Sunday, May 08, 2005

Back to the Cotter

Late in the week I decided to join the Cotter group for a run on Saturday morning. I usually prefer to sleep in on Saturdays and run the ACT Cross Country Club race in the afternoon. I jumped in the car at 7.25am for the 30-minute drive. On the way I caught up to Steve Appleby in his 4WD and followed him.

There was quite a large group and Mick lined us up for a pre-run photograph. We jogged off over the new concrete fire-proof Cotter bridge at 8.10am. The usual shortest option is the 'Cotter 15 mile' (24km) but a number of runners were going to turn back at the top of the Jellylegs hill which would be "about 18k".

Back when I was 'fast' I ran many Cotters. This was in early 1992 in preparation for the Canberra Marathon where I happened to run a PB. As well as the '15' I ran the Cotter-18 (mile) and the Cotter-21. We usually ran the second half of these runs fairly quickly. A good day was under 1 hour 50 minutes for the '15' and under 2 hours 15 minutes for the '18'.

Yesterday I ran very gingerly up the first 3km long bitumen hill. We re-grouped at the gate where the dirt road starts. Then we ran pretty much together to the top of Jellylegs (9.6km). The group that I ended up running with included Debbie, Cathy, Carol, Steve, Chris and George.

I hadn't run this part of the Cotter since they felled all the burnt trees after the bush fires. It was quite amazing to run on those same trails that had once been shaded, damp and cool. I recognised the ups, downs, twists and turns of the trail but I couldn't take my eyes off a view that had always been hidden by dense pines.

Now you could look into the distance at rolling hills and see many kilometres away the exposed trail you'd soon be running. The brim-full Cotter Reservoir was in plain view and looking quite strange in a dry, dusty catchment bare of vegetation. You could look ahead and see where 'Jellylegs' went. Previously it was a mystery hill that tilted up and up at each turn.

At the top of Jellylegs, Steve ran on alone to do the 'real Cotter'. The rest of us turned back on the 'wimps way' trail which skirted the burnt-out Uriarra settlement. I was enjoying the run and even put in a bit of an effort on the downhills to keep the free-falling Chris in site. The Garmin showed one of these kilometres as 4:43. On the rare flat sections we were running about 5:10/km pace. My average pace for the 18.6km was 5:27/km.

It had been a run of mixed feelings. I was very pleased my dodgy hamstring didn't complain. It was sad to see the pine forest gone. Then again, it was amazing to run on the now well-graded trails in full sunlight on a brilliant blue-sky day.


Blogger Luckylegs said...

Good that the hammie behaved itself; I think I'd prefer the pines, the cool & shade that was there before the fires swept through; I can still see that blackened view from Mt. Stromlo; very nice description of what must have been a good run for you. Good to hear about.

10:40 pm  

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