The thought of running a fast time for a 100 km road race has popped into my mind over the past couple of years. As a target it rates a lower priority than my trail running goals but it persistently remains in the periphery.
When I realised that I would be in Australia during the running of the Gold Coast 100, a 100-km road race held in Queensland the peripheral target returned into focus. But luckily reality stepped in before I got carried away. Whilst I have run great times over the marathon and half marathon this year my mileage has been too low to allow me to convert that speed into a good time over ultra marathon distances. In the end I decided to attend the race, but without big targets in mind.
When the race started with first light I took off at my target pace of 4:48 min/km. That is the pace required to achieve a sub-8 hour 100-km time, and the target I would like to conquer at some point. I had decided to use the race as a gauge of my ultra marathon fitness, setting my starting pace and seeing how long I could maintain it.
It isn’t really possible for me to write the race report of someone else’s race when I wasn’t even present. This is actually an acknowledgement of an amazing performance by a great running mate. Kirsten will not brag about his own performance, so I will do it on his behalf.
I started running with Kirsten just after mid-year of 2011 while living in Johannesburg, South Africa. We were both members of Fourways Road Runners. In addition to Thursday time trials at our own club we would meet up on Tuesday afternoon for a warmup run prior to the time trial at the Rand Athletic Club (RAC). We started adding in weekend runs and races, and then Wednesday became our mid-week long run with routes such as the Bryanston Half and later the Four Peaks Challenge. The runs and the mileage continued to build up.
All in all I have run literally thousands of kilometres alongside, and often behind, Kirsten. His impressive pace meant that I was often running hard to keep up, and I can credit much of my vast running improvement since 2011 to Kirsten and our other running mates in Lindsey and Campbell.
Mielie Marathon – Fourways Runners
Golden Gate Challenge – Day 3 Post-Race (photo courtesy of Caroline Lee)
Pick n Pay Half Marathon – Approaching the Finish
Golden Gate Challenge – Day 3 Start (photo courtesy of Caroline Lee)
Mielie Marathon – the Fourways boys at the finish
Kirsten has also been present at some of my best running moments. In 2013 he ran alongside me for a new best time over the half marathon distance, and the finish-line photo shows that he was as happy at the result as I was. A couple of months ago we ran together down Avenue Foch as I completed a new marathon best in Paris.
McCarthy Half Marathon – Approaching the finish line
When I passed through the 10-km marker during my race at the Paris Marathon a couple of months ago I noted that it was the third-fastest I had ever run the distance. When I passed through the 10-km marker during the Como Landing Half Marathon it was the fastest I had ever run the distance by a full minute, with a plan to repeat that performance once more and then hopefully to put everything remaining into the final 1.1 km. But first let me rewind.
As I neared the end of my 12-month journey around the world I started looking at races taking place in Australia. When I finalised my return date for the middle of May the Como Landing Half Marathon taking place a week later was the perfect fit. I had run my best time over the distance in early 2013 in Pretoria, South Africa on a course that my Johannesburg running crew would call flat, but that most road runners would call monstrously hilly. In that race I had comfortably achieved my target of completing the race quicker than 4:00 min/km pace by recording a time of 1:22:30. This time I would target a time of under 80 minutes.
I arrived early for the race, and during my warmup run I noted that the course wasn’t perfectly flat as I had expected but featured a couple of small hills, including one in the final kilometre. As a person who enjoys hills I decided to take that as a positive since it would provide a slight change in the muscles that would be engaged.
It started to drizzle as race time approached and by the time we ran across the start line it had clearly increased beyond drizzle to a fairly heavy rain. I settled directly into my intended pace and tried to determine the number of people ahead of me, but with 7-km and 14-km races starting at the same time it was not possible to tell which of the runners ahead of me were in my race. Shortly after 2 km the rain had ceased but one of my shoe laces had came undone. I was interested to note when reviewing my GPS watch data after the race that I had managed to stop from race pace, tie my shoelace and return to race pace in under 15 seconds.
I passed through the 10-km marker in approximately 37:50 minutes, and after 12 km we passed the start/finish line to commence an out-and-back section of the course. When I noted one of the runners ahead of me turn around to complete the 14-km course I thought that I was possibly in 5th or 6th place. I could see the next runner ahead of me, with a gap of possibly 200 metres.