25 March 2014

Finally a WIN!!!

Lithgow King of the Mountain: My First Win

Saturday was my first run in the local mountain run, the King of the Mountain at Lithgow.  It is a time-honoured event that has been re-entered into the Lithgow Show schedule for the past 5 or so years after an annual running throughout the middle of last century. Listed as 4.2km (but in reality more like 3km) out and back running up Scotsman Hill and back down again, incorporating a loop of the showground, this is a real leg burner!

So I turned up to the show with Kel and the boys and we had a bit of time to take in the rides, wood chopping, lawn mower races and so on.  The race started at 4.30pm and there were some ominous clouds looming on the horizon and a small crowd of runners began assembling. I could see a few that may have been a threat, last years winner who ran 5hrs at Six Foot and a lean and fast looking chap with an accent, yep there is always one!

With Charley and Beau shortly
after the win.
So we mustered in the middle of the showground ready to go.  We were given some rough directions and ready, set, go - we were away.  I led off from the start taking the lead onto the path that led out from the showground, at this point I was closely followed by another runner and we were weaving through the crowd at a fair clip.  We left the showground and I caught my first glimpse of the other runner, it was the lean looking guy from Europe and we ran side by side down the path towards the footbridge and the base of the hill.

I entered the hill just in front.  On the ascent we moved away from the field quickly.  After around 300m of climbing he passed me, this wasn’t a major issue as there was a large portion of the hill to climb.  The track was very steep (between 30-45% gradient) and washed out in sections, it was quite technical and I was paying attention to the terrain as I planned to attack this section on the return.  He had only moved 5-10 metres away from me and when we reached the beginning of the firetrail I was happy to remain in close contact with him.

Happy fellas!
We began running freely again but it was becoming more apparent with each step we took we had gone too far.  We exchanged some conversation and decided to push on hoping the marshal who we were told would turn us around would come into sight soon.  After the trig point and 2.2km we finally met him, he turned us around and told us we had gone too far!  We had all but given up on the result, surely the local runners would have turned at the normal point!

They didn’t… after around 300m we came back into the rest of the field.  A quick look and it was back on again!

He quickly accelerated on the downhill section of firetrail, gaining around 20-30 metres in no time at all.  I had to work hard to catch up and when we hit the steep single-track head he slowed with caution allowing me to move up behind him.  I knew I had to move here or he would take me apart on the flat, it was becoming more obvious this guy could run (I was thinking track).  After 45 sec or so there was a small fork in the trail around a big hole and it was here that I made my move.

I charged to the left and turned the power on passing him in a safe and sporting manner, there is nothing worse than someone pushing past on a steep and dangerous descent.  Once past I pinned back my ears and opened up allowing gravity to do its job, I basically fell off the hill, smashing the downhill that at times was 45% in gradient! I knew I had pulled away as I couldn’t hear him anymore and I kept pushing down as quickly as possible aiming at setting up the win.

The shield is awarded!
When I came off the hill it was about a km to go and all flat.  I pushed along the path back into the showground feeling as though I had done enough on the drop for the win.  After entering the trotting track I took a quick look back and he wasn’t in sight, but the announcement said he was!?  I looked again and he was there!!! His white shirt had blended into the track and he was flying.  I had to kick and kick hard, the last 500m hurt like nothing else (just what I wanted a 400m rep after a threshold hill climb). When I turned back onto the grass I had maintained my 150m gap and he appeared to concede that he wouldn’t catch me, but I still kept the hammer down.

I crossed the line in 1st place and knackered.  It took 21:37 and we ended up running 4.5km with 200m of climbing. I calculated we ran over by around 1.6km or around 7-8min extra putting us in at around 14min and that is still 2min off the record, which I’ll be back for a shot at next year.  I was happy with the race, it went to plan, I ran the way I wanted to and got an almighty battle along the way, which was great.  I enjoyed the challenge and it was nice to get a win up, hopefully there will be more to come.

It turns out that the European guy was Finnish, his name is Jossi Utrianien and he was traveling through town and heard about the race and decided to have a run with his wife, she also came in second.  He was a nice guy who said he wasn’t running seriously anymore just a daily run to keep fit.  Well after looking into his career it turns out not only is he a great runner but super humble as well.  No mention of his marathon pb of 2:13, no mention of his 2002 City to Surf victory and not a whisper of running 69th at the London Olympics in the marathon!  Wow, what a runner, no wonder he made so much ground up on the flat, I am lucky the track ended when it did!  He asked about my running and my Buffalo Stampede singlet but all in all he just seemed to enjoy the race and that was pretty awesome.  It is good to see elites just mingle and run no matter their achievements or results, find a sport that has that.
King of the Mountain Podium -
Matt Trouce(3rd), myself(1st) and Jossi Utrianien(2nd)

So that is that, I won a race officially, finally.  It was as much rewarding to win as it was to see where I am at ahead of Buffalo, my Skyrunning debut in the Ultra race, 75.5km with 4500m of up and down!  I can’t wait, partly to test myself against the course and the best runners in Australia and New Zealand and partly because the mountain ultra trail community will be together celebrating our first Skyrun event.

Gear and Stuff

Shoes – Inov8 X-Talon 190; these made all the difference in my view, light and fast and grip like nothing else.

Gel – One Hammer Banana Gel just before kick off, felt good throughout.

Clothes – Hammer Visor and shorts and the trusty Buffalo Stampede training singlet!

Watch – Taped up Garmin Forerunner 610, I’m gonna need one that runs longer at Buffalo. 


  1. Great scalp, well done. I love Lithgow, best people on earth, sounds like a fun race.