Nerang State Forest 25km Trail Run

Nerang State Forest 25km Trail Run

Robert Nerang forest trackA middle of the pack perspective from Robert the Runner.

I turned up to collect my number at 6:30am for a 7am start, lots of people so I knew I would not be spending too much time alone in the forest today.

I was familiar with the first part of the course as we often train here in the summer for the shade and the breeze along the ridges, but the rest of the trails were unknown to me. I knew it would not be pretty after 3 weeks of rain but at least the creeks were now crossable.

Bernice had entered the 15km run (now found to actually be 17+km) but because she had a recent calf injury which was still tender was unsure whether to start or not but she had until 8am to decide so we said goodbye and I headed for the line.

A bit congested for the first 150 metres then through a small creek into the sticky mud, about 500 metres of it before reaching the fire trail and slightly firmer footing.

It’s all uphill for about a kilometre which made getting the breathing right very hard so shortened stride and slowed a little, still a way to go so pace myself. As I had started about the middle of the pack this meant quite a few were passing me going up, but I knew that it would be about running your own race, listening to the body and later on survival mode.

From the top its down a small slope and up again this one is all big rocks so it’s better to hit the high spots going from rock to rock, there’s the fire trail on the left so that’s 2.4km, then downhill, more rocks, more mud at the bottom, then up down, up down, and it’s the junction at 4.5km, had a few patches of good running in that last couple of kilometres, and some more here until its 300metres of steep downhill, slip, slide, and rock hop to coombabah creek at 6km.

A few are waiting to jump from rock to rock at one end so two of us decide, save time, clean the shoes, cool the feet, straight through. Now it’s an uphill climb for the next km or so to Siberia corner, no good trying to run it so its power walk to the top, passing a few on the way. Just past Siberia is where the 17km course goes left and we go right, so tempting, but turned right and carried on, more reasonable running here.

Passed a couple, the guy looked ok but the woman appeared to be finding it difficult, at least they were still moving forward, shortly after I dropped down and crossed Saltwater creek to the bottom of the infamous Heart Break hill, the only option was walk so with hands on knees at times up I went, then looking up there was a photographer with a long range lens how embarrassing, that won’t be one I’ll hang on the wall.

At the top of the hill I saw three runners ahead but they were moving away at a slightly faster pace and only having covered around 8.5km to here I wasn’t going to try and catch them, so I settled into a comfortable rhythm I knew I could maintain. Shortly after as I dropped down to cross Markhams creek caught one of the guys I had seen earlier, but in the kilometre was passed by a woman and two men all running very strongly.

By the time I reach the northern junction my legs are feeling it and my right foot is a bit painful from hitting a couple of big rocks, but now I turn right and head towards the turnaround, though the track narrows here and with runners going both ways it’s a bit tricky passing and twice I nearly trip. I follow a steep driveway down to Holyrood Road and I can see the aid station and wish they hadn’t put it at the bottom of the hill thus giving me another hill to climb back up.

There are a few runners having a rest at the aid station but I just want to keep moving so I grab a drink of water and 2 lollies and cross the timing pad in around 1hr 30min and head back up, talk to a runner with a red camelback on, he thought he was last till he saw all the people at the aid station and I assure him there’s a lot still behind us, as he moves off ahead. Just when I’ve decided that I can walk up the driveway faster than I can run it a lady in tights and an orange top runs past making it look so easy, by the time I get through the narrow track and reach the fire trail 2 more runners have passed but I am not upset as I am happy with the pace and the energy being expended.

Back past the northern junction again the trail gets better and running is easier, I catch up to and pass some on the downhill, they pass me on the uphill when I ease back. I hear voices and come to Macca’s corner where the 17km course joins in, at this point they have run about 10k and we have done about 17k so most of them are moving a little faster.

A couple of kilometres on, reach the southern junction with 5km to go and its all familiar trail from here, then from behind comes a heavy breather, one of those ones that put you right of your rhythm so I let him pass and he goes gasping off down the hill. On the next uphill I catch the gent with the red pack, I tell him its survival from here, he says there’s only one more hill after this, I know there’s two but I don’t want to spoil his day so I don’t say anything and move on over the top to pass the lady in the orange top from the turn around.

I hit the steep downhill with lots of big rocks and find it easier to run over the rocks than slide around on the smooth stuff, one last short sharp hill and I know its all downhill from here, the trail is pretty smooth so try to go a bit faster, feeling a little light headed, probably not enough water.

I pass the gasper as I reach that 500 metres of mud so go straight through, then it’s the small creek at the bottom to clean the shoes, over the pipe fence and the last 100mtr to the finish, trying to pick my feet up to look like a real runner, a shattered 69 year old home in 3hrs 4min what a great day. 91 in ahead of me but 65 still coming up behind, I think I’ll have a little sit down while I wait for Bernice to finish the 17k.

Just gotta love this running.

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