Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam 2012

Trail Running Shona Stephenson Manly Dam

I was knackered. I had been diagnosed with haemophilus influenza only 12 days earlier. 5 Days after my diagnosis I ran the 30/50 Challenge with my good friend and No Roads Team Mate Beth Cardelli in the 50km event. We won the female division and we came 3rd overall.

I was still really sick and lethargic. My goal for the Sydney Trail Series was to just win nothing more. Just do what you have to to win. There is always a doubt in your head. Is there going to be an amazing local 10k specialist who will turn up and blitz the field? This is always my thoughts when I enter an event.

After the safety brief we were off an running. My race plan was just to make it to the to the pipe line first at the 5km mark. If I could make it there then I could hold anyone off for another 5ks. I had to do this and not use up too much energy.

We all took off in Sydney Trail Series as a group. I was running fine. I tried to run without puffing, staying under my anaerobic threshold.

I crossed a bridge, jumped over a few creeks and I was hooning nice and fast until I hot the stairs and my quads SCREAMED at me. I was tired. Knackered. I had also been told I was low in iron and I needed to take supplements.

I let a few guys pass, and I did my best to walk and run to the top of the climb. After a few more quick rolling hills of bush stairs, rocks and creek beds I was at the top of the climb and ducking under the pipeline. I relaxed and rolled down the fire trail, I dared to peak behind me and I saw no females following. I scooted under the pipeline to again re-join the single man track.

I followed my friend Marc and my soon to be Ultra Training Australia  Client Michael, before a descent came and I was able to pass ahead of them, before I almost missed the turn but I was corrected by my two mates.

We exploded out onto the fire trail and rolled along the track, cruising up over the hills, and rolling down the descents I checked again for a female but I could not see anyone chasing me down. I eased up a bit and stared to conserve my energy.

Again I managed to get ahead of the boys on the descents without sapping my supplies. I checked my watch, 7.5kms, only 2.5ks to go as I passed the Sydney Trail Series aid station and almost tripped as I jumped back onto the single man track and headed down to the dam.

I eased up again and use my agility and down hill speed to keep me moving efficiently down the steep descent.I passed the dam, and powered back up the ridge where Marc and Chris passed me. I chilled out on the climb, not wanting to use too much energy and I rolled down the hill, conserving my energy, relaxed as ever and happy with my win.

Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam
Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam

Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam Race 2

Okay it was game on. I had a full rest day on the Saturday. I’d mini-tapered into the Sydney Trail Series and I was feeling full of energy and ready to run. I’d spent some time in the ACT running in the mountains so I knew that no climb around Manly Dam would feel big at all.

The crowds at the Sydney Trail Series had doubled in size there were now 3 waves of runners. I spotted a few new female runners on the start line who looked really quick. I shook hands with them all and wished them good luck. Bugger I thought. I was going to have to run fast to get away with the win this time.

The count down went off and we headed off as a group. I had to maneuver my way to the front along the road hoping that my fast starts would get me into a nice position. I called ahead and passed some guys along the rocky outcrops and soon pulled over to let them pass me again. I was running with fear.Thinking that all those fast girls that I saw on the start line were hunting me down.

I pushed hard up the climb to the pipeline and I dared to look back. I thought I spotted a female chasing me down.

I kicked it on, and dig deep. I pushed so hard I managed to catch and pass two guys who had earlier passed me on the climb. I just wanted to get ahead of them so I’d be out of view from the chasing female.

I flew along the fire trail and I again dared to look back but the hard effort that I’d put in meant that the female was no longer in site. I cruised for a bit then attacked the descent and i was caught by my friend Chris. I asked him if he’d seen any females and he suggested that there was no one near me.

I glided past the dam and let Chris pass me on the bush stairs and I followed him down another set of stairs and out onto the bridge where Marc passed me again. I tucked in behind Marc and turned on the turbo and speed across the bridge. I looked back at the end of the bridge and I had about 500m of clear air before the next runner Keith.

I bounded up the climb, and eased myself over the rocks and flew down the rocky out crop and tried not to fall over as my photo was taken by my husband Michael Leadbetter and I cruised into the Sydney Trail Series finish line with a massive 2 minute PB.

Trail Running Sydney Trail Series
Trail Running Sydney Trail Series

Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam Race 3

Again I was knackered. Brendan Davies and I ran a 30-40km Ultra Training Australia 6 Foot Track camp.I’d run 30ks plus the day before, waking at 4:30am Friday for my Pt Client, 4am Saturday for my Ultra Training Australia Camp and 4:30 Sunday so I could email my sponsors Inov-8 in the U.K. about my up coming international events.

I knew I was going to be pushed today in the Sydney Trail Series. The conditions were tough. It was so hot. I wet my cap a few times in the dam to cool my body down, hoping that the water in my hair would keep me cool while I ran. I headed to the start line and I found my friends waiting. I spotted the 2nd pace female winer from the last race and I wished her luck.

After a safety briefing we were off and running.I kicked hard, trying my bets to manage my pain that I was feeling in my legs. I had my period the week before, so I never perform that well after my period, I am usually lacking in a bit of iron. Lacking in iron means you are lacking on oxygen. I could feel my legs burning on the first climb.

Soon enough a descent came and I was able recover before the next set of bush stairs. I dig deep, telling myself that I had someone chasing me, but at the same time I did not want to be stupid as I knew I had the Maroondah Dam Australian Trail Running Championships the week later.

Marc soon past me on a set of bush stairs and at the pipe line I pushed hard down the descent to catch up with him. We seem to run the same way in every race. We chatted together for a few ks and I looked back and I could not see a female chasing me down.

Marc got ahead of me on one of the Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam climbs and I then seemed to miss a turn and I was flung out at the dam. Bugger, bugger, you idiot your lost. I was so tired that I was not concentrating on where I was going. I was knackered. My brain function was crap to say the least.

I followed a track that I thought headed in the correct way to go, and I was soon joined by another runner who had made the same mistake. Bugger, we were both stuffed together. We were both lost. This has cost you the race.

“Don’t you know the way?”, He asked.” Did you not win it twice before?”.

“I’m so tired I’ve taken the wrong turn”. I replied.

After some bush bashing we rejoined the track and we were soon making good time again. I spotted Marc in front of me and I tried to real in the lost guy on the bridge. I looked back behind me and I spotted Keith again chasing me down.

I ran up the bush stairs on the final climb of the day and towards the top I again took the wrong turn. Shona this is getting stupid. Concentrate. Your making stupid mistakes. Come on.

Keith caught me on the climb but I had enough speed on the flat and the descent to put some space between us. I galloped along the track and leaped over a log refusing to give up my position. I rolled down the hill and hooned across the finish line. Done. 3 Wins from 3 Sydney Trail Series Races.


Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam Race 1 50:16

Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam Race 2 47:59

Sydney Trail Series Manly Dam Race 3 47:47


Race Kit

Shoes Inov8 Trailroc 245

Socks Injinji Medium Crew

Shorts Body Science Compression Shorts Inov8 Printed Logo

Crop Top Body Science Inov8 Printed Logo

Visor Hammer Nutrition

Watch Sunnto Ambit

Race Belt Spibelt


Race Series Rank out of 10


Well done Mel and Sean from Mountain Sports

Awesome event, great location, well organized and fantastic prizes for the athletes and heaps of bonus lucky door prizes too.