This week in the life of Fraser (*cue early 2000’s style TV montage*) I was back to the business of bushwalking. The trip was a pretty straightforward one in theory, 3 days of walking with Gladstone High School (Gladstone, SA, not QLD…) in the Mount Remarkable National Park area basically along the course of last week’s Melrose 50km race. Couple of extra little doozies though to keep things interesting were:
- First time I’ve worked with Gladstone. It feels like having your first day at work when you’re with a new school but also not because you’ve been to the workplace (the bush) a few times. It’d be like if you just started working at Woolies or Coles one day, you know where everything is already, the task is straightforward but instead you’re partly responsible for all these random people in the store (or in my case, you’ve just met).
- The weather forecasted for this week was quite windy and a little wet on the first day which always brings a bit of unease through the students and their parents which then flows onto the staff.
Once the walk got rolling and we got past the initial feeling out/small talk stage it was a great few days and one of my best walks in the area. The weather made things interesting on Day 1 but the students bounced off the attitude shown by their teachers to have a really good approach to it. A bit of a breeze at camp made tent life difficult but these Gladstone students didn’t really seem too fazed. There is hope for the next generation after all. A big factor of why I enjoyed this walk more so than others is that:
- The Sense of Adventure was there! I had done most of this route before but not with a pack on and there was two sections of the route I hadn’t done that was especially enticing for me. The first one was I got to see something called Goat Rock. There was no Goat, but the rock was pretty good (Greatest Of All Time rock maybe??). Secondly, the route that was planned had an extra section that was possible only if the group was full of high quality students, which we had, so it was game-on. I gave the group a bit of a gee-up before we embarked on this extra section with a spiel along the lines of ‘we wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think it was possible, so, if you think you can’t do it, you’re wrong. You can.’ Despite my gee-up I was still a tiny bit unsure of whether these students would be getting into camp before dark. After the first major hill there was a bit of ‘we’re going over there! That’s bloody ages away!’. A bit more prodding though and soon enough the group was proudly at the top of the hill that was bloody ages away in only ten-fifteen minutes of walking. At this point all was good, except for an explosion of a 1L milk carton in someone’s bag but that’s kind of a 1st world problem… they got a new nickname out of it too though…Milky! A bit of off-track walking to get into camp was a final sting in the tail but it was a great effort by the group to get in by 4:30pm. The Sense of Adventure was present for myself throughout this day of walking because I got to break new ground and push the group out of their comfort zone a little bit. And the group responded really well as a result.
- The other reason I enjoyed this walk a lot is because there was a couple of reminders along the way about the impact that you make on people, and them on you, at seemingly innocent moments. I organised this walk with the main teacher at Gladstone in November of 2021 from memory. We’d only met once before in 2019 or 2020 at a bushwalking course where I was the assessor and he was the participant. Off that small connection we were able to catch up again in 2022 on this walk which reminded me that whenever you meet someone for the first time it is important that you treat them right as, being SA, you’ll be crossing paths with them again soon enough. To ram home this message even further for me, a friend from Uni appeared at our second campsite and I hadn’t seen him since 2017 which was great! In the debrief with the students afterwards I tried to convey this message to them in the hope that at the very least, they give each other a nod at school to acknowledge their involvement on the trip. You know, try to make the school environment a friendlier place for them all and hopefully they take that attitude through to when they are in the wider community.
I hope you get the picture now that the walk was pretty good and if you don’t, well, you’re probably someone that needs to try some bushwalking. Provided you make some common sense decisions about the route and what gear you carry, bushwalking is the easiest form of adventuring there is and allows for lots of conversations along the way that can revolve around goals, reflection, big picture politics, small picture gossip, yadda yadda you get the idea. Add to that, a good bushwalk reminds you of how simple life really is when you have all you need to survive in a small bag and anything that you add on top of it in the ‘real world’ is something you’ve chosen to add in. I’ll cut the crap there and get onto the next item of business for me this week. It’s good to have diversification after all in business…
Following on from last week’s 50km race I was trying to do a mixture of; recover from that race, add in some more training specific to the Adelaide Marathon in three weeks time and recover for Race 2 of the Trail Running SA Winter Series. What ended up happening was I fit in a good day of training before the walk started, did some easy jogging on the days of the walk and a bit of a hit-out on Thursday, when the walk ended. After that I cruised around on Friday (A.K.A easy jogging), continued my quest to run sub 16 minutes at Parkrun (failed, 16:21) and then spent Saturday afternoon resting. A busy week where I ran somewhere different every day. The one consistent focus I tried to bring to my running this week was instead of just training for the physical benefits of training I actually tried to practice being a runner in a more conceptual higher order way. Appreciate the fact that I am running and feel the run a bit more as opposed to tuning out to a podcast. I think it was good to remind myself of the fact that to be a runner means I have to run like it is a form of deliberate practice. And I also think it was good to have a consistent message in my running across the different venues where I was able to be a runner. How did this all play out on Sunday at the Trail Running SA Race?
Pretty bloody good as a matter of fact. The race started off pretty quick which I liked and I also had someone hot on my tail which is kind of a love-hate thing. I love the racing aspect and being pushed but also hate the thought of someone just following me and kicking past me at the finish. I’d thought in my head about a good place to try and break off from anyone at about the 40 minute mark in the race but when I was going through there I decided to just keep going at my normal rhythm instead. Fortunately for me though, or maybe there was some sort of higher being passing my thoughts onto Mr. Second Place, my normal rhythm was actually giving me my first real lead of the day. So I decided I would in fact push the pace a little bit, get some more breathing room in, smash a second gel and hopefully I’d done enough to break Mr. Second Place’s spirits.
And just as I started to relax to a bit of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ on some downhills, there he was again, only about twenty seconds back. Back into race mode it was for the next uphill section, you know, put the effort in, make him work to catch up. Turns out, that next uphill was the difference in the end with close friend, and friend of the website, Chad, spectating at that section of the course and later informing me of the gap I had created at that stage. But that info came post race and in my mind I was being chased by someone who I beat at Mt.Misery and maybe he wanted to get one back over me…
In the end, I crossed the line in 1st place in 1hr and 20 minutes roughly and set what I believe is a new course record by about 4 minutes which is nice. What was also nice was the amount of mates and family that were there at the end that I got to chat to. There was outdoor ed work mates, an old footy mate, an old climbing mate, my mate from last weekend at Melrose and even a Snowys employee too! All there at different stages in their running but all looked and sounded like they had a great time which is just another example of how simple and rewarding an activity like running is for ANYONE. Chatting to people afterwards who enjoy running is one of the better parts about entering these races for someone who does a lot of running on their own. If I had to sum up my overall race experience in the end, I think the best way to describe it would be as a tennis match between me and Mr. Second Place where I got the win in 7-6 (8-6 in the tiebreak), 6-4, 6-2. The first set lasted about thirty minutes where I had the edge in the technical aspects of the course, the second set was where I got an early break and held on to it, but didn’t improve my lead by much and the third set was where both players were fatiguing but I was able to hold serve a bit more often. If you’re not a tennis fan sorry you’ll have to get someone to help translate that…
Next on the agenda for me is a fortnight of bushwalking and the final tune-up period before my last road race for the year, the Adelaide Marathon. Aim of the game is to basically keep focused while working, not go too hard in training and prepare enough mental ammunition to rely on for when I start pounding the road for one final time for the year. Thanks for reading as always and thanks to Snowys and Tarkine for helping me out with gear to help me perform at my best.