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”.
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.
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!!
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.”
“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!!
The finishing post Levi Martin Hugging Jules
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