THE GREAT NORTH WALK 100s
2010 RUNNER STORIES
(edited extracts from the www.CoolRunning.com.au Message Board and from e-mails to the Race Director)
"Cazzy1" • "Otisr" • Paul Every • "Horrie" • "Bear" • "TooKeen" • "Dave" • "SlowManiac" • "Dutchie" • "seris" • "trailpuddin" • "Sir Runalot" • "MQ" • "Lotsahare" • "Hermie" • "beachrunner" • "enduro" • "bustaboy" • "RawAussieAthlete" • "IrishAussie" • "Neo" • Graham Wye • "joeward739" • "nikolay" • "B2orB1" • "Brick" • "Kelvin" • Andrew Vize • Jonnifer Lacanlale
Lotsahare and I entered the 100km option of this race. It was always going to be tough however mixed in with the conditions that were dished out yesterday it made for a tough day at the office. You train in cool conditions all the way through and have to contend with a curler like yesterday. But you can't control that and have to roll with the punches. The humidity was unbelievable from early on. The toughest part of the race was from the Trackhead to Congewai school and from the school to the Basin. We managed to hang in there and push on to the Basin. We were on track to get to the Basin before cut off. Tiredness and lack of focus saw us miss the Lyrebird track and take a detour heading back to Congewai! What an absolute disaster. So instead of making it to the Basin in cut off we had Dave and Co worried about finding us. Eventually it was all sorted and Bert found us at 2.30am!! We were contemplating sleeping out with the Kangaroos if he could not find us hahahaha!! Thanks to Dave and the Terrigal Trotters for once again providing an excellent event with conditions to match! Well done to Clake MacClymont for his 100km record!
To Beaver and B1or B2 and unbelievable performance in those conditions absolute machines. Whippet and Spud what an adventure? Enjoy the journey to Macquarie St. Sailaway congrats and one little one to go....whose counting!!
Has Horrie and Brick arrived yet?
Trailpuddin well done you just proved that you took your dose of HTFU before the event yesterday!! You did it tough and braved through feeling awful to come out the other end. I am so glad for you.
To my buddy Lotsahare i am so disappointed for you that you missed beating the GNW monster. I am so proud at your strength, focus and tenacity. You wanted it so bad but unfortunately it did not work out. You gave it your all. And a huge thanks to Bert who has supported us unconditionally . You did a great job and I can't thank you enough. Caz
I now have a new perspective on this race, and those that attempt it, being either the 100km or the 100 miler.
For the last 3 years i have enjoyed reading all the race reports and being a competitor. First year the 2008 100km, my first finish. Woy was i excited. One year later, 2009, my first 100 miler - made it to CP4 before pulling - mind games won on that day. So i had a bone to pick with this course.
So i entered 2010 for the 100 miler again. Spent many hours training on the course, as i have in previous years, so i really know the course very well. But i did not give it the respect it deserves. I needed to be in peak fitness to do this event, and i thought i was it. But when you run a NY marathon 5 days earlier, and add the jet lag - what was i thinking ??
So i started well, enjoyed a few chats for the first few hours. Then that was it. I strugged past Brunkerville Gap. What ? I still have over 30hrs to go and i can't even get the strength to climb the first big hill ?? I made it to CP1, 30 mins slower than last year. Sore belly, sore chest, tired legs, etc. Wow, i was gone.
Decided to toss the thigh skins i was wearing, a quick strip in the middle of the road, and i felt better. A few cokes and refresh at CP1 and i was starting to feel happy. Got as far as Barraba Spur and called my wife - something not right here. My chest hurts, and i have no strength. I can't do 50km much less 100km or 100 miler. Pick me up at Congewai.
My wife nearly took me to hospital, being the nurse she is, but i said i was ok, just think i have a virus, plus tired, plus sore from a very enjoyable NY . I looked up at the comms tower out of CP2 and thought - NO WAY. I can't make that, much less the rest of the section to CP3. Take me home.
So. Time for a rest. Re-think the strategy. Plan for this race as it's own peak, and do NOT run anything longer than 5km in the last week.
To those i met on the day - Rob and Matt - keep strong.
Seris - you look so comfortable, how do you do it.
I am sure it was Cazzy1 and Lotsahare i saw near CP2 along the road - yes,i was hot. Did you have the Umbrella - good idea.
I also was passed by Spud and Whippet near the trackhead at Congewai, little did i know you were travelling all the way to Sydney. No way. Keep up the strength.
And to all the TT team - thanks, your hospitality makes this event what it is.
I will be back next year - with a vengeance.
When I entered the 100 Mile under Brick's evil influence, only back in August, I was struggling to run 20km. It was always an ambitious target and with W2B as my longest recent race and no training runs over 30km, I knew yesterday and today were always going to be case of just seeing how much I manage.
I was reasonably sure I could finish the 100 km, but I knew anything more was based on speculation and hope. A hope that the ghosts of ultras past would keep the spectre of under-training at bay.
I started off suitably conservatively, enjoying conversations with Bunny, Hermie, Seris and especially ultra newbie Roger (can't remember his CR name), among others. Over Heaton Gap and through the coolness of the rainforest and things couldn't have felt better. Anticipating the heat, I soaked my shirt in the creek before the climb to the hugging post and the firetrails to Check Point 1. I arrived feeling generally fine, but not realising how much I was operating on autopilot until I had to make coherent decisions at the checkpoint. Thankfully, I had Diane to organise and think on my behalf.
Topped up with food and fluids, I headed toward Congewoi but was soon flagging. The inadequacy of my preparation and the toughness of what lie ahead seeped into my brain. I was caught by Kieron Blackmore, who’s company and bubbly demeanour provided the ideal antidote for the negative thoughts. With my problems more mental than physical, the journey to the Congewoi Valley floor was as relaxed as I could have hoped. Although the heat on the road was occasionally tempered by the sporadic cloud cover, it didn’t prevent me from arriving at Check Point 2 feeling drained. My brain was hazy and I bled time, as foot maintenance, refuelling, restocking the Camelback and soaking my shirt seemed to take forever. I did however depart as well prepared and patched up as possible for the next leg.
Despite Diane’s ministrations, I soon felt about as trashed as I was when I arrived at Congewoi, and was grateful when Slow Maniac and Mick caught me as we traversed the farmland and approached the climb to the communications tower. We passed The Dog and short of offering a gentle consoling pat on the back, I could think of nothing meaningful or helpful to impart as his perfect GNW record died a painful death. With his toughness synonymous with that of the course he has nothing to prove on the GNW. Doggie, give that body the due rest it deserves and has been craving.
As Slow, Mick and I approached the tower I looked toward the school in the valley below. My spirit waned in anticipation of what lie ahead, and it seemed way too hard. Tall Geoff was having a rest at the tower and asked me if I was leaving straight away. I wanted to answer by flopping on the ground in the shade. Better judgement told me to keep moving and Geoff gave me Horrie’s abandoned hand-held and the mission of catching him “two minutes” up the road. It was just what I needed. Instead of worrying about the night ahead or the following day, I was focused on the present, and was soon picking off runners in search of the elusive Horrie. I greeted him by telling him to “Get someone else to mule your drinks, you slack bastard!” and we kept in touch to the Watagan Creek crossing.
I passed the old site of the unmanned water-stop and commenced the climb, immediately feeling drained and wishing Dave hadn’t moved the stop. How I could have just nestled into the grassy glade. I eventually reached the stop, to find that “unmanned” was a misnomer with Dave, the man himself, in attendance. I informed him of my disappointment of the new siting of the stop, as well as the lack of banana beds and topless chicks gently waving pandanas leaf fans, which I had so eagerly anticipated. Perhaps Diane spoils me too much when she is crewing.
As Horrie, Slow and Mick arrived and I refilled, I felt increasingly comfortable despite the lack of amenities. Again feeling daunted by brutality of the course, I announced I was departing, “before I kicked Dave in the nuts”.
I hung onto Slow and Mick, until about five kilometres before the Basin, where I arrived thankfully having negotiated the fallen trees in the light, though feeling a certain shade of plastered. I fuelled up with some creamed rice, a sausage, potato and the bonus of a glass of red, courtesy of the ever-delightful Jane Thompson. With a clothing change and some more foot taping, I couldn’t have left in a better spirits, however circumstances were soon to change.
As I hit the climb out of the Basin the pattern was apparent and way more pronounced. I was coping less effectively as I encountered each significant hill, and was now reduced to zombie stagger on the ascent. Despite consuming a banquet through the day, my body was depleted. Horrie walked by and as his light disappeared up the hill seemingly in an instant, I realised I was barely moving forward. Reaching the top, I slumped on a tree stump. My body just didn’t have 100 miles in it. If it didn’t necessitate negotiating that sketchy, shitty track to the Basin for a third time, and again in the dark, I would have rolled down the hill back to the Check Point 3. Instead, I just sat there in the darkness, head in hands, until I was consoled by the local leeches. For not the first time in the race, I had the appropriate company to keep me moving forward.
The miles to Cedar Brush trailhead passed slowly, characterised by a lot of walking, needless navigational doubts born from fatigue and indecision, and that feeling you have toward the end of an ultra-gone-bad that leaves you lost for synonyms for the word crap.
Upon reaching the road, I was joined by Sailaway, who had been keen to maximise his enjoyment of the course by incorporating additional scenic mileage. We shuffled and walked the road into Yarramalong, sporadically chatting and disturbing the evenings of random frogs and possums. At one stage, we heard something large rustling through the roadside bushes and I reassured Sailaway that it was probably just another leech.
Eventually, we arrived at Checkpoint 4, Sailaway to continue, me to succumb to the inevitable and record my third 100 km bail-out since finishing second in the inaugural GNW 100 Mile.
Following a rest, we arrived at Patonga to cheer a deserved and triumphant Beaver as he trotted along the beach. Maybe next year, I’ll finally be back fit and strong to run that stretch of sand, grab that monkey off my back and hold the little *ucker under the glistening ocean until he gasps his last breath.
If I can pick one word to sum this race up with, it would be BRUTAL!
Anyone who has been there to witness this event first hand would know that I am not exaggerating. The runners who toe the line are some of the fittest people in Australia and to see what this event does to them never ceases to amaze me.
I went into this race feeling pretty good and confident of a good time. When I realised the conditions weren't conducive to a good time, I thought I have to lay it on the line and see what I've got. Heading up the road in the first couple of kms I said to CR Dave as he passed it is going to be a hot one. He acknowledged this by declaring he was sweating already and we had only been running for 10 minutes. Things were going to plan in the first section and I got to CP1 on target. The first couple of kms in the next section told me something I didn't want to hear when I got my first cramp. Pop a couple of S Caps and back it off lightly I told myself. Then when I reached the start of the single trail that takes us down to Congewai Rd I was with a congo line of about 4 runners. As we started descending I was starting to feel pretty ordinary so I stepped off to the side and allowed them to pass. By the time I reached Congewai Rd there was now a spread out congo line of about 7 runners. Blue Dog passed me along here commenting that the slight breeze was a welcome relief. It was now a case of adopting a run/walk plan to get to Congewai School 7km up the road. Upon reaching the school I told BlueBel I have to sit for a while and try to regroup. My Badwater long sleeve running top is not keeping me cool like I had hoped and the long sleeves and my gloves are not allowing my skin to breathe. So I decide to change into a short sleeve shirt and abandon the gloves. Gary who crewed and paced us last year offers me a sparkling lemon mineral water which I am happy to accept. I empty the cup as quick as he pours it. He asks me if I want another which I am again happy to accept. 4 cups later and I am starting to feel a little better. Now that I am almost feeling human again I decide to push on and take a bag of chopped watermelon and rockmelon with me. I am now starting to enter the part of the course that I found the hottest/toughest last year, the climb to the communications tower. As I get to the steep climb I gently start to ascend and I am soon hit with simultaeous cramps in both legs. Right now I have no idea how I am going to get to the communications tower and I am soon passed by a couple of runners. Pop a couple of S Caps and take one step at a time. This seems to work and I find myself now starting to make some sort of progress. In what seems like an eternity later I finally reach the tower and I strip my pack off and sit down on the log there and reward myself with a bottle of coke. I am soon joined by TallGeoff who does something similar. The coke has done its job and I have perked up again so I put the pack back on and start moving and now there are some nice downhills I am soon running again. A couple of kms later Paul Every catches up to me and tells me to get somebody else to muel for me and hands me my handheld that I left at the communications tower. TallGeoff had seen that I had left it behind and asked Paul to pass it onto me. I was so spaced out I forgot I was running with a handheld. We are soon descending down the single trail to Watagan Creek. Not long after crossing the creek we notice a few runners catching us. It turns out to be Mick and FKASM. I again have to take the climb very slowly and they disappear pretty quickly. I reach the manned water station where Ancient Marathoner is and Paul, Mick and FKASM are still there. I again let them go as they are moving a lot more freely than I am. As I reach the top of the climb before the descent into the Lyrebird trail, Trotter Gary tells me he has found a bag of white pills and if they belong to me. I look into my bum bag and realise that my S Caps are missing. I thank him and offer him one which he is happy to accept. Gary soon runs away from me. I am happy to reach The Basin in daylight and it is just after 7.30. As there were 2 trees down on the trail there was quite a bit of scampering around. Gary who has had a longer break at the checkpoint catches up to me again and is soon out of sight again. As I start the climb up out of the Basin I notice Paul Every walking like a drunken sailor. He says he is okay and tells me the food he ate at the Basin wasn't reenergising him like he had hoped. I push on and I don't see another runner until I reach Yarramalong. I am joined here by my pacer Buzz Lightyear who is his usual upbeat self. I am also happy to see Graham Doke whose amazing hands relieve my quads of the cramping me that has been plaguing me all day. Before we leave Yarramalong I advise him that any pain that he inflicts on me in the next 72km is going to be paid back in triplicate when I crew for him at C2K in 4 weeks time. We have our first navigational challenge when we can't seem to find our way onto Greta Rd. This only costs us 5-10 minutes and we are joined by Trotter Gary who points us in the right direction. Things are still going okay when we reach the unmanned water station. We are soon passed by Sailaway and Greg Norman who tell us that he has added about 15km to his journey. He is running very strongly and has taken the mishap in his stride and they disappear into the distance. Then comes our big navigational clanger. We know we have to take a right turn to hit the trail that will take us to Somersby but we miss it. We keep running thinking it must be coming up soon. Then when it doesn't Buzz decides to run off into the distance to see if he can find it. While he disappears into the distance I am thinking we must have missed it and gone past it. When he finally comes back to me he tells me there are just houses. I decide to pull out the directions from my pack to see if we can realise where we have gone wrong. After reading them over and over we finally realise that the right turn was just after the bridge. Only problem was the bridge was a long way back and now uphill. Buzz is feeling really bad and is expecting me to give him a blast but I wasn't going to buy into it. I have run this section 3 times before so it was as much my fault as it was his. When we finally reach the trackhead I do a rough calculation and estimate the time lost to be about an hour and a half. Lucky I have plenty of time up my sleeve. We finally reach a worried BlueBel 7 and a half hours after leaving Yarramalong. I have some porridge here that Graham Doke cooks for me and take a bacon and egg roll made by SMC42km and Buzz and I are now moving well again on our way to Mooney Mooney. We are now in good spirits and Buzz has come out of his quiet period after our incident. We are again enjoying ourselves and having a good play on whey decided to call the next checkpoint Mooney Mooney. My answer that Mooney on its own didn't have a good sound to it so they had to double it to make it sound like an interesting place. We arrive there just after 10.30 and prepare ourselves for the final section. We are joined by TallGeoff who had arrived there not long before us. This section is so tedious and I am now officially over it. When we reach the unmanned water station, Jeri from Singapore is just getting ready to leave and Brick and Hermie have just caught us and Enduro approaches just as we are leaving. I am excited when we are finally done with the tedious technical bits and am now able to run. I soon catch and pass Hermie and I catch back up to Enduro has passed me on the technical bits after the unmanned water station. As we start our descent to Patonga, Buzz tells me there are 3 runners coming and they are moving quickly. It turns out to be Spud, Nickolay and Enduro. As they are able to descend a lot quicker than me, I move over and allow them to pass and they hit the beach 30m ahead of me. They all do the deadheat type finish and I follow them in about half a minute later. Then right on schedule Bill Thompson comes in 2 minutes behind me.
I am happy to finally have a medal after reaching Patonga for the third time. I could not have done it without my partner in life BlueBel who once again selflessly crewed for me even though she is still recovering from her injury. Thanks also to Timmeister who constantly tells me how good I am going. Thanks also to Buzz Lightyear who is such a delight to be around for giving up his time to pace me. I look forward to seeing you spank the mammoth in 4 weeks time.
Thanks also to Ancient Marathoner and his band of volunteers from the Terrigal Trotters for putting on another wonderful event. Your vision and love of running has seen this event grow from strength to strength.
TOUGH!!!!!!!!!! After only 2-3hrs sleep as I just couldn't sleep I got up at 3am. Legs felt perfect. B'fast down at 3:45am and we left at 4:30am. Stayed at my Mum's at Belmont so was only 15min from the start. We got running right on 6am. My plan was to run easy but not too easy for the first 6k. Got there around 100m in the lead. I then slowed down and took it really easy on the down hills & walked alot of the up hills. Just before Freemans Dve I could see Clarke Mclymont just behind me. Got to Freemans dve in 1st place & still felt great. Top of the big hill at the communications tower and still felt good. No view on any other runners behind me. In to the rain forest & really took my time so I wouldn't slip. Thats when Clarke, Matt Cooper & this other 100m runner caught me. I still lead until the last hill before the flat bit to CP1. Slipped over and now they were about 1min ahead of me. Just ran easy into CP1 about 1min behind them. I left there around 5min later in 2nd place and this is when the heat was really getting strong. Ran very steady on this section. Made to Congewai with seeing any other runners behind me. Ran most of this section but stopped and walked every 15min for about 30sec just to break it up a bit. Just before CP2 I see the other 3 runners coming down the hill. I was only about 5min behind them. At CP2 I made the mistake of having an up&go. Tasted good at the time and after 50km of running it's hard to know what you want. Changed my shoes & socks at CP2 and the leading female came in not long after me. Made my way on to CP3 and saw about 3 other runners heading into CP2. Just befor the hills start I came within 1/2 meter fro a stepping on a brown snake. Now the run really gets tough. The hills now were like over vertical! It took me soooo long to get to the communications tower. I had to grab 2 sticks & use them as walking poles to get up. Almost to the top & I saw the leading female not far behind me. Now my feet were starting to get really sore. Was finding I was feeling great running but felt sick if I walked so I was taking advantage of all the flat & down hill trails. Got down to Watagans ck and wanted to just lie in the water to cool down but had to keep going. Looked behind & I could see the female about 300m away. I knew the next hill she would catch me. She did and she was walking up those hills like it was nothing! Finally to the top I stopped at the unmaned water stop to fill my drinks up. The rest of the way to the basin was great.....until I came across that friggin tree! Track just came to a dead end. I thought I was on the wrong track so I turned around and ran back to the 2.5km sign then ran back again. Looked up, looked down I thought how the f....k do I get around this thing. Spent 20min stuffing around. 2 100mile runners caught up to me. Finally after x-country I get around. Into CP3 and took my shoes off to change them & there were leeches everywhere. Over 100 on my right foot & over 50 on my left. Plus another 50 or so in my socks & shoes! 20min later I got out of there. Now in 4th spot I decided to just finish this race. The climb oiut of the basin was tough & my right tendon was getting really sore. On to cedar bush rd & I was still feeling good but my foot now was killing me. Thought only 11k to go! ran strong to the end of that rd then onto Yarramalong rd. 3.5k to go! Saw another 100mile runner just ahead walking. Stopped to see if he was ok then got running again. Got about 500m and my ankle just wouldn't let me run. Thought I'll just walk to the finish. Within 2min of walking I was starting to get really sick. Somehow I made it to the end after spewing up 6 times. I was almost in a crawl by the last 200m. That last 3km took around 1hr to complete! Finished in 4th spot in 14hrs37min
Well I won't call it a disaster because I leant some things, but it obviosly did't go to plan. Sorry if this is long.
After completing the 100km last year even though injured, I felt confident enough to step up and play with the big boys this year. After working out what I thought would be achievable and relaxed splits (probably would have been I it wasn't as hot), I toed the line ready to go. Ran the start to CP1 right on split time, all good. After leaving CP 1 I started to notice the heat/humidity, but was handling that O.K. Got to CP2 bang on time still feeling good, but was dissapionted that not to see my family there.(They took a wrong turn and missed me by 20min). Leaving CP2 and heading up the hill is were thing started going pear shaped. I really struggled up the hill and had to have a long rest at the top. Passed Blue Dog on the way up, mate even to toe the starting line given the state you are in is inspirational. Caught Up with Enduro as well, huge congratulations on your finish mate. It was about the valley floor, though the paddock that the nausea and the first cramps started to hit. Reached Dave at the "unmanned" water stop and once again had to have another break. Pretty much walked into CP3 occasionaly chatting with Joe & Keiron, sorry I wasn't better company guys but even I wasn't enjoyning my own company at that stage. Once at CP 3 I sat and had some soup, how good was that,coke and took my time to feel good enough to leave. Thanks to Robin for the massage and harsh words and Kirko for the help.
Leaving CP 3 I wasn't looking forward to the climb out. After more cramps and breaks finally made it to the road. Once agian Kieron & Joe thanks for the company, sorry I pushed ahead, but I had to keep moving. Walked the entire way into CP 4 where I now had some very painfull blisters as well. I decided to have a break at CP 4 and try to recoup, but after 1.5 hours I knew that I was only delaying the inevitable and pulled the pin.
After suffering none of the symptom I suffered in the race during training, I can only put it down to the heat and setting myself times which were obviosly "TooKeen" to for the conditions.
Massive thanks to Dave & all the volunteers, amazing effort by you all. Well done to all that finished exeptional effort.
Slowmaniac said something as we were together coming into Cp1 "It is supposed to feel slow". This will be my new mantra for the next time.
I will get to that sand at Patonga.
For what it's worth, here's a quick summary of my 3rd GNW experience.
Nice steady and easy start along the road, but it was obviously noticeably hot and humid, even at 6am! Immediately fell into my hydration and nutrition plan and as we entered the dirt was hovering around just behind Blue Dog and in front of Horrie with Robin C also there. Took it very easy on the climbs up to the first peak and enjoyed the descent down to Freemans Gap, runnign for a little while with the girl from Singapore. The climb up to Heaton was tougher than I had previously experienced and so I eased up looking to regroup at the top. Enjoyed the gradual downhill to the water tank and entered the rainforest section. Immediately noticed how more humid it was in there, at one point I swear my breath was condensing on exhales. I was also very slipperly through here and there was a group of us (including Kelvin, Graham and Horrie) that sort of hung loosely together, a few wrong turns from the front guys keeping us grouped. The climb up to the hitching post was brutal and I was starting to struggle here and could not get going, starting to get nausea and a few dry retches. I was really looking forward to CP1 but struggled in and was concerned as to how the rest of the day would unfold.
Took quite a while in CP1 to recover, for a while I was not certain that I'd even go back out, but after a rest, some cool drinks and a change of shirt and shoes I felt re-energised. I actually felt quite good along the ridge to Barraba and caught a few people, including ERB and Hermie, but being very careful to taking it easy. ERB and I started the descent down to Congewai Rd, but I eased up a little as we went down starting to feel nausea again. Near the gate I caught up to Brick and we rolled down the rest of the descent. As soon as we hit the road it was like someone hit a switch and I was violently ill, quite a few times. I caught up to Brick and we opted just to walk it out to CP2. A few km along another runner (a girl but cant remember her name) caught us and then shortly after Hermie also caught us. I was starting to flag again and so I opted to ease up further and they kept going. After a little hill I was really struggling to even walk and feeling faint. In the distance I saw a car and umbrella and it was Steve, who was doing some photo's. I got there and sat under the umbrella for a while hoping to clear the head, but instead had another massive vomit attack down to repeated dry retches, ie nothing left....
That was enough for me, knowing what was in store immediately after CP2 and that I was already dehydrated and unable to digest/keep down any fluids it would have been sheer folly to go on and looking at the results it looks like a number of runners had to pull out through that next leg, not making CP3.
After 3 unsuccessful attempts at GNW, I've decided to pull up stumps. Clearly my strength is not in dealing with high heat and humidity and with GNW scheduled when it is means it will always be a roll of the dice on weather conditions for me to perform to my expectations. To exorcise the demons properly I may decide to have a solo effort over the course, but in the middle of the year.
This is not to be critical at all on the race organisation itself, a well oiled machine with capable and enthusiastic Trotter volunteers. Congrats to all who started and well done to those that made it all the way, through a tough day/s.
After a few weeks of training in cool wet conditions I hoped the race would turn out the same. A week out it was clear that would not be the case. Having endured hot conditions last year I knew what I had to do to finish – be very conservative and just do what it takes to survive.
It was immediately apparent that we were in for a very humid day. The little road climb just out of Teralba was muggy at 6:20am. The first 2 legs were pretty uneventful – was running along with Mick and we passed and chatted to a few others along the way. Mick must have been asked at least 10 times by various people what he was doing at the back of the pack! We had 30hr splits but didn’t even hit the first one. I actually didn’t find it as hot as 2009 but thought it was more humid. The little bit of occasional cloud was a relief. We walked the whole of Congewai Rd – it was along here that I got the faint pang of nausea and I knew that this race was going to follow the same pattern as last year – i.e. I was in for a long day!
Managed to get a good bit of running down to the Basin, playing tag with Paul E. But the technical last section took its toll and Mick and I arrived feeling a little tired. We sat a while to revive and headed off.
The section to Yarra was OK, but I could see Mick was having some problems. At the CP I tried everything to persuade Mick to leave. Luckily, as it turns out, he did not listen to me. It was a huge lift to have a pacer with me as I left Yarra. I have never used one before but the mental lift was enormous. John my pacer was chatting and asking questions and cracking jokes – it was great and just what I needed to distract me. We did OK to Somersby, I had some sleep monsters for about 20min and the last climb up to Somersby – well who needs that! But Somersby is a big milestone for me – the next leg is pretty straightforward and then just one to go. But things were starting to get quite hard now and running even 100m on a gentle down slope was an effort.
We got to Mooney Mooney. I was pretty afraid of this leg. Its rocky, technical and very exposed. But I have to say it exceeded my wildest expectations. The heat was relentless, radiating up from the rock, beating down and topped of with an occasional hair dryer breeze. Even the ants and lizards were hiding. Kelvin Marshall flew past me at one point – he assures me he wasn’t going very fast but he looked like an Olympic sprinter. After a few decades we finally reached Patonga drive and I allowed myself to get a little excited. I was passed by no less that 3 people less than 500m from the finish line but I really didn’t mind. I savoured the finish and touched the post just under 33hrs.
Well done to all runners there were some amazing runs – Beth, MQ, Beaver and Cliffold all spring to mind. Thanks to all the tireless CP volunteers – ice cold Coke goes a long way to right the wrongs! And thanks to Dave Byrnes – having Dave put the medal round your neck at the finish is pretty special, you can tell he is genuinely pleased for you.
I went into the GNW with no expectations except to finish this year. Karl had put some very loose splits together but I asked him not to pressure me so we did not discuss times or how we were travelling throughout the race.
I think it helped that I had not seen the course since last year, so I only vaguely remembered the killer hills and did not dread their coming as I usually did. I went into the race stress free and wanted to treat it like a training walk on the GNW with a little running thrown in here and there. This attitude helped me on race day.
In the early stages Karl and I trundled along at the back with Spud, Whippet, SHJ, Jan, Mick and SM, we thought we were doing well as we were in such good company. As it turned out we played cat and mouse with SHJ the whole race and travelled sections together.
By Heaton Gap, my old tired trail shoes decided they were going to give me problems. They rubbed a hole in my sock and straight through to the back of my heal. Karl and I did a patch up job which got me to CP1. The toughest section for me was the jungle section to CP1. The humidity and heat totally sapped me. I was very slow and to reach the kissing post was a killer. I was thinking, I can’t cope with this for the next day and a half. It did cross my mind that I could pull out and let Karl continue alone, but then I thought of my lovely pacers who would be so disappointed and that kept me going. We caught Innes coming into CP1 who said he was going to be the first casualty of the day.
I tried to keep as organized as possible at the check points and made sure I had everything I needed. We didn’t rush through like usual but spent about 15mins each time. As I left CP1 I shook hands with Bill Thompson, (this is the well respected guy you need to be in front of if you want to finish,) he was looking very relaxed as he ate a sandwich in the shade.
The next section is the make or break for me. Will I survive Congewai Rd? It took forever to arrive. As soon as Karl and I got to the road we took our shirts off and soaked them in the dirty ditch next to the road and stuck our heads in the water too…we didn’t care. Out came my umbrella. I also had another secret heat prevention tool. I had torn open a cotton pillow case and that was pre soaked at CP1 and ready to go on my head, but I thought I’d use that further down the road in an emergency. To my surprise there was enough breeze, shade and cloud cover during my time along the road to make it very doable. I was so happy with the conditions I commented on them first to Trail Pudding and then to Seris, but they didn’t say much so I don’t think they were impressed with my exuberance.
At CP2 Karl and I soaked our shirts and heads under the taps again. The lovely TT volunteers helped me fill my water bladder and even gave me ice to put in it, that sure helped up the next section. Last year the heat and big hill out of CP2 finished me off completely so I tried to prepare as much as possible for the onslaught.
Luckily there was still a breeze and shade and that got me to the hill, passing Hermie and Nick along the way. Then I travelled slowly up the hill, not pushing hard just one step at a time. We had a little break at the top and then we were able to run along the top knowing that the worst was over (bar one hill.) We passed Brick on our way down to Watagan Creek as we traveled with Brad. On reaching the creek we soaked our heads and shirts again and I got my feet wet, which probably didn’t help me later on. Then up the other side slowly, slowly trying to keep within myself and not stressing. Before we knew it we were running along the top feeling happy. We reached the ‘manned’, unmanned water stop where there were a number of people including Blue Dog, who said he was out. We were shocked.
The sun’s strength started to go and we were really happy that we were feeling good and over the worst part of the day. It got darker and then out came the head torches. I have a super duper mountain bike head torch which I put on and nothing… the cable was broken and needed welding. Thank God for the backup head torch required in our gear. This wasn’t as powerful and I didn’t feel as confident travelling through the jungle to the Basin. We passed SM and Mick going the opposite way and thank goodness Horrie was negotiating the horrible tree detour otherwise we wouldn’t have known what to do or where to go. Thank you for kindly letting us pass, you are a gentleman.
We took a long time changing socks, shoes and clothes at CP3 (about 25mins,) we had some tea, coke, ‘V’ and even soup. I was pretty slow through the next section as I wasn’t happy with my head torch. We passed Kieran and his friend along the firetrail and then met TooKeen again in the same place as last year on the Cedar Brush Road. Karl and I were feeling pretty good this year and ran walked into Yarramalong. We met Simon Lauer who was finishing the 100km at Yarramalong and he was wearing a really powerful head torch so I asked if I could borrow it, it made a huge difference to my confidence.
Our pacers were ready to go so we had a quick CP and off we went. The suffering really started through this next section. The soles of both my feet were on fire and I could only hobble when our pacer was keen to run. I sent Karl and him on ahead a little and just managed to keep their head torches in sight. We got to the road and I discovered it was easier to run than walk along the detour. We planned to attend to my feet at the unmanned water stop, which was probably a bit late. We strapped some cushion soles to the base of my socks so they would stay in place and I took a nurofen. As we did this SHJ went past asking if we were okay, she was travelling alone. Magically after the first aid, I was able to move well and run again and we caught up with SHJ. She told us she had started to go the wrong way at the detour and luckily a crew car went past and turned her around. We travelled with her most of the way into Somersby.
Arriving at Somersby our next pacers were itching to go. We had one each this time, although all 4 of us travelled together. We were shocked to see ERB at Somersby, but not nearly as shocked as she was to see us, as she jumped out of her seat and left immediately. We were more surprised to hear that Horrie and Buzz had not arrived and Bluebel reckoned they were lost, she looked sad.
We were so energized with the daylight that we shot through the next section catching and travelling with ERB and Marie all the way to Mooney Mooney. We were really excited that it was less than a marathon to go (it sounds crazy saying that, but it helped). Our pacers were so good we didn’t even need to think, they had the directions out and followed them to the letter. This was a race for them and it was game on!
We left Mooney Mooney at 10am after totally soaking ourselves down. I took my walking pole for the last section as the soles of my feet were getting worse and a second nurofen hadn’t done any good to relieve the pain. We caught ERB de-leeching and suggested we could finish together if we were close by to one another.
I think our pacers were a bit disappointed that we could only do a fast hobble. I became a nuisance to my pacer as I was paranoid that we may get lost along the open plateau and was causing my pacer to doubt herself. We were counting down the kilometers now. Reaching the beautiful cold creek Karl and I doused ourselves down again. The heat was tremendous and I wondered how I would cope. I had a hankie on my head and another around my neck. I sucked water from my bladder and spat it onto my hankies to keep them wet and kept wiping my arms and legs down. (It’s amazing the things you do just to survive.)
I was pleased that I could still wee which meant I was well hydrated! Yeh! Internally I was feeling good also. We got to the unmanned water stop with 5hrs up our sleeves. Wow, how good was that??
The next section went on forever and I was very miserable. I told my pacers that ERB had a fast finish and would probably catch us along with other good runners. Just as we arrived at Patonga Road along came SHJ, running with her poles to assist her…amazing! She told us there were about 10 people behind us and that ERB was about 2kms back. We kept turning around the whole way thinking we would be caught.
Suddenly my blisters got a whole lot worse. I think they burst and I couldn’t put any pressure on my soles any longer so I descended the final steps to the beach heals first. Then once we got to the beach it didn’t matter anymore, we were going to run come what may. What a fantastic cheer we got as we travelled along the beach. We had done it and we were ecstatic and with 2 hours to spare.
I was so honoured when Blue Dog came up to me and said the nicest most genuine comments, you really made me feel like I had completed something very special, thank you.
My mantra for the GNW was ‘If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger’
Thank you to Dave and the Terrigal Trotter volunteers, you did a wonderful job and really took care of the runners. Well done to everyone out on the course you are all winners!
Short story..... passed out at 169km mark. First DNF in over 90 races of marathon distance or longer. Long story...... things started to go wrong when I realised the thread to my bladder wasn’t on properly about 300metres from CP1. In hindsight, I should have gone back to the CP and refilled. I had 2 litres of water and a coke in my backpack, but found around 1 litre had spilt. Whippet gave me some water on the road to CP 2 but I felt dry. Thanks Andy. Had trouble eating at the checkpoints, drank lots of cold coke (I would have loved icy cold water....) Drinking warm water just doesn’t do it for me.. I was slower than last year getting into Somersby but felt good enough for a finish. John (SMC42K) was there to give me a bacon and egg roll and help me on my way to Mooney Mooney. Thanks mate. Fortunately I’d hooked up with Whippet, Spud and Nikolay. I still felt ok. The wheels started to fall off up on the rocks when I was almost forgetting what I was doing. I was very glad not to be on my own and have Spud and Whippet encouraging me to keep moving. I don’t really know what happened 6kms from the finish but must have passed out and found myself in a bush and unable to get out. Andy was yelling at me to get out and I was floundering like a paralytic drunk unable to make any sensible movement. I was slurring my words and remember not wanting to get help walking and wanting a shower.... I really wanted Andy to continue on but anyone that knows him would know he would never leave a sick runner. Top bloke. A huge thank you to Dr John and Dave Byrnes. They arrived, IV inserted as I was flat on my back on the trail and a couple of litres flowed into my dehydrated body. I didn’t realise how dehydrated I was until I got home and “jumped” onto the scales 5 kgs lighter. Big hugs to everyone that has asked about me today. Bernie and Blue Dog, not the weekend we had hoped for. Sailaway (and Sarah) great job out there, nothing worse than adding kms to the course. Nikolay, you finished and you were the one going to pull out! Buzz, I now know how it feels to be that close to the finish. John, Zoe, Diane, Josie.... thanks for your help at the CP’s. It makes a huge difference to have help when you need it. The CP vollies were brilliant, thanks. Congrats to all who hit the sand. That was one tough weekend. I always thought if I was going to DNF, do it in a spectacular fashion. I hear Dave Byrnes has pulled the plug in the same spot, so I am in good company Whippet, don’t know what would have happened if you weren’t with me or if it had happened on a steep climb up rocks. I am forever grateful.
What incredible stories. Completely and utterly inspirational. I feel so privileged to be able to spend time with the ultra crowd and the time spent yesterday down at Patonga waiting for Enduro to come in was particularly special.
Congratulations Enduro for making your 100 miler with 18 minutes to spare. When we sat at the finish line of the 100km last year and you resolved to do the miler the look of certainty on your face pretty much sealed the deal. Its incredible what you can achieve when you put your mind to it and I think we've only seen the beginning of great things.
Cazzy and Lotsahare I was devistated to hear that you missed the CP3 cut off. You both deserved to get finishers medals given all the preparation and you were both running strongly - darn that navigation. I suspected the wheels had fallen off somehow when I didn't see you on the return trip out of CP3. When I was having a "moment" on the way to CP4 I resolved to get my butt to Yarramalong to ensure we had a chick in the 100km results. No way could I let it be a boys only show. It may have been a new record for GNW - the slowest ever female first place in the GNW100km but what the heck we made our mark.
Thanks to Koala for being the best friend a girl could ever ask for and dishing out lots of unconditional hugs - no matter how sweaty and cranky I got. Thanks to the checkpoint angels (Koala, Janelle and Diane E) at CP2 who set up the CP2 Day Spa who indulged me in showers of cold water, ice packs for me head and got me eating again. Happy to take the fuss and attention any time.
So much happened in the 20hr30min I was out on trail. There was so much suffering by runners between CP2 and CP3. I think one of the biggest fights was put up by Nigel who was extremely unwell on Comms tower hill and still made it into CP3. Thanks to Nick for our little roadside picnic - those 15 min spent regrouping, eating a bit and lifting spirits got me moving again and was the turning point that got me into CP3.
Thanks Dave and the vollies for giving us the opportunity to learn what we are really made of. The time you give up and the effort you put in really does change lives.
Yes I will be back again next year. Please do something about the weather. No I won't be doing the miler...ok maybe I won't be doing the miler. I think I will stick to the km's next year and then maybe the miler the year after that...then again maybe if I get enough training in...yee goodness who put all these evil thoughts into my head!!!
p.s. TooKeen I'm happy for the scoreboard to read 2-1 although the medal count is another story...You'll bag that miler some time soon although don't leave it too long because I'd hate to beat you to it
2:58am was what it said on my watch as I awoke. I have a bit of a habit of doing this, doesn't matter when the alarm is set for, I just wake up a minute or two beforehand. Went thorough the preparations and at 3:25 woke my loving partner Vicky who had very generously offered to drive me to Berowra so I could catch a ride to the start.
Beth Cardelli and her crew (husband Brian) were ready to head off when I arrived. Beth has been a constant companion in much of my training on course while preparing for the event, we run together well and always have stuff to chat about, what more could you ask for? Beth would be tackling the 100mile race while I had opted for the 100km. On the trip north the car thermometer read 19 degrees, at 4:30am – it was going to be a scorcher.
The lead up to the start went according to script and at 6:00am 100 odd runners headed off. The most immediately obvious thing was the humidity, just 1km down the road and I was already sweating, hydration was going to be key today.
Beth and I settled into a rhythm as we headed along the bitumen towards Wakefield. When we hit the bush for the first time we were sitting in about 7th or 8th place overall and feeling comfortable. The Brunkerville Trail, first climb of the day soon followed and we caught Andrew Vise, last years 100 mile winner, and Chris Turnbull. We ran together for some time before Beth started to pull away on the climb up from Heaton Gap –I was in two minds, should we really be dropping last years winner this early on? Maybe not a good idea. As we entered the rain forest section after Heaton Lookout Andrew was back on. I was glad as this is quite a difficult area to navigate and I drew confidence from the fact that we had a very experienced campaigner with us. We negotiated this part of the course with no errors and eventually made it into CP1 (28.6km) at Old Watagan Forestry HQ in just under 3:30. Here I met up with Steve Mills who was to crew for me the rest of the way.
Andrew was in and out in about a minute, Beth and I spent a little longer so our little trio broke up,I slowed to eat (breakfast II) and I found myself on my own for the first time. Once the food had settled I got back into the swing and soon caught and passed Andrew and eventually found myself back with Beth. We stayed together for a little longer before she pulled away,this would be the last time we would run together. I made my way to CP2 (52.5km) at my own pace feeling good. This is where things got a bit ugly!
Firstly, the ID wrist band that I was wearing had become so tight, due to swelling in my arm, that I had to get it cut off – no problem. Had a drink and some watermelon and met up with my crew. (I should explain at this point that there were a number of other runners crew members chipping in and helping each other, after all there can be a long wait between runners turning up). Unbeknown to any of them I had a broken zip on my bag, it was fine as long as you didn't open it too far – I'm sure you can guess what happened next. After struggling a bit we finally got it fixed and I was set to leave. Before departing CP2 there was also a requirement to start carrying a torch/headlamp, back-up batteries and reflective vest. A scrutineer was to check these items and I was prepared for this. What I wasn't prepared for was the scrutineers desire to see my whistle and compass which were (of course) in the bottom of my bag. After pulling everything out the required items were found, but now the zip was broken again. Thanks to the calm rational heads of the crew around me we eventually got it sorted.More lost time. While all this had been happening Andrew had come in and calmly exited in about a minute. I was so annoyed with how the pit-stop had gone, 5 minutes had blown out to over 15. This would prove costly later in the day.
On my way again I was so full of adrenaline I think I ran the next km in about 5 minutes flat. A few km's down the track I started the 320m climb towards the communications tower, suddenly I had nothing – I died. In the blazing midday sun I sat on a tree stump and contemplated pulling out.
I had fallen into a pit of despair, the lowest point, at the start of one of the most difficult climbs. I was shattered. But then something happened that turned my attitude around- I was passed by Mal Gamble. Mal was in my race, in my age group,and I knew he was after the record like I was. I couldn't let him pass me. So, up I got, caught him and then proceeded to chew his ear off with the happenings at CP2. Once it was off my chest I felt much better and it was game on again.
This was an awful ascent. The sun was high in the sky, beating down on the back of my neck. The slope was covered with very dry leaf litter and small twigs that made gaining traction on the bone dry gravel incline almost impossible at times.Somehow we reached the top where I stopped to eat a squashed banana.My watch was telling me that the final km had taken 20 minutes, wow.When I looked up Mal was gone.
I hadn't seen this part of the course in training and suddenly felt lost. Out came the map and course directions and I was soon on my way. Not long after I was caught by the second placed female, Meredith Quinlan. She was looking strong so I decided to do my best to stay with her as long as possible (she later went on to complete the 100 mile as second female, 5th overall). We stayed together as we descended to Watagan Creek where she powered away and I lay down in the creek to cool off. It was bliss.
Now I was faced with another monumental climb, over 400m in altitude, the ascent to Mt Warrawalong. Again,very difficult terrain and very steep. I caught Meredith again and we tag teamed it up the hill. She would pass me then rest, I would pass her, then rest, and so on. We reached the 'unmanned' water stop at the top which turned out to be a bit of a misnomer as race director Dave Byrnes was there in the flesh. Meredith took off while I stayed and chatted a bit, this was the last I would see of her.
I was now on the big descent into The Basin and CP3 (81.6km). I was starting feel pretty good again at this point and had a solid run in. A massive tree had blocked part of the trail and a fairly difficult detour through scrub was required – I was glad I wasn't encountering this in the dark as many would later that night. Rain forest on a day like this offers the cover from the sun, but it also has extremely high humidity. I was finding breathing quite difficult, really having to suck in the O's to maintain any tempo. Without a doubt this had been the most difficult stage of any race I have ever done.
At this checkpoint things went a lot smoother. I felt like royalty as a swarm of people fussed over me meeting my every need. I don't know who did what, all I know is that I'm extremely grateful to all who were there. There was a fellow who remover the 20 odd leeches and a tic from my feet, what service.
The final leg began by retracing the last 2.5km out of The Basin before turning to the final climb. Not long after leaving the checkpoint I took a bit of a fall off the edge of a steep ridge. Poor footwork was to blame and the end result, me in a rather nasty spiky bush. I was lucky, just scratches and scrapes, it could easily have been the end of my day. I lay on the ground for a few minutes, slowly checking my limbs and looking for leeches, they clearly didn't like the spiky bush either.
Out of The Basin the remaining 15km was largely down hill or flat. After emerging onto Cedar Brush Creek Rd I knew I was going to make it. I was running quite strongly and making good time, then I saw him! Mal Gamble in his distinctive green top was just ahead, maybe 250m. I had taken off my watch at CP3 and was a little bit unsure of how far to go. I came across a couple out walking with a pram and asked, "how far to Yarramalong"? They said "about 7km". I was sure I could get him, then the guy said"I think he's seen you, he kept looking over his shoulder". So the race was on.
A little light on energy I took sometime to eat a muesli bar and regroup before the final assault. I tried as hard as I could, but he just wasn't getting any closer. It doesn't sound like much, but with nearly 100km in the legs trying to find a bit extra is asking the earth, just outside town with 3km left I just had nothing. I wasn't going to get him. I folded.
As darkness descended I entered CP4 (103.7km), the finish line for me. Mal had finished 7 minutes earlier to claim the age-group record and 2nd place overall. My time, 14:08 for 3rd, also under the old record.
Relieved to be finished I felt OK.There were a few moments of queasiness but after a cup of tea I felt quite human and content that I had done all I could. Could I have kept going? Maybe, but I was glad that I had decided to only travel this far this time.
It had been an amazing journey full of ups and downs both figuratively and literally. This was my 5th time over this distance and due to the conditions the toughest race I have ever faced. Thanks so much to Steve for crewing for me (think we might see you out on course next year), Brian for all your support and all the others who helped me out along the way. And a special thanks to all those who I ran with throughout the day. It gets quite lonely out there at times and there is nothing better than having a companion to count down the km's with.
Congratulations to Andrew (1st male again), Beth (1st female & 2nd overall, a record by over a hour and a half) and to all the other 100 mile finishers, you are legends.
Will I do the 100 miles next time? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
What a race. It never fails to surprise nor entertain with its ruthless terrain and weather. Congratulations to Beaver and Beth, amazing effort in such conditions where so many strong and talented people were to come to grief. Have there been any guys to do such a debut 100 miler time on that course in those conditions? Let alone a girl – well done Beth you are a formidable talent and a real shock for the male ultra community. They might have to really start to take their training seriously to not get “chicked” in future haha. Keep them honest for us!
I was very pleased with my race, and enjoyed the heat. Don’t know why, I am the last person to be any good at heat, so there is hope for us all. Race did not go to plan, I was an hour ahead in the first half and an hour behind in the second half, so when it all evens out it was still a nice PB and a nice place overall. Got the shock of my life to come up behind beaver and Jono on Yarramalong road – that’s when I started to think, um maybe I need to slow down. But never mind it came naturally, as it tends to on the sections after Yarramalong.
It was lovely to run with perhaps the most experienced GNW pacer out there, Jess Baker – she must have set a record, its now 4 consecutive years of pacing! She had the pleasure of witnessing my “I just need to have a lie down jess” incident coming up the hill from Ourimbah road, ah it was nice to lie down and eat instead of trying to eat and control my heart rate and breathe and walk and run and talk and....you know what I mean if you do these things. There was also the “can’t get over that fallen tree without falling backwards like a beetle and then getting a toe cramp” incident which caused much mirth on both accounts. Gee there were a lot of fallen trees this year! Who could forget that shocker coming in and out of the Basin.
It was nice to get a chance to meet the legend Rachael Waugh aka Potty, who will no doubt be back to give me a run for my money, she is a real talent, she makes me look like a shuffling dwarf, gliding past effortlessly down the technical sections.
Ourimbah – next year I wont be available to run down to your house for errands like this year haha, although next year you’ll be in fresh non-grand slam mode to counteract it no doubt! I was shocked to be anywhere near you, but hey you were doing this not so long ago at GOW and Glasshouse, you are going to have an awesome grand slam finish at this rate (especially if you learn to love the tar haha). I had no fight left in me by the last section, like many others I suspect. And Mick, thanks for some great training runs, it was not going to be your day but full respect for finishing the 100km in those conditions. Hope that shoulder gets better really quickly.
Great to see Slow maniac finish in a respectable time and ERB – what a LEGEND! 4th consecutive GNW in a row. Only Blue Dog and yourself can claim that one, well done! And you finished well within cut off, great work for another grand slammer. It was very sweet of BD to congratulate us at the end too, we all appreciated it Wayne!!
Thanks to my awesome crew Mr MQ, he had to put up with plenty of nagging orders and boredom, more than most blokes would endure. And thanks again David Byrnes for putting on a good show for us all, your “no prisoners” attitude ensures that the tradition of it being the toughest 100 miler will continue. We appreciate your effort and putting up with all the stress it no doubt creates.
Boy oh boy what an experience it is to be fighting all those demons out there on the Gnw. I didn't need Rambo or the Terminator 'cause i had my super buddy Cazzy1 by my side , who selflessly signed up for this suicide mission again, not for herself but to help me conquer the Gnw monster. We had started our training early August & went & trained everyweekend on the course. So we felt we were well prepared . We got through Cpt.1 & 2 feeling good & with time up our sleeve. Seeing Trailpuddin heading up to the tower gave us an extra lift. Thank goodness there were no water restrictions on the day, i think i must have used at least 2ltrs. of water to drench myself head to toe before leaving congewai.As Cazzy1 said we were on track to the Basin to make the cut,but unfortunately we missed the lyrebird track & hadn't realised it for quite a few k's down the track then we didn't know exactly where we were just kept going... heading back to Congewai? Well, i think we tallied up 90k's before we stopped & Bert , Dave & John came to our rescue. Cazzy1 i can't thank u enough for putting your body through hell not just for the race but for all the lead up also to help me out. I know you had to make alot of adjustments for your family & work commitments ..., you are in incredibly, strong selfless & wonderful person & friend, I'm lucky to have. Although we didn't make the cut Cazzy1 i wouldn't change all our wild adventures out there together for the world!! I can't have done any any of this without my wonderful partner in crime always Bert. The hours u spent out there waiting for us, preparing my gear,ding the research, all the driving & being there all the step of the way with me, all your positive encouragement & belief in me .i am so lucky...thank you,thank you.. still isn't enough.Kirrily,proud of u knowing u did it hard & came on top to represent the 'Princesses', you r now our Queen! Sorry Trailtrash & Pacman & Marg, had to pull out. Dutchie & Karl well done u guys incredible! Cliffold what was in the water o/seas well done! Bluedog & Seris..you will always be winners. Sailaway & Horrie & Belinda thank you sooo much for all your encouragement & advice along the way, i truly appreciated it and have learnt even more.Good luck Sailaway & Horrie Dutchie ,Brick & all for C2K i know u will blitz it. Dave & John thanks again for a very well organised run & to Jane Thompson thanks for being such an angel at cpt.2 ..i may have to borrow Bill for navigation duties next year...yeh i'll be back.
Just a few random thoughts and observations rather than cumbersome discourse of the whole event.
I reckon it wasn't as hot as last year but a little more humid.
Despite running well, this was the slowest I have ever reached CPs 1 and 2. Age is rearing it's ugly head.
Never had a single leech. Vicks Vapour Rub on the feet before socks on, Aerogard on socks,Vicks on shoes around the whole sole and Aerogard on shoes plus a few retouches throughout.
Blisters where I"ve never before. New shoes for Kosci.
I reckon there were some mental battles out there.I thought of bailing out on many occasions as I imagine many others did. Probably would have if I hadn't spent so Many hours with Brick. About eighteen until he thought Jane was gonna catch us, then he was gone like a slightly poached cat.
Many times I thought of dropping Kosci off the agenda but a couple of days has healed that. Dickhead dickhead dickhead.
Would not have consumed 500 calories in solid food for the event. Milk, those wonderful Up and Go's supplied and warm softdrinks were all I could get down. Thoughts for Kosci on food intake needed.I don't remember the climb to the communications tower being that hard.
Thanks to all the folks for clearing a new path around the fallen trees. A bit of cursing but no serious delays there.
As usual the checkpoint staff were terrific, the checkpoints well organised and a credit to Dave and the Trotters. Sometimes words and thanks just don't convey enough intent.
Felicity (Copp), if you read this, I'm curious what caused you to bail. Blisters or malaise? You were running so well.
I don't remember the climb to the communications tower being that hard.
Thanks to all the folks for clearing a new path around the fallen trees. A bit of cursing but no serious delays there.
As usual the checkpoint staff were terrific, the checkpoints well organised and a credit to Dave and the Trotters. Sometimes words and thanks just don't convey enough intent.
Despite being second last, I was fourth in my age group. Is that good or what?
Gees I didn't like being passed by Bill with 2.5 ks to go. When I realised I probably would not make the cut, I had to break into a shuffle and sprint down the hill to the beach faster than I had run for the whole race. Finishing so late in the day, I missed the whole atmosphere of a relax at the finish. Seeing others come in and being able to have a chat with finishers, crew and the CP people who are there every year has been a joy you get to share with others who understand.
Thanks to John who gives his professional as well as personal time each year to those who need a little medical tlc.
I cursed this race this year as in past years. I swore to myself it would be the last. Six starts though?
Hundred mile races are a great way of managing weight. Despite being rehydrated, I'm still 5 kgs lighter than starting Glasshouse
Congratulations to all. Starters and finishers, first timers and vets, pacers and crew, organisers and helpers. It's cliched, but it was again an adventure.
Onwards to Kosciuszko.
g'day, well it certainly was warm,same as last year i reckon.Just wanna thank matt Cooper and dave Waugh for the great company for the first 55kms , it was a pleasure to run and exchange friendship with you blokes. At 55km dave encouraged me to go for it as him and matt were doing the whole hog;so i just kept a steady pace and tried to stay positive and think of anything other than running(alone in the bush running is a good time for prayer). arrived at cp3 feeling good , it paid being an arborist when you come across a couple of trees on the track-accept it reminded me of work.plenty of fluid at cp3 and its a good feeling youve basically just gotta get over the hill to finish,from the top coming out of the basin its a down hill finish so i started to pick up the pace , the garmin was hovering between 11-13km per hr and i kept that rhythm along the road ; at this point in the race i think pride may have taken over , i seen my wife and father in-law at the yarramalong shop and calculated i would come under the record by 35min so i just thought id power home and sprint to the finish;with about 30m to go and basically just the slight incline to the school left my legs left me and i felt like the chick in the olympics in the 80's doing the marathon;-communication breakdown(sorry led zep) between brain and legs. i could see all my friends and family trying to cheer me to the finish but needed assistance under each arm-thanks Dad and Mr Cooper; i think the emotional release from the day just before the finish didnt help either. i layed down at the finish,someone stopped my garmin at the finish;thanks cause i certainly didnt think about it-11hr47min. After laying down for approx 40min i was asked to walk across the line from 30 m ; i thought this was to prove i could walk,turns out it was to legit my time; at this point i lost it and told alot of folk what i was thinking,sorry if you were one of those,but im sure someone could have got me to walk across the line 15min earlier.anyway.ya get that. I then went home but they took the scenic route via wyong hospital and in a red and white van and the person talking to me wasnt my wife-it was a man!! the ambos put some fluid and oxygen into me and all good; on that note-baggs not being and ambo at wyong hospital on sat night-nothing was pretty.Well another year done , i wanted that to be my last for that race but not sure how my conscience sits with that finish;anyway no excuses,what happens - happens.cheers.well done to all who entered wheather you made it or not , you were brave to even show at the start line with a forecast of 30+ in the bush!!
What a tough but exhilarating weekend. I felt comfortable but nervous as I left the start and headed towards Heaton Gap. Enjoyed chatting with everyone in the early stages and took the advice to take it easy in the hot conditions. After leaving Checkpoint 1 I had problems with my Camelbak leaking. Although this was rather refreshing on my legs, I knew that I would need every drop of water to get me into Checkpoint 2. Frustratingly I couldn't find where the leak was coming from until another runner came along and suggested that I double seal the top. Success ! Caught up with Paul Every and ran with him as I made my way towards the Congewai Valley.
Did my best to cool down at Checkpoint 2 before tackling the big climb up to the Coms Tower. Rewarded myself with the bottle of Gatorade that I had carried up. Had a chat with Tookeen, The Riddler and several others as I made my way towards Watagan Creek. By the time I reached the water stop near Mt Warrawalong I had already consumed about 8 liters of water and therefore very happy to see Dave and 6 water containers. EvereadyBunny and company caught up with me as I made my may towards Checkpoint 3. Really enjoyed the sausages and potato provided at the The Basin CP. On my way to Checkpoint 4 caught up again with Paul Every as we navigated a difficult single track section in the dark. Found it easier than I thought it would be leaving CP4 and Yarramalong especially after finishing my first 100 kilometers here last year. After drinking a coffee and red bull I was on my way again. Struggled a bit to keep awake from the top of Bumble Hill but was lucky to have EvereadyBunny’s company for the next couple of hours. Aren’t those chocolate coated coffee beans wonderful! Arrived at Somersby and hour after sunrise and enjoyed vegemite toast and coffee for breakfast. Struggled on from here walking, ambling and with an occasional jog. There was no relief from the heat during the night. From Checkpoint 6 Mooney Mooney I reached down deep to pull myself out onto the trail again with the words of Bob Dylan song “keep on keeping on” going through my head. Eventually I stumbled across Horrie, Geoff and company . Thanks heaps Horrie for the words of encouragement to keep going, you really helped me get though that last section. Finally heard the bell ringing and arrived at Patonga feeling totally exhausted but elated that I had finished.
Thanks to TrailPuddin(Kirrily) for all the words of encouragement along the way as we trained together. Congrats on finishing and being awarded First for the 100 kilometres even though you had some hard patches along the way. Those distances we did in training indicate how strong a runner you are and fully capable of doing the 100 miles.
Clifford well done on finishing in a very fast time. You are on fire mate.
A huge thank you to Koala, Dianne and my Mum for being such a great support crew for me. Couldn't have done it without you.
Gday All… I know this is a bit of a throw-in post, as im not a regular writer on the forum (computers not being my strong point), but after the amazing adventure I was able to share with so many of the crew from this site on the weekend I really wanted to thank an amazing group of people who made the GNW 100 the Ultra of events I have experienced in my life.
Sad I guess that I need to do it on a forum, but unfortunately I don’t have contact info for many of you… and then again – not sad… because I think this forum holds some of peoples most amazing stories and Ultra life experiences.
To start at the top – a massive thanks to Dave Byrnes and his whole crew from Terrigal Trotters. I know the run is an enormous effort to complete, but can only imagine the enormous effort it takes to set-up. You guys have done an amazing job of making this trail race – without a doubt the Pinnacle of Ultras in Australia as far as my experience goes and to be out there all weekend long dealing with all that the runners and weather has to throw at you is like competing in an Ultra in your own way. Making it into each checkpoint has a strong significance to each runner and to be able to do it with supportive race organizers and volunteers makes a huge impression on leaving one checkpoint and looking forward to the next. And Dave – I know that reaching the finish, whether it be 100k or 100mile… receiving a medal and handshake from yourself truely confirms the effort is well worth it. Thanks mate.
To the core of this run – you guys… a lot of you I have never met before and with each event I enter I am honoured with being able to gradually met you all on a more personal level – you are an amazing group of people. To think that I may be included in such a profile of athletes is overwhelming. I hope that before too long I will be able to put a name and a handshake (maybe even a coldie) to all runners from this forum but for now to make mention of a few I had the pleasue of getting to meet this year – Dave Waugh… thanks to a quick intro to Dave by Bluedog about a min before start of race I was able to spend the next 9 hours learning and watching how a superb Ultra athlete competes in an event, even under extreme conditions and trying times. Dave, thanks for keeping me going along those fire trails where your floating-style canter seemed so hard to keep up with. Running with you was a great highlight for myself and I hope it will happen again soon. Clarke McClymont… The unbeatable 100k man for 2 years running now – well done mate, I knew you could smash it again. You have to be concerned when a bloke who tree-lops for a crust starts picking up tree sized sticks to carry along on the uphill sections of this run. Andrew Vize – although I didn’t get too much time to catch up with Andrew on course (and definitely not at the checkpoints… you were more like a V8 supercar coming in and out of the pits!), he was one of the first blokes to be standing at the finish pole at Patonga to clap me in – which in itself says a lot for a great sportsman. I probably don’t need to say much for your Ultra athleticism mate – its on another level. You definitely looked the winner on the weekend. Beth – another unbelievable athlete, congradulations… you are a great example of the diversity of people this sport attracts and how little significance physical size has in power as opposed to the mental strengths.
To some runners who I owe great thanks to which I have met in past events, including -BlueDog… I reckon everyone on this forum knows more about the passion for Ultra running and special qualities this mad man has then I can truly describe in words… he is a definite example of actions speaking louder then words. To think you started this event with injuries that most athletes would dread to even have by the end of it – is amazing. You are a true icon of Ultra running mate – thanks. Rob Mason… little Rob or Maso - if anyone has seen the way this bloke runs the whole time with the biggest smile on his face, you know he is definitely someone you can draw great inspirations from. I have learnt the most amazing things from this bloke and without giving too many secrets away – Rob taught me the one true thing that got me thru this race and probably this year… ‘ Stay Present ‘. I’ll let you take it for whatever you will – but I know now after completing the GNW100 this is the single most important practice you can have in any part of your life it WILL see you through all. Well done to you Maso. Phil Whitton – my pacer from Ckpt 5… having never travelled the journey from Yarramalong to Patonga before – who could ask for a better tour guide! Although a little hesitant at first, knowing just how quick phil can move along this part of the course, he definitely made it an adventure of a lifetime and owe much of my recovered energy to phil (and no – not because he was piggy backing me from Ckpt 5-6 _).
A massive thanks to some people who, even though will probably never read this – definitely deserve it. My crew… Leeah – my wife and Martin and Renate (also sometimes known as Mum and Dad… didn’t everyone have their mum and dad crew for them…). These guys have definitely done their fair share of Ultra events in life crewing for me. I guess the main purpose of mentioning them on this forum – even though they wont see it, is because I know there probably are a lot of people who do read it who have also fallen into this ‘support crew’ category at one stage or another. It takes a special kind of person to fulfill this role and I know that any of the runners out there who had a support crew with them on the weekend would have been just as appreciative to them as I am. You are gold to us at these events especially.
On that note, I’d also like to pass on a special thanks from my support crew. As being very new to the whole Ultra running experience, they were beyond impressed with the comraderie and support that comes naturally in every single person they met over the weekend. I couldn’t tell you exactly who they had the pleasure of running into, but I know they were so lifted themselves by the end of the weekend by just being involved with such a great bunch of people… I think it’s a true compliment to the great people this sport attracts not only athletically but socially.
Lastly – to the Great North Walk itself… I know at times I had some not so nice a things to say to you on the weekend… in particular… the small section of the course from Ckpt 2 – ‘The Basin’… (nothing more need to be said), but I’m sure as ever runner out there on the weekend experienced – whether finished 100km, 100 mile or had to pull out a check point… You made us push ourselves just that little bit harder, grow that little bit taller and in return experience a path of our life that no one else could ever understand without actually attempting…
Again, I sincerely thank everyone involved in this event, I hope to get to meet more of you with the coming year of racing and I know I’ll definitely get to grow even more next year come GNW100 2011 !
Enjoy the Recovery…
My stats: Wow! 6 consecutive DNFs! ...but on the positive side here are some new PBs for me: 1) 34 hours is now the longest time I've ever raced 2) 162km is now the longest distance that I have ever run in Vibram Five Fingers (Bikila model) 3) I made it to CP6 before cutoff for the first time and pressed on seeing the next section for the first time
Feeling the love: - Thanks so much to everyone for your welcomed support. It runs deep and is always well appreciated. - Special thanks to James for doing a perfect job as support after he was unable to pace.
Favourite memories: - Having a bucket of water poured over my head at CP6...I'm not sure any of it ever hit the ground, instantly evaporating off my boiling body. - Swim at Patonga to clean off the body and the Five Fingers. A few strokes of freestyle, backstroke and butterfly in the cool water was beautiful! - Not wasting time going off trail anywhere. - Cool frog and bird sounds. - Being pampered like a king at each and every checkpoint. Thx to the medical crew and their tape mastery which stunted my foot blistering and prevented my drink bottle in the back pouch of my cycling shirt from rubbing my back until it was beyond red raw. - Spending 10 minutes soaking in Watagan Creek with Brick, Jon (from Phillipines) and (oops, can't think of the 3rd person's name), to the point where we were starting to get goosebumps and almost shiver. What a wonderful (but shortlived) treat that was!
Two Big Challenges: This year, as in most years, heat and hydration were serious factors to stay on top of. However, my additional challenge was that I only got 2.5hrs sleep the night before the race, so the entire race was done on low nerve energy. The limiting factors stopping me from finishing in time were: - low nerve energy reserves from lack of sleep before the race - super high core temperature, which would easily have registered as a fever on numerous parts of the course. My forehead was burning hot, my feet were boiling hot, my breath was hot...and of course everything got hotter just when you needed to cool down (like going those crazily steep hills)
Minor challenges: - Several wet, muddy sections between CP4 and CP5 meant that I had wet, gritty socks, making for some unwanted friction and some blisters across the pads of my feet. At the finish I was walking like a duck (like most others) favouring walking on my heels, to keep off the blisters. Wet Injinji socks alone don't give me blisters, but couple with grit, the excessive friction quickly causes them. - My feet felt overstimulated after feeling the ground for 162km, but nothing to complain about. - I had about 70 leeches throughout the race, never more than 8-10 at a time. I got them off pretty regularly and thankfully none of them bled for several hours like last year.
Everything else was perfect: - Not even a hint of any cramps during the entire race, no nausea, no joint pains, no tight muscles - My hydration was pretty good throughout considering how hot it was - My legs felt perfect. Quads, calves, achilles, hamstring and shins all still felt quite fresh at the finish. A self massage to each of those muscles showed zero soreness. - I could still easily do full squats at the finish line. - Thanks to constant reinforcement by Brick over several years, I had finally managed to run a well-paced race!
Food: - Interestingly my caloric intake wasn't very high. I barely ate 50% of the food I brought. I packed for 250 calories/hr. - I did not supplement with any form of salt. I got electrolytes/minerals from my body's reserves and from my food which was banana, date, mango, watermelon, celery. I had some celery juice the night before the race and again at 100km into the race. Other than those foods I only consumed pure water. - The celery at each checkpoint always tasted divine, as did the cool, juicy watermelon and mango. - The dates and semi dried bananas eaten between checkpoints never tasted as good as the watermelon or mango.
Next year (notes to self...): - I'll need a support crew - I'll run in Vibram Bikila's again - I'll have fresh bags of cold, juicy fruit to carry from each checkpoint to replace the dates and dried banana - Carry 2 spare pairs of socks from CP4 to change within 1km after stepping in any gritty/muddy wet sections. - Consider wearing one of those cooling headbands that catches your sweat and evaporates slowly to cool you. - Wear a lightweight running cap from the start to abandon at CP3 - Pickup new lightweight running cap at CP5 - Take a minute to cool down at any opportunity between checkpoints when I'm feeling hot e.g. crossing streams - Arriving at checkpoints CP2, CP3, CP5 & CP6 where I will likely be HOT:
•support crew to have a cold pack to apply to the back of my neck, face, groin, legs, arms to cool me down as much as possible in a short time. •eat as much COLD juicy fruit like mango or watermelon as I can in the short time at the checkpoint •get COLD or ICED water put into my water bottles - At every checkpoint, change socks. - Eat at checkpoints and only carry 150 calories per hour between checkpoints. - Get super lightweight reflective vest - Get brighter headlamp so I can see better - Tape across lower back to prevent rub from water bottles in shirt pocket - Investigate ways to completely prevent chaffing (Skins always cause chaffing near the groin. Perhaps new running shorts? Bodyglide?)
Sleep/Nerve energy: I got 30 hours of pretty solid sleep in the 34 hours after getting home. I guess that makes sense assuming 8hrs for a normal night's sleep: - 5.5 hours sleep lost due to 2.5 hr sleep before race - 4.5 hours extra sleep required due to extra nerve energy used racing all day Saturday from 6am - 8 hours sleep lost due to running all through the night on Saturday - 4 hours extra sleep required due to extra nerve energy used racing until 4pm on Sunday - 8 hours sleep for Sunday night after the race = 30 hours! I guess that explains why I feel caught up now Having never been past CP6, I remember trying to read the directions after crossing the suspension bridge. It required thinking, which I didn't have any spare nerve energy for, so I kept falling asleep. Like after people overeat on heavy, fatty foods at Xmas. I don't know how much time passed but I think it must have been 20-30 minutes. Thanks to Bill for caring enough to ask if I was ok while fast asleep on the edge of Forest Road at the top of Bumble Hill.
Apologies to Dave, James and anyone else that was worried or spent any time looking for me after I hadn't turned up at the unmanned water stop near Staples Lookout. Next year I plan to be there well under the cutoff.
Anyway, I'm fully recovered and looking for my next long run. So PM me with offers of interest
What an adventure that was! My first GNW 100 (103.7) and definitely not my last. My report is reasonably short and sweet. I met too many fantastic people along the way, on the trail and at checkpoints, to mention them all individually. I think the heat also caused people's names to jump straight from my short term memory to oblivion. I will give honourable mentions to Paul Every and Diane (both of whom I will be meeting again on 10 Dec!), to Brad Smithers and his life saving wife/support crew Deb, and to Joe Ward, first timer to a 100 km event, who kept me company and relatively sane for the last 40 kms. Joe's blood donation to the GNW leeches probably exceeded Red Cross guidelines but no doubt he will survive.
Here goes: 20 hours and 7 minutes of stifling heat, murderous hills, marauding leeches, thorny vines, chafing, cuts & bruises counter balanced by intense emotions & wonderful camaraderie. No, this wasn't an army training session, it was the Great North Walk 100s, an event that all entrants participated in willingly. I am not sure who it was that said the Northface 100 is one of Australia's toughest trail runs but they were lying. The GNW 100s raise the pain barrier to a whole different level of suffering!
Around 100 of us started off at Teralba at 6 am, as dawn was breaking and the temp was already in the 20's. Up, down, around and through countless hills, fire trails, precipitous descents, wading across creeks, plus running along unshaded roads where the temps hit the high 30's. The volunteers and our support crews at the various checkpoints deserve to be sainted; they were literally life savers for many of us. 14 of the original 37 100 km'rs finished many hours later at Yarramalong, with 33 of the original 67 100 milers making it all the way to Patonga.
It was a privilege to be running with some of Australia's elite ultra marathoners as well as first timers to ultra. The encouragement of the elites and the enthusiasm of the first timers was incredibly inspiring. The mountains we all climbed together were metaphorical as well as physical. Despite the pain and discomfort many people return time and time again to give the beast another slaying. I hope I will be one of them too!
I’m a newbie to ultra running and to this forum and it has been great reading all of the race reports. For me, my race started after my first encounter with ultras - the GNW at last years 100km sprint event.
Meeting all of you amazing people along the trail totally inspired me to step up from the short course and have a real go.
My training started immediately after last years race and hit a snag in January where I caught the ITB virus which sidelined me for 6 months. Any run in excess of 6 mins found me in agony, walking home to another rolling pin and ice pack. My goals for the year fell one by one as 6 foot track, Alpine Skyrun and North Face 100 all got wiped off my list. Each time I crossed one off, I became more and more determined to get over the injury and do something I never thought possible for me – run 100 miles.
The 12 foot track day in August with Gogirl, Buzz Lightyear, DJBleakman and Bear was my comeback day, yet another injury to my right quad coming home down pluvi left me again in doubt of my goal. Thanks Gogirl for the panadol.
Finishing Glasshouse 100 miler in September was a dream comeback for me. I had reached a major goal yet something still burned inside me – the GNW 100 miler.
It is because of people like you that this race is so special. The runners, who are so giving of your time, information, and encouragement. I have never participated in a sport with such a great bunch of people. The volunteers who are, and I know this has been said but I have to second it, absolute Angels. Coming in to each CP, even at 2am, and finding you all there wanting to help is so tremendously uplifting. Thank you to each one of you wonderful people. Dave Byrnes who always seems to be on the course somewhere and works tirelessly to make this happen. The support crews who navigate some tough roads and then wait for hours for a brief glimpse of their runner who hardly acknowledges them, has a whinge about the heat, asks for some Vaseline and is gone again. Those who had their day cut short. You are incredible for even being in this event. Hold your head high and decide that you will be back. There is never just one race, there is always another just around the bend. The families who absorb the training and lifestyle that we all adopt to even contemplate entering such an event. This forum. Without it, I would probably never have heard of ultra running, nor learnt from all of you what I needed to survive on that course. I certainly would never have achieved what I have
Matty Cooper, the most amazing athlete and person I know. If you knew what Matt went through this year, you would think his achievement over the weekend even more unbelievable. Running with Matt has been one of the highlights of my year. Spud for his openness to share his time and information that he has taken years to learn. My support crew – and I know I speak for all the support crews out there when I say this. IrishAussie hit it on the head. You save our lives out there. We could not do this without you and we love you. My mum and dad and my wife, for doing all the hard yards. They are always there, always happy, always wanting to help and make my day better. What else can I ask for? Also my cheer squad Lina and Dean, I thank you guys for coming up for the weekend when I am sure you had at least 87 better things to do.
Martin Price! Our first meeting between CP4 and 5 where you found me backtracking, swearing and in a right state thinking I had taken a wrong turn. After running alone since CP1, seeing you coming the other way and reassuring me I was going in the right direction left me feeling like a kid at Christmas again. Thank you and thanks for letting me hug you even though you looked at me like I was a little weird. Strong finish too, Martin. Congratulations.
There is one person I want to say a special thanks to. My first encounter with Blue Dog was when I overheard him speaking to one of you in the Sydney Marathon last year. I was struggling along feeling sorry for myself and Blue Dog runs past with a nice forefoot stride (which I had never seen before) comfortably chatting away with a friend. He was asked what time he was going for. “I’ll just see how I go, it’s really just a recovery run for me after the 100 miler last weekend” was his response. (Incidentally, Blue Dog ran a casual 3:14 marathon!) Today I understand this statement, but at the time it was as though everything I have ever believed to be true was wrong. 100 miles surely he was joking?
Wayne has given me so much in the past 12 months. His generosity and support have been the main reasons for me finishing as Glasshouse and over the weekend. To give the man himself a sweaty, smelly hug at Patonga on Sunday was the perfect way for me to finish. Thanks mate for everything, as the others have said, it must have been like crawling through hell for you to call it a day on Saturday. Your mindset is one that most would kill for and you will be back. I am another who will drag you down to Coast 2 Kosci at any cost this year, it just won’t be worth doing without you.
An amazing weekend, a fantastic event and most importantly, the most extraordinary people I have met. Thanks to each and every one of you.
Here are my thoughts on the race this year after I've had a few days to cool off.
After my first ever DNF last year I was determined that it didn't happen again, so I increased my training 7 months ago from 70–80kms/week to 120–135kms/week to see what sort of difference that would make. I also had to make sure I don't have too much trouble from blisters as I did last time and of course make sure I keep an eye on the directions!
As others have said, it was warm even before we started and very humid leaving Teralba so I made the decision to go slow in the heat of the day and hopefully move quickly when it gets cooler. The first section went quite well, I only spent a few minutes at CP1 and headed off for Congewai as the temperature was rising, although it wasn't too bad with the occasional breeze and shade. Finally arrived at Congewai Road after a slight detour with Sailaway and decided it might be best to walk this bit, but couldn't resist running some nice downhill sections and arrived at CP2 feeling OK.
Left CP2 on my own and climbed up the hill to the communications tower and headed down the road slowly, recovering from the hill. On the descent to Watagan Creek I was joined by Jerri from Singapore and Tall Geoff. Wading through the creek felt good on the feet and then we began the third big ascent of the day arriving at the unmanned water stop to be greeted by Dave the race director. We then were on our way to CP3 and were confident of arriving before dark (something I hadn't done before). We got in just on dark, having lost a bit of time trying to get around the fallen trees on the slope, scrambling amongst the vines.
After about half an hour there we headed off on the next section. It seemed to take a while to the track. We were then overtaken by Gordy, and as far as I can remember, he was the last person to overtake me before the finish line. Once on the road we decided to run as well as we could along there with some easy walking sessions as well and arrived at Yarramalong at around midnight.
Tall Geoff, Jerri and I agreed to stick together through the night, and we enjoyed each other's company which made for quite a pleasant journey towards Somersby. As dawn arrived I seemed to suddenly get a burst of energy and went quite quickly across the hilly bits before Somersby and arrived there at about 6:30am. After a pleasant (and long) breakfast, and a de-leaching I headed for the next checkpoint feeling invigorated and wanted to go as quickly as I could before it got too hot and was this my fastest section, arriving in a bit over 2 hours.
I had been looking forward to the last section as it was the only part of the course I felt familiar with as I had done some training along there about a month earlier. It was getting hotter but I felt OK and was determined to keep going as quickly as I could as I wanted to get to the end before 3:00. It was great to find places along the road where there were water holes to fill my hat with and cool me down in the heat of the day. I was relieved to finally get onto the Warrah Trig gravel road and once I got to the Warrah Trig I ran up and down the steps and bolted up the hill and made the descent to Patonga as quickly as I could and ran along the sand to the finish. It was very satisfying to have run the last 2 sections better than I had the previous 5.
The highlight of the day was obviously the finish post as well as the very encouraging comments made by people at the finish line. Thanks to Blue Dog, Innes, Nick, Louis and Ourimbah and others – your kind words mean a lot to me and it is a reminder that it's really the people that make this race the event that it is.
I must express my gratitude to the wonderful volunteers at each checkpoint who made such a difference. Thanks also to all the other runners, you are all a great inspiration to me. Seris, I didn't know of your fate until I read your report – you are one strong person, one DNF in over 90 starts speaks for itself. RawAussieAthlete – your attitude is inspirational and I can't wait to see you at Patonga soon!
Ultra noob !!
The GNW 100s, wow, what a learning curve ! ... I'm new to Ultras having only ever run the 6 foot track in 2009 so this was a real reality check for me ... like all over enthusiastic noobs, I turned up to the start line feeling confident ... 100 miles and over a day and a half to get to the finish line, easy ! ... I could win this !! ha ha ... but how wrong could I have been ?!!
lets start with the heat ... it was hot. No wait, it wasn't hot, it was ridiculously hot ... and that was in the shade. The road to checkpoint 2 really got me ... it was the hottest part of the day around 12 to 2pm and it must've hot 30+ degrees out there ... Pete had warned me that the road was going to be hot but I wasn't prepared for the punishment after we rolled down from the fields ... the sun took everything from me and spat me out into Checkpoint 2 feeling dehydrated and wondering just how I was going to get to Checkpoint 3.
secondly, the hills ! ... having never run on the course before (noob!!) I guess I made assumptions about the sort of trial we would be running through. BIG mistake. Ofcourse I knew it would be a far cry from the Sydney marathon but apart from a few creeks and a couple of twists and turns, how hard could it be ? ... well amazingly hard is the answer ... there were several major climbs but a couple of times we would have to trudge up the hills for what felt like hours ! ... the first few hills were a novelty, I tried to soak up the view and distract myself from my burning thighs but the climb to the communications tower after Checkpoint 2 was something else ... it seemed to go on forever ... I didn't want to look up because it was too demoralising so I spent alot of time checking out the big ants at my feet ... a couple of times I felt like I was climbing "The Secret Stair" from The Lord of the Rings ... the only difference being, Frodo, Sam and Gollum took a break ! ... oh and Mordor looks much colder than central NSW.
the pain ! ... ok how much pain can you take and still run ? ... times that pain by 10 ... now amplify that by 5 ... now double that, rub salt in your eyes, add nipple rub, inner thigh rub, under arm rub, leeches on your feet, cuts on your arms from clambering up and down hills and falling into creeks, cuts on the palms of your hands from holding onto trees with spikes on, add dehydration, bit of dizzyness, sunburn, blisters, midgy bites, put a backback on, turn the lights off, now run !
ok enough moaning ... the enduring memory I have after completing 103.7kms (yep I didn't make it to the 100 miles) is one of incredible camaraderie ... I met some amazing people during the race that have inspired me to move from Ultra Noob to Ultra Runner ... you guys are truly amazing and I felt very honoured to run with you all ... I was so out of my depth but you all made me feel welcome and educated me along the way
Thanks to Pete and the gang for leaving the extra food ahead of me at the checkpoints ... I will be much better prepared next year and happy to share some of my food ... Pete, your knowledge of the plants and forna fascinated me and kept me going for many miles ... it was great to see wild orchids for the first time and I really enjoyed sharing a drink from the waterfalls ... although I will still be happier running in front of you rather than behind you ... go easy on the fruit Pete ! ;-)
Matt, you saved us from going off course several times ... I was so glad to see you catch up with us after Checkpoint 3 ... and great to shake your hand at Checkpoint 4 having completed 103.7kms. Absolute respect.
And finally my irish friend Kieron. You kept me going and stayed with me through some really tough patches. Some people can be relied on to not only during the good times but during the tough times too. They are the people with grit, determination and real character that will be there when you really need them. I couldn't have completed 103.7kms without you mate, thanks. I still can't believe we made it ! :-)
Thanks to all the guys at Checkpoint 4 for de-leeching me ... I have some great photos of the leeches for future Christmas/Easter cards ha ha
Thanks to all the support crews at each of the checkpoints but a special thanks to my amazing supporter Lise for giving up her whole weekend to support me and putting up with me calling her "babe" all day ... she hates being called "babe" ...
Absolutely amazing day and awesome people ... see you all next year :-)
Here is my report, apologies for the length…
I didn’t find I was going to do the race until about 2 weeks before the event. That affected my training a little (or the lack of – only 65-70km pw in the 3 months before and none of it on the trail), but not that much as I wouldn’t have done much more anyway. But psychologically I was totally unprepared. There was uncertainty and only some hope that I may make it to the finish. Hope – as it wasn’t up to me, but somebody else. There is a big difference between hoping you can do something and being confident and certain you’ll do it. I wasn’t confident… Chasing time, splits etc was completely out of question. Survival was the only goal.
My friend Thomas and his lovely wife Susanne gave me a lift Friday night and we had diner at Warner’s at the Bay and caught up with few runners and listened to Blue Dog’s speech (definitely worth it). Met my roommate Roger, organized our drop bags and off to bed at 10:30pm. For a first time I managed to sleep before an important race and that was a pleasant surprise.
It was hot in the morning… Caught up with few friendly runners at the start and then we were off at 6am. Started with a very conservative pace. Took the hills extra slowly, drank a lot and walked almost the entire rainforest section of the first leg. Also stopped to cool my head down at every little stream and that helped a lot. Arrived at CP1 at 10:30am which was a fair bit slower than what I’ve done in the previous 2 years. But I didn’t care – to finish this race, it’s about keep going, not about going fast.
I was so much pampered at CP1, I felt embarrassed. The volunteers there (sorry I don’t know your names) filled in my bladder and bottle with water and ice, offered watermelon, potatoes and sausage sandwiches which I gladly took. Thank you guys, it was such a boost to have you there!
I found the next section not too hard, maybe because again, I took it extremely easy and conservative. Ran most of it with my roommate Roger (well done on finishing mate – at these conditions, with no training, almost no experience and with the blisters you had, you’ve done very well!). Passed my friend Tom who was having a bad day in the heat. Also chatted with Grant who told me all about eating raw fruit and veggies and sleeping properly – interesting and fascinating! When I hit the road I discovered I ran out of water. The next check point was a long way, so I was a bit concerned, but I knew I drank a lot before that, so I could be OK. Most of the people were walking the road, but I decided I’ll jog it so I can get to the checkpoint sooner and re-hydrate. It took me about 40 min to get to the school – I was there a bit before 2pm.
Not sure what exactly I did at CP2 apart from drinking a liter of water and refilling, but spent almost 30 min there.
The next section was probably the best section of the race for me. Again, took it very easy. Didn’t feel that much the hill to the communication tower, ate something at the top, chatted with Joe from England (well done on getting to the 100km mark! With a longest run being 6FT, that’s quite impressive and better than many other more experienced runners did on the day!). We caught up Blue Dog who looked in a lot of pain (gutsy stuff to even line up in the state you were Wane, let alone to get that far!). Later got caught up by ERB and decided to jog with her for a while.
For me, getting down in the valley and crossing the Watagan creek is the hottest part of the course and one of the critical points. Previous years I got dizzy, lightheaded, very hot and tired here. This time I felt much better, made sure I cooled down in the creek and took it extra easy on the hill ahead. Refilled at the water drop and jogged to CP3 with ERB. It was such a delight to have your company ERB – the trip was so much easier and pleasant chatting along and knowing that there are 4 eyes looking for the route! We got at CP3 just before dark.
Only took 15 min at CP3 refilling and stocking up with food. Decided not to eat until I get to the top of the hill and instead drank some coke.
Jogged the rainforest, then walked to the top of the hill, then jog again to the single trail with ERB. Caught up with Paul Every, who looked very tired and almost non-responsive (later we swapped roles when he passed me lying on the side of the road having a rest/snooze). By this point ERB took off and the next time I saw her was at Patonga.
Had a nasty fall on one of the steep bits of the single trail and had my leg stuck between a tree and the slope of the trail. Took me a while to take it out, face down, legs stuck and about to cramp… Not sure whether it was the shock from the fall, or I just got tired, but I couldn’t get any running going from this point onwards. Tried to jog some of the road, but it just wasn’t happening. I got more and more tired, the food didn’t seem to make any difference and I was getting slower and slower. This was my third year doing this race and I never managed to run any part of the road – very frustrating! Decided to have a 15 min rest/sleep on the side of the road in a hope I’ll come good and manage to run. Got waken up by Luis (extra 15 kms lost and still under 32h – you are going from strength to strength!) and Paul and 5 min later was back on the road. But the running wasn’t there and I didn’t feel any fresher after the rest…
It took me almost 5h to get to CP4 – was there just before 1am. Ate some soup and bread and off for the next leg, this time on my own. Walking on the single trail and up the hill to the road was slow, but not that bad. But once on the road, I felt very tired and nauseas. Tried to have some food, but then everything I ate in the last 2h went on the ground… Don’t remember clearly what I did in the next 3-4h – tried to sleep on the side of the trail few times – no good; few more unsuccessful attempts to eat and drink. With no energy and fluids in my body even a slow walk was extremely difficult and any progress was painfully slow. I got to the water drop, then to the Ourimbah creek, but that must have taken me over 2 hours for 4-5km of downhill. At some stage I was cursing myself from getting away from the road as I thought I’ll never make the next check point unassisted. And then when I tried all the tricks I knew to revive myself and nothing worked, the dawn came. It was like magic – my body suddenly woke up and started functioning again. I managed to have a drink, a bit later a gel and also got moving. The same thing happened to me last year, but I though then I got my energy from the 30min sleep I had on the side of the trail. Now I think it was from the beginning of the new day – it doesn’t make sense, but somehow magically works… Walking at a moderate speed was now doable and I kept telling myself that as long as I can walk, there is no reason to pull out. Somewhere at the bottom of the second hill before Somersby I met Exe who was coming back from pacing duties. He told me I didn’t look 100% - thanks for the honesty, I’m glad you didn’t see me 2 hours earlier. The hills didn’t feel too bad, even though moving fast on the flats and downhills was still an effort. I managed to jog the last 500m before CP5 – first jog since 9pm.
Got to the school just before 8am and was met by the wonderful volunteers and the lovely Jane Thompson who cooked me bacon and eggs – first real food since… a long time. Thanks Jane, you are an angel! I decided I’ll continue for another leg and then reassess at CP6. Later to the checkpoint came Spud, Whippet and Seris and we all took off together at about 8:15am.
The next section was bad. I started quite aggressively with jogging some of the flats and downs, but within 1 hour slowly degraded and was totally spent at the crossing of the creek. Jogging now was out of question, time was slipping away, the legs and feet were shot, stomach was in a ball with nothing in it, it was very hot. I knew that in the state I was in I couldn’t make the last section in the required 6 hours (my time last year), probably not in 7, most likely not at all. I had no motivation, lost any interest in the race, just wanted to get to CP6 and call it a day. I was in a total mental and physical meltdown… However, the support I got from Whippet, Seris and Spud was such a boost, I changed my mind (yet again) and decided I’ll give it a go and continue beyond CP6 – thank you guys!
The last section was hot, steep, technical, long and painful. At some stage after the water drop Bill Thompson caught us up. Spud was about 5 min in front, I was with Whippet and Seris. I heard the two of them talking and there was a big concern in their voices. Yes, when Bill catches you, you are in trouble. Bill passed us and I heard Whipped barking from behind “Stick with him! Stick with him!”. Who was I to disobey!? That was the last time I heard from Whippet and Seris until the finish. Bill caught up also with Spud in a while, who was more surprised than worried. We pressed on, continuously looking back for Whippet and Seris. A bit later we saw Dave Byrnes in a 4WD coming toward us and we knew something was wrong. Later we found that Seris passed out with 6km to go and Whippet had to call Dave for assistance. But there was no much we could do…
It was nice to hit the sand and jog to the finish. The reception was terrific (I managed to notice it this year, not like last year when I was totally gone at this stage) – it was so uplifting to see all these people cheering you after 175km – thank you!
Thanks again to Spud, Whippet and Seris for the company and support in the last 2 sections – without you guys I wouldn’t have made it. Seris, I’m sorry it didn’t work that well for you on the day! You gave it everything (and more) to get to the finish! Recover well! Thanks also to Geoff and Josie for the lift back to Sydney and Tom and Susanne for the lift from Sydney to the start on Friday; Jane Thompson and Sarah (Luis’ wife), for taking care for me at the finish; also my roommate Roger for the company; and all the people I met before, during and after the race.
And of course - to Dave and his team – you guys are legends! Thank you for all your hard work, support and encouragement! This is definitely my favorite running event in Australia!
Now I have had time to think about what happened last weekend, here is my race report;
Going in to the 2010 GNW 100M I had no idea how my body and mind would cope with my first 100 miler. My strategy was to to go out and run the 100km as I normally do and then take it from there with the intention of making it to Patonga. At the start I was a little nervious but seeing and talking to familiar faces helped settle the nerves and before too long we were lining up on the road for the start. I quickly settled into a comfortable pace with Sir Runalot beside me with the intention of getting the bitumen section over as quickly as possible. In my excitement I found that I was running a lot of the hills that I would normally be inclined to walk during training, however they seemed less steep or long or something in the morning with everyone else around me so I put my head down and did what felt natural. I arrived at CP1 with Sir Runalot right by my side, I think we were 5th and 6th overall. We were met by out support crew and were in and out fairly quickly. The day was really starting to warm up and the humidity was bringing out a rarely seen sweat in me. Sir Runalot caught up to me after walkin out of CP1 eating his weet-bix on the go and hung with me for a while before he dropped back near the decent to the valley road to CP2. Having done Congewai Rd a few weeks earlier I was really worried how I would go during the race. During the training run the road seemed to be my kryptonite and sapped all my strength and energy. I was really pleased when it was finally over and I pulled into CP2. The extra gear, although small, coupled with 2L of fluid really messed with my mind and fealt as though I was carrying two bricks in my pack. I suppose it was good in a way as it encouraged me to drink in order to lighten the pack. The climb up from Watagan Ck was tough, and never seems to end but at the top I saw Dave B. The look he gave me up top was one of satisfaction as he seemed to take pleasure in knowing I was doing it tough on his course. After seeing it I was determined to conqure this event by finishing at Patonga. After dropping Sir Runalot I spent the remainder of the 2nd leg and most of the 3rd running by myself, until I caught up with Bear just before the unmanned water stop. On the approach to The Basin I encountered the fallen tree. I didn’t know what to do. I was pretty confident that I was on the right trail but it certaintly made me ask the question. As no one was around I decided to have a little fun and climed right over it instead of around like I think most people did. I was supprised to enter The Basin and find Dave W and Matt C still in. I sat down with my crew as they pulled out the rubbish from my pack and reloaded me with more supplies. As I was sitting down having the leeches cut from my shoes and legs, Dave W come over and asked if I wanted to run with him and Matt C as they were looking for some more motivation on the next leg. So together the two of us ran out in a two way tie for first in the 100M event with Matt C in our shadows. On the out and back we passed a few runners and were able to gauge where we sat in the field. It was really good to run with Dave W for a bit as he really pushed me and kept me honest for most of this leg. After getting onto the road at Cedar Creek I started to loose Dave W and I think I gave everyone a huge shock to come into Yarramalong 2nd overall leading the 100M event outright. I quickly got refueled and ran out again with my headlight on, as daylight finally dissapeared, by my self and started to wonder if I really should have organised a pacer for the next two legs. I did the out and back only seeing Matt C along the way and I quietly snuck up the hill out of Yarramalong Valley. As I got to the top of the hill my headlight light started to play silly buggers so I stopped to fix it. While doing this Beaver and his pacer Russell caught up. Although I need help to fix my deadlamp I didn’t want to ask for help from them just incase they permantley fixed the problem for me, ha ha. I got so frustrated in the end I just grabbed by backup light and off I went after them. At the unmanned water stop, we met up again and this time was joined by Keith and his supprise pacer Johno who had DNF’d earlier in the day. This really shocked Beaver as I’m pretty sure he knew he had me covered but to have 2 members of Quality Meats so close surely gave him the HTFU. I don’t think he knew that Johno had already pulled out. I ran along with Beaver for a while and he even let me borrow his pacer for a few Km’s which was nice of him, but it didn’t last very long. All four guys got in front of me before I reached Dog Trap Rd, and when I finally reached the road I could see two drunks/bums up ahead between two of the garbage bins. When I ran past I realised it was fellow ultra runners Keith and Johno again, and after I shared some encouraging words with them it was apparent that their day was coming to an end. I ran into Somersby PS 2nd and was quickly processed by my crew and back out, 17min behind Beaver. The next leg was pretty uneventful and I was soon into the last CP. My crew informed me that Beaver was still 17min ahead and I was glad to know that I hadn’t lost a minute to him even though I had done the last leg on my own. At this CP I picked up my pacer for the last leg, Ted W, and off we went. This last leg was just how I thought it would be, tough. It was also the reason I had been ignoring it having done it back in April and once again in October with Mick. I think that this was probably also my downfall as we made a wrong turn, and although we quickly realised the error it was irritating none the less. Coming down onto the beach at Patonga was a huge relief and a massive sence of achievement. I was glad that I had conqured the GNW100M (shortened course) in under the 26hrs that people said I could. After finishing I was told that Beaver was getting SMS up dates on how far I was behind him at CP’s and that after Old Mooney Bridge he could see my AY-UP chasing him. All that I can say is that I was happy to push him to the end and that he definately deserved the win. Was it a tough course? Yes, and the heat and humidity didn’t help. Will I be back next year? Of course I will.
Thank yous; Dave and all trotters/volunteers for putting on the race and supporting all the runners so well. And especially to PommieJo and TheRidler which I stayed with on Friday and Sunday nights. And Jo crewed for TheRidler and also seemed to crew for me as well. A very big thank you as it was really appreciated.
Short Version: Distance 175kms Time 35:19:00 Position Overall 24 from 65 starters and only 33 finished the 100 miler. 37 Started the 100km and only 14 finished. Weather; very hot and humid (which took its toll on the field.)
Long Version: The Ridler family and Kelvin decided to get up at 3:00am (yes 3:00am!) to get ready and I tried to have a lay in for a bit longer but couldn’t so I got up too at about 3:10. I organised my stuff, had breakfast and waited for the others to finish doing stuff. We left Casa del Ridler at about 3:45 and drove to the start. All good except when Jo started telling us about getting lost last year going to the start, so I got a little worried. No need though as we arrived fine. It was still only 4:50 but we could see a queue at registration. (What the?! Can people not sleep?) Registered and said hello to the usual people and some that I did not know which is always nice. It was starting to get hot already and it was not even 6:00am. (I was worried seeings how I love the heat and humidity NOT! ) The race started at 6:00am on the dot and I was sweating even before we reached the over bridge (a very short distance.) Anyway, “just take it easy along the road,” I said to myself and we made it to the entry to the bush as soon as you enter the bush it feels so nice just to be off the road. I am loving it and feeling good even with the heat just taking my time. There are a few people close to me that I know and we chat for a while and then suddenly I am alone. Nobody ahead or behind that I can see and this worried me for a while as I start thinking I must of gone the wrong way or missed a turn or something. I am sure I have not missed anything so continue on and eventually we get to a wider straight clearing and I see a runner ahead which makes me feel better. Just after this three guys run past me as if racing a Half Marathon. I think, “I will see you guys later!” Why go so fast so early? I arrived at CP1 looked around for Jo with no sign of her, (she had the esky with ice) I ate some watermelon and started topping up my hand-‐helds. Then Jo shows up and in a flash, fills my camelpack with ice and water and so off I go quite. This next section starts along a road not much to say about it really. Paul Every and Enduro went past me and then Grant. Grant mentions to me about him pacing better this year. (He has started every year and still not finished getting closer. 2011 is your year mate, stay with me the whole way.) We then went into the leech infested bush again and I saw loads of the little blighters on my shoes and watch with satisfaction as they keep falling off. (I put DeepHeat on my socks and they hate it.) Then I started getting this warm feeling in my left inner thigh (sounds saucy, I know, but it wasn't.) My shorts had blown a seam and I had a very red spot forming. And so with the chafing hurting like hell but nothing I could do about it, I start feeling a bit crap. I slowed down and suddenly; I vomit. I think “what the f**k?” I'd only had about 30 seconds warning from feeling crap to vomiting and normally I have a lot longer. Not good. I walked for a while and Allison passed me, running very well, and then a few others passed me. I started feeling a bit better so I ran/walk for a while until a blister formed on my left foot. This race was going to crap very quickly. It was not that far to the road and then 7km to CP2. Strider Dave catches me and we chat. I had to speed up a bit to stay with him. He tells me he has some bodyglide which I used and that made my chafing so much better. (Thanks Dave.) We got to the road and the first step onto the road Dave had a big vomit. I waited for him and we walked for a while and talked. No need to push it when you're feeling crap and in direct sun light on the hottest part of the course, y'see. Dave vomited again as Felicity from Victoria joins us. Then Hermie caught us up and they both ran off ahead. I stayed with Dave as he didn't look good. Dave told me that he has some shorts I can borrow at CP2 and his Dad can give them to me. He also told me to go off with the other two. I checked that he was 100% sure and he insists, so I sped up and caught the others. We ran/walked and talked along the road until we got into CP2. No sign of Jo with the ice and esky so I start doing my stuff and again she suddenly pops up out nowhere and fills my camelpack with ice/water. She is a star and I told her so. I then had two cans of orange drink which was so good and changed my shorts and off I went feeling cooler for putting my head under the tap for a while which felt beautiful. Back on the hot road, I turned right towards that big hill. Grant passed me again but I just took my time going up the hill. Two other guys passed me and sped off into the distance but I continued on at my own pace not too worried about what others were doing. Next I saw the two guys again, one was looking down at the ground, obviously not feeling well. I asked if he was OK and he told me he was looking at the ants. I told them about my GNW 2009 where I had a 30 minute sleep following the ascent of that very hill and still finishing OK. They looked at me as though I was mad. I get that a lot. At the top of the hill Grant was having a drink and I joined him. Susanna showed up and ran off and I followed feeling a bit better after my short rest. At this point a nice cooling breeze had started to blow and Susanna and I ran together for a while. However, as soon as the breeze dies down, it warmed up again and I decided to let her go on ahead. I slowed down and didn't see another runner for the rest of the road. I turned off onto the single track feeling OK albeit hot but when I started going down the hill, that familiar crappy feeling returned and I had to slow down and eventually had to sit down in a effort to get cooler. Carl and Clair pass me and checked that I was OK. Grant passed me again too. Next, moving very fast, Rachel Waugh passed me. This race was going no place fast except backwards. But then again with the cool of the night ahead of me, there is some hope of being able to run again. (Little did I know that it would never cool down or get less humid even overnight.) I continued on slowly and reached the river crossing where Grant was cooling off by sitting in the river. I put my pack on the other side and immersed myself in the cool water. We must of spent at least 10-‐15 minutes sitting there and it was hard to leave but eventually I started to feel cold, a novelty for sure, but uncomfortable enough to get me moving again. So off we went, myself, Grant and Bull (sorry can’t remember his real name) and we started ascending the next bloody big hill. Bull was gone quickly and as I am slower than Grant , he also moved out of sight up the hill. Suddenly and with no warning at all, I vomited and I had to sit down. I had no energy at all and was so light headed, I had a little sleep. A short while later Seris, Felicity and Hermie turned up and check that I was OK. I woke up, said “for sure” and follow them the rest of the way up the hill. We arrive at the unmanned water stop that was, in reality, manned by Dave. Blue Dog was in sitting in the car. He had pulled out. I replenished my water and commiserated with Wayne and continued on. More blisters had developed and they slowed me down a lot but there was not much I could do until CP3 so I tried not to think about them. This kind of works until you are sharply reminded when you step on a sharp stone or twig that gets you on the blister. I continued on to the basin. The only hard part about this section, other than the heat and humidity, was the trees. There were lots of fallen trees to get around in the dark, seriously hard especially the big tree covering the whole track. I got around OK but it took a while. In the meantime though, it was nice to see the other runners going out of the basin, running well and looking good. In a perverse way, it makes you feel better about yourself. As soon as I got into CP3 I asked for a needle to deal with the blisters and I get a better option of a doctor to deal with them instead. (He was a sharp fellow indeed.) I sat down close to TheRidler who felt a bit sick. I hadn't seen him since the start of the race. A few CRs fussed over me organizing my handhelds and pack. The doctor popped the blisters and taped them up and the relief was something to sing about. I asked Seris if she was ready and we headed off just after Bill got in to the CP. As Jane, Hermie and I leave CP3 Spud and Whippet Man also leave and we walk along and let the people coming the other way know how far they have to go to reach the CP, which, I hope, helps. We got to the steps and away we went. Seris told me she'd be slow and to go on ahead up the hill and so I went and to my surprise nobody stayed with me. Not sure when but myself and Hermie ended up together again and continued on happily all the way to CP4 which was the end of the 100km (actually 103kms – but who's counting?). Still far from the end of the race for both of us though and with another 72kms of more fun to be had, on we went. Moved through CP4 quickly and we were moving OK if not a bit slow. My feet were hurting again and every time a sharp stone hit a blister I had serious pain. (And we do this for fun?) The course had a bit of a detour at this point. We used our instructions carefully without any problems it seemed to take a long time. But what can you do? We simply continued on, one foot in front of the other until suddenly I heard lots of birds and noticed it was starting to get light. A new day was dawning. If I was on a normal Sunday run I would of said perfect conditions but it was still hot and humid so not perfect for the second day of a 100 miler. Again nothing you can do about the weather but it was beautiful to hear the birds and the world waking up. We couldn't see a cloud in the sky and so expected another hot, humid day. As we neared CP5, we saw SMC42K. He asked if I wanted a bacon and egg roll. Yes Please! I headed into the CP and filled up water and drank some milk. I also dropped off my torch and hi-‐viz vest in my drop bag. On my way out, I passed SMC42K and picked up my roll, Hermie and I walked along and I ate my roll. It was beautiful -‐ thanks John! (Oh and Hermie ate his food too.) To my shame I didn't manage to finish it -‐ I felt full and passed my left overs to Hermie who finished it off and appreciated it for sure. It was getting hot again, out in the open but as soon as I got off the road and under some tree cover, thins improved. We also got some good running spots so did a run/walk thing into CP6, moving OK still. Before we reached CP6 we saw some runners leaving, through we weren't sure who they were at this point. When we got in, we found out it was Horrie and TallGeoff. We filled up the water and had an Up&Go and off we went, a good 15 or so minutes behind them, I guess. Hermie and I decided if we caught them, we'd pass them and then try to lose them. However we were not going to try very hard. (Not much racing left in either of us at this stage.) We walked next to the river and I saw a friend, Animal, coming the other way. He is a very fit young guy and turned around and walked and chatted with us for while. Then he turned around after a few kms and we decided it was time to run again. Back into the run/walk idea until we got to the hills again. They felt so steep and hard, at this stage and Hermie and I seemed to have started a tag team thing. He would feel good and lead and then start to feeling bad a then I would take the front and he would follow, this kept us moving at good pace. We got to the top of a hill and saw three people in front, Horrie, TallGoeff and Horrie’s pacer Buzz. I looked at my watch to see if we had made up any time. Nope! Still, no worries, we seemed to be getting closer to the finish and that was what mattered. Over the next big hill and I was in for a surprise. We thought we had caught the guys very quickly but it wasn't them, just some other guys doing a day walk who were sitting down having a rest and a drink. Slightly disappointed, we continued on up the next hill when suddenly Horrie, TallGoeff and Buzz turned up a mere 5 meters in front of us. We had caught them up after all. We said hi and followed for a while up the hill but they were moving slower than Hermie and I up hills so we asked to pass and continued on up. We ran into another person. Jeri from Singapore was moving very slowly uphill. We checked if she was OK and she was still in good spirits so we passed her and continued on to the unmanned water stop. Jeri caught us filling our bottles and she did the same as we left. This next section has some very sharp stones that pummeled my already pitiful feet, so we moved slowly. Then we came to a road and a sign that stated only 10KMs to go. Yes! 10Km, only another 1.5-‐2 hours or this left! We still had plenty of time to finish under cutoff. Some more sharp stony stuff and Jeri passed us at a run saying, “only 10km to go and I want to be under 35 hours”. Bugger that! As long as I finish under the cutoff, I'm happy. 5 minutes go past and TallGeoff and Seris appear behind us (though we couldn't be 100% sure who it was.) I told Hermie that it was time to run mate and he says, “no way, go on ahead, if that's your plan!” And so off I raced at a slightly faster walk than Hermie (OK so at this point of a 100miler things tend to happen in smaller increments!) I also managed some running. It took an eternity to cross Patonga Drive which is the next pertinent land mark and so good because it means that you only have 4kms left. I ran, I walked and my feet hurt and then I saw SMC42K running the other way. He turns around and walks with me until just after Warrah trig and then I start to run downhill towards the beach. The downhill hurt my blisters so I walked all of this until I got to the beach. Then I ran into the finish and gave the post a big hug and kiss. I'd made it to the end. There was no sign of Dave the race director so another Trotter shook my hand and gave me a medal. I then found out that Seris has passed out on the track a few kms back and Dave and the doctor had rushed out to help her. Doggy shook my hand and lots of other people did the same and the Doggy took my pack off me and I walked into the sea and spent the next 20 minutes enjoying the cool water and floating around. It felt so good. Dave the race director arrived back and came over to me and shook my hand and said he was sorry he did not see me finish. He is that kind of person -‐ a truly great guy.
After injury and illness in September, i'd decided that October was going to be the big comeback month with at least a marathon each weekend, with the aim to be back in really good running shape for Coast to Kosci in November. Being 25th on the waitlist for the Great North Walk 100 Miler (which i'd done in 2008), didn't really give serious consideration to the fact i may end up doing it, but late in October (with the 46 KM Bribie Beach Bash and Melbourne and Toowoomba Marathons under the belt) was offered a start.
The next day i was off to Lamington National Park to mark the course for the "Lamington Classic" and simply to check the course was runnable as storms the previous fortnight made it debatable in my mind, so i told the race organiser i was off bush for a few days (and 3 days of running 44K's of trails should make up my mind as to whether my mind was really into a trail run at that time). Ultimately the answer was yes so i had an extra long Ultra now to finish off a very patchy 2010, no horrifically bad performances but no real highlights either (and until the week previous not one solo win, had one at least on race per year since 1994 and was desperate to keep that streak up, guess at best i could count my Sydney Trailwalker mixed team win).
Knew this was one race i had to get really organised for as Checkpoints are around 20 miles apart and there are plenty of maps and descriptions to carry as well as fluids and various compulsory gear. Also whilst i'd done it two years previously i'd actually forgotten how i'd got my car from the start to the finish over 100 Miles away !!.
So firstly a note on Coolrunning to see how that could be achieved and i was offered accommodation and a lift to and from the race from a couple of coolrunners who knew me better than i knew them to be honest, so a very big thanks to Graham and Jo as that worked out perfectly.
After checking out parts of the course into and out of Checkpoint 4 (Yarramalong) and most importantly to me going over the 2010 deviation (due to Cyprus Rust disease we weren't able to use one part of the course this year), ended up doing 20 odd K's the day before (thankfully fish and chips from the Yarramalong General store kept me well fuelled !), which personally i thought ideal, after all i'd spent the previous day driving 600K's in the car and really do need to run (or at least walk) every day.
Found my way to Avoca Beach to my accommodation and with a very steep walkway down to the house felt like i was moving enough stuff out the car to stay permanently as i needed to fix up my dropbags beforehand as this would be a very early start.
Thankfully fellow ultra runner Kevin "Brick" Heaton had already arrived so at least now i was assured of having my normal camelbak, i hadn't seen it since Trailwalker (where i hadn't used it but had accidentally left it with our crew) and as late as the day before was organising getting it from my Trailwalker Team Mate Paul to Kevin as i really wasnt anxious for a drive into Sydney.
To be honest i hadn't used it since the Glasshouse 100 Miler in September 09, as i much prefer using the handheld bottles but with extra gear would need it this time, had an older one just in case but this was much better in terms of number of pockets and having used it in this event previously had been worried about not having it. Beautiful lasagna and a beer and a lot of chatting about running (maybe i needed an interpreter with all being English Expats !).
Having to leave at 4:30 meant i'd be settiny my alarm for 3:30 and then i realised i had no idea how to on the new phone. After 15 minutes of fiddling with the phone decided i needed a shower and half an hour later my alarm was set, shame it was to wake me in less than 5 hours.
Typically woke up a couple of minutes before my alarm and headed down to breakfast (my usual 6 Vita Brits, muesli, yogurt and banana, only missing fruit salad), and soon the rest were up as well. Reasonably full car but worked out it was only 50 minutes to the start line and we were there by 5, plenty of familiar faces as we checked in and handed in our drop backs (and had our pre race photos taken). Of note it was interesting to see Hardrock finishers, Andy Hewitt and Phil Murphy who had already run from the actual start of the trail at Newcastle 30K's away with the aim of breaking the record for the entire course to Sydney, apparently held by race favourite Andrew Vize, as well as the only person to have finished all 6 GNW 100 Milers Wayne "Blue Dog" Gregory. We then had the race briefing and finally (and not a minute too soon i'm useless at waiting and had pretty much been ready to run from the time i woke) we were off. Was already warm and seemed it would be humid, so minimal gear, old faithful Lululemon top, Nike Dryfit shorts and headband with the Nike Free Run+'s and Drymax Maximum protection Trail running socks on the feet, as well as the Camelbak with required equipment to weigh me down :-). Supposedly we were to run with the traffic along the road early on, but with massive tip trucks on their way backwards and forwards seemingly totally disregarding us, this was pretty nerve wracking and i was quite relieved to finally make it onto a trail. Easy early on as we headed underneath the freeway and towards Heatons Gap but even at this early point some runners were making navigational errors with one pair running towards me before we'd even made the road. On reaching the road it was great to see some of the crews and spectators but knew from then on it was going to be a hard slog. Up numerous wooden steps and then it was very rainforest like, was in a group of 4 or so and already at this early stage the humidity was kicking in savagely. any thoughts i may have had of ever doing the Brazil 135 Mile race were eveaporation away rapidly, only wish my sweat was. At one point to the shock of Glenn Lockwood (who knows my lack of navigational ability very well) i ended up in front of our group as we got a little lost, only o then lead them astray and head back to the back of our pack, finally after what seemed like hours (but couldn't have been), we were on the escarpment with views of the Hunter Valley, soon we would be hitting Checkpoint 1. Although only 26K's away it had taken 4 hours to get there and i was keen to drink and eat as much as possible, every drop bag had a bottle of Gatorade as well as a GU and fruit bar and Clif Bar and a scoop of either Cytomax or Accelerade so that i would have only need water in my camelbak bladder but have a real useful sportsdrink in my handheld. Skolled my bottle of Gatorade as well as had some of the Powerade supplied and some orange pieces and water melon, too early for me to eat too much yet. Was gone within around ten minutes and running with another bloke (i'm useless at names he'll know who he was), for a while it was easy 4WD track running but ultimately we made it to Barrabas camp area and back onto the thinner trails again, i was feeling good but the humidity was drenching me and i was worried about chafing in the inner thighs, hadn't felt those sort of conditions since the Furnace Creek to Stovepipe Wells section of Badwater 2008, i'd have to keep an eye on that, was regretting i didnt have my Diaper Cream in the Camelbak (hoped i did at least have it in a drop bag). Knew there was some running along the fence line and a gate, and possibly the funniest thing was me opening the gate and holding it for the next fellow along (only a minute away) as i accidentally let get go of it and it swung towards him (swear i didnt know him well enough for it to be some dirty race tactic), was surprised to see Rachel Waugh also at this point (her husband David was far in front battling for the lead i assumed), eventually i hit Congewai Road, will admit the puddles in the paddocks left by recent heavy rain looked so refreshing and tempting but also knew that soon i could stop and replenish at Checkpoint 2. A number of runners on the road certainly livened me up, was happy for myself to see Blue Dog, but knew that he must be doing it hard (and injuries catching up with him) for me to see him this early. Tookn at seat at CP 2 Congewai School and ate as much as i could as well as grabbing a fresh supply of S! Caps, i'd been through my first 10 in only 55 odd K's, was definitely feeling the heat, as well i put on my legionaires cap to replace my headband otherwise i'd be burnt to a crisp. Ran with Gordie another localish runner for a while as we found our way through the paddocks and unfortunately couldn't avoid getting our feet wet crossing the dam, by now i was sweating profusely and had my shorts tucked in the waistband to avoid excessive rubbing, only wish i'd brought a pair of speedos to wear instead (as i'd carried the whole way in 2008). From then it was up and more up, caught up with some runners and was passed by others was really looking forward to the unmanned drink stop at the top. I'd pushed myself hard and almost up really felt my heart beating very rapidly so decided next chance i had i'd stop and sit and simply get some deep breaths in, next big tree with a root formation seemed ideal and sat there for a few minutes gathering my thoughts and relaxing, until the next runners came along. Finally made it to the unmanned stop (which was manned by race director Dave Byrnes), and having a chat with him (between large intakes of water), heard that Blue Dog had rang to say he'd pull out here, very sad but for once he was doing the right thing by his body. From then on it was relatively easy and a nice trail follow with even some shade, soon i was with another Coolrunning mate and we ran together, good idea as i always find the track into the Basin (CP3) confusing. We were going the correct way (as evidenced by the faster runners coming towards us) when our biggest problem hit, a massive tree across the track, i tried above he tried below and ultimately that was the way to go, worrying at this point though as we knew we would encounter it in the dark on the way back. Ultimately we would encounter one more fallen tree before the checkpoint but it was relatively easy although with tired legs the climb seemed much harder. Finally we made it to CP3, Michael Lovric (a multiple finisher and Australian representative) was there and happily played waiter to me, a day of humidity and total sweat meant my top was now soaked beyond redemption and with evening setting in i was beginning to feel the chill, very thankful he offered me a long sleeve t shirt. Now it was the time i would struggle, on with the reflective vest and headlamp and also time to put on the Buff, still very warm but with the setting sun hidden from where we were cold could be an issue for me. Spent a deal of time there, but though it was well spent having soup and fruit salad, knew soon it would be pitch black so headed off eventually, managed to go off track somewhere between 1 and 2 fallen trees as i was very close to the creek and could see runners above me, thankfully saw Rachel and she directed me up the track, was dreading that big fallen tree but as luck would have it reached it concurrently with some people going the other way, still a pain but between us we worked it out. Now i was on trails i hadnt seen since 2008, was a little lost in one section and expected to see Paul Every (who'd reached CP3 not far behind) and asked him about the smallish snake at my feet, however it wasn't, possibly better it was one of the local runners who had done this section in the dark in training. Finally we hit the road and i well and truly knew where i was having been there the day before, however i also knew we had 12 K's till checkpoint 4. In 2008 myself and Michael had absolutely flown his stretch loving the road but this time it was run, walk up minor incline, maybe run, maybe walk and so on, eventually hit Yarramalong a little after 11 (17 hours in !). Knew i had no intention of dropping to a 100K finish but nevertheless really spent too long at that checkpoint eating, drinking and even for 15 minutes laying down on a campbed, was what i needed at the time. Eventually i headed off, knew this next section perfectly so that i wouldn't have any temptation to pull the pin. Michael was pacing another runner and they passed me just of Bumble Hill road as we hit the track claiming that his was the 9.5 Hour train, wasnt interested at that point i had to make my own pace, probably making up ground when daylight came. As i staggered towards the top of the hill i could see two headlights in front of me, i was a little mystified as they appeared to be going of track and once i made the top i could see it was Glenn (and his pacer TW teammate Keith Hong), they appeared to be heading off into the paddocks rather than on the road and then the detour, i yelled out to them and shone my torch and appeared to get a reaction as they turned around, so thought they were right. Going down along the road to the new turn i could see them again out in the paddock, somehow they were still lost, again shone a torch at them, wasn't really sure if they had replied (and by then my voice was soft with tiredness - not normally megaphone me) but doubted they could go too wrong from there. Finally made the deviation and headed off to where i'd been on the Friday, certainly no need for the unmanned water stop, it was still very warm and humid (and not a bit refreshing) but i wasnt drinking as much now, as i reached there was passed by another runner with pacer, really hoped it was Glenn but on speaking to them found they had seen them so at least they were back on track. Managed to get the feet wet again at Ourimbah Creek and despite everything my feet were beginning to feel a bit tender, i'm guessing the heat of the day had swollen them and now they were relatively soft, next part to me was a mystery i had maps i had directions but somewhere something didn't feel right, followed the road for a long way and stopped at intervals to see if farm names matched up with it, at one point even sat down on the side of the road on an abandoned plastic chair near some roadworks, oddly enough when there a car came by but going by the speed it appeared to be going wasnt game to pop up and ask for directions. By now it was almost getting lighter and i saw the Somersby forest sign that at least appeared to jel with my instructions but this is where i do get confused as it seemed very familiar as though i'd been along it an hour or two previously, maybe i did stuff up somewhere my mind was beyond solving that puzzle. Finally Somersby school, a real toilet, food, drink, toast with vegemite (normally i love multigrain bread but with that level of tiredeness i've never struggled to eat toast so badly before), off with the lights and also the T shirt simplest idea now was to run the rest of the way in the reflective vest. An "Up N Go" and a quick read of the instructions and i was off, had vague memories of being really refreshed running this section in 2008, but between chafing and tender feet doubted i'd be going that sort of speed again. Maybe i'm a rubbish judge of distance but at one point (before the water storage area) i thought i'd gone too far or missed a turn, thankfully within 5 minutes i'd run into antoher run who assured me i was on course. Over Mooneny Mooney Creek and all was beginning to feel good, so nice to not have to cling to rocks and slippery trails and soon i was at the last checkpoint. One last chance to put my feet up and get my thoughts together, looked like this time i wouldnt be seeing too many other runners so had to keep my wits about me. Within a K saw a lady sitting not wanting to go on, didnt really have much persuasion left in me so was thankful she had another runner with her, from then on it was sandstone rocks and more sandstone rocks, passed two more runners and then almost immediately took a wrong turn as i tried to make sense of directions about waterfalls (the brain was struggling by now, worse than my body !), finally made it to the unmanned water drop where i drank copiously as well as filling up everything i had, this was going to be a long, hot, dry last 15K's. As usual never quite sure of my navigation so kept on stopping at corners as they all looked the same to me, could feel i was melting away (and probably being roasted to a crisp) in my plastic reflective vest but by now i had one thought only get to the finish line and i could stop, nothing simpler !. Finally i crossed the Patonga Beach road had very fond memories of this sections and was simply letting my body take over as it knew there was not long to go. With a mile or so to go i ran out of water and cytomax, talk about perfect timing, downhill then the beach and i could stop. Finally 32 hours and 8 minutes on, i arrived at the finish line, kissed the GNW sign marker and essentially just stopped on the spot. Feet were sorer than i can ever remember but strangely unblistered just cut on top from them swelling may have taken a few minutes for me to take the shoes and socks off but then it was in for a dip, relieved and very happy. If i'm honest in ultra race number 249 this was my hardest, after all in Badwater and Coast to Kosci we are on roads and never far from our crews here we are on trails seemingly miles from civilization and carrying all we need for miles, tough incredibly tough, may have only been 13th but i was first of the interstate runners and at times in deep thoughts out there reckoned we should have had three divisions: Runners with pacers, runners who'd trained on the trail and the rest of us, tender feet, raw chafed inner thighs and bloodied lower back from camelbak bouncing but all was well with me, 4 weeks to get my body back into one piece for Coast to Kosci :-)
Well I am finally back in Sydney.
My post race work schedule has been very busy, it has allowed for a great deal of recovery, just not at home.
I do love a good sufferfest and the GNW 100 miler has it all. The head to head competition during the race was a real highlight for me, the out and backs make for great racing and a great opportunity to keep an eye on everything. Being in a three way tie for first place at 130km in really ensured all of us raced it hard right to the finish. Any of the top three times from this years race would have been good enough to win it in 3 of the last 5 years.
Some races have free "easy" kilometres. There is no such thing in the GNW 100 miler. Being down 42 minutes at CP2 to the leaders wasn't exactly what I would call Plan A, B or C, but the GNW is a tricky race to pace.
Beth Cardelli and Matt Cooper had great debut 100 mile finishes and I am sure they will be very very quick and certainly very tough competition next year. Relaxing at Patonga with Dave and Rachel Waugh on the Sunday was also a real pleasure and I'm looking forward to catching up in Armidale in January.
I was thrilled to see my great friends Darrel Robins and Meredith Quinlan come in 4th and 5th respectively. They had some great battles out there along with their pacers DJBleakman and Jess Baker. Darrel hasn't finished lower than 4th in an ultra in the last 13 months, and he's done quite a few including the Ourimbah Slam both in a 12 month period and now also in a calendar year.
Gordi Kirkbank Ellis and Martin Price getting their sub 30 hour silver medals at their first 100 mile attempt is really something that continues to make me smile even now 2 weeks post race. They both trained so hard and were rewarded for their superb efforts. Good one guys, I know it wasn't easy and there aren't too many of those silver medals floating around, they are a true reflection of your achievements - I'm sure you are still staring at them and cracking a smile. Rob Mason finished in a very classy time too.
Chatting to Blue Dog before the race is always a highlight for me. I am amazed that every single sentence he speaks has these little priceless golden flecks of wisdom that just shake you out of your own pre-race thoughts and make your brain go "wow, that's so true or sh1t, that's right on the money I hadn't planned for that possibility".
My wife Laura crewed superbly for me, and she pointed out she has now crewed the 1st place and course record for Wild Endurance, 1st place and female course record for Trail Cougars Sydney Oxfam and now back to back wins in the GNW100 mile race for 2009 and 2010.
Marcus Warner (Ponkey) and Russel Trotter were my pacers for the race and they didn't put a foot wrong through the night, hopefully they realise how much I appreciated their help, it is a really tricky thing to do well and you both were perfect. Having all the crew and pacers and my family at the finish is my best memory so far in running, I will never forget running along THAT beach and giving THAT post an almighty wallop. Thanks to Dave Byrnes and the trotters, impeccable and seamless - as usual. PS - the finishing post seems to have moved a metre further back this year - no joke.
To the Injinji Alpine Ultra boys - Spud and Whippet. Big effort in the conditions, it is so tough to leave Patonga and drive to Brooklyn for the last 78km into Sydney, you guys did have us cautiously worried about the record. Darrel and Terry have promised not to leave the mattresses out at Berowra for you next time and I would like to help out with some support. Remember Whippet - Darrel can "make you even more famous!"
Don and I chose The Great North Walk 100-mile race for several reasons. One is because it is the nearest to the Philippines. It saves on airfare, I guess. It is no secret that we have been looking for a 100-mile race early this year after several 100K races behind us. Unfortunately, we have yet to have one in our country. It helped as well to have great friends who live and work in Sydney. Thus, a big and warm gratitude to Santy and his wife Lou, Vic and wife Angie and their families. They are the kindest and most generous couples/friends around. Despite their hectic schedules, they graciously shared their time and resources with us. I cannot thank them enough.
Coming into this race was riddled with worries. For one, I accidentally rolled my ankle the Monday before the race at the office while walking upstairs (of all places!). I mean I have trained in some of the most uneven terrain without a problem only to sprain my ankle in the most unlikely place. Better be careful next time. The worst of all was being afflicted with conjunctivitis (sore or red eyes) just days before the race! It sure did dawn on me if this was life's way of telling me not to proceed with the race.
I had no choice but to manage things as they came along. It was a relief to pass through the local airport's immigration but I was sick worried that I might not make it through Sydney's immigration or custom.
We arrived early on Wednesday that was 3 days before the race. We figured it would help us "acclimate". As it turned out, the weather was just like here in the Philippines. It was hot and it stayed the same even during the race to the detriment of other runners. As soon as we landed, we toured the neighboring beaches (Bondi, Congee and Maroubra) and malls. Very nice. The plan to do a short easy run was set aside in lieu of sightseeing. We figured all those walking would be a good way to loosen things up. Food was great too. I missed fish and chips.
On Friday, we stayed in a hotel called Warners at the Bay around 7KM drive to Teralba - start of the race. It did not help a bit that the hotel is near a store selling over 800 kinds of beers! Don and I had to muster enough courage to resist the temptation. Okay okay. I have to confess and had 1 beer before dozing off.
As soon as we checked in, we drove off to check out the place of the start (Teralba) and bought things we need at a nearby supermarket.
It took me several hours to prepare my stuff as I had to sort out what should go into my drop bags at which checkpoints (six in total). Don and I would have to be self-sufficient. No pacer and no crew.
For this race, I trained to drink only plain water + electrolyte capsules. For fuel, it would be just Snickers chocolate bars, some gels and full-cream milk in tetra packs. Milk and choco bars are great combo. That was it and I would just help myself with what was on the table at every checkpoint where the slices of fresh fruits (watermelon, banana, etc.) were absolutely refreshing.
We arrived around 4:45AM and the weather was suprisingly just okay. We were expecting it would be cold. This somehow gave a glimpse of how unusually hot it would be for the next 36 hours. Don and I made a last minute adjustment. We could sense the subtle excitement and anxiety in the air. For us, it would be the total feeling of not knowing what was in store for us especially after the 100KM mark. We had not seen even any part of the course and would be a total stranger to this race.
Race director David Byrnes briefed us on what we should particularly take notice of during the race and acknowledged us "overseas" runners - 1 from USA, 1 from Singapore and 2 from Philippines. He made it clear of the mandatory gear check at Checkpoint 2. We requested two of my kindest friends, Santy and Vic to look for some of the minor items we needed for the night. We agreed to meet up at Checkpoint 1 where I had to wait for 40 minutes. Lost time but no worries.
Registration was easy and a breeze. All runners received their GNW official shirt, a tote bag, and a Tyvek wristband (no race bib). For 100 miler, it was color green and for 100KM, orange.
We hardly heard the word "GO!" but as soon as runners in front of us moved on, we started to go as well. I muttered to myself that the best way to approach this race was by breaking the course down into checkpoints. That said, it would still be a loooong journey ahead of us.
CHECKPOINT 1 (28.6KM) CHECKPOINT 2 (23.9KM)
Going to Checkpoint 1 was a breeze at 4 hours plus change. I thought I ran faster than I should. Nothing significant except I met Andy Bowen and Philip Murphy with whom I had been emailing before the race for inputs. Nice chaps and very helpful. Very strong and experienced runners as well. No doubt. Australian ultrarunners are some of the most friendly and laid back.
After reaching Checkpoint 2, I felt my quads started to feel the stresses caused by the endless up and down hills. I purposely saved at least 1 hour and a half to my total time because a GNW veteran runner (sorry mate, I forgot your name) told me I would be needing extra time to reach the unmanned water station after Checkpoint 6. He was bloody right! More on this later. This is also the part where Don was not allowed to continue because of RHABDOMYLOSIS. I was sad to hear that and had to ask my friend Santy to pick him up. Santy and wife had so much trouble trying to reach Don even as they got lost. Our thanks again.
By this time, I had to remind myself of the importance of constant and regular intake of fluids, electrolytes and fuel. The weather had not improved a bit. In a while it would get dark.
CHECKPOINT 3 (29.1KM)
The longest checkpoint and we had to reach it before 11PM when it was dark already. We ran through rainforests, hills, and more hills and creeks where leeches lurked and ready to leap onto runners' shoes. I had some and they were annoying as I had to stop to remove them. Some sucked onto my shoes with such tenacity. Next time, if there is, I would spray insect repellant.
The effect of being up all day started to take its toll on me. Hotspots on my feet were beginning to concern me. The last thing I wanted was a blister with around 100KMs to go. I got lost too several times as I had difficulty looking for these "little man" signs, as RD Dave put it.
As soon as I entered the Checkpoint station, someone shouted out my name. It was Don who hitched a ride with one of the runners' crew. Problem was Santy and Lou were enroute to pick him up there which by the time Santy reached the place, everyone would have gone after the cut-off time. The solution was for me to call Santy as soon I reached to a higher ground. I lost some lead time now.
CHECKPOINT 4 (22KM)
This is the second most difficult part of course for me because of sleepiness aggaravated by cold weather and not enough sleep days before the race. All runners had to reach CP4 on or before 4AM. As you can imagine, we had to run through the night where cold breeze blew from here and there. At one point, I saw a log which looked like a bed to me. I almost laid down because I could hardly keep my eyes open! Only shame kept me going because it was right beside the trail course. The last thing I wanted are leeches feasting on me, fellow runners seeing a Filipino runner sprawled on the ground and God knows what lurked in the dark.
I was hallucinating too as I imagined all sorts of wild things like animal sounds which I mistook for mountain lions ready to have me as their meal or the stupid imagination that someone was stalking me. At some points, I had to turn around and direct my flashlights to check if no one was following me. It could be Dracula you know :). So I swore to take a 15-minute nap as soon as I reached CP4 which to my suprise never happened. Everytime I reached the succeeding CPs all sleepines disappeared. Weird.
At 2AM, I reached CP4. I was glad to see Don and Santy and to know that I still had the 2-hour margin. The veggie soup was nice even though it tasted bland. So I added salt in it. In all CPs, I only ate the familiar food - fruits (watermelon, banana, etc) nuts, gels, Coke and milk. No sports drink.
Some 100-mile runners opted to finish at this point and it was not an encouraging sight. They were nice enough to wish us 100-milers a bon voyage so to speak.
CHECKPOINT 5 (28.4KM)
As soon as I left, I realized the next 70 or so kilometers would be totally new to me. I figured the morning sun would give me a boost to help me tackle the course one step at a time. My continuing mantras for this race were "relentless forward progress", "race management", "for the Philippines". I think a runner going to a 100-mile race has to have some sense of pride in him. You have to represent someone or something other than or bigger than oneself.
Anyway, there I was hiking, walking and running with shot quads. They were so shot I could no longer feel any pain. My calves and feet were too. The only thing that consoled me was no cramps at all. Not even once. Perhaps, I managed my electrolytes intake really carefully and on time.
Going to Checkpoint 5 was a bit disheartening because I lost a few turns and had to bother RD Dave for directions. (I cannot say this enough but RD Dave had been and is probably one of the most helpful, patient RD out there.) My lead time was slowly getting shorter. I started to lose interest in the beautiful and scenic course of GNW100 because I was so hell bent on finishing the race.
I caught up to Grant Campbell whom I thought was way ahead of me. He was not feeling well because of blisters. We were the last runners before the CP5 staff and volunteers started to pack up. I made it clear to Grant that WE would both finish this race since CP6 was only 17.8KM and that we were almost there. Sort of rubbing off the confidence on him. I went ahead and missed a turn. By the time I came to a particular section, I chanced upon Grant who was sitting. It seemed he was losing interest to move on and figured maybe this was a good time to run together. We did. We almost ran the entire section and it was a huge relief to be with someone after long hours of being alone. We had to reach CP6 before 1PM.
CHECKPOINT 6 (17.8KM)
Grant and I had started to feel the hot and humid condition. It was noontime. We barely made it as we got to CP6 with 20 or so minutes to spare. I kept telling the helpful, kind and patient staff and volunteers that I would finish this race because I did not come or travelled to another continent for nothing.
This was where I met Kim Cook - the pacer of one of the runners who dropped out yesterday. I was told RD Dave requested him to offer to pace me since I kept getting lost. I agreed and it was the best decision I made. Kim is 50+ years old and finished GNW 100-mile race 2x and the 100KM once. He is a local too (I think) and knows the place way better than I do. With Kim, I told Grant that we could make the 25.4KM in 5 hours which sounded easy but not at all. We left CP6 at eactly 1PM.
THE LAST 25.4KM SECTION TO FINISH LINE
We had exactly 5 hours to cover 25.4KM but the route would be the hardest so far because of 1) we were bloody tired 2) hot and humid weather 3) hungry 4) legs were like marshmallows - soft and numb (imagine the cumulative impact of carrying a minimum load of 3.5 kilos all throughout the race), 5) very technical section, etcetera. Even a few feet of climb made me so weak and had to stop for a few seconds to catch my breath. Downhill running was still manageable though and this was where I recovered the lost time going uphills. I had too or all would be lost.
Grant and his pacer-friend ran with us for several minutes and until Kim and I saw them no more. I saw Grant at the finish line where he DNFed. It was sad to know because he could have made it.
Our immediate concern now was how to reach the unmanned water station before the cut-off at 3PM. The distance was like almost 13KM and it should be reached on or before 2PM. We had a mere 2 hours. It was on top of a hill. Actually several hills.
Going there was the most difficult part of my journey. It was very hard because of the terrain and the weather was not helping a bit. The constant ups and downs were unbelievably unforgiving. The hills are stone which radiated heat from below adding to the unfavorable condition This is the only ultra where I came to my lowest of lows. For a few minutes, I was trailing behind Kim and wanted to open my mouth just to shout " I surrender". I almost did but for some unknown reasons, it never came out of my mouth. I prayed a lot too and thought of the people who prayed for me and were expecting me to finish the race. Again, I said to myself "I did not come here for nothing". Despite this feeling of dejection, I regularly took my fluid and fuel intake. It became a second nature by now. After a while, that overwhelming negative feeling passed away and I had a strange feeling that I was reborn and became stronger inside.
We made it to the unmanned water station barely in a nick of time. The hope to finish bouyed up as we had 3 hours to cover 13 or so kilometers. I rejoiced for a while but realized it was still premature.
We slowed down for a while and later on, chanced upon a female runner in trouble. It was, what appeared to us, as heat stroke. We had to help her and brought her to the nearest 4WD track where Dave and his paramedic picked her up. We moved on and had to run every now and then. My legs were numb now and my feet battered and could manage to run the downhills but not uphills. I was too exhausted.
Kim called my attention to the beach below the hill we were on. It was a sight to look at! Just for assurance, we bombed the downhill going to the beach in like 6 minute or less pace per kilometer. I did not mind the pain. I was almost there and made sure I would cross the finish line within the cut-off time.
Running on the beach was surreal. It felt unreal after all the running in the forest and on mountains. The sight of the finish tent was unbelievably uplifting. As soon they saw us, the wonderful staff and volunteers started to toll the bell. It felt like I was a battered boat coming out of a storm onto a beach. I heard clapping and shouting. It was paradise.
I raised Kim's hand in victory who later on gave me a beer right after the race. Thanks mate! He had to let me go to kiss the small statue as the symbolic finish line and claim the most-coveted medal. I finished in 35:51. I knew I was forever changed. It is true then that you would know yourself far far better after a 100-mile race.
Runners, volunteers and staff were very helpful and friendly. It felt like I was a part of a family. Amazing people.
After dipping in the sea to cool off, I was asked by one of the runners whether to return next year. My answer was "please don't ask me now" because I was too exhausted to which one of the runners quipped "a safe answer for yes". We chuckled.
So in the next few days, the medal was always with me and was holding it like it is a treasure of significant sentimental value and rightly so.