I entered this marathon eager to race but unsure of how I will go. In the few weeks leading up to the race I hurt my knee and recovery took a while. I was really looking forward to this race so I decided to still go in and have a great day. Luckily my knee healed by then!

This is a fantastic event and I really enjoy the course. A few days before the race, organizers had to make some quick changes. After an assessment of the Pipeline Pass they discovered that a landslide obliterated several hundreds meters of the race course between the Starlight Canyon junction and the turnaround at Glen Davis. I actually went ahead and trained through this section a few weeks prior and I knew that it would have to be shut because the trail was destroyed and the rock faces above the trail were unstable. It was a tough scramble to get through there!

The countdown down was on and everyone was as ready as can be!

A quick run through the campground being cheered by everyone and we were quickly on our own heading up to the Pipeline Pass where a steep climb took us to our first turnaround at the Pagoda lookout. Here, most runners gave a quick loud cheer which echoed loudly and I did the same getting an instant boost of energy before heading down to the Starlight Canyon junction – here we turnaround around to go back for another cheerful shutout at the Pagoda lookout – also took the opportunity to refuel on this section of the trail.

A quick sharp downhill run on the Pipeline Pass and I was back at the event hub. I had an electrolyte drink and headed straight outwith more happy cheers from everyone around. They happily announced on the speakers that I was the first female through but I was just happy to have done my first section of my race plan without any problems. I felt great. I also took the chance to refill my water bottle and food.

My next favourite section of the course was a run around the Ruins Walk, the Ted English Bolt course. This was pretty easy to run and felt like it went fairly quick, I got to see some of the other runners going through and more cheering and happy hi5s before reaching the event hub one more time. This was certainly heaps fun getting to see my loved ones for the second time.

Next I was heading out to run the second part of the marathon joining up on the half marathoners course and heading to my favourite spot, the Glow Worm Tunnel!! I was eagerly looking out for Nicole Purdon who was running to her finish line during the half marathon and made me jump for joy hearing her excited voice! – I forgot to refuel at the hub as planned and started to feel it, but was looking forward to a pit stop at 27km checkpoint (I think) . Here I had an electrolyte drink which gave me an instant boost (forgetting again to have some food as well) and was called over for a mandatory gear check where I had to show that I had my space blanket. Everyone there was amazing though and very fast getting me going again.

The run from here to the tunnel suddenly felt like forever, I needed food but was too tired to reach for it, so once I was through the tunnel (my favourite place!!!) I took the walk through as a chance to eat something which didn’t work well, I felt off and couldn’t stomach anymore food so I reflected on the race so far instead then mentally prepared myself for a strong downhill finish…

This downhill was heaps fun, I had this instant hit of energy right up until about 3km from the finish and then I walked for a few seconds because I was puffed!!! I picked myself up, reminding myself how amazing it is to be right there in that moment and before I knew it I was running strong again and made it through the finish feeling absolutely puffed out, aching but stoked to have done this.

I won first place, but also lots of hugs from everyone and that day I also ate a lot of food when I finally made it home.

Great event, beautiful track, amazing vibe.

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Florentina Dulceanu