It’s now over two weeks since this epic race. I’ve been putting off doing a report for many reasons but primarily a combination of shift work and plain laziness. I’ll admit the race and the build up had left me feeling flat post race, more mentally than physically but I’m getting over that now and having committed myself to a 4 week break from running I’m now riding the bike enthusiastically. After GNW I was confident that the distance wouldn’t be a problem. My build up to the race was just training to maintain fitness and recover from GNW and trying to maximize sleep on night shift.
I went into the race with everyone expecting me to do well, not least myself. My heart was set on pushing for 24hrs although I wasn’t going to admit that to anybody, but the brain always said 2628hrs was probably more realistic. After night shift Wednesday night I drove to Eden on Thursday via Merimbula airport where I picked up Deanne my support crew. The car was stocked with water (a whole 50litres), Gatorade, coffee, coke, bananas, bread, honey, peanut butter, and vegemite, canned spaghetti, lollies and gels. The pre race briefing was a nice way to catch up with everyone although I could have done without the pressure applied by Paul and others regarding my likely race pace.
The start was overcast and low key and we set off just after 5:30am. Martin and I were soon side by side at the front. We crossed the main road and I pulled away as we climbed the steep fire trail section. As I came out onto dirt road the support cars were nowhere to be seen but that didn’t matter they’d turn up soon. Martin was 100-200m behind. The cars came and the cycle of drinks and food every 4 to 5 km began. I saw Martin’s and Sean’s crew a few times but soon it became just me and Deanne. She must have been lonely as she would normally talk to everyone and if there wasn’t people to talk to she’d be guaranteed to get half a dozen texts per hour but most of the course was out of mobile range.
Things went well early as I cruised at training pace and ate and drank reasonably well. I went through the marathon at 3:26 which I thought was a little fast but no big deal and the only obstacle on the mostly well graded dirt and gravel road to Big Jack Mountain was a 1 metre plus black snake. At the bottom of the climb up Big Jack I was still running reasonably well but starting to feel a bit low on energy. I power walked the majority of the hill and a shot of coke near the top was the pep up I needed to get going again. A bitumen road took me through Cathcart and then we turned right onto more gravel and up ahead, storm clouds were building and a lightning and thunder show was underway. There were two main masses of cloud and we seemed to be headed between them but I copped the heavy rain and strong wind anyway. I was drenched before I reached my jacket at the next stop then maybe 5 k later it was all over and I was opening the jacket to cool down. I changed shirt and socks and shoes at the next stop. I don’t normally worry about wet feet but with 160km to go common sense prevailed. I was up and down through the next 40km of undulating dirt road and was starting to feel somewhat sleepy at times.
At the 100km mark I sat down for the first time and shared a can of cold spaghetti with several hundred flies. Surprisingly it didn’t taste too bad and I washed it down with a cup of coffee. At half way I was feeling quite sorry for myself and sat down to a bottle of water and some potato chips thanks to Paul and Diane. I took quite a bit of persuading to get going again but when I did I ran quite well most of the way to Dalgety at 147km. Again I sat down for spaghetti and was reluctant to get going again. Eventually I donned the headlamp and reflective vest and set out into the night. I’m not sure what it is about running at night but the next section went well. I got to the bottom of Beloka range in good time and power walked up the hill, which is the worst climb on the course, then ran the gradual descent into Jindabyne. At midnight on Barry Way just out of Jindabyne things started falling apart again. Eventually I sat down in the car for a power nap, setting the alarm on my watch as both Deanne and I could have fallen asleep here and not woken for hours. I got out on the road again while Deanne continued her nap and less than a kilometre up the road I was passed by Martin’s support car. I didn’t dare ask how far behind he was when I passed them a little further on while they waited to re-supply Martin. This was the kick in the bum I needed!! I had been saying to myself earlier if Martin were to pass me I’d just let him go but now there was no way he was going to get away that easily and as the climb of Kosciuszko started in earnest I started the uphill power walk again. Deanne was also struggling. She stopped up the road and fell asleep several times only to be woken by me raiding the esky in the back. At one point she hit a wombat while doing not more than 15kmph. Her response times were obviously quite slowed. Meanwhile I was trying to get energy to sustain me I ate my eighth banana for the day and lots of lollies and gels and was asking for coffee quite regularly despite the water in the thermos being not more than luke warm by this time. My stomach however didn’t really like the coffee and I began getting heartburn and nausea. The road up Kosciuszko was advertised as a continual climb but there are several downs along the way which I forced myself to run fearing Martin was closing in behind. These downs obviously increased the amount of up needed to get to the top and this was a little demoralizing after being out there so long. I was no longer seeing Martin’s car behind but I didn’t know whether I was putting distance into him or whether his crew were being cagey and making sure I didn’t know where Martin was. It turned out to be the former, thankfully and as day broke the road started to flatten out followed by the descent into Perisher Valley and then the climb out followed by a relatively flat section to Charlottes Pass. There was opportunity to look back up to a couple of kms here and Martin was nowhere to be seen so a started to relax a little. I was now more awake and only had the 9km to the summit and 9km return to the car park to go. This was mostly walked although I tried to run at times. I probably could have run if martin was closer but the incentive of gaining a few minutes was not great enough. At the top we touched the obelisk and quickly turned around. The view was good but the wind cold. I managed to run, if you could call it that, a few sections back down and put on a decent show of speed over the last couple of hundred metres. I finished in 27:46:37.
There are not many times in this report primarily because I can’t remember them accurately enough. This race taught me many things but primarily that I need to be tougher on myself to get going again when the going gets tough. I also needed to take more salt as my hands were swollen at the end most likely as a result of hyponatraemia and needed a greater variety of food. What works well in a 100km race you can get very sick of after 24hrs. On reflection when I ran well in this race I ran well and if I can reduce the bad patches or at least get more out of them then an improved time is possible.
The race presentation was fitting for the race, low key but recognizing the efforts and achievements of all, first through to last and those who did not finish. The Akubra is a unique trophy and one that won’t be shoved to the back of a dark cupboard like the rest of my trophies.
Finally a very big thank you to Paul and Dianne for their outstanding work and commitment to get this race to where it is today. You have built a great foundation for this race to grow and prosper in the future. There are no doubt others behind the scenes who have done great service to this race also and many thanks to them as well. Thanks to Deanne Nobbs your job as crew went almost without a hitch (the exception being a bruised wombat) and I hope I can repay the favour one day. Also congratulations to all the other runners and crews on a job well done.
THE C2K WEBSITE IS POWERED BY MARATHON WEB SOLUTIONS