2018 Coastal High 50km Trail Run

Back for another Wild Earth Coastal High 50. After having completing this in the last 2 years, I knew the course with all it’s elevation and scenery that goes with it, and certainly excited to be doing it again with the Mountain Goat Trail Runners…
Leading up to the race, I had a fairly consistent set of runs and was relatively confident of the distance. Also over the last 4 months I have significantly changed my diet to eliminate carbs and processed sugars aka keto style of eating. Something that has been working well for me – although only recently have done just one longer distance run (21km at Yarrabilba), I knew my nutrition intake post 21km was a bit unknown as well.
Also, in the 2 weeks leading up to the run, I decided to revisit Luka my remedial massage, to ensure the leg muscles were still behaving. 2 weeks out was the first session, and realised my legs were excessively tight and knotted, I also had a followup session on the Thursday before the run. He did advise that they still needed some further releasing, but it was better than they were 2 weeks prior.
This year, in the week of the event, preparation was better than previous ones. No long haul flights the week of the run, and some decent nights beforehand.
The night before, staying at the Finish Line (Camp Site) provided a 3.30am wake up, 4am Bus departure and then a relatively small wait at the Start Line at Binna Burra for a 6.30am start. I had a half a peanut butter sandwich on the bus as a start.
One of the main draw cards to The Wild Earth Coastal High, are the organisers “Those Guys”, with the well organised logistics and professional but casual attitude – especially at the pre race briefing. Always a good laugh. Anyway, next thing we knew we were off. I was in Wave 2 (5 minutes after Wave 1), and started off with Pete. We made bit of an effort to get near the front of Wave 2, due the long single trails that lay ahead at the 3-4 km mark – at the start of the Lamington Trails entrance.
The first 20kms were magical trails, flowing, scenic and a few slight ups and downs to loop around the Binna Burra area. I was going quite strong and fast with Pete and had a good group of other runners we were having a chat to along the way. I lost Pete (he was going to fast at about 22km, and I had my 2nd 1/2 peanut butter sandwich. Through the last 22km, I was having macadamia nuts every 20 mins or so and relatively well hydrated. From memory the CP1 was at 22km, and I thought I would catch Pete – but the CP didn’t come around to about 25km on my watch….
After CP1, it was a steep downhill to the valley, another chance to have a bite to eat, another 1/2 sandwich and taking it easy on the steep terrain. Once at the bottom – we started along the road section and the first of the creek crossings. Going down to the creek and jumping a log, I started to jump the log and whola – a massive cramp under my thigh. Taking a minute or 2 to recover and try to stretch it out, I crossed the creek and walked for a bit, to try to stop it happening again. Having a little shuffle/walk along the road section and unlike previous years, we turned up earlier into an ECO lodge for CP2. A blessing with less road but still not having fun with the leg twinges.
After CP2, we cut off the road and into the first of the climbs, in a new section of trails – a much better alternative route to the previous courses, which was further along the dreaded road. Trekking up the first of four main hills, the cramps got worse. Having to stop a few times on the incline and stretch it out, I was passed by a lot of runners (all offering assistance one way or another). One think I was certainly missing was some Crampfix. As this has happened previously (see here) and I would bring some as a safety precaution – I accidentally left the bottle in the glove-box of my car at the finish line). Pushing to the top of the first hill, the downhill was even worse. There was a moment where another runner was with me helping stretch it out, where you could see my calf muscles provide some entertainment of what looked like a baby in a mothers stomach trying to get out!
The same on the next up hill and downhill, by then I had lost alot of time and Deb and Trav (the mid course sweepers came though) offering some assistance. Probably the best bit was the pep talk from them. Nutritionally I felt fine, I wasn’t thirsty and had plenty of salts and didn’t feel like I needed more.
Finally reaching Apple Tree stairs (900 or so) – this section wasn’t so bad, as I was limited to fast walking, as this was not triggering the cramps and I could start to pick up a bit of a pace again, albeit still a shuffle. With the last CP3 at the top, I wasn’t hungry and took another 600ml of water to do the last long decent, feeling better with the fast walk pace, reaching the bottom of the waterfall and then the final hill back to the top. My legs were fine with the fast walk back to the top of the last hill. I wasn’t hungry or overly thirsty just really frustrated with the cramping.

Cool view via relive:

Strava details
Finally reaching the finish line, well after I had planned for, I was happy to be done. With a massive cheer from the crowd and the MGTR crew and with the traditional hug from Matt and Chris, I got my finishers medal and finally had a chance to catch-up with everyone to see how they went!
My legs, where the cramping was, felt massively bruised and sore, but was ok to walk and take it easy. Fortunately staying at the finish line mean than I could keep moving and have a good stretch while all the other runners came though. I was such a fun positive experience seeing all the other runners come through the finish line and the different states of joy and completion. Staying for the final runner, a 77 year old runner, who looked like he had taken a couple of falls with bandages and falling injuries was definitely a highlight! Gives me hope that I have quite a few years of running to go in me!
Time to revisit a proper training plan and regular stretching and releasing of the knots in the legs, to ensure the cramping doesn’t happen again.

2017 Coastal High 50km Trail Run

Having this one firmly locked in the calendar (from last year – I can understand why it sold out in 4 hours) – the Wild Earth Coastal High 50 is an awesomely social and tough course that provides tests all factors of preparation of trail runners.

Having done it last year, and even wrote up a comprehensive blog on it, some things in the preparation this time were neglected which made it for a few different challenges that are always character building.

With the lead up training / running / drinking with the Mountain Goat Trail Runners, providing an awesome teaming and support with for logistics and comradery for the event.

The course was very similar to last years. Only the last 3kms were different – the climb back up from the bottom of the Waterfalls. Check it out on Relive!

The night before, staying at Settlement Camping area adjoining the finish area had it’s benefits of convenience at the end, but the price was a 3.30am wake up to get the bus to the start line (although it was a 5.30am wake up staying at Binna Burra). Although apparently I had a bit of a snore / snooze on the bus, so at least I got some shut eye on the way to the start line. Sorry Andrew!

With a friendly and cheery crowd at the start line area, I think there was about 330 runners (up from 220 last year), while it was certainly easy to find and share jokes / selfies with the ~30 MGTR posse 

Before we knew it, Wave 1 had begun, then 2 minutes later I was off, a slight decline start then a small track then reversing back up the hill up to Binna Burra Lodge to warm the legs and break up the runners.

Once at the top of Binna Burra, on entrance to the Lamington National Park the start of the trails began, the first 24km was a spectacular loop around some of the lookouts around Binna Burra and free flowing single trails to match.

At the first Checkpoint at 24km I was feeling great, we just had undulating hills with a gradual down, all very easy – also had a great social group to be running with.

As part of my nutrition plan, was to increase significantly my sodium intake, to reduce sweating and reduce the risk of cramps. The solution to this was to have a mixture of salt tablets and powders to assist. All was good, except for the inability to open the clip seal bags and pour the powder into my water flask. Bit of a rookie error, but didn’t really test it after running a decent distance – and half of each ended up on the ground. Also wasted 5 mins trying to do this. Something to fix for next time….find a fast powder injection into a Salomon Flask (I used this so I could measure 600ml serves per hour) – as opposed to the bladder.

Straight after this was a steep gravel decline heading down into the valley – just as bad as I remembered it –  but had to be done to get down to the valley. Then reaching the main road, there were a couple of creek crossings (so we didn’t go on the road) – each creek crossing was just enough to get the shoes wet – which was a  coolant for the hot feet, but this was over about 2km of running along a bitumen road.

Reaching CP2 was the end of the bitumen, with another flask top up (600ml – fortunately a lovely volunteer did the powder insertion for me) I was onto the next section, which I knew was the start of the incline back towards Springbrook. Realising we had a few Mountain Goats around – had to take a quick selfie.

Next up was some grind up hills which was manageable but continual – the 2 initial ones, then the stairs. 900 or so, which was made actually easy by a couple of school groups coming down giving us all encouragement to keeping going. This really helped, but either way it was a long slow shuffle to the top. After a little chat and some water refill, it was the final 8km to the end.

This section was again a gradual downward trail, feeling ok, but it was a more run / shuffle by this stage – then the last grind up the Settlement Camp ground, made easier with all the day trippers cheering us on – then turning the final corner was a decent crowd and lots of cheering – which was completely awesome! Reaching the finish line – Medal was put around my neck and fell into Those Guys arms. Feeling delighted – but shattered.

An awesome event – wish I could have stayed longer at the post event party, and shared the stories, but had to head back to Brisbane as I had already been away all week for work and wanted to wake up at home for Fathers Day.

Also happy to beat my time of last year by 20 mins.

Highly recommended. Great organisers – Those Guys! – fantastic teaming by the MGTR!

Nutrition:

  • PreRace (600ml of combined PhytoSport and Trail Brew)
    • 3 hours before – 3 slices of thick white bread with jam / vegemite – In hindsight probably 2 would have been ok.
    • 2 hours before – 1 banana
    • 1 hour before – 3 majool dates
  • Running:
    • Every Hour – 600ml of Powders, mixture of salt tablets, Trail Brew and Hydration – giving me 900mg of sodium per hour.
    • Every 20mins – 1 clif blok chew.

The nutrition plan worked ok, really happy with the first 25kms, but needed more over the last 25km to cater for the inclines.

Really happy I did the sweat test analysis for this, as I wouldn’t have had anywhere near as much sodium as my body needs. Thanks to Kirrily from AppleToZucchini for working through this with me.

Gear:

  • Salon s-labs pack (from The Trail Co) – worked well as usual.
  • Tracking: Garmin Fenix 5X
  • Shoes: Asics GT-2000 Trail (ready to retire) – Not sure what happened to these shoes, but my arches was in pain the whole way. Maybe it’s the recent runs in the other shoes with lower arch support and these are higher – but they are off the charity donation bin….
  • Clothes: Mountain Goat singlet and Lululemon shorts

Full details in the Strava frame below;