Trail Guide Improvements and Additions 

Posted by Admin Thursday, September 30, 2010 8:18:00 AM

The old proverb that a picture is worth a thousand words is particularly true when it comes to track and trail guides.  Being able to see track conditions, general terrain and important turns and navigation points is important when deciding whether to take on a track and what to expect out there, and that why the Coast Track guide at EnduroExplorer has thirty photos to accompany the guide's text.

The trouble with that many images is the download hit as the page loads - each image is a high-quality JPEG 700 pixels wide with a typical size of 400kb, making for a hefty 12+MB download for users hitting the page.  While this isn't a problem for users on home or work ADSL connections, for those on mobile devices or tethered to an iPhone, the download hit is significant.

To solve this issue, we've used the HighSlide JavaScript thumbnail viewer to have a direct in-page popup of the full image from a 175 pixel wide thumbnail (which have a typical size of only 80kb), reducing the initial download hit to 2.4MB.  To see the full size image, just click on it, and another click will collapse the full image back to a thumbnail.

We'd love any feedback on the use of the JavaScript thumbnail viewer - is it worthwhile?  Should there also be a version of the track guide with full scale images?  What other aspects need improvement?

Over the next few months, we're planning on mapping out all the great Australian trails worth covering, and organizing to visit them over the coming years.  A new track guide covering the western Royal National Park is planned for next week, and covering the iconic 6ft Track and one of my favorite south coast runs around Jervis Bay   are defiantly on the cards for this year.

What other tracks are a must-do?

Coastal Classic Race Report 

Posted by Admin Monday, September 27, 2010 8:04:00 PM

 The inaugural running of the Coastal Classic has come and gone, and overall the race was a massive successful, with the event selling out, beautiful weather and great track conditions greeting the runners and a blistering 2:32 finishing time for overall winner Damon Goerke .

As I said last Tuesday, I was aiming for a finish somewhere in the top 30 - and I achieved that (just), with a finish in 30th spot with a time of 3:14:04.  The full results are up at the MultiSport Australia site.  Despite having done the Coast Track many, many times in training, the intensity of doing it under race conditions made for a challenging run.

The start of the race is down in Otford Valley at the primary school, and after a slight downhill to an elevation of 105m at the 200m mark, it an hard climb to 238m at 900m (~11 degree climb),  and this really gets the pulse rocketing.  To avoid bottlenecks on the single track sections of the track, the start was staggered with 2 runners starting every 5 seconds.  Fearing that there could still be some delays on the decent into Palm Jungle, I opted to get very close to the front and started in the fourth batch.  This made for some very fast running at the start, and by the cliff tops at 2km mark I felt pretty dreadful - dry mouth, struggling to catch my breath, and regretting feeling the need to push myself so hard so early. 

Knowing the course and anticipating catching my breath on the long decent, I keep pushing as hard as I could, and catching site of the Burning Palms turn-off at 3km was a big relief.  The pace down the escarpment was still fierce, but I managed to catch my breath and settle into a comfortable race pace.  In a normal training run, you'd take it easy in this section, but with 270-odd people hurtling down the hill behind you, there is plenty of pressure to step it up.  I had a few skids and slides, but the shoes gripped well and having a good track knowledge, I had a keen sense of where to keep an extra-vigilant eye out for tripping hazards.  At one stage in this section I heard a nasty stack behind me as someone stacked it off to the ocean side of the track.  When I looked back, the runner was fine, and the bush canopy that had tripped him up had also softened his fall.

Emerging into the shrub out of Palm Jungle had me feeling pretty good, with a few drinks out of the CamelBak during the decent providing hydration and energy.  The track was really dry, and the going into Burning Palms was nice and fast, with excellent track markings leading the way.  The hill out of Burning Palms again left my feeling pretty average, with the ascent more of a fast walk than a steady jog.  During training runs, I'd be much more likely to take it steadier going into a hill so I had the energy to make it up and over without dropping into a walk, but with so many runners so close on a tight course, its hard to settle into your natural rhythm.

The hills climbs over the southern beach sections went fine, with everyone around me opting for a fast walk rather than a run to get over the steep knoll between North Era and Little Garie.  I got to Garie in just over an hour, and it was good to see Linda and all the support crews there.  I didn't make the trip up the beach to the aid station, and just continued on along the sand at a steady trot.  There where plenty of dried blue-bottles on the beach, but they were sufficiently dry that they didn't sting even if they where flicked up onto your legs.

The climb out of Garie went quickly, and then it was down to fast running on the flat, good track into Eagle Rock.  On the downhill section to Curracurrang, I got a mild stitch and had to pull back a bit on the pace, but by the time I made it to the climb into Wattamolla, I felt good.  The course markings at Wattamolla were great, and I grabbed a Gu gel at the aid station there before heading back out. 

Photo linked from Kev Malloy's Picasa Gallery

Between Wattamolla and Marley, the field had spread out a bit, and I was largely running by myself -  I could only see about 4 runners in front and couldn't hear anyone behind.  Crossing Marley was difficult with the high tide and beach eroded by the previous weekends large swells making running slow.

I grab some drink at the final aide station at Marley, and then mentally set myself up to empty the tank for a strong finish.  I knew I was near my goal position of top-30, and I was duelling it out with another runner in this section, with each of us trading the lead a couple of times.  Coming to the end of the Coast Track proper, I felt really strong, and powered into the 'Sandy Desert' Jibbon headland loop section feeling good.  I was running towards the edge of the track in this section because of the sandy terrain, and, with about 2km to go, my trailing leg hit an exposed tree root mid-stride and I took a big spill.  Along with a minor winding, I whacked my right pinkie toe (cracking the nail) and bent my left thumb back, causing a nasty spring. 

After an obligatory minute of swearing and dusting myself off, I was back running, but the dual with the other runner was lost.  I did pick up another two runners along Jibbon beach, and once I got to the mid-point of the beach, I let it all out for as fast a finish as possible.  The run up to the RSL went well, and I was happy to cross the finish line in under 3.15.  My GPS watch read a distance of 29.47km for the course.

The thumb responded to ice well, and by Sunday I could open bottles again, and today (Monday) its pretty much better.  My legs are sore from the fast downhill section, but I did get out for my normal 10km Boat Harbour run along Cronulla today, and am back into normal training tomorrow.

The organisation of the race was fantastic, and I have huge appreciation for Kevin Tiller as event inspirer, Gary and the team at Maximum Adventure as event organiser for putting on a great run, and all the aid-station volunteers for supporting a great event.

The post-race festivities at the RSL were great, with a jumping castle for the kids, heaps of food and drink available for the runners, and first-aid available.  There was a great shade tent, and plenty of stands making it a real festival atmosphere.

The two areas where some slight improvements could be made would be the augmentation of the Otford Public School toilets with some Port-a-loos at the start (the queue for the facilities was very long in the half-hour before the start), and possible a few more course markers in the section north of Wattamolla.  The area around Curracurrang is really easy to get lost in, and I spoke to a few runners who had taken a wrong turn and bush-based for a while.

Overall, an immensely enjoyable event, and I'll definitely back at the next running.

Coastal Classic - All Set to Go 

Posted by Admin Thursday, September 23, 2010 5:27:00 PM

 With less than two days before the running of the Coastal Classic, all preparations are on track for a good race.  I did my final pre-race run today – an easy 8km jaunt from Martin Place around Farm Cove and Circular Quay through to Darling Harbour and then up King St.  The legs felt great and eager to run hard, and it took a conscious effort to drop back from a 4:25 min/km pace at a pulse rate of around 165 to something more moderate.  

It feels good going into a race when your legs have the feeling they want to surge forward, and my preparation has been quite difference toLinda’s experience preparing for her race.

In terms of food, I had an extra bowl of muesli last night and two bagels with jam in addition to the normal recovery shake I have after a run.  I don’t plan to have any huge carb binges before the race.  There is a maximum of about 4500 glycogen calories that can be held in muscle and in the liver, so it’s not necessary to stuff in meal after meal of food in preparation for a race.  The best timing for carb intake is after the last training runs as well, and I’ve focussed on post-exercise re-fuelling this week.  With a couple of hundred calories along the way from sport gels and the GuBrew, the risk of running out of energy during the run is very low.

On race morning, I’ll have my favourite of 4 large coconut-banana pancakes and 500ml of GuBrew with some Beta-Alanine, and a 500ml lo-carb Monster drink.  This mixture has worked well for me over the last three races, delivering energy, hydration and caffeine to get me to the start line feeling great.

The footwear for the Coastal Classic is a simple choice – Salomon XT Wings 2 all the way.  These shoes are wonderful for trail running – they have an aggressive grip that gives you a lot of confidence on steep and slippery trails, the toes guard is great for preventing damage to the toes and nails from whacking rocks and sticks, the lacing system makes getting the correct tightness easy and also avoids the issue of laces getting caught in twigs and coming undone, the shoes are light and supportive, have good cushioning, are light, and dry quickly after water crossings. 

The Wings are not as light as my Pearl Izumi Peak XC Trail shoes, but the lacing, grip, cushioning and protection make them a better choice for this race.  I wore the Peak XC for the Nowra King of the Mountain run as they’re slighter faster and that race was a combination of paved road and unsealed road.

The other important piece of footwear are Injinji socks.  The only downfall of the XT Wings is that they have a fairly narrow toe, and the toe guard means they have no give at all across the toes.  I tend to get some blisters between the smallest two toes on my right foot, and the Injinji socks do a good job minimising this.  I was initially a bit skeptical of these socks, with the concern that the extra material between the toes would accentuate the tightness in the toe of the shoe, leading to more blistering.  This hasn't been the case (so far) in my running, and the feet have generally benefited from these socks.

Preparing for the Coastal Classic 

Posted by Admin Wednesday, September 22, 2010 8:39:00 AM

 This weekend will see the inaugural running of the Coastal Classic by Max Advenure.  The race length is 29km, and follows the Royal National Park Coast Track north from Otford to Bundeena with an extra few kilometres tacked on at the end to take in Bundeena headland and Bundeena beach, with the finish at the Bundeena RSL.

A FatAss event along the Coast Track has been run for the last couple of years, but this eventually became too large and unwieldy to organise without support from National Parks (according to a post of Cool Running by the event organizer), and Max Adventure has taken up the running as a formal event.

The Coast Track is quite a hard course, and the 29km course is pretty close to the physical effort of a flat road marathon.  I've previously done a trail runners guide to the course that contains a heap of photos that attest to the difficult terrain encountered along the way.

I'm looking forward to the run - I had an easy week after the Mesa Falls marathon on 28 Aug, with around only 60km running in the final week of my US trip, and most of that on flat southern California roads.  The last two weeks have been my normal training distance, with around 100km a week. 

The typical week looks like:

Sun: 30-40km run, preferably on trail

Mon: 10km slow sand run, 1hr gym

Tue: 20km hard run

Wed: 16.5km trail run, 1hr gym

Thu:10km easy run

Fri: 90min kayak, 15km run - intensity deepening on how the legs feel

Sat: Rest

Yesterday I got out for a very hard 22km run from the Sydney CBD, over the Harbour Bridge and up to Crows Nest, out the River Rd to Gladesville, then over the Gladesville Bridge and back to the CBD via Victoria Rd, the Anzac Bridge and Pyrmont.  This one is my hardest and longest lunchtime run, it seems like the whole course is one uphill climb - theres the climb up out of North Sydney to Crows Nest, three steep hills on River Road, Gladesville Bridge, the two climbs on Victoria Road up to Drummoyne and Balmain, and then up and over the Anzac Bridge. 

This morning was my 16.5km trail run from Grays Point out to Heathcote and then back via Audley.  Its a 5am start to get this one in before work, and is a nice way to get outdoors for some mid-week relaxation.  The legs felt good going up the final climb out of Audley on the Honeymoon Steps, and I've got an easy 10km recovery run tomorrow as the last activity before Saturday morning.

The Coastal Classic has sold out with the 300 entrants spots filled, and I'm aiming for a finish somewhere in the top 30.  The Mesa Falls marathon had 214 finishers and I beat 200 of them home, and I'm feeling a bit stronger and readier for the Coastal Classic than I was for Mesa Falls.

There are three aide stations on the course, but the are only offering refill facilities and not cups.  I'm planning to use the aide stations only to pick up a Gu gel, and carry 2l of GuBrew mix with 6 scoops of powder and 2 scoops of SciVation Xtend.  The forecast is for a maximum of 25 degrees on the day, so 2l should be heaps, and I can always refill the Camelbak bladder if I drink more than expected.  I've got a Camelbak Flowmeter that I haven't used before, so the Coastal Classic will be a good test to see how it does monitoring how much of the 2 litres I've consumed.

The family is camping for the weekend over at Bonnie Vale campground near Bundeena, so it should be a great weekend.  I look forward to doing a write-up next week of how well the event went!

Page 8 of 8 << < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8