Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Maroondah Dam 50k - Preview

Ever since I saw the stunning photos from fstop5 of the 2013 Maroondah Dam event, this race has been at the top of my list, and I'm very excited to be running it this Sunday. It is held in the Yarra Ranges National Park, about an hour's drive from Melbourne, and finishes in Maroondah Reservoir Park.

The park features beautiful gardens set below the dam wall, with barbecues and picnic areas, so I will be taking an esky with some snags and steaks to cook once the race is finished, and we will make a day of it.

Rose Steps Rotunda beneath the dam wall

The course itself is fairly challenging with a couple of big climbs before the 30k mark, and a steep downhill descent for almost the entire last 10k, with some of it quite technical. Andy Turner has already given me fair warning that my quads will be smashed at the end of the day!

My pre-race goal is to run the first 15k quick, but within myself, then put in a big effort on the climb between the 18k and the 28k. The downhill finish doesn't play to my strengths, so I need to maximise my finishing position by running hard when others are taking their foot off the gas. 
Mostly, I am looking forward to the run along the dam wall just a couple of kilometres from the finish, although I will probably be too buggered to enjoy the view.

Maroondah Dam 50km Course Map

This year the race is AURA's National Trail Championship, a title that has been given a bit of a whack in some of the trail and ultra blogs in Australia, particularly given that the prestigious and talent-laden Six Foot Track marathon in the Blue Mountains was held last week.

However Six Foot does not even seem to be a sanctioned race by AURA (for whatever reason, most likely political), so I guess that rules them out. For mine, I think it is a great reward for Brett Saxon and his team at Trails+ to be the host event this year, after all the tireless work they do putting on this race and many others throughout the year. They have been great supporters of AURA and trail running over the years, and their events are always well run and affordable, at a time when the commercial operators are taking advantage of the growth in the sport and charging some exorbitant entry fees.

The run along the dam wall just before the finish

Personally, I feel like a top ten is definitely achievable, particularly with Mt Baw Baw holding an event last weekend, and a clash with Tarawera in New Zealand likely to hollow out the field somewhat. My training has been going well, and although I felt fairly fatigued after 25k in the heat on the weekend, a light week with a couple of rest days should have me ready to go on Sunday.