Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Training and Footpoint Trail Series

Shona Stephenson and Beth Cardelli Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Trail Running Australia

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Training session for my No Roads Expeditions team consisted of Beth Cardelli. Our 3rd team mate, Andrew Lee was running in the Kokoda Challenge with Brendan Davies, Ewan Horsbrough and Clarke McCoughan up in Brisbane. Paul Robertson was resting before his adventure race in the following week. It was up to the girls, Beth and I to put in some tough kilometers in prep for the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 100km event in only 6 weeks.

I decided that to toughen myself up and to prepare my body for the onslaught of the Kuringai National Park, I needed to run from Berowra to Brooklyn and return. This would be our longest and most brutal training session for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney. It was the training session that was needed.

In the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to back up the next day and sprint 7.4km in the Footpoint Trail Series.I tried to forget that I racing the next day and I concentrated on the run ahead of me.

Beth and I set out from Berowra at about 7:20am. We headed out from Beth’s house down Berowra Waters Road, onto a narrow ruggered single man track and joined the Benowie Walking Track to start our Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney training. With in no time we entered a foggy Berowra Waters and started our ascent up to to Cowan Train Station. We quickly crossed the Pacific HWY, passed the Cowan Train Station and descended along the Jerusalem bay Walking track to run into the Quality Meats Team of Andrew, Chris, Johno (who drank an entire bottle of scotch the night before) with his dog, and a few extras of Marcus and another really “Nice Guy” who I was introduced to but I really can’t remember his name. We chatted together for about 15-20 minutes both team enjoying the rest and the chit chat. I even scrounged a “Perpetuem” tablet of the “Nice Guy” who I had only just met. Before long we all decided to start running again and we said our good byes and headed off.

Beth and I made great time running together along the Jerusalem Bay Track until we were held up by a group of girls from Brigidine College Hiking near. We chatted to another runner and the groups coordinators for some time and then forced ourselves onwards towards Brooklyn. After some more climbing Beth and I soon hit the fire trail and started the descent into Brooklyn. Just as I felt like we were making great time on easy kilometers along the fire trail Beth decided to make the run harder by suggesting that we take the GNW trail. This ankle killer of a trail, slowed us down and worked our agility to it’s limits as we half ran half slid our way through the fist size rocks along the old creek bed.

But within no time we were soon spat back out onto the fire trail and again making some good time again.

We turned right and let gravity have it’s way with our body until we reached the concrete graded section of the track. If the track is graded with concrete it means it’s steep. I had to zig-zag my way down the ridge like a slaloms skier until I hit the road of William Street. Beth and I were both out of water, we then re-filled our supplies in the Pub and made use of the nice clean toilets of the Brooklyn Pub.

After some chit chat, eating of crackers and sharing of some hydration mix between ourselves we headed back up the Old Great North Walk

Shona Stephenson and Beth Cardelli Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Trail Running Australia

trail and avoided the fire trail to make our way back to the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney course. We were feeling really good. I was hardly feeling the need to eat that much at all. I usually eat way more than what I was consuming on this training session. At the time it really did not bother me. We headed along the fire trail and again Beth being the total local that she is showed me a little short cut of walking along the Brooklyn Dam weir. We walked along it once, then decided that it was a photo shoot opportunity  and we walked back along it again, having fun and just messing around posing on the concrete edge of the dam.

After some time we put the iPhone away and started running again, up the ridge to Cowan. I felt good. My lungs felt as though they were working freely, and I could match Beth’s pace on this climb. We looked out for another photo opportunity at the top of the ridge. Taking in the view and enjoying the run.

We soon kicked it on and thought that it was funny that we had not seen the other group yet, considering that we were messing around so much. We ran back out onto the track and spotted “U168” written in the sand, Beth then decided to write “No Roads Expeditions” in the sand also. We giggled and pushed on wondering when we would run into the boys. They were completing the exact same run but in the opposite direction.

We soon entered the single man track of the Jerusalem bay track, and Beth over took me. She was on a mission to lead, and to make sure we were going to meet with the boys at the exact same spot as we saw them this morning. We kicked it on for about 10 minutes and we then ran into Andrew and Chris at the exact same spot as we saw them in the morning. I must admit that Andrew and Chris looked like they worked their butt of the get there! We again stopped and chatted for some time and we were then joined by the rest of the group with Johno looking really raggered. I guess that is what an entire bottle of scotch and 56ks does to you.

After about 20 minutes of chit chat and some photos we decided that we should keep going. I was starting to feel fatigued, the lack of calories and the stop-start nature of this run was playing havoc with my rhythm. Beth took the lead, she is so strong on the tough technical climbs. She showed me how it was done and I made a promise to lose 2-3 kilos before the next time we trained together. The climb up to Cowan , followed by the climb up to Berowra just killed me. Thoughts of not enough food, not enough hard training, being 3 kilos too heavy all played on my mind. I had to pull my finger out and train harder, become faster. I’d backed up the second week in a row with a 50 kilometer plus session and I knew I was having to race the next day against a fast road runner in the “Footpoint Trail Series”. I felt flat, and my crappy ankle started to hurt. This section of the trail is just brutal. All I could think of to make myself feel better is that I would only be at the 25 km mark instead of the 48 kilometer mark going through this section so my legs on race day will be way fresher.

When we ran into Berowra Waters I wanted to take the short cut back to Beth’s house. The race I was having to do the following day was playing with my mind. I wish I did not know of the short cut. Beth and I chatted for a little while. Beth encouraged to see how I felt at the top of the climb.

I decided that I’d try the Perpetuem tablet, I had no idea how to consume it, but I decided that I’d just pop it into my mouth and eat it like a fruit tingle. It was chewy. We giggled at my total stupidity of eating this tablet without following the instructions. The instructions were back with the “Nice Guy” who I met on the track earlier that day. But what else was I to do. (Those who have taken Perpetuem in the past can have a good laugh at my expense right now!) About 15 minutes after having the tablet I felt great, charging along. 5 minutes later I started to feel really green. We exited the single man track and headed along the fire trail towards Berowra Community Centre. I slowed to a walk, feeling like I could puke.

“Just have a little chuck”, Beth said.”It will make you feel better”.

“Okay, I’ll chuck. Nah, wait I don’t think I need to”, I took five steps and I let out a massive burp.

Ahhhhhh, that felt better. I avoided vomit. Excellent. We were almost out of the gorge, with only 5 kilometers to go. I felt up to the challenge and I had recovered some what. I don’t know what it is about me and running long distances, but I always hate the 30-45kms section of any training session or race.

We past the junction, crossed the creek and climbed the stairs. At the top of the stairs I got a phone call from my mum. She had been looking after my two girls in the school holidays for the past 3 days. It was about 2 o’clock and I guess she was wondering where I was. I explained that I was on the track about 4 kilometers from the car, but I was okay.

Beth and I hit the road and we started to stretch out and run. It felt nice to have recovered and stretch our legs. But we soon slowed by me worrying about my lungs as a large amount of dust , fumes and pollution was blown in our direction from a construction site. I pulled out my stinky thermal top and wrapped it around my nose and mouth preventing any particles from entering my lungs. I’d only just gotten over a lung infection and I really did not want to infect it again from something that could be prevented.

As soon as the pollution arrived it was blown away by the wind and Beth and I ran along the opposite side of the road and back to her house.

I was so bloody relieved that I was home at last. I’d bought my bike with me on the roof rack of my bike. The idea was that I hopped on my bike for 30 minutes after the run for a cool down. I don’t think I would be able to safely control the bike on the road without an accident. I have cleats, and I am way more of a runner than a bike rider.I felt a bit lethargic and i thought it was best that I just eat and recover, and get on my bike at home.

Beth invited me into her house, fed me a piece of carrot cake and passionia soft drink. I had not had passionia for about 20 years! I could only drink about a 3rd of the can it was so sweet.

After a stretch and some more chit chat I decided that I should go and pick up my kids from my mum’s house in Turramurra.

I was knackered and shivering. I grabbed the kids and kept going back home to the City. The minute I got through the door I had Mikey pull out the Turbo Trainer for me and I then rode my bike safely for 30 minutes as a recovery session. I then jumped into a epsom salt bath and had another stretch. I ate my kids custard and spoon fulls of golden syrup in to hope that I would produce some glycogen over night for my race the next day. Shortly after dinner I was asleep.


Footpoint Trail Series Race 3.

On Sunday I woke up and quickly ate my breaky. I yelled at the kids constantly trying to get them through their breakfast and into the car so I could be at the start of the Footpoint Trail Series Race 3. I ate a gel on the way again hoping it would help with my energy for the 7.4km sprint through a tough trail from Clontarf to Manly then returning via the roads through the steep Balgalah.

I was knackered. Really  knackered. I’d won the other 2 races in the series, so technically all I had to do to win the Series was to turn up and place. I was racing against a talented and up and coming runner Michelle Chadwick. She is in fantastic form running her first Marathon the Gold Coast Marathon in 3 hours 6 minutes. She was fresh. I was exhausted. I’d run 55km’s the day before and I was going to struggle. I wanted to race to show my support to the local trail running community and to advocate the Footpoint Store in Mosman.

After a short warm up I lined up to race. We counted down the start and we were off and running along 200m of sand of Clontarf beach. I tried my hardest to lead Michelle into the single man track but she just nabbed in-front of me. Instantly I knew I was going to tough run.

After a few hundred meters I was passing some male runners and a hundred meters later I passed Michelle. I was way more skilled on the technical trails than her and even though I was tired, I could still fly along the single man track. My lead was soon taken from me as we reached a climb of killer “Bush Stairs”. My quads were sapped of all energy. Andrew Vize and Marcus Warner, who were both out running 60kms the day before ran past me. They pulled up well I thought.

I soon reached the top of the climb only to be blinded by the morning sun. In my haste to get out of the house with the kids I totally forgot my trusty The North Face Visor. I could not see a thing running along the rocky ridge if the Balgalah Plateau. I had to guess where to put my feet by spotting the puddles in the rocks. But trusty Inov8 Roclite 285’s did me well and I was able to run blind along the rocks.

Suddenly I caught Michelle, she’d taken the wrong turn and was off course for a about 10 meters. “Go left Michelle”,I yelled ahead of me trying to help her out. I started to relax and just have fun. Michelle and I chatted for a few hundred meters, when we came to a set of descending Bush Stairs I asked to pass her. She kindly let me through and I said.

“Michelle watch me. This is how it is done”.

I took off and flew down the stairs 3 or 4 at a time, split leaping and just letting my body go.   I spotted Andrew and Marcus, and tried my hardest to catch them. The track soon became a tarmac road and then the climb began. Bugger. Michelle soon caught me, and I knuckled into my rhythm. Her cadence was faster than mine.

I turned across a few streets and tried my hardest to hide on the footpath out of site of Michelle and I did my best to real her in. She was hurting, I could see her take a few walking steps every now and again, I tried my hardest to just stay consistent and to stick with her. At the top of the climb she was gone. Out of site, around the corner. I chased her down and did my best to let go and let gravity do all the work for me.

She turned the corner, and I was just behind her, only 10 meters away. We entered the last street and I kicked it as hard as I could, but she was too far ahead of me and she won by about 10 meters.

It was a really nice race. I throughly enjoyed myself. I really had fun out there. I had a ball running with Michelle, I knew she was going to be better than me at that race, so I relaxed and let my guard down. I’m really happy to say that I can’t wait to go trail running with Michelle Chadwick. I think we might make great team mates…….Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2013 I think the female record needs to be lowered………