Last year I ran in the inaugural CureKids Walk on the Wildside charity run held at Bethels Beach. My Auntie is the CEO and our whole family was took part. It’s a great course, 17km long, taking you through private farms and bush and eventually heading along the beautiful West Coast to Bethels. Last year was a great battle with a few runners up front and I ended up winning the race. So this year, it was time to defend the title.
This year saw the field increase three fold, and I knew there would be a few more challengers. What I didn’t realise that some of the challengers would be celebrity athletes including Shane Cameron, and Dion Nash! Second place getter last year, a guy called Mitchell, was also back and eager to turn the tables after our epic battle last year.
With the traditional pre race briefing and warm up including a short Zumba class (which I skillfully avoided) we were off. I remembered that Mitchell likes to start fast (he put 5 mins on me in the first 3km last year), and so I tried to engage him in a conversation (see the photos) early on which succeeded for about 400m and after that he was off, and I settled into a good rhythm. The game plan was to run the first half (which is pretty much all up hill) conservatively and at my own pace, and then really hammer the coastal walkway. After turning off the road and on to private farmland, Mitchell was 400 meters ahead, but wasn’t pulling away like last year. We kept this gap for a while and about 3km Mitchell made his first big mistake. Actually he made the mistake at the start. Wearing headphones. At a point where the trail parted and the course went up hill, he continued along the flat, and couln’t hear the marshall yelling. Eventually I got his attention but by this point he had lost his lead. I headed up the hill expecting to be passed at anytime, but it didn’t happen. I looked back after a long field and couldn’t see anyone. At first I wondered if I was off course but the markers assured me I was ok. Then I wondered if I’d been passed without noticing, but a marshall confirmed I was in the lead. Eventually I saw second place 500meters back but it wasn’t Mitchell. Later I learned he twisted his ankle twice, and although he finished he walked most of the course.
I didn’t see competitors from about 7km into the race and ended up winning comfortably, however I can’t say i’m used to leading the race. It was nerve racking wondering if I was being caught so pushed pretty hard the whole race. Hopefully I’ll get more chances to experience this ;-).
The highlight of the race would have to be seeing Mike Hale out training for the WestCoster on the course, I certainly wasn’t expecting supporters that far out!
I ended shaving over 8 minutes off my time from last year which I was very happy about and enjoyed a beautiful part of the country!
Looking forward to a good summer of running, see you on the trails.