Larapinta – the end of an amazing journey 

I won two wine glasses for my two stage race wins. This is why I love trail running.

Day 3 Race 3:

22km. 13km flat then 9km into around and out of a gorge. Another mountain. Also, hello 30 degree heat.

We woke at 5.30am. More pre workout. Awake.

22km. That’s the furthest I’ve ever run. My quads were on fire already. Uh oh.

We started at 9am. The sun was already high in the sky and preying on us.

13km of undulating trails – single track. I should’ve been in heaven. But I was struggling. The wine? No. Just a combination of the first two races and the heat.

The scenery was stunning, I used it to keep me going. Right foot, left foot.
I had my gel at forty minutes in the hopes it would perk me up. I put it back into my bag. Two minutes later I felt something running down my back, down my leg. Had my bladder burst?? (No, not my actual bladder)

I felt the back of my leg – sticky….my other gels. Uh oh. No more gels. No more sugar or caffeine. And 12km to go. Not good.

I got to the water station, tired. Through panting lungs I tried to explain to the water lady that I thought my bladder had burst. She looked horrified. She probably still is. I didn’t rectify her confusion.

Into the gorge.

Right foot, left foot. I kept going. The gorge was amazing. Red rock on blue sky on blue water. It was amazing. The gorge was amazing, that was my concentration.

I was alone at that point; I knew there were four guys ahead of me, and I knew there was a girl behind me at some point. I shouldn’t have cared, but I bloody well did.

I agreed with myself that I was struggling, so the plan was to run the flats and the downhills and walk the uphills.

Limp Bizkit came on – Rollin’. Suddenly Fred Durst was telling me to breath in and breath out, and keep rolling. So I did. And the plan went out the window. Hello legs. Thank you Fred.

I ran through the gorge, boulders, sand, trail. One more mountain to go then down hill to the finish. I climbed, I sang. I ran down the hill to Sweet Home Alabama.

Home. Finished.

First girl, somehow.

Happy. Exhausted. So many things.

I warmed down – I rolled out, I went in the cold pool and soaked. I never wanted to feel like that in a race again.

I don’t like talking about toes or feet, in fact I hate it. But sitting in the pool I noticed two toes looked very angry at me.

A flame and a needle later and they looked a lot less angry. 😱

Dinner was an all you can eat buffet. My Garmin watch told me I’d burned 2,000 calories during the race. Challenge accepted.

In bed by 9pm. Full.

Day 4, Race 4:

30km 14km undulating trails, one mountain to climb, 10km more trails. Once again the furthest I’d ever run. But what’s new?

We started an hour early to avoid the predicted 31 degree heat. So my alarm went off at 4.45am to get breakfast in early enough to digest. Yikes.

My legs? Felt great, refreshed, alive. Eager to get started. Pipe down legs.

We started, I dropped my phone. Someone picked it up. I restarted.

I ran with the lead pack in beautiful convoy through undulating (yes, I like that word) single track. I was in heaven (yes, I like that word too). 10km passed very quickly.

I jumped down into a river and my right leg buckled – pain shot down the outside of my knee. My meniscus. Shit. I continued through the pain for a few minutes and it went (dulled) so I carried on, luckily.

More amazing single track. Did I mention I like that? The guys were awesome. One was running on a twisted ankle. I won’t say what he was drinking to numb the pain but it definitely wasn’t water. I was in awe / jealous. I love trail running.

We hit the mountain and all walked up it. Kind of together but separating gradually.

Red rock, beautiful red rock. I love this place.

I got to the top of the mountain. Time to start running. I looked at the view, did a double take. Mountains and more mountains for miles. Breathtaking. Stunning. Lost for words.

I told myself to concentrate but I looked again….I fell. Less blood and less pain than the first / last mountain fall, but enough to bring me back to reality. Race jess, you bloody idiot.

I ran. And then came the downhill. A zig zag of red rock scree. Perilous. I loved it. Squeals and screams and maybe even some skipping.

This was bloody awesome.

Two lads joined me – so much better than me on the downhill, scarily so.

We got to the bottom. 10km to go. I felt good. I told my legs (yep, out loud) to imagine this was a normal 10km race. To go hard but steady. And they listened.

No girls in sight so far. I could do this. Sorry meniscus, I’m just not listening.

More single track, more in love with this place.

The last 6km were a mental battle. I felt good but a voice kept reminding me I’d already done 24km and I should feel tired….more ignoring.

Then more gels. I continued.

I could see home.

2km to go.

Skrillex came on. Yes.

The last 200m was soft sand. I sprinted. My legs almost gave out.

The finish of the 30km. The finish of the four day event.

First girl, forth overall. Stoked.

High fives all round then straight into the river. Hopefully no crocodiles….I had no fight in me.

Grateful.

11am – wine o’clock.

Presentations involved two more engraved wine glasses for the two further races I’d won. Then two medals – one for first female in category (20-39) and one for overall female winner of the four days.

Speechless.

More wine.

Total distance run: 81km
Total time running: 9hrs 26min
Total calories burned: 6,768
Total calories in wine consumed: 6,768
Total Bush bash injuries: 16 and counting
Total Toenails sacrificed: 3
Total Gratitude expended: More than can be put into words.

And now?

I told my legs I would take the week off…but I may have accidentally set my alarm for 5.30am tomorrow to get up and run. Because why not?

And next?

Angelsea 15km in September.
Although…there was talk of the Larapinta crew doing the Surf Coast Century 50km. Because why not?

Sorry legs.

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