The opportunity to be at the first Gold Rush 42 km event was a good opportunity to compare it with similar distance events that I have ran before. Distance & terrain would not be a problem having run the Six Foot Track, 45 kms in the Blue Mountains behind Sydney, and having run many times at the Glasshouse Mountains, north of Brisbane. This would be a test due to the closed in nature of the rainforest and the heat and humidity. Plenty of creek crossings would help replenish fluids but I still had a back pack with almost 3 litres of sports drink.
I settled into near last from the start, not sure of the trail or how the humidity would play a role. Sweating heaps up to the top of the saddle, then more comfortable after that as I was used to the rocky, technical nature of the track, wet feet and all the ups and downs of the narrow trail. The causeway crossing meant a change in the nature of the track, much more open and similar to home. Running better here but catching no one, wondering about my plan to not finish last.
A beautiful red belly black snake nearing the car park caused concern but I was the only one moving. I had also started to meet the leaders who were at least half an hour in front, local knowledge & experience plus many years in age. A nice section up to the falls, I liked that part before returning on the same track back to the start. The tail enders including Neville were soon in sight, then a couple more later put me out of the danger zone. I was going well and actually finished a few minutes away from an even split. The run back was fun as I had done some calculations on whether I could get under 5 hours. Hammered the last part after the saddle with a bit of prior knowledge but the many drying rocky creek crossings meant slowing and starting time after time.
Finally made the finish to miss the 5 hours by 5 seconds, such is the nature of the events like this. I had great time, many thanks to the organizers for having the vision to put this on this event. I really enjoyed myself, just hard enough to be challenging but not destroy your self.
How does it compare with other similar events? Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail marathon is 42 kms all on good 4 WD fire trail, I run 3 hrs 45 mins. No comparison. Six Foot Track in the Blue Mountains held in March is an iconic event with max filed of 850 runners, time limit 7 hours. First 15 kms is undulating to down hill to the river crossing then almost 28 kms of up hill with the last 2 kms down hill to Jenolan Caves. A tough event, I run very similar times to this event, this year 4 hrs 52 mins for 45 kms.
The Gold Rush would be more technically difficult, not as much fully runable parts. But, the weather conditions will make Gold Rush a challenge especially for southerners. It will be interesting to see if any will make the trip north. They will find it really different, something special and good fun. Would they win? May be, on a good day? But, the locals have an advantage, knowledge, worth heaps.
A year of time to get more publicity out for this event and the Spiny Cray in October, and the off road running scene will be alive and well in north Queensland. Well done to everyone involved.