If you have never done this race it is a ‘must do’ for any marathon racer, elite, amateur or enthusiast.
Capital Punishment (the race) is now five years old and has matured into a fabulous annual event attracting approximately 1500 riders, many of which are repeat offenders. The race is a point-to-point race from East Kowen Forest to Stromlo Forest Park, via Majura Pines and Black Mountain. A point-to-point event can be logistically challenging, especially if you are sans support crew, but rest assured the shuttle service provided by AROC SPORT is more than adequate and will have you promptly returning to your car.
I have raced in Canberra twice this year after a long hiatus from the city I once worked in as a new graduate. I am now envious of anyone fortunate enough to find themselves permanently ensconced in Canberra as their endless network of mountain bike trails have blossomed and are truly inspiring. In addition to this amazing mountain bike training/playing ground, Canberra locals do get to wake up in their own bed on this particular race morning and sneak home for a shower, power nap, fresh kit and power smoothie during the untimed section, or that is what I imagined until I actually asked them.
This was my first Capital Punishment and prior to arriving in Canberra super-coach Anthony Shippard (Pepper Coaching) emailed me some wise words on the ‘neutral’ or ‘untimed’ segment of this race:
“You have 55mins from the minute you cross that mat. DO NOT exceed 55mins”
“You need to start the 2nd half of the race with a group that rolls well”
“Eat something delicious and re-stock with bidons” Anthony Shippard.
It is a surreal feeling to be racing full tilt then cross into an untimed void, approximately 9.8km long with a maximum 55 minutes to cross. You have time to sit up, breath, restock, phone a friend, take a nap and eat cake before embarking on the final timed segment, approximately 30km long. The 9.8km untimed traverse takes a maximum 30 minutes at a spin, so what do you do with the remaining 25 minutes of freedom?
I was itching to finish and unsure of how best to deal with my 55 minutes off the record so I denied its existence and continued spinning through the suburbs. I completely missed the gastronomic explosion of pastries piled high at the 65km feed station as I pedalled past trying to recall any pearls of wisdom about the closing kilometres of the race. At the edge of the void I did stop and sat for a few minutes, just enough time to start dreading the pain that waited patiently on the other side of the timing mat, then I was amongst it again.
In the end I think I consumed a mere 35 or 40minutes of my allocated time but I achieved so much: I consumed a banana and chocolate Sustagen® from a tetrapak, grabbed fresh bidons and chatted briefly with Bryony (our lovely, smiling support girl). I rang Andy, spoke with the lovely Magellan guys, marvelled at the riders relaxing around the feed station eating pastries and chatting with their families and then moved on.
To dispel any images of mid race orgys and alike I asked the local elite riders what they did with their down time. In my head I believed there was a magic bullet to best utilise this time in preparation for the closing segment. I was wrong:
Jenny Fay, Eliza Kwan and Dylan Cooper (Canberra locals) took an off course diversion to either go home or retire to a predetermined secret location with a secret stash of food, drink and lube (for the bike). Eliza went home for a “cup of tea and fixed my hair” which is code for “sat on my kitchen floor, took some deep breaths and sculled a heap of sports drink”. Jenny went home for “food and bottles”, but with some coercion admitted to a secret orgy. Dylan stashed an esky at a secret squirrel location close to the feed zone and took the opportunity to “stay away from the front runner and ride my own race”.
Jason English stayed in the “euro style feed zone” and admitted to starting the final segment “quite full” obviously taking advantage of the pastries on offer.
Shaun Lewis decided “in past years I’ve eaten too much, so this year I just had a gel and a sports drink”
Anthony Shippard stopped for “coconut water (in a carton), fresh bottles, an energy bar and a plum”
No magic bullets there…
So when you do this race, and you will, make sure you register for the 100km course so you get to experience the unique void and the gastronomic explosion that exists at its core. Take your time, phone a friend, eat cake and relax on the grass before smacking yourself dead on the open trails to Stromlo.