Monday, 31 August 2015

80km at Dawn2Dusk

What a sweltering day it was on Saturday at Dawn2Dusk in the Far North of Pretoria! But what a good day it was.

I hit the 12hr circuit race with running friends Asa, Staci and Ian and with my mom, Liz, as well as Celliers and the kids (Ruben and Kyla) as support.

Race director Gerrie gave a briefing at 05h45 and was, like his emails, very funny. But also serious. Race entrants often don't read what they're sent and they create a nightmare for race directors. I'm totally with him on this.

Asa, Staci, me and Ian before the start
The race started at 6am and morning temperatures were fresh and perfect. When we started the 100-miler runners were on the track; they'd been going since 16h00 the previous afternoon and most were looking very tired at 14hrs into their race.

With Asa at our support tent. Still early - many hours to go.
We had three 'events' on the track; the 100-miler participants, the 12hr solo runners and the 12hr relay pair runners. That made for a very bustling environment. There was also music coming from the timing area and, later in the day, two guys with guitars and amps pumping out tunes on the back end of the track. Gerrie also gave out spot prizes during the day, which runners and spectators could claim.

About 100m from the timing mats was the water tent. Sachets of cold water as well as cold 32Gi (the green and orange 32Gi is really good and not too sweet) and also coke and, I think, there was Fanta orange and cream soda. Also snacks like banana pieces, sweeties and other bits.

As our supporters were only about 50-metres from the refreshment tent, I ate from our table but appreciated and consumed many of the cold water sachets and 32Gi from the refreshment tent. We had PB sammies, fruit slices (apple and banana), nuts, date balls and anything else we asked for.

Asa and I ran together for the first 18-odd kilometres, putting down good distance in the cool conditions. We'd gone faster than I'd planned so I slowed down, taking it easier for the next rounds.

By 10h30 it was nearing 30°C and getting hot. It didn't let up for the rest of the day. I'm usually pretty good in the heat but I really felt it on Saturday. Other runners clearly were suffering too. Lots more people walking and runners splashing themselves under every available track-side tap.

My mom had a good thing going for us. I don't like splashing myself crazy with water because I'm so conscious of chaffing from my crop-top and/or shorts. I'd bend forward and mom would pour water over my head. I'd pull on my hat and carry on. Two kilometres later my hair was dry again! This really made a huge difference and I took advantage of regular dousings to keep my temperature down.

I also had one (or two) places where I'd walk on the track - sections of about 100m each. "Little Polly's" was a short 'ramp' that I would walk every round from about 25km in. Walking a bit made a big difference and having a bit of a breeze blowing helped a great deal.

There were a number of Washie runners doing the 100-miler and Asa and I said hi to the ones we remembered from last year's race when I seconded Asa. The one guy, Max, was taking strain and said how much harder this was.

At a circuit race the track is mostly flat-as-a-pancake so every metre is earned. For me, the monotony of going around and around isn't an issue because there are so many different people and interactions. I bumped into a few people there that I knew - Grant and Melanie, Caroline and Karen.

From two hours in I had second place in the women's race and I maintained this throughout the day. The kids quite enjoyed this and as results were posted at the end of each hour, they enjoyed telling me that I was still second. Very sweet. I'm not sure who the winning woman was but she was at least 6 laps ahead of me at 80km (I think she finished the 12hrs on 98km). Third place was about three laps behind. 80km is the required distance and, as Gerrie says, anything else is extra value.

Nine years ago I clocked 98km at a 12hr circuit run; one that was run in April and at night in conditions that were cool throughout (cold for supporters at night; perfect for runners). When the temps climbed on Saturday I knew that it was unlikely that I'd be able to better this.

My dear friend Allison came to visit at around lap 67 and she ran parts of a few laps with me. We caught up on news.

Race tradition sees runners collecting a red flag just past the timing mats on completion of their 79th lap to run their 80th lap carrying the flag. It's great fun both to cheer for individual runners and pairs carrying their flags as well as being cheered for as you run past.

My red flag - running my 80th lap
I crossed the timing mat to complete the requisite 80 kilometres barely a minute or two after 10-hours. This left me with two hours to keep going or to park off. In the two hours remaining I could have probably got in another 10 to 15km, even just walking. But, considering that I haven't done a run longer than 12-15km in months, I was really happy with my day.

Asa had finished a few laps before me; Staci and Ian had finished their pair relay a lap before me...

Asa on his 80th lap; Staci and Ian on their 8th lap.
I chose to spend the next two hours lying on a picnic blankie track-side, with my feet up on Celliers' lap, shooting the breeze and watching the runners. Asa headed out for a few more laps and having reached 85km he wanted to nail 90km on his GPS and then he came in. Staci and Ian each did an extra lap and then came to chill too.

Ian, me, Staci and Asa - 80km under our belts
Dawn2Dusk is SUPERBLY organised. Pre-race communications received from Gerrie, race organiser, were spot-on and efficient. On the day elements were brilliant.

A few things deserve extra mention:

A few laps into the race, up near the tennis courts, a tree root or such had been exposed. I nearly tripped on it. Within a few laps a chap was out there hammering / pulling out the offending item. He also trimmed some tree branches, which may have been catching taller runners.

The guys with the sound set up (guitars, amps, mics) playing tunes up the back end near the tennis courts were great and entertaining.

I only visited the track-side porta loos at 2hrs and 7hrs and both times the loo (I went to the same one) was spotless.

My mom said that there was a woman supervising a cleaning crew for the toilets at the school. She said they were spotless and clean and maintained throughout the day and well stocked with toilet paper. These toilets would have been used by runners as well as the vast number of family and friends and clubmates supporting their runners.

The refreshment tent was superb. In the heat of the day I drank copious amounts; a water sachet almost every lap plus a small cup of 32Gi and/or cup of coke every two or three laps. I didn't have any snacks here but they looked good and were always well stocked.

Just before prize giving started soup was dished out in cups for. Oh goodness! The most delicious and wholesome homemade soup!

At prizegiving all runners that logged at least 80km received a trophy. Newcomer individuals to the race received a green drymac-type branded race jacket. Those running their 4th D2D received a white jacket and pairs running their 4th together also got white jackets.

Saturday was an excellent day at this well-organised event with friends and supportive supporters. It was a pleasure to be there and I'll definitely do it again.

Extra special thanks to Asa for finding this run and tagging me to join him. I didn't need much convincing. I'm delighted that Staci and Ian decided to run too. My mom prepped food and kept us fed and watered (internally and externally) and taken care of throughout the day.

This is the first race that Celliers and the children have come to - and I hope not the last. Understandably, they're not entirely convinced about this running around-and-around-and-around a one-kilometre track thing but they're very supportive and encouraging and are happy to give me a pat on the back and send me off.

Until the next one...

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