A C2K Report – through a first timer crewers (somewhat) bleary eyes.
I'm not apologising for the length of this ... yes it is long, but the below is a true and bold account of what really happened out there. If you feel game enough for the challenge, then read on!
Back in around August I threw out some bait to the ultra community to anyone who would like a keen and enthusiastic first time crew person. Within a day, I had a nibble on my line, which turned into a bite and not long after, I had reeled Malcolm (Maggot-man) Gamble into my boat. Little did I know that a boat might have come in handy during the latter stages of the 2008 C2K.
As days went by, the excitement grew for me, as I’m sure it would have for all who were involved with this awesome event.
I’ll skip forward a little bit here, otherwise I could lose a number of readers with potential bits of info that may not be as exciting and interesting to you, as they were to me … so, leading up to the event, we had a bit of a group building around two runners: the aforementioned Maggot and Brett (Brett’s Run) Saxon. We developed a couple of crew teams to hopefully serve these two participants adequately for the race.
Friday morning arrived and we all got down to Boydtown Beach … the crew members decked out in specially designed polo shirts that proudly displayed that we were the crew members of Maggot and Brett’s Run, respectively, with our name on the front and our CR name on the back of the shirt. A memorable keep-sake … thanks Brett. (For those of you who were there or saw along the way, Horrie’s crew … I must say that they did take First Prize with the most excellent Crew Shirt – great stuff; and another mention here to Trout’s team, with very standout pink shirts for the crew. All in the name of Trout’s fund-raising efforts for his participation in the event for raising funds for Breast Cancer).
5.30am arrived, the pretend gun went off and the runners were on their way. Crew members made their way back to their respective vehicles, and then drove to the first check point, where we met up with the runners for the first time – from memory, some 3-4km’s from the start – but I could be corrected, as some parts of the last few days are a bit of a blur. This is generally true of most of my life, but at least I’ve got a damned good reason for my lack of memory of late!
Now, unless I get a lot of fan mail requesting to give a ‘blow by blow’ account of the event, I’ll now start to sharpen things up a bit; it may work, but then again, when I get in front of my computer, things tend to not pan out as I plan.
Due to transport factors, we ended up having three vehicles for two runners; at the start, we had Paul (Spoonman) Monks driving one and myself, the other, to cater for Mal. In vehicle three, we had Rod (Minus 15 CR name), Michael and Chris (non CR’s, and non runners, but they were still giving up their weekend to help out).
After the initial Check Point, there was a lot of car leap-frogging being played, where crews would “service” (for want of a better word) their runner, and then move on to an appropriate distance up ahead and await their charge. Along the way we passed lots of runners initially and I tried to make my acquaintance to as many who were willing to listen (and doing my best not to run them over!), as I leaned out the drivers window and also offered friendly encouragement as well – things like, “Go You Good Thing”. It was awesome to meet up with different runners and finally be able to put a face to a CR name.
The boys settled into the back half of the field and seemed to be running nicely within themselves … obviously with bigger things on their minds. Mal reached the marathon point in 5 hours neat, and 30 minutes later, Brett clicked his heels as he passed over the first milestone of this event.
As we got closer to Big Jack Mountain (B.J.M.), the our crews swapped around a bit, and Michael and I decided to make a journey up ahead to try and locate desperately needed coffee … for both runners and crew alike. As you’d expect we went past lots of runners (walkers at this stage, as they were climbing up B.J.M.). We stopped at one stage as there was someone that I have been chasing down to meet for sometime now … and I finally got to meet Martin Fryer (who was crewing for Kerrie Bremner). A quick chat and then we continued. We arrived at the tiny place of Cathcart and yes there was a shop, but no, they didn’t sell coffee. So we bought a couple of sandwiches and muffins and headed back down again.
At the top of BJM, Mal had an issue with blisters, so Dr Spoonman came to the rescue and patched up his feet. I then went ahead in search of the elusive coffee, and 20 or so kilometres down the track, I entered Bombala and coffees and pies were found. I got them and some other goodies and headed back to the event and Mal. The rain had started and looked totally set in for a long time. Driving wind as well as decent falling rain … decent falling I say, if you are a farmer, a duck or a crew member who’s nestled cosily inside the support vehicle! And that’s how the arvo went along.
Evening arrived and we took care of Mal again, feeding him some soup and one of the coffees that we obtained earlier and then I followed on behind the boy, as he continued his journey with me in the car lighting his way for him.
Later on, I saw a fantastic sight … something that I’d never thought I’d see, let alone, consider that it could ever exist … it was a rainbow in the night, or should I say, Moonbow; there was a break in the cloud and the full moon shone through and displayed the above sight … totally awesome. To back up my sighting, there were several other runners and crew members who saw it too, so it goes to show that I wasn’t going totally loopy at that moment … I emphasise the word “that”.
We continued on along the road and we made it to Dalgety in the early morning, around 4am-ish, but Mal was injured … a left hip flexor and also an injured right shin … after a snooze for a while, for both of us, I woke Mal around 5:30am, but his race was pretty much cooked – the injuries too painful to continue on; Mal could barely walk. A huge disappointment for him; I felt for Mal – as I did for anyone who had a DNF, cause they’re the ones who have put the hard yards in and trained their butts off. Hopefully Mal, it’ll provide you with awesome motivation to come back next year to complete the spanking of the mammoth. Still, a year’s a long time to get a good spanking done!
Saturday morning dawned, with Brett now being the one to move on to and help out. We caught up to Brett after Dalgety and as Michael drove the vehicle up the road a bit and had a rest, I got out and walked along with Brett to keep him company. I did this until the top of Biloki Hill … and yes, that IS a good sized steep hill. Brett arrived at the the top of Biloki Hill, and along the way he had a vision half way up that he saw people in the trees, but me thinks it was only branches, that looked like trees.
The wind was just never ending, no matter which way the road turned, it always seemed as though it was “in your face”, or coming in at a side angle. I jumped back into the support vehicle at the top … obviously a good move, as I was wishing to pace myself for bigger things to come. I told Brett this and he agreed … least ways I think he agreed … as he was downwind from me, so I really have no idea what he said!
As Brett moved along and made it to the crest that presents you with the view of the township of Jindabyne and the awesome lake that it’s situated on, that was quite a moment … well for me it was … I’m not trying to delve into what Brett was thinking there, but for me, to look down at that, and to see the thousands of white caps on the lake … quite a view.
At the main roundabout, it was my turn again to spend some time out on foot with the boy … and we proceeded along the bike path; it was at this stage that I thought that perhaps there could be some article in the local rag in the preceeding week to announce the fact that at a certain date and ‘rough’ time there will be a dozen or more ultra athletes making their way from the Coast to Kosci, and perhaps; just perhaps that might bring out a public member or two, who might be able to cheer on the runner as they enter Jindabyne. Personally I reckon it would lift up their spirits … it’d be a damn site better than the non-stop gale that they had to endure.
Sorry, I’ve digressed … back to the story … “Once upon a time …”; whoops, wrong story!
As we made our journey towards Thredbo River, we were buffeted so hard that we were knocked sideways on more than one occasion … Brett I can understand, as he’d run so far … but as for me, well, I’m just soft! I tried to keep his spirits up with a strategically timed joke or two, but after one of them, Brett told me to save them for later … much later!
At Thredbo River there was a bit of discussion as to whether it was going to be safe to travel on and at what time we might finish. I knew the bottle shops would be closed by the time we finished anyway, so thought, what the hell, we may as well go for it … ultimately it was up to Brett and as he didn’t have an injury bad enough to stop him, it would be a matter of rugging up to the max and then heading off. I then finished my stint on foot, and Paul (Spoony) took over as the special guest star to keep Brett occupied over the upcoming 28 or so km’s.
As we climbed higher, the temperature dropped and day was slowly turning into night … into a wintry chilly night, similar to a July night; not a 13th December night. Crazy, just crazy – the stupid weather system that is – not the ultra runners. I just want to make that point very clear!
All the others (runners and crew) who had got this far had experienced this, and now it was our turn … the only difference was that we were doing it in the dark … (yes, there are some lines there, but I’m a bit tired now to be trying to search what’s in the “naughty cupboard” in my brain to add such devious thoughts in!).
Again we had two cars helping out, one in front and one behind, lighting the way for our intrepid debutante for C2K. As we got further along the conditions worsened, with swirling rain … yes, swirling, as the wind was so hard and fast and changing, that it was coming from one direction and then in a moment, it would switch around at great speed and blast in from another angle. And that was for us inside the car … heavens knows how bad it would have been if we’d been where Brett and Paul were!!
As we slowly counted down the kilometres, Paul was being battered about alongside Brett. He kept up a constant verbal offering to Brett to help keep him focused … I’m not sure what Brett was privileged to hear, but at one stage, there was Neil Diamond songs being sung to him … but all in all, it was an awesome effort by Paul, to encourage and motivate Brett in such awful crap conditions.
Just before midnight, the support vehicles moved ahead and were bought to rest in the carpark … and all that was left was for Brett to climb that last little section to the finish … and at 12:03am, Brett moved past Paul and Diane Every’s car (that was lighting the way to the finish) and to the witches hat and his epic ordeal after 42 odd hours was over!
FANTASTIC EFFORT BRETT.
After this spiel, again, who knows who’s managed to read it all, but I hope that perhaps my other half and kids will read it … and I might even read it again once I post it to the site.
Special mentions go to:
Mal (Maggot) Gamble, who accepted my offer to crew … mate, I’m so sorry for how your debut at C2K finished … but I suspect that you will be feeling like you have much unfinished business to attend to in 2009. In my euphoric state after the finish, I may have mentioned to a few people that I will be hoping to do C2K in 2009, but being realistic, perhaps I should wait another year to make my debut …
Brett (Brett’s Run) Saxon … mate what a legend you are; an ultra running legend, who endured the worst possible conditions and came through it at the other end, with a new Akubra and a finish at C2K on your resume. You gutsed it out and dug so deep in atrocious conditions … what a truly amazing effort, and I’m proud to say that I know you and that I was there to see it all unfold.
To Dave Billet, who finished 11 minutes behind Brett … you were always close to Brett for much of the journey and also to you, I dip my lid for the endurance that you went through to tough it out for so long. (As Tim, the winner of C2K for the last two years said, “I don’t know how you guys could continue out there for so long, in such conditions" … he was gobsmacked).
To the Crew Members:
Paul Monks, mate we sang up a storm on the first night while we were with Mal … and then to see you in action on the following night assisting Brett, it just proved what a versatile and amazing young fellow you are … I learnt so much from you during the 40 odd hours that we were together in how to crew and how to react to situations … a valuable experience; thanks mate.
Rod (Minus 15), you were there every step of the way for Brett and gave so much to the cause … and not just for the weekend gone, but in the lead up weeks as well; even making a special trip down from Sydney to do a reco of the course, organising provisions and every other item that might be needed; and to have your van decked out so well. It was a very enjoyable experience over the final km’s while you were with me in the vehicle helping out.
To Michael and Chris … I know you guys will read this even though you aren’t Cool Runners, cause I’m going to make you read it! Coming into this with little understanding of what ultra running means / is / involves and to crew for such a cause was just unbelievable … and then to experience the weather conditions that we faced; guys, that is just guts personified. I really hope that you stay talking to me after this weekend!
I could continue with Thanking people, but I’ll end it now … well almost.
A quick note here that I was disappointed, almost to the point of being heart-broken, that I missed out on seeing Curtis Rocco!
I would like to congratulate EVERYONE who participated and crewed … not just the finishers, because during the first section the winds were harsh as well … it’s just that the winds seemed to liven up as Jindabyne approached.
What a weekend … one that will live in my memory forever … largely due to the fact that I keep a diary, but besides that; it was so fantastic in meeting so many Cool Runners and putting a face to different people’s CR names.
Lastly, I would like to thank Paul Every and Diane Weaver, who made helped make this fantastic and extraordinary event possible. Everytime they came past they would be out and checking on us making sure we were all safe and well … and that would have been for all runners and crew as well. And then to see them waiting for us just after midnight last night was just amazing. If it wasn’t so late and so cold and so windy, I reckon I would have teared up … but I think they would have froze on my face anyway.