ANZAC Day saw the running of the 31st Benghazi Open Handicap at Lancefield, this being my first Benghazi and by far the longest race that I have competed in so far.
I arrived at Lancefield around 12pm well hydrated, meaning that the first stop was the toilet before signing in, collecting my number and perusing the form guide. A group of 13 including myself made up the 21min mark, as the race started at 1pm, "Scratch" would be starting 40min after the hour which means my group would start at 1:19pm, 21min head of "Scratch" . At the time I thought 21min was a favourable handicap and something I could work with. Spent sometime catching up and meeting with members of my group before hitting the road to do some warm-ups before the commencement of the race.
During the warm-up I had a chance to check out a very small portion of the course which comprised one small loop of 30km via Newham and a larger loop of 45km via Carlsruhe. During the week leading up to the race I did some reconnaissance via "Google Map" particularly look at the terrain such as hill and my initial take was that it was resonable level course. I "rue the day" that I looked a "Google Map"
being on the ground give you a better perspective than a map will ever do, more on that later.
Race time, myself and fellow 21 minuters lined up for the pre race roll call and safety briefing, I alway fine this portion of the race the most nerve-racking, particularly the last minute. The count down comes to an end and we get the "Go" from the Starter and where off, picking up speed as we approach the first left hand corner that will take us towards Newham. Heading west along the Kyneton-Lancefield Rd the bunch settle in and starts rolling turns. The pace is quick with everyone taking their turn at the front, speed was averaging about 36km/h. The bunch arrive at the turn off to Newham in about 30min.
Newham was the start of the hills and I did not expect us to go through them so quickly, I was averaging something like 27k/h up hill.That was the point that end the race for me but more on that later. The section from Newham back to Lancefield was at a blistering pace reaching speeds up to 68km/h. We crossed the Start/Finishing Line completing the first 30km in one hour. So after crossing the line we where collected by the 18min group and the bunch quickly grow to 20+. Left back onto the Kyneton-Lancefield Rd for the 45km loop the pace pick up once more with both the 18min and 21min group working together with speeds approaching 48km/h. I helding as long as I could but the hills at Newham had won the day and my legs begun to faulter, all it took is one small rise and I was spat out the back. Of cause I had a few choice words for the moment but I kept slogging away, besides I was not the only one dropped.
Kept hammering away, picking up the other two who been drop, recovered a bit before the 14 min buch caught us. We latched on to the tail and hung in with them as long as we could but again I was spat out the back on another hill that the old legs could not would not apply themselves to. From this point on woulds it was just me, the road and the will to finish the race as best as I could while looking over my shoulder to see which group was to pass me next.
The race for me finally turned into a time trail with an occasional luxury of tagging along with a ever incresing speeding bunch. Reaching "Hanging Rock" I had time to joke around yelling out "Miranda" as I turned back to Newham on the final leg home. The stretch back to Lancefield was not as quick as the first lap but I still managed 22k/h up hill with a maximum speed of 62km/h. While I did not finish last I did finish, crossing the line in 2hr and 22min with an average speed of 33km/h.
I gave a cheer as I crossed the line while everyone was packing up and one lowly CFA Member gave me a "Round of Applause" which made me very happy
. Thumbs up to the CFA.