Uh oh that’s a cramp….I can feel it….right there at the top of each calf rearing its ugly painful and crippling head! I’d better back it off! But how close is second? I don’t know I can’t see anyone! Dam this cambered road! That’s the course record gone then! Shut up – Stop thinking just run! Left , right , left , right , left, drink, right, left, right! – Those where the thoughts I had running through my head in the final few kms of the recent Kurrawa to Duranbah 50km.
Kurrawa to Duranbah is a road 50k race held in the playground of Australia (the Gold Coast). It’s been around since the 90’s and in recent years has seen its participant numbers rise dramatically due in no small part to the work RD Ian Cornelius has put into developing the race as a Gold Coast icon.
The course is simple in nature, but the race itself is challenging to perform well at. A simple 25km out and back from Kurrawa Surf Club (Qld) to the Duranbah head land (NSW). The course sticks almost entirely to the paths along the beautiful gold coast beaches….it’s a photographers dream. But standing in between a runner and success is the searing December heat and humidity, 30+km of quad busting concrete paths, 10 pinchy hills (including a set of stairs) and in most cases an entire year of racing already lingering in ones legs.
Many a runner has come to K2D with high hopes and come unstuck by the deadly combination mentioned above….K2D is blow up central! I had experienced this first-hand 2011 when my over-zealous pacing plan led to a blow up and a final 10k at 6min/km! The finish line at K2D looks more like the morning after a party than a race, scantly clad bodies strewn all over the place, incoherent moaning, vomit and god knows what else.
So here I was on the start line nervously fidgeting with my new Soleus GPS watch, Ian gave his typical low key pre-race brief and then BANG we were off!
I had expected some of the other local fasties to go off hard (Ben and Anderson) but I had a plan – run 3:50-4min/km from start to finish as best I could. As it turned out I shot straight to the lead with Ben, Anderson and a few others falling in step behind me.
We cruised around the park and onto the first road section up Hedges avenue. Ben gave a little acceleration and we all went with him, still ticking off low 3:50s. There wasn’t much talk going on, I think because this year there was some prize money on offer from Endura and we all wanted some extra Christmas spending money!
As we ran towards the 5k mark and the North Burleigh head land stairs Ben made a move and took off at about 3:40s, I let him go and the group strung out a bit, thankfully it wasn’t long lived and we caught him again before the stairs. Bounding up the stairs I was feeling great my legs where peppy and the planta fascia that plagued me all year was playing the game…Brilliant!
Along the iconic Burleigh foreshore the group was reduced to 4 and the pace still honest (low 3:50s), it was a beautiful day, warm clear and a tail wind on the way down! We approached another hill and I went to the front and pushed a little and was surprised when I looked back that suddenly it was just Ben and I, with Ando about 60m back.
As we ran across the front of Palm Beach Ando caught back up and we were back to three with still no real conversation happening . I tried to make some small talk and jokes but Ando had some headphones, Ben and I exchanged a few words but he meant business so wasn’t giving anything away!
As we approached the 15km mark Ben made another big move picking it up to about 3:35-40 pace. I didn’t bother going with him and just continued to maintain the 3:50 pace as per plan. I had a good idea what I could do over this distance; my training had been very specific in the last 3 weeks so I had the confidence to back myself.
I cruised into the 15k check point at the “The Ally” and saw my awesome crew – Baby Indie and wife Tymeka! Change bottles and go, no stopping! Ben was about 150m up the road and Ando about 50m behind. I was still cruzing and now was warmed up!
Not long after the checkpoint I noticed Ben had stopped pulling away and I was actually starting to catch him back up, still running 3:50s. I caught him just before we turned onto Kirra Beach but instead of powering past I decided to sit behind him and see what pace he was running. 4:00min.km. Not bad, still part of my race plan so I was happy to sit on. Ando re-joined us and again there was three. We split the 21k mark at 1:24.
As we approached the 25k turn around there is one decent hill you go over and down to the checkpoint , turn then back over. This was where I wanted to make my move. As we approached the bottom I put in a little effort and hit the hill with good pace. I ran strongly but not HARD up the hill, over the top and down the other side…I didn’t look back. I hit the checkpoint, saw my baby, grabbed some gel, bottles and ice water sponge. I saw Ben and Ando on the way in about 30 sec down, I smiled and let out a “Yeoww” I was having a ball! I love racing!
I powered back up the hill and down the other side then put in a bit of surge running low 3:50s again to extend the gap, I felt great and lengthened my stride. This next section was so much fun as I now got to see all the others in the 50k and 25k relay coming towards me, lots of high fives and words of encouragement where given.
I ran strongly through to the marathon mark which I split at 2:47, but from there I was starting to really feel my quads and calves. It was running up the final steep hill at the 45k mark when it happened! The cramp!
I could feel my calf tighten, I had been here before in races and knew bad cramp could ruin my lead and cost me the win. I had to make a choice, keep pushing hard to go for the course record and run the risk of cramp or back it off and run it in for the win. I backed it off and ran 4:20-25 for the final few kms starving off any potential cramp.
As it turned out the fast pace and a few surges in the first 25k had given me enough of a buffer that I still managed to break the record but only by a mere 29sec! Taking down a time set by David Eadie which had stood for 6years.
Anderson ran strongly for a second place some 9min later and then Jim Turner for 3rd another minute back.
Afterwards I indulged in the post-race facilities on offer …Ice baths, recovery massage and BBQ. K2D always has a great post-race atmosphere!
Finally I’d like to give special mention to my wife who’s support was unwavering in the last few weeks, to the point I was even able to get out for a 3hr run less than 48hrs after our baby girl was born. Also to my coach Andy Dubious who somehow has managed to train me around my persistent injuries to a stellar result.
Also Thanks to Steve from SOK Images for these fantastic shots of the event!
Now as a famous person once said “Bring on the Beer”!
Gear used for the event:
Hat: Endura Visor
Top: KSR Branded Ron Hill Advance Singlet
Shoes: Adidas Adios 2
Compressport R2 Calf sleeve for recovery
Endura Gel (Vanilla)
Endura Rehydration Mix (Pineapple)
Endura Optimizer for recovery.
Red Bull for post race festiveness energy!