Search This Blog

Dubbo Gully

The start of the descent to the Mangrove
Creek Valley.  Gymea lilies on the right.
I wanted to do a long run today, but couldn't face the idea of running on the roads near home.  I was still a bit tired from the race last Sunday, and my abortive run Round the Bay last Monday (see Post)was still fresh in my mind.  I needed to go somewhere more interesting, so drove 45 minutes  to Mangrove Mountain to run the Dubbo Gully loop through Yengo National Park, a favourite of runners and mountain bikers.

One of the great benefits of retirement is that I can go to such places mid-week and have them to myself.  There are two main Dubbo Gully options, a 25km and a 30km, with the 25km most commonly run or biked.  I really wanted to do the 30km, despite knowing it would be hard work and having struggled on it on previous occasions.  I chose to run the loop anti-clockwise, meaning the turn-off for the longer course came after 10km rather than 14km, making it less likely I would squib it and take the shorter course.  It also meant that the only water available on the course came later in the run.

Early settlers' graves in the Mangrove Creek valley
My right Achilles was sore from the moment I got up, but I was hopeful that adding the new heel raises that arrived yesterday to my trail shoes would alleviate some of the pressure.  I set out around 8:30am on a mild morning for the long 3km downhill stretch into the Mangrove Creek valley, not feeling particularly spritely, but pleased that my Achilles pain was minimal.  It's hard not to run this downhill section without wondering how well you will manage the return journey.  It is a long hill.

Looking across Yengo National Park
I was already quite warm by the time I reached the bridge across the Mangrove Creek, so removed my T-shirt and hid it for retrieval on the return journey.  I was starting to think that I should have hidden a Gatorade there as well.  My pace was slow and I enjoyed the quiet valley, which had once been the home to settlers but now formed part of the National Park.  There were open pastures by the Creek, and I passed a small settlers' graveyard by the side of the road.  There was little breeze and just the sounds of birds to disturb the stillness.  This really is one of my favourite places to run or ride.  I left the valley for the long climb through the forest on Donny's Track, scaring the occasional lyrebird which ran screeching off into the bush, and hearing rustles in the leaf matter by the trail every so often, probably a lizard, but maybe a snake.  Although I was running very slowly, the climb went better than expected and soon I was at the turn-off for the 30km course.

Mangrove Creek valley
The next 5km is gnarly fire-trail, with many short steep and rocky climbs and descents, and it always wears me down, despite the inspiring wilderness views and amazing alien-like Gymea lilies beside the track.  After the long gradual downhill following this section, I passed up the opportunity to get a drink of tank water from the rustic Ten Mile Hollow camping area, thinking I could make it through the remaining 13km back to the car.  By the time I reached the Mangrove Creek valley floor again, I was feeling very tired and from there it just became a slog back to the bridge and up the last 3km to the car.  At times, up the hill, I seemed to be barely moving, but with the exception of a short 20 metre section, I kept running.  My time was abysmally slow, 3:23, and I thought nostalgically back to times when I have run this course at a good speed and finished full of running.  On the plus side, my right Achilles tendon wasn't too painful so the heel raises had been a success.  My new asthma medication did seem to help me fill my lungs, but I was still coughing badly the whole way, perhaps the result of spring allergies.  Hopefully, this run will be "money in the bank" and I'll be stronger as a result.  That's the way it has worked in the past.

(More photographs taken on the Dubbo Gully run can be seen here)