiting to pass, but then hammering the other sections even harder.

The second lap was a lot slower for as I stopped for maybe 3 or more minutes to ensure a women who had fallen had the help she needed. On good flowing downhill, but with plenty of bumps I was flying and took note of a lady covered with a thermal blanket, with a couple of St John's First Aiders and two others assisting. My first thought was she had the help she needed, but out the corner of my eye I noticed here ankle was a very obvious fracture/dislocation. Something that can cause a lot of ongoing problems if not dealt with properly. Avoiding losing sleep I ran back up and put in my 2 cents worth of help. Soon enough I established she did, a couple of good first aiders and a MICA paramedic were there. So I was on my way again.

This put me back a little in the field, and I was no longer running with those of the same speed as myself. This meant a lot more passing had to be done, which made for some substantial variations in effort. All good fun. Eventually I crossing the line in about 69 minutes. If I subtract about 3 minutes from that, then I am happy with a very, very unofficial time of 66 minutes. Ten minutes of the winning time, which I think is about right for me. Whatever the case, I ran well. My technique is a lot better and my fitness is up. Plus I really did push myself into suffer territory which really is an important skill looking towards the 100km.


  1. That's a nasty accident for the poor woman. Lucky you were there to offer assistance if needed, and lucky it wasn't - great that the organisers have those sort of medical personnel on hand.

    Shame about the creek crossing - looks a bit like 6', but narrower, river flowing the other way and a high rope instead of a low one. Anwyay, you ran well - looks like you're on target.

    1. Thank again Ewen. I definitely feel like I'm on target. The race was one of the hardest and most enjoyable events I've run. Pity about it being 2 laps, but I do think the right decisions were made balancing safety and still providing a good event.

  2. Hi Guys, Here's some footage I shot of the race. Enjoy


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