Willy2Billy 35k bush run

Running in Australia is a whole new experience.The short version: Hardest. Run. EVER!

The long version: Before we came to Australia, I looked around online to see what potential races or runs I might do while here. I came upon the Bilpin Bush Run 35k and sent some emails off to the organizers to see exactly how technical it might be. I’m not a trail runner, and on the rare occasion that I am off-road, I’m incredibly timid with my footing (read: slow). The race organizer assured me that it wasn’t too technical, but to keep in mind that the last 7k was all an ascent. Well, I should have kept in mind that I was speaking to an Australian, to whom “not technical” is very technical to me.

I had no intention of racing this–I needed to do a 20-miler for my marathon training, so this 21-miler fit nicely into the schedule. No tapering was involved–in fact I did hill repeats two days earlier (dumb mistake I learned!). We got started and within 1k I knew that for me, this run was going to be about survival. I checked competitive Amanda at the door. The first 15k was, to me, technical. It was also all up and down; no flat to be found. A pattern began to emerge–on the ascents, I ran, while everyone else walked. On the descents, they all passed me back. This worried me–did they know something I didn’t?We drove out to the race, which was in the Blue Mountains at about 3,000 ft. elevation. It was freezing up there–I could see my breath. But, I knew it was going to be a hard run, so I forced myself down to shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

I decided that I would stop at all aid stations to give my body a break, something I never do when racing at home. My low point came quite early, around 12k into the event. I was feeling lonely, missing my running friends, and also a bit scared about what lay ahead. Everyone kept talking about how hard that last 7k was going to be. Could it possibly be tougher than the front part?

At 20k, finally, we got off the single track and hit a small stretch of road. Then began the 8k descent on fire roads. While it was really hard to descend  for so long, I was happy to be off the really technical stuff. We then headed up for the final 7k. Again, tough on the legs, but easier mentally on my wimpy trail running self.

I finally hit the last aid station and knew that I only had 1k to go. Let’s put my time in perspective here–it took me 3:30 to run 35k. My last marathon, which is of course 42k-plus, took me 3:32. Yeah, this was hard. My legs feel like they DID run a marathon!

When I finished, I had the treat of hooking up with Barbie from Trying a Tri, and her lovely family. They drove over to meet us from their home more than an hour away. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them, which was so pleasant–the kids hit it off from the start and my husband and I really enjoyed getting to know Barbie and her husband. They once again showed us that Australians are some of the nicest people around. I really hope that we can return the hospitality to them if they ever come our way.

Tomorrow–time to concentrate on recovery. These old legs are hurting!

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    Congrats! Sounds super challenging but I bet it was incredibly memorable. Hope you are enjoying your trip!

  2. Mick says

    Congrats! You captured the Aussie "bad ass" attitude to push to the end. Now, take it easy on your body and enjoy your vacation.

  3. Petraruns says

    Wow! What a race! I sort of know that experience – I ran an off-road 30K road race last year which nearly broke me as I kept trying to do on-road type of speeds. I too had to suck it up. It's good when it's done though and it will make you stronger!

  4. La Historiadora de Moda says

    Amazing! I've never done a trail race, and know what you mean about being timid with your footing. I'm super impressed with how you've embraced the Aussie bad-assness you wrote about earlier and just went out there and conquered a really tough race!

  5. skierz says

    SOunds like a 'fun' race! It is so cool that you were able to connect with Barbie, the virtual world of blogging becomes real from time to time! I am still jealous of you and your family and such an awesome trip!(not jealous of that run)

  6. P says

    Wow, I think you get to call yourself an honorary Aussie now after a tough race like that! You rock!!
    And lucky you, getting to meet Barbie!

  7. Laura says

    Sounds like a really tough race! Well done for finishing it :-)

    p.s. so cool that you saw a load of boxers out the other day hehe

  8. ShutUpandRun says

    Wow, I think that is an amazing time for such a tough run. Good for your for breaking through some of those tough mental and physical barriers. If you werent' a trail runner before, you sure are now!

  9. Fran says

    35K? Wow! Well done on the run, although it was hard it must have been fun to run a race in a different country.

    Cool that you were able to meet another blogger.

  10. Black Knight says

    Congrats on the tough race. Do you have to change schedule now (you wrote that your legs feel like you ran a marathon)? However the races abroad are always a surprise!

  11. Jennifer says

    Great job on a tough race! You are so brave, but I bet it will be a story worth telling for a long time! Cheers!

  12. Ewa says

    Are you hooked on trails now? I bet you are.
    Congrats on sticking with it. Glad to see you are strong and healthy again.

  13. Matty O says

    flipping awesome girl!!!! What an amazing experience that must have been!!! I do the same thing when we travel, I am on google calling all the local running clubs. Something about running with complete strangers and knowing that the common bond of running is strong is just awesome.

    Great job. We did our first hill workout this year… I cam empathize with you right now… dead serious I am dead haha.

  14. Angie Bishop says

    that seems like a great time to me!! Trails are so hard :)
    I love that you ran a race in another country and how cool to have a bloggie meet up!

  15. Barbie says

    You did absolutely awesome and it was such a treat to meet up with you and your family. Look forward to catching up again when we head your way.

  16. Jill says

    I think it's so cool to do something "out of the ordinary" sometimes; helps break up the monotony of pounding the pavement. Congrats on finishing a very tough run! Yahooooo!

  17. Cynthia O'H says

    Amazing! I'd say that you definitely got your miles in for the marathon training – and an experience that you will always remember. Congrats!

  18. Happy Feet 26.2 says

    Great run! This will be a race that you remember forever. I would have been walking most of it, it sounds like. I will have crawled up the hills, and then "tippy-toed" down the hill because I'm very afraid of downhills on trails and bikes.

  19. Lindsey says

    Congratulations!! I probably would have cried once I saw what I was in for. How cool that you got to do a race in Australia!

  20. Beth says

    Wow! What an adventure! I bet you will remember that race for a very long time. I admire you for seeking out such a challenge and doing a great job. Congrats!

  21. AM-GoalsfortheWeek says

    COOL! love seeing a race on the other side of the world! thanks for sharing;-) and great experience for you for sure

  22. Patrick Mahoney says

    Great job on the race and as I mentioned over at Barbie's post today I think it's awesome you guys got to meet. Fantastic. Have a safe trip home..

  23. lindsay says

    soo cool! racing in australia :) had to laugh that they claim it's "not too technical". those aussies are definitely way more hardcore than americans. i would probably call this a mountain race! :)

  24. Irene says

    That worked out well! Race training and race all in one! I'm glad to hear it went well! It was also great that you were able to meet up with Barbie and her family.

  25. Marlene says

    Sounds like one crazy hard race! Good for you pushing through. Once you recover, you'll be stronger for it!