When the doctor put the kibosh on Qi Gong after the first recurrence of my ear infection I was a bit disappointed, because I’d wanted to do the full Perth Trail Series Summer Series of races. The disappointment was relieved slightly by the knowledge that Qi Gong was the same weekend as Lark Hill. Jeremy was planning on doing Lark Hill 25km Saturday night, and I wanted to support him but also had Qi Gong the next morning, with Jeremy flying to Adelaide at about 3pm Sunday afternoon for work for a week. After all that I’d really really need the Labour Day public holiday on the Monday. With no Qi Gong we could both sleep in on Sunday morning. Indeed, when I did wake up I realised that I am far, far too old to stay up late and then get up early the next morning.
When I got my competitor information email for Swissmurdie I realised I’d forgotten about the Summer Series Finishers Medal, but had spotted some information about “make-up runs”. On race day morning Melina confirmed that I would be eligible for the Summer Series Finisher’s Medal if I ran Qi Gong as a make-up run, submitting my GPX file with a photo of me on course, and wrote a few paragraphs. Not exactly a hardship, is it?
So Jeremy, Ben Oxwell and myself ran Qi Gong this morning. OK, sort of. We ran Gnog Iq, actually. That’s Qi Gong in reverse.
This is the problem with the Courses maps screen on Garmin – it doesn’t have navigation instructions, just the course marking. If you’re on an out-and-back course, or the path loops back on itself, you can’t really tell which one you should take. You don’t get an indicator that says “take this bit first, not that one”. You just get two lines. So when we descended and got to a point where it looked like a small rockslide, we should have taken the rockslide. As it was, we went right, and carried on, inadvertently running out and doing the finish of the course. That particular bit went down and then up, like the course description had said, but it turns out that it didn’t go nearly as far down and nearly as far up, and once we’d realised that while we were clearly on the Qi Gong course we must have gone wrong, we were too far in to bother to retrace our steps and start again. The middle of the course to the aid station turnaround and then to the finish is lovely easy trail, with the only sour note going through a section of the Wungong Regional Park that had been burnt out by bushfire.
If you’ve run the Short Course properly, the major descent must be a cracker, because it was an absolute bastard to go up. And the major ascent; after all the rain we had over the past 24-48 hours, was cloying, clay mud. I took forever to come down. I’d walk about 100 metres and realise that with all the mud I now had shoes with a taller stack height than Hokas. I’d gingerly walk a bit more, practically on my tip toes because of the wodge of clay mud stuck under my heels, then when I saw a suitably large rock I’d stop to clout my feet against it, knocking the majority of the mud off, then start reapplying it with my next step. Walk, knock, repeat.
As we were making our way up the ascent that should have been the descent, we decided that if you could limit the race field to about 25% of what a PTS race normally is, Gnog Iq Short Course would be a corker race. You’d be torn between using the easy terrain at the start of the race to get ahead of your fellow competitors, but know that you’d have to scramble up this ridiculous hill, so you’d want to conserve your energy some. It would be a delight to spectate on.
We’re going to go out again and do Qi Gong as it ought to be done, but I still feel like I’ve done all five of the races. And yes, Snakes ‘N’ Ladders was the hardest one.