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Last day to Rome

12 Jun


IMG_1817       My last night sleeping with Italian men… I left 2 of them sleeping soundly in the little village of Fromello as I disappeared into the day that I knew was going to be a scorcher.
I was surprised to continue on trail for a fair way before it became obvious I was about to enter a major city. The rubbish everywhere was disappointing. That breakdown lane below was a garbage dump.IMG_1818

Really Italy. You need to clean up your act. I’d noticed yesterday that there were TVs dumped in creeks and bags of waste just chucked. Bottles and cigarette packets galore 😠
Anyhoo…. Bought myself a gelato and some focaccia and made my way south. The roads were choked with traffic in parts and I was travelling faster than the cars. IMG_1822

At other times I was on ridiculously dangerous roads with no verge. Nothing worse than getting cleaned up in the last 15 Kms. The photo below was taken when there weren’t two lanes of traffic speeding towards me with nowhere for me to get off the road. IMG_1823

The signage wasn’t easy to follow and was once again grateful for Roger’s help fixing my GPS. It would have been like a stranger navigating their way from San Souci to Manly.
At one point I entered a park above Rome and sat for a few minutes. Not really thinking about much, not emotional, just numb really. I’d planned to get to the Vatican at 1pm and it was around 12. Just a big zig zag down the hill on shitty uneven trail and navigating a few more streets and I was there.

It was 35 degrees and I was just beginning to realise that I wouldn’t have to do this tomorrow… Or the next day… Or the….
There were people everywhere. Not one was interested in me. These were your typical tourists walking 4 abreast and complaining about the heat and looking miserable as though they were suffering more than anyone else. Oh how I haven’t missed first world problems.
It crossed my mind too many times what the people really suffering would think. You know, the ones not on a holiday.

I entered “The City” and felt like an ant with so many people around. I took a photo to let everyone know I had arrived while waiting for my Testamonial (a stamp and a piece of paper) and waited in line with a bunch of people complaining about their tour…..
30 mins later I was out the door with my prize. IMG_1828

I sat down amidst the throngs and searched for a hotel on my phone.
My phone went crazy with so many texts, emails, FB messages.
The support from friends has been huge and a major comfort in the last 6 weeks. It hasn’t been easy or fun, but I did it. I’m not doing it again, but I’m glad I have. If you know what I mean….



Talking about the 100th . . .

14 Sep

Pinched from Hoka OneOne!

The North Face 100 kms Blue Mountains May 2012

27 May

My 4th TNF . No specific training after a few kms of desert, but I felt pretty good. I was worried about having too many kms in the legs after April (around 900kms for the month) I had only trained once on the course with one night run on the last section with Adam and a few of his mates a couple of weeks ago.
As usual I shared a room with Blue Dog and Bernie and felt pretty relaxed on the Friday evening until dropping off my drop bags and hoping to bypass the Bar at the Fairmont. All round great guy Andy Hewatt was calling out my name as I jumped up the stairs…. down I go to help him deliver first aid to some woman. She had totally obstructed her airway and was pretty blue. Ignoring all the things I teach down at North Curly, I went straight for the jaw thrust to get a grunt out of her… airway was tight, but she was trying to breathe. F#** I’m glad that worked…. wasn’t really wanting the adrenaline rush of CPR without my pocket mask… Had to continue until ambos arrived and off she went to hospital.
Great, now for bed. Slept pretty well which was very much needed after a week taking my sick Dad’s dog to the vet. Vet wanted to put him down (the dog, I think it should have been both…) Dad refused. Dog now craps on the carpet. With some cancer in his liver or stomach, it shouldn’t be more than a few weeks before Dad loses his best friend 😦
OK… back to TNF. Up dressed and feeling ok. I didn’t really have my mojo. Maybe it’s because this is the 3rd anniversary of the weekend my brother died and I don’t get the race feel. Maybe it was after the Simpson Desert. Whatever. I was here to run 100kms and enjoy the people and the place. There is a certain magic that draws so many to run this. 2012 was no different. With just over 1000 entries, there were only 638 finishers.
Last year I ran 17:27, so had put myself in Wave 3 (finish between 17 and 19 hours) I don’t need to put pressure on myself in the early stages and look like a total wanker if I can’t keep up… the finish time will tell heaps more than starting earlier. The first section was slow. Waiting at the trail was frustrating for everyone. Maybe my total time could have been faster by 10mins.. big deal.  Heard too many runners making excuses of wanting a sub “whatever” time and blaming it on slower runners. There were plenty of k’s to make up for it. (some runners ran 2 hours slower than they wanted and blamed a 10 minute hold up in the first few k’s!!)
Saw Brad (one of my gorgeous C2K crew from last year) up the top of the Golden Stairs just before CP1. The 18 km first section done in 2:48 was slow, but what I expected. Now to get a move on. Lovely running along Narrow Neck with a few guys and then a hold up at Tarros Ladder. One of the official guys asked if some of us wanted to take the detour. At around 400metres it was probably a good idea in hindsight as the ones that did from behind us ended up in front. Mostly lovely running to CP 2  apart from running past my lovely mate Richo. He hasn’t run for the last 2 months due to LOVE… and that’s a good thing 🙂 He was my saviour at GNW last year when I fell and needed to be stitched up, so would have loved to have helped him, but I think… really, that he just wanted some chick called Jess…
38kms to CP 2 in 5:37 (5:48 last year) 11 mins ahead!! and a check of our compulsory gear..
Off for the 16kms to Cp3. Iron Pot wasn’t too bad. It’s a good climb, but not long. Will time it next year (did I just say that I would do this again?) Digeridoo and a good look on the out and backs to see who’s just in front and just behind. Shitty… REALLY SHITTY waste of time downhill off Iron Pot Ridge. Nothing worse than an unrunnable downhill. Would love to see the fast guys down this….
Felt pretty good and seemed to be passing more runners than were passing me. The uphill before a lovely 3 kms down to CP 3 was a boost as I walked past guys with twice my stride.
Looked for my drop bag, downed a pureed apple, Up and Go and grabbed a sambo to go. Had to walk back to put stuff in the bin (that sort of thing can really piss you off when doing 100kms..) Organisers need to look at helping the unsupported runners just a bit more.
Out of CP 3 at 8:18 (8:31 last year)13 minutes ahead!
Walked out eating the cheese and ham sandwich. My throat was sore and really didn’t need (read want) to eat. Was hoping that the sore throat was from running and not all the moaning from 100’s of runners on why their run was going to be violated…
So out of CP 3 for the next 11 kms and Nellies Glen. I walked for a while until Pat Gibbons caught me up and we ran for a bit. Pat and I had done Oxfam Trailwalker together in some fast times and we were justa “tad” competitive. I had beaten him by a few minutes last year and knew that he was on the money to fix that this year. I told him to run on as I wanted to keep my food down. I didn’t see him again….. until after the finish 🙂 I had beaten him by over an hour YAY!!!!!!
Up Nellies is only 25 mins of pain. It was light, there were people suffering around me. That’s a good thing. I reached the top to the smiling assassin Brad again. He knows where people are suffering and loves to watch. Also up here and suffering as a runner was Luis. NO WAY should I ever be passing him! 😦
I reached CP 4 at 5:10pm and found my bag. Grabbed some noodles but they were too hot to eat…….found my fleecy, put my head torch (or the great new PETZL NAO that I was trialling for the first time..) Got some help from Garth to get outta there and at 5:21pm 20 mins ahead of last year I ventured out for the longest section to CP 5 of 24kms.
Just out of the CP, I found Simon Da Rosa… we first met 6 years ago at 6 ft Track and it was so great to run with him for most of this section. We smashed this section and both decided to whack our head phones in at the base of Kedumba at 80kms. I reckon 15kms of chit chat was enough for him 🙂 Nobody passed me going up Kedumba. I was smashing it (well. in my eyes I was smashin it….)
The goal Simon had suggested was to 89kms at 14:15…. so I did just a tad better than that. By the time I got to CP 5 I really couldn’t eat. I wanted nothing but knew I had to eat. Coke? the CP had none. I had one small can but I wasn’t sure it was enough.Brad and Kieron and Clare were all watching but they weren’t allowed in the unsupported runners tent. Wished they had been. I needed someone to shove something/anything they could find down my throat.Left CP 5 at 14:16….. 44mins ahead of last years time!  I slipped out with a small bag of my favourite rice crackers from Suse in Tokyo. Just. Couldn’t. Eat. 11 kms. Just hold it together and you have a sub 17 Jane. I felt pretty nauseous and walked a lot of this section happy knowing that unless my guts unravelled I had my sub 17.
The last section was uneventful and I was in self preservation mode. There are some nasty narly sections and slippery rocks. All was good. I hadn’t changed shoes or socks during the race, my feet felt fabulous all race in new Hokas that I had been given the week before and only run 10kms in. They were a one off prototype for the new Evo Tarmac road shoe coming out in a couple of months but these had a trail tread. Totally awesome shoe. I really believe that my faster time this year is all thanks to my shoes. Comfy feet, comfy 100km ride. Finish time 16:36.

At $330 an entry, it’s the most expensive running event around.  Will I do it again? That’s a 99% “yes” because of the people I get to run with…. not for the “extra small” men’s shirt that goes down to my knees. Really surprised that there aren’t more runners from overseas as it is the most scenic 100kms along side Great Ocean Walk.

Team Hoka 2012: Jane Trumper talks North Face 100

18 May

Team Hoka 2012: Jane Trumper talks North Face 100.

Written by my BFF…. Suse.

12 May

I am going to let you read something Suse emailed me.  I think I have run more kms with her than anyone… including Pete. When I started running with her, she had never had a running partner. I had only two. We spent a few years running around the Palace in Tokyo and they were the best days…. ever. We now catch up at least once a year to run Tokyo marathon with our husbands who also get along famously. We run and we talk. I just love her. We can disagree (not often) but fulfill a couple of important roles in each others lives. If I tell her something that I feel strongly about, she listens…. and hardly ever disagrees. We are there to make each other strong when we need it. Everyone needs a friend like we both have. A bit of a boost when needed and a friend to hug. Thankyou Suse, for sharing the adventure.

“Running Across the Simpson Desert – April 1 to April 10 2012 (written by Susan Griffen on 11/5/12)

One month ago I ended what is undeniably the biggest adventure I have ever embarked upon in my life.  The memories are starting to fade so it’s crucial that I get it all down in words before that happens.

My friend Jane Trumper was destined to be the first woman to run across the Simpson Desert in the Australian Outback.  Jane is a storied ultramarathoner but this would be her biggest challenge to date.  She had already attempted to do this in September of 2011, but she was stopped by bush fires 350 or so kilometers into it.  Jane happened to be in Tokyo visiting to run the Tokyo Marathon when she disclosed that she’d be trying again, this time running alone with support vehicles which she had solicited herself.  My husband piped in with, “Suse, why don’t you go with her? You could run, like, 20K a day.”  I thought, yeah, I can do that, I run alot, I work out alot, how hard could it be? Okay, I signed on.

The first thing that pops out of people’s mouths after hearing this is, “Why?”

My initial journal entry, written while sitting in the lounge of Tokyo’s International airport on March 28th, posed that very same question.  Why am I doing this?  I still wasn’t sure. The answers I wrote there in my journal ranged from, “to help a friend and to get to know that friend better and find out why SHE’S doing it” to, “to get on the Ellen Show”. No kidding.  To this day I am unclear on Why I did it.  All I know is that is was life-changing.

I arrived in Sydney on a Friday and the next day Jane and I flew to Alice Springs, where our adventure would begin as we would be meeting, for the very first time, the couple into whose hands I was truly putting my life.  Janet and Garry Tapper, from York, Western Australia (Where the hell is that? I thought to myself, the American that I am) met us at the airport and Garry loaded up the vehicle (I already had to stand in the shade as my Tokyo winter pasty white skin was clearly not happy about the 38 degree temperature–that’s 100.4 fahrenheit for you American readers). 

We drove the whatever hundred kilometers to Lambert Centre, the geographical center of Australia and the place from which we would begin our run.  When we hopped out of the car Jane realized it was the last time she’d be in a moving vehicle for 10 days.  Wow. Just, wow.

Now, I am not a “camper”, so to speak, so as we pitched our tents that night I already was thinking myself a pain in the ass as I had questions about my self-inflating mat.  Do you have an extra headlamp?  What time are we getting up because I have to go to the bathroom (bathroom? NOT) before we start running?  What kind of animal poo is this and could this animal kill me?  Are there REALLY snakes in the Simpson Desert that are venomous (more on that later)?  I honestly thought to myself, Jane is probably sorry she brought me along, a fear which recurred often, to be honest.

And then, morning came and we started running.  This is what Jane and I do.  We run together.  We have done so much running together that suddenly things felt completely normal. Never mind the wild horses, never mind the extreme heat (113F the first day for Jane’s mid-day), never mind the vultures and the flies and the no toilets and the no showers and the NO WINE (!!!) and the snakes (we did end up seeing an Inland Taipan, the deadliest snake on the planet).  I was once again side by side with one of my favorite people and we were doing our favorite thing.  There were long silences, there were strange statements (“Jane, I’ve gotta poo, you go on, I’ll catch up”), there were more sand dunes than we could count, there was the headwind from hell…it just didn’t matter.  We ran.  When we talked we talked about our families, our parents, our husbands, our children, ourselves.  I did learn alot more about Jane, and I already knew alot.  I just loved the running with Jane, and I know in my heart that she did, too.

Peter and Ellis, the inhabitants of Vehicle Number Two, arrived halfway through our first day of running.   They had taken the back seat out of their car so unfortunately it was not an option for me to hop in with them at any point.  I’m sorry about this as they both seemed to be extremely interesting people. I’d have to get to know them better at camp every night.

I ran between 20 and 31 kilometers every day, averaging 25/day over the 10 days.  Jane and I were the only runners in the group and of course everyone thought what Jane was doing was amazing, and it was, but what I was doing was quite a stretch for me, a person with a history of eating disorders and excessive exercise patterns and trouble with hydration, etc.  When I felt I had had enough, I knew I had to stop myself because it was an honor that Jane trusted me enough to bring me along and I’d be damned if I was gonna be the one to bring this journey to a halt by having to be airlifted out of the desert due to dehydration.  I will not lie, the thought crossed my mind alot.  ALOT!!

When I was done running for the day I hopped into Janet and Garry’s car and began enjoying the other favorite part of my adventure.  We had lots of time to just sit and wait for Jane at each check point.  Our car and Peter’s car would leapfrog every 5 K to feed Jane, make sure she didn’t need anything, and HAND OVER THE RED BAG (this held all of Jane’s essential things like blister care stuff, i-Pod charger, etc.).  The Red Bag had a starring role in this production!   Janet and Garry and I had lots of time to talk, and thankfully we got along famously (I hope they agree).  I ended up absolutely loving them both.  Garry reminded me of my two brothers-in-law, a couple of  guys that I trust as much as I do my own husband.  Garry and Janet made me feel safe and, shall we say, interesting. I will consider them lifelong friends, the time we shared cannot be described.    I felt like I truly deserved to be here in every way, and as the days wore on that feeling grew stronger and stronger.  I began to feel more a part of the group as we set up camp at night, I felt more comfortable being so out of my element, and I thoroughly enjoyed our time sitting around eating dinner and chatting about our lives.

The Australian Outback is amazing.  We were blessed with clear skies and the most beautiful moon every night.  Although the heat was oppressive for Jane and made her ordeal that much harder, I admit I was thankful that it didn’t rain (except for one scary thunderstorm on Day 2 at Mt. Dare when I thought my tent would blow away with me in it). I felt so blessed to be included in Jane’s mission, we took so many pictures together, goofy ones with salt pans in the background, pictures of Jane’s Garmin at every notable distance, the beautiful sunrises, the awesome animals.  Not many people get to see this part of the world, certainly not many Americans, and I was grateful every moment.

I never for one second thought that Jane would not accomplish her goal.  That is the absolute truth…NEVER!!  Jane is determined, Jane is strong, Jane is an UNBELIEVABLE role model for healthy running, she taught me so much on this trip about how to take care of yourself and it was an honor to be by her side for 252 kilometers of her 664 kilometer journey.  It is a rare blessing to find a friend like Jane and I really can’t put into words what she means to me, and what this trip meant to me.  I am incredibly proud that she put her faith in me and included me in her dream.”

A crew’s perspective. Notes from Janet and Garry :)

7 May

This post was written by Janet after reading a day or two of my blog and thinking I had it all wrong…..  enjoy the humour and the different perspective…. I can’t tell you how lucky I was to find these people to crew for me.

March 31st……  After picking Jane and Suse up at the airport we headed out to the vehicle where Jane  tried to tell Garry how to pack the car. He said you do your job and I’ll do mine and then the fun began. Heading on to Kulgera, Jane, after having an ice cream  and the last comfort stop for 10 days, directed us out to Lambert’s centre. She had put us back on the main highway and heading to Adelaide ……….Jane had told us she had been there before no wonder Garry and Janet got worried.

Day 1……..After getting Jane and Suse off running, Garry packed up the camp all our stuff was packed up no problem, then came the time to pack up Suse and Jane’s 3 second tents..  20 minutes later and after a few choice swearwords from Garry he finally squeeeeeeezed the tents into their bags as Janet stood watching and trying not to laugh too loud.!!!

Day 2……. Headed out to Mt. Dare after taking 15 minutes to pack those bloody 3 second tents…. Arrived at Mt. Dare and Suse went off for a shower, Janet was busting for the loo and after flushing couldn’t believe all the “things” coming out of the lip of the toilet as she flushed…It was only 10 frogs climbing all over the inside of the toilet and not letting go YUKK !! So then she wasn’t prepared to go into the shower for fear of what was in there ! Garry decided after getting water and refuelling he would go ferral (his words) and not shower either . Carried on further down the road until we came to a great camping site or so we thought !!!…. well what a night we were all in for…. Not only were the mozzies having a feast on our lovely skin but the flies were carrying us away. Eventually we all retired to bed a little pale from loss of blood and a little more iron deficient. After getting settled chaos erupted with Cyclone Dare arriving. Garry flew out of the tent with Janet hot on his heels to pack away all the camping gear before it got blown away. Suse called out “do you need a hand?” to which Garry replied ” NO stay in you tent so it won’t blow away ” 1/2 an hour later with everything packed away calm was once again restored .

Day 3….. Packed up once again Garry down to 10 minutes on the 3 second tents of the girls… He felt concerned so did a  head count and  camp search looking for a dead body to explain the amount of blood left on the fly screen of the girls tent. Once everyone was accounted for we headed for Dalhousie Springs .

Day 5………….. Great camping spot found by Garry …………. Ellis telling funny stories…. like the one about Peters sheep are so old they are old enough to vote!!!!.  The search for the elusive camel for Suse to see continues…

Day 8……….. Garry and Janet were seeing the mental focus now needed for Jane to finish the job… she was getting a little despondent towards the end of the day regarding eating. She was even refusing her BANANA CAKE… so after a think tank in the car between Garry, Janet and Suse we came up with some nice tasty noodles to offer her in the hope she would eat some.. The dilemma now was how to entice her to want them .. Garry to the rescue… So over the 2 way radio he said, ” Haawhoa Miss Jane, you come my howse ….. you have happy noodle….. make you feel goowd.”….  Jane appeared over a dune laughing and had some noodles which kept her going….

Nutrition and safety.

6 May

So where do I start about what to eat and what to take when there are no shops or hospitals for 664kms?

I knew it was going to be hot. If I had a simple life that didn’t involve raising kids, work etc. I would pick winter. Running in June/July/August would be a breeze. I had a 2 week window this year that I could do this. With my son Charlie doing his HSC this year, I had to do it early in the season. I plan to be around for him for the rest of the year. The Simpson Desert is closed during the summer months because of extreme temperatures… it had only been open for two weeks when I started running. I thought it would be hot… like 35C not 45C!

Even with the heat we had decided for safety and ease of setting up camp there was no running at night.

We had VKS radio contact, epirb, GPS tracking in both cars and I carried a radio when running to communicate to both cars and for safety when vehicles were heading my way. I also carried a Spot 2 GPS tracker with an emergency button that if pressed would alert the appropriate authorities…. and send them out to the last GPS co ordinate. It was used to let family and friends know where I was each day and I’d press the ok button at camp to let them know where I was for the night.

I left the water situation to the boys. Garry and Peter had plenty. For two total strangers, I was totally committed to their knowledge of the desert and their cars. Emails and phone calls flew around before the trip and I felt comfortable.

I packed 23 kgs in a duffle bag. Tent, sleeping mat, running clothes, first aid and supplements. No hair dryer or makeup. I didn’t look at myself for 10 days. No mirror…. probably a good thing 😉 I also had around 15kgs of carry on luggage.(mainly nutrition)

First Aid. The most comprehensive gear I have ever put together.

St John info sheets (for the crew) I knew my First Aid, but what if I was unconscious??

IV cannulas, Hartmanns fluid, IV lines, tourniquets, compression bandages, ice packs.

Drugs… Adrenaline, Zofran, Antibiotics, Immodium, Pain Killers (NSAIDS and Panadol) Fortunately not one drug was needed.

Dental emergency kit, Emergency glue, steri strips, thermometer, scales, bandages, tapes, needles, syringes, alcowipes… yeah, yeah, space blankets, scissors and whatever else you think I may have missed. Really should have written everything down … but you get the gist. I was totally prepared for the worst. I’d even asked one of the Cardiac surgeons I work with if he could fly a plane 🙂

Spent some time with the pharmacist at work on what to take… anti venom… ah, bugger it. Adrenaline. If the shit hits the fan, adrenaline. If it doesn’t work…. the shit hits the fan…

Major concerns were snakebites and dehydration. After (and during) Day 1  I was seriously worried about the heat. How can I get through over 650kms if the temp continues to be 45C? I was very aware of what I was drinking and the lack of urine on the first day. Over 15 litres in and 200 mls out in 24 hrs is a major concern. 

Passing vehicles and dressed for the heat.

I know the risk taken when you take NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs like Nurofen/Ibuprofen) combined with ultra running and dehydration. I don’t want to mess with my kidneys. I didn’t take any painkillers for the whole trip.

The only time I had any thought of a cramp was in my hammy when I hit my mat and was horizontal at 17:30 on Day 1. Garry noticed… damn it. He suggested magnesium tabs….He doesn’t miss a beat that guy. I took nothing but I was glad he was watching over me.


You plan for a 100km event. You take more…. a lot more.

I’d packed heaps of eLoad Gu, electrolyte tabs, sports drink. I ate no Gu. I carried it incase I needed it but for a 664km event I felt it was important to keep the digestion real. The sports drink was consumed in copius amounts. So was water. The electrolye tabs were great when I just hated the excess sports drink.

The first few days I was eating Just Right for breakfast. I then decided that I just wanted an Up and Go. The crew would pack up camp and meet me 25 kms down the road.  I’d eat creamed rice and then tinned fruit after that. By 40kms, it was whatever I felt like. It was so stinking hot and I felt like lemonade and rice crackers… tuna and rice cake… I thought I’d be into sweet stuff like apricot delights, snakes etc but my body was more wanting protein and savoury stuff.

My hydration pack was fine for the first 30kms. After that I took the bladder out as it was like drinking dirty, hot tap water. The crew could then hand me a cold bottle when I saw them.

I packed magnesium, zinc and calcium tablets but took none. I wanted to trust my food and how I felt. I also carried some Ensure (total nutrition powder) as back up if I couldn’t stomach food. (Thanks Ian for the heads up.) It came home with me unopened. I had to have every product possible on board. Just in case.

My crew were wondering why my food bag was basically untouched. Their supplies were so good that my bag was void of any item not already offered to me and Suse had bought my favourite rice snacks from Tokyo. Oishi!

My crew were there for me but not controlling me.  I was happy to eat whatever was planned for the evening meal by Garry and Janet and Peter and Ellis.  I knew I had to keep on top of my nutrition and any physical or mental issue that may present itself. As long as they thought I knew what I was doing… all is good 🙂 I’m good at bullshitting… should be ok 🙂

……….. 664kms to Birdsville :)

1 May

Up at the crack of dawn (I really didn’t sleep at all last night…..)

It was cold. I wasn’t going to complain, but it wasn’t long before I was shivering, not from excitement. My Garmin was on 15% battery, I was dressed in dirty clothes and my new Toasty Mitts Skirts Sports jumper that I was saving for post desert festivities. It was the only warm thing I had at camp.

I rolled up my mat and wrote on my tent… I will sleep in a bed tonight.

Garry and Janet had a routine in the morning and I felt pretty useless trying to help pack up. I was never around to watch the other mornings.

I hadn’t felt the cold until now. Maybe because every other morning I just started running as soon as I was ready, but I really think it was just a whole lot colder today.

Just as camp was packed up and I was itching to get running and warm, a red vehicle appears! Peter and Ellis!! I was wondering what would have happened if we had left just before they arrived, as it may have been the biggest disaster of all. We may have run over a dune off track and missed them completely.

So, the no surprises continued. Ellis had tested the water. It was deeper than they thought and it was FREEZING.

Shit. In dirty gear, old shoes, no garmin charged. Changing tactics.  NO SURPRISES????

Back to running the extra kilometres and staying dry.

I was freezing. I just wanted to start running. Now that I had my Garmin charger Garry wouldn’t let me go till my Garmin read 20% charge. He knew it wasn’t going to last long but was on the case. I could also clean my teeth.:)

Let’s get outta here! Suse and I took off for the last day.

Peter and Ellis showed us the way and Garry and Janet drove behind us. I stopped Garry a couple of times to tell him to turn off the engine and drive conservatively if he was worried about petrol…. (yeah, right…) Petrol was not an issue. I was running in long sleeves and pretty relieved that I wasn’t swimming through water right now. An extra 20 kms would make it a pretty normal day and it was a mild 37C max today.

The first few hours were sand dunes and a head wind. After Suse stopped running, I turned to the north and for a few kms had a wonderful tailwind. I was running on rocky track and watched my feet more than the scenery…. until something caught my eye…

Seven inquistitive emus were coming up to the track, having a good look and running with me. This continued all the way till I hit the right hand turn onto the main dirt road into Birdsville. I was now travelling east for the last time and had the headwind again.

Peter had just told me that he had gone into Birdsville last night to let the town know I was coming and I was getting a Police escort into town. I was about 30 kms from the finish and he and Ellis drove in to give warning of ETA.

I wasn’t eating much, I wanted to treat the last day more like a marathon (plus 15kms) I didn’t have to worry about tomorrow. My pace was delayed somewhat every 10 kms as I had to stop to recharge the trusty Garmin. No way was I finishing without the last day recorded, it was frustrating as Garry wouldn’t let me leave until it was back up to 18-20% each time. Suse and Janet would feed, water and sunscreen me while Garry charged the garmin.

I wasn’t sure exactly how far I had to run today because of the detour around the water at Big Red. Pretty surprised to see this sign…Cupla miles.. really?? Nah. I reckon it was still 10 kms away….

Just before I saw this sign, three motor bikes went screaming past heading west towards Big Red. They were the first bikes I’d seen since I left Sydney. Where were they going? There’s nothing out there … surely they can’t ride over dunes?

It wasn’t the last time I saw those guys. They were 3 tough looking blokes from out Penrith way and they’d bought Desert Parks passes to ride through the Simpson Desert. They didn’t get to Big Red, let alone out of Queensland. I saw them the next day in Birdsville looking battered, bruised and worse for wear after falling off their bikes numerous times trying to get over the dunes. Lucky they were smart enough to turn around…Back to the road…. I wasn’t emotional. I thought I would be as there had been a few days where my thoughts had me pretty teary. With some passing cars I’d have a lump in my throat as I tried to explain Bear Cottage, sometimes it was just realising how incredibly fortunate I am to have my family and health. I want nothing. How cool is that?

About 10 kms out of Birdsville I met up with Don who drove beside me at 10kms/hr and then a couple of kms out met Neale (Policeman) who drove in front of me to the pub. ( at a pace that was a tad too fast!) It was great to have Suse beside me as we laughed all the way to the pub.

Kelly from Birdsville had told me that there was a glass of wine waiting for me on the bar and I wondered how long it had been there for… not that I wasn’t going to drink it if it was warm! I quickly grabbed a coke from Garry ….. didn’t need to rehydrate straight away with a wine after 10 grog free days 🙂

The entire population of Birdsville was at the pub. I don’t know how long they had been waiting for me but the pub was rocking. My wonderful support guys could finally have a cold beer and throw in their job of pampering a smelly runner.

How lucky was I to find 4 strangers that had no idea about running, but knew about the desert and 4WDing. Throw in a true friend that wanted a challenge and ran more than she ever had in a week and a lesson in the Australian outback. As Peter says, “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me”. So glad I made the effort to persevere with the organising of this. It won’t be the last.

That shower was the best shower I have ever had.. and that was a pretty good hug.

Day 8 …… Poeppel to 544kms.

26 Apr

So what do you do on Easter Sunday? Get up to a beautiful sunrise and run a bit. I was hoping that the clouds would hang around today…… yeah, right.

The plan was a 66 km day. Numbers were playing in my head every day. There is supposed to be 166kms from Poeppel Corner to Birdsville…. That means a total of 641kms.. BUT…  With the water and detours I was banking on having to run an extra 20kms. So Plan A was to run 66kms as I would only have to run shorter Day 9 and 10.

We started the day running north next to Poeppel Lake to get to the QAA line and then continued East. For 10 kms we were between dunes/next to lake so it was great to stretch the legs early in the day.

The sand was turning red again and the salt pan crossings mixed it up a bit with the dunes.  I was so happy with the way everything was going to plan. My feet were happy in Hoka Bondi B’s and injinji socks, absolutely NO chafing with any of my clothes. Skirts Sports had decked me out in awesome gear and every day was different thanks to being happy with changing outfits! Legs felt fresh every morning maybe thanks to Zensah calf guards? All was looking good.

We were getting closer to Big Red and that meant more traffic. One salt pan had 4 or 5 cars waiting for me to cross, giving my crew time to rob from the rich and give to Bear Cottage 🙂

I spent too much time talking today… but not as much as Janet who was hot on the radio checking out people’s campsites.

Pretty devastated when some guy starts up a conversation with her involving stopping off for a wine. Could hear them on the radio and way before I saw them on the side of the track…. note I am drinking WATER!!

Janet decided on a Wild Turkey….. 🙂

Had my first stuff up with my Garmin today. It didn’t charge fully last night and I spent time running with a battery pack that wouldn’t charge it unless I had my fingers rolling the batteries around… (don’t think the usb portable rechargers work well when you are running!!!!!) Turning itself off I was devastated but really think I only lost a few kms. No big deal. (would be a big deal if my total run read 649kms….)

Awesome campsite tonight with dingoes hanging…. and howling. Made sure all my stuff was in my tent. They were still hanging when I woke up.

Day 7 to Poeppel Corner 478kms

25 Apr

I think back on today as one of my favourites. The sand had gone from red to white, the scenery had changed and I just felt good. I also had a name to get to instead of a distance. Poeppel Corner. We crossed a few salt pans and enjoyed the break from monotonous dunes for a short time.

Suse had left me by around 9 each morning. I loved the time we spent just running. No looking at our watches while we paced ourselves to a sub 4 marathon, just fun running. Like when we started running together in Japan.

If I was going loopy, it was today.  I was talking to myself…..

By midday I was sick of my ipod and just thought about stuff. Anything that came into my head. Some days it was a bit like therapy, other days ……  I started to look at the rats holes like they were elaborate Moroccan Villas…… the whole place was looking like some fancy zoo. Of, that’s right…. this is what the zoo guys try to replicate….. duh.

There had been much discussion about the safety of crossing Poeppel Lake as some cars had been bogged and required assistance. I was getting more assertive in telling the crew that I wanted no surprises in the last few days. If there was an issue, I wanted to know about it so I could be mentally and physically prepared for extra kilometres and time on my feet. So… I asked every car that was travelling from East to West what to expect and how bad was the track. I sent both vehicles ahead to check out the conditions. We had planned to camp at Poeppel Corner just the other side of this…. Poeppel Lake.

Apart from my calves being tight, I felt great. No issue with my quads and hamstrings. Feet were remarkably good. I was looking forward to reaching the border of South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland…. Poeppel Corner. The cars made it across and took off to set up camp, leaving me to run the last couple of Kms. I navigated the slippery track across the lake and made my way up the track on the other side and followed the sign to Birdsville…. that I shouldn’t have. I radioed ahead to find out that they had gone left to Poeppel Corner back down the road. Yes, the radio was worth having. One kilometre that I didn’t need to do.

Total distance 478kms with 67kms done today.