Sunday, 29 June 2014

From the local stomping ground

Jabulani Challenge 2012

What is the Jabulani Challenge?

The Jabulani Challenge is a 24km or 43km technical trail run through the bush in the northern suburbs of Sydney from Cliff Oval in Wahroonga to Lindfield Oval taking in parts of the Great North Walk, Sphinx trail, Bobbin Head Track and numerous firetrails throughout Kur-ring-gai and Lane Cove National Parks.

I competed in the event last year when the direction was in reverse (i.e. Lindfield Oval to Cliff Oval) and had a great time running on trails (despite running 52km owing to running up a wrong path instead of taking a sharp left had turn) that were almost my backyard as I had run them many times in training over the years owing to the great proximity and likeness to the some of the course for the Six-Foot Track Marathon. I also wanted to support the great cause – fundraising for the Stellenbosch Community Development Programme (SCDP), which is a local community run charity supporting the Kyamandi School in Stellenbosch, South Africa to help feed 1, 800 children at the school every day. Amazingly, all the funds raised this year we were told would be enough to feed every child at the school for an entire year!

A brief account of a great day out in the bush…

The course was very well marked this year with obvious red and white ribbons at all forks and turns to make navigation easy even for the challenged. I started off by chasing some fast starters up and down the steep and rocky firetrails behind Golden Jubillee Oval and soon I was in the zone and had my eyes focussed on the technical footing of the single track to avoid any injuries early in the course. I was greeted by some friendly cyclists at the gates of Bobbin Head Road before heading down towards Bobbin Head via a wide firetrail. This trail turned into a single track on reaching the marina at Bobbin Head and followed Cowan Creek up to Warimoo Road where I found the first check point with well stocked bananas and staminade – just what I needed!

Next I followed the firetrail (avoiding the turn off to the Wildflower Garden – a mistake I made last year resulting in a nice little 10km detour) and climbed up to Mona Vale road, which I darted across before decending to a firetrail which started as the Cascades Track before turning right into the Middle Harbour Track. This trail followed the creek and as it wound its way beside, I was met with friendly faces completing the 24km course. Soon enough, I reached Davidson Park (Checkpoint 2) where I was again greeted with smiles, food and staminade which was certainly in demand owing to the temperature rising (now close to 10am).

I knew I was on the homestretch as I ran across the Roseville Bridge and later followed a nicely groomed firetrail (Twin Creeks Track) all the way to Lindfield Oval where I could smell a BBQ awaiting and after a quick look at my watch, I could see a sub 4 hour time was assured – a pretty pleasing day out on the trails – I tried to up my tempo on reaching the oval and was greeted with confirmation of a time of 3:53.19 – a 15 minute PB – I was stuffed but satisfied! I was ready for a massage – provided free to all finishers!

What made the Jabulani Challenge for 2012 a great day?

·         The volunteers manning the drink/food aid stations had done an extremely good job supplying fresh fruit, sandwiches, lollies and staminade for the underprepared (like me) who had taken no sustenance en-route.

·         The weather was fantastic with perfect start at ~14 degrees at 7am and rising only to ~23 degrees by 11am at the finish.

·         The course was so scenic so the ~4 hours it took to complete the distance certainly flew by.

·         The other competitors in both the 24km and 43km events were all so considerate of other runners and so cheery the entire day.

·         The organisation in regards to race timing, bibs, course descriptions and pre-race briefing was so informative but appropriate to a community event in a relaxed atmosphere.

·         The finish supplies – fresh fruit, hydration, BBQ, coffee and massages all for FREE made Lindfield Oval a very welcoming place after the effort of the event.

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