Oh Mount Macedon, you beautiful, complicated, soul destroying bitch.
Last weekend, I returned to the scene of the crime, my first ever run back at the mountain that was my first foray into the bush and the kilometres past the marathon.
To provide some perspective, my first experience was so traumatic that I waited 5 years to return.
I don’t know whether it was because it was my first trail run, first ultra distance or the mud and snow, but it was rough.
So this year to say I was a bit scared is an understatement.
I had signed up for the race series and was determined to complete it. So I went out and bought a fancy new pair of tights, the brightest happiest pair I could find and all my warm gear and off we went.
It didn’t start well.
I’m not being dramatic.
I missed the start.
The parking was complicated so I rushed to the start. The race was well underway, as I sprinted to the mark on the road symbolising the start.
I was in such a tizz that I started the race with my driving glasses on!
I was running with the race sweep, a privilege I usually reserve for the end of the race. Despite my heart rate climbing through the roof, I settled into a rhythm pretty quick and after a kilometre started catching up with the runners ahead.
I caught up with Mel, who I met at Maroondah, who appeared to be the only runner not wearing their entire wardrobe and a lovely lady who was running with her ultra dog.
As the fog lifted, the mountains opened up. The views were incredible.
I shuffled along, taking out my poles after the first decent climb. I had bought them specifically for the mud I was expecting after a week of rain and snow on the mountain but it was actually not very muddy at all.
At the Pines it all turned to shit with runners getting lost in every direction, each with a different reason why they all came unstuck.
So we all trotted back towards the start finish line.
The race course is comprised of two main loops, a 30km loop and 20km loop that both start and finish at a central race hub.
On the way back on the first loop, we ran into the 10km runners heading out. I got smiles and sweaty hugs from runners Id met at other events and work colleagues I haven’t seen in ages.
The second loop was the loop that killed me last time. It was undulating and muddy and the last 2 km is stairs, straight up to the Memorial cross.
I tried not to psych myself out.
I came into the aid station at the top of the loop and ran into Pricilla, who I’d met last year on the trails out at Lorne. It was great to see a smiley face.
The 20km loop on my own was tough. I was stoked with my running and shuffled the parts I could and hiked the rest. I don’t think I saw anyone on that loop but I followed the little pink ribbons up the never ending stairs to the cross.
Then onto the finish.
When I finished, 8:42 minutes after I started (8:44 on my official time, since I missed the start!), the fog had come back in and it felt like it was about to snow.
A PB of about 40 minutes.
I’ve been asked a lot lately about good trail runs for first time trail runners or first time ultra runners.
Would I recommend Macedon as a cherry popper? Hell no. I kept going, I signed up for more trails and more ultras but I think it could have just as easily gone the other way.
It’s not exactly easy terrain and every year people get lost, but boy is she magnificent.
I’d love to see Tour de Trails or Rapid Ascent stage a race at Mt Macedon. It could be truly amazing.