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Keith Hong's
2009 race report.

Nothing is a given

“If you have to ask the question, you will never understand the answer” – Sir Douglas Mawson

In my pre-race thoughts, I commented if I am able to find true meaning in this absurd sport that drives us to the edge, I should be able to find bigger meaning in the other absolute absurd – Life.

The race has ended and we are in beginning of a new week. I have neither found the secret to eternal youth or perpetual happiness. However, I believe, for now, why I have such passion for ultra endurance running and its various associations

My 2009 Coast to Kosci attempt ended at precisely 39.38hours. I was one Kilometer from the Monument or 10km to the finishing line back down in Charlotte Pass. Along my way up to that point, runners and crews alike, everyone stopped and congratulated me, despite me not crossing the finishing line yet. Coming through Charlotte on the start of the trek, I remarked to Diane and Paul that I will shake their hands to complete the formality only when I come back down from the summit. I knew things weren’t over, until I actually have crossed the finishing line

My dear wife Helen told me I came back through and cross the finishing line in a 4WD, not as a finisher but a casualty.

Paul Every and Andrew “Whippet” both made a joint decision for safety reason(s), that having me to cross the icy ridge in that state I was in would be a perfect recipe for disaster; In my mind, all I was thinking how can I beg Paul to let me crawl and turtle my way one more kilometer to spank the mammoth, and then allow the final adrenaline rush to push me back home. With more than 6 hours to do that, I am in good shape to still take home the wooden spoon.

It didn’t happen.

Snippets of what happened in Australia’s highest toilet and how I got back down safely mapped out on post race breakfast - Paul made his way back down on foot and got in-touch with the firey to open the vehicle access gate. He then made his way back up on his 4WD to ferry the demise runner. Back up in Rawson’s Pass, Whippet and Helen were desperately keeping my core temperature in check. At one stage, I was told I was sandwich between Whippet and Helen, spooned up on the cold concrete floor just to keep me from falling into hypothermia - These people were trying to keep me alive..



Months prior coming into the race, I began with a time in mind to complete this 240km run –“Brick” tore my race plan up to pieces and ate it as part of his post GNW recovery meal. Speaking to Diane and Paul over a delightfully crafted dinner by the host month prior, further set the time factor away. Close mate Andrew ‘Beaver” Vize constantly highlight the accomplishment for a race of such nature IS to finish. Sean "long arm" William’s encouragement text message night before race further affirmed to myself I should set myself out to finish. Nothing else mattered. I am giving 101%. All these people have figured it out long time ago – Funny to say I only discovered it at the start line Friday morning.

Race details aside, my crew and race plan worked ok. The ultimate downfall is my failure to not further ingest food at the most critical point. It is important to highlight one key important element for any Successful Coast to Kosci - The formation of harmonious crew – There must be no ego, no need to demonstrate I am a know it all, and certainly not an opportunity to induce unnecessary stress on the runner.

Providing support and providing personal space is such a fine art. There are no set formulas that pacers should only talk at such moment or endless firing of rounds of encouragement is not good. However, as much this good crew + determined runner = Success, it is also critical for the crew to recognize this is one occasion the runner can be selfish and be given the total respect and personal boundary

On the drive back from Jindy back home, Helen asked what about this sport that I love so much. My first buzzy answer would have been  Ultra running allows me an opportunity to see how far to the edge I can push myself. However should such reply find it’s way to any of the 4 Aussie Grand Slam race directors, the name Keith”Buzzlightyear” Hong will be banned.

I sat on the passenger seat of our 4-berth toilet/shower mother ship for another 10 minutes in silence. I gave Helen a revised reply

“ Some people have a love for extreme sports – The rush of jumping off a cliff or out from the plane ; drive a fast sports car over a 3km circuit, really quickly ; Fly a plane ; I love how I can be out there for hours and hours, running and running only, marathons and beyond, able to still ponder in my own realm of thoughts. And then to be able to feel the build up of the rush of the imminent finishing line, and then to actually cross it, the rush is beyond anything I have done. For every other run, the race is over before you can feel any build up.”

Paul Every remarked about the 2009 winners – The amazing Jo Blake and the wonderful Pam Muston, that they have beautiful controlled running. I believe this IS what makes them tick. All these Athletes, the repeat offenders, the debutants finishers, that they understand that effort is not a build up and release - That is savouring the moment in bite size.

My mantra is now not to give it 101% - 2010 will be a year how I will learn to transform my buzzy energy and bottle it into series burst of control release. I will be back to spank the mammoth. Stop, if you think for a moment I will curb my enthusiasm – I will still be me, just a year older and wiser. Yes Ray,I will be!

A few thanks – My wife – Helen. You were the balance of my adventure. Without you 230km would have been 23.

Paul and Diane – I am honored that I can play a small role in what IS the epitome of ultra running (well said by Slowmanic)

Whippet (and Paul) – I am indebted to you. Your care and concern saved my life

Slowmanic, Orimbah, MQ and Bunny – Just by being there.

The all who i got to know a little bit more about you while running along the course(FarmBoy, Tim, Seris, Billy, Mal)

The Aussie Slammers (Bluedog, Seris, Brick, Hermie) – Deeply humbled by your achievement. im Not Worthy.gif

The four race directors of Aussie Slam (Ian Javes, Joint-RDs-of-GOW, Dave Byrnes, Paul Every) for recognising and supporting the Australia Ultra running Grand Slam drinks.gif

My family - For their endless love and support Throughout!

FINALLY

My friend Beaver who left me the following text message on Sunday - This is why I have so much respect and love for you as my friend friends.gif

“It is not the critic who counts, or how the strongman stumbled and fell,or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena ,who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion,and who spends himself n a worthy cause. If he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that he may never be one of those cold and timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat

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