Glasshouse 100 2011 Race Report

Date: 10th September 2011

Name of Race: Glasshouse 100. A 100mile (160km) trail running race in the Glasshouse Mountains on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Time: Race start was at 05:30 in the morning.

I'm trying a new style of race report using a template I found, so here goes:

Sleep: Managed to get a solid 6 and 1/2 hours sleep before the race. In bed at 21:00 with alarm set for 03:40.

Athlete Mood: Going into the race I was really relaxed. Being my 3rd 100mile for the year, this race was all about finishing only. I had no preconceived ideas of racing, and wasn't sure what residual fatigue I would be carrying from the Angeles Crest 100 which I had done at the end July.

Looking at the high caliber of the field before the race, I knew that there was going to be some serious racing involved. Nothing of which I wanted to be a part of, as being a newbie to the 100 mile distance I knew that things can come unstuck so quickly.

I felt really good on race morning and think that my taper had worked well.

Pack Mood: There had been a tipping competition in the weeks leading up to the race, and one could sense the anxiety in the front runners from the start. From the gun the pace was hot, with a group of the tipped winners running strongly together for the first 10km loop.

Weather conditions: The weather conditions leading up to the race weren't ideal. However on race morning it was a crisp, cool, cloudless sky with a gentle breeze blowing. Basically freezing when coming from Cairns, but almost perfect for anyone else.

The day turned out to be a pearler but was also extremely windy. The wind reduced the potential for what could have been brutally hot along certain sections of the course.

Course Conditions: The course conditions were great. The rain prior had settled the dust and although there were significant water troughs the ground was dry. I really only found certain sections of the eastern loop really sandy and difficult to run, particularly at night.

Race rating: The race is extremely well organized. One of the main features is the accessibility to all check points by your crew. Logistically it ran like clockwork.

The aid stations were well stocked making the race totally doable without crew support. Aid station volunteers were fantastic in their support of runners and willingness to assist - fill up water bottles, help with blister treatment, cleaning sandy feet, and general sympathetic motivation.

Things I liked about the Race: Crew accessibility, course condition and layout, location.

My Race objectives: The main objective for me was really to better my Moab 100 mile time of 19 hrs 35 min. I was hoping to break the 19 hr barrier, but it wasn't nearly as important as finishing sustainably within the cut off to achieve the minimum 3 x 100 mile qualification criteria for Badwater. 

Race details: The pace was hot from the gun and with two 100 milers under my belt in quick succession, it felt like such a gamble to hang with the fast Daves from the start. But if you’re not on the bus, you’re off the pace so gamble I did.

I was in a Dave sandwich for the best part of the first 90kms. There are very few poker faces in 100 milers, even if that’s what you’d like, the distance keeps it real and raw. We had a few conversations between us on the pace and we all knew we were pushing it. Dave E mentioned to me at about the 40km mark that we were on track for a 15h 30m finish time, and that it was just not sustainable. I wholeheartedly agreed but I wasn’t going to be the one to slow down, the others must’ve felt the same as we all pushed on.

Checkpoints were not leisurely, they were finely tuned, rushed transitions. My crew was well prepared for this and responded immediately to my need for speed through each aid station. Dave W had a crew as did I, Dave E and C were relying on the well stocked aid stations and their drop bags. There is a lot to be said for a top crew, the information, motivation and personal comforts can make hours of difference to me.

At checkpoint 6 for the second time, 88km in to the race I started feeling nauseous. I had dropped off the pace a bit and had pushed really hard to catch back up to Dave W, the effort of the chase had caused my stomach to react. Dave W seemed a little surprised to see me back again and we left checkpoint 6 together. I took travel calm (natural) and ginger sweets and backed off the nutrition for a half hour, sipping water, it seemed to do the trick. A few kilometers down the road we started up a hill together and feeling good I stopped power hiking and started running. At the next checkpoint I had put a couple of minutes distance between Dave W and I, and stayed that way until the 110km mark, back at the race start.

It was about 4pm when I arrived at checkpoint 2 (the start/finish) and my crew was keen to have a key stop and get some warm food into me and look at getting me to wear warm gear. They had set out a lovely foot spa bath for me to wash my feet, a fresh pair of shoes and had a cup of coffee and soup ready to sip.  They were very unimpressed when I barely stopped to weigh in and refused to stay. I knew Dave W was close and I didn’t want him to catch up to me again. When I didn’t see him on the loop out, I knew I had just missed him at the checkpoint and the gap wasn’t getting bigger. I resolved to push harder to the end of the daylight, as I knew the dark would make the going tougher and his course knowledge would be an advantage.

I knew from my crew at this point that Dave C and Dave E were upward of 10 minutes off Dave W’s time and they were sticking together, which was smart racing.

12.5km to checkpoint 9 nearly did my head in. It was by far the longest distance between checkpoints, it was flat and uninteresting, and I was filled with self-doubt. I was sick of sweet stuff and I had asked my crew to find me some different savoury options for the next stop. I had also decided along the way that when I got to checkpoint 9 I was going to have a good sit down.

My wife had other plans and when I arrived at checkpoint 9 and when I insisted that I was probably better off just waiting for Dave to run together, she wouldn’t even let me sit down. I got a ticket and was sent off up the hill for the 1.5km out and back to the top of Wildhorse Mountain. Coming back down, about two thirds of the way up I crossed Dave going up. He looked fresh, and was smiling! I was not happy, and trudged back down to the pleasant Dutch folk in the campervan checkpoint.

My crew greeted me with lots of attention and I was wiped down, dressed in warm, fresh gear, fed delicious warming soup and given a head torch. I had a smorgos board of savoury delights and I ate hungrily. It was the pep up I needed and revitalized I left for checkpoint 10 and was greeted there to the tunes of a trumpet!

Checkpoint 10 was a turning point for me on the race. Dave W dogged me for the first 6.5km loop, which was very slow going. It was like running on a sandy beach, and navigating by torch light was frustrating. My pace slowed exponentially.

Back at checkpoint 10, I suddenly felt like I was on the home stretch. Only 30kms or so to go! I started thinking how many times I run 30kms and thought of 30km loops I know and how easy that distance is for me to run. I felt the confidence of knowing that I could finish at this pace. I also met the other two Daves coming into checkpoint 10 and the camaraderie and handshakes gave me another boost.

The 9.5 km loop from there felt effortless, I was in the zone, I felt light, powerful and fast. I ran it in 51 minutes, which was about the same as what I had run the first 6.5km. Back to checkpoint 9, up Wildhorse mountain and back down. As I left checkpoint 9, I glimpsed Dave coming in. I knew then that I had a good margin.

But it wasn’t over yet. It was split personality time: my body versus my brain. I had 12.5kms to go to the finish line. I was an hour a head of the course record, I was in front by a margin. I should have been focused on getting there, but instead I was focused on blocking out the nagging doubts – if you bonk now and walk to the finish, Dave will pass you. This is too good to be true, your legs are going to feel the AC100 any moment now and seize and cramp, and you won’t finish. In the dark you could get lost, trip and fall. You can’t eat and drink any more, do you have enough calories in your system to get you there? On and on my brain nagged me…

At about the 3kms to go mark, the fatigue disappeared and I was wired, pumped. I finished strong and with a wide smile. Dave came in 20 minutes later, just under 16 hours, which meant a 40 minute PB for him.  As my wife is fond of saying ‘a rising tide raises all boats’. If it wasn’t for the contest between myself and the three fast Daves, none of us would’ve been inclined to push ourselves to these times. I can only thank them for allowing me to bring my best to the table, it was a pleasure to race against competitors of such caliber and character.

Pros: Crew accessibility, being in Queensland and only a two hour flight from home, runnable course

Cons: No pacers allowed

Lessons Learned: The biggest lesson I learned was that 100 miling is about eating your way around a set race course with some running involved.

By the Numbers: Ran 100kms in 9 hrs 25 mins, ran a 51 min 9.5km loop in the dark after 140km 

Photos: Race images

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