100% chance of rain, possible thunderstorms.
This isn’t the ideal forecast for a trail run, or anything that requires being outdoors, for that matter. But when you check the weather app before a long day of running in the Victorian Alps, the lightning bolt icon is not good news.
Wait, when did we start checking the weather forecast before a run? I’m pretty sure there was a time we didn’t watch the weather – we’d just grab our shoes and run. I’m not sure when it happened, or how, but somewhere along the way, we got soft.
I blame Lady Luck. For the past few years, she has blessed our ultra running events with beautifully mild running conditions. Not too hot. Not too cold. Wind in the right direction. No rain. Let’s face it – she certainly made it easier to cross the finish line.
This isn’t normal, I know. Every year we hear tales of runners bracing for UTA100 in freezing cold conditions. We duly arrive at the gear check with our running gloves and waterproof trousers, shuddering at the thought that this might be the year we have to wade through rivers of rain in the wee hours of the morning.
But alas, every year, we carry our $249 lightweight waterproof trousers across the finish line, crisp and unworn (maybe even with the label still attached), before throwing them back onto a mounting pile of never-used insane-weather gear.
Blood-boiling heat is another curse we have so far avoided. When we registered for Two Bays, a stunning 56km coastal run on the Mornington Peninsula, we noted with confusion that there are two event dates. Turns out, because the event takes place in January, the hottest month of the year, the organisers have sensibly scheduled a back-up date in case temperatures soar. This has happened. But, when race day rolled around last year, we were treated to mild weather. Sure, it was warm, but it wasn’t hot in that “even my eyeballs are sweating” kind of way.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I love running in mild conditions. But I wonder if it hasn’t made us a little bit, you know, soft.
I mean, it got to a point where we avoided going out in anything over 25 degrees because it was too warm. We listened with relief to running mates telling us how they trudged for hours through knee-deep mud during the GOW100s. I’ll run an extra 10km to avoid running on sand, for Christ’s sake, how could I deal with knee-deep mud?
Then the inevitable happened: the weather started getting a little bit crazy. We’re seeing freak storms, bushfires, record high temperatures, flooding… and that’s just the past two weeks. I have a sneaking suspicion Lady Luck might just deserted us. Just when we need her most.
In just five weeks we’re running the Oscars Hut2Hut 100km, and, let’s face it, it might be summer but the weather could throw anything at us. If there’s any time we need to toughen up, it’s now.
That’s why, when we saw a 100% chance of rain and possible thunderstorms, we told our inner Goldilocks to suck it up. Ten minutes was spent squeezing past each other in the Kombi to pack our running bags. Ziplock bags were flying around in a frantic effort to protect everything we hold dear (our iPhones and Garmin). Suncream? Nah. Raincoats? Yep, but we probably won’t wear them anyway. Water? Lots. CLIF Bars? Yep. Leftover Christmas cake…why not!
Twenty minutes and a triple shot of caffeine later, we were in Harrietville at the start of the Bon Accord track. Yes, it would rain. Yes, we would be soaked through. At one point, we would cower by the river, trying our best not to stand under the trees (which is difficult in a forest), as thunder rumbled around the mountains.
But I can say, hand on heart, that we loved every minute of that run. Who knows, it might even have made us a little bit tougher.