Monday, November 17, 2014

Mt Lofty 2 Murray Bridge 'Just Coz' Ultra

Once again, the wonderful, crazy cat Karen and I had drummed up another 'little adventure', as we continue to prepare for the big run from Melbourne to Adelaide.  The final 60-70km stretch into Adelaide was always going to one to navigate as we cannot head in along the freeway.  As such, we decide a few weeks ago to do a reccy run through there to check it out.  Don't want any surprises at day 9 of a 7km+ run.......

Initially thinking it would be just us, with maybe a couple of others coming along since we know some other crazy nutbags around, we put it out there on Facebook that anyone is welcome.  Well......... message after message, pouring in from all over the place, we end up with 19 people kicking off (including 2 running slightly late, intending to make up ground)

Having only punched in a very loose 'google map' route with 'walking' option clicked, the starting comment of "alright, let's go.  Which way do we start" really set the day in motion for what was to come..............  I know it's east and I know of 2 marked trails along the way, including the Pioneer Womens Trail, which runs past this starting point only 1-2kms down the hill.  That's good enough for me.......... lol

Taking our first step about 15 minutes after we'd planned was quite good considering the social, unofficial aspect.  It's been raining through the night, but outlook promised a cool, but dry day ahead.  For once, the weather reports were correct.  Cool, dry, and 50/50 sun/cloud.  Perfect!!!

The Pioneer Womens Trail offers some nice single track for most of this portion, with lush greenery, conversing through some nice parks and skirting through some well known and loved country towns.  Perfect for Karen to stop in for a coffee......

Once we leave Harndorf it's onto the navigation component until we pick up the Lavender trail near the end of the run.  Which way will offer the most gravel roads, over the bitumen?  Thankfully, we have a local on board, Lee, who sticks his hand up and offers some backroad options to head through.  Done! 

The next 30-35km is loosely 40% bitumen, 60% gravel.  A few rolling hills but nothing worth noting for the big day.  Somehow through this section, the distance left to go, seems to continue stretching to the point where the initial 63km estimate is blowing out to somewhere in the low 70's.  Of course Karen and I are finding this quite amusing, while some others may have kept a few expletives to themselves...... LOL

Eventually we stroll into Monarto, where we pick up the Lavender Trail, knowing it'll be a welcomed change getting back onto some single track.  No-one warned us it was 3-4 km of soft sand to begin with.  Grrrrr.  Navigation through here is a bit of hit and miss with the trail signs mostly missing.  Unsure if we're actually still on the trail, we stumble across some mountain bikers who confirm we are, but advise of an unmarked turn.  Lucky because we surely would've gone straight ahead.

Taking the turn, we head 2km up another dirt road, but didn't care because it was surely better than the bloody sand.  Hitting the end of this dirt road we finally turn right into Rocky Gully; a technical single track with some great looking rock faces.  We also know it's down to single figures to get into town.  Great relief!

After some very enjoyable km's through the rocky trails, we come out to the perimeter of Murray Bridge, and 1km after that, we get our first glimpse of the river.  Of course, the camera phones come out...........

Another 3kms, we're done!  But of course, runners OCD kicks in, and have another 400m to go until the rounding off of the full KM..... OK, now we're done!

What a day........... 

What was amazing; the support we received from my good friend Greg, Jon, and Darryl who met us at every 5-10km along the route, to top us up with food and fluids. In addition, we had a few others popping in and out to offer additional help. Thankyou so much as there is no way we could've done this without you all.

I can not believe the amount of amazing people I know in the running community here.  On a whim, say 'yeah I'll come along' for a 60km+ social run for no other reason than 'Just Coz'