05 May 2018
It was pissing with rain as we were driving to the Prom on this Friday afternoon. The colours were amazing: the dark grey against the brilliant green of the pastures. Then there was the rainbow!! As we were getting “underneath” it, I was thinking this must be good…
Otto was tense all the way, he’s always like this when we drive to a race, no matter how many times I tell him everything will be okay, no need to worry about me. Got a message from my best friend with mixed news, but I was happy to hear from her – she always goes silent when things are not going well. We messaged for a while, then I thought stuff it, better call her. Viber is a bitch sometimes, cuts out when you least want it, but we still had a few good laughs.
Stopped in Leongatha to fuel up, then in Yanakie to buy a few more things (fresh eggs, yayy!) before heading down Foley Rd towards our accommodation. This year I booked a cottage at Tidal Dreaming Seaview Cottages. It’s on Dalgeish Rd, just off Foley, the view over Corner Inlet is just stunning. Unloaded the car then I headed down to Tidal River for registration and gear check. Otto asked me to try to get back before dark, he’ll get the dinner ready by then. I made the fresh pasta the day before, he made up the essence – the taste.
In spite of the strong wind that felt like it’s going to pick up the car like a feather, I enjoyed the drive and was looking forward to see the faces of fellow ultrarunners I only see at these races. Normally there are not many campers, but this time of the year Tidal River comes alive with all the runners and their families, walking with purpose. Said hello to some of them on the way to HQ then walked into the cabin, where the registration was happening. Paul greeted me with a “Babbbiii!!” then asked “Where is Otto?”. Told him what was going on, then the first thing he said was “show me your gloves!” – because I asked the other day if they are really necessary… I was very happy to see Duncan there. He is kind of “piece of mind” when he’s present.
Went to the registration desk, told Helen my name and bib number, then she asked me for my snake bandage and space blanket. Showed them both then chatted some more with Paul, saying hello to the fellow runners and the volunteers before heading back to the car. I thought that was OK, I’ll be back before it gets dark… then I saw this hair style. There is only one person I know who has it – Jacqui Hansen! Pulled over and got out to say hello to Jacqui and Darren. It turned out that none of us (Jacqui or I) should be running this weekend – doctor’s orders! Jacqui downgraded to the 44 km, I thought I’d just stick it out, que serra – serra!!
We wished each other all the best for next morning, then I headed off, driving carefully as the wombats and kangaroos were supposed to be along the road at this time. Called Otto to let him know I am just leaving.
Dinner was great and so was the red wine I washed it down with, too. Prepared the food and drinks for next morning, had a shower and went to bed. The wind was blowing so strong there and it was raining like there’s no tomorrow… didn’t sleep much.
Alarm went off at 3:45. Nothing unusual, this is the time I normally wake up when I head down to the Prom for a training run. Had my coffee, breakfast, had a shower, Otto woke up too, then we headed to Tidal River. It was pitch dark and windy. Otto worried. We saw a deer and there were others coming that way, too. In the Visitors Centre car park we pulled next to a white X-Trail, its passengers were getting out and realised they are our cottage neighbours, the man [Sam] is running, too. Felt a bit sorry for the two little girls being awake so early, both in their pjs.
We walked to HQ greeting other runners on the way. Paul was really happy to see Otto, then as we walked out I nearly bumped into Dan. Big hug, haven’t seen him since Razorback, then he went to register. Greeted Sean, the man I saw a few times on my Prom training runs. He just did the Marathon des Sables and didn’t expect a fast time today, but wanted to do this race for the UTMB points. Otto chatted with him some more while I said hello to a few more familiar faces. I was looking for David, he said he’ll be at the start in the morning, but couldn’t find him in the dark. Saw Gabor, Otto took a photo of us as we usually do before races. Roll call 100 km runners, then the 60, countdown then start!! Otto gave me another kiss and told me to go well as I was heading off.
I though I’d just go by feel, will try to get as close to the 10 hr mark as possible (beers were waiting at the end!!) and see what happens. The majority of the field took off, I was somewhere towards the tail end, waiting for someone to have a similar pace as mine to stick with for a while. Didn’t have to wait too long, this tall guy, who introduced himself as Hamish said he can’t run fast because he has a knee injury. It was his first 60 km at the Prom (he already did the 44 before) and he wasn’t sure about the course – although he had it loaded onto his watch. Described it to him in a short version, then Otto drove past, taking a photo. When we got to the Mt Oberon turnoff I saw Duncan – he was marshalling at that point. Went to give him a big hug, which felt great then caught up with Hamish again. We ran/walked this concrete uphill, talking while the wind was helping us from behind, then soon arrived to Telegraph Saddle car park, where Otto was cheering everyone who ran. I already switched off my head torch and put it away – could see the track well (should be able to do it with my eyes closed). Another hug and kiss and he waved a good bye with “No swimming, please!”. I saw the shock on Hamish’s face, then on the downhill I told him why Otto said that – he laughed.
We ran together until we reached Windy Saddle talking and saying hello to the runners we passed and the ones who passed us. I saw Caz [Donovan], we greeted each other and she said that she’s so happy to finally be here when I am here (we’ve been trying to get the 60 km training run in for a while, pity it didn’t work out, it would’ve made a huge difference to her race) then she told me “go and do your magic, Babi!” – I said magic starts at Windy Saddle and I was really sorry about not sticking with her.
There were a few runners at Windy Saddle, I said hello, told Hamish that I’ll step on it from here, it’s my favourite part. I also told him that he’ll surely catch up with me on the uphills (which happened pretty much all the way to the Lighthouse: him going strong on the hills and me “flying” down on the downhills).
I really enjoy this part, even in the mud! This year was far away from what it was like last year and the year before; in fact it was just perfect – the track was soft enough for a good grip, but not muddy enough to slip in every direction. I’ve passed quite a few people here and the hikers were nice to get out of the way, probably thinking how crazy this bunch is. There was a runner who was close behind me, keeping the same pace as I did. I offered to let him pass, but he said he’s happy with this tempo. He lasted nearly to the board walk, then I lost him. I ran alone to Sealers, the colours of the water always amaze me. Now there were heavy clouds hovering over the water, making it look way darker than it was.
Ian was at the creek crossing shooting us as we approached. He said “you are the second person who takes their shoes off today!”. I told him why I was doing this, crossed the water, then went aside to put my shoes back on. Had an awful cramp somewhere under the lungs as I hunched to lift the right shoe. Stood there for a few moments until it went away, then finished with the socks and shoes and headed back to the track, saying good bye and thanking Ian for being there. In the mean time quite a few runners have crossed the creek and headed up towards the camp site. Hamish was back on as my running buddy. We ran/hiked together for a while, then he went ahead.
Celeste [Botton] took me over too before reaching Refuge Bay Nth. I took a few shots of them (not all clear, though) before I got there. The beach wasn’t as clean as it used to be, you can tell there was previously a storm from the debris scattered all over the sand. Refuge Cove came next. Didn’t need water this time, I had enough with me and only planned to refuel at the Lighthouse.
As soon as we started climbing out of Refuge Cove Hamish took off, then further in I could hear “Hey Babi, you are an animal!!” it was Steve Rennick, with two other runners. I looked back and was really happy to see them. Told him right now I wish I was a goat!! Gave him a hug, congratulated them and wished them all the best. As the third runner passed me, I’ve noticed he is so familiar… he was Ash[ley Bennett], the fast kid, doing his first Prom run!!
Otto messaged me asking how far I was from Waterloo Bay. Sent him back “22”, then it clicked this is not exactly clear, so I sent another text with “I am at 22 km mark”.
As I was getting closer to the Kersops Junction I remembered how much different it was being here the previous two times… I stopped, looked back and pulled out the phone to take a picture, then Brett Godden popped up, so I took a few shots of him. He kindly returned the favour and took a few shots of me, then we wished each other all the best and he took off.
So far I’ve been eating and drinking well, tripped quite a few times (should’ve worn the Pro Max instead of the Sense Pro 2, the low drop is really a disadvantage here) and had some cramps which were manageable. Slipped and landed on my bum at the rock just after the junction (this is where Julie used to slip), but hey, it’s in the package!
On the way down to Waterloo Bay Nth I caught up with Hamish again, took a shot of him sitting on a tree that was across the track. It looked so funny! We walked along the beach admiring the water, when we caught up with a runner that (again) looked so familiar!! It was Ash, limping with the jacket’s hood on, he must have been very cold. I double checked and when I was sure it was him, gave him a big hug and told him that I was sorry I didn’t recognised him earlier with the top on. Hamish looked at Ash, then me with a strange look on his face. Had to clarify this, so I told him this is Ashley Ramond Bennett, the one who runs without a top. We all laughed, when Hamish said that he thought that I couldn’t recognise Ash with my top on! It was hilarious in that setting! Asked Ash if I could help him in any way, if he needs bandage or anything. He said he’s OK, he just needs to walk all the way to the finish and asked if that was far away – told him there is quite a fair bit to go (we must have been at around 24 kms), then wished him all the best and walked off.
We got to the big trees that were fallen across the track, climbed over, then hill was coming up, which meant Hamish lengthened his steps while I was dragging my butt. I stepped aside every time a faster runner approached. Saw Caroline [Gavin] somewhere earlier (can’t remember where exactly), congratulated her, gave her a hug and told her she’s the first lady, then wished her all the best. I was having cramps at some of the weirdest spots during this race – right now the vastus lateralis (I’m not that clever to remember that, had to look it up). I already had the piece of banana I brought with me on the way up to Kersops – as a remedy for calf cramps – so had to keep drinking the sports drinks…
I could feel someone approaching. When I looked back it was David. I was really happy to see him, he was travelling so fast. He gave me a hug and asked if I was OK. I said I was OK (cramp suddenly went away – thank you David) and asked if he was OK, too. We ran together for a very short portion, then told him to step on it, agreeing we’ll have beers at the finish!
Caught up with Hamish again, we yo-yoed to Lt Waterloo Bay, then to Waterloo Bay. Tried to run along the beautiful beach, but Hamish’s knee was really hurting so I stuck with him, speed walking all the way to the exit. I kept looking at the water… it was so inviting! If I was there alone I would’ve surely gone for a dip, even in that – not so hot – weather.
As soon as we got to the beach exit, the track goes steep up. Told Hamish to go ahead, will catch up on one of the downhills. Started the climb, which sometimes feels like it will never end. Every now and then I looked back over the beach (it’s so beautiful!), where others were running. It started to rain and I started to trip more often which was a bit of a worry, because it meant more chances to cramp, as well. Gosh, how lucky I was to avoid cramps for years!! Otto’s message came through “bummer, I left Waterloo Bay about 30 minutes ago!!” – meaning we just missed each other! For years I’ve been trying to convince him to do one of the loops with me – he MUST see Waterloo Bay… and now he’s seen it and I wasn’t there to witness it all.
I was already on the other side of the mountain, when I tripped and fell on my side. I lied there on the ground for a while (it felt like eternity), unable to stand up and watched my right calf moving around uncontrollably, thinking “hope no one is coming, I don’t want anyone to see me like this”. It was very painful! Surely Peter Coady and Heidi Gratton appears… they asked if I was OK, or I needed any help. Told them it’s a cramp and as soon as it goes away I’ll stand up and continue. Peter asked if I had any salt tablets. Told him I have one better: I have the real thing – salt!! Then told them to go ahead, I’ll be fine. As soon as I could, I stood up, walked a little, tried to clean up the mud – at least my hands. Glad I always carry that sanitizer, put some on the wound on my hand and my legs, it stung! Then picked up the pace and went as fast as I could, catching up with Hamish on a downhill. I was surprised I didn’t pick up any leeches…
In one of the corners (the ferny and mossy kind) Suzie rang. She has a knack for calling me during races (or training runs for that matter), casually asking “so how are you Mum?!” When she hears I am panting and telling her I am running, only then she realises that “ah! You are running!! Everything OK?! Take care, we’ll talk later!”
As I was getting closer to the Lighthouse I thought the fast 100 kms should be close by; I was really looking forward to greeting them, when about 2 kms from the Lighthouse Junction I spotted Dan. He was so fast and fresh as a daisy. Gave me a hug, then ran off. The next runner was very close behind him, then Shane Wheeler in third position. I realised too late it was Shane, otherwise I would’ve given him a hug, too. Got to the junction, headed left towards the Lighthouse. You could tell there is something going on here, usually not that many people get this far. I saw two hiker ladies going up, took them over – they both looked impressed. And tired. Then I saw Jenny [Rickards] and her friend Veronica coming down the concrete hill. Gave Jenny a big hug, asked her how she likes the course, then wished them all the best and headed up to the Lighthouse. Celeste was already filling her bladder, asked if she has finished – she said yes, but she’ll ask for more at Telegraph Junction.
I didn’t know who she was, we’ve never met in person before, but we were supposed to sweep Langfords to Hotham in January… I know one thing – she is a strong uphill runner and she’s got great legs!!
I filled my flasks and poured some in the bladder, then headed to take the Lighthouse selfie and then to the toilet. By this time my migraine that started somewhere around Waterloo Bay was becoming a nuisance (I only get them 3-4 times a year, this one was really badly timed) so I thought I’d just take two Panadols with the ginger beer I carried for “emergencies” – this was one of those emergencies! It was freezing up there!!! My fingers were a bit numb and my sweaty body was shivering underneath the Bonatti. I considered putting on the thermal, but the thought of having to take off the jacket and being exposed to that chilly wind didn’t sit well… as quick as possible I pulled out the Panadols and the ginger beer, took them, then headed out of the cover. Hamish has just gotten there, reminded him to take the selfie (otherwise it doesn’t count 😉 ), then kept walking/running downhill pondering over pulling out those mandatory gloves. Figured I should be out of this wind chill soon, not worth stopping for them.
I had some food and saw a few runners. Then at the Junction I bumped into Shane Winzar, who was doing the 100 km. Gave him a big hug, wished him all the best and headed out. I saw quite a few 100 km runners coming and was waiting to see Richard North, but I guess he must have been on the South Point out and back.
I have tried to run as much as I could (which was way more than other times), had cramps, then walked a bit. Around Roaring Meg I caught up with Celeste on the downhill. Asked her how she was, then told her she will surely take me over on the following uphill… pushed as hard as I could and on Telegraph Tk I called Otto as it was easier than typing a message. He told me I was travelling well and asked me what I would like him to bring. Told him a ginger beer would do wonders and I was already looking forward to catching up with him around Lt Oberon Bay… I don’t think I’ve ever pushed this much on Telegraph Tk, yet two runners I’ve ran from the start and then saw a few times during the day, have stepped on it and passed me on the 4WD tk (that’s pretty much downhill).
I was happy to see the veterans at the Junction. I’ve told them my name and number, they offered me sweets, water and chips. I reached for the chips (normally don’t, but now I craved the salty stuff), but when I heard they were salt and vinegar, my hand quickly stopped – can’t do vinegar. I said hello to David Shuterland, gave him a hug and wished him all the best as he took off, then I followed already dreading the sandy 4WD track to Oberon Bay. On this portion I was overtaken by Peter Coady and Heidi Gratton as I was shuffling along. Somehow I found energy and pushed to Oberon Bay wondering how high the tide would be here… I noticed Peter and Heidi were already there. It was windy, very windy, but runnable. Peter was tired, he slowed down to walking. We talked a little, then I told him I will try to go faster as my husband is waiting for me somewhere. Heidi was in a better shape, but she kept checking on Peter.
I got to the creek, walked through (the cold water felt really good), then started the climb thinking of that ginger beer and imagining how I am going to run through the finish and have proper beer with Karen, David and Otto. Heidi caught up with me and said something about Peter being slow as she passed me, then I saw her waiting just before Lt Oberon Bay. I was hoping to see Velta here, but all I saw was a girl sitting in a yoga pose on the top of the rock on the right and a few hiker boys arriving happily from the track. They were nice enough to let me get up the damn sand hill first, which I thanked them for. They also wished me luck – that was very nice, too.
That ginger beer!!! Where is Otto?!…
He appeared soon, very happy. Got the beer out, I drank almost the whole bottle and that gave me a boost. He asked me how I was, how IT was and told me how he got to Waterloo Bay. I like that he’s getting into this!! He also told me that the photographers are at the end of this track, then asked if I wanted to go along the beach or inland. Told him the tide is not that bad, still some sand to run on, let’s go via the beach – that’s the official course anyway.
I was very happy to see Ian and Velta when we got onto Norman Beach. They must have taken photos of us, but I haven’t seen any in the collection. The colours were striking here as the sun was setting and the clouds were so dark behind us. Otto took a few shots, then we ran/walked to the turnoff.
I could see someone familiar in a high-vis jacket – I recognised Duncan’s partner, Noreen from Bogong to Langfords last year, when Duncan and her were minding the Cope Hut checkpoint (and gave me as many orange slices as I wanted). We greeted each other and then Otto and I climbed out of this last beach. Otto took off so he could take a shot when I finish and catch me (so I don’t run anyone over 😃 ).
As I was running through the first parking lot, I remembered the BBQ my friend Miri and I had two years ago, when Otto couldn’t make it. We forgot to bring glasses and had red wine (quite a nice drop, too) from plastic containers… all this while it was pissing with rain around us. It was hilarious!
I wish I could see the clock earlier, I would’ve stepped on it from further. There were people cheering, which felt really nice. Paul let a big “Babiiiii!” out and said well done. Then Otto caught me which was great, because there were people behind him. Paul gave me the Caramello Freddo. I looked around then David and Karen came to say well done with a hug, both holding a beer…
I said thank you to Paul and the volunteers before walking to the car for the beers as we agreed. It was nice to meet Karen and to share our stories of the day (and many more) while enjoying Otto’s home brew.
I didn’t have a shower at Tidal River this time. Otto and I drove back to the cottage where I could finally wash off all the mud and dirt I’ve collected during the day, then had a nice steak and red wine before going to bed. Body was burning, keeping me awake for most of the night. I guess the muscles were working hard on rebuilding themselves. As I moved my feet, I sensed that tingling itch and then I realised – damn suckers!!! They got me again!! Had two bites on both ankles, which by next day got inflamed, swollen and even more itchy…
Next morning we had breakfast, packed up, cleaned the cottage and headed home.
I was so undercooked for this race with around 108 km total training in the month leading up to it (two Prom 44s, two 7ish and a slow 4.5 km) I just winged it, ridiculously still hoping to finish around the 10 hr mark. I nearly did – 10.05.55. This time the planets aligned, it wasn’t that hot, I could eat and had energy for most of the time. The hugs and kind words I received and gave to others have overpowered the cramps hands down. There is so much love and camaraderie on those trails and I feel privileged to be a part of it!
- Lululemon crop, top, socks
- Bonatti jacket
- Red Lenser 5 in the morning
- Salomon S-lab 12 l vest
- Salomon Sense Pro 2 – not the best choice, tripped too much in them
- plus the rest of the mandatory gear
Food and hydration
- 6 rice paper rolls with slices of meetballs, smoked cheese, lettuce, mint, coriander, red, yellow and green paprika and hommus
- 1 small mandarin
- 1 half banana
- Clif Shot Bloks
- A few pieces of uncrystallised ginger
- A couple of pieces of dark chocolate and chocolate with filling
- 2 dates
- 330 ml of ginger beer at the Lighthouse and a bottle after Lt Oberon bay
- GU Tri-Berry hydration tabs in about 1.5 l water
Feel free to study this activity.