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Tuesday 20 May 2003
Caboolture (off)Road Runners

What do you do when you turn up to an organised event offering different courses and distances, then decide that none of them quite suits your mood?

Ian Javes and the Hungerfords from RunInn, along with an intrepid band of helpers, conducted the first of the Glasshouse Adventure Series on Sunday 19 May 2003. Called The Glasshouse 50, it included a 50 miler (80 klms) as well as 50, 30 and 11 kilometres options. Bruce Cook told us through the week that some parts of the course had to redirected and remeasured after very heavy rain leading up to the event. "You're going to get some mud in your shoes" he cheerfully told us. Boy was he right!

Glasshouse adventure begins The day started out well at 6am with the sun just struggling over the horizon behind mountains looking like stage props with a cool light breeze reducing those on the start to a shivering huddle. Steve Hayes and Mark Parsonson started in the 50k event while Glen Matinca and Bruce Cook were to head off later in the 30. With the course re-marked, an initial loop of 3.5 klms was to bring the 50k runners back past the start - which proved fortuitous for Mark as it gave him an opportunity to stop off at his car and hastily grab his glasses for distance vision (distance in this context means anything beyond about 1 metre). Last year Mark managed to fall over at both Glasshouse events then topped it all off with a cracker of a plunge at Binna Burra; so wearing the specs was always advisable.

If you have ever run at Glasshouse you'll know the "Goat Track". This windy, steep, uphill, narrow, rutted, mongrel of a track is so named because anyone who chooses to run it is a goat and only has themself to blame. Good news! We didn't have to run it this year, but something else which Ian called "The Big Goat Track". What does he mean by "big" we all wondered? This time he excelled himself and somehow found something worse, much much worse.

Up until this point the trails were good, soft bush tracks, formed gravel and sand roads through pine forest and native stands of trees. All the splendour of Glasshouse in perfect condition. Some trails were muddy but not outrageously difficult with water across the path at different places. Sometimes you managed to get around it and sometimes you just managed to get wet, but it was still good clean fun.

Mark had a sudden boost in confidence when he tripped and fell with a perfect 5 point landing - chin, both elbows and both knees - fortunately on soft sand and without major damage. Figuring a fall somewhere was inevitable, Mark took this as a good sign and got back into rhythm.

Although the 50 and 30 events take different courses they do share a lot of common tracks, and the 30k runners started at different times which meant that you were always coming up behind other runners and this gave you something to chase. It is a great way to manage an event and it really seemed to work well. It's good to share words of encouragement as you pass, or jump in puddles and splash your opposition - or just reassuring to see another person when you aren't quite confident you've taken the right path.

Unless of course they haven't taken the right route either, in which case you are both heading off into potential oblivion. Now if this happens, you can be philosophical about it, smile and backtrack to the right path. Or you can curse under your breath about how the other dopey runner lead you astray, smiling all the while of course, then you both jog back to the right course.

Let's just say that Steve and Glen were doing a whole lotta smilin' about now. 5 k's extra on top of 30 or 50? No worries, not even a challenge, chuck in a few monster hills in the extra bit while you're about it, go on, dare ya!

At checkpoint 7 the 30's went left and the 50's right, so Mark headed off alone having not seen the first placed runner in front of him since about the 5k mark. About 500 metres from Checkpoint 8 Mark and Darren Skillicorn passed in different directions, Darren having just left the checkpoint with about 15k to go. "Bugger" thought Mark "He's not lost and he doesn't even look tired. But he is only 1k ahead. Maybe, just maybe?" Ah, hope springs eternal doesn't it? After a GU, some water and a quick leap onto and off the scales, he was back on the road full of confidence and determination until...he spotted the third placed runner about 250 metres from the same checkpoint. He thought, "Where'd he come from? He's not supposed to be that close, why couldn't he get lost like everyone else? Smile, whatever you do just keep on smiling." Mark waved and wished him good luck. Good luck? Yeah right.

The Big Goat Track (Trick), just follow those power lines His memory of the course was a little hazy but he remembered it was a right turn at checkpoint 7b then just follow the overhead power lines. This will be good he mused, they clear underneath them, they are in a straight line, how hard can it be? The Big Goat Track (should that be Trick?) had started.

We guess that because the authorities do clear around the power lines so there appears to be a rough trail under them, that they look like a road to explorers in 4X4s and trail bike riders - or something that they should try to make into a road, at least by scouring it with ruts and causing huge parts of every sloped surface to erode away. Nothing like doing your bit for the bush is there?

Typical hill - the mud's at the bottom! Nevertheless, this was our mission should we choose to accept it. Go down, down steep slopes with quads screaming for mercy, plunge knee deep into water the colour of a good cappuccino (Steve went in to his waist in one spot), feel the suck of slimy brown mud around your ankles, stagger out the other side then struggle up the opposing slope, almost on hands and knees, heart rate and breathing through the roof, pause at top while head spins. Then do it again, and again, and again? Spare a thought for Bruce Cook trying to mark this part of the course the day before, watching his bicycle disappear in the mud up to the axles!

Bruce Cook coming up, up, up! This was the most amazing trail running/swimming/slipping and sliding anyone had ever experienced, witnessed by the fact that this stretch of a couple of k's out of 80/50/30k's was all people were talking about at the finish.

Steve's approach was a refreshing one and one which best sums up the appeal of this part of the event. He tells us that as he waded through the puddle which went up to his waist, he had a fit of the giggles! The whole thing seemed so ludicrous and bizarre that all you could do was laugh - albeit hysterically for some of us.

Guess the mystery object It was over soon enough, up Henesseys Hill then home - this was the bit where Mark started laughing uncontrollably!

Final results for the Caboolture (off)Road Runners? Bruce didn't get lost in the 30, Mark came 2nd in the 50 while Glen contested the 30 something and Steve won the 50 something. See? If an event doesn't suit you, just improvise, your own course, your own distance.

Helpers on the course and at the finish were brilliant, supportive and cheery, the post run BBQ, salad (look after those vegetarians), cakes and fruit superb, organisation professional - and in all honesty no one could really complain about the course marking. If you love to run in pristine conditions with clean clear mountain air, or wallow in the mud like a politician, The Glasshouse Adventure Series is a must, with the next event on 26th July at Beerburrum State School.

Hang on Ian, isn't Beerburrum one of the mountains up that way?


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