After a few easier weeks since returning from Europe I decided to enter the Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon, it's a race I won last year so I wanted to defend my title and also use it as a starting point for my build-up for Kepler. My family decided to come down for the weekend and also a few friends so we set up camp in the beautiful Kangaroo Valley, nice place but very noisy rooster so there was no problem waking up early for the race on Saturday. The conditions were amazingly similar to last year, light drizzly rain and pretty misty along the course although the water levels were nothing like last year and there were no major puddles out there.
The start was the usual relaxed affair and although I entered too late to receive a seeded entry it was pretty simple to just wander to the front which was nice. Barry Keem (race record holder) was in the race and from the start we went out to a lead. We were on our own pretty early and cruised through 5k running together and having a chat. The drizzle kept coming and it was pretty cool so it was good for running and the road surface was pretty solid. I drifted off the front at about 5k and just kept up a solid pace and I felt pretty good. My lead grew to probably about 30 secs and I wasn't sure if he was dropping off or taking it easy so just kept going on my own. It turned out that he was never that far behind and I could see at the turnaround points that he was running pretty well. I tried to up the pace a bit just after the 30k mark but didn't really have an extra gear. Barry caught me at 38k and I stayed with him until about 39k but then he took off and opened a big gap, I was still running OK but had no extra gear to go with him. Just settled in and ran strongly to finish in 2:48:59, about 40 secs behind and about a minute slower than last year.
Pretty happy with the result, ran a good time and it was good to have a race that is run a different way. I tend to start conservatively so usual have runners to chase but this time I had to think about leading the race and having a quality runner behind me and seeing if there was anything I could do about holding him off, turns out there wasn't.
Main plan now is around Kepler in early December, basically build towards that and probably do a few smaller races on the way.