GNW100 miler Part 3 Adventures beyond the living room!!! The final part.

Part 3 GNW 100 2013
Great North Walks 100 mile
“Australia’s toughest trail race”
(November 9th & 10th 2013)

Section 6: Somersby Public School to Mooney Mooney – 18km/11mi

(Adam – Yeeew caffeine)

(Thank you very much, again)
I was somewhat dubious as to the promise of the ‘run-ability’ of this next section to begin with, but true to their word, it was. Once my legs unstiffened and warmed up, I remember it feeling relatively flat, even ground, not raining and I was mentally awake. We began to run. Adam noted I was tending to run quicker when I was in front of him and kept encouraging me to move forward. Up until then I reckon I thought it was easier for me to hide behind him. He was right. Being conscious of him behind me, I now focused on my form and pace and we began to shift along quite nicely.
The relief of moving properly was uplifting. We chatted and joked about hunting down other runners. We’d barely known each other prior to this race, but having seen me through my darkest moments of my first ever real ultra-distance run, I owed this guy big time. Adam just kept laughing, chatting, and reminding me to eat, drink and move.
Sure enough we began to pass runners. Not heaps but a few. (There weren’t too many left standing we’d learn later.)
18km passed quickly, believe it or not, and with only a couple of k’s left to go Adam pointed out the sound of a highway and said we’re getting closer. A couple more runners were passed and we were approaching CP6. As we left the final stretch of trail and up over a bridge he said “well this is me, Luke will pace you from here”.
“eh, what?”
I’d completely ignored or forgotten the earlier comment by Luke that he’d be pacing the final 25km with me. Adam had to go to a work function that afternoon. (After an all-night 8 hour, 50km run???). This meant he would stop running here and drive the van to the finish line before going home. Luke would run the final section from CP6 to CP7. Now, this was a concern for me on two counts. Firstly, sad because it had only just dawned on me I hadn’t thanked Adam as much as he truly deserved, and secondly, because Luke had already demonstrated a slightly funny, yet sadistic streak!!!
We ran into Mooney Mooney CP6 strongly and whooping. The results would later show we’d run 2:20 hours for the 18km, the 3rd fastest time for that section. Unbelievable!!! Only to be trumped by 2 others. Wow, still chuffed with that statistic.
Even more brilliant was the fact Jules and Levi had been one of those who’d gone faster and recorded the quickest time (1hr 54mins). They also went on to run the fastest final section too!! Lads, amazing!!
We checked in, regrouped at the van and did the swop. I feel I’ll never be able to thank Adam Kranz enough. Mate you are a legend!!
We kept this stop short as the delays and rest weren’t doing me any good.
‘Beware the chair’.
Warm soup and coke from the CP station felt good! And we were moving again.

(Completed: Checkpoint 6: In 10.29am – Out 10.59am : Leg time 2hr 20mins
Race time overall – 28h 29mins: Total distance 150 km/ 93mi: Position 23rd )

Section 7: Mooney Mooney to Patonga (finish) – 25km/ 15.5mi

The thought of quitting was well a truly exorcised and it was now a matter of Luke keeping me moving and getting to that finish line. With only 25.5km to go, this seemed academic. But man, it was not easy. The terrain switched again, and the trails began to get as tough as they’d been so far. Hills, boulders and freezing rain. My feet were pounded and tender and more weirdly the cheeks of my arse were chaffing so badly I could barely concentrate?!
Even when we hit parts that were soft and runnable, the torrential rain was running in rivers, making it impossible to move freely. Soaked through yes, but wet feet, primed to blister was a worry. I skirted around the flowing water in the centre of the trail and dodged over-hanging bushes, the going got slow again. Climbing up and down boulder paths, running, but at a pedestrian pace, I was beginning to shiver.
As an epic Australian ultra goes, the effort and challenges of this race will always be reported, but it would be a serious disservice not to state the sheer beauty and diversity of this part of the world. In recapping this event it’s difficult to remember or appreciate everything. The ancient beauty of this landscape is magnificent. The geology, the rainforest, the elevation and decent, the little villages, the single trail routes that the whole event runs along, are just awesome. Being a part of such an event made me feel genuinely alive. The opportunity to be running in the company of others that not only ran, but crewed and volunteered over this weekend was exhilarating.

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We picked off a couple of other runners, the finish line getting closer. I’d stopped asking Luke how far we had to go. The distances had become irrelevant and I’m sure he was lying by now in any case. Only how long mattered now. 5,10, 15 km it was impossible to judge.

(Feet feeling tender)
My legs were feeling smashed by now. Stepping up and down the relentless boulder ‘steps’ was a tenderising experience. My feet were numb in places and felt sore, pounded by 33 hours of movement. I needed it to end soon. The final decent onto the beach was filled with mixed emotions, agony and ecstasy!!

(Final decent)
I’d buried the emotion throughout these final kms but it was starting to emerge once more. I excitedly began commentating to myself and Luke. “Come on Byrnesey you’re there now”. I could feel myself begin to well up.

(Almost on the beach)
We stepped out from the forest decent and onto the final 500 metre ‘beach’ finishing straight. We could see the finish line and Luke was laughing and proclaiming the victory we were about to savour. It’s hard to describe how I was feeling because I really hadn’t known if I was going to see this thing through. Never having completed even a 100km race or ran through the night before had been 2 major concerns that were genuine parts of this unknown amazing adventure.

(200 metres to go)
The weather was cloudy and cool now, and a small crowd was gathered around the finish line/ pole. Luke insisted on letting me soak up the moment by myself and peeled off to the side of the path. I was reluctant, but he grabbed the camera and began cheering me in. With a couple of hundred metres to go, the crowd began to cheer and again I did my best to hold it together. I saluted the bystanders and clapped their support to show my appreciation. Jules and Levi were there whooping me in and Luke shouted “kiss that pole buddy”. I knelt before the crowd and kissed the finishing post, as is the tradition, head down trying not to lose it and let the emotion overcome me.
I’ll let the videos and pictures tell the story.

(Me finishing the 100 miler!! Jules video)

(Kiss that pole buddy!! Luke video)

(So many people helped me!)
33:46mins after leaving Teralba my “journey” had ended.

In 2011 Dave Byrnes the race director said this in an interview on the website ultra168.com (http://ultra168.com/2011/11/01/the-great-north-walk-dave-byrnes-interview/)

“I wanted the GNW100s to be a real challenge involving a significant degree of self-sufficiency and providing great personal satisfaction. I enjoy enticing new people into the sport I love and was looking for something that would attract those keen to explore their mental and physical boundaries. In my own running and adventures, I’ve come to love and appreciate the multi-dimensional journey that takes you from A to B and, at the same time, through the full gamut of human emotions and physical experiences, and I wanted a race that gave competitors that journey. Great and varied scenery along with the camaraderie ultras provide would be the icing on the cake.”
And
“For reasons explained above, I want the race to take people to their limits physically and mentally. We all know that, when we are operating at our limits, weak points are exposed and the risk of failure is ever-present. Consequently, I feel that a significant proportion of the field incurring DNFs shows that the race is meeting my goals. It also makes completion that much sweeter for those who do finish.”

Well Dave you clearly delivered this year. The 2013 GNW 100’s witnessed a 70% DNF, a journey through the most epic landscapes that had taken me mentally to places I’d never tested before. And yes, finishing in such a tough year did make the “completion that much sweeter”.
All my time goals had long become irrelevant as the game had changed numerous times over the weekend.
Standing on that beach in front of Dave receiving my finisher medal was unreal. I can’t really explain it to be honest. Relief mostly I think!!

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              The finishing post            Levi Martin                            Hugging Jules

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             Dave Byrnes                                 Hold it together?!            Fried head

Completed: Checkpoint 7

Finish: In 3.46pm : Leg time 4hr 47mins
Race time overall – 33h 46mins

Total distance 175.3 km/ 108.9mi: Position 21st

Jules had ran a blinder!! He finished in 29hr 48mins and 10th position. He and Levi ripped the course up. The last 3 sections they recorded 2 first positions and 1 third!!! Boooom!
As a final note it’s interesting that the 2014 event has changed its date to the cooler month of September. I’ll be curious to see how this changes the experience, because I now know for sure, I can’t wait to do this spectacularly amazing event again!!

Thank you sooooo much to everyone involved that weekend.
Crew: Luke Martin, Adam Kranz, Levi Martin
Race director: Dave Byrnes
Graham Doke and Kev Andrews for CP 5 revive and survive effort.
All the Terrigal Trotters and all volunteers for making the event happen with the meticulous levels of organisation, fun and love.

All the love and support from friends and family who followed the event over the weekend via the website and Facebook.
Jules Devlin for simply being the best training buddy over the past couple of years (more to come).
Christine (my wife). Thank you for all your unbelievable support and sorry for putting you through the stress of not only that weekend, but also the lead up to it, the training etc, etc. I had it covered???!!! I love you!

(How do people write these things so quickly? It’s taken me months to get around to doing this?!)

By the way I got the job!!!

Thanks for reading, if you like you can leave a comment and any input is gladly received.

“Adventures beyond the living room” Simon Peter Byrne

Part 2 GNW 100 2013

Great North Walks 100 mile

“Australia’s toughest trail race”

(November 9th & 10th 2013)

 

Section 4: The Basin Campsite to Yarramalong Public School –

22km/ 13.7mi

Our path was crossed by a Red Bellied Black snake in the first km, (back toward the steps of the re-entry point to the GNW route) Jules barely jumped at all. A first…

At this point I decided to finish it. Not just the 100km but the 100mile. This was gonna be the making of the run. Being able to overcome this would be my challenge.

(Turns out Dave Waugh pulled the pin at CP3. We’d missed him by getting there so late and had only been a half km in front of him when we took the wrong turn, damn….. It was a real pity for us as well as him. By now news was filtering through that the DNF rate was increasing rapidly. Veterans and first timers alike were dropping like flies)

As we began to climb, Jules began to discuss options for our situation. 4 or 5 of them?? I could tell by his tone they weren’t gonna be easy listening. He was looking strong, but most of them gave us ways we could get to the ‘100km’ finish line (CP4) and stop!! Start the drive home that night and be on the beach in the morning…

“noooo we’re doing this Jules, I‘ve put that behind us!! We can do this!”

Unlike me, this was one of his few negative moments.

The rest of this section I don’t recall, it was getting close to 11pm and we’d been on the move for close to 17 hours.

..except when we hit the bitumen road that went on and on and on….. 13km apparently.. we’d thought 5 or 6km and we were ready to get there…. Jules had a second dark patch here, the road was boring, and mentally tired we were finding it hard along here…. we kept moving.

Forever later….

Checked in and weighed again, we made our way over to the Ute and van, where now, not only Luke but his brother Levi and their mate Adam Kranz awaited. The back of the transit opened and the 2 of them emerged looking knackered. It was after midnight by now and they’d been sleeping on mattresses in the back. Seriously, these guys whom I barely know were prepared to turn up on a Saturday night, at this time and pace the final 75km for us. I couldn’t get over the selflessness of it.

We were later than they’d expected due to our detour, and the best thing to have done would have been to get out of there quick. But again I sat down and began to slump –physically and mentally this time. The success of reaching this point began to appeal as a satisfactory goal, and my previous assuredness about finishing the miler became irrelevant. I shook my head but every negative thought possible was rushing through my brain. 100km would do!! I had a lot going on at work. With an important interview coming up later in the week I began to fear the overall consequences of being mentally fried for the rest of the week and therefore sabotaging my own interview. I began rambling this dialogue to the other 4 who were looking seriously confused,

“what the f*** is he going on about” I heard Luke say, “just get your stuff together and get  going”.

Looking over his shoulder I could see the mattresses in the back of the van and the option was clear.

“You’re not gonna like what I’m gonna say Jules but I think I’m done. I don’t need to finish this, I’m happy to have got here, this’ll do me”

(CP4 1st doubts)

Baring in mind Levi and Adam had turned up specifically for this point, it would have been pretty rude to have quit then. But man, I so could have. They casually refused to accept my assessment and just said well you’re not stopping now, let’s get moving. Jules was feeling refreshed, positive and keen to get going too. I objected a few times but there was no way they were having it.

(Leaving cp4)

So off we went. Back down the road we’d approached on, before hitting trail again and into the darkness and what would be a very long night.

(Completed: Checkpoint 4: In 12:28am – Out 1:09am : Leg time 3hr 41mins

Race time overall – 18h 28mins: Total distance 104km/ 65mi:  Position47th )

Section 5: Yarramalong Public School to Somersby Public School – 29km/18mi

We learned that a massive number of the field had dropped out, including race leader and course record holder Brendan Davies. The heat had been a major factor; at this point it seemed that they’d be lucky to see 50% of the field finish in both races this year.

We climbed over a road barrier and re-joined the GNW track. We fell into single file and it wasn’t long before I realised I was moving slower or at least having to work to keep up with the boys. A few times they all waited at particular points. Gradually though, Jules and Levi were looking strong and Adam was having to slow down so that I didn’t lose touch. He worked well at trying to strike up conversation and to take my mind off whatever it was that was going on in my head.

I was tired.

It was after 1am now and we’d been on the go for over 18 hours. With the prospect of 74km of pretty steep and technical trail running, plus the fact I was finding it harder to refuel, was beginning to wear me down. Physically my legs and body were not really the worry. We’d avoided any mishaps – we’d seen evidence of falls on the grazed bodies of a couple of folk. But mentally I was buggered. I’d never run this distance before, and I hadn’t got around to doing any training session through the night in preparation.

I apologised later for my quietness, but I was struggling to focus and (unlike me) I just couldn’t find the chat.

The occasional light from Jules and Levi was becoming less frequent and after some time of decent I heard Jules give a loud ‘yeeeew’, it sounded a good way from us; we returned the call to let them know we were ok. They were running great. I was pleased they were now going to run their own race. This was why we’d been over the moon with having 2 pacers.

Adam Kranz is a local from the Newcastle area and has plenty experience on this course. I’d met him only once before, in Byron, when he’d visited for Luke’s wedding a few months earlier. We’d all gone for a trail run through the dunes and headland around the Bay one Sunday morning. Both he and Levi offered all sorts of tips on their GNW experiences and listened patiently to my numerous questions. The thought of them actually pacing for us had never crossed my mind. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mentioned on the run, but a few days later Jules told me they’d offered to help us.

Patience, man! Adam should have got a medal. We were moving, but slowly. I was struggling to get fuel in. My stomach was cramping at the thought of any food at all and my pace was slow. We encountered a few other runners and ran past them. They were sitting resting. It couldn’t have been much later when we met them again. This time though, I was hands on knees, retching and puking onto the side of the single trail. They stopped to ask if I needed anything and then gave me a ginger chewy sweet, which would help with nausea. I exchanged a handful of salt and salt/caffeine capsules as one of them was suffering with cramps.

All the time Adam remained positive, “are you ok, let’s go!”

He began mixing a sports gel (‘Winners – Cadel Evans’, if I remember rightly) into a bottle of water. If we were going to get to the next checkpoint I needed to get some fuel into me, “Sip, this.”

As well as rehydrating, this would slowly drip feed me at least some energy. He checked his watch and then continued to say “drink” every 5 minutes. It worked, my stomach didn’t reject it and it wasn’t too long before I’d finished the bottle. Brilliant. He mixed another bottle and this was how we continued.

The rain hit us at maybe 4am. Like an afternoon monsoon, it chucked it down. My waterproof jacket was not as resistant as it claimed. It didn’t matter when we were running, but forced to walk down the steeper decent and accents, I began to get very cold. Some of this section was difficult technical trail and it was pitch black outside the narrowing beam of my dimming head lamp, which I’d worn since leaving CP3 with Jules. (I had spare batteries, but could not be arsed to take my pack off and find them).

The rain poured and I was shivering. I remember Adam saying it was mostly downhill, but figured, when after half an hour again we were climbing an endless assent, that he was managing my efforts on a step by step process. Deal with the hills when we get to them. And we did. Slowly, but forwards.

5 and half hours later we emerged from the trail onto a proper road and turned right. Checkpoint 5 at the Somersby Public School was only 1 – 1.5 km away. By this point I was beyond persuasion, this was the end of the race for me. I was done. I’d made up my mind that was it! I’d be pulling the pin here.

At this pace it would take forever. Unable to refuel as well as I would need, for the remaining 42km – yes, marathon still to go!! It would be torture for both me and Adam.

We ran for 10 mins before I laughed and said “Adam, where’s this  f***ing school?”

“mm not sure, should be..  mm maybe it was left back there?”

By now it didn’t matter. I was finishing here anyhow, it would stop. Adam checked a map, but knew we needed to turn. The road was flat here and easy to run on. I did pick the pace up here a fair bit. Adam reckoned I was 4min/km-ing the last 2km. I definitely wanted to finish at least being out of breath, rather than just worn out. It felt like the end was in sight, CP5 at 132km, good job, goodnight!!

Luke spotted us from way off, and cheered us in. I was sprinting to my finish line, the ‘cut’, hand to the neck gesture, signalling my intention.

“no way  buddy, you look great mate, you’re gonna finish this thing”

“No Luke, honest mate, I’m done. I’ve already decided, and told Adam. This is me like! Finished.”

“You looked great coming in there”

“Yeah coz I know that I don’t have to run out of this checkpoint”

I checked in to checkpoint 5 at 7.15am.

“theres no way you can stop here. You’re nearly there now”

I walked away behind a building, I was shattered. Head in hands, I began to get the feeling of relief that it was over. I’d had the most amazing experience and would never forget this event. Half laughing, half crying I walked back over to Adam and Luke and sat down.

“You’re not fucking stopping!”

“Seriously Luke, no”

“Yeah mate, you’re more than half way now” chipped in Adam

“75% done” corrected Luke

“Have you heard what you’re saying man. I’ve still got another marathon to go and on tough trail”

Luke replied “you’re head fucking yourself Simon, you can’t think like that… this next section’s easy, I promise. It’s totally ‘run-able’, you’ll love it.. 18k’s mate, how many times have you run 18k’s? ”

(The Magic Crew)

Others had become involve at this point. One man Kevin Andrews, President of Terrigal Trotters, and today Elvis styled gold suit and shades wearing volunteer, as well as runner and Ironman himself. He’d been at every CP, including registering us himself at the very start of the race.

Kev began muttering to Luke and Adam and they both burst into laughter (something to do with me being a vagina (pussy)). Between the three of them offering a finely tuned balance of rationales, support, hilarious gibes and calls to greatness, they had me laughing.

Graham Doke, a crew member for runner Roger Hanney, offered some massage / muscle release /torture/ relief?! Luke was quick with the video and recorded the ridiculous scene. Standing facing Graham, my arms over his shoulders he applied pressure to my hips and back. I looked up smiling, before screeching in pain, as Luke laughed. This was what he loved. Seeing me at this point is exactly what we’d signed up for. Captured for all to see!!

(The Golden Moments)

But gentlemen, I thank you!

It must be said; the organisation, enthusiasm, humour and kindness of the GNW volunteers and crews are completely amazing. The nature of the course, as well as the temperature challenges, can be brutal. These people made it possible for me to get off my arse.

“beware the chair”

Throughout the night they must have inspired many runners to dig deeper within themselves.

(I don’t believe I’m doing this)

Warm soup, caffeine, drinks and incredibly, 50 minutes later, we were out of there! I really could not believe I was checking out of CP5 feeling this good, positive even; this thing was going to get done.

 (Completed: Checkpoint 5: In 7.15am – Out 8.09am : Leg time 6hr 5mins

Race time overall – 25h 14mins: Total distance 132 km/ 82mi:  Position 25th )

GNW 100 2013 Part 1

Great North Walks 100 mile
“Australia’s toughest trail race”
(November 9th & 10th 2013)

Section 1: Teralba to Watagan Camping Area – 28km/17.8miseconds to go(Saturday 5:58am – Teralba, NSW, Australia)

“You’ll think you’re going too slowly at the beginning, go slower”
Our crewman Luke Martin’s words of caution rang loud and clear in my head as we prepared to leave Teralba on the first leg of our GNW 100 mile journey.
The Great North Walks 100s, ‘Australia’s Toughest Trail Runs’ are two races that run a section of the 260km full route. Its popularity has increased in recent years and it was a relief when we both heard back to say we’d been successful in getting a starting number. The 104km and the 109mile races (yes, just for “fun”, they are both more than a bit over) had just under the 185 runner’s (a few DNS) this year.
Jules Devlin is a good mate from Byron Bay, who over the past couple of years I have trained with for various trail runs and marathons. We’re pretty close in most distances. He’d run The North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney last year, and so had more ‘ultra’ experience than me. He’d mentioned the GNW at the beginning of the year and the possibility of doing the 100 miler, just to “put the idea into my head”.
With over 6000m of ascent and decent, through some of the most beautiful, leg smashing Australian single trail, I was beginning to get seriously nervous and excited.
An old school mate from UK, Steve Richards, who knows me as well as anyone, posted this cool tune by Hopeton Lewis called “Take it easy” on my facebook page.
“take your time, take your time, take your time, no need to hurry!!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMO5JQuijrA

We’d all listened to it in the car on the way to the start line.
It was perfect!!

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Registered, weighed in, a quick coffee (with a touch of whiskey), count down and we were off… Slowly….
But for 30 seconds Jules sprinted into the lead, laughing,
“It’s got to be done; it’s got to be done”

He briefly led that race, he nearly had it!!?
We had found ourselves in the front 10 runners but knowing some of these would be 100km runners, our main concern was, ‘are we moving too fast’. Jules had worn his Garmin specifically for this reason. We’d figured that although the battery would not last the duration of the race, it would at least help us reign in any desire to start too quick, particularly this soon.
The weekend forecast had promised a hot Saturday with a rainy and cooler Sunday.

The first leg to CP1 was simply awesome. It managed to combine every type of Australian trail running that I’ve encountered. It was the single trail that stood out for me. River gullies, rainforest, cave over hangs, hills, hills. We both commented on the fun we were having and feeling great! Pulling into CP1 whooping, Luke smiled and ushered us over to the Ute where all of our stuff was waiting.
Luke Martin is a mate of Jules’. He trains with him when he is doing triathlons. Luke’s from Newcastle and as a local knows the trails, having ran on them and paced for his brother Levi in the past. He had volunteered months ago to crew for Jules and myself on this our first 100 mile event. I couldn’t believe our luck.
He took our backpacks refilled them with drinks, water, gels, salt and caffeine tablets. We didn’t eat much here.
“You’re going great boys, you’re pretty quick though?”
With only 28 km’s gone it had been cool and we were not ready for food. We signed out of CP1 with more “yeeews”! Enjoying every second!!

(Completed: Checkpoint 1: In 9:38am – Out 9:49am
Total running time – 3h 38mins : Total distance 28km/17.8mi: Position 8th )

Section 2: Watagan Camping Area to Congewai Public School – 24.5km

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To CP2 the trail continued along fire and single trail, with a few fair ascents and descents thrown in, cloud cover had been good so it was nice running in cooler temperatures than had been expected. Things were perfect. We’d noticed the clouds were beginning to break up a little along the ridge and soon realised it was getting warmer.
The track went down for some time before hitting a road. Stepping out from the rainforest it was apparent that it had got very hot. With barely any shade, the road winds through a valley exposed fully to the sun. We ran for a km or so and began to walk up a slight incline. Within a couple more km’s the heat was intense. (It was later reported that CP2 had been 38⁰C. I’m not sure how hot, but I think it was better not to have realised any of this at the time.)
Still, we met a guy, Dave Waugh, who I’d ran with and finished 2nd to 3 weeks previously at the Washpool 50km. I’d spoken to him briefly pre-race and on asking for advice he said, “When you feel like you can’t go any further, tell yourself, you will start to feel better.”
He is a modest quiet spoken guy and great trail runner (until that morning I hadn’t realised he had won this event in 2005 (its first year) and 2007). So it was all the more sad to see him struggling along the road. He looked hot. He said his stomach was giving him grief and he wasn’t feeling great. We offered him anything we had, but he was sorted. We chatted and joked for a while before Dave said, “it’s not far to CP2, you go, I’ll see you there.” Jules invited him to join us at our Ute and share anything he needed. Dave was doing it with drop bags at each CP, and so, was without support.

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As this was our first attempt, I was glad we had the goal of reaching Luke and his beaming face. Jules had arrived a couple minutes before me and was just leaving the medical tent. This was our first ‘race’ weigh in. He’d lost a few kg and as a safety measure they monitor you. I’d dropped about 2kg too. We sat in the shade by the van. Luke took the backpacks, refuelled and grabbed our first change of shirts and shorts.

(Completed: Checkpoint 2: In 12:33pm – Out 1:42pm : Leg time 2hr 44mins
Race time overall – 7h 35mins: Total distance 52km/32.6mi : Position 10th )

Section 3: Congewai Public School to The Basin Campsite– 24.5km

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This next section to CP 3 we’d been waiting for, Luke had warned us. The climbs were amongst the toughest on the course and at this time of the day, the sun hits the side you climb.
Within the first 5 km we passed 3 people ending it, returning with aliments or injuries. Veterans, aware of what was to come and realising the efforts it would require, made turning back to their crew more appealing. The naivety of being first timers was possibly an advantage at this point.
The climbs were good? Hard, but on picking up various make-shift walking poles, I realised how much easier it was on the legs.
The communication tower at the top felt good to get to.
Run, fuel, walk, fuel, climb, fuel…..
On a fairly long downhill section we saw Dave. We’d missed him at CP2, he’d forgotten to refill his pack bladder, and had made quite a quick pit stop, 10 minutes compared to our hour. Lying on his back on the side of the fire trail, he’d been sick and said he could only move 50 metres before puking. We stood chatting for 10 minutes and eventually got him to take some Coke Cola from us. He got up and began to run with us. Within a km we met another runner sitting with a dude who’d stopped to help him. Dave told us to go on and sat down with them. They can’t have sat there long, because within 30 minutes they’d caught us up. Feeling better, he was laughing about hunting us down!!
He’d refilled at a water tower, and was moving.
We ran alongside a number of others in their own world. Jules and I talked shite to each other. This was wicked; we were fully loving the experience, opportunity and adventure of it all.
After what seemed like a long time we reach the top of a fairly long climb and the unmanned water station. As we refilled our bladders we were joined by Dave and 2 others runners, both of whom we’d met at races in Washpool or Nerang. It all seemed quite cosy that we were about 75 km into the race and we knew everyone around us. Dave said it was ‘mostly decent from here to CP3’. We ran along a ridge for a while. The ground felt cushioned for the first time in ages.
We began the decent through rainforest and pushed ahead a little. We were now only 3 km from CP3 and ticking along brilliantly. The GNW trail then swung left up some serious steps and began to climb. It zigzagged for a while and then hit boulders and rock ‘steps’. We climbed for a few km’s and then reached a fire trail. After some slight confusion over an unmarked intersection we found ourselves on a main firetrail road. 50 metres along was a Ute with some support crew (who we’d seen a couple of times at various intersections). They cheered as we approached,
“you’re flying boys, only about 14km to CP 4” ,
?????? the 100 km – Checkpoint 4?, where we’d meet our 2 pacers, WTF?????????
“Nahhh mate! We’re only a couple of k’s from CP3”
“Ahh nahh mate, I know what you’ve done, you’ve missed the Lyrebird trail that takes you to CP3, and came all the way up here.”
CP3 at 82 km, it turns out, is about 1 or 2 km from the point where we’d began to climb. Nooooo!!! This can’t have happened; we’d stuck to the GNW path. And that was the error. The map clearly showed a short out and back to The Basin picnic area that serves as CP3. We hadn’t noticed or registered it.
“F**********************k!!!”
To say we were gutted is an understatement. We turned on our heels and began to retrace our route. Both shouting our various frustrations at what had happened.

It’s hard to pin down what was so annoying.
• The time we’d clearly wasted: about 2 hours.
• The extra unnecessary energy we’d used.
• Losing the feeling we’d had on getting to within a km of reaching the dreaded CP3 in such good spirits. To have seen Luke’s face…. We had been still buzzing at that point. And now, to be turning up hours later, dark and still having to retrace the section we’d smashed, again!!!
Pink or purple glow sticks guided the path towards the final 100 metres into CP3. Luke greeted us smiling, camera in hand. He’d realised quickly what we’d done.

Forget it. Get sorted, refuelled and out. I was beginning to get agitated and paced for a while and then sat down.

Sitting down I ate some soup and Coke. I’d happily been using Hammer Perpetuem as my main source of fuel, but it felt like I should get something solid into me before the night sections started. As I sat, the tiredness began to sneak up on me. My initial haste to get out was less now, I was getting comfy!
It was hard to put the situation out of my mind. Jules and Luke both told me to get up and we checked out. Once we were moving again I felt better. I switched to my head torch and began the long night that we were about to go into.

(Checkpoint 3: In 08:02pm – Out 8:47pm : Leg time 6hr 20mins
Race time overall – 14h 02mins: Total distance 81.7km/50.7: Position 41th)