The Gods were unexpectedly kind to Running Wild on the evening of the Narrowneck Night race. A few hours beforehand black clouds had rolled over Katoomba, bringing heavy rain, wind and single digit temperatures, however by late afternoon the weather had cleared away leaving open skies and a cool breeze- essentially, perfect conditions for running. There was one downside- afternoon text messages and emails led to the catering being trimmed due to “don’t think many people will come out in this”. In the end, 76 people ran and the traditional post-race BBQ completely sold out prematurely.
Narrowneck is a narrow peninsula ringed by high cliffs which juts out of the escarpment on the south side of Katoomba. On one side lies the Jamison Valley and Mt Solitary, on the other the Megalong Valley. To the south east, you can see Sydney’s water supply at Warragamba Dam, to the south west the iconic ruggedness of Kanangra. A hilly fire trail runs the length of Narrowneck and gives splendid views in all directions. The narrowness of the peninsula means no car parking room “out there” so a pair of hire buses took runners out to the start, from where runners would race 10k against the sunset out to Clear Hill, the southern tip of Narrowneck. They then had to retrace their steps for 20K of racing.
Runners set off at 8pm on the weekend closest to the summer solstice; they had about 45 minutes of watching the sun descend behind the Jenolan area before headlamps came out and the odd glimpse could be seen of Sydney’s lights on the eastern horizon.
The intriguing match-up between Six Foot Track record holder Ben Artup and North Face 100 record holder Andrew Lee produced a two minute win to the latter, and eight more minutes to third place. The women’s race was a contest of the Jo B’s- Joanne Barton continued to be undefeated in Running Wild races but rising star Joanne Brischetto was not far behind and could push her namesake before too long.
Running Wild’s objective in the inaugural series has been to get maximum variety- big hills, winding singletrack, great views, waterfalls, and a night race. Some ultra-marathon veterans commented that it felt strange to be racing hard by headlamp- when the headlamps come out in an ultra, normally the only running is a determined shuffle.
Four Running Wild races remain- the Kedumba Challenge, Knapsack 3/6/12hr, the Bedford Creek trail run and the Mount Solitary ultramarathon as coda to the season. See you out there soon.