Thank you to the organisers of Wild Horse at Night (also known as WH@N) for providing me with the best blog post title I ever had. It sounds so romantic and dramatic, don’t you agree? Wild Horse at Night. NEIGH!! I particularly like that when combined with the previous post, the blog has developed something of an equestrian theme this week. I should have themed weeks more often, I think.
Wild Horse at Night is a race I have signed up for, taking place this coming Saturday night. As the name would suggest to those of you familiar with the Sunshine Coast here in Australia, it is held on and around Wild Horse Mountain (which is one of the Glass House Mountains at Beerburrum)
Yes, this means it is a trail run – or a cross country run, if you are from the UK. Although POMs and ex-POMs (such as myself) should be careful if we use that phrase in other countries, because I used it myself in a conversation a few days ago and my friend thought I literally meant I was going to run across the country.
SIDENOTE: I do class myself as crazy but I seriously wonder how I must come across to others when people who know me think there is any kind of likelihood that I would attempt to run across the country of Australia. For the record, the likelihood is definitely zero.
So anyway, what’s the deal with WH@N and trail running?
Well, quite simply my half-marathon training plan this week requires me to run for 105 minutes. And I have discovered that I am much more likely to run that far if I think that people will overtake me if I stop and walk. Because my massive ego hates it when I get overtaken.
I am not sociable enough (nor reliable enough) to join a running club and all the solo runners I know would be way too fast for me to tag along with. So “more races” is the answer to the question of how to achieve the required training runs for The Sunshine Coast Half Marathon coming up in 9 weeks.
This Saturday’s race at Wild Horse offers a few options in terms of distance. I have opted for the 16.5km race, which should easily take me 105 minutes to complete – particularly if I stick to the plan of going about 20% slower than my race pace and bearing in mind it takes place on trails rather than super-fast roads or paths.
In fact, in all likelihood I am going to be out on the trail for more like two hours.
The race kicks off at 6pm sharp, so I am quite excited to not only be testing my skills on the trails for the first time, but to also have to run in the dark. This has already challenged me a little in trying to work out what to take/wear to the race.
Some of the necessities are mandated by the race organisers – for instance, a running headlamp. I probably wouldn’t have thought to get one of those, but now I have been told that I must have one, I accept that obviously there is little hope of staying injury-free without one. There will no doubt be sticks and holes and various obstacles on the course to try and kill me. The fine print of the waiver also mentions creatures to be wary of (which I guess means snakes and spiders, generally found in abundance here in QLD although not so much now that it is our winter) and recommends I take a compression bandage on the course with me, in case I get bitten.
A sure sign that you live in Queensland: When you know exactly where in your house you can locate the four types of compression bandages you have stored and ready to be used. That bit was easy.
As for the headlamp, I did a quick Google search to find out where one would purchase such an item as a ‘runner’s headlamp’ and based on the results, decided to venture to Ray’s Outdoors.
Not a shop I go to often (or ever, really) Ray’s is a chain store specialising in hiking and camping gear, particularly for those who combine the two pastimes by doing super-long walks that require overnight stays.
It was pretty exciting stepping into Ray’s (ego engaged, chest puffed out) to choose my headlamp. The store was full of expensive clothes made out of weird materials like bamboo and crushed oyster shells (yes, for reals people you can buy clothes made from crushed oyster shells. Get yourself to your nearest hiking store to partake.)
My excitement levels rose further upon discovering that Ray’s offers no less than 12 different types of headlamps. What a treat! I had my chief technical adviser, Shane with me so we were able to take a little bit of time comparing exciting things such as lumens and battery life and weight. It was a wonderful time.
After choosing my headlamp – which was also on sale for half price thank you Triathlon Gods – I ventured over to the clothing racks. This was partly to stop my ego-affected head from continuing to swell to a size that would prevent me from exiting the store after choosing such a pro item as a headlamp, but also because I was a little worried about how cold I will be out on the trails.
After much consideration I added a merino wool top to my basket, which promises to keep me warm in the cold and cool in the heat (ie when I warm up and start to sweat) so I am hoping I will be a happy little runner whether it’s a cold night, or a normal Queensland night that isn’t actually cold at all.
I can borrow Shane’s CamelBak (basically a backpack for water) because taking my own water is also a mandatory requirement. Presumably because the organisers don’t want everyone collapsing on the course from dehydration. I will definitely take a couple of energy gels with me.
Last but not least, all runners must carry a mobile phone. It may surprise you to learn that I am actually one of those rare people who generally isn’t attached to their phone 24 hours a day and I have only carried my mobile with me on runs twice, both of which were less than 6km long.
Carrying a phone for 16.5km through woodland does not appeal to me.
Fear not though, dear reader, for once again the esteemed Aldi Buyers are coming to my rescue. On Saturday morning, just in time for the race, they will have a sports belt available for five bucks (yes you read that right, five smackeroos) which expands to fit keys, a phone, all sorts of bits and bobs. Perfect.
So I think I am all set – I’m registered and I have kit. Now I just have to get ready to move my tree trunk legs in a forward motion (and possibly also on an incline or decline for most of the way) for about two hours.
The organisers of Wild Horse at Night are spruiking log fires and hot soup or coffees and pastries at the finish line, too. Hopefully my cheer squad (ie Shane) will appreciate that if the weather stays nice and they (ie Shane) decide to attend. I might encourage a little hip flask of something more medicinal be packed for the non-drivers (ie Shane) too. And one light beer for me, perhaps.
I can’t wait!