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Buffalo Stampede 2023

Isn't it funny the things we do to challenge ourselves, 'Cause you know, day-to-day life isn't challenging enough 🤣🤦🏼‍♀️

On Saturday the 1st of April I completed the @buffalostampede 20km Skyrun and it was up there as the most epic and challenging events I have completed in my past 14 years of trail running. And no the irony of it being April Fools Day didn't go unnoticed! After being granted a carry-over entry last year due to a (covid) cancellation it was more than exciting to arrive in Bright to collect my race pack. The event village was pumping with the 10km athletes already gathering for their 5pm race start. It soon became apparent that many competitors weren't here just for a single event, they were here to take part in 2 if not 3 of the event days. Looking up at the surrounding mountains I was very impressed!

One of my favourite things about trail running is the comradery and support competitors have for each other on course and taking the start line I realised quickly that Buffalo was going to take it to a whole new level. I met some amazing humans bubbling with excitement at the start line and as the sun shone and the hills lay ahead of us the banter, support, and constant positive energy really did help shape just how awesome the day was!

So a bit about the run... In many ways, it felt more like a hike with so much step ascent and gnarly decent! Yes, I had read the course brief and maps but it was still pretty epic hitting it front on. From around 1.5km we started to climb up. And we went up and up and up and up! 1287m of gradient according to my Garmin. It was crazy and spectacular and I loved it! And I laughed out loud more than once as I looked up to see more vertical ahead! The first main ascent was up to Clearspot and it was solid! It seemed to go on forever and definitely got the quads and calves burning. The pauses to look back (and give the muscles a little reprieve) offered the most amazing view over the valley as well as the many competitors hiking their way up the red dirt track. I don't always stop to take photos during an event but there was no question on this one and many others were doing the same. The view was magical with those cloud formations settled below.

While the map suggested a couple of kms of undulation before a solid downhill before taking on the infamous Mick's track it was still pretty rolling offering less reprieve than I hoped for. The advice was to go into the final third of the course knowing it would be tough and to ensure you had taken on some fuel and had plenty of fluids remaining in your pack. As we came over the ridge I prioritised getting in some good nutrition and the timing was perfect as we started down the fire trail to Baker's Gully. Coming down the fire track I heard a guy nearby pointing out an epic hill to the right. Naively I asked which course included that incline and was met with a chuckle and a short response of 'ours'. Oh, fun! I replied while trying to work out how and where we would meet the trail. No wonder Mick's track has a reputation!

Turns out is a well-deserved one at a tidy 42% gradient. Yes, it's a subtle 8% off vertical and it felt every bit of it! I took to it with my hands on the ground and spent the next 25 or so minutes in a flexed position scrambling up the trail doing my best to maintain forward momentum. Making it to the top was insane and so damn rewarding. As was completing the entire course. There was barely a moment to become relaxed or complacent as it demanded focus, grit, a solid dose of crazy, strong legs, and awe at the beauty of our surroundings.

Living in the flattest part of Melbourne makes training for an event like this 'fairly' challenging as Coach Chris has reminded me more than once so leading into Buffalo I decided to try something different. Getting out to the hilly trails more than once a week (if not fortnight) wasn't going to be an option so eight weeks out I signed up at a gym just to use their stairclimber and Matrix (self-propelled) treadmill. While 3-4 sessions per week would have been great the reality was that I managed 30-70mins on the matrix twice a week and the stairclimber busted two weeks after I signed up, never repaired (seriously 🤷🏼‍♀️). The Matrix and SkiErg became my two training buddies and the time spent walking backward on the Matrix did pay dividends in the end. While three days later my quads are still trashed they felt strong and solid during the event, particularly on the downhill and there's been no hip or knee pain at all.

So if you are looking for a challenging, hilly, scenic, community-focused event I 100% recommend Single Track Events - Buffalo Stampede and making a weekend of it in Bright! This year they had a 2, 5, 10, 20, 42 & 100km spread over 3 days with many doing an event on each of the three days (legends!) We are already planning next year, so which event(s) should I enter?! and who wants to do it too?!

A couple of training notes:

Nutrition. While it was a relatively short event, I felt like I finally had my nutrition down pat. It's been many years of trial, many errors, and constant struggles with food intolerances. What I've settled on are cold boiled and salted potatoes, homemade oat-based bliss balls, Koda electrolytes in my hydration pack and salty crisps from an aid station when and if they are needed.

Training, when you don't live in the hills! Squats, step-ups, weighted step-ups, lateral step-ups, hamstring work and more leg work. Two if not three gym sessions per week with a leg and core focus.

Choosing to include the Matrix and Stairmaster were positives and I would definitely factor these in again. They offered quality training that was transferrable to the event.

And of course actual running! The aim is always to hit the hilly trails once per week, but the reality was that when factoring in travel time around work and shift work sometimes these were pushed out to fortnightly. When my only option was somewhere like Newport Lakes every 'bump' was repeated three times before I moved on to the next. My two mantras are always 'something is better than nothing' and 'quality over quantity'!

Special mention must go to regularly scheduled Myotherapy treatments, good nutrition, polyphenol capsules, ice blue liniment, spikey ball, the Theragun and mobility work as these all played a big part in getting me to the start line in one piece.

So for now it's time to recover these quads and fuel this fire by booking in more events, that preferably include a family holiday and maybe a winery or too!

Note: Single Track also run the RollerCoaster Run in the Dandenongs, another event I love and have on the calender for this October!

Images: The view from Clearspot with other athletes in the background making there way up the track. The course and elevation and my Garmin stats!

1 comment

1 Comment

Apr 05, 2023

What an experience of a lifetime!! Reading the blog and looking at the beautiful pics, I can see the pics do not do it justice. Congratulations and so proud of you taking on extreme challenges xxx

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