2km out-and-back to break up the field then a 2km road uphill until we hit the trails. Next 2hrs was up there with the best trail running i've done. Running through Lamington NP rainforest was really sweet and found flow along the single track. Got into that ideal rhythm that we all love and was cruising with 10 front runners enjoying the views along the cliff tops. 20km passed very quickly and was in the zone. Pace got faster as we reached a small uphill and felt breathing getting heavy so dropped back.
Long firetrail downhill out of the rainforest and knee started flaring up. Was kinda expecting it to do so and tried not to get worried despite just reaching halfway. Survived, then it got better along the flat road coming into CP2 about 8th. Ran straight through but in hindsight maybe needed to fill 1L here as temperature reached 27 in Numinbah Valley compared to 12 at Binna Burra - had 3L electrolytes for the race.
Overtook a few cooked runners on the undulating firetrails and found running up the steep sections rather than hiking helped knee. Was still reasonably fast on the downhill but in a lot of pain. Tried my best to be mindful of breathing and disassociate myself from the bomb going off in the knee. In Hounslow/UTA i identified too much with it but this time said i am aware of the feeling of pain but i'm not letting it overwhelm me. Shocked how effective accepting rather than pushing through it worked.
Didn't help that i ran out of water coming into and then up Apple Park Stairs so lost some time here. Only had 2 clif blocks the whole race (no other food) and had used them up already so was starting to bonk and had simultaneous quad/hamstring cramps towards the top of the stairs. I think that's the first time i've proper cramped which was understandable given i was caked in eye-stinging salt. Thankfully the aid station was at the top so sculled coke and drank more electrolytes. Sugar instantly hit and had energy to chase runners but had a long stair downhill to contend with. Had to really breath deep to get through and was hobbling down in places.
Last 5km through Springbrook NP was runnable uphill which suited knee and passing through rainforest single track again lifted me up. Awesome waterfall and plunge pools here too. Magic area. Energy was good running through the finish in 7th and muscles/feet/ankle could've kept going. Happy with this effort given current condition and worth the travel up. Could see myself living in this area too and will definitely return to explore more.
I think sub 5 is doable for me as the course suits my strengths well but have mixed feelings about racing it again due to excessive mandatory gear (5m strapping tape, headtorch, thermal, raincoat) and the unnecessary early start. Still need to get knee right which is on a slow mend but obviously runs like this don't help recovery. Will avoid >10% hills for a bit and focus on strengthening. Results