I had spent 4 months from May to August working in Dubbo Hospital and this provided the opportunity for running the tracks and suburbs with renowned Commonwealth Games Marathon runner and Dubbo local Jane Fardell. Jane was a wealth of knowledge when it came to running routes, athletics tracks and ovals and we hit out some solid sessions together over this period.
It was on one of our long 25km early morning runs in the middle of the cold Dubbo winter that Jane mentioned that there was going to be a marathon added to this year's running festival and that I should give it a go as it was a chance to meet a great running community and experience a great country atmosphere with race HQ stationed at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
I instantly pencilled it in at the time but knew that the logistics and fitting it in to a busy work schedule might make it difficult.
Over the past month I had been back in Sydney building up the kilometres after a good hit out at the Centennial Park Ultra 50km which doubled as the National 50km Championships where I had run a solid 3:05 and felt that my consistent winter base training was paying dividends.
My weekly routine was getting some structure as I was no longer on shift-work and I was able to fit in regular double days (undulating morning runs and evening tempo runs). I had completed a 4 week block where I had remained injury free and illness free and building my weekly mileage. I was pleased with my consistency where I had run 160km/week minimum.
I knew I had set myself a busy schedule for the weekend, working in the Dubbo Emergency Department on Saturday for a 10 hour shift (8-6pm) and Sunday for another 10 hour shift (1-11pm) after the marathon...but aren't distance runners all a little insane!
After an early start to catch an early Saturday morning flight, I was glad to finish my 10 hour shift in Emergency and what a better preparation for the marathon than a pre-race dinner with Jane Fardell and family, as well as with Sean Williams and Cindy King. After a perfect carbo-loading dinner, off for an early night and almost immediately it was 5am and time to prepare for an exciting day at the zoo!
After arriving at race HQ at the zoo, it was time to get revved up by Mossy and Robbo (The Naked Runners) and get ready for a tough hitout. At 7am we were off with another 58 like-minded runners for the inaugural Rhino Ramble and after a short section through the zoo, we were off onto Obley road and the race had begun and I felt I was on local turf after numerous runs on this section of the course.
The race was 3 laps of the Tracker Riley Cycleway (approx. 14km each loop), a mix of bitumen, concrete and sandy loose trail, all surfaces providing challenges as well as the magpies who were guarding their territory in the breeding season!
I felt strong for the entire 1st and 2nd lap, trying to stay relaxed and maintain my pace and according to my TomTom Cardio GPS watch, all was on track for my targe time of around 2:30. This plan was slightly ambitious over the tough course with a headwind on each lap along Obley Road and as hard as I tried, my pace slowed on the 3rd lap, despite trying to push a little harder. The volunteers at each of the drink/aid stations provided great support when it started to pinch and plenty of local residents lined Macquarie Street outside their houses to provide support to all the entire race - a sign of great country community spirit!
Towards the end of the race, at 38km, I was at 2:19 on my watch and I knew that I wasn't going to run my goal time without running sub-3 minute/km and I would be better to enjoy the rest of the run and stay relaxed.
On entering the Taronga Western Plains Zoo at the end of the 3rd loop, I was excited to get a cheer from all the participants who had completed the Zebra Zoom and the Cheetar Chase earlier in the day and could hear Mossy and Robbo on the commentary, I was nearly there and ready for a much needed rest!
On crossing the finishing line in 2:36.17, I was pleased to have won the inaugural Dubbo Stampede Rhino Ramble Marathon and to have done it in the company of the Race Patron Andrew Lloyd (Australian Running Royalty). I was thrilled to have been a part of such a great occasion in Dubbo and to have shared the day with Jane Fardell who won the marathon for the girls!
After a quick recovery, I made it to work on time at 1pm in Dubbo Emergency and survived the 10 hour shift on my feet! A busy but great weekend and will be back next year for sure to defend the race record!
Inov-8 F-lite 195 (classic red)
Inov-8 Team Singlet
Inov-8 Teams Shorts
Zensah calf compressors
Injinji run 2.0 performance socks (purple/mid-weight)
TomTom Cardio GPS watch