THE GREAT NORTH WALK 100s
2008 RUNNER COMMENTS AND STORIES
"Thanks for your extraordinary efforts to hold this race. Your volunteers were wonderful, the checkpoints so well set up, and the starting area organisation impeccable. The maps you provide, along with the instructions meant I never had to wonder where I was, or question my judgment. Top effort!"
"Thanks again for a great event, truly becoming the best race on the calendar."
"Just a personal note of thanks for such a brilliant race. Not quite the full 100 miles result for me this year, but some unfinished business for next year, and can’t wait to get back. You have an awesome race, awesome course and a group of top people. Really looking forward to getting back up there."
"hello dave thanks for the excellent organization this was my first year at the gnw100s and i have the best time thanks to every body to help you too next year i am going for the 100 miles that for sure."
"The GNW100s 2008, was my first time in this race, this event, and most of this track. I enjoyed absolutely all of the 100kms I entered and finished, and if I had so been organised, could even have gone on and completed much of the next 75 plus kms. My wife waiting for me at Yarramalong was the absolute highlight as at 0200 on the Sunday, after being out on the trail for 20 hrs I was looking for some new company.
May I say thank you to the volunteers and yourself for what I must say was one of if not the most rewarding event I have ever been on. Coming into checkpoints I felt like a king. Being self supported I packed too much in the drop bags but perhaps I did not need them anyway as the drinks, soup, sausages, etc, were offered and I actually accepted the offer on some occasions. It was a joy to be cheered, assisted and babied by volunteers I had never met.
Again thank you, and the TT's - this event goes down as one of my favourites. I am now preparing my entry for the 100miler next year - I want to be ready for the entries to open next October and not miss out."
"Thanks a lot for organizing such a fantastic run! The course was spectacular (both by scenery and by the level of difficulty) and the organization - immaculate. The race information package including maps and course descriptions were better than any other run I've ever entered.
Sadly I wasn't in a good physical shape on the day (had some stomach problems) and couldn't finish (my first DNF). I hope I do better next year.
Thanks again to you and all the people involved in this fantastic event!
I'll see you next year."
"Pipi" • "RawAussieAthlete" • "Tamsin" • Bill Thompson • "Whippet Man" • "MQ" • "EverReadyBunny" • "Brick" • "Maggot" • "Potty" • "Beanie" • "Bandanna" • "KiwiLisa" • "Runbare" • "Spud" • "Eagle" • "Osmo" • "Coolwalker David" • "Nickelass" • Graham Wye • "Innes" • "Bluebel" • Andrew Vize • Dan Bleakman
For me, starting this run was undecided until the day before. For the two weeks prior I had been having constant stomach cramps and my body was not processing food properly.
The first leg went well - it was very enjoyable running and a real pleasure to be somewhere new. My plan was to run with/follow closely a runner who was familiar with the route and was running at a similar pace. Right from the start, Blue Dog and company flew off at a rate of knots, I followed with the hope that they would slow down when they hit the dirt trail - this plan fell apart very quickly, the pace was way to quick and so I slowed down and would have to find my own way. Dr Lach caught up and we spent more than 30 minutes running along having a good long chat about my stomach amongst all things - Dr Lach is a GP and volunteered to bulk bill me for the consultation - but essentially he advised that there was nothing normal about by stomach problems. When we got to the first long hill, Dr Lach took off, he was certainly primed for a fast run. A fair while later, I met Blue Dog on the walking track section through the rain forest - or more precisely, I met him off the walking track - he had taken a wrong turn and had descended well down a water course before realising, luckily for me, I met him on his way back or else I too would have ventured further down. I ventured ahead, hoping and expecting that Blue Dog would catch me when the road section that was coming up. I reached the first checkpoint feeling fresh and excited.
About 20 minutes into the second leg I started to get strong stomach cramps. Also, I found that I had to run much slower than I had expected to preserve some energy for later on. The slow pace frustrated me, but I figured everyone must have been feeling the same, as runners were not flying past. The glimpses of great view and the tall grass trees on this section were just great.
I took the start of the third leg very slowly - my stomach was just not happy. I took a few breaks after the first climb and walked some sections along the road. All of these breaks were in attempt to get my stomach working again. I was very surprised that runners were not coming through. I took about 10 minutes break at the unmanned waterstop, looking accross the valley and hoping to see some other runners. No one in site, I climbed up the hill slowly, the cramps had passed and I was able to run with comport all the way to checkpoint 3.
I was just really excited at checkpoint 3, I was running at ease, had plenty of energy and was really enjoying the forests. However, it was here that everything fell apart. I had a can of creamed rice which did not sit too well. When nearing the top of the climb after leaving checkpoint 3, I force myself to eat a banana - I did this because I thought there would be little chance for eating again until the checkpoint 4 as I heard it was mostly easy running. Shortly after woods, I threw up. Sitting next to the trail I was in disbelief - with the exception of sea sickness I had not thrown up for many years. I was mentally exhausted. I scrummaged through my pack, and realised that I had forgotten to pack my electrolyte and some of my snacks - I had left them at the last checkpoint sitting on the grass by mistake. Not long after Joel came up, he stopped and offered help. We had a good chat and then Spud came along. Spud gave me his salt tablets, and both Joel and Spud were very considerate. After some convincing they took off together, it was touching to see the comradie off them running off together. After studying the maps, I decided to call it quits and wander back to checkpoint 3.
Since the run, I have visited the local doctor 3 times - upon the advice of Dr. Lach. To cut a long story short, I have discovered that I am lactose intolerant. Whenever I run further than about 10 km's I get stomach cramps - I had always believed that this was normal for runners. Within two days of avoiding dairy I have been enjoying a quality life that I have not experienced for years (well that is the polite way of putting it). This weekend I went for a 30 km run with no stomach problems at all - a first for me.
I am glad that I entered this great race, and hope give it a more honest effort in the future. I have learnt a lot from this years experience and am in awe of the dedication and focus that many of the other runners have.
I made it through 150km (1km from CP6). The first 103.7km in 16h 38m and the next 50km in 16hrs... I completed the first 103.7km 2h 19m faster than last year, which in turn was 2h 38m faster than the year before. So in 2 years, I’ve taken off almost 5hrs for 100k event. I guess I must be doing something right, but for the 4th consecutive year the 108.5 mile finish in Patonga has remained beyond my grasp. As I’ve said before, there’s always next year
The first 60km
I ate everything as planned for the first 60km. All raw, all vegan, all organic. Three 1.2kg (2.6lb) R2E2 mango, 10 bananas, 30 dates, 150g dried banana, 100g sultanas, 9 stalks of celery. After that my appetite wasn't really there so I stayed hydrated and didn't each much at all until it returned. I ate when I felt the need from my body. After all, it only takes minutes for what I eat to start getting into the bloodstream. No excess fat in the way (in my stomach or my blood). No complex carbs to break down to simple ones. Just simple, enzyme rich carbs from ripe fruit ready to fuel me with almost zero digestive effort. The dried fruit was a compromise. Nothing with the water content removed digests as well as the whole food, but weight is a big consideration in a race like GNW100s. From 60km onwards I barely ate 50% of the quantity I ate over the first 60km. Not once did I feel like my food intake was a limiting factor for me. > More pre-race sleep would have helped. > Taping pads of feet at race start would have helped. > Not running with a jacket around my waste with a headtorch in the pocket that was banging into my leg, eventually causing a corked quad would have been the biggest help.
I wasted 20 mins on the wrong path after not reading directions and continuing to the right instead of turning left at the communications tower at the top of Heaton Gap.
Having never done any of the race beyond Bumble Hill, I spent nearly an hour walking back and forth and around in circles after passing the GNW Campsite and looking for the locked gate. I lost perspective of the distances I’d covered between directions and hadn’t been looking at the map. I was left shaking my head with no clue where I was on the map until I closely examined the features of the river in conjunction with my compass…I guess I was a little tired
> Sun night 10hrs > Mon night 9hrs > Tue night 9 hrs > Wed night 5.5 hrs (Organic, wholesale fruit market day at Homebush. Up at 5am to get race food!) > Thu night 10 hrs > Fri night 6hrs (Slept at the race start in a sleeping bag under an annex off a 4WD. Got into deep sleep and 6hrs felt like I’d had a full night’s sleep.) Awoke 4:30am on race morning feeling alert and refreshed.
Post race sleep: > Sun night 12 hrs (deep sleep in the fully reclined front seat of my car…too drowsy to drive home…parked on a slight uphill so my body was comfortably level). Not enough sleep. Felt tired at work. > Mon night 14 hrs! (…finally I felt considerably refreshed)
I had only been running 15km to 20km per week for the months leading up to the race which included a small amount of regular bodyweight training. During the 3 weeks before the race I started running twice per day (sometimes 3 times) for 30 to 45 minutes with a 5 to 7 kg backpack (approx 100km per week). I found this was an effective approach to overloading and recovering to get me as ready as possible for the mountains and distance given the brief time remaining. I also incorporated wall sits (built up to 2 to 3 minutes), planks, squats, lunges, interval running and many other activities to keep the training fun and to prepare my body for the dynamics of the Great North Walk 100s.
I had been throwing all my race gear bits and pieces into the boot of my car over preceding weeks which helped considerably when it came to packing all my checkpoint bags on Friday. This always takes me many hours and is a job that never gets finished!
Bowel and bladder
I stayed fairly well hydrated throughout the race peeing regularly and unlike previous years when I didn’t have a single bowel movement during the entire 100km, perhaps being more hydrated meant about 4 bowel movements during the 150km of my race.
Drowsiness during the race
Thrilled to have reached CP3 before dark, en route to CP4 I put my head torch on which within minutes dulled to an almost useless light. It was sufficient to run with so I decided to conserve my other batteries to last until morning. Some runners approached from behind so I ended up running behind my own shadow to the light from their head torches. We ran like this together for numerous km, in fact I was surprised I still felt so good running at this stage. Towards the end of the 3.6km on Kingtree Ridge Road an overwhelming drowsiness came over me which I struggled with for quite some time, eventually falling into microsleeps while running (I had previously only experienced this in previous years while walking). I would awaken when I become conscious that my vision was no longer of the torch light and moving scenery but a dark haze with no clarity. A quick release of adrenalin with this realisation would awaken me for a brief period, only to repeat the cycle perhaps 4 or 5 times. With the change of trail after turning left on the walking track I was alert once again.
I slept in a white sandy cave halfway up Bumble Hill for 1 hr 20 mins (didn’t set an alarm). It was elevated 2m so passing runners wouldn’t be concerned (or awaken me), but I remember hearing about 5 or 6 people pass me during this time.
At the unmanned water station at 118km en route to CP5, I fell asleep for I suspect several minutes while in a squatting position filling my Camelbak. To the sound of an approaching runner, I awoke amazingly still holding my opened Camelbak by the handle and the water jug on a 45 degree angle (ready to pour) but with its base now resting on the ground. Only a few drops had been spilled. I had reached a whole new level of fatigue for me at this point.
At 138km en route to CP6, I slept for 10 minutes on the trail just before at the road before the big water tanks.
Around 146km en route to CP6 I slept for about 5 minutes in a squatting position. I didn’t really want to waste time sleeping at this point but felt the need for a brief nap. I was awoken by the falling feeling as I lost balance rolling to my right side onto the trail.
I ran the first 28.6km to CP1 with Teva running sandles and no socks. I love the freedom of my feet being able to breathe and the cooling effect is amazing. In hindsight I would have benefited from taping the pads of my feet (compromising the cooling factor and breathability) as there were early signs of skin movement on the pads of my feet upon reaching CP1. At CP1 I stuck to my plan of changing to shoes and socks but didn’t tape my forefeet until CP2 (52.5km). At 119.3km, en route to CP5, after crossing Ourimbah Creek I had wet shoes and socks. Climbing the following steep ascents in wet socks, the pads of both feet quickly became problematic blisters which required further taping. They were to be annoying hotspots for the remainder of the race as I was unable to locate any surgical glue (like DermaBond) or supa glue to strengthen them.
Energy (Nervous System)
Unlike the numerous previous 100km races I’ve completed, this time I didn’t ever feel like my nerves were shot by the end. I attribute this to getting more sleep leading up to the race than ever before. Sleep charges your nervous system with the electrical energy (vital energy) required to relay the vast number of messages the brain sends to muscles, organs, etc. Until you sleep again, any replenishment of your vital energy will be minimal. There is no substitute for sleep. Taking stimulants like caffeine (primarily a cerebral stimulant, a cardiac stimulant, and a diuretic) merely borrows from your body’s vital reserves by stimulating bodily functions or systems (e.g. overworking the adrenal gland to release additional adrenalin). There’s more to it but that’s my current understanding.
My back was lightly covered with “sweat” pimples after the race. I ran much of the race shirtless with my Camelbak directly against the skin. So perhaps it needs a wash after many years of use!
Day before race: Mid-morning I drank over 3 litres of 100% freshly made orange juice (I ate the pulp too). Mid-afternoon: Ate a 4-5 medjool dates. Evening: Ate 4 small mango and 8 bananas.
During race: 1.2 kg mango after each of the first 3 checkpoints. 3 stalks celery after each of the first 3 checkpoints. Dried fruit (100g sultanas, 125g banana) in 2nd half of most sections. CP1-CP2: 7 bananas CP3 (81.7km) - 10 small tomatoes and a head of cos (romaine) lettuce 15 pre-pitted medjool dates awaited me at most checkpoints in a l litre container to which I added water. After an hour of running and the dates were fully blended into a rich, sweet, electrolyte drink.
All of my food was organic. I drank between 1.5 and 3 litres of water for each checkpoint.
I lost my appetite from about 60km as night approached. I ensured that I stayed hydrated but didn’t force food down, instead waiting for true hunger to return in the form of a dull ache in the throat. I found my body was sufficiently fuelled from the abundant food I consumed during the first 10 hours.
I ate 2 or 3 big regular sized meals in the days following the race. Big banana smoothies, some plain, some with fresh mint and loads of mixed lettuce. I enjoyed several huge salads (e.g. tomato, cucumber noodles, lettuce, red capsicum). I had several litres of fresh OJ on Monday. Race recovery time is always a joy...plenty of good eating and no shortage of great sleeping.
Organisation of race As always the support offered during the race was flawless along with the directions and race organisation. I give the utmost praise to Dave Byrnes and the Terrigal Trotters for the depth of their passion for running and their genuine desire to help each one of us achieve great things. The GNW100s remains unthreatened as my favourite race.
Late and long – here goes… It all began on Friday, travelling down with Richard, my combined crew and pacer and Peggy, who I’d persuaded to enter her first 100km. We met up with Potty at Newcastle airport, then IDW – provider of team car – at Toronto. The afternoon soon disappeared as we swapped ziplocks of food – it all looked so tasty then. After a good feed at the local Thai, it was time for an early night.
Race morning – what a great turn out at the start. Soon we were off. Chatted to Peg for a while but she forged ahead and I fell in with Hermie for a while. Somewhere before Heaton’s Gap, I met fellow Pom Dan and we spent much of this first section together. Sweet rainwater from the tank – thanks Bill T for assuring me it wasn’t dry – saved some weight up that last hill. I love that section of the trail from the tank to CP1 – slow going but beautiful. I was into CP1 a little quicker than last year and the first of many mugs of tea was waiting for me…
The next section was fairly uneventful – initially running alone, then back with Dan, then alone again along the road into Congewai. Glad of the cloud and spits of rain – I was pleased to keep up some semblance of a jog nearly all the way to the school. Met Peggy on her way out – saying she was never doing another one (at the moment anyway) – oh dear!!
Up hill again – ran with Brick for a little while, sadly crippled by stomach gripes. Then I had a very brief aberration from the real track – fortunately the only navigational issue all day – I was on a 4WD track heading up the hill, but spotted Adam – fortunately wearing a bright red shirt – on the real track just below. Think they joined up a bit later anyway, but it was good to have company and see a little green signpost. Somewhere up the hill we stopped briefly – where Whippet was gallantly helping the sick – but could do nothing more to help. Further on I caught up with Hermie and Grant. Felt the first niggle in my right adductor on the descent to the unmanned water stop – little did I realise then what lay ahead. At some stage Grant zoomed ahead – excited about his head of lettuce. Hermie and I were equally excited about a pasta dinner, but Hermie had a little slide down off the track and neither of us wanted to end up in the creek so we went steadily into the Basin.
I was really excited to be out of the Basin in daylight. We were joined by Beaver and even made it up the hill to Kingtree Ridge Road before the glorious red sky turned dark. Before we were out at Cedar Brush, I knew I was in trouble – both my adductors were spasming and running really wasn’t happening. Screaming quads, bum, calves I could understand but this was something I wasn’t expecting and just got worse and worse as time went on. The boys ran on and Terry, Innes and Grant came by at an impressive pace – making up time for their extra few kms earlier on. Eventually I meandered into Yarramalong School.
Peggy finished the 100km just as I was heading out from Yarramalong loaded up on coffee and tea, but I don’t think all that much food – I’d already hit the point where all our goodies were no longer appealing. It was great to have Richard’s company for the rest of the course – a bush ballad every hour to keep me entertained and a firm hand on my back every time it seemed I was about to fall back down yet another rock I’d struggled to get up. Somewhere along here Bunny, MQ and pacer came flying by, but my legs just wouldn’t let me go any faster. The section through to Sommersby went much better than last year – well I was awake so that was a good start! By this stage, I was already quite fat – most noticeably puffy arms and hands.
My legs felt a bit better on the next section, probably just because the trail was much gentler and pleasantly soft underfoot towards the southern end of Mooney Mooney creek. The improvement didn’t last though. I’d remembered how hard that last section was but somehow hoped it might be easier this time – it wasn’t! By now my legs were very fat and flabby and there wasn’t a muscle on the inside of my legs capable of bending them! It wasn’t a run anymore, or even a walk, but a crawl on hands and knees up all of the rocky sections. Scopas Peak seemed so far away and so high, but eventually we got there. Getting back down was just as hard and the descent into Myron Brook seemed like it would never end. Whippet came flying by somewhere on this section – back on form and soon out of sight. Mount Wondabyne broke me – it was hot, it was up, it was never going to end, why why why was I here? There were tears, but after a big hug, moral support and the first glimpse of the sea it was all ok again – the end was in sight! Back to a slow plod across the rocks – it’s a beautiful area (except the rubbish dump) – be good to see it one day without 165km in my legs! Brick and his pacer came by – another great recovery. There’s nothing quite like those last couple of km and the knowledge that the beach and the finishing post really are within reach. We made it! I was 1.5 hours faster than last year. It was at least as hard, but a very different experience. Never have my legs been so sore and never have I been so heavy – my fat legs were exploding out of my shorts! It was 5 days and more than 6kg shed before they looked normal again…
Thanks Richard for those early morning hills, great crewing and star pacing, propping-up and humouring over a very slow 75km!! Potty, what an awesome performance especially on that last section – no wonder I couldn’t keep up with you in training. Finally, thanks to Dave and all the other organisers/volunteers for another great GNW – I’ll be back in 2009 to try and shed my record for the slowest person on the final leg for 2 years running!
Woof, Finally made it to a town with internet. Grenfell was closed on Mondays. Haven't the time at present to read all the other reports. If I get nay names wrong then apologies please. Congratulations to Dave et al on another great GNW. This proved a hard year for me. A couple of medical issues during the year didn’t help. One, a shoulder operation was both painfully painful and painfully expensive. I asked the specialist if it would be OK to exercise. What do you have in mind.? A couple of one hundred mile runs. I couldn’t recommend it he said, but as long as they are easy going and pretty flat and there was no possibility of falling over, then maybe OK. I assured him they were as smooth as a baby’s bottom and I was more likely to fall over going out to the car park. Did a bit of training on the way down. If you want a nice quiet spot then I can recommend Nowendoc NP. Saw and heard no one for a week and couldn’t even get any radio stations including the Man in Black on Radio National. The 2nd night before the run we camped at Heaton Lookout. A couple of hoons decided to torch a car. It was good to be back in civilisation again. Great crowd at the start. 15 to 40 for the hundred in four years. People will have to get their entries in early which will be great for the organisers. The track to CP1 was much better this year and the conditions near perfect so I came in 5 minutes faster than last year. I think I maybe blew a gasket going on that lovely hill with the leaning rail as from then on I felt slightly breathless for the rest of the run, especially on the flat. Stoked up on numerous sausages at CP1 before heading on the easiest section to CP2. Joined soon after the campsite by Kate(I hope I have your name right) who was doing the 100k and we travelled along together until the Basin. She was faster, but liked the idea of joining someone who knew the course well, especially for the night sections. We were compatible fellow travellers as she also didn’t like talking or stopping on hills. Picked up my stove at 2 for my ritual soup cook up at Watagans Creek. Collected some water in the creek in case the drop had been vandalised. It hadn’t, but the water went well in the soup adding vital minerals. I can now do this whole operation in under 10 minutes, well worth it. After the nasty rough climb, we enjoyed the great red sunset and arrived at the Basin on schedule. After a 25 minute Guinneas and meal break assisted by my crew Jane, I took off not feeling too confident about finishing. Jane was sure I would pull out at the next checkpoint. However I managed to convince myself that what ever happened, within reason, I would get out of Yarramalong. Our mail was being forwarded to Patonga so I had to get there for it if nothing else. It was interesting going down the road and being passed by people who left before me at the basin. I had expected to see Nick along the way. I find out much later that he had gone bush at the Basin. It seems that many people do some extra miles from 4 to 5. This is the only section I got the IPOD going. 12k of flat boring bitumen at 2am is not my idea of fun. I found Yarramalong much better this year so the extra 40m was worth it Dave. I did the whole next section alone. Took off soon after Canadian Kiwi Lisa with her red flashing light. I thought I would catch her on one of the hills but she disappeared off the radar. Must have taken a wrong turn as I arrived well ahead of her at Somersby despite having a 15 minute tea break at Stringy Bark Point. Jane cooked me up a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon and I took off soon after Lisa. Came across Grant after a few k who was in a bad way with blisters and a torn muscle near the knee. He asked me to tell 6 that he wouldn’t be making the cut and to wait for him. Very disappointing to get so far. Maybe a few more mangos next year. I caught up with Lisa before the freeway - I think she had got lost again. This lady was certainly getting her monies worth. We both stoked up on food at CP6. I found milk particularly good at this stage and they had some brie that was great. The day was heating up nicely which I think was a blessing in disguise for me as the muscles seem to work better in the heat. Lisa and I took off together she vowing to stick with me from now on. Before the swing bridge she promptly took off. I expected to catch her on the steep climb but no sign. After surprising a very large goanna on the track I realised she must have taken a wrong turn yet again. I had just 5 minutes at Myron Brook as I was worried about making the cut at the water drop. Made it easily with 15 minutes to spare and believe it or not a couple of minutes later Lisa comes steaming up the hill. I really didn’t think I would see her again. She must have done at least another 4k. This is one tough lady. The cutoff team of Sonia and hubby arrived on mountain bikes. Lisa had passed Nick way back and didn’t think he had a hope of making the cut. We cruised along for the next 10k or so chattering away until I suggested we put on a bit more speed just in case. Lisa took off on the last down hill to make sure she made it OK. I was having a slight knee problem so wanted to take care on the last bit. It was good to get on the beach and be cheered on to the finish where I touched with Lisa for equal last - where else? The only disappointment of the day was that the fish and chip shop shuts at 6 and as a matter of interest only opens from 8 to 9am on Mondays. A bloke on the wharf saw us hanging around and opened up so we were very lucky to get our mail. By the way Dave, I received my seniors card in the mail so will expect a discount if I am crazy enough to have another go! Thanks to my crew and all the organisers and volunteers that make this journey so enjoyable.
My phone alarm went off. I groped around in the dark and instinctively hit the snooze button. I snuggled down again. Damn. I have to get up. I sat up and looked around blearily. I really have to stop doing this. These 100 milers are wearing me out. I was sitting in the middle of the Great North Walk Trail next to the unmanned water drop between checkpoints 4 and 5. I reached up and switched on my headlamp. I dragged myself up and stumbled off down the trail towards Somersby and the new day. I had managed 10 minutes of sleep. Just enough to stop me staggering all over the trail and tripping on every shadow. I still felt devoid of energy but at least now I could focus enough to get to the next aid station. The finish still seemed like a lifetime away. There was never a thought of quitting. It was more a matter of how long and in what shape I would make it.
Looking at the race splits for the sector from 4 to 5 I suffered terribly from low energy and lost a lot of time. It hadn’t all been like that. It had been an interesting day. Every ultra is a new adventure. This one had been more about the people around me than about myself. Sometimes you have to take a step back from your race to help others along the way. Saturday had been one of those days. Sunday would be different. With the rising sun I would find a new energy that would reward me with some magical trail running. But first I had to get through the night.
I had planned to run this years GNW with Tim again as we make a good team on this testing course. We both had injury plagued preparations so had no expectations. Tim was forced to pull out pre-race so I was on my own. With a field of close to 80 runners across the 100 miles and kilometres I was seldom alone for the first half. During the first two stages I found myself with Hermie on and off. I would pull ahead on the downs and he would catch me on the climbs. We have spent many a mile together in the past and so it would be again today. Coasting along the ridge of the Sugarloaf Range, before Heaton’s Gap, we encountered Brick sitting by the trail with his shoe off, wrestling with his foot. I stopped and helped bandage a badly blistered toe. This was worrying only 10km in. We rejoined a long train of runners before they let me pass on the descent. I enjoyed the long downhill into Heaton’s Gap. I stopped to fill my bottles at the service station. The climb up to Heaton tower was a real grind. Runners surrounded me. I was surprised how many people were within sight. I remembered climbing up here the first year of the race with Tim and we were all alone. This race is really growing. It was already warm and threatened to really heat up. Fortunately the cloud cover kept the temperature down and the heat never eventuated.
Past Heaton Lookout and we dropped down into the thick rainforest. There was a small group of us winding our way through the dense cover. I had to concentrate on the trail. The thick leaf litter made it indiscernible as you weaved in and out of trees and up and down creek beds. I stopped several times to flick leeches off my gaiters. They were everywhere. And stubborn. Climbing out of the forest back onto the gravel road I stopped at the loo at Hunter Lookout. Many people passed me. Coming into checkpoint 1, I found myself walking and chatting with Dr Lach who had taken a detour and added several kms already. Not for the only time either.
Checkpoint 1 was a welcome sight, I was getting hungry. I didn’t spend long, just grabbing some food and heading out, walking for the next km to eat. Hermie was with me and when asked by a group just in front of us about where to go he offered: “Just follow the road then turn off it.” Sage advice I thought. Hope they had their maps. This section follows the ridgeline for quite some distance. The road made for easy running. I caught a few people who had passed me earlier. Brick and Terry were just in front and I kept pace with Hermie comfortably. The field was spreading out now. Past Barraba Campsite and we started the long descent into the valley. I love this section and really opened up pulling away. Once off the road there is long raking singletrack. I passed a couple of runners and crossing the field at the bottom could see a couple more just in front. The familiar old bathtubs were still at the bottom of the hill. Strange the things we remember. I was determined to run as much of the road as I could but the Congewai valley is like an energy vacuum and every time I get there I struggle. This time was no different. I kept looking back for Hermie, knowing that when he caught me it would help keep me going. I was starting to feel nauseous and it became a real effort to get to the school. The breeze was almost cool. I couldn’t blame the heat. I just felt sick. I asked Hermie why we do this. I suggested it was time for me to find another sport. Not for the last time I had this thought.
Checkpoint 2. I knew I had to eat but every mouthful I took threatened to come back up. Kathy was helping me out and looked worried at my pitiful state. I knew I just had to get some food in and keep moving. So that is what I did. The short out-and-back section here allows you to see the state of others and who is close to you. Hermie caught up again and took my mind off my malaise. But as soon as we started the climb to the communication tower he pulled away easily.
Well up the steep pitch I encountered Tom coming back down. He looked terrible. Apparently he felt even worse. His kidneys were painful and he was short of breath. He hadn’t been weeing. And he had been vomiting. I got him to sit on a log. He wanted me to go on but there was no chance of that. I assured him I was in no hurry and wasn’t leaving until I knew he was safe. Runners kept stopping to offer help but I sent them on. Brick stopped and he looked terrible, absolutely drenched in sweat. He had been sick himself but kept going. I filled an empty bottle I had with plain water from my Camelbak for Tom. He only had Gatorade and he needed some water. He wanted to sleep but I wouldn’t let him. I was really worried about him. He rang Les, the wireless radio communication co-ordinator to pass on his withdrawal so that checkpoint 2 would know he was coming back. We sat for some time just chatting and sipping water. Once he felt up to it I took his pack and we ambled back down the hill. After a while he turned and told me he couldn’t take me any further and assured me he would be OK. Reluctantly I agreed and left him to it. He made it back safely.
I pushed hard back up the hill. The time spent resting with Tom had freshened me up and I was keen to get going. I dug my poles in and pulled myself up the steep trail. Approaching the top I rounded a corner and there was Brick and another guy, Joel, both doubled over and looking like death. Brick had been suffering for some time and was clearly distressed. Joel explained that he also felt terrible and his feeble urine was the colour of Brick’s pack. I looked at Brick’s pack: coffee coloured. Not good. Seriously, not good. I suggested doing as Tom had done and head back to CP2. They both couldn’t face that option so they decided to get to the top and reassess. I resigned to stay with them. It was slow going with enforced rest stops every few metres but eventually the communication tower came into sight. We stopped at the road and Brick curled up on the ground. Joel paced around uncomfortably.
Déjà vu. This was the exact same spot that Tim had collapsed with heat stress two years ago. I couldn’t believe the contrast today. The rain was coming in and the wind had whipped up. I was shivering and dug out my emergency jacket. I could see Brick curled up in the foetal position, getting goose bumps. I made him get up to put his jacket on. I presented their options: go back to CP2; try and get down to the road where the unmanned water stop was; try and get to CP3, still a long way off. Brick wanted to try to get someone up onto this fire road. He was in a really bad way. He was thinking of his family and clearly worried. I rang RD, Dave Byrnes and got his answering machine. I left a message. Some other runners came past. Graham Wye had the emergency number so rang the wireless communication co-ordinator. I spoke to Les and asked about getting the pair picked up from somewhere. He radioed through to Dave and rang me back with the options. He said someone could retrieve them from the water drop but it could be hours and hours. Their best bet was to go back to CP2. We had been there for about 1/2 an hour by now and Brick was back on his feet. I relayed the choices to them and before I had finished, Brick had turned and marched off towards CP3. There was no way he was going back down that hill. I rang Les again and told him they were pushing on and that I would hang with them to keep an eye on things.
Brick has a really strong walking pace and Joel just fell in behind, head down. I spent some time educating Joel on the perils of kidney failure and the dangers of painkillers in his current state. His quads were shredded but he just put his head down and followed Brick’s lead. We caught and repassed Rob Boyce who was struggling with cramps. Finally, we hit the long downhill to the farm and I cut loose and enjoyed some tight singletrack. Half way down the switchbacks I heard someone yelling from above. I waited for the others but it wasn’t them. There, way off track, was Graham again. We guided him back to the track and he joined us to the farm and eventually all the way to CP3.
Crossing the paddocks I could see a car parked on the road. I told Joel he should consider getting a lift out. The driver was waiting to see his mate run through but expected to be there for another 1 & 1/2 hours. Neither of the casualties wanted to quit. Their choice. We refilled our water bottles and started the long climb out of the valley. The sun was getting low in the sky. The shadows were lengthening and the forest began to take on a new life as the night approached. We discussed making the Basin in daylight. I doubted it. Brick started to jog periodically. He still set a solid walking pace. I told him that if he had a rest at CP3, refuelled and rehydrated, he could probably go on. I warned Joel that his already shredded quads would suffer on the big downhill and then the bitumen on the next leg into CP4 and further clog his kidneys. I warned him to stop here. I saw later in the results he went on to finish the 100km.
We dropped into the Basin in the last of the fading light. Shafts of setting sunlight pierced the forest canopy and lit up the creek below us. The golden glow contrasted the dark shadows of the dense rainforest. It was like a scene from ‘The Enchanted Forest’. The fast fading light forced me to hasten my pace. We passed the stairs leading out of the basin and started to see runners coming back towards us. A constant procession of headlamps bobbing through the trees on the narrow twisty trail. I marched into checkpoint 3 to be greeted by Tim who had come out to help crew me through the night. He passed my bladder off to be refilled and plied me with pasta and soup and hustled me back out of there. So fast that I left my trekking poles leaning on the table. I asked Rob Boyce as he limped past if he could get Tim to bring them CP4. I felt naked without my poles.
Unfettered without my ailing companions and fuelled by the warm food I picked up the pace. Climbing out of the Basin I had to pull my map out a couple of times to reassure myself. I was alone in the night and it is easy to miss a turn, as many had done. I had to concentrate, checking every intersection. Once off the road and on the track down to Cedar Brush I really wound things up. Fast downhill running at night really gets the adrenaline flowing. I let gravity pull me ever down, down, down. The fireflies flickered in my headlamp beam and night animals scurried off at the thudding of my footfalls. It doesn’t get much better than this. I was really having fun. This is why I run these trails, for these moments when I become one with the bush, moving at speed through the forest at night.
As I climbed the stile out of the paddock onto the road I scoffed down an espresso gel with a double caffeine shot. This sparked some serious road running. I flicked my light out, switching it back on at the first sight of a car or another runner. Pounding down the road in the moonlight allowed me to switch to autopilot. I had another caffeine gel. I started passing runners. One, then another. Each one fuelling me to run a little harder. As I came into Yarramalong I passed whole groups of runners. I rushed into the checkpoint gushing adrenaline. I had recaught Hermie and Tamsyn who were reclining in their chairs. They got up and hurried out just ahead of me. I asked what food was on offer: the only hot food was off the barbeque or chicken soup. No good to me. I had a cold hard-boiled egg and grabbed a flask of gu and a refilled bladder and rushed back out again. Big mistake, I needed more food. I should have taken more time here. By the time I started walking up Bumble Hill Road I was feeling drained. After the hard run down the road I was now crashing. And fast.
I was only 30 metres behind Bunny, Meredith and their pacer but it could have been a mile. I couldn’t catch them. They sounded like excited teenagers. How could they be having so much fun and have so much energy when I felt so bad? They climbed the guardrail off the road onto the trail. I followed. I could see them slowly pulling away. It was almost like I was going backwards. I realised I was running out of energy. I choked down some potato chips. I couldn’t eat. Nothing I had appealed. I had to concentrate really hard to keep going. The night seemed so heavy all of a sudden. It was pressing down on me. Every step was a battle. The trail through here was messy: up, down, over puddles, through mud. I went for hours without seeing anyone. It was like I was sleep walking. Maybe I was. Finally a light came up behind me. As I climbed off the trail onto the road, Darrel came by. I was fumbling with my maps. He asked how far to the water drop? 6km. He was gone before I looked up. I must have dropped my map here. I never noticed. That 6km took forever. I promised my self I would rest there. I had no choice. When finally the familiar barrels came into sight, I refilled my bottle, set my alarm and curled up. Even the loud buzzing of a swarm of mozzies that settled over me couldn’t keep me awake. I went out like a light.
I was making a habit of this trail napping caper. But that ten minutes probably saved me 30 more I would have lost stumbling around in the dark. Climbing the trail out to Somersby, another set of lights closed in on me. I was surprised more hadn’t. This time it was Brick with his pacer. He had risen from the ashes and was now making good time. He told me to stick with them. I would if I could. I managed for 100 metres before falling back again. Climbing out of the forest onto the road was symbolic of me climbing out of my funk. The sun broke through the haze of the night as we hit the bitumen road signifying Somersby and soon checkpoint 5. I gritted my teeth and ran. Past the chook farm with the noise of a thousand chickens waking up. Onto Wisemans Ferry Road. I could see Brick still up ahead. He appeared doubled over. He was vomiting again. This race is unrelenting.
Checkpoint 5 and I was resolved to having some decent food. Two slices of toast with jam. A cup of coffee. There was some debate over whether there was chicken in the soup but there was a vegetable option so I got one to go. I met Les, the radio guy, who I had promised to say hello to after all his help the day before. What a great job the volunteers do. Tim was going to pace me from here to checkpoint 6. I welcomed the company to help get me moving again. Brick was long gone by the time we left, with a fresh pacer in Rod.
Renewed by the solid food my strength gradually returned. I remembered this section well from the last year when I pushed the group I was leading hard to stay inside the cut-off. I knew it was a short leg but you could still make up time here. Once off the bitumen Tim urged me to run some. And run we did. We built up good momentum weaving through the thickets. Once onto the downhill sections we caught Brick and Rod and went past them. Brick’s feet were worrying him. Tim assured him he was over the worst of the rough stuff. I remembered differently but was pleased to discover the trail was easy, smooth and largely downhill. Across the river we really poured on the pace. It was hard to believe I was the same runner of a few hours before. In no time we were crossing under the Pacific Freeway and climbing onto the old highway bridge. I was feeling strong and eager to get to the finish.
Kathy had organised a fried egg in toast for me at checkpoint 6. I had my bottles filled with coke, grabbed a cup of soup and headed back onto the trail. After a phone call home, Tim decided to continue on to the finish with me. As we headed along the river Brick and Rod were crossing the bridge. That was the last we saw of them. He would go on to finish an hour behind me. A spectacular red-bellied black snake was curled up in the early morning sun by the track. We stopped to admire him from a distance. We were running well. My feet were a little sore but my legs felt great. We crossed the swing bridge and climbed the rocky trail up, out of the valley. The sun was beating down threatening a hot afternoon. I pushed in front of Tim to set the pace for a while. We really wound it up. On some of the long technical downhills I really let loose. I would stop at the bottom looking back to see an expression of mild panic on Tim’s face. I wasn’t sure if it was fear of falling at this pace or fear of suffering the humiliation of being dropped while pacing. Either way it amused me greatly and made me run the next downhill even harder. Rounding a corner Tamsyn and her pacer were right in front of me. I apologised for having my second wind and we went right by. She ended up finishing an hour and a half behind me, testimony to how much time can be lost over this last section.
The unmanned water drop was a contrast to last year. Here bodies had been strewn all over the ground. Today it was all business. A splash and dash. The heat was building and high up on the moonscape of the sandstone plateau it was tough going. I felt for those still to come through there in the afternoon sun. The rock surface felt like concrete. We were counting down the kilometres now. The long open firetrails and constant climbs sapped our speed but we could smell the finish line. Finally we crossed Patonga Drive and picked up the pace along the singletrack. The road up to the Warrah Lookout seemed way longer than I remembered but finally we were onto the walking track. One last climb and then we could see through the trees to the beach. My heart warmed at that sight. Finally I could enjoy my finish. We had an eye on the time, mindful of getting in under the hour. Down, down, down we went. Still running hard. Finally those final few steps onto the sand. I paused to savour the moment. It is truly one of the most spectacular finishes of any ultras. This was my third time onto the beach but it was no less dramatic. No less emotional. We ran the sand. I still had running legs. I felt great. The waves lapped at the shore. The sun was shining. People were clapping. I grabbed Tim’s hand to thank him for his help. I was glad he got to share my finish. He peeled off to allow me to finish on my own. I ran every last step and collapsed to my knees at the finishing pole to give it a big hug. 31:50.
Well What Can I say - but a repetition of what has already been said, amazing race, very tough, and amazing organisation by David byrnes and his team. I particuarly felt for those volunteers who were so helpful in the night check points - thankyou so much!
It was great fun running with ERB the whole way, she is an amazing woman, tireless and keeps her humour untill the the end. We had some interesting adventures and some that stand out in my mind.
1. seeing Graham Wye running the opposite way?? glad we
could help you out there G!
What a great weekend - we must have rocks in our heads to do this sport. Thinking about taking up darts.....well maybe not - WHAT'S NEXT!
Wow that event just continues to deliver.
I had what could be considered a perfect run on the day with great company MQ from the beginning. We moved at a steady pace that wasn't setting anything on fire but we met a few who were having more problems. Graham Wye running in the wrong direction was an absolute classic.
Soon after Congewai we met Whippet taking an unwell runner back down the hill. We could see a big group just ahead of us with Ourimbah and Beaver and they paused partway up the big climb from Congewai. We thought they were taking it easy until we got there and found Brick lying on the ground and another runner feeling unwell. Brick looked ashen but was in agony at the thought of withdrawing. He wasn't able to keep anything down. We suggested the option of continuing on and if he didn't feel better perhaps they could pull him out at the farmhouse where Tim was lifted out some 2 years previously.
We waited briefly at the top of the hill but we were not sure if they had decided it was total madness and headed back so we continued on. Heading towards the basin we got the excitement of seeing other runners heading out. Most looking pretty good. Milov said he wasn't feeling great and had also been sick. Suddenly a strong group of 4 appeared behind us and it was Terry, Innes, Tall Geoff and Jess who reported they had gone off course for around 1 hour.
At the basin we felt like it was halfway and it was a good feeling. We fuelled up and I should mention both of our supports crews were fantastic. Scottie77 was my support crew and he had everything out and cheerfully gave me all that I needed and made suggestions as well. MQ had her better half Lucas there and he also provided tremendous support. Heading out we saw plenty of friends coming in and I was elated to spot both Brick and Whippet who I was concerned about. I nearly hugged poor Whippet. In fact that might be why he stayed just behind us and didn't catch up.
Heading towards Yarramalong in the dark we came across quite a few runners including Ourimbah, Jess and Nadine and later Osmo and Lachlan and Geoff. We were surprised to see anyone. That run into Yarramalong always saps my will to live but MQ bolted nicely away from me and I dragged myself in at some stage. I saw the clock said 10.50 but I can't recall now was that checking in or checking out. No matter.
Tamsin, Hermie and Grant were all at this checkpoint and I picked up my wonderful pacer Jess who was just a bright spark and keen as mustard to get out on the trail. The next section got really hard as the sleep monsters tackled me. I could hear in the dim distance Jess and MQ chatting away and even playing word games. Asking favourite actors and movies and I was struggling to recall things like what words like THE even meant. I was so zapped. I didn't contribute much to the conversation.
At 5 we were shocked to see Milov and Marie who we thought would both be so far ahead. Milov left soon after we arrived looking worried that the girls would catch up to him. Marie after a very long stay at the checkpoint headed out bravely.
We tackled this next section cheerfully as it is such a short section but even this one dragged on. Finally checkpoint 6 and last checkpoint as excited MQ pointed out. We again saw Milov and Marie and then left for our final journey. I saw things.. My brain was bored of rock, tree and just made up things for me. I saw a big brown 4WD and then it morphed into a big rock. Then I saw a white bread box yep again a rock. Climbing was hard. Walking was hard and we started to verbalise some of our frustrations but it was never too much. After so long we just needed the outlet. Jess continued to be fantastic and when we got to the final unmanned drink stop she didn't even blink when we just sat in the wet gravel and wiggled our bums closer to the outlet to top up our bladders. We had to twist and contort to do it but there was no way we were standing up to do it !
In the last 5-6km Marie stormed out of no-where and just ran past us. Up a hill. I was flabbergasted. It just couldn't be possible. She had made such a great recovery and then when we crossed the road some life came back into us and we started running. I just followed MQ who suddenly found her feet and legs were able to turn over. Then down to the wonderful beach and it was great to be finally finished.
Hermie the best man won. You were so far ahead I didn't have a chance.
I was so happy to see all the new 100 milers who made it on the day. This is no easy 100 miler to start on. It really delivers everything.
and I have a final picture burnt into my retina of us girls once finished throwing ourselves into the water. Jess with a belly flop fully clothed. MQ just sitting in the water with her shoes floating off out to sea around her and Marie and myself twisting our feet into the cold wet sand because it felt so ticklish and so good. Was it worth it the second time around to finish. Oh yes.
It is a great journey and I thank everyone that I saw out there on the day and trained with. It wouldn't be the same without all of you on the course and I am really pleased that people who did it tough also finished. Milov who would hate to give up and Brick who looked so white just after checkpoint 2. Brick's comment will always stay with me of F, F, F, F'ity, F.
That certainly sums up the GNW.
First things first, a big thank you to Rod & Luis for Pacing/Crewing for me, I hope you had fun. I had a mixed weekend but no way would it have been so successful or as much fun without you guy’s.
Well all I can say is; #*@& that is one hard course and I finished in 32:59.
I got a blister on my second toe on my right foot with less than 10Kms done. All I thought was bugger. I was running with Terry at the time and he had some tape so he gave it to me and I tried to put it on my toe. It is a lot harder than you think with bodyglide on your toes.
Whippet Man stopped to help (not to be the only time) and he got the tape all the way around my toe and it stayed until the end of the race. Thanks Whippet you are a great friend, I very nearly understand Tim’s man love for you. He he.
I caught Terry up again and all was good for a while. We got to CP1 with no worries. Filled up water and got some weakly mixed Power Aid (I don’t really like Power aid). Then off Terry and I go. About another 5Kms and I cannot eat a thing and start feeling like vomiting and I have not even run 40Kms.
“OK it will pass,” I think, but no. Up came lots of that important and precious stuff called nutrition and water. “Bugger,” I think “that is not good.” Terry was still with me making sure I was OK. Thanks mate. I started running again and TallGeoff caught us up. I'm sure I had slowed Terry down a little.
We got to the road and my guts felt like a mixing pot, so I had to walk. Terry and TallGeoff ran off very comfortably and I walked slowly. At this point I was thinking only about 5Kms to CP2 and this will be my first DNF in race. After about 2Kms or so I started to feel a little better so I tried a little jog. OK, no problems. I actually passed a guy at this point and I thought that maybe it is all getting better. Silly me.
I eventually got to CP2 with some more walking and slow jogging. I got some coke and water and Bill Thompson’s wife ran back to the car and gave me some ginger cordial. Thank you very much. I was feeling a lot better with some liquid inside me so off I go again.
Jogging and walking OK now. Tamsin caught me at this point so we ran together for a while until my guts started doing a tango again. I told Tamsin to run on which she did. Tamsin was only about 100m ahead when it was vomit time again. Bugger, not happy Jan.
I did start to feel a lot better after my vomit and managed to run the flats and not just jog and then the hill starts. Up I go, liquid and food going in nothing coming out. “Great, maybe it has all settled down.” I think (wrong). I go around a corner and Tommo and Whippet are sitting on a log. I stop and have a chat and Whippet. He tells me he is taking Tommo back down. I offered to help take him back down. He did look crook but Whippet said he would be OK with Tommo and told me to keep going forward. Hope you are feeling a hell of a lot better Tommo.
I got maybe another 500m up and suddenly I had blurred vision and was very light headed. At this point I lay down and closed my eyes to try to focus then again. I vomited again instead.
I was lay down for about 5 minutes and again I felt a little better, so off I went. But I only got about 100m up the hill and again blurred vision and light headed. At this point a group caught up to me. Ourimba and few others. I told them I going back to CP2 and Ourimba tells his mate to go back down with me. He was peeing blood which is a very bad sign.
We were talking and Bunny catches up and we have a chat and then Whippet turns up and I decided it would be easier to walk up than down so we slowly go up to the radio tower to get mobile reception and hopefully get picked up. At this point I said to Whippet, “I have two children and a wife who would love me to come home and it's only a race, maybe next year.” (I was totally gone at this point)
A slow walk with lots of rests and we are at the communications tower and have mobile reception. Whippet phones the RD but no contact so then he phones the mobile communications guy and we wait for a reply back to how to get picked up. I am lay down sleeping (kind of) in the rain & wind for maybe 30 minutes. We get a communication back that no way we can be picked up at the tower and if we wait at the unmanned water stop we could be waiting a long time to be picked up. With my 30 odd minutes lay down and managing to get some water in I felt a little better so I hopped up and started walking.
Graham Wye had caught us up at this point but he could run so off he went. Then there were three, again. We walked and talked and even managed a little jog on the down hill part, not far to the unmanned water drop. I was feeling OK by this time and could of easily run quicker but we kept it steady. About halfway down the hill we see Graham Wye in no mans land just above us in the hill he had lost the track so we waited for him and all stayed together to the water drop.
We filled up water and off we went again feeling good. I felt good walking up the hill and was eating and drinking properly again. We all stayed together until CP3 which we arrived at just on dark.
I meet my crew and have a great feed and drink and I was about to go and look for Whippet but Tim came over and told me he had gone off quick so I left CP3 by myself in the dark. Not having a clue what was next I just concentrated on the course directions closely and walked and ran at a nice and easy pace and eventually got to the 100KM finish at CP4.
By this time I had no plans of pulling the plug at 100Kms. It was 100 miles or bust. Sailaway/Luis paced me from CP4 to CP5 and it was so good to have company during this leg. At some point on this leg both me feet got blisters on the soles. (I really need to fix this problem, my legs still working but my soles blistered and hurting is not good.) Luis led me most of the way for this leg I did some but not much. Luis did manage to miss a few turns while going through some leafy areas but I managed to pick them up quite easily. I think canyoning for years help me at this point.
About 2Kms away from CP5 and we saw a light ahead and eventually caught up the runner and it was Whippet going through a bad patch in the trees. We pass Whippet but slow down so he can follow us up the hill, still not easy navigation at this point but I was feeling good and lead us out to the road. We get to the road and only about 1Km to CP5 we get ahead of Whippet about 200-300 meters but can still see him.
I was about 200 meters from CP5 when I started dry retching at the side of the road, this happened about 3 times in the last 200-300 meters but we eventually get into CP5. Had a feed and drink and all was good again, why just before the CP, I have no idea. Rod & Luis swap pacing and crewing duties and we go again nice and slow to hopefully not upset my guts again.
Whippet passed us after about 5Kms with his pacer Tim running very well. I tought “I will not see you again my feet hurt too much.” This was a very uninteresting leg but we got to CP6 and Luis had got lost on his way to CP6 but managed to get in about 5 minutes before us which was lucky. We fill up and away again for the last long hard leg.
It is only early on Sunday morning but it is already getting hot which worries me a lot because of the problems the day before with hydration and food. This really was a hard leg and with the soles of your feet blistered, lots of rock hopping and things like that and the long parts over hot bed rock is very uncomfortable. But I kept on going forward, “onwards and upwards” I have been told before.
We just kept moving with lots of walking and slow jogging the flats and down hills. Hours passed and lots of Kms and we started seeing walkers coming the other way. Rod asks one of them if they have seen any runners and they said about 5–10 minutes ahead. How on Earth I was catching anybody is a mystery but I must been.
We went past the waterfall and I cooled my feet in the water. It was so good. About 5 minutes doing that but this does not get you any closer to the finish. Off we went again. After maybe 30 minutes we caught up to Tamsin and her pacer Richard. Tamsin’s legs are seriously retaining water and her arms are the same, she thinks she has maybe 6 Kilos of extra water on her. This is not good in the middle of nowhere and no help at hand. We all walk together for while and then Rod and I go ahead up a hill and loose sight of them so we just keep on going. We are going up the last little hill, close to crossing the road and Rod sees Tamsin and Richard about 100 meters behind us. The only thing I think is she is such a good runner, she has come good and she will pass me very quickly, no worries I will still finish. Rod has a different idea he asks me “Can I run?” I say “Yes, but slowly.” So we start running up to the road. I thought it was pointless but did it anyway.
We just carried on running slowly, yes, but still running. This just keeps on and on and my legs felt OK but the soles of my feet hurt like hell. We actually ran all the way to the lookout. I ask Rod how far from the monument to the finish and he say’s less than 2Kms with lots of down hill. I looked at my watch and I have 2:41 if I can get in before 3:00 it is still sub 33 hours. Why that makes a difference, I have no idea. I tell Rod this and he asks “Can you do it?” and I said “Yes.” So we ran hard. (Well it felt like hard running.) Down the hill, across the car park and more beach and get to the end with 1 minute to spare 32:59.
That is the hardest I have had to work for a finish but that also makes it more rewarding to actually finish with such trying times during the race. I have never needed to dig quite so deep.
Again I would like to thank Rod & Luis for crewing & pacing, SMC42K for the help he gave to them while in checkpoints, Whippet for all the help and encouragement you seriously went beyond the call of duty mate.
To everybody at the aid stations and everybody who gave encouragement to runners during the day it really does help when you are down and even when things are going well.
To David and Terrigal Trotters for having the idea of putting on such a hard but rewarding race it takes a lot of trust and foresight to believe in yourselves. The race will for sure have over 100 entries next year.
After taking on the 100km last year, I was tempted (and goaded by Milov) to tackle the beast that is the 100miler. However, with my 1st C2K attempt around the corner and coming off some heavy training and races, I decided long ago to opt for the 100km again. For those unfamiliar with the event, the 100kmer is still quite a toughie in it's own right. Which just highlights the achievement of any runner that kisses the post at Patonga Beach after 170+ kms. I was happy with my race, although disappointed and a little embarrassed about missing the Basin turn-off. No excuses, I nailed it fine last year (fluoro paint and ribbons everywhere distracted me he he ) I had forgotten how tough the hills are on this course, but the scenery and quality of the trails made the climbs worth the effort. Just some A-grade ridge-top running. A few highlights - I spent time in the presence of greatness in the likes of Spud, Joel and was even arrogant enough to run past Bluedog when he hit a low patch. Class all the way that cagey canine. How he found something inside later on is amazing. (He blew back past me with some sob story about a sore hand or something )Spud's consistency of pace was a lesson and Joel was obviously pacing himself well too. I had to remind myself hey, these guys are cruising in the 100mile race. Was sorry to see Pipi w a fleece jacket on up above the Basin, his race obviously run. Also like to mention Ewan who was gracious enough at Yarramalong to offer congrats after my 2nd place in the 'sprint option'. I thought he was a crew support guy he looked so fresh. He'd finished some 2 hours earlier in a course record 12 hours 20 or thereabouts. Nice going! And thanks to Murray in 3rd who drove me hard, especially in the last leg. Sorry I wasn't much in the mood for chatting post-race at Yarramalong. To Milov for collecting my maps, yes they were mine! Thanks mate. A gutsy finish, I know you struggled most of the race. Great to catch up with people the following day after (mine, not theirs) 8 hours of kip... Whippet, Horrie, Bluebel, David CW, Doc Lac, Old Knees and others. And to meet Pommie Jo after our tie last year. Nearly finished, but just wanted to mention the race performance for mine was by Cookie Man in the 100 miler. Kim, you were so strong out there and was thrilled to see you beat me to Patonga (me by car ). A great time too. I know it's your backyard, but you still have to run it. The icing on the cake of a bonza year. (c'mon... one more Cradle!)
Well, I've finally managed to jump onto that beach at Patonga and what a feeling it was.... I had a fabulous, fabulous weekend. It's been a long time coming, two years having hubby Dave rave about it and then last year getting lost and not completing it I finally cracked it. Last year I was shocked at just how tough the course was up to 130 k's and on the weekend was even more shocked at how tough the last section was. I still can't believe that someone conceived to hold a race on the course. Great idea Dave Byrnes.
Thanks to Tamsin for sharing the excitement leading up to the race and congrats. Thanks to Tamsin's pacer Richard for crewing through the day. Milov, Innes, Spud, Kim, Ian thanks for your company along the way and Kim and pacer for waking me up from deep sleep on that track down in Mooney Mooney (I might still be there!)
Probably the biggest thanks should go to Dave Byrnes and all the race volunteers. Us Ultra Runners are perhaps a shy bunch and don't seem to say much at presentations, and I wish I had got up there and expressed my appreciation to all those helpers. It was meant nevertheless.
Congratulations to all the women who raced too, 100% finishing in the 100 mile is a great, great result. Just shows we are the tougher sex!
Can't wait until next year....
I haven’t run 100 km in 7 years; the last time was Hong Kong Trailwalker, which coincidentally fell on the same weekend as the Great North Walk 100’s this year. I have been injured on and off over the years, and the last time I took part in a race was 2003. I hit 40 this year and I also hit the “what am I doing with my life?”. I run daily with my two beautiful golden retrievers and my 10 year old son riding his bike. On alternate weekends when my son is away, I usually run on the six foot track. A few weeks before the GNW 100’s, I thought, why not give it a go and see where you are at. DB accepted my entry based on my results in the past. Thank you DB.
I loved every minute of it; truly it was a magical almost 20 hours out there. I ran with Runbare to start with, and kudos to her than she managed to get to CP2. I could see the pain she was in. As a navigationally challenged female, I then hooked up with the great Bill Thompson from somewhere between CP1 and CP2 to the Basin. There I hooked up with Horrie and Bluebel, a fantastic couple. With the stress taken out of navigation, it made my run a lot easier.
My goals were to a) finish, finish in the cut-off, c) finish in less than 20 hours, and d) finish in less than 18 hours. I made goal c and I am very pleased. I have been MAF training for several months now, and whilst I maybe slow (then again, I always was), I have remained injury free. I am going to continue with the MAF training, and see what 2009 holds. To anybody considering MAF training, I can highly recommend it. Not much fun at first, but after a few weeks, you start seeing results – and no injuries!!
Thanks to DB and all of the Terrigal Trotters. A magical run and the only complaint I would have was to agree with Spud re the lack of veggie soup at CP’s. I thought that as a back of the pack person they had run out, but realize now, it wasn’t the case. The veggie soup was wonderful, and really hit the spot. Congratulations to everyone.
Looking forward to an injury free 2009. A particular congratulations to Graham, I was at Patonga and saw you come in.
Warning, this is a long race report. I have been trying to put down words to paper. It is hard to describe this event. Tim mentioned it is a life time of emotions bundled into one weekend, and I think that is close to the mark.
My odyssey started two years ago, when I dropped out at CP2 suffering heat exhaustion, having run out of water coming into the Congewai Road. Last year I was privileged to be Horrie’s pacer and be part of his success.
This year was to be my year.
Preparation I had been training on the GNW trail since April this year. Week in week out, preparing for the end of August 100km Trailwalker, doing 30 to up to 60km sections from Brooklyn to Mosman. I didn’t do any training on the road, so the marathons I did (Canberra 50km, Great Ocean Road, Gold Coast and Sydney) were all done off trail running. After Trailwalker (incidentally, my 8th), I joined up with Allison, Beaver, Terry, Dutchie, Milov and others and commenced running weekends on the race course, culminating in a 75km run from Yarramalong to Patonga. That last training run I purposely paced so I could judge to make a goal time of around 35:30.
I must add, that initially I was going to do the 100km with 2 of my Trailwalker colleagues, but they pulled out, and when Seris indicated she was doing the 100 miles I decided to adopt her motto “you will never know until you try”, and upped the entry form to the “full”. But only then when my partner Carmen said that she could crew for me the whole way, having organised a baby sit for her son on the Sunday.
Race Plan Very simple. Just pace myself. My goal time was 35:30. Having trained on the whole course, I knew the terrain and what to expect. I had envisaged doing the 100km in around 20 hours (making up time on the 6 hour section to CP1 and the generous 5 hour section to CP2), allowing 6 hours to the Basin and then make up time again to Yarramalong, probably the easiest section. Yarramalong to Somersby in the dark would bleed some time, but then I would make up time on my favourite section to Mooney Mooney, before having enough time up my sleeve (I allowed around 6:30 hours) to shuffle the last 25km to the beach.
I kept on reminding myself of the task ahead. There would be no failure. And I looked at Dog's Foot from 2007 to know this was no picnic in the park.
Must acknowledge the invaluable tips from Tim and Milov regarding hydration and food intake, thanks guys.
Race Day I carried 3 water bottles filled with electrolyte and 2L of water in the Salomon backpack. Besides sugary sweets, I also had boiled salted potatoes, and carried 1x tin of creamed rice or a can of baked beans with me between the CPs. At the CPs, I ate the food on offer (pasta, sandwiches, soup, fruit), more creamed rice, changed socks and shoes (depending on the terrain ahead, I changed from Asics Kayanos to DS Trainers to Salomon XA Pros) and made sure to Vaseline my feet. Carmen was just absolutely wonderful in all her support, she really lifted me. Great to see Psychochicken taking photos out on the course, and seeing Tim at the Basin. I also drank Sustagen, a few cans of Red Bull, and had chocolate coated coffee beans to give me a boost through the night.
I stayed with Seris and Eagle most of Saturday and the night, they kept a comfortable steady pace, and I enjoyed their banter and good company. We picked up Graham Wye, and travelled well as a group. I felt strong especially going up the climbs, and it was only at daybreak, at the Ourimbah creek crossing, that I decided to push on a bit quicker on my own. Ran really well from Somersby to Mooney Mooney, as I thought I would. Love that shaded trail next to the river.
The last section was the hardest, as I had expected. It was fecking hot, the climbs were relentless and the soles of my feet were smashed and seemingly on fire. I drank a liter at the unmanned water stop. The fire trails seemed to go for ages. But the legs were fine, and I just gritted my teeth, muttering HTFU, HTFU and just kept on pushing through the pain, thinking every step takes me closer to the beach. I was close to a sub-34 finish, but the last descent to the beach seemed to take forever, and I was beyond caring. Finally, the end in sight, I lunged and embraced the post. 34:10 was the time, well within my goal. It was an emotional moment, and I took some time to compose myself. My first 100 miler.
I waited until Seris, Eagle and Graham finished, before Carmen drove me home. I was a zombie, totally zonked out in the car. My feet were pulped.
I want to say a huge thank you to all the volunteers, Terrigal Trotters and Dave Byrnes for this race, I have been part of it in some way now for the last three years, and the event gets better and better.
Dog, you are the man. I have the utmost respect and admiration for you. You put the H back into HTFU.
Finally, Carmen, I treasure you - I couldn't have done this journey without you
On November 8th and 9th 2008 I completed the Great North Walk (GNW) 100s, a 175km trail running ultramarathon near Sydney, Australia. There were about 40 runners in the 100 mile category, and about 10 who didn’t finish. I finished the race 27th and last equal, alongside Bill Thompson. Bill and I finished in 35:46, ie just inside the cutoff time of 36 hours, for both of us exactly as we’d planned. It’s a funny kind of race where coming last feels like an incredible success!
For me it was a particularly sweet victory as I’d been quite doubtful of my ability to finish this race inside the cutoff time. Prior to this race my previous personal best was a recent 100 mile run on the Western States trail in 37 hours. Since the WS was only 160 km, I knew I would have to pick up the pace rather a lot to finish the longer and harder GNW inside 36 hours. I’ve never done a road marathon before, and the GNW had more road running than I’d ever done in an ultra before (as well as a number of difficult technical sections, which I loved).
Although I found it a daunting race, and very very difficult, the GNW was also a lot of fun and a real life changing experience. The race covered some truly spectacular terrain. We were very lucky with the weather, with reasonably cool dry conditions (though to me it seemed very hot and humid compared with running in Canada and the US Midwest). I really enjoyed meeting the local runners. The Australian ultra runners are a wonderful and incredibly hospitable group of people. And incredibly fit! Without the help from the local runners it would have been very difficult for a visiting foreigner to finish this race.
It should be noted that of the 8 or so women who entered the 100 mile GNW in 2008, ALL of them finished.
That’s the short version. For those who like long trip accounts, below is my rather lengthy tale of 175km of pain, endurance, hope fear, and ultimately, success.
The Great North Walk 100s are a duo of ultramarathon trail running races held simultaneously on the Great North Walk trail north of Sydney in Australia. The races are actually over-distance; the 100 mile race is actually 108.5 miles, or about 175km, and the 100 km race is actually 103.7 km. This year was to be the fourth year this race had been run, and prior to our race, I believe only 4 women had completed the 100 miler. I first heard of the GNW 100s from a Kiwi ultrarunner who I was talking with on facebook. It appealed to me because, although currently living in Canada, I was intending to return to New Zealand shortly. There are no 100 mile mountain running races in New Zealand, so Australia is the nearest venue for such a race.
Having missed out on a few races in the US and Canada due to being slow getting my entry in, I entered the GNW as soon as the entries became available. So I got race number one. It turned out there was no rush, as the race did not fill completely. This will probably change in future years as ultrarunning in Australia becomes more popular.
The GNW race includes some very difficult technical terrain and is considered by many to be the hardest (although not the longest) ultramarathon in Australia. This 2008 race had about 80 entrants in total, with about half of them entering the 100 miler and half doing the 100 km race. The two races are done at the same time, with the 100 km runners finishing at checkpoint 4, and 100 milers continuing for another 75km to Patonga. In 2008 there were only three foreign runners: a fellow from Hungary, myself (Kiwi living in Canada), and another Kiwi woman.
Prior to arriving in Sydney, I got quite a lot of useful advice from the local runners via the Coolrunning online chat forum. Several runners offered to let me stay at their house before and after the race, and I am deeply indebted to Ray & Helen, Jo & Graham, Wayne & Bernie and their families for picking me up at the airport, putting me up in their homes, taking me to and from the race, and generally taking care of me.
I arrived in Sydney the Wednesday before the race. Unfortunately my luggage did not. It finally arrived on the Friday morning, just in time. Meantime the local runners had managed to scrape together a nearly full set of spare gear for me. However I was very happy to have my own backpack, food and equipment for the race. We drove up in Wayne & Bernie’s car, which was crowed with 5 competitors and support crew, and joined an excited bunch of ultra runners for dinner in a restaurant near the start of the race.
Saturday morning revealed a lot of nervous, hyperactive runners at Teralba. Soon enough race organiser Dave Byrnes gave us the “Go!” and everyone was off jogging slowly up the road. The front runners took off and that was the last I saw of them for the next 36 hours.
I was dismayed to find the race began with many kilometers of paved road. Finally we broke away on a lovely section of fun technical single track, then crossed the highway, picking up more water at the petrol station, and did a short, steep, and stunningly beautiful climb up to Heaton repeater station. Surrounded by gum trees and weird insects and birds, we were clearly running in Australia.
Shortly after this we headed into the most technical section of trail running, with a damp mossy trail that was at times difficult to follow. It was lots of fun and I finally managed to overtake some other runners. Bethany showed me my first leech, fortunately on her shoe, not mine. Wayne took a fall somewhere in this first section of the race (though I only found out afterwards as he was far out ahead of my rearguard position). He cut his hand open to the bone, requiring many days in hospital for surgery and skin grafts after the race, and cracked two ribs. However he carried on after the fall for the remaining 150km nonetheless, and finished second. These Aussie runners are tough!
Checkpoint 1 was a welcome sight, with food and drink supplied and lots of help from the great group of volunteers manning the station. I left here at about 11am, right on track with my planned times. I’d overtaken Ray and Jane through the technical part of section 1, but as expected they soon overtook me on section 2, which was mostly 4WD and gravel roads. It was by far the worst section of the race, as I much prefer technical trail running to road running. I was feeling overheated and depressed when I finally chugged into checkpoint 2 at 3pm (an hour ahead of schedule). I’d had the advantage of training at altitude (my house in Calgary is 1000m above sea level), but the heat, humidity and jet lag probably reduced the advantage. My last training run had been at minus 6 deg C with nearly zero humidity.
However I’d vowed the only way I wouldn’t finish this race would be if I was pulled from the race, so I jogged out of the checkpoint, meeting another poor runner who was pulling out with dehydration and extreme pain in his kidneys. They say section 2 always gets a few runners. I’d carried 3 litres of fluid for section 2, on sage advice from the Oracle (Ray).
Section three was lovely, and I had the pleasure of running (or walking) with some other runners including Horrie and Bluebel, and several other 100 km racers. After checkpoint two I saw very few 100 mile runners. I went ahead of the group on a steep singletrack descent just as it was getting dark, as I prefer to gun the technical descents if my knees are behaving.
Coming down towards the basin of checkpoint 3 by now well after dark, I recalled the oracle’s advice, and made sure to turn left at a junction with a little used track. I called out to a fellow behind me to ensure he took the left turn here too. Earlier in the day Graham (who’s house I stayed at after the race), unfortunately turned right here (which is easy to do). He took a long detour before eventually getting into checkpoint 3 rather overdue, and with massive blisters (and was re-named “Mr Blister” by his 4 year old son after the race). Mr Blister still managed to carry on, and finished 2nd in the 100 km run, though with the worst blisters I have seen in an ultramarathon.
However I only found out about this afterwards; Mr Blister was a whole checkpoint ahead of me. I was pleased to see Ray and Jane again heading out of checkpoint 3, just as I was coming in. This was the last time I saw them, although I got into the finish only about 15 minutes behind them. Checkpoint 3 was wonderfully lit up with lights and glow sticks, and I was grateful for hot soup and help from the wonderful volunteers who were out there in the night helping us tired runners. I picked up my poles here, and left at 9.30pm, still half an hour ahead of my planned time.
Section 4 mostly consisted of a very long road run down to checkpoint 4 at Yarramalong. However I was starting to get into my stride by this time, although a little concerned about meeting the later cutoffs, and I actually enjoyed the road running for a change. I picked up the pace with the help of some fast running music on my ipod. Some of the time I was running with some of the 100 km folks, but we were mostly all too tired to make much conversation.
I was feeling pretty good as I arrived at Yarramalong around 2am, still a little ahead of schedule, although I believe most of the other 100 mile runners were out ahead of me by now. Eagle had told me to carry warm top and pants for the night running, however I needn’t have bothered as it was still stiflingly hot (probably about 15 degC). I think the checkpoint 4 folks were a bit surprised to see me arrive in the middle of the night in shorts and sports bra. My Canadian running shirt was much too hot for running in Australia! Greg Love kindly lent me a genuine Australian (lightweight!) running shirt at the next checkpoint.
Section 5 had a lot of single track and complicated directions, and I walked a lot and took much longer than I’d planned for this section. I got lost for about 15 minutes in the dark, trying to take race directions too literally. However the navigation was generally fairly easy, with fantastic maps available (1:25,000 with 10 metre contour lines!) and a very comprehensive set of directions provided by the race director. I ran the whole race with my compass around my neck, which did help me catch mistakes several times when I noticed I was going in the wrong direction compared with the map.
For part of section 5, I travelled with a nice fellow (Nick I think) who I’d caught up with after he got lost a short way out of checkpoint 4. I never heard what happened to him, and I don’t think he finished the race, unless he overtook me without me noticing later on. He was the only other runner I saw in the night between checkpoint 4 and 5.
At the unmanned water stop, shortly after daybreak, we started worrying about the distance left to cover, and the time available. I realised that I had been walking way too much and was behind schedule. We had 60km remaining, and 12 hours to do it. At 5 kilometres per hour this doesn’t seem excessive, until you allow for stops, and slowing down a lot towards the end. Not to mention getting lost. So I picked up the pace and left Nick behind shortly after the water stop.
I pretty much sprinted (compared with my usual pace that is) the whole last 60km of the race from here. Navigating was really slowing me down, until I decided to mostly ignore the detailed directions, and just follow map and the numerous markers at all the trail junctions. Orimbah creek seemed to go on forever, and I was really worried that I wasn’t meeting the 5 kph required pace. I really put on the pace and sprinted the last few km on sealed roads into checkpoint 5.
After a fairly brisk stop at checkpoint 5 (now nearly an hour behind my planned schedule), I headed out with Bill Thompson who I’d caught up with at the checkpoint. Bill is something of a legend as he has WALKED a number of 100 mile ultramarathons, and still somehow finishes just inside the cutoff every time. He’s absolutely steady, and although I could travel at a faster pace than him, I had real trouble catching up with him if I stopped for any reason, as he doesn’t stop at all between checkpoints.
I took off ahead of Bill when the route seemed easy to follow, and made really good time jogging on fun singletrack following Mooney Mooney Creek. I was feeling great, for a time, but then it got quite hot and I ran out of water. I took a 200mg ibuprofen for my sore knee but this was a mistake as I started feeling sick and funny in the kidneys. I decided some creek water looked clear, and drank some, but after I drank it I decided it tasted funny and I threw it all back up again. I guess I have a strong stomach since I didn’t get sick after the race, but I won’t do that again (it tasted like cowpoo). I think it’s the first time I’ve ever thrown up during an ultra.
Anyways Bill caught me up again here and I was feeling sick and weak and dehydrated so I stuck with him to checkpoint 6. I was planning to pull out, but after drinking lots, and a change of shoes and socks (the only time I saw my feet during the race) I felt much better so decided to carry on. I was only 8 minutes behind schedule leaving checkpoint 6.
Once again, a short distance out from checkpoint 6, the navigation ahead seemed trivial, so I jogged ahead of Bill. Big mistake. Barely 5 minutes after leaving Bill I made a stupid navigational error, somehow completely failing to see a very obvious trail going straight ahead at a sign in front of me, and instead went left and up a canyon, across to the other side, and up a trail that said Gilcolee or something. I followed this for a while until I noticed that the compass said I was heading north when I should have been going south.
I’d lost maybe 25 minutes going fast in the wrong direction. I had no margin of time left and had decided a while back that any navigational errors in this final section would be fatal. But I wasn’t really sure how to pull out, and it seemed easier to carry on to the water stop up ahead than try to locate the checkpoint behind me, which would probably have nobody there anyways since I was well past the cutoff time for checkpoint 6 (and besides I wasn’t sure I could navigate back there anyways, as I wasn’t thinking very clearly by this time).
Then once I got back on the correct trail, I started wondering if I could finish the race after all. I would have to do a very fast pace indeed, with lots of uphill and on very technical rocky terrain, to meet the 3pm cutoff at the water stop. I sprinted like a madwoman, passing Nick who had caught up while I was lost. I passed several hikers coming the other way, and asked all of them if they’d seen an older guy in white shirt hiking ahead of me. Each time it seemed like I was getting closer which gave me hope, because I knew I could manage Bill’s pace to the finish, if I could just make the water station before the 3pm cutoff. I really don’t know where I got the energy, but I somehow managed to get to the water stop with about 10 minutes to spare, and also caught up with Bill here. Now I was right back on schedule as I planned to just make the water stop at the 3 pm cutoff.
After this I decided my brain was clearly fried, so I stuck with Bill until the last run down the hill. I had no faith in my ability to navigate anymore, and I really didn’t have the energy to look at maps and think. Bill was great company, and I finally got my composure back after an hour or two at a more relaxed pace. It was completely wonderful to trudge along behind and just trust his skill and experience. As I’ve done most of my running solo, it was a rare and lovely experience to cover unknown terrain without having to do any navigating.
Section 6 covered some stunning terrain, a real moonscape across bare rock, and I hope to come back here someday with my brain in gear to enjoy it. The great thing about the sprint to the water station was that I hadn’t even noticed the heat or my poor aching feet and legs as I was so focused on finishing at any cost. My feet started reasserting their presence in the final stretch after the water station though, and Bill and I were both pretty sore on the home stretch. My feet still hurt a week after the race, so I guess I did pound them pretty hard. No blisters though.
Arriving at the finish shortly before the 6pm cutoff, and a couple of minutes ahead of Bill, I surprised the crowd by sitting down in reach of the finish post, and waiting for Bill. When Bill came in we held hands and kissed the post together. It was a fitting end, since I have Bill to thank for the finish. I don’t think I could have done that last section in time by myself. Physically I was OK but I wasn’t coherent enough to do the navigating.
I was very very happy to finish, although incredibly tired. I’d pushed myself far harder than ever before to finish this race, especially with the “sprint” for the last 60km, and the really intense push to meet the last water stop 3pm cutoff. But happy! We came in last but this was still an incredible success for me.
So will I come back next year?? I don’t know. There was a lot of road running on this race, which is not really my forte. The trail sections were lovely. The last section was absolutely stunning. And I would love to do some more running in this beautiful country and see all my newfound Aussie friends again someday. Will I attempt any more ultramarathons – certainly. GNW 2009 or not, I don’t know… ask me next year. Or at least not until my feet start feeling normal again.
Kiwi Lisa in Canada
Postscript - Gear info - please ignore this section if you’re not using this story for future race planning.
Maps: I bought the 7 real maps, cost about $70 (CA$55). It was well worth the cost as they were much clearer than the printouts from the website. There are 3 sections not covered (including checkpoint 3) so if you buy these 7 maps don’t forget to paste the missing sections from the website maps. They are excellent maps, better than any I have ever navigated with before. I cut out the race sections to reduce weight, and copied the route from the website onto my maps (which took several hours so don’t leave this until the last day). I didn’t laminate – weighs too much. I put maps and race directions in A4 (letter size) clear ziplock bags, which is nearly as waterproof as laminating and weighs a lot less. However my maps are a bit trashed now and I lost the last one. Map bags – I always use a ziplock with long string attached with small bina to pack, and then I run with them tucked into waist belt of running pack for easy access. The string is so I can’t lose the maps if they fall out of my waist belt. (I’ve had this happen in a whiteout on a glacier.)
Shoes: I used New Balance trail runners, and only changed shoes and socks once at checkpoint 6. No blisters. No trouble with footing, I only fell once (in the mossy first section). Dry feet for most of the run except for a couple of puddles once or twice. I got across all the rivers dry but some other runners got wet feet at some creek crossings.
Headlamp: Petzl tikka plus. I had three of them, all with fresh batteries (3 AAA’s), and left one each at checkpoints 2, 3 and 4. I ran with 2 headlamps after checkpoint 3, one on head and one around chest. My spare light (from checkpoint 2) was a keyring LED which weighs 6 grams.
Water: 2 litre drink system (brand is “Source”, not sure if they’re available downunder) – blue bladder with oranger slider at top. I’ve never had one fail or leak (except the nipple, which is replaceable, leaks slightly after about 500 km of use). They’re a bit heavier than the traditional clear camelback type bladders (but 500% more reliable). I also carried 1 litre of extra water in a coke bottle between checkpoint 1 and 2. I used weak (half strength) gatorate in all my drink except the unmanned drink stations, which just had water.
Food – 50% of my food intake was Cliff “Shot Blocks” which I don’t think are available downunder (yet). Real food at all checkpoints. The soup at checkpoints 3, 4 and 5 was fantastic (thanks guys). My food intake was really good except during section 5.
Small running pack. It had a waist pack which contained all food and supplies that I used while running. The backpack never came off my back between checkpoints.
I used my poles from checkpoint 3. My dicky knee is pretty sore now 1 week after race, so maybe I should have used poles right from the start. Most official ultras in the US don’t allow poles.
Ipod – my new nano batteries last 160km (although I didn’t use it all the time this race). I am still wearing it now – well I have an ipod un-sunburned strip on my arm. Check out the “Podrunner” website – 1 hour tracks at running-suitable pace. 160 bpm when feeling fresh, 150 bpm when tired, 90 to 120 bpm for uphill, 130 for walking (for girlie short legs that is). My favourite tracks for running pace – Salmonella Dub “Wytablia”, Sinead O’Connor “Guide me God” and Moby “Living”.
Caffeine – between races I don’t touch caffeine, which means it works really well during these overnight ultras. I drank half a can of V (high caffeine energy drink available downunder) at checkpoints 3 and 4. I carried carbo shots and gels etc with caffeine, used 3 or 4 of these during the night. I carried instant coffee in wee ziplock bag, normally I use this but didn’t need any this race. I wasn’t sleepy at all and I don’t remember yawning once during the whole race.
After reading about Blue Dog in the 100mile, I feel a bit pathetic for not even finishing the 100k. Perhaps quilting would be a good option for me If only I knew how...
I started out ok, running with Beanie for a fair bit of the first section. I managed to somehow damage my hip flexor, which made climbing the hills painful. Beanie was waiting for me at the top of each hill, which was slowing her down too much, so convinced her to push ahead so she didn't miss any cuts. Well done on a great finish Beanie!
I got to CP1 with only 8 minutes to spare, and had kind of decided to toss the race in, until one of the volunteers said "No one has EVER pulled out at CP1". so at 11.59 I grabbed my camelback and a vegemite sandwich and headed off for the next bit. I was only walking/shuffling by this point so just enjoyed the scenery.
I had to pull out at CP2 as I was a few minutes over the cut, but I was pleased to have made it half way on my first attempt. I was feeling great except for my hip, so next year should be good.
Lessons learned: GNW really is as hard as everyone says! I can read maps and find my way around without any trouble. I quite enjoy running alone in the bush. Magpies still attack in November. Cows scare me. Good crew (thanks chug) is invaluable. Even though I didn't make the full distance, this is still the most fun you can have standing up
The conditions aren’t that bad, ok it’s fairly humid but where have my climbing legs gone? This is pretty much what I was saying to myself during the first 50kms of the GNW 100 miler at the weekend. I was feeling fresh going into it having not run for a week and a half, nursing piriformis/sciatica issues, so really I should have been flying? I set off from Teralba in the third lead group along the boring first 6kms of bitumen to the trailhead at Wakefield. Breathing was laboured and I was already sweating heaps. Early signs for what lay ahead? I looked forward to the trail, as did Graham Ridley who once on it scampered away into the distance up the first incline. I was hauling 3ltrs and another 600ml in my fuel belt so the weight was an added burden, but I needed it as I sweated profusely in the humidity. My plan for the day was to go as close to last year’s time as possible and maybe try and sneak under. I knew I ran a good race last year in great conditions, so it would be difficult to top, but ya never know lest you try, right. The rainforest section to MacLean’s lookout was hard work and the climb to the hugging post near killed me and so it was on tired legs that I hobbled into CP1. Mal was flying as was Kim, and we were tightly grouped at this early stage. Time to recover a little on the flats to Barraba and try and get some food in. I felt marginally better but still no mojo. At one point I was sure I was running in one big circle, for whatever reason my bearings were out too. The views just before the drop into the Congewai Valley helped ease my malaise and I was thankful for the cooler conditions. Once on the road I was almost immediately attacked by a magpie, great just what I needed. I could just make out the silhouette of Maggot up ahead and tried to chase him down but never really closed the gap. Dog appeared sporting a wounded paw just as I reached the school. He relayed what had transpired and I shook my head in disbelief and wished him well. I looked forward to a decent stop here, as I needed to recover somewhat for the climb up to the Communications tower. I quickly tucked into my second tin of creamed rice and thanks to SMC42k, poured a cold drink down too. There were still a few runners about as I left so I was holding place relatively, even though I felt like crap. That section of road is just so shite, I wished we could find some alternate trail somewhere. I came across Rachel and Marie shortly before I reached the Glenagra farm, both looking like they were duking it out. Milov also appeared and graciously handed me my map I’d dropped earlier. The climb up to the tower was a lot better than I feared and with a better headspace I took off along Cabans Rd, hoping my trough was over for the day. I found good momentum mixing a solid powerwalk with running and soon caught up to Kim Cook. We also passed another runner, not sure who he was or whether he was a 100 miler or 100ker. I was in a much better space now, breaking down the remainder of this section to the Basin. I knew the road gradually dropped with a nice long descent to the dead end just before the drop to the farm at Watagan Creek. Just before the end of Cabans Rd we caught up to Dog who appeared to be going through a low spell. I nudged ahead just before the singletrack and then smashed it to the bottom. This was probably the best I’d felt all day so I thoroughly enjoyed the switchbacks to the creek. We regrouped at the water drop, Joel left just as we arrived. Dog took off having found a second wind and flew up the climb, I tried staying with him but was struggling on the hill again. Kim and Mal were not far behind. I was chugging back fluids like crazy and so was glad for the water drop. Upon levelling out I found a better pace again and soon enough I could see Dog and Joel together not far ahead. I tried picking it up in the hope that their company would help pass the time. After a good trot along the Bar Trail I caught Joel. Dog was well ahead now, running very well. Joel and I stayed together towards the Basin, at one point stopped in our tracks by what looked like some kind of python. As we approached the Basin Joel pulled away, he was obviously much stronger than I. Pipi appeared on his way out as I arrived, having run very strongly thus far. The Basin was a very different place to last years leech fest and soon I was tucking into some wonderful veggie soup and another creamed rice. (results showed I ran the fastest section 2-3 in the 100 miler, nice) Dog was still there having his hand seen to, as was Graham who was on a blinder in the 100km till he decided to run the long way into the Basin! I didn’t hang around long and when Joel showed up looking to see if I was ready to go we left. He soon pulled away on the climb as I tried to process the food I had just scoffed down. We saw numerous runners on their way in, including Rachel, Maggot and Milov, all still fairly close. I was now in third and delighted to be competitive given my earlier form. I still couldn’t climb for shit but I was getting there. At the top of the climb out of the Basin I saw Joel attending a runner. As I approached I realised it was Pipi. He was not looking too good after getting sick. I gave him some salt tablets and after he assured us he was ok we took off. This is where we stuffed up. Knowing we had a right turn coming up and momentarily distracted we took the wrong one, down Bob’s Point Rd. Halfway down it we started to wonder whether we had in fact taken a wrong turn. The compass reading was good and the topo had drop offs either side, so remarkably like Kingtree Ridge. Anyhoo we stupidly continued looking/praying for that GNW sign post. A good 20minutes later we came to a dead end at the bottom of a long descent. Bugger! Shit! Turn around and retrace your footsteps. We were quite enjoying being in joint first place but know it was a game of catch up. Joel flew off into the distance, as I struggled to regain composure. At this point it’s easy to resolve yourself to just getting it finished and forgetting about being competitive. Having worked hard for hours, to so easily give it up was very disappointing. However no point sulking, shit happens and this is the race it happens in I told myself. Just keep plugging away and see what eventuates.
I didn’t see anybody again until I reached Cedar Brush Rd and the long haul into Yarramalong. I worked hard to get to the road and was feeling flat again when I noticed Graham was just ahead struggling with blistered feet. He was almost home though and despite his pain, still in good spirits. I asked him who was in front having no idea who had passed me during my “detour” He replied “everybody”. Bugger! I tried to settle into a rhythm along Ravensdale Rd and make up some lost time, but this meant I arrived at Yarramalong well and truly buggered. As I arrived in the town I saw Kim and Joel leaving with their pacers. I was at least 20-25 minutes behind factoring in my stop there. I knew my pacer Scott would have been wondering where I was, having arrived almost an hour later than expected but I needed to regroup and get some much-needed fuel in. Rachel was sat just across from me tending to her feet and still in good spirits. Mal had finished the 100km in 2nd place and looked well chuffed or was that look of relief that it was all over J. I was doing my best to not look how I felt.
I scoffed some food, changed Garmins and with Scott’s help was on the road again reasonably quickly. I love running at night and look forward to this part every year. However it took me a while to get going once more as I digested the food. Rachel joined us and together we followed Scott through the night, running when we could and walking when we couldn’t. It was a beautiful night with the stars poking through the scattered clouds and quite warm, no need for extra layers. Scott was doing a fine job pulling us along and we had a nice pace going in patches where it was runnable.
It was somewhere in the bush before the climb out to the trail that leads to the unmanned water stop when we pulled away from Rach. I had a second wind and started climbing a tad faster than previously. As we pulled into the water stop we saw Kim and pacer just leaving. We didn’t stop for long, a quick refill and we were on our way. We soon caught and passed Kim who was now battling his own demons along the nice single-track down to the creek. Scott was still pulling me along quite briskly and before we knew it we were crossing Ourimbah Creek and making our way towards Ourimbah Creek Rd and the climb up onto the Somersby Plateau. I felt we’d made good time here and the results show we ran the second fastest time to the school. 9 mins later and we were on our way into the darkness once more. I looked behind and saw Rachel arriving as we left. Again I needed a little time to digest the food and mixed walking with trotting to the end of Silvester’s Rd. Once back in the bush we were moving along quite well. I had some waves of tiredness sweep over me as we trundled along Mooney Creek to the crossing but nowhere near as bad as when I was on the road sections, where you can so easily switch off mentally. The crossing was unmanned this year but ably navigated thanks to some glowsticks strategically placed to ensure a dry crossing to the trailhead on the other side. As we approached the roaring F3 freeway overhead my mind started playing tricks again as I was certain we were going around in a big loop. At one stage it felt like we were running away from the freeway and this worried me, but rest assured we were on the right trail and all was good.
I felt better once I had some more food and enjoyed the stop at Mooney, what a magical little oasis that is. I had a good 10 minute stop here and enjoyed some fruitcake and an Up and Go for breakfast. No sign of anyone from behind as we left I was sure I had a big enough gap now to hold on to my position in the race. The trail along Piles creek was beautiful at dawn as my senses awoken from their slumber. With around 5hrs of running still to be had we were still a long way from home. As we climbed up the first rise after the bridge we were treated to the most beautiful setting moon, red glowing off on the horizon. This helped as I was again struggling on the climbs, breathing heavily and having to stop every once in a while to recover. Once a top the sandstone plateau we ran well to Scopas Peak, back down to Myron Brook and then up to the water stop at Staples Lookout. It feels like it takes forever though to reach that water stop. The views are awesome and the walking track that skirts Wondabyne impressive. However, on tired legs it’s hard sometimes to stop and take it all in. All one thinks about is getting this thing done and reaching that elusive goal and the sand at Patonga Beach. I’ve run this section 4 years in a row now and it still looks different every year. It must be the state of mind you are in after 24hrs of running. Thankfully it is well marked and I never felt like we were lost. The slog to Patonga went reasonably well with some decent running spells. I was convinced I had 3rd place sown up with no sign of anyone as far as the eye could see. At Warrah Trig I recalled my mate Tony from work saying if you get a chance go and check out the lookout, it’s only 30 mtrs or so off the trail. I was too buggered to comtemplate it and thankfully as things transpired with Rachel on my hammer, I’m glad I didn’t. I looked back all the way to Patonga Drive, no signs of anyone. Realising I could break 28hrs I put in a surge on the downhill running hard until we popped up on the beach. This is most definitely one of the best experiences in ultra running, finally stepping onto that beach. I thanked Scott for his solid pacing job before bending down and smooching the post. 27.47, not bad, I would have PB’ed if I hadn’t gone bush but them’s the breaks…next year. Rachel appeared finishing strongly just a minute behind me. I was astounded, where did she come from? I still shake my head in disbelief.
Thanks to Dave and the Terrigal Trotters, this run has now become the most popular trail 100 in the country.
Thanks to Scott once again for his faultless pacing.
I was pleased to have finished the 100 miler and even more to make it three in a row.
Congratulations to my running buddy Seris who never wavered ffrom her objective to finish. She is so strong both physically and mentally. At 100k she had major feet problems which she attended to at each following CP and never once did she complain although I know she was hurting for the last 75k. It was apleasure to share the experince of this event with her.
Thank you to :
SMC42k who a few days before asked to crew for me. He is was just wonderful. He had all our needs ready at each CP that enabled us to move through quickly. A tasy cooked meal at the Basin as orders workd a treat and the eag and bacon at Sommersby was great breakfast. Also my mate Sailway was on hand doubling as a pacer and crew when that was finsihed.
Dave and TT - without you there would be no event. From a runners perspective it went without a problem. The CP people were so helpful and friendly.
It was great to see some of the usual suspects out on the course and some virgins. Some achived thier goals and other will learn from this experience and come back wiser.
I may get around to a race report in the next few days on my Blogg and if I do I will put a post up here for those interested.
I will just post a few short notes as I will run out of time tonight however I will post a full report later.. I honestly learnt more in my 17 hours 10 minutes of GNW then I have in a lifetime, I will put out a special thank you now to
Ourimbah I know you must have got sick of me taking off only to find me sitting there waiting wondering which way to go but your knowledge of the course is something I truly admire and thank you for pointing me in the right direction and allowing me to tag along.
Louie, you are and always will be an inspiration to me your knowledge of pacing and what it takes to cruise through ultras is something else. I was really upset to hear about your misfortune at CP4 but I am glad to hear your all right!
Eagle, Seris, Graham, bandanna I seen you guys all at some time or another through out the race and you all ran a brilliant smart race well done on finishing I only wish we could have stayed longer to see you all finish
Beaver, Tall Geoff it was good running with you guys between 2 - 3, beaver you impressed the hell out of me that you can come back from such a low point at CP2 to finish strongly
Coolwalker David I feel really guilty for dragging you on the course with me thank you for being so willing to keep me company even though I as injured and by the sounds of things you had a pretty good journey yourself
Blue Dog you are the man! I was suffering pretty bad when I pulled into the basin between groin pain and blisters but the stories I was told about you made me realise you really are hardcore well done!
I have so many more people to mention but my mind is all over the place but I thank you all!
My day pretty much ended in the last 2.7 ks heading into the basin I slipped on a slippery rock and ended up doing the splits, I got back up with a sharp pain in the groin, I could still walk okay but lifting my foot any higher then 4 inches left me in terrible pain, I wound up limping in to CP4 and arrived at 11:10pm where I was met by my lovely wife.
Leg came up in a spectacular bruise on Sunday morning and continued to swell and have all sort of awkward spasms, so I saw a doctor on the central coast this morning he then sent me to get an MRI, long story short I wound up with a grade 2 tear to the adductor longus (impressive aye!) so looks like no running for me for 6 - 8 weeks
This race is really tough, a friend asked me today to compare it 6 foot track I told him comparing 6 foot to GNW 100ks (that all I saw!) is like comparing city 2 surf to 6 foot track.. I take my hat off to all 100 mile finishers
I'll be back!
I would like to thank Dave and the TTs and the all the other volunteers - partly for putting up with me but mainly for providing the logistics for a mindboggling race.
My ill luck/preparation is dogging me as I had this report written and then lost it - much like my use of maps on Saturday
I still regard myself as A GNW virgin as I failed to break the hymen of Checkpoint 1. I partly blame my demise on buying a second hand Hiace. Without it I wouldn't have entered and its lack of internal light caused me to lose my handkerchiefs and morning dose of amino acids on the grass by the clubhouse Friday night which indirectly meant I missed the start.
Surprisingly I feel better physically today than last Monday - which says more about last week than this
I have wanted to be part of GNW for 30 months and I probably should have crewed for someone but knew if I had then I would have been kicking myself for not having a go. I now know what it entails. I know how prepared I need to be. I know I am prepared to be that prepared and where my priorities will be next year. Like Dan this was pretty well an afterthought after stuffing up my 24 hours at Adelaide 5 weeks ago. If I had spent more time on hills than I did trying to laminate the maps it would have been good.
In deference to a podium finisher who definitely practices what he preaches and whose hand I would like to shake whenever it is physically possible ( all the best sir Dog) - I am a Physically bereft specimen who should be at home quilting who was encouraged to drag my huffing carcass over approximately a half marathon in 6:45 or worse and here I am sticking up a race report although not waiting for the accolades of 'champion', inspiration' and 'legend' to come flowing in from like-minded imbeciles. I think I am an unique imbecile. However I believe that many people read these reports (I certainly did 30 months ago) and having a cross section of stories is not a bad thing.
So I actually had experiences across the board from pretending to be an athlete to pretending to be part of a crew to being a spectator. Perhaps I am being hard on myself - perhaps not - but two of my many goals - few of which I attained ( actually managing to get to the start on time being one 'doh') were to enjoy myself and to learn. Thanks to Dave Byrne, crew Beaver and everyone I met I did both immensely.
Andrew your dedication paid off but was just incredible and I felt privileged to be a little leech or tick that attached itself to your team and for the vicarious elation I got from your result. Buzz you are a gem!! you taught me so much in both organisation and sheer zest. Thanks guys for that special acceptance of the old guy with the hat.
I have said it before (and I will say it again I expect) that what I love about ultras is that together with a modicum of rivalry and competitiveness somehow everyone becomes part of a lifeforce with a common purpose and with an immense feeling of mutual support epitomised this year by Whippet but shown by so many others as well that I know of and of course many others. Somehow I regard everybody at an ultra as either a friend or a friend I am yet to meet
I have several regrets of course - like losing things and leaving my stopwatch at home and getting to the meal a bit late etc.
Not having a real chat with Bill before the start ( and then missing the start and not seeing anyone on the course!!)
Being unable to arrive at the finish until after Joel , Blue Dog, Rachel and Spud had finished and somehow missing Marie's finish.
Managing to get lost myself despite my laminated maps and I empathised with all those others who did and especially he of the pigtail and sore legs when he surprised us all in the basin after presumably taking the lyrebird scenic route.
While really sorry for Osmo after his groin injury I was even more regretful he could still walk out of the basin far faster than I could.
Hearing the news about Thomas when I was at the Basin and watching his partner having to leave to go back to him.
After seeing Grant going so strongly to find he had had to pull out as did Dan and Louis.
Leaving Grant's sleeping bag behind ( big regret that one)
And perhaps not even making checkpoint one before the trailbike riders gave me that exhilarating few ks of dirt roads, tracks, mud, tree branches to get me to the checkpoint ( wasn't it lucky I had a spare crash helmet)
But the Highs!!!!!!!!!!! So many!!! Including and not
necessarily in order
What a weekend - !!!
I ran the majority of the way with Mick377.
This was the first 100km for both of us and the company made the distance pass all that more quickly - I was surprised how fast time passed throughout the event. There seemed to be a lot of solo runners out there doing it hard.
Fortunately (for me) Mick was familiar with most of the course and I'm sure he saved us a lot of time navigating. We only had to pull out the map once to double check an intersection.
We both finished equal 5th for the 100Km in about 15:19 which would have been much harder without Mick's help and loan of some water before CP2 after my bladder wasn't properly filled at cp1 - Thanks Mick! Hopefully I return the favour sometime.
Overall I finished the race in surprisingly good shape and dont recall having to really push myself too much.
After my first 100KM I can understand how people can run 100M - although I'm not really tempted to keep running for another 75km through the night.
The checkpoint's were way beyond my expectations and a real tribute to everybody that manned them. It certainly makes it much easier to complete this event with such great support. Many thanks to the organisers and all who contributed!
I'm thoroughly enjoyed myself and am looking forward to my next ultra challenge and running next year.
I don't have time to write a full report now but I just want to say a few thankyous to those who helped to make this such a special run. Thanks Gareth and Lindsay for your company on the way to the start that was very much appreciated. The race for me went quite well. My major concern was finding my way around since I hadn't seen the course before and I wanted to stick with somebody who knew the way, particularly through the night. In the 2nd section where I did make a wrong turn it probably cost me about 15-20 minutes where I went around a loop and was enjoying a great downhill run only to see people coming back the other way! (Thanks ERB and MQ for pointing me in the right direction). I had spoken to The Eagle the night before and he was planning to run the course to accompany Seris to the finish and he knew the course well, so I thought I would stick with them to the end so I waited at the Basin for them. Many thanks for the terrific hospitality there Rod and John – that really helped. It was wonderful to see Tim Turner there too. I waited over an hour there but I thought this was time well spent as I had plenty to eat and drink and felt fantastic after that, and getting lost on my own later could cost a lot more more than an hour. I must say that I would not have been able to get to the finish without The Eagle and Seris who were great company, and The Eagle's familiarity with the course gave me the assurance that I wouldn't get lost (again) was a great comfort – all I had to do was keep up! Although I was expecting a long run it it was much tougher than I'd anticipated because of the huge ascents and descents. Thanks John for the lift back to Sydney, sorry I wasn't much company for you – I must have slept almost all the way. Thanks also to David and your great team from the Terrigal Trotters who make this event possible for all of us.
I was going to put a quick update on my race and how tough it was out there but after reading about the dog its hard to comment really...
he's either the toughest or the maddest bloke I have ever met but either way - kudos.
As for the run- You cannot get an idea of how tough this is unless you have run it. I have heard it described over the years but until you have covered a few of these sections and its midnight - you still have another 12 hrs of hellish terrain in front of you - well you get the picture...
Very satisfied to finish this one, initially dissapointed with 30 hrs 8 mins but after getting lost for an hr near the dreaded basin!! and Terry and I taking it easy on the last section as we thought we were well outside of a 30 hr finish I can only reflect on a great weekend.
I was going to comment on my terribly blistered left foot, but once again refer to previous comments on blue dog...
I read a post by Tim a couple weeks ago that the GNW was an entire lifetime in 1 weekend and I kind of get it now, it seemed hard to beleive when I finished that it was only yesterday morning I had been in Teralba on the startline.
I am hooked on this Ultra lark and intend to "get serious" next year which means loseing 5 kilo's over the next 2 months ( I am on holiday and having a break from running) and also putting the lessons from this year to good use.. looking forward to GNW 2009.
Special thanks Terry - good running with you for so much of this. Tall Geoff - well done on a tough day, shame about the lost time eh? Dave Byrnes - for putting together such a momentous event.
Well done to Brick and Milov - Both suffered out there but they still got home. Whippet - unselfish as ever. Rachel Waugh - great running with you for a while and well done on a great run.
Ill begin with Looney Lychee THANKYOU, if you didnt look after Tim and crew for us ,Horrie and i could not have shared the wonderful experience togeather like we did.
To my wonderful running partner and partner in life THANKYOU for believing i could do it, sharing the experience with me and stating this morning after the night before 'You could of run the 100 mile you know'. And there were witnesses to the fact that i ran ahead of you on the road section in the last 10k. ( and no it was not because we had a tiff).
To my great training partners Lynda, Allison,Ourimba,Cathy, Louie the Fly, ken, Mike and Horrie training on the course made all the difference for confidence, experience and navigation. Great runs ALL of you even if for some the results were not all what you expected.
Thankyou to all who made the day/night so good.
Being cheered on by Dutchie and Carl on the road leading to C.P 2 thankyou.
Meeting running with and spending time getting to know
-OtisR, Congratulations on a great run and finish,
Kewi Lisa, and incredibly tough and gutsy performance, i cried when you finished the 100 mile. Congratulations.You taught me so much.
Robert who was going for his third attempt at a 100 k finish, this time you got it, well done.
Beanie who had only done 1x trailwalker prior to this event. Congratulations.
Bill Thompson running through the rainforest like a panther, amazing to see.
Seris clenching her fist in victory at the finish of the 100 mile.Congratulations I knew you would do it.
Vic Lynda's running partner, runner of multiple Brindabella's six foot's and trailwalker's reinforcing how hard this course was. Well done on a fantastic finish well under the cut.
Lynda, bolting through on her way to the Basin saying ''sorry i carnt talk iv got a cut to make".Well you made it alright. Training with you i learnt how determined you were to do it. Now you have 2x 100k finishes. Not bad . Another Ultra Godess on the way.Congratulations.
Ourimbah finishing his first 100 Miler. Congratulations You worked so hard for an amazing result You shared your knowledge and really supported others on your journey. Thankyou .Congratulations.
Random thoughts- no leeches yea!!!!!!
Sportsman- Tim commented that you were not at the finish like last year.
Lotsahare i would like some pie too!!!!!! Im starving today..
The organisers thankyou i dont think we really understand how difficult an event like this may be to organise... running is probably the easy bit.
Bluedog sorry to hear about your accident lucky it wasn't your foot.
To all those who entered this event see you again next year because " it felt so good i want to do it again"
I’m 6.5 hrs and only 46km into a 175km race. My head is throbbing, my stomach is not co-operating, my leg muscles have left me with no coordination and the prospect of another 24-30 hours on this course is just plain scary at this point. I would spend the next 45 minutes shuffling and walking with my eyes mostly closed just to make it to the next checkpoint at 52.5km.
How did I end up here? How did I, a plodder at best, go from never having heard of 6FT, O2B, TNF100, GH100, C2K, BTBS, running 20km once a week by myself a year ago to running 175km in one go with 80 other ultra crazies?
It suddenly occurred to me. I had fallen in with the wrong crowd, a bad crowd, a crowd that puts crazy ideas into your head, a crowd that think the idea of a fun Friday night is to run for 12 hours over 75km through leech riddled trails munching on coffee beans (ok that was my idea). I knew things were getting a little weird when I needed to check the weather report in 3 different regions just to find out the conditions for a training run.
A while ago I read this quote and had kept it close by on my desk at work:
"The finish line is not the end. The finish line is the beginning. Standing at the starting line gives you permission to hope. Taking the time to train, putting in the milage, making the changes in your life and taking the risks has given you consent to hope for the best in yourself. The miracle is not that you finished, but that you had the courage to start."
With my strong finish at 12 foot track in August, and the stories told by Geoff and Terry about the GNW – I was as good as entered. I still had to decide whether it would be the 100km or the 100 mile event. The quote above said it all – 100 miles!
Teralba to Old Watagan Forestry HQ
28.6km, 4hrs 19mins, 39th Place overall, 39th Place for the stage
My goal for this race was to finish in 34 hours, not to get caught up racing it. This was about me versus the course. My mate, coolrunner Brick, had given me the perfect piece of advice beforehand – “If you think you’re running too fast, then you’re running way too fast. If you think you’re running at the right speed, then you’re running too fast and if you think you’re running too slowly then you’re probably running at about the right pace”.
I ran this leg with Geoff and for the most part felt I was running too quickly. It’s easy to do, I hadn’t run in two weeks, I was amongst friends and we were travelling through a thick, humid rainforest – perfect, what happened to all that good advice? In one ear, out the other. What happened to not racing anyone, hmm? I would learn my lesson in the next section. We had a rogainer (navigation and topographic map specialist) blast past us on the way into the checkpoint trying to make up 40 minutes of lost time after getting lost in the first 15km. I was in and out of this checkpoint in a couple of minutes and walked out slowly waiting for Geoff who was a couple of minutes behind.
Old Watagan HQ to Congewai
23.9km (52.5km), 3hrs 15mins, 38th Place overall, 43rd Place for the stage
Having ignored good advice in the previous section, I wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. I didn’t have a choice. I was having a bad patch. I only spoke about 3 times in the next 3 hours despite running with Darrel! Cathy and Nadine were also with us here. Nadine had a fixation with placing both hands on any tree we went past that caught her fancy and saying “oh how pretty”. Knowing the stunning forest sections coming up, I was worried she’d miss the cut-offs if she continued doing this.
When we hit Congewai Rd I was really struggling to keep up with the group. The next 6km along a gravel rd into the checkpoint was a mixture of shuffling / walking with my eyes mostly closed, my head throbbing and my legs wanting to pack it in. I have since put this down to the fast first section, eating too much food and the mental battle of having 125km still to go.
The mental side of this race can not be underestimated. Success in this race comes from breaking it down into 7 mini races, 1 section at a time. Your mind will shut your body down if it is forced to contemplate everything it has to do at once. Mine was doing just this as Darrel suggested we run for 5 minutes and walk for 1. This quickly changed to shuffle for about 3 and walk for 1. I spent about 16 minutes at this checkpoint – fresh socks, half a panadol, up and go, creamed rice and adding my headlamp and reflective vest to the other compulsory safety equipment I was already carrying. I started to feel good again; I was refreshed, focused, in control and right back in it. I actually felt better the longer the race went on. I would feel like this for the next 110km, or more significantly, I would feel like this until I was within 10km from the finish.
The next section suited me perfectly – the tougher the better – anything to stop the sub 3 hour running brigade doing their thing.
Congewai to The Basin
29.1km (81.6km), 4hrs 56mins, 23rd Place overall, 19th Place for the stage
It felt as though I overtook about 25 people in this section (turns out it was only 15). This was due to others having medical, physical or navigational issues. About 20 minutes after leaving the checkpoint, a third of the way up the hill we see Whippet walking towards us with Thomas who is suffering with kidney pain due to the inability to properly hydrate. Whippet has already climbed the top of the toughest hill and is now putting his race aside to help another competitor out and get him back down the hill safely – takes a special bloke to do that. Further up 200m is Brick face up off to the side of the course lying down with his backpack still on, doing it tough after not being able to keep sufficiently hydrated .Joel and Cathy were also struggling, 5 steps, then head between knees, just trying to stay upright. All very tough and apart from Thomas, all would go on and complete their goals.
I’m feeling good and push on up the hill and along Cabans Rd. Allison and Meredith came into the unmanned water stop at Watagan Creek just as I was leaving– time to get moving!
The next 15km were a blast, without doubt my favourite section of the whole course. The terrain is always up or down, usually with dense forest or tall eucalypts overhead, there are never-ending valleys either side of the ridgelines and amazing cool oasis-like creeks in the rainforest sections coming into the Basin. The out and back sections give you a good gauge of how you are placed in the race and it was great to see Mick Miles (what a cool name!) on his way out and even better, that he would go onto finish 5th in the 100km event.
I don’t actually remember much of this checkpoint, I only spent 9 minutes here. I wanted it to be quick as I was not sure how long I would keep feeling strong. I saw Jocie, and asked how long ago Geoff had left, she said he hadn’t been in yet and had I passed him? I hadn’t and since he had left Checkpoint 2 before me he must have made a wrong turn somewhere as did Terry and Innes.
I left CP3 about 5 minutes after Tamsin and Rodney and caught them on the single-track out of the Basin as the sun was setting and I knew it would be good to have some company over the next section.
The Basin to Yarramalong
22.1km (103.7km), 3hrs 17mins, 18th Place overall, 14th Place for the stage
The sunset on top of Kingtree ridge was particularly awesome. I’m not sure if it’s because your senses are more alert in a race like this but this was pretty special, deep red sky behind and to the side of me, dark grey turning to black in front, birds calling and I knew I would now be running in darkness for the next 11 hours. This was all interrupted by meeting a runner coming towards us – it was my mate Dan who had missed the turnoff to the Basin and was heading up the hill the wrong way (twice!) - heartbreaking stuff!
The run along Kingtree ridge road is 3.5km and it seemed to take 30 minutes, none of us wanted to miss the walkers rest area indicating only 100 metres to the next critical turnoff which would take us down to Brush Creek road and then a 12km run along the road into CP4.
I was dreading this section of the road. Although I felt like I had the energy my feet were starting to blister. I put my IPod on and knocked off the 12km, running non-stop in under 70 minutes (not bad on 90km old legs!) I knew I shouldn’t be running that quickly, but it felt good, effortless even so I went with it and knew this was a turning point in the race. I honestly felt I could run like that forever.
Kelvin Marshall left the Checkpoint just as I was coming in. I checked in 16:14 on the clock, 1:30 ahead of schedule. More surprisingly, the guy checking in after me was told he’d come 8th in the 100km event – I almost fell over! My cousin did a quick tally and guessed I was in 9th spot in the 100 mile race. Keith gave me some bad news though, my pacer, Ben, hadn’t arrived yet. I hear my name called out and there he was, he was waiting in his car, luckily he had seen some crazy guy who looked like me coming running down the road. He said he’d be ready in 5 minutes. Another 10 minute checkpoint, my feet needed work though.
Yarramalong to Somersby
28.2km (131.9km), 5hrs 6mins, 6th Place overall, 4th Place for the stage
3 weeks before race day, 12 of us had run the final 75km between 9pm and 9am in one go in a training run. That took us 12 hours, on fresh legs, tonight I would run it in 12:51 including the 3 checkpoints stops totaling 29 minutes.
Innes and Terry came flying into the checkpoint only 3 minutes after I left. “We’re catching you mate”, they exclaimed. Indeed they were.
After leaving Yarramalong in 9th place I headed out with my pacer Ben. I said I was feeling good and looking to jog the flat sections, run the downhill’s and just do whatever it takes to get up the 4 big hills that are on this section.
We overtook Tamas before entering the trail on Bumble Hill, I said G’day twice, but he either had his IPod in, or couldn’t understand me as there was no response. I quietly asked Ben to put a bit of distance between me and Tamas and we did it quite easily. We reached the top of Bumble hill in 60 minutes from the school and turned to head along the road towards Cherry Lane when Ben pointed out something bounding curiously through the bushes ahead. It was Kelvin and he was moving superbly. I gave Ben a quick history lesson on Kelvin Marshall and I felt privileged to have a few words with him and for Ben to meet him as well. He was confident of this section having driven it the day before, and he effortlessly put about 400 metres on me in the 1.6km along Cherry Lane! Bugger me!
Heading down to Dead Horse Creek we caught up to Kelvin and we said that we knew the way and to follow us. He did for a little while before falling back, I yelled out a few more turns ahead to him and he said he was ok. Heading up the other side of the valley towards Tooheys Rd was a struggle. I knew there was very good running for the next 10km of this section, so I took it easy in order to make good time later on. We filled up at the unmanned water stop, made sure we made all the correct turns, and then coming down into Ourimbah Creek in the dead of night, we see two ladies standing gingerly on top of some small rocks just above the waterline. We said a quick hello, got across with only getting one foot slightly damp and then tried to catch up to Marie and her pacer who had shot off into the darkness.
Somewhere along Ourimbah Creek Rd, we overtook Marie and her pacer. They managed to stay close for a little while. The rest of this section was pretty well as per the plan, slog away on the uphill’s, cruise the downhills and jog the flats. Ben was a great pacer and as I headed into Somersby school I was glad to have finished this very tough section. Keith was now ready and waiting to pace the final 42km.
I really felt like I needed a quick checkpoint here, I only had 1 marathon to go and I had only 2 hours of darkness left and I couldn’t wait to get to Patonga. I needed to tend to blisters on both feet and they were looking worse than I thought. I hobbled out of this checkpoint 13 minutes later with Keith and a cup of soup wondering how I was supposed to start running again – the pain was so bad I could barely walk.
Somersby to Mooney Mooney
17.4km (149.3), 2hrs 51mins, 6th Place overall, 12th Place for the stage
As soon as the soup hit my stomach it wanted to come straight back out – I think the first 2 km of this section took us 30 minutes – the next 15km would take us only 2:20.
I have no idea how I managed to run, but as soon as we got onto the dirt at the end of Silvesters Rd I ran well all the way to the next CP. Keith was revving me up a lot and I had to ask for some quiet time every now and then as I was afraid I would run out of energy before the finish if we kept going at the pace he was setting. We were able to turn our headlights off just after crossing Mooney Mooney creek – the glow sticks still helped though. This was a fairly uneventful section as we knew Kim Cook and Rachel Waugh were over 1 hour 15 minutes ahead at the last checkpoint and Keith had made sure we ran enough to keep Innes and Terry at bay for a little while longer.
I contemplated leaving my feet as they were at the next checkpoint, nothing was going to help them now and I dreaded taking my socks off. I kept thinking back to the picture of Wayne Gregory’s feet in the previous years race – they looked like raw flesh torn from a fresh kill and with 25km to go I knew I couldn’t handle the pain of running on feet that bad, so I decided to apply tape over the balls of my feet, layer with Vaseline and get the shoes and socks back on as soon as possible or they would never fit back on again.
Mooney Mooney to Patonga
25.4km (174.7), 4hrs 25mins, 6th Place overall, 2nd Place for the stage
We left here at 6:40 am after only 6 minutes at the checkpoint. I was only 7 minutes ahead of Innes and terry and was about 45-50 minutes behind Rachel and Kim. I had to cover the next section in 5:20 for a sub 30 hour finish and Keith soon made sure of it as we made it to the unmanned water stop before 9am. 15km to go 3 hours for sub 30.
Keith was still revving me up the whole way along here, and I needed it. He never once lost sight of our goal of finishing before midday and there is no way I would have been able to push myself that hard without him there.
The last 10km's of this run were excruciating for me. My left ankle was the size of a tennis ball, at one stage Buzz turned around to find me sat down on a rock with my right shoe off, looking for a sharp stick to jab into my blisters and he came running back to me yelling - "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? YOU'LL NEVER GET THE SHOE BACK ON!" I don't even remember sitting down taking my shoe off. I put it back on quickly and set about finding any sharp rocks I could purposely run over in the hope I could force them to pop. I dreamed of the relief it would bring to feel the pressure instantly relieved with a loud pop and then my sock going wet. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, they were in way too deep. So I continued on towards Patonga in a mish-mash of slow shuffling and what I imagined was a fast walk (it wasn’t).
It was around here, I reasoned with myself that I wasn’t in pain. I’d heard of Wayne’s hand injury, I’d seen a video of a Chris Moon a double amputee completing Badwater and all I had were sore feet. A lot of self talking got me going again – it was this exact level of fatigue, exhaustion and pain that I’d been searching for. I’d found it, and I loved it!
I thought I saw Rachel Waugh sitting on a log having a cup of tea just before Patonga Drive, but then no one was there, I even said Hello to her - weird. Just after this Keith said he spotted a guy in a blue t-shirt with a backpack on - I wasn’t too interested and didn’t completely believe him. I was totally out of energy here, no more racing for placings. As we approached Warrah Trig we spotted the guy, now I believed him. He took off, and so did we – both of us going the wrong way for a split second before we greeted each other and turned around – it was Kim Cook. He took off again, this time heading the right way and I reasoned that anyone who could still run like that up a hill after having done 173km deserved 5th place and I would settle for 6th – Keith was always on the lookout for people behind and a couple of mountain bikers had reported no one behind us between the tip and Patonga Drive.
Heading down towards the beach I replayed the entire race in my head – and by the time I had finished I was almost on the sand – what a journey and filled with many different emotions.
In training I’d never run the sand section to the finish post – I always finished at the car park. I remember reading that Tim Twietmeyer (25 time sub 24 hour finisher at Western States) never runs the last section of Western States in training runs as he likes to keep it special.
Heading down onto the beach for the first time felt great, I’d been waiting many months to experience this and spent many hours wondering how it would feel. I was just glad the tide was out as it made running so much easier. Keith and I jogged up the beach past my crew and my mate from work Jono Papalia who got me into this sport last year. I went for the finish post and gave it a good slap and a kiss while the clock showed 29:05. I thanked the crew and shook Dave Byrnes’ hand as he put the silver medal round my neck – I said to him “Mate, you’ve got a great race course there, it’s bloody tough”. I then sat down on the wharf completely stunned.
I was not comfortable at all being up the front of the race, my goal had always been 32:45 + checkpoint times and I was only 15 minutes ahead of time leaving the basin (7pm). Terry and Innes were so focused on catching me that they forced me to actually race the final 80km - and I did it!
I spent the next couple of hours curled up in my little seaside grave underneath the wharf applauding the other competitors coming in. I oscillated between passing out, throwing up, wishing a kid would come along and dig a hole for me to roll into and checking the tide to see if it was coming up so I could then get washed into the ocean. My feet felt as though someone was holding a blowtorch to them.
I’m extremely proud of this achievement. Although it feels like a total fluke, I keep reminding myself I did the training and had the guts to enter - it will take a long time to sink in. I’d like to thank Greg, Keith, Ben and David for all the impeccable help at the checkpoints and pacing along with my girlfriend Laura for the excellent help when I was in so much discomfort after the race. To the Terrigal Trotters, you have such a great race here and you carried out the organisation perfectly – thanks!
Well, it was always a possibility and this weekend it happened - the dreaded DNF. What happened? Well loads of things were wrong, I felt sick, my feet hurt, my achilles was killing, but hey, all things that could have been sorted out - I just let the race get to me. I think also I wasn't in the right head space for this one either - I really questioned my own desire to finish. I wasn't gearing up the this like a lot of other people - this was their big goal. For me, this wasn't a big goal or even a race I'd considered doing until 2 months beforehand. So really, I don't think my heart was 100% in it, and as a result it showed in my decision to not go past 103kms.
It didn't helped getting lost for around 2 1/2hours. I missed a right turn at around 65kms and shot about 2.5kms downhill on a road, only to realise that I was fooked, so had a nice slog back uphill. Then the cardinal sin, getting lost at the basin. I told myself time and time again to be careful coming in here. The reality is though that having "lost 5kms", I was really flying to make up time. I did a 5.5kms section in 30 mins, which in hindsight was stupid. I blew myself out a bit. I then made the mistake of following a marking, not a sign to the Basin campsite and then proceeded to wander round for over an hour. In total I lost 2 1/2 hours. I was devastated and moral was massively low.
I then left the basin feeling like absolute crap, sickness, dizzyness, delusional... so much so that I actually started to run off-course into the bush until I saw some lights about 50 metres uphill and realise that I'd buggered up. The next leg of 20kms was relatively easy downhill and road and I pretty much got through in just over 4 hours, walking a lot of the way. That made my feet hurt like crazy, and by then I'd chucked in the towel.
I keep thinking about why I did this, and I really think it came down to the desire to finish this race. My ultimate goal is the MDS next year, so this was in the back of my mind too. I wondered if I had carried on, would it have wrecked me physically? Certainly the thought of another 70kms did make me think I would take myself out of training for 2-3 weeks, which at this stage I didn't want. My feet were a bit of a mess, I didn't want to have those few weeks recovering, when really I need to get back on the training wagon in the next 3-4 days.
However it all came down to desire - I simply didn't want this race bad enough, and I think that if I had my time again, I would have probably made the same decision. Will I go back? More than likely, but with a real focus on this race. It seems strange to say it but I have to really be in the right head space for these things and totally focused on it all. For this I wasn't. At Glasshouse I was, I'd targeted it as something I really wanted to do. For this one I wasn't even nervous, which is wrong in my opinion - that tells me that I wasn't that bothered. I'm bothered by my lack of mental focus though, but I'd rather this happened now than in the MDS. They say you always learn from these things too, and I will. I remember Steve Waugh once saying you always learn more from your defeats than your victories and I will on this occasion. I learnt loads from Glasshouse and put that into practice at GNW. Here though, I learnt about desire (or rather lack of it). Looking back I know that I should have entered the 100kms, I entered the 100 miler because other people were doing it, not because I wanted to do it - and that is about desire.
However you must draw positives - it was another ultra under the belt (well 113kms-ish), and 19 hours on my feet. Maybe I'm trying to do too much in preparation for the MDS. The GNW is a massive race, and personally I think that it will be harder than the MDS. Doing 175kms straight through is a huge ask with all that elevation too, and I have the upmost respect for those that do. One of the guys I run with, Andrew put in a huge effort, coming in 6th at 29 hours. He put in what was quite simply an amazing effort and beat some extremely good runners in the process - I have massive respect for him and his desire to do this. Maybe next year I can repeat what he did, but for now I know my place and what I want to achieve. I'm OK with the decision I made. Of course it would have been great to finish the race, but I can't change it now and I will remain focused on my goal of the MDS. Next year my priorities will be different and my goals too. So one to learn from, not dwell on and get on with it.