It’s been 3 years since I last raced The Goat in 2011. It has always been a goal but due to injuries in the past 3 years my focus has remained more on achieving consistency in training and less on racing. This year has been more successful, and I have achieved better injury management by balancing my running with cycling more effectively. I have continued to improve my aerobic fitness through these periods, but obviously have lost some running-specific conditioning.
For those not familiar with The Goat course, check out my GPS here and also this flyover video here. 19.4km with 1000m vertical over boulders and marshes makes this course one of the most intense training running races I know of. I had to have a week off running after competing in 2010 and 2011 simply because of the intense DOMS.
This year’s race was a B goal for me on my build up for Orienteering World Cup in Tasmania, but I feel quite attached to this race and was definitely taking it seriously. I started very relaxed and was in the top 10 leaving the road on the trail. The race was never going to be won from here so I was happy to stay relaxed and let the physical terrain take its toll on those around me. I made a few over takes in this first flat section but nothing worth significant time as Nick Hirschfield and Shay Williamson edged off the font. I did however make some significant time on the first technical descent known as the switchbacks and I rounded off a clear top 3 at this stage as I closed in on the top 2.
As the course undulated though the middle half of the race I stayed strong on the climbs and found myself gaining on Nick who was losing ground to Shay, and was soon losing time on me too. Possibly more important than my strength uphill was my agility downhill and I kept myself out of trouble. I was just behind shay at 70 minutes but found myself losing time on the most technical descent of the course. Even Nick, who was obviously feeling better than when I passed him 20 minutes prior, came past me on this descent. I continued to fight along the flat section of board walks to get myself back in contention and closed on Nick who I expected to lose ground up the waterfall and Shay who I believed I could also pass on the waterfall. As I came down into the last big stream I was looking up to see Shay’s line out of the water and tripped on something, spreading myself into some rocks which didn’t move the slightest upon my impact. It was pretty big fall running downhill and I had lost a fair amount of skin but I stayed focused and tried to take advantage of the adrenaline.
At this stage it was clear that I didn’t have the running conditioning I wanted to, as muscles in both calves and my left hip flexors began to cramp when I used them too heavily. I changed my stride and made sure I didn’t jump aggressively. Just before the waterfall I fell again and had to stop to stretch out the cramp that resulted. As the trail turned to the skies up the water fall I passed Nick and was gaining on Shay but was still battling with recurring cramps. I noticed Chris Morrissey looking strong not far behind Nick. From this point onwards I was having serious troubles with my left calve and on the final short descent was passed by Chris. I was pretty disappointed that it couldn’t come down to who wanted to push the hardest up Mama’s mile to the finish but I felt that I could be losing a lot more than second place if my cramping got much worse. I finished pretty relaxed, but my calves felt like they were hanging of the back of my legs in tattered shreds.
Shay won in a time of 2:02:11, with Chris at 2:03:01 and myself another minute down in 2:04:03. I was really satisfied to podium in this iconic race and I will be back to fight for the victory. I had 2 days where it was impossible to run because of DOMS and now one week later I have been running but my calves are still not a great shape. After this performance I am really looking forward to World Cup in Tasmania, especially the long distance where I hope to be very competitive.