Jabulani 45 – Mark Allen
Race Date: April 6th Results: 2019
I am preparing for UTA100 in May and decided on Jabulani 45km as a good practice race. I had done the 22km in 2017 as my first trail race and really enjoyed it so was keen to go back and see it again.
I have been steadily building up my weekly distance to about 100km/week and have been very consistent with my strength and conditioning work at Urban Base Fitness which has really helped my running over the last six months.
We were up at 4am on race morning to drive down. My wife Mel and her brother Andrew are doing UTA22 so they decided to do the 12km at Jabulani as their first ever trail run to practice.
Even though there was no mandatory gear, I elected to take my pack with some gear as that is what I was training for.
After chatting to a few people I recognised in the dark, and warming up, I got to the start line early. In the chute everyone was hanging back, so there was plenty of room at the front. There was a bit of confusion at the start as the announcer said 3, 2, 1 go, followed by stop, stop, stop, not all of you. He then proceeded to start the rest of us in groups of three. We were off, and it was amazing! A beautiful clear morning, running 5min/km along narrow single trail along the edge of the river, dodging rocks and lots of branches, in a big line chatting away excitedly. As we ran along, a few people came past and lots of people dropped off our train and soon it was just Michael, a Salomon rep that I have met a few times and myself, chatting as we climbed the first hill.
The first out and back, to Wildflower parkrun, got increasingly wet as we went out. My shoes stayed dry until almost the turn around when the puddles became too large and frequent to dodge and started just running through them. The track was quite narrow for the last few kilometres before the turn, so someone had to mostly stop to pass, but it was nice seeing the other runners. This is where I saw Jeff walking back out with a torn calf, which was sad.
At about 16km I was starting to have some slight nutrition issues, my body felt like I was behind in nutrition but my stomach was getting uneasy as it thought I was putting too much nutrition in. I will have to play around with this further before UTA, as this is the first time I have encountered this, but I don’t want it to happen again.
Once we got back to the shared course at 21km we were in the middle of the 22km runners, however the track got a little wider so we were able to pass easily. At the third aid station I stopped to swap my bottles over, and had a zipper malfunction which slowed me down a little so I was by myself. The course then went along a flat exposed fire trail, which was the most mentally tough part of the race, although I was able to see what position I was in at this turn around, which motivated me to try and move up a few positions. When we re-joined the 22km course it was very cut up and there were big sections of mud. I said hello to Tanja and Mark in the 22 as I went past which was nice to see some familiar faces. When I finally caught up with Michael again I had moved from 14th to 11th and it was about 31km, we ran together for about 5km, and it was nice to have some company and conversation again. Michael was starting to struggle and I was getting small cramps in my hamstrings which made it hard to match paces so I started moving ahead.
Coming into the last aid station was exciting as it meant no more climbing, it was all downhill left. I filled up a flask of tailwind and a flask of water and took off, with the aid station volunteers telling me that 9th place was only just ahead of me. My biggest mistake of the day was getting too excited and running too fast out of the aid station, because as I started going down the steep decent my hamstrings and calves were cramping.
The last 5km was like a dream, every few metres there was a 22km runner to pass and closer to the end there were 12km runners as well, every so often my calf or hamstring would cramp, but the weaving rocky course down the creek was amazing and I was so close I just had to get it done.
When I finished, Mel, Andrew and Julia were there waiting, they had all finished their first trail race. My legs were very sore from the cramps, but I was very happy with my result of 4:36:37, 9/154 overall and 2/14 age category. I need to work on nutrition and cramping, but I’m happy with my overall training. Next stop UTA22 for Mel and Andrew and UTA100 for me!!!!!