Marysville Ultra Marathon Festival 2011 - Report

This is my third running of the Marysville Marathon Festival, and without any doubt the best and most memorable race yet. On the previous two races I competed (if I may call it that) in the half marathons, but year I decided it was time for the Ultra (50 kilometer, well 51 and a bit according to the Garmin). So why the most memorable running so far?

Easy. This year the weather made for an absolute spectacle. True to Melbourne tradition the weather had it’s own saying this weekend, by ensuring to dump the area with a splashy 100mm of rain on the Saturday before the race. The result, I am sure you can imagine, were super duper muddy trails!

For those who were new to trail running, they got their money worth on trail. In fact it was so muddy that I decided to run for the first time in three years to run on shoes (yes, some mud claws were asked for) but I can imagine what it must have been like for those who are only trusted to the concrete. I am sure there are some converts among them.

The ultra and marathon kicked off at 7:00 AM, just after race director Brett Saxon finished explaining the route to follow. How hilarious it was that within the first minute of the start gun going off, the complete group of marathoners and ultras (maybe a bit over 100 people) got lost! Can you imagine if that would continue for the remaining 50 kilometers? This could become a long day in the office. Regardless, everybody I am sure had a bit of a giggle and luckily somebody was clever enough to bring a map.

Up a tiny hill, cross the road, and immediately we were introduced on what was to come. The otherwise clean trail was welcoming us with ankle-deep puddles of water that we all tried to avoid, but in no time figured this could not be done for the next hours, so forgoing quickly ignored. Wet feet within minutes. Jam, what else is out there?

A bit of zig zaging and we soon hit the Lady Talbot Drive. This road is the major tourist attraction for the Marysville region, providing access to many waterfalls and gorges forest and mountain ranges. The run went up hill for a good 10 kilometers. Yes, that is correct, uphill for 10 kilometers! The relief, so we thought. Off the main road onto a goat trail that leads to our first waterfall of the day “Kepples Falls”. Nice tough, and refreshing view over plenty of water thundering down.

Returning to the Lady Talbot Drive, this is where the marathoners were direct back ‘home’, while the Ultra’s were sent on for another pleasant 5 kilometers of up hill. Quick refreshment at the many present water stations, that doubled for fuel supply, and back downhill so we thought.

Not quite. After stretching the legs downhill for a nice sailing 5 kilometers, at the 23km point a sign came into sight. “Engage all leg drive”. What the hell! I tell you, if you were running around in your daily sneakers, you had a problem. This track (Camerons Cascade Track) goes up to the extreme. Let me know if you managed to run this, because I sure couldn’t! Wow!!!

Marysville Ultra Marathon – Elevation

But all good things come to an end, so eventually we leveled out on Sunds Road. By now we climbed a good 800 meters. But first another snag at aid station 6 (I think). From here on the trail made for the direction home, and some excellent views rolled by. The weather was still wettish and the clouds were extremely low. I moved around in the fog, mostly by myself, but so once in a while a little clearing opened, and this magnificent view of the surrounding hills opened up. Trail running full stop.

From here the hard work was done. Steadily we made our way back to the starting oval, to be send on wards to the second waterfall on our route “Stevenson Falls”. Yep, you guessed it, another uphill for a good 4 kilometers on bitumen (huh?) in the now present, surprise .. surprise, sunshine! In fact it was getting hot out there. After the falls, finally we were promised the road back is to the finish line. Yes sure. More trail over ‘slightly undulating’ rocky trail. Just what we need at the end of a long day. Loving it!!

When I did finally make it to the finish line (about 6:17 hours later), I discovered that everybody was listening to a speech, and nobody present to take my time. Was I that slow?

All in all, a great day out, and I certainly will be back for more next year. Hope it rains!

Gilda was out on the trail making photos from most participants in the half, full and ultra marathon on the Lady Talbot Drive. You can check them out in the gallery .
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