It has come to be tradition in the Trumper house that Christmas stays on the back burner until after the first Friday in December, plus a few days.. It is also tradition for Charlie, my son to receive a prize at Speech Day… and for 4 years I have missed it to do this crazy race. I’d had a bad cold, temperature and bad cough for the last 10 days. Was I going to be well enough to run?
I didn’t want to let my crew down.
I had my running mate Adam who I met “online” as “Kaos” a couple of years ago. He’d offered me a lift up to Mt Solitary 45km ultra but warned that there were finger nails embedded in his dash board. My girls were horrified and made me text his Rego plate when I got in his car….. fast forward to this year and we have done some great runs together. Enough for me to ask him to pace me for the last 75 kms of Great North Walk (175 kms of tough hilly trail)
So, he knows my highs and lows pretty well from that…. and I like his wife. He farts, but apart from that, he’s a pretty cool dude and knows when to encourage and when to just shut up. He knew I wasn’t well and I was confident that he would have severe words with me if he was concerned about any serious health issues.
Next on my crew was Sarah Jane, my competition for the happiest runner. Every time I had been at a run with her we’d had a great time. I asked her to crew at the CP Ultra in September and she’d said yes before I’d finished the question …always happy, positive and full of beans.
She also had the organisation skills of a hardened C2K crew member with EVERY box ticked. The sort of person that just makes you happy to be alive.
My third crew member was a guy called Ron. We were lucky enough to have some great training runs together on the GNW before we ran the 100 miler in November. Nice guy. Walks on water…
Relaxed, pleasant chatter and I could happily run with him for 100kms or so before I got bored He’d told me that if I knew anyone that needed crew at C2K to let them know he was interested…. as I had 3 crew already I let another runner know…. silly them didn’t take up the offer and when my third crew member had to pull out with some trying times with her partner’s health issues,(fortunately all good now) I grabbed him. 3 awesome crew, none of them had seen C2K before and really didn’t know each other. Recipe for disaster? Nah, fresh enthusiastic awesomeness. Hey, I’d run this 3 times now, they can just listen to orders, right?
I was prepared to journey down to Eden on the Wednesday and make my mind up on the Thursday afternoon if I was well enough to run. In the back of my mind I knew I should be a DNS. I’d rather not start than be a DNF. My crew were quiet, they were happy with whatever decision I made… supportive, but aware that it needed to be my decision. By Thursday I was definitely improving and took a cup of concrete and decided to get on the start line and see what happens.
Friday came and we were all in high spirits as we congregated on the sand at Twofold Bay. What were the next 240 plus kms going to be like? I had decided to wear my “lucky” dress. I’d started and finished the Simpson Desert in this dress and wore it again for luck at GNW and done close to a 4 hour PB. Had it run out of luck?
The countdown came and we were off.
I do love the first 24kms to Towamba playing leap frog with Jan as he powers up the hills and then we all overtake him on the downs. (He’s the big tall dude in white striding out next to me in that photo) He must have passed me around 6 times before I was ahead and didn’t see him again. Ran a bit with some old mates including Roger, my #1 wingman from the last two years… reckon he knew all my secrets after crewing for me for two years.
Met Kerrie from Qld. Smart girl that one. She ran a great race, hanging back early on then powering through the field. The first meeting place with crews was at 24kms. Last year my crew had decided I’d be there around 8.30am, 10 mins after I had arrived… my crew this year decided the same I ran past all the other crews swearing that my crew were useless (just wanted to give the crews something to talk about, it was going to be a long day….)
I had my pack on and needed nothing.. but it was nice when they finally decided to show
The rules this year had changed and we couldn’t have our crew run with us until sunset, so Friday was going to be hard for them, squashed in a car for the day. Fortunately I had hooked up with my mate Kieron by the marathon mark and we had plenty to talk about and enjoyed having some company. We ran the 56 kms to the bottom of Big Jack Mountain where we met our crews. This was the only 7kms of hill our crew could walk with us until sunset and it was a welcome distraction from the slug ahead. Kieron’s crew of Joe, Emma and Lise had pretty much teamed up with mine and were all having a ball.
Looked like Kieron and I would have to run together for a bit longer to keep our crews bonding ….. which we did.
Pretty sad to pass Chilliman spewing what I could only describe as 5 litres of orange gatorade. Kieron and I continued to run together until the dead tree at 103kms where I scoffed down a cup of noodles. I was on a mission to put as much as possible in my mouth. Small but often. I had been in enough ultras to witness other runners plans go to the pack by not putting in enough fuel. Today was not the day to worry about too many calories…. quite the oppposite.
It wasn’t long after the dead tree that I had picked up Adam at the next checkpoint at 8.30pm and we were running on bitumen. I had felt pretty good during the day but the night air had me coughing consistently. The coughing had me retching…. consistently. Poor Adam. He had waited all day to go for a run and all he got was a few downhill runs and a lot of heaving and walking from me and hardly any conversation. I don’t think he’d ever seen me not upbeat…. except for a few kms around the 165km mark near the end of GNW.
Just get me to Dalgetty in one piece. My words for the night were a boring “oh dear….” Never had I been sick enough to not put a few four lettered words together. I had thought more than once that it would have been a good idea if I hadn’t started…. I was tired and thought that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew with not being 100% healthy. I knew my fitness was pretty good after finishing GNW in a PB of 31:43. The chest infection was a bigger issue.
Dalgetty…. I felt like shit. I had to eat, I wanted to sleep. Sapped of energy, I put my head on the table and had a good talk to myself. I could walk the rest of the way… all 100kms of it and finish…. the thought of being out there for another 22hours?
Notice how there is a lack of photos around now??
I’ll stick a nice happy shot that is obviously NOT from about now….
Get up and get out of the chair. It was Ron’s turn to run. We started off ok, but after nearly 10kms I couldn’t understand what he was saying and wanted a seat in the car. Just give me 10 mins. I jumped in to the back seat (Adam and Sarah were attempting to sleep in the front) and put my head down.
12 minutes later I got out of the car and felt so much better. It was getting light and Ron and I were off again to find the bottom of Buloka Range and the 100 mile mark. Walking up the hill Rhian (Medic) drove past and asked how I was…. what a stuid f#@^ing question to ask someone who has been moving for 24hours and going up the steepest hill of the whole race. I gave him an earful, so he obviously knew I still had enough energy for a bit of verbal abuse This was the time I also passed Lisa. A much better runner than me, sitting on the guard rail on a steep section. “She’s a tough bugger, she’ll finish” I thought.
The top of the range and there was some nice running down to Jindabyne. My feet were hurting. Should have kept to my Hoka Bondi B’s like last year, where I was still able to run at the 210km mark near Perisher.
It was getting hot. There was some guy running into Jindy with me and Ron… a bearded guy that had crewed for some guy in the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne years ago. My feet hurt… I wasn’t really interested in talking. Jindabyne… the start of one huge bastard of a hill.
I popped a few blisters when we got to the caravan park. Then my feet REALLY hurt… but at least they could fit in my shoes.
Sarah Jane had the pleasure of my miserable company for the trek up to Thredbo River. It was hot. I was there a few hours before the cutoff. As long as I didn’t collapse I was going to get a hat pin. Really? A hat pin??
I’d mentioned a spray water bottle to Sarah a few days before we left Sydney, she’d organised it and I enjoyed getting sprayed. I hadn’t seen the sweeps since early in the race and was comfortable knowing that Rod and Rob’s jokes were behind me and I didn’t expect to see them again. Two great guys…. giving the what I thought about 8 or 9 people behind me grief… This really is the only race that you want everyone to finish. The entry criteria is so tough that all the competitors deserve to finish. I had no idea what was happening behind me.
Like last year, I hadn’t been passed by anyone since the 50km mark before Big Jack …. and that was Peter Bennett….again. I was pretty happy knowing that I wasn’t dropping off pace any more than anyone else.
There’s nothing nice about passing someone doing it tough. … Don’t know when I passed Trevor Allen but it wasn’t as memorable as passing him last year as he did his zombie walk down the hill to Jindabyne.
I passed Arnie at Perisher and then enjoyed seeing the awesomeness of fast guys driving down the mountain…. especially Michael West. What a great guy. Had a good chat with him as I bullshitted my way into looking happy walking up a hill and he shone like a gold star in the front seat of a comfy car…. Great guy… just like Ewan. Love the humbleness that these fast guys have. Then there was my mate Rob Mason… Mr Happy and why not with such a gorgeous wife?
Getting to Charlotte Pass gives me a sense of fullfillment…
It’s the first time in 220kms that you have a minute with Paul and Diane. I don’t know how these guys do it but they seem to make every runner feel like they are the only person on the planet when you get to the start of what can only be described as a pilgrimage … 9 kms up to the top of Australia and then the torturous 9km trek back down to the finish.
This race is about the people. Not just the runners, but the crew support given to us all. Kevin and John had gone back up to the snow drift to cut stairs and peg rope to keep it safe.
I held it together until about 4 kms from the finish. I was totally stuffed. Adam threatened to carry me (which I knew was mechanical aid …. so I was still functioning mentally….well sort of… The finish is always a bit of a blurr…. a drunken memory of fullfillment… I think. Lots of love, hugs and a bunch of caring people. Diane giving me sweet black tea that came up so nicely when I got to the hotel back at Jindy Shower… wet hair… bed.
Sunday….What could be better than having Mick Donges serve you breakfast…. what a God like creature…. So, that set the day up right? Seriously the best day in the year.
Surrounded by my crew and fellow runners and their crews… nothing beats the presentation. This race is the pinacle… it is Christmas… December wouldn’t be the same without it.
To have Paul call me “bomb proof”…. probably really meant I was an idiot to start the race unwell…. but I’ll take it as a compliment Farewells on Sunday are for those silly enough not to hang for another night…. and then dinner with the stayers.
To Paul and Diane, I love this race. Thankyou for making it so special.
To my crew, Adam, Sarah Jane and Ron, thankyou for a fabulous weekend, all your help to get me through what was the toughest race I have finished. There were plenty of times I had wished I hadn’t started, but now I am just so glad I did. When is enough enough?