Monday, 22 November 2010

Great North Walk 100m 2010

Going in to the 2010 GNW 100M I had no idea how my body and mind would cope with my first 100 miler. My strategy was to to go out and run the 100km as I normally do and then take it from there with the intention of making it to Patonga.

At the start I was a little nervious but seeing and talking to familiar faces helped settle the nerves and before too long we were lining up on the road for the start. I quickly settled into a comfortable pace with Sir Runalot beside me with the intention of getting the bitumen section over as quickly as possible. In my excitement I found that I was running a lot of the hills that I would normally be inclined to walk during training, however they seemed less steep or long or something in the morning with everyone else around me so I put my head down and did what felt natural.

I arrived at CP1 with Sir Runalot right by my side, I think we were 5th and 6th overall. We were met by out support crew and were in and out fairly quickly. The day was really starting to warm up and the humidity was bringing out a rarely seen sweat in me. Sir Runalot caught up to me after walkin out of CP1 eating his weet-bix on the go and hung with me for a while before he dropped back near the decent to the valley road to CP2. Having done Congewai Rd a few weeks earlier I was really worried how I would go during the race. During the training run the road seemed to be my kryptonite and sapped all my strength and energy. I was really pleased when it was finally over and I pulled into CP2. The extra gear, although small, coupled with 2L of fluid really messed with my mind and fealt as though I was carrying two bricks in my pack. I suppose it was good in a way as it encouraged me to drink in order to lighten the pack. The climb up from Watagan Ck was tough, and never seems to end but at the top I saw Dave B. The look he gave me up top was one of satisfaction as he seemed to take pleasure in knowing I was doing it tough on his course. After seeing it I was determined to conqure this event by finishing at Patonga.

After dropping Sir Runalot I spent the remainder of the 2nd leg and most of the 3rd running by myself, until I caught up with Bear just before the unmanned water stop. On the approach to The Basin I encountered the fallen tree. I didn’t know what to do. I was pretty confident that I was on the right trail but it certaintly made me ask the question. As no one was around I decided to have a little fun and climed right over it instead of around like I think most people did. I was supprised to enter The Basin and find Dave W and Matt C still in. I sat down with my crew as they pulled out the rubbish from my pack and reloaded me with more supplies. As I was sitting down having the leeches cut from my shoes and legs, Dave W come over and asked if I wanted to run with him and Matt C as they were looking for some more motivation on the next leg. So together the two of us ran out in a two way tie for first in the 100M event with Matt C in our shadows. On the out and back we passed a few runners and were able to gauge where we sat in the field. It was really good to run with Dave W for a bit as he really pushed me and kept me honest for most of this leg.

After getting onto the road at Cedar Creek I started to loose Dave W and I think I gave everyone a huge shock to come into Yarramalong 2nd overall leading the 100M event outright. I quickly got refueled and ran out again with my headlight on, as daylight finally dissapeared, by my self and started to wonder if I really should have organised a pacer for the next two legs. I did the out and back only seeing Matt C along the way and I quietly snuck up the hill out of Yarramalong Valley.
As I got to the top of the hill my headlight light started to play silly buggers so I stopped to fix it. While doing this Beaver and his pacer Russell caught up. Although I need help to fix my deadlamp I didn’t want to ask for help from them just incase they permantley fixed the problem for me, ha ha. I got so frustrated in the end I just grabbed by backup light and off I went after them. At the unmanned water stop, we met up again and this time was joined by Keith and his supprise pacer Johno who had DNF’d earlier in the day. This really shocked Beaver as I’m pretty sure he knew he had me covered but to have 2 members of Quality Meats so close surely gave him the HTFU. I don’t think he knew that Johno had already pulled out. I ran along with Beaver for a while and he even let me borrow his pacer for a few Km’s which was nice of him, but it didn’t last very long. All four guys got in front of me before I reached Dog Trap Rd, and when I finally reached the road I could see two drunks/bums up ahead between two of the garbage bins. When I ran past I realised it was fellow ultra runners Keith and Johno again, and after I shared some encouraging words with them it was apparent that their day was coming to an end. I ran into Somersby PS 2nd and was quickly processed by my crew and back out, 17min behind Beaver.

The next leg was pretty uneventful and I was soon into the last CP. My crew informed me that Beaver was still 17min ahead and I was glad to know that I hadn’t lost a minute to him even though I had done the last leg on my own. At this CP I picked up my pacer for the last leg, Ted W, and off we went.

This last leg was just how I thought it would be, tough. It was also the reason I had been ignoring it having done it back in April and once again in October with Mick. I think that this was probably also my downfall as we made a wrong turn, and although we quickly realised the error it was irritating none the less.

Coming down onto the beach at Patonga was a huge relief and a massive sence of achievement. I was glad that I had conqured the GNW100M (shortened course) in under the 26hrs that people said I could.

After finishing I was told that Beaver was getting SMS up dates on how far I was behind him at CP’s and that after Old Mooney Bridge he could see my AY-UP chasing him. All that I can say is that I was happy to push him to the end and that he definately deserved the win.

Was it a tough course? Yes, and the heat and humidity didn’t help. Will I be back next year? Of course I will.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The North Face 100km 2010

Wow. I was not expecting that. Leading up to the event I had the usual thoughts; “have I trained enough”, “will I be able to finish”, “how cold will it be”, etc…

Looking at the entrants list I was a bit intimidated by the strength of the field. I guessed that I was probably ranked 4th and a repeat of last years podium finish would be a tough challenge.

At the start line I wanted to stay near the front to avoid being shuffled back too far on the first road section down to the narrow section of walking trail. As the countdown to the start began my heart started to beat faster and harder, and then we were off. As I predicted I got overtaken by all the ‘road runners’ and as we entered the first bit of dirt everyone continued to move pretty well.

I ran most of the first leg with Julie Quinn close behind. I knew that if I stayed with her then I was sure to have a solid race. I had no idea that we would spend the rest of the race seesawing in each others shadow. It was good to spend some time running and chatting with (Little) Terry along Narrow Neck. At the end of Narrow Neck is the part of the race I like best, the ladders. It is such a unique part of the event. I could have spent all day going up and down them, maybe not.

Iron Pot has to be the worst section of the course. I can’t think of anything I like about it, but I couldn’t imagine the race without it. Spud helped to take my mind off the worst part of Iron Pot.

Going up Nellies I stopped off for my ritual drink of mountain water from the third creek up. There is something about the earthy taste of the water that I really enjoy.

As Julie and I descended the Giant Stair we passed Angela, who looked like she was struggling. At this point we moved into 1st and 2nd place. Running through Jamison Valley I was surprised to still be with Julie. I had no concept of time (not running with a watch again) so didn’t know if she was running fast or slow. Being in the positions that we were I knew it couldn’t have been too bad. Going up Kedumba I started to put some distance between the two of us. Having participated in the NSW Mountiain Running Champinship up this part of the course a few weeks earlier, I knew what it was like to go all out up this climb and had a rough idea of how I would feel at the top. I got up to the concrete pipes at the top of the climb before I had to turn the headlight on.

When nearing the hospital I kept looking over my shoulder searching for Julie's headlight. I must have gone through that checkpoint pretty fast as my timing chip failed to register a time (thank goodness for the manual backup). Along the last leg I put everything I had into it. I no longer cared about having dry shoes and I don’t think I managed to miss one puddle.

Crossing the finish was a great relief. I was really shocked to see the race clock. It was the first time throughout the race that I really put any thought towards a finishing time. In reflection, I wish I had, because I could have got closer to the record.

This being the third year that I have turned up to compete in TNF100, it is good to see that AROC has stepped up their management of the event as the numbers have continued to grow. The future of this event appears to be in good hands!
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Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Bogong To Hotham 2010

The Roof Top Run was definitely worth the trip down from Sydney! I had tried to do as much research as I could into the run and the more I read the more intimidated I became. Everyone seemed to have a lot of respect for the course.

On race morning I was feeling a little uneasy not knowing what was ahead for the rest of the day. I was glad to hear that there would be a single group start. It meant that I was able to stick with Sir Runalot who has a similar uphill pace as mine. On the ascent I was amazed at how fast the other female runner in front of me was tackling the climb. She seemed to do it with such ease. My sense of distance and direction was thrown out the door and highlighted to SR when going down the decent to Big River how much further to Cleve Cole Hut. At lease I put a smile on his face, even though it was a serious question.

When I arrived at Langford Gap I was feeling fresh and completely distracted by the beauty around me. My crew (B1orB2 and my parents) informed me that I was the second female into the checkpoint, but would be the first female going onto Mt Hotham. Also by this point I was a few minutes ahead of SR, who usually leaves me trailing behind him, which concerned me because I had no idea if I was going out to hard. It was still early in the day and I know the forecast was for hot conditions.

I really enjoyed the second stage of the run. At one point I slowed to watch a herd of brumbies and a fowl. As I neared they ran across the trail in front of me to join an even bigger herd a little lower down. A real highlight for the day.

As I neared the top of Mt Hotham I was surprised to see B1orB2 come running up from the carpark below. Apparently the crew had only just arrived having left shortly after leaving SR at Omeo Rd. I reached the finish in 9hrs flat. My fault really as I don’t run with a watch. It wouldn’t have mattered much, but at least I have a PB for the course. It was good to have a chat with all the other runners at the finish and to just stand still and take in some of the awesome scenery on a perfect cloudless day.

Thanks SR for keeping me company in the first half, and well done for the sub 10hrs. I know next year you will be a lot quicker. There should have been a special award for Mick. It was a pleasure to run with you earlier in the race. Your determination to carry on and finish in the time and state you were in was courageous.

For sure I will be back next year, maybe even with a watch.

Thanks B1orB2 and SR for changing my photo. I will now have to change my password.