Marysville 2 Melbourne - Race Report

What a race. Things definitely didn't go as expected. More on that later, but I'll start from the first leg. It's been quite a while since I've competed as part of any sort of genuine team. Being part of a relay was an intriguing venture. Used to being reliant on myself for the overall result, it was good to be in the different situation. I welcomed the concept of the extra pressure of putting in for a team brought with it. Fighting not to be the weakest link was a big motivation.

Full details about the race are on the website Our team 'MidYoungYounger' was in the open, 3 person relay category. I was doing the two run legs, we had John on the double bike leg, and Alan hitting the final two legs of paddling. The other two had both their legs back to back. My runs were on either side of the bike. That gave me the honour of starting on the gun and hopefully setting up the team. Then I had 2.5 to 3 hours while John hammered the pedals to recover, get some nutrition in, travel to the transition and hopefully be in shape for a good second run. The basic strategy was simple, race each leg as quickly as possible. For the bike and paddling drafting is legal, my job was to get that as close to the front as possible by the end of the run, so John could use the stronger cyclists' draft to advantage. That meant I was going to treat that first run as if I didn't have a second one coming up soon. Then when it came time for the second run, it was expect pain, but run through it.

Surrounding the competitors was the added elements that a point to point race over such a distance with different equipment and transport requirements brings. Enter in the collection of family members filling in the roles of support crew and supporters along the way. Without them, it just would not come together, and that doesn't even include them putting up with all the training leading in. So I was hoping they were going to have some fun along the way. After all, it is a big ask of them.

Marysville is a beautiful place. Definitely somewhere I have to explore beyond the sneak peak this trip allowed. The morning was surprisingly warm for this time of year. About 16degrees C, and no wind, with fairly dry tracks. It was near perfect conditions for a hard assault on the hilly trails to come. We lined up for the 0630 start. In the greyish first light haze we made our way up the short section of bitumen and into the wide fire trails in the hills

. The speed that so many head off with surprised me, even after so many years of racing. The race started with about 200m elevation gain in the first few kilometres and the rest was a series of pretty spectacular ups and downs. I found what seemed a like a good rhythm immediately and stuck with that as we headed up. It took less than 2km to get in front of the majority of early sprinters. I wasn't doing anything amazing up hill, just moving along steadily and over the first few kilometres people moved all around me. Descending was my domain. I'd found my old downhill form and added a bit more to it. Whenever the trail dropped, I gained places in the field.

Further into the run it seemed I was on track. I felt like I was time trialling well given the constantly changing grade. The legs were taking a beating and feeling every step, but I don't think I slowed. The field stretched out and I continued to swap positions with a select few in the second half. Billed at 19 or 20km depending on which course description you read, I was looking at hitting 90 minutes based on past participants times. Most the of the run was simple fire trail, but in closing stages was a brilliant obstacle course of falling branches and logs, plus a winding somewhat overgrown trail. The legs protested at the slalom style needed here, but I made them work. Soon enough we hit the last climb. This same ascent featured in the Maroondah Dam 50 too, and it wasn't any easier this time. A mixture of run/walk got me up in the same time  as those around me who tried to run it. Over the top and into transition, I handed over the timing chip and number bib to John who jumped onto the two wheels and sped down the Black Spur. My time was 1:31:31 for the 20km. That had us out in 24th overall and 8th in the open 3 person team event.

Change of Plans

A bit of logistics with the support crew. Nutrition, hydration and some stretching and massage to kill the cramps hitting my legs. We made our way down to the bike/run transition at Westerfolds Park to await John's return. As it turned out we never needed to be here. After passing through the 50km checkpoint on the bike, during the steep and fairly technical descent John hit the tarmac hard, ending the race. With a crash at good speed and a few worrying patterns of injury he was trussed up in a spinal package and taken by ambulance to hospital. The good news is no major injury was found and at this stage will probably just be pretty damn sore for a while. There was still the option of covering the run and our team mate finishing up with the paddle for some unofficial results, but we were no longer interested in that. There were a few other things to deal with now.


  1. Wow-That was quite the emotional ride. That's a pretty incredible race. I could use your advice when it comes to downhill running. It seems to be a weakness of mine. :)

    I hope John heals up quickly. He was extremely fortunate.

  2. He was very lucky, somehow didn't even lose much skin. He seemed to pick just the right section to crash as most of the rest that road has some big drops off the side.

    Tea, as for downhill running, I find I'm relatively quick up to a certain gradient and then it kind of falls apart. Think I might put a post together on it all. But in the meantime my short version of advise is:
    - lean the body forward (not bending at the hip), but keep similar angle to what it would be in relation to a flatter surface
    - keep the foot strike under the centre of gravity (hence the forward lean, plus don't stretch your leg out ahead)
    - arms are for balance, let them do whatever they do
    - it is a controlled fall, let gravity take you down
    - practice fast running downhill in training, there is a lot of technique, plus it requires very specific fitness in the legs


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