A Captain’s Perspective
With the boom of trail running worldwide, the organisers of the 2nd Commonwealth Mountain and Ultra Distance Championships (CMUDC), wisely chose to include an ultra trail race into this biannual event’s program. This replaced the 100km road run which proved to be the least popular event on the program at the previous CMUDC in Keswick. Factoring in the 100km World Champs were less than a month before, and it would have been an easy decision for the organisers to make.
|With team mate Mick Donges on a training jog around
the 'Great Orme'
From my perspective, I couldn’t be happier with the swap to a trail event. I’ve really been focussing on trail running this year which culminated in some very good results at 6 Foot Track and The North Face 100, which was thankfully enough to be selected. Having represented Australia at the last CMUCD , I was given the honour of being named Team Captain of the trail team. Completing the men’s team was the ‘junior’ Mick Donges and the ‘all wise one’ Jonathan Worswick. Making up the ladies team were Verity Breen, Kirstin Bull, Katie Siebold-Crosby and Cindy Hasthorpe. What this meant was that as a nation, we would be competitive not only individually, but also in both team’s categories where the top three times from each nation go towards a team award.
|With mate Jame Kuegler from NZ during the
'reccie' of the course
|The team was in high spirits pre-race!
L-R, Back : Kirstin Bull, Jonathan Worswick, Mick Donges, Me
Front: Cindy Hasthorpe, Katie Siebold-Crosby, Verity Breen
Race morning soon dawned and we arrived on Anglesey to be met by overcast and cool conditions. It was almost perfect conditions, the only worrying factor was a strong on-shore breeze (more like a gale!) that was blowing. It would ensure tough running on the beach section (approx 1.5km each lap) and the out and back section to the little island where, at least on the ‘out’ it would be coming right into our face. We were thankful however, that it would not affect us through the protected forest sections which made up the majority of the course. We all agreed that there would be very fast and very slow sections throughout the race and prerace advice to the team was to ‘run smartly’ to the conditions and terrain of the course and not to be sucked into racing the opposition too early.
|The pace was hot early! I soon fell off this leading pack
and took a much more conservative approach!
And how right we were. By the end of the second lap I began to pass the Zambians and South African runners who were paying the price of the early suicidal pace. A Kenyan runner was still maintaining the lead, followed by Lobb, Gardiner and Loutitt. The out and back section of the island allowed the chasers to keep track of the competitors in front. Not far behind me and on my tail was Mick, Vajin from NZ and two Welsh runners Lane and namesake Andrew Davies, who were pacing themselves perfectly.
|You can get an idea of the tough headwind
faced in this section of the course
The beach and island section were undoubtedly the toughest sections of, on what you would otherwise call, an undulating cross country course. Faced with strong headwinds, soft sand, seaweed, crushed shell and rocky outcrops; it took a considerable amount of nous to negotiate this section. I did notice a lot of the front runners take the most direct line across the beach across the soft sand. My tactic was to run a further distance to the outgoing tidal mark on the harder sand and run along this stretch. Although longer, it proved to be much less taxing and allowed me to maintain my rhythm. I believe this section contributed to the demise of a lot of the early pacemakers.
Soon after I passed a fading Loutitt and found myself in 6th place at the 30km mark. I still felt very strong, although not as strong as Welshmen Davies and Lane who passed me soon after. Despite being passed, the little lift I undertook as I ran with them enabled me to put a comfortable space between myself and the chasing pack made up of Donges, Armstrong and the Scot Andrew Fellas. I soon found myself running on clear trail and I used this time to reassess my form and my strategy for the rest of the near 20kms. On the 2nd last lap I was surprised to see the Kenyan, Tum, lying face down on the trail clutching his hamstring. Although very unfortunate for him, it put me in the top 5 and not without a chance of snaring a medal. I really put my head down and suddenly all the memories from watching the 24h race flooded back. I was getting tremendous support from the impartial spectators (perhaps having a very Welsh surname helped!), from Rob Boyce who had set himself up at the halfway drink station and the Aussie crew at the start/finish line made up of David Kennedy and Justin Scholz.
|Then the tailwind! This part of the course was bliss!
|Trail running heaven - pine needle soft trail...oh and I was
wearing my trusty INOV-8 X-Talons too!
|Big sweaty hug for Mick Donges, who
finished 5th in his international debut!
Trail Splits and Laps Times