The Jacksons (Gav and Adele)
There's not much Blackall-related that Gavin and Adele Jackson haven't done. They were both present for the first Blackall, and both have multiple 100km finishes to their names. However they are probably best known for their behind-the-scenes contributions to the great race, having acted as volunteers, and Gav stepping up to co-race direct Blackall from 2017. Their love and enthusiasm for the sport, nature and people is always obvious and contagious on race days, and was a common theme in our chat as they are (jointly) inducted as one of our Blackall Icons.
Image: Gav and Adele pose for a pre-race snap before the inaugural Blackall 100, 2014
First things first - you guys obviously have event-director-type things to worry about, but are either of you planning to run another Blackall? Either in 2023 or down the track?
(Adele) After having such a great experience in 2022, I would definitely love to run the 100k event again. Maybe in a few years when I turn 60 if Brett and Gavin will give me the Saturday off again.
(Gavin) Yeah, I would love to run it again, if Adele and Brett give me the day off.
Image: Brett (left) trying to keep a straight face as Gav asks about getting a weekend off to race Blackall again, 2023
What initially drew you to the event?
We’ve done hikes here in the past and love the area so much we've since moved here. We were very excited when Brett told us he was planning a 100k event on the Blackall Range. The Run Qld events we’ve done previously have always been a lot of fun.
How did you end up directing the event?
(Gavin) Because of the immense workload organising the Blackall100, Brett asked if I wanted to become a partner in Run Qld. Adele and I were already volunteering at RQ events.
You've both poured yourself into directing and administering the event since 2017. what's easier; participating as a runner or making it all happen behind the scenes as a director/volunteer?
(Adele) Definitely easier as a runner, as all you have to think about is yourself. As organisers, we both feel a great responsibility for everyone involved to have the best experience possible at the event. The threat of bushfires, floods, storms etc mean even more sleepless nights.
(Gavin) There are so many things to do all year round. On the event weekend I have to deal with everything that happens on the trail, including co-ordinating checkpoint supplies, volunteers, as well as monitoring the runners, and getting them to first aid if needed.
Image: Brett and Gav giving the race briefing, 2021
As locals to the area, what sort of experience are you trying to craft for the participants? Are you trying to show off the surrounds? Or provide the toughest trail possible?
Running ultras is all about challenging yourself, so we love to make the course tough but doable. We both get excited when we find new sections like Gav’s Gut Buster. The stunning scenery makes those hills all worthwhile.
Image: Motoring along on the inaugural race in 2014. Incidentally, this photo was taken on approach into Thilba Thalba - the very section of the course that Gav himself would cut out in 2020 to re-route participants onto Gav's Gut Buster. He must have found it too easy...?
Favourite all-time moment at Blackall (or, alternatively, a lowest ever Blackall moment)... either as runners or directors.
(Adele) Finishing the 100k in 2015 after a DNF in 2014. I’d had a perfect day and running through the Mapleton Falls Forest at night in the rain with crazy critters everywhere was magical. Ringing that bell felt amazing! Close 2nd is meeting Dean Karnazes.
(Gavin) Lowest moment. My 2014 Blackall100 k in a November heat wave, at the 88 k mark coming up the steep hill on Mapleton Forest Road. I was hanging onto a guide post, spewing, and wondering if it would be less painful just stepping off the edge.
Image: Adele at the end of her perfect day and first B100 finish
What's one thing people might not ever think about that goes into putting on a successful race?
The importance of having enough volunteers and making sure that they know what is expected of them. Everyone plays a vital role in looking after, monitoring, and encouraging all of the runners. Run Qld is very lucky to have the continued support of various running groups and other dedicated helpers.
Image: Adele and long-time volunteer/fellow multiple-100km finisher Tylana Woodward pre-race, 2022
How long-post event does it usually take to get back to normal sleeping patterns?
About a week. There’s always a lot of things to reflect on to make the next year’s event even better. Just being a part of the success of each Blackall100 creates its own “runner’s high”.
What does a normal week's volume look like for you guys when you're building up to an event?
(Adele) I’m so lucky to have the benefit of Gavin’s vast coaching experience. Training for the B100 last year I built up to 10 - 12 hours a week over 3 sessions. A flat run, hard hill work (our acreage has serious elevation) and a long run on the B100 course.
(Gavin) It depends on the event distance, type of trail, elevation etc. I train 4 - 5 days a week, total around 15 hrs, with 1 long run a week replicating the event conditions if possible.
Are you a headphones and music and/or podcast type runner?
(Adele) I don’t listen to anything as I find it distracting, and even prefer training alone. I find it easier to monitor how I’m feeling and stay relaxed.
(Gavin) I prefer to listen to nature.
Image: Gav taking in the natural environment, 2015
Any particular tech or equipment that you can't live without on a long run?
(Adele) Just a comfortable pack with water, snacks and tissues. It’s no big deal if we forget our watches.
(Gavin) Water and body glide.
What's your favourite sort of terrain? Hills (up/down)? Single trail? Fire trail? Open space? Waterside?
Single trail. There’s something special about being surrounded by trees.
What's your preferred time of day to run?
Describe your perfect run (could be a race, could be a training run, could be a jog with the dog... when you picture a really great run, what springs to mind?)
(Adele) I love the Gheerulla loop of the B100 course, starting and finishing at CP 3, Sam Kelly Rd. On a hot day it’s so good to cool off in the Gheerulla Creek afterwards.
(Gavin) I wonder where this trail goes...Lets go. We might find a new hill.
Image: Adele at the Bluff on her favoured Gheerulla loop, 2022
Any trends in races or running that you have observed that worry you, or you don't agree with?
(Adele) I’m concerned when people try to do ultras without training adequately. Or do too many without a proper recovery in between. (I’m guilty of this just the once and it resulted in my only DNF).
(Gavin) People relying too much on what their “smart” watch is telling them. When to drink, when to eat etc. (For example, It can be dangerous if you overhydrate.)
Image: Adele's only DNF was in the 50km event in 2014
If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to go for a run with, who would it be with and where would you run?
(Adele) Sally McRae as she is always so positive and encouraging. I’d show her the stunning B100 Gheerulla loop of course!
(Gavin) I'd like to run with Joe Walsh. I don't even know if he's a runner but he'd have some awesome stories.
Image: We don't have an image of Sally nor Joe, so here's a pic of Gav with very short hair instead. This was taken at the finish line of the 2014 event (which is a long time ago, but still more recent than Gav's last haircut!)
Thanks to you both for your longstanding contributions to the race, look forward to seeing you in October!
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