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THE GREAT NORTH WALK 100s

 

2005 RUNNER COMMENTS AND STORIES

 

Runner Comments    •    Runner Stories

 

Runner Comments on the 2005 GNW100s
(edited extracts from the www.CoolRunning.com.au Message Board and from e-mails to the Race Director)

“It is hard to put into words what such an experience means. I am sure everyone that ran on the weekend will have been changed by it. I love running through the bush, it is hard on your body but cleanses your soul. The mountains were damn hard but the views were magic. I loved the run. It had it all, the technical trails, the heat, the climbs, the navigation difficulties and the wild life. But the best thing is you get to hang out with a top bunch of people.”

“The bar has just been raised.”

“It was a great experience.”

“For anyone reading this………..that did not run, all I can say is to start training now for next year!”

“To............the devoted Terrigal Trotters volunteers, congratulations on getting every element of this race spot on in its first year…..am already looking forward to next year.”

“It was an experience shared with amazing people which I'll always remember.”

“What a great adventure that was. Always disappointing to pull out, especially when everything is still in working order (accept for being totally stuffed). The good thing is that the challenge is still out there for another year. Three cheers to all the people who made it happen. A great crowd of people and I wouldn't change a thing - keep it as an adventure race.”

“After most runs I usually think - NEVER AGAIN. For some reason that wasn't my reaction and I would love to have another go. Hope to see you again.”

“Like everyone else - loved the adventure! Thanks to all the organisers and everyone at the aid stations. The event had such a groovy vibe and it was a pleasure to run with such a nice crowd. That's what makes these events such an experience - there can be no other possible reason... Can't wait till next year now….”

“Must say the scenery through there is amazing………those caves were so cool.”

“I thought the event was just great and a real challenge for young and old.”

“…thanks for organising this great event……I thought it was one of the best organised runs I have done. Particularly, I thought the internet site, maps and directions you provided were first class.”

“I really enjoyed the race and will definitely make it one of my regular races.”

“This will become a major event on the trail ultra calendar. There are a limited number of people who will be able to complete such a tough event and I think the high quality and huge amount of experience of most of the competitors produced the favourable number of successful finishers.”

“It will continue to grow and become the measuring stick for trail ultras in Australia.”

“Mate, I had a ball, and I'll be back to do it again, better, next year!”

“Don’t change the GNW100. It’s unique…....Can’t wait for next year giving up is not an option. Thanks for the unmanned drink stations…..next year, use less friendly helpers.”

......congratulations and thanks for a great event. I can only guess how much work needed to be done behind the scenes to make it all happen. You and your fellow Trotters should be very proud - I think you have created an instant classic on the Australian ultra calendar.

It is undoubtedly the hardest event on the Australian calendar……….Hopefully the event will continue as it is the “ultimate challenge”.

 

Runner Stories
(edited extracts from the www.CoolRunning.com.au Message Board and from e-mails to the Race Director)

Blue Dog (Wayne Gregory)  •  Ian Wright  •  Eagle (Ray James)  •  Tim (Tim Turner)  •  Hermaphrodite (Rodney Ladyman)  •  Thrax (Grant Campbell)  •  Kincho (Matthew Kinchington)  •  Podsport (Dean Jones)  •  Louie de Fly (Louis Commins)  •  Bill Thompson  •  Tugger (David Waugh)

Blue Dog (Wayne Gregory)

Prelude

As an ultra novice, when deciding to attempt this event I assumed it was a logical decision to learn from and surround myself with the best qualified people that were willing to lend a hand, so …….

In early September, the inimitable Mister G rang me with a view to a three-day reconnaissance of the course on the October long weekend, which I accepted without hesitation. Accompanied by our better halves Skizzik and Bernie G as crew we ran sections 1, 3 & 7. Unfortunately due to subsequent illness, Mister G did not enter the event.

Shortly thereafter the Eagle, also an ultra novice, indicated his desire to enter and if possible, complete the event together. We conferred and broke it down and agreed it was achievable, using Fitzroy Falls, the Brindabella Classic and a recon’ of sections 4 and 5 of the course (The Basin - Yarramalong Valley - Somersby) as ‘test runs’ for our fitness and newly purchased ultra gear; backpacks, headlamps, etc.

Finally, when Uncle Dave, Spud, Paul S. Arthur and Firehorse approached me with offers of crewing and pacing, on each occasion I accepted immediately, ringing them frequently thereafter to remind them of their generosity. Accompanied by the very special Bernie G, ‘Team Dog’ was born.

Dinner

The pre-race dinner on Fri evening was a nice affair, with much discussion about the course and plenty of friendly banter, for which ‘Team Dog’ copped its fair share.

As Eagle and I were among less than a handful of runners to actually have a crew, and the only pair to have a crew comprising more than one person, we raised a few eyebrows.

Comments ranged from “Cripes Blue Dog, you’ve got it all; running companion, transport driver, masseuse, physiotherapist, tactician, psychologist…. are the tarot-card reader & the aboriginal tracker back at the motel?” to “shit, he’s got more talent in his support crew than is in the whole race!” Ha ha, very funny guys.

The Race

6:00a.m. saw all of us start the event at Teralba on the northern-most tip of Lake Macquarie, directly inland from the city of Newcastle. The sun had just risen on what promised to be a glorious day.

We headed generally west for about 15km, the first half or so of this on sealed road. Eagle and I ran together, and got to know a few other runners who couldn’t make the pre race dinner. Everything we had heard about ultra runners was quickly realised; there is an open willingness to share any and all resources and to assist each other if possible. We left the bitumen, following the Great North Walk through some rolling hills, the surface being a mix of walking track, fire trails and dirt road.

From my previous run over this section, I did not recall some of these early hills being as quite as steep as they were; I was being very mindful of conserving energy, and there were a few climbs which got the blood pumping, although nothing too severe.

The steady rise in altitude provided some spectacular views; one ridge in particular having incredible vistas to both the north and south, with steep drop-offs on either side of the single-file track. Making their home on these very steep slopes were the grandest collection of black-boys/grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) I have seen; among several hundred, many had blackened and twisted trunks well over 10m in height with their grass ‘skirts’ at the top spanning over 5m in width. It crossed my mind that their size placed these specimens at over 500 years old, and here was I worried about surviving the next 30 hours or so!

Several km further on we exited the bush onto sealed road at Heaton’s Gap, one of several routes into the famous wine growing region of the Hunter Valley, and after another 600m had an opportunity to top up the water supply at the roadside diner. The pleasant easing into the race was over, as things were about to change dramatically.

Crossing Freemans Drive at the diner, we entered the Awaba State Forest, where the course immediately becomes horrendous, with a climb of 262m in altitude over the next 1.3km. For the uninitiated, that is 'quite steep', and serves as a warning of further nightmares to come.

After reaching the communication tower at the top, we trotted along 3km of dirt road to Heaton Look-Out with its amazing view of Lake Macquarie and the east coast, its panorama encompassing as far as the eye can see to the east, north and south.

Topping-up again at the very strategically located rainwater tank, we headed off again; from the lookout we plunged directly into the rainforest behind us, entering its unique moist, fresh and gloomy environment for the first time on a single-file walking track.

Thankfully markers (pink ribbons) had been placed along the more difficult-to-follow sections of the course, although this did not deter most of the field including myself from getting lost at some point. A single lapse in concentration, usually due to admiring a stunning rainforest scene, was enough to send most of us at some stage up a blind trail for several hundred metres or so, before having to back-track and reassess your location. Doh!

Over the next two hours or so we crossed several cool and rocky creek-beds amongst the shady rainforest, with a couple of testing climbs up through timbered slopes leading to more look-outs. The last of these climbs placed us on Bakers Rd at Macleans lookout and after another 2.5km of dirt road I arrived at Checkpoint 1 at the old Watagan Forestry HQ, about 9 minutes ahead of the Eagle. Four and a half hours and 28.6km into the event and we were both feeling fine.

Our excellent crew of Uncle Dave & Bernie G had everything in order; sunscreen, insect repellent, bodyglide, a bite to eat and drink, a top up of the food and drink supplies for the road, and 21 minutes later we headed off into section two. Words of advice from Uncle Dave were ringing in our ears as we left… “Don’t get sucked into running too hard on this next easier section.”

This was generally an easy downhill section, dropping a total of 365m in altitude over 23.9km. With only 3.7km of very enjoyable and easy running on walking track, the remainder of the section was all on dirt road, which at times I found a bit tiresome, there being not much to occupy the mind other than 'head down and keep pushing on.' Alternately, the Eagle seemed to thrive on these sections, and with his road marathon pedigree coming to the surface I struggled to maintain contact as we came into Checkpoint 2 at Congewai School. The Herrmannator, Jan Herrmann was leaving as we arrived. 7hrs 44mins, 52.5km, and still going well.

A 28 minute stop-over, and Eagle and I set off into the third section, accompanied by Paul Every who we had joined at CP2. Eagle and I agreed to take it very ‘cruisy’ where possible and conserve our energy; from my previous experience I knew it was the most physically demanding section of the course.

Paul soon went ahead of us along the dirt road before entering the walking track through rural farmland, and about 2km further on we were surprised to find him sitting down and having a ‘refresher’ break at a rainwater tank. As I was to find out, Paul knows what works for him.

Not long after passing Paul we entered timbered country and shortly thereafter commenced the killer climb up to the second communications tower on Cabans Rd. This ascends 317m in altitude over about 1.5km, and to make matters worse, I was really starting to struggle. Paul caught and passed us again here, and in testament to the difficulty of this climb, after reaching the summit and travelling only 200m or so along the ridge top of Cabans Rd, I was very suddenly and very violently ill.

Each time I tried to commence walking, I would immediately throw up again. I estimate I regurgitated close to 1500ml of food and mainly fluid. At one stage I looked at Eagle, who was absolutely disgusted by this behaviour, and I thought “struth, he looks worse than I feel!”

Reframing this episode into a positive, I thought at least I wouldn’t be carrying as much weight now, so things should be easier. In truth, I believe I had been too concerned up until that point about maintaining my fluid intake, and had simply way over-done it. A packet of salt and vinegar chips to restock the sodium level, and within five minutes I was back in business and feeling better than ever.

We continued Past Flat Rock Lookout, where Kincho caught and passed us, before descending into a beautiful rural valley and crossing Watagan Creek. Here we again caught and passed a 'geographically challenged' Kincho before he joined us at the water drop shortly after Watagan Creek Road. The Herrmannator was also loitering in the vicinity of this water drop, which marks the beginning of another very steep climb of 249m in altitude over approx. 1.4km.

Jan & Kincho went ahead of us again during this climb, and after reaching the top and traversing a few more km of steady but less severe ascent, Eagle and I crossed over the highest part of the course at 547m of altitude.

Eagle was becoming a bit tetchy at this point, with concerns about making it to CP3 at The Basin before nightfall, as we did not have our headlamps with us. I asked him to show faith in the Dog and sure enough we pushed on quite hard for an hour or so before meeting a concerned Uncle Dave heading out onto the course with torches about 400m from the checkpoint. Eagle, it was never in doubt. 13hrs 49min, 81.7km.

Ian Wright, Paul Every, Kincho and The Herrmannator were all at CP3 as we pulled in. We enjoyed a long 38min stopover, with Paul and Kincho departing first, shortly followed by Jan Hermann. Disappointingly, Ian Wright withdrew from the event at this stage with health issues. (Hope you are recovering well IDW).

We learn that barring a major mishap, Dave Waugh has got the race sewn up at this early stage, even allowing for his 90min 'detour' into The Basin. He has left CP3 almost 2.5hrs ahead of the second placed runner. Mr G and I took that same detour/wrong turn as Dave a few weeks back on our recon’ trip, and came into The Basin from the other direction scratched, bleeding, and barely alive, off an ill-defined trail that was only fit for small marsupials. I recall trying to free my foot from a wait-a-while vine for the umpteenth time, and as I angrily kicked free I connected flush with a soccer-ball sized boulder, breaking my toe. Dave Waugh proves how selfless he is by back-tracking about 500m out of his way to place a sign on the offending trail junction which reads ‘>>>Not This Way>>>.'

The downside for Team Dog is that Eagle is blistering badly and can’t remove his shoes or socks, they are stuck to his feet. He mentions withdrawing, but I do not acknowledge his comment as it is not an option. I’m not travelling too well either, beginning to shiver and shake and really don’t know what I want to do at this checkpoint; change clothes, eat drink, or none of the above. IDW offers me a salt tablet, and with a cold coca cola, followed by a Red Bull, a banana, a Sustagen and a change from sleeveless vest into a CR Tri-top, within 15 minutes I undergo a miraculous physical transformation. C'mon Eagle, I feel great. Lemme at ‘em.

We set off into the dark into section four, the night sky overhead has a myriad of stars and a bright 3/4 moon, while in the air around us the fireflies are putting on a spectacular after-sunset show. Amongst this beauty Eagle again mentions the bad state of his feet and I reply this time and offer him some Ibuprofen or Panadeine, and urge him to press on. Displaying tremendous courage, he refuses the painkillers, and I admire his toughness. I strongly wish for him at the very least to complete this next section to the 100km point, if not the whole journey.

Heading out of The Basin, after about 4km we come across Thrax and Lawrence Mead heading the opposite way, they are en route to The Basin, having also found an 'alternative route' to the official course. We learn later that Louis de Fly has also been sucked into the vortex of The Basin and hopelessly lost to the point of withdrawing. I’m not sure why, but Podsport also becomes a scratching at this point. It's a bit like the Devil's Triangle.

A little while later Eagle more than proves his value by making a couple of critical navigational decisions at two stages where I was totally perplexed; I simply did not recognize these parts of the course. The Eagle is persistent in his belief, and as we reach a familiar part of the course at Walkers Rest I congratulate him heartily on some cool and critical thinking.

We are especially aware that the next turn-off is very easy to miss, we sailed straight past it a few weeks back during our day-time practice run, and about 1km down the road came to a dead-end. At this dead-end is a very spooky, trashed and deserted two-storey large bush house in a bad state of disrepair. It's in the middle of nowhere, and the place just feels bad. It is straight out of 'The Blair Witch Project,' and we have less than zero desire to be there at night-time. We could not even laugh about other runners perhaps finding it; you just would not wish it upon them.

We ensure we make the correct turn-off, and remember the natural beauty the course offers over the next few km, as we descend into a valley leading to the Cedar Brush Trackhead. Our previous visit revealed the lush richness of the flora here; the many bangalow palms and ferns crowding the picturesque waterfalls and bubbling cascades, the large rockfaces and boulders covered in an array of soft and spongy vibrant green mosses, lichens and birds-nest ferns. Of particular interest to myself is the many varieties of native orchids growing in this section that cling to the rockfaces and adorn the various tree-trunks, or simply hang from the many branches up above. Some are in full flower and are simply outstanding, and at times their intermittently released fragrances heavily permeate the sweet forest air.

Of course its night-time now, and I am absolutely exhilarated to be running through the silent bush with the stars visible now and then above the forest canopy. Our headlamps and torches pierce the darkness to reveal the trail ahead, and there is nowhere else I would rather be at this time. Perhaps the lack of vision heightens the other senses, but I am acutely tuned in to the forest and yet very relaxed and peaceful in what I am doing. On a few occasions I hear large animals not far off the track, and I assume them to be wombats, wild pigs or perhaps deer, one of which I spotted.

We sadly departed this fantasy-land via stepping stones across a small stream, where the trail runs along the edge of a farm, with the farmhouse some 300 metres to the right. Stepping over a stile at the Cedar Brush Trackhead, we alight onto Brush Creek Rd.

Eagle and I know it’s 11.1km along dirt and bitumen roads to CP4 at Yarramalong Valley. The whole way is past small farms and horse agistment, breeding and training properties. In covering this distance we manage to wake up every farm-dog along the way, several of which are fiercely protective, which motivates us to keep moving.

We also keep an eye out for the specially trained attack-goats we met on our previous run, and further along as I watch Eagle fending off yet another dog with his Princeton Tech Yukon HL headlamp, I am galloped at from the darkness behind by what is obviously a security-horse on patrol. Cripes, let’s get to Yarramalong.

We arrived at CP4 to a lovely round of applause from the assembled crowd of Terrigal Trotters and support crew, accompanied by the thought that should disaster befall us from here onwards, that at least, under the race rules, our finish would be recorded in the 100km event.

18.5 hours, 103.7km. I’m feeling great. Eagle has some issues and has diplomatically informed me that he wants me to depart the checkpoint with my pacer ‘Spud’ Murphy before he himself will depart. In fact he insists that he will only continue on under such an agreement, as he feels he has been slowing me down over the last section or so. We had discussed all such foreseeable scenarios prior to the race, and after Eagle assured me he would be okay on his own, I agreed with his proposal.

I had in fact been starting to think tactically over the last hour or so, and as I observed Paul Every and The Herrmannator at the checkpoint, I felt I was right in this race for 2nd place. Still being 'early' in the event, I kept telling myself to be conservative, as there was still 70km to go, and I have already gone 45km further than I’ve ever raced before.

Uncle Dave must have read my mind, as he sidled up and whispered “it would be a good opportunity for you to get a jump on these guys.” I needed no further urging, asking my pacer Spud if he was ready to roll. We tried to make an inconspicuous departure from the checkpoint, and as soon as we hit the road I urged Spud to help me put a gap into the guys behind us.

We pushed reasonably hard up the long steady climb of Bumble Hill, and were really steaming along on a steep downhill stretch when we were confronted by a locked gate onto private property. Damn! We’d missed a turn off.

As it worked out, we had only travelled about an extra 700m or so past the turn-off, but my quads certainly protested at the sharp climb back up, and nearing the top we could see lights heading our way. Unbelievably, Paul & Jan had also missed the turn-off. I briefly considered turning off our lights and hiding off the track and letting them go past, but the damn conscience kicked in and we all corrected our mistake together. I would have to wait for another opportunity.

In a short while we could make out a light up ahead of us; the Eagle had stuck to the course unerringly, and passed us all. I was so proud of him!

We all made our way through some slushy sections of trail and easily found the next turn which was directly underneath the 20-gazillion volt power lines; I was worried about missing this turn also, as you cannot see the power lines stretched across the valley at night-time. There was no need for concern however, as they were buzzing away loudly in the silence of the night, sounding like a hundred bee swarms. Ah, the serenity.

A short climb, along a few km of road, alongside some rural holdings, and then a nasty descent down to Dead Horse Creek saw us all stick pretty much together, except for Eagle who was really showing some guts but had unfortunately dropped off the pace. Knowing what lay ahead, I was mentally prepared for the energy sapping climb back up the opposite valley wall from the creek; it’s 168m in altitude in just over 1km and as we progressed through it I could sense that it was taxing Paul & Jan. Spud just kept pulling me along.

Along Tooheys Rd at the top of this climb Spud and I left Paul & Jan behind us; they did not appear to be feeling strong; however I was feeling quite good, still really enjoying the night running, and after 25 years as a shift-worker, quite within my element and very alert.

Descending down into the Ourimbah Creek crossing helped trash the quads just that little bit more, and we cruised along while attempting to conserve energy for another horror climb which lay ahead after another 5km or so.

This climb is only 126m in altitude over 0.9km, but you really do not need it after having completed 125km. Like each climb on the course, the footing is ‘dodgy’ at best, no two consecutive steps are the same height or distance apart, and the surface is more often than not either rock-strewn or finely gravelled, which offers little traction.

Up and over this hill and into another descent leading to a creek, this time the downhill was not as severe and quite ‘runable’, and Spud and I shared the exhilaration of dawn in the bush. Suddenly the inky black sky had a tinge of pre-dawn grey. One bird gave its ‘wake-up’ call, then another, and within no more than 3 or 4 minutes, the pre-dawn was absolutely alive with birdsong of a thousand varieties. It is an awesome experience I will never forget, and leads one to think deeply on the importance of preservation of tracts of natural bushland and its accompanying bio-diversity.

This natural high was rudely interrupted by the physical requirements of yet another climb, 164m up over 1.1km. Skirting farm acreages, a further 3km brought us to CP5 at Somersby School. 24hrs 12 mins and 131.9km. Unbelievably, apart from the expected muscular fatigue, The Dog is feeling great. I think I’m going to make it. With 39.4km to go, that’s less than a marathon. Woo-hoo! Go the Dog!

Change the shoes and the shirt, and refuel the road supplies. By now I know what works for me nutritionally and what doesn’t, and 11mins later Spud and I are leaving CP5 for the short 14km stretch to the final checkpoint at Girrakool. This section is almost totally dirt, shellgrit and bitumen roads. There is not much natural beauty to distract the mind from the physical task, and frankly, I found it very boring and was pleased to reach CP6 at Girrakool. 26 hrs 48 mins, 146.8km, and there is no dropping out now.

At Girrakool I only find Bernie G. The rest of the crew has departed in our support vehicle in an attempt to get Eagle back into the event. He has phoned from the 132 km point at Somersby and has decided to withdraw. I later learn it was an interesting and lively discussion when Uncle Dave arrived to ‘coerce’ him into continuing.

I ask Bernie G for my supplies for the final 24.5km. She hasn’t got most of what I want – umm, well, it’s umm, ... in the back of the support vehicle. It's a bit of a body-blow, I can’t speak, I just briefly ponder how funny little things happen at the most inopportune times.

I grab what’s available and set out with Spud into the last section. I know there is a killer climb ahead over Scopas Peak, and two steep ravines to crawl down into and up out of. From the way I am feeling, I am certain that will take just about all I have left. I am very pleased to be coming second. In fact I am amazed.

Spud is terrific. He just keeps going about 20m ahead of me and dragging me through. No negotiation, just follow me. We are not doing much running by this stage, even on the few sections where the course permits it.

I calculate I have covered about 5 to 6km of the final section when I get a phone call from Bernie G, telling me that Paul Every has reached CP6. It doesn’t take me long to realise that he has been absolutely flying along over the last few hours. I had heard he lay down and slept for a while at Ourimbah on the side of the road. Uncle Dave warns me not to discount him as he can put in a huge finish. I’m trying to do the maths and figure if he can make up the deficit, and my considerations tell me that I really don’t believe he can. I underestimate how slow my own progress is at this stage, and it proves later to be a severe error in judgement.

Continuing along, Spud turns and shakes my hand at the 160km point, and I translate his Irish brogue into something like “congrashoolayshents ent gootonyer myte, dats a hundret myells, yer fust hundret, unreel” and we keep walking. Nice.

Shortly after, at nearly 163.5 km, I am really pleased to have Scopas Peak, the Myron Brook crossing and another descent behind us. I'm now aware that I am really seriously beginning to struggle so I just attempt to blinker myself and focus on pushing on.

With about 8km or less to go, up ahead I can see the crew have stopped at the side of the course to lend some support, and as I look up the slope to see Bernie G snapping a picture, Paul Every emerges from the trail behind us. To me, it seems like he is running at 10km race pace; it is very impressive, and I’m in awe. I had already reached the conclusion that if anyone passed me – (a) they deserve it, and (b) I would not be able to respond. Bernie has the exact moment captured in a photo.

I then mentally added - (c) I wish I had not lent Paul my spare Camelback bladder at CP1 after he had split his open beyond repair. Damn stupid ultra camaraderie!

At around 165km, just over 6km from the finish, for the first time in the event I contemplate stopping for a rest. Its hot, we are in a depression with no breeze, the sun feels merciless, and there is no shade on this fire-trail from hell. If I sit down, it could be for two minutes, two hours, or I could just go to sleep. Each kilometre seems endless.

Before vocalising this desire to rest, I invert the equation, and ask myself "what would I say to someone who stopped at this point in the event?" Suffice to say, my answer provided me with enough motivation to keep moving. On top of this, I didn't know where or how The Herrmannator was going behind us, and I thought how really tragic it would be to be pushed totally off the podium in the very last stages of the race.

Crossing Patonga Drive proved to be a godsend; I was finally off that bloody firetrail, and knowing that it is less than 4km to go, it seems like nothing. Another km or so, and as we approached the Warrah Trig station I took a few good hard looks behind me along the long straight stretch of dirt road to see if anyone was coming from behind to spoil the party, and I was pleased to see the road was totally clear.

After several hundred metres of walking track and firetrail, we zig-zagged down the final 900m descent of the headland on the walking track down to sea level, and crossed the tidal creek at Patonga Beach. Straight through the boat-ramp car-park, and back down onto the beach proper, and about 400m ahead I could see the finish!

In a very gracious gesture, Spud broke away to the side and told me to finish on my own.

The finish was very moving, a few tears rolled out, and the wonderful Terrigal Trotters and assembled friends at the finish line were very generous and sincere in their applause.

A kiss from Bernie G was the icing on the cake, the best reward I could ask for.

I had entered and completed my first ‘big’ 100 on an unbelievably tough course. I didn’t dnf, I made it. I didn’t let anyone down, and I am astounded that I finished in the top three. Incredible! Unreal! I am just so happy!!!

As George S. Patton said - “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”

The victory is in conquering oneself.

Cheers, Blue Dog.

P.S. I will leave the many thanks I must give for another time. At present, to Dave Byrnes and the Terrigal Trotters, thankyou all so very much.

 

Ian Wright

I withdrew at 82 km but haven't spoken to any other participants since then, but they will soon have a lot to say I imagine. Going the full distance would have taken them to their limit.

The reconnaissance notes posted on CR were very useful for those tricky sections where there was a chance of getting lost in some of the stygian rain forest areas (Thanks Mr G & staff) though I did lose 15 minutes in the 2nd section when I walked straight past an obviously marked intersection.

I completed 82 km in 13 hours and there was approximately 3600 metres of ascent. It was pretty much as I had expected from looking at the course instructions & maps. However, it was by far the hardest 82 km of any event I have done even taking account of the fact that I didn't have a good day. The climbs were not as long as the famous Bogong - Hotham Course but there were more of them, it was rougher, and there were lots of tricky sections in the forests where leaf fall had made the track difficult to distinguish. Actually, the narrow foot tracks in the forests are the bits I like as one is concentrating on footing & navigation so the time passes quickly. I had a Garmin etrek GPS & the topographic maps and needed a coordinate check a few times, but in some of the forested ravines it could not acquire a reading.

Certainly I was amazed that Section 3 took 5 hours for 29 km. When I got into Checkpoint 3 I had less than an hour of light left and it was already very dark beneath the forest canopy, yet I had left Checkpoint 2 at 1:45 pm. Uncle Dave was helping out and he kindly went out along the course with some torches in case some runners were trying to get in during twilight without lights.

Although I was in 2nd place when I withdrew, it was the sensible option. My excuse for DNF: from around 20 km I had what felt like tendonitis in multiple locations in the right leg, groin and ankle and although I was using a regime of 15 minutes run, 5 minutes walk, it became very painful to run or walk fast and going on may have done chronic damage. Too many events this year for a 50 year old body....

Many thanks to Phibes for crewing for me on this one and doing it well - it would be a difficult race without a crew.

I look forward to reading some reports from the four pioneers who managed to get to the end. Whippet Man (Andrew Hewat)

Congrats to David, Paul, Wayne and Jan on finishing the 100 miles. Well done to my fellow 100 km competitors who finished. For those who didn't finish take solace in the extremely tough nature of this event and be proud to have been part of the inaugural race. Many thanks To Dave Byrnes for having the courage and commitment to put it all together. The bar has just been raised. Thanks to all the tireless volunteers who helped out. Me? All goals met: finished the 100 km with no injuries (or exacerbation of existing one). Thanks to Tim for inviting me to share the ride and Herm for keeping us on track on our final leg. I look forward to having a crack at the 100 miler down the track but I'm very tired now. Did I mention that it was bloody tough?

 

Eagle (Ray James)

A post about the end - I may post later about the early parts - as surprising as it sounds I had a voice recorder and at checkpoints 1,2 & 3 I recorded some brief thoughts while attending to the things you do at checkpoints.

I really thought I could finish this course - time was not a goal just make it before the cut-off. I was as fit as I have been for a while and in particular for the long sustained slow running needed for an ultra and no injuries.

The first 3 stages which I had not seen were tough but I was managing well. However during stage 3 I developed some very serve blisters on both heels. I had used the shoes that have caused me no problems in the past and I used on the previous run along the course. Maybe it was the hills etc. At Checkpoint 3 I was going to change shoes and socks but I could not get my socks off because of the busted blisters and dried whatever.

I was going to pull out then but it was dark and the Dog would have to have run the section from 82 - 104 k alone and in the dark. We kind of had an agreement that we would try to run through the night together for safety and support. So I continued.

We made it to 100k about 12.30am - apart from my blisters we we both in good shape. On the way I said that we needed to separate at 100k - Spud was going to pace the Dog and I knew I could not keep up with their pace and try to keep the blisters from getting worse. Also I knew that if I had a chance of finishing I needed to run my own pace.

He was not prepared to do that so I said I would retire at 100k unless he and Spud left without me. I told him it was time for each of us to be a real team and pursue our own goals individually.  This conversation went on for the 90 minutes or so before arriving at the checkpoint. By then he knew my mind was made up but he still did not want to accept it. I made it clear that he leave without or I retire. He knew that I would not then have the chance a finishing. So buddy it was checkmate.

So it was that Spud and Blue Dog left checkpoint 4 at just after 1.00 am (yes the last 68 ks took him 13 plus hours) and I headed out about 1.15am to my greatest fear when I entered this event - that was running through some tough navigation sections in the night alone. Well we have to face things like that and for the Dog that was what I was prepared to do. We had run this section before thankfully and so it was not as bad as it could have been.

I had been out about 1 hour and saw 4 lights coming up from behind - surprise surprise Paul, Herminator, Spud and the Dog had got lost and I think they saw my light and that got them back on track. They past me and soon disappeared into the distance.

I ran on facing the fears of the night but apart from some very dark mental moments at about 4.00am I survived until sunrise. Sunrise was such an uplifting time when I could see the sky gradually getting lighter and then sounds of the birds starting to make their early morning calls. Before that it was a lonely dark silence.

It is right the dawn seems to give you a positive lift - there are some the experiences that I was told about that occur in ultra's - one was after running through the night the dawn gives you a positive thought pattern and renewed energy. That seemed to happen for me.

One of the most amazing things then happened was about 5.15 am and it was early grey light. I saw a shape curled up on the side of the road ahead and I wasn't sure what it was - I moved over to the side of the road furtherest away in case it was an animal that did not like being awoken. No problems in that regard it was Paul asleep on the side of the road - he thought that as he was running he had fallen asleep and had just fallen down. He been asleep he thought for about an hour.

He woke up as I approached. I made sure he was okay and then we travelled together for the 90 minutes or so to just before Checkpoint 5. I arrived at about 8.00 am - almost 7 hours for the 28k. I had now run about 131k and had no injuries (apart from the blisters) but energy wise I was very fatigued.

My blisters were only slightly worse but still very bad. I phoned the support crew who had gone onto the next checkpoint for the Dog - by this stage he was about 90 minutes or so . It is only about 14K but still about a 2 1/2 hour run. I said I was pulling out and that I had arrived at that decision on the way to the checkpoint. Uncle Dave got on the phone and said he wouldn't accept that and told me to get my arse out and start heading towards the next checkpoint. so I did. But about 3 k on and just before leaving the road and heading back into the bush I took stock of my physical condition and made a decision I was not in shape to make the last 40k

Uncle Dave and Paul arrived soon after and then they played good cop/bad copy with me to get me going again. About 20 minutes later with lots of tears etc (the old emotional roller coaster going ballistic) I convinced them physically I was not in a condition to continue. Uncle Dave's line was look it just another marathon distance you can do that before breakfast. That did sound a very tempting line and almost got me going at the time.

However after 133k and just on 27 hours I pulled the plug. I was so close but another day .... perhaps.

It was a great experience. Today I feel fine - a little sore in the legs but I am sure the DOMS will hit in a day or so. The huge blisters are an issue and I am trying to treat this this morning.

Thanks to Bernie G, Uncle Dave and the King for the crewing and putting up with the Dog and me through our frantic checkpoint stops - or that what they seemed like to me.

Mentally - pulling out - I haven't at the moment let that process start - I will deal with the physical problems at the moment. Superflake hoped my recent injury would not cause a problem - none at all. I was amazed that over the very rugged terrain not a niggle in any muscle any where and I think the Dog was the same. I suspect if the blisters had not occurred I may have pressed on - maybe, maybe maybe. They were a physical problem but they had a bigger impact mentally and they were with me for 70/80 ks.

By the way we had a wonderful meal with most of the runners on Friday night - they are a wonderful bunch of blokes - sorry I cannot remember all your names but I do recall Whippet and Tim - and by the way boys in my run in the night alone I did not get lost and it was done without the help of the aboriginal tacker not showing at Checkpoint 4 despite the Dog indicating he was part of Team Dog.

Sorry about the long post. I hope that gives you and idea of part of this runners experience over the run. As well as the sound recording made at the checkpoints I did manage to take some photo's along the way and I may try to now load them up. Times like this you need Plu. No doubt if I get them up he will put them where they should be.

---------------------------------

Have debated with myself if I would post what I recorded at Checkpoints 1,2 & 3. I don't to appear self centred etc but on the other hand thought they maybe of some interest - probably only to me.

However here goes ( and for those who consider my thoughts should be left with me I apologise) - it is typed as dictated with just grammar and punctuation added for correctness.

Checkpoint 1: Arrived at 10.40 am - after a 4 hour 40 minute section for 29ks. Some tough up and down sections. The weather is fine blue sky and humid. It is now getting warm and is still. Got lost on a few times for a few minutes. Arrived well ahead of the cut off time but we paced it moderate. It was comfortable. We started off with a 7k per hour pace but that slowed in the steeper sections to 4k per hour

I feel comfortable and well hydrated. Food intake on the section seemed okay. We are just getting our heads ready for the next 'easy' flattish section. Uncle Dave says if it is flat then run it slow otherwise there will be noting left in the tank.

I can see the Dog pacing ready to start he was here 10 minutes earlier than me. For me 5 minUTES AND WE ARE GONE.

Checkpoint 2 : Arrived at 1.40pm - 2.55 hours for the 25ks. Splits per hour 9.00/7.00/9.00. About an hour on the road - another hour down into the valley including the valley and then about 45 minutes on the road to the checkpoint.

Quite exhausted after the last bit of road run in the heat. Feed of creamed rice (thanks Mr G). lots of coke (never drink it other than for running) and some carb bars. Uncle Dave filled the water back pack. Hung around longer to properly refuel etc.

We know the next section is long about 29k and the hardest on the course in regard to climbs. Also the track into Checkpoint 3 is difficult and narrow. I have run it before because you run about 2.7k into the Basin and then along the same track to rejoin the GNW.

We will both be pleased to get the next section over as we will have travelled just over 80k and further than either of us have done before.

Well lets get going and get this over. Leaving at 2.15.

Checkpoint 3 :

Arrived at 7.50pm. It was one hell of a section. I don't have to compare it to anything it was hell in section. So so step - I was getting up in a crawl - yes grab a rock and pull yourself up to the next one. I thought this was a run - nobody told me you needed mountain climbing experience.

There were couple of huge huge hills. Got in just as it was getting too dark to move. We didn't put in torches with us at Checkpoint 2 and so for the last 3 hours we have been pushing to limit to arrive in daylight. We just made it .

I am having major blister problems. Was going to get my sock off and put new one on and different shoes. Couldn't get my shoes off as my socks were stuck at the heel to the back of my shoes through the blisters busting and then drying the sock to the shoes. I don't want to know what is happening there.

Not sure if I will make it to Checkpoint 4 but having made the decision to leave I will make it. The last part of the next section is 11k of sealed roads and so the crew could collect me but if I get the close to 100 I will get there under my own steam.

The Checkpoint was hectic. I tried to change socks etc and gave up. We need to change into dry clothes for the night and warmer clothes, reflective vest and lights, refuel and hydrate.

Out at 8.10. I didn't record at checkpoint 4 as it was late and also very very hectic - with Spud running with the Dog and me refusing to go out with them and the crew totally confused about what and why things were happening. From memory got in after 12.30 but not much after.

It took us over 4 hours - when we were fresh and in the day it was a breeze in just over 3 hours.

Dog and Spud left just after 1.00am I left soon after when they were out of sight.

There it is!!!!.

 

Tim (Tim Turner)

It is hard to put into words what such an experience means. I am sure everyone that ran on the weekend will have been changed by it. I love running through the bush, it is hard on your body but cleanses your soul. The mountains were dam hard but the views were magic. I loved the run it had it all, the technical trails, the heat, the climbs, the navigation difficulties and the wild life. But the best thing is you get to hang out with a top bunch of people.

Thanks to Dave for getting this happening, for all those great people who manned the checkpoints and for whippet for keeping me laughing the whole weekend.

And David, Paul, Wayne and Jan you guys are all quite mad but truly inspirational.

For anyone reading this thread that did not run all I can say is to start training now for next year!

 

Hermaphrodite (Rodney Ladyman)

First of all, congrats to Dave Byrnes and all the helpers.  Can't imagine the hours and preparation involved in this but a lot of people have put in a lot of time.  My big mistake on this course was to stop and take a photograph.  I was closely dogging team dog's footprints and then they were gone.  Shortly thereafter came to a junction just before Barraba campsite.  Three of us spent over 5 minutes wondering where to go.  Follow the road or the GNW sign.  Followed the sign, saw Barraba campsite then straight back on the road.  Struggled along to CP 2 with my usual difficulties running at the 50km point. The second mistake was not following a race direction.  I came out of a climb at 73.1k and had to cross pig and sow ridge road.  Podsport was just behind me and I turned and was going to wait but felt really good again so set off and followed an arrow to the right rather than go the correct way which was to my back.  This was 5pm,11hrs for 70ks.An hour later I was back at the same spot.  Third mistake was 78.7km.Took a left up the hill and headed away from Basin campsite. If I hadn't taken that photograph, I may still have been close to Bluedog and not taken the wrong turns.  All these what ifs. 1.1ks uphill to a 4wd track and discover Podsport who also hadn't been to CP 3.  After basically walking in circles we retraced my steps to find after100 metres Jan and Paul coming our way.  Couple 100 metres behind them team blue dog, then 500 more Lawrence and Grant who had been behind me at 70ks.  We still had 3ks to CP3 then back out on technical trail.  This was 90 minutes plus gone.  I was shot here and basically decided the 100ks was it for me.  Not too much farther came Bill who also was heading the wrong way, so we all headed to Basin campsite which we arrived at at about 9.30pm. Over 15hours for 80ks.Shortly thereafter Tim and Whippet arrived then Podsport who withdrew with foot problems.  Out of CP3 at 10pm, we walked to Cp4 and arrived about 205am,22 hours for the 100k mark.  Surprisingly much of this I felt easily able to run, but mentally had finished so I just chose to stick with Tim and Whippet. So this is three ultras and 3dnf in short succession.  Some thinking to do here. Statistically, food-wise I carried a deficit.  At Glasshouse for 2 years my Heartrate monitor counted 18000 calories for 100miles over 24hours.Since its mainly a time thing I reckon my energy output would have to have been around the same and probably higher because of the rough terrain.  I have counted my food intake several times and can't get over about 3500 calories.  Allowing for error this estimates to 20000 used and 4000 consumed.  Waterwise, including all drinks, I never counted over 12 litres for 22 hours and 100ks.  Even allowing some extra, I reckon I was a bit behind where I should have been.  For the finisher, congratulations, for the rest of us, oh well!

 

Thrax (Grant Campbell)

My background ------------- Having only done 1 marathon and 2 ultras, my previous races pale in comparison to GNW100s: - Bilpin Bush run 36k (2003), final 7-8km is a killer slow climb completely devoid of flats - the Warrumbungles 42k (Sept 2003) - the Warrumbungles 50k (July 2005), tough climbs but not a scratch on the GNW100s - Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker (Aug 2005), when I saw the Trailwalker profile superimposed over GNW100s profile, it was like comparing the City to Surf to the Six Foot Track.

My Motivation ------------- From friends and family I'd heard everything from "You're a lunatic!", "You're crazy!", "You're mad" and "You'll end up an arthritic mess when you're in your 50s" but I was excited at the thought of 2 things I never imagined I could: - entering a 100 mile event through extremely demanding terrain - being in remote bushland, at night, alone, navigating with no way to contact the outside world than a whistle

Lessons learnt -------------- - Distances at night are incredibly difficult to judge when you aren't travelling at a regular pace. - Using the detailed directions alone and reverting to the map only if something doesn't make sense doesn't work. For the few extra seconds it takes I think best practice would be to always: 1. Read the detailed direction clearly 2. Take a mental note of the distance and altitude gain/loss until the next direction 3. Check that the direction agrees with the map 4. Give a quick check on the compass to make sure you haven't made a mistake

What I'd do differently next time --------------------------------- - Make it to Patonga! - Less sweets, more savouries (vegan pizza) - Lots of cycling to prepare quads - More hill training (sandhills can be tough on the knees...so maybe just cycling and solid hills) - Don't overexert myself by running any sections too hard as the cost is too high (consistency is the key)

My story -------- On the Friday I had a 2 hr lunchtime sleep but then was up until 11:30pm packing all my drop bags and re-reading the race materials. I awoke a 4am for my 4:15am picked up (Thanks Brendan! Hope the bucks weekend was all you hoped for). I hadn't really carbo loaded apart from spaghetti on the Friday night. I would have loved to have had about 8 bananas for breakfast but they weren't ripe enough. We arrived about 5am in time to give blood and empty the bowels...this wasn't to happen again for another 48hrs! I only recently found out that bacteria in your colon converts half your fibre into fuel readily available to muscles; a by-product being gas which other bacteria converts a portion into readily available muscle fuel. The remaining gas is emitted...don't run too close behind these guys! [Ref: Vegan Voice No 23 pg 19]

Fortunately I was able to eat 4 small bananas just before the race start. Feeling outclassed and in awe of the achievements of those I was running with, I still couldn't believe I was in a race amongst these legends.

With no support crew I had a drop bag at each checkpoint each with: - a fresh pair of good trail running socks - a fresh shirt - a piece of fruitcake (Thanks Lynita! Delicious!) - 2 chocolate bars and a couple of other vegan bars and dried fruit. I generally ate 1 banana at each checkpoint and another about 30 mins later, a little piece at a time with a mouthful of water. Everything I ate during the race seemed dry and I could only get it down with some water. I took capers for their high level of sodium, but next time I'll rinse off the vinegar first!

I spent the first 15km running the flats and gentle downhills and walking the ups. Having met Paul Every a few nights earlier at the Trailwalker presentation night, we had a good chat as the miles chugged by. Yianis had already pulled away from us, but I was told we'd see him later as he doesn't take the heat very well. I had good conversations getting to know Rodney and Lawrence in these early stages of the race and also met Deano who was to drop out at CP3 with blistered, swollen feet which he said felt like walking on hot coals. I picked up many stories including Glasshouse 100s, Mittagong to Katoomba and Coast to Kosi. Having a 3 litre camelbak I didn't require a water top up at the service station. Both calves were threatening to cramp only 15km into the race towards the top of the climb to Heaton Gap trackhead. It wasn't much later that my quads were also very tight and getting that punching bag feeling.

The seam in Paul Every's camelbak bladder had split by the Heaton Gap communications tower. A quick repair with waterproof patches was attempted but fortunately a spare was given by another runner. Rodney and I pressed ahead. Many kilometres later I was very concerned that Paul hadn't overtaken me. Knowing his capabilities I was concluding I was going too hard to early.

Passing the water tank just past the Heaton Gap lookout left me on my own for the first time in the race. It was a feeling of freedom and a race highlight for me.

I was wearing "Comform'able inner soles for running & dynamic sports" to give me the extra arch support I don't usually get from Asics/Brooks running shoes. Having only worn them for about 8 days with only one 5km run in them, I was developing blisters on my arches. I took out the inserts reverting back to the Brooks inner sole. After using some bandaids (and sports tape at CP2) I didn't have any foot problems for the rest of the race. I did the right thing acting early.

At CP1 (10:40am) the main pack left 3-5 minutes ahead of me when I found out Rodney had left his map behind! Off I trotted catching him a few km later...only to realise I hadn't topped up my water at CP1!!! I only had about 1.25 litres of water until the next checkpoint and it was getting hot! Fortunately Lawrence was able to give me 500-600 mls of water for which I am eternally grateful. We both arrived at CP2 with no water but didn't have to cover any distance without fluids.

By CP2 I was very dehydrated. Barely urinating and not sweating but my brain was still functioning. I succumbed to the sports drinks here (being a vegan health freak I'm pretty strict on natural approaches but I'd gotten myself into trouble). My camelbak was filled to the brim complete with ice (thanks to the Trotters volunteers!!!) and my bottle of soak water was topped up (currants and/or sultanas soaked for 24hrs gives good nutrient rich fluids). I took a little over 30 minutes in the shade at this checkpoint, trying to get my fluids back up. It was to be another 3-4 hours before I was rehydrated. I picked up my headlamps and reflective vest here which was fortunate as it was dark for almost the last hour to CP3.

To avoid stiffening up too much Lawrence set off walking down the road until I caught him. I set off running down the road about 1.5 km and Lawrence was walking back towards me. He'd left all his maps at the checkpoint. See a trend here??? Perhaps there should be a big sign on the way out of each checkpoint: "Do you have your maps?". Fortunately I had a spare set and gave them to him, so he didn't have to go back to CP2.

In the 14.2km from CP2 to the unmanned water station just after Watagan Creek Road, I had drunk 2.75 litres of fluids and was still dehydrated. The entire course was well marked except for a gate a few km after CP2 which baffled us as it looked like private property and didn't have the usual GNW steps to get over it. We wasted 30 mins here in the hottest part of the day going back and forth to ensure we were on the right path and not wanting to enter private property possibly jeopardising the future of the race.

Heading up the second killer climb in the race to the Communications Tower (Cabans Rd) I was drinking every 1-2 minutes as that was how frequently my mouth became dry. Fortunately Lawrence had previously been to the Basin Campsite and we didn't get lost in that section like so many others. The slow 2.7km haul in and out of the Basin Campsite was a memorable part of the race as Lawrence and I were able to get an update from most of the field including Paul Every, Blue Dog, Eagle, Jan and Rodney.

4.6km out of the Basin Campsite, Lawrence and I made a major mistake in missing the right turn onto Kingtree Ridge Rd and unknowingly heading north for about 5-6km. A fairly solid 50 min run back to Kingtree Ridge Rd finished my quads for the race. The tough things with a race like this is that any significant mistakes can put you very close to the race cut-off times. Now on Kingtree Ridge Rd we had the opportunity for a good run but my quads didn't allow it. On the steep decent down to the Cedar Brush trackhead I was frequently putting both feet on each step making very slow progress. I concluded around this point that if my quads didn't improve by Yarramalong I would have no chance of making the cut-off times to Patonga. Having accepted the 100km optional finish and knowing it wasn't too far away, I ran large sections along the final roads leading into Yarramalong trying not to hold Lawrence back. Thanks to Lawrence for dragging me through this. After covering about 17.5km with completely trashed quads which weren't recovering I took the soft option of the 100km finish accepting my quads couldn't get me through the numerous remaining hills by the cut-off times. I finished at about 3:15am with a 100km race time of around 21 hours 15 mins. ...but I can't help but wonder how much further I could have gone before complete breakdown.

After a 20 minute drive home, a warm bath supervised by my wife to make sure I didn't drown when I fell asleep (which I did many times) (...an ice bath would have been better), a litre of watermelon juice, a large celery juice (high sodium) and some chocolate, I was ready for bed...though I ended up asleep on the lounge for 4 hours waking up refreshed before stumbling into bed for another 3 hours.

Around 12:30pm I made a call to Patonga for a race update. It was disappointing to hear Lawrence had pulled out at CP5 but what an achievement with virtually no specific race training! I was able to drive myself safely to Patonga (1hr) arriving before Blue Dog finished. I guess I'm hooked on these events as it brought a tear to my eye clapping Blue Dog over the line and then again when Jan arrived at 4:30pm finishing with a solid run along the beach. His race tactics of beer and vomiting somehow always work for him.

After all the hype over leeches I think Tugger was the only runner to get one after getting his kit off and wading in some place with a name like Dead Man's Waterhole. It was great to hear at Patonga that a couple of the ladies are keen to give the 100km a shot next year. With a strong crew including Dave Criniti and the King (Paul Arthur), Blue Dog (Wayne) was always a good bet to make the 100 miles. To the 4 of 12 who made the 100 miles! It's good to hear the King may be interested in this race. No more explosive stretching for Dave Criniti...hope you can make a full recovery (back to your usual 200%!!!).

To Dave Byrnes and the devoted Terrigal Trotters volunteers, congratulations on getting every element of this race spot on in it's first year. I'm walking pretty normally again now, went for a light ride today and with the labour pains disappearing am already looking forward to next year.

It was an experience shared with amazing people which I'll always remember.

 

Kincho (Matthew Kinchington)

Great reading the race reports thus far, as they all re-create the feeling of the day... Congratulations to everyone who participated, whether they finished or not, as it was truly a tough day at the office, and just to be there and run was a great effort. I am not up to posting a full report at this stage, but I really enjoyed my first attempt at a race over 45km.Some snapshots from the day include: The atmosphere before the start was surreal, with the sun rising and a dawning for me of the reality of running for longer than I had ever before (more than my highest weekly mileage). Then the start was an anticlimax as i forgot to start my watch, but was happy to amble along at the back of the pack. The first section was tough running, with a lot of steep uphill and I was certainly amazed to see Paul Every at the top of the communication tower with a leaking bladder.  During this stage I learnt how difficult it was to estimate pace and ETAs, especially running on the technical single bush track.  The views were magnificent in all directions whether out to sea, lake or vineyard, and thankfully the temp was not too hot early on. (I shudder to think, if the temps were like the middle of last week in Sydney in the 30s ) The first CP was a welcome sight and my thoughtful wife had brought coffee and a custard tart, which were yummy... The next section was under-estimated by me and it turned out a lot harder than I expected.  This was not helped by running out of water with 8 km to go and getting a little confused as to where the trail went on the ridge line. I think also that this was the beginning on a slow carb depletion that was to manifest in the final 6 km or so. Nevertheless the transitions from the ridges to the valleys were dramatic and beautiful and the breeze was still cooling even on the road run into CP2. Here I greedily rehydrated as I was aware of being behind in the fluid department (in the end for the 100ks I drank around 15L of fluid and that was not enough as I weighed myself the next day and was 2kg underweight), as well staying out of the sun was important along with the lifesaving ice in the bladder. The third section started with some difficulty getting the legs to turn over, but did get some running on the flat before the climb up to yet another communications tower. This was a nasty one and certainly it was energy sapping.  The run along the top with its undulations was OK, with again fantastic views and some wildlife (a few goannas). I caught up to Ray and Wayne and we all headed down to the water stop on the Watagan Ck Rd (this was a godsend and completely necessary-thank you Dave!!).It was strange how I seemed to run with different people sometimes losing them and at other times going past, only to be caught at the next checkpoint. The climb up to Mt Warrawalong was long and tortuous and finding my own rhythm went out into my own headspace. I found this a most enjoyable experience, but ironic in a way as the pleasure and pain were closely intertwined (I can only imagine what this would have felt like for the 100milers..), yet on some of these difficult sections I was able to focus trancelike into the moment, which at times was like a strong connection to everything around me. As the light faded I was running through tunnels of trees and if I stopped there was nothing, only the wind and my pulse beating. I really enjoyed the solitude of the experience in this part of the race as the sun was setting and being alone in the bush intensified this for me. I eventually found Jan crashing through the bush having taken a wrong turn (something that everyone I think probably did ) and we ran towards CP3, arriving at around 7.35pm.I felt good here and was buoyed by the realisation that my race would be over in another 22kms. When I left with Paul it was dark and then had a very different experience for me of 'running' through the bush at night.  The fireflies were out in force (no we weren't hallucinating...) and the sounds change as the nightlife came out to play. Very soon Jan caught us and just before the turn onto the fire-trail at the top of the climb out of the Basin, we came across Rodney and another runner (I'm sorry that I can't remember your name) after they had realised that they had taken a wrong turn, which was bad luck. We continued running now down fire-trail in the moonlight (didn't need the torches much here), until the bush track down to the cedar brush trail head. By the time we got down here I was getting more tired, and very soon my delusions of a fast finish for the 100ks were dashed as the legs had decided to stop working. I think I was a bit hypoglycaemic with about 6k to go so I was eating all my available carbs and putting on my thermal top. this last section seemed an eternity as Paul pulled away jogging onwards and I entered my own world again, trying to focus on the moment and ignore the negative thoughts. Eventually the lights of Yarramalong came into view and there was one of the organisers waving his magic lantern at the finish for me. As well my wife was there to share the moment which was great as she had been so supportive of my running. In all I finished in 18:20mins or so, and given the nature of the course was very pleased. I learnt a lot about my own reserves of mental and physical strength, for which I am grateful to have experienced (I certainly enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the spirituality of the whole day ). I have some food for thought about fluids and food intake and now understand how difficult it can be. I would love to go the whole hog and run the 100miles, but this will come in time. Thank you to all the helpers, organisers and to Dave Byrnes for putting on such an awesome event, top marks to you all for the huge effort. Thank you to the other runners for sharing an amazing day in the sun, one which I hope to repeat...

 

Podsport (Dean Jones)

My humble story will pale in comparison to those that have preceded. Blue Dog, you certainly deserve all that you have achieved, and your story was very special!

My adventure started many months ago when I, for some strange reason, thought I could enter the GNW100. A very inexperienced ultra runner, I had only completed the 6 foot track and the GC100 this year. I knew that this course was very challenging and had no idea how I should train.

I now have some of those answers. One doesn't know what is possible until one has a go!!

I must admit that during my flight down from Townsville, I felt a bit frightened, knowing that I would be amongst some the finest ultra runners in the country. I was still, in my head anyway, a young wannabe.

I was more that surprised to find everybody so very supportive, friendly and helpful. It was no doubt a relief to put my head down for the night before the race, having shared dinner with such fine people who welcomed me into the ultra world with such open arms and warmth. Thanks to you all!!

I actually had a good nights sleep, which is not normal to me before an event. Most of my nerves had passed, and I just simply wanted the day to start.

The early pace and terrain was great. Running with Bluedog and Eagle got me into a good run/walk regime that I no doubt needed early on. I thoroughly enjoyed that first stage, with its constantly varying terrain and views. The last steep climb to the communication tower was fabulous. At many times during this stage, I simply took everything in and smiled to myself, known that I was in the bush, running with a bunch of unbelievable people, and I was having a ball!! this is what trail running is all about.

I found the single trail from the water tank, down thru the many cliffs and creeks, especially amazing. The first CP came too quickly!!! I was really enjoying the trails. I tweaked a right ankle some after leaving CP1 and this resulted in my running a little less and trying to move the pressure to a different area of my foot. This quickly led to some pressure areas in my right shoe. A quick stop and some running repairs seemed to fixed the problems.

Unfortunately, the 6 km along the road into CP2 flared up the hot spots and no sooner had I rectified them again, the left foot started to play up. They felt ok, but a bit tender coming out of CP2. The climb out of CP2 to the second communication tower was steep but uneventful. The problems resurfaced once I started to run along the flatter ridge track. I again stopped with the intention of draining the huge blister on my left 5th toe, but was shocked to find both my feet extremely swollen!!! They was no fewer than 16 blisters and the entire forefoot areas were red and tender. I struggled to put my shoes back on. I did not run again this day.....

I hobbled for what seemed to be years thru this section. It wasn't until Rodney came from behind, that I momentarily forgot my pain. We travelled down the step decent to the midpoint of the stage and crossed the Watagan creek to the drink stop. I at this point questioned my ability to continue for the first time. It sounds stupid but my feet felt like they were walking on hot coals with every step. I reasoned to my self that I only had 14km to CP3 and then not to far to CP4 and 100km. I would be happy to finish there, so I thought!!

I let Rodney go ahead, well I really had no choice!!! I soon started the steep climb and found my self again alone and in much pain. This next 14km would take in some 4.5 hours to complete........

Every single step was painful. I was so focussed to getting to CP3 that I took a wrong turn. As I kept seeing track markers, I kept moving forward. It wasn't until a sign told me I was near Walkers Rest, that I realised that I had walked some distance up the wrong track. I again had to reason with myself: Option 1/ Go on to CP4 (13km) and get disqualified. Option 2/ Turn around, descend the bloody steep track back to the bottom of the valley with very sore feet, just to check in at CP3.

I headed back. This descent proved my complete undoing. My already trashed feet became a real mess!!! It was completely rubbed in my face when all the other stellar competitors came toward me, after visiting CP3. They told me it was half an hour away (2.7km). It simply took me 70 mins. That's how slow I was going over the rough terrain with my feet.

I finally arrived at CP3 in 16.5 hours and called it quits. It is hard to sit at a check point watching others leave. My head was fine, my body was fine. My feet were terrible.

Thanks to all the other supportive entrants who made my first foray into ultra trail running so special. It was not my day.

Thanks to Dave Byrnes who put on a special race. He had the balls to hold a race on the most bitching trails in OZ, well done!! (P.S. thanks for letting me sleep in your car, and taking me to Patonga)

Just to let you know how my feet are..... As a Podiatrist myself, I has the luxury of my boss take care of them today. I have absolutely no skin on my left little toe. My right little toe is made up of 2 blisters. Huge blisters under both my big toes and across my forefoot. Each heel has even bigger blisters. I hobbled around all day. Other than my feet, I feel damn fine. I so wish I could have finished at least the 100km...

i actually have no explanation why my feet became so swollen. I had run a 80km training run in Townsville heat only 4 weeks earlier. Same shoes, same socks. Included a long climb and decent to Mt Stuart (600m). I had no problems, not even a hot spot. I have no answers.

It is hard sitting here reading all the stories of everybody's day(s). I just feel a could have gone on....then I look at my feet!!! I know I could not.

Thanks for a great day and night. See you next year!!!!

 

Louie de Fly (Louis Commins)

Congratulations to blue dog and eagle on a fantastic effort, blue dog I saw you run at Fitzroy Falls and Brindabella and know from your times you did the hard work and you deserved a great finish thanks team dog for Friday night and for the time I spent with you at the start of the race To all the others well done and see you at the start next year For me I had a great weekend, I’ll finish the year as a pacer and crew member at the C2K, It’s been a great year for me and will have a good base for next year Thanks Dave and the Terrigal Trotters for your help and a fantastic course and great race Could any runners who made a wrong turn let me know on this thread where it happened it will be handy for any new runners next year Thanks Lou

 

Bill Thompson

A couple of quick comments from a DNF'er (wimp). What a great adventure that was. Always disappointing to pull out, especially when everything is still in working order (accept for being totally stuffed). The good thing is that the challenge is still out there for another year. Three cheers to all the people who made it happen. A great crowd of people and I wouldn't change a thing - keep it as an adventure race. What I really liked about the event was the fact that for 50% of the time I was never really certain that I was on course. I never really recovered from taking a wrong track just before the Basin (and going uphill of course) and wasting about 20 minutes - not a lot in the scheme of things but enough to blow my schedule and make a finish near impossible. I did a fair bit of swearing but nothing compared to Rodney. When we got back to where we went wrong I couldn't believe I had been so stupid. The map was right, the directions right, the sign right - just the brain not working. A steak and drinky went down well and I left the basin with renewed spirits but still well behind schedule. I found the long haul up the bitumen wielding a dog killing stick, tough going. David said he knocked this off in an hour. In hindsight, probably should have kept going after a good rest, but doubt I would have got far. Definitely need to be pretty fit for this one. Still hard to believe that Paul and Jan made it after seeing how they looked at Somersby. Wayne looked good at this point. Some people asked how this course compares with some of the hard runs in the states. GNW has to be one of the more difficult hundreds around. There is no way I reckon I could finish in under 35 hours, so that doesn't leave much latitude for error. Comparisons are difficult but the closest run I have done is Massanutten in Virginia. 36 hours, lots of climbs, rough tracks, less roads, navigation easier and only 100 miles. Most of the other runs have difficulties augmented by altitude and/or bad weather. None have check points so far apart although you can go up to 8 hours between points at Hardrock. After most runs I usually think - NEVER AGAIN. For some reason that wasn't my reaction and I would love to have another go. Thanks again to all and especially Dave. Hope to see you again. This is no reflection on the owners of the Lakeside Caravan Park but that has to be the noisiest place on the planet. I lived 100m from the end of runway 1 at Heathrow and that was quiet in comparison.

 

Tugger (David Waugh)

Hi guys - just back from my little sightseeing visit to the big smoke. Just had to avoid the downhill stairs! Actually a good swim in Patonga did wonders to soothe the muscles and felt pretty good the day after.

Like everyone else - loved the adventure! Thanks to all the organisers and everyone at the aid stations. The event had such a groovy vibe and it was a pleasure to run with such a nice crowd. That's what makes these events such an experience - there can be no other possible reason... Can't wait till next year now and Rachel is really keen also (mum has confirmed babysitting duties!!)

Must say the scenery through there is amazing and a bushwalk is on the cards when the bub is old enough. Those caves were so cool.

I'm jealous of those doing the Coast to Kosi now - good luck to all and look forward to hearing all about it.