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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Race Report: XCMansfield Marathon

Well that was a day to forget!

The Event

Before I go on - just want to say the event was really great.  Well marked course, small race feel, awesome venue.  I will almost certainly do one of these again.

I was doing the 60km.  But more on that momentarily.

My Race - 60km

I was out at a Tamil engagement party last night, which ended up meaning a plate full of amazing but spicy food at 10:30pm.  It wasn't avoidable, and it was delicious.  I got home around midnight.

Unfortunately the food decided to have it's revenge, as did the lack of sleep.  So I got to the start feeling pretty much like crap!

I lined up for the 60km start... looking around at the crowd, this was a pretty solid field.  Mostly team jerseys and such, I felt pretty intimidated!  Not that being on a team necessarily means you're any good, I've passed plenty of them in my time, but you can usually tell if someone is a serious rider - and everyone looked like serious riders.

I managed to get my stomach to settle and went to the start, lining up at the back.

Race starts - I manage to get by a few people in the opening kilometer.  Then we get into some tricky hilly singletrack, and I lose my chain... and find myself in dead last.  Picked up one place then missed a turn, and while doubling back lost that place again.  This was not going well.

And it was about to get worse... just 2km in I lose my chain again!  Except this time I realize it's laying on the ground.  I didn't have the tools or the link to repair it, so just like that my race was done.

The only saving grace was that we had been going uphill, so I coasted downhill back to the start.  After some pleading I managed to find someone with the tools and link who graciously sorted me out and I was back in business!

My Race II - 30km

It was an hour and a half between the 60km and 30km start, so I had some time to chill out.  My stomach had totally settled and I felt a lot better, more ready to race.

I wasn't officially racing, though... with the DNF from the first race they wouldn't let me get an official time for the second one.  That was fine, I didn't expect to be lighting the world on fire and by this point I just wanted to be part of it and get the riding in!

I seeded myself mid-pack for this one, as the competition looked more human!  There were also two races starting at once - the half (30km) and the micro (12km), so wanted to make sure I didn't get held up.  It wasn't really a problem though, course was quite wide at the start.

It was way tougher than I had expected.  The organizer had said on the web site "we have created a course with as few climbs as possible" ... which I took to mean a pretty flat course.  WRONG.  It was very far from flat!  I don't know what climbs they took out, because I spent most of the day going either up or down!  Some were quite steep, some were sandy.

And the sand was relentless... especially on the way back from the turn-around, there were times it was deep and nowhere on the trail was immune.  This briefly paid off as I caught someone having a worse day than I was who was terrible in the sand, but mostly it was just evil and soul-destroying.

I enjoyed a lot of the singletrack, though - it's a pretty amazing property.  Some was rough, some well groomed, some tight and twisty, others nice a flowy.  It was a great mix.


I don't know where I finished, but I really felt like I sucked out there today.  It was hot and within an hour or so I was really bagged.  That much singletrack and sand really slowed me down then kicked me in the nuts, I was in full-on survival mode by the end.  It's amazing just how different it is - last week I did 125km on the road bike without batting an eye, this year 30km of trails smoked me.

The only saving grace was that I didn't have to do 60km!!!  Who'd have predicted a broken chain would turn out to be a good thing?

To contemplate taking a shot at the 60km I really need to improve:

  • My weight - I'm too heavy!
  • Burst-recover-burst-recover - this is the essence of mountain biking and I've never really managed to be able to do this over a long period.  
I guess that's the good thing about taking on new things... you realize you still have more to learn!  Oh and next time I carry a chain tool and quick link.


Double Bellybuster said...

It's rarely a good day when sand kicks you in the nuts.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more, great race...but I thought the course would be flat and boy was I wrong! I didn't make friends with the sand either