Refuge Cove

Wilsons Prom 60 – didn’t go to plan but the dip was worth it

28 December 2017

On Sealers Track
On Sealers Track

Originally I planned to go to the mountains and do Langfords Gap – Mt Hotham return (58 km). I was supposed to catch up with Paul somewhere on the trails there.
Last minute plan change resulted in me not being prepared for THIS run.

Woke up at 2.45 after a tossing-and-turning kinda night, only had one coffee (usually have a double and a single espresso), watched the uneventful sunrise on the way to the Prom. Before Fish Creek I had a near miss with a koala. Yes, ABS works as it’s supposed to. By the time I’ve reached for the phone to take a close up, the koala has waltzed into the bush. Showers on the way to Tidal River and as I started the watch. The camping was full, I’ve never been here before NYE.

I wasn’t in a rush – wanted to make the most of my last trip to the Prom this year. Gosh, I missed this place!!! It was a warm, humid morning. Had goose bumps as the cold rain drops were hitting my skin. Quite a few cars at Telegraph Saddle, but haven’t seen anyone there. At Windy Saddle there was a man fiddling with his pack and a boy wetting the bushes. His face was covered by the leaves, could see everything else, though. He ran sheepishly to his dad when I said hello.

Sealers Beach
Sealers Beach at high tide

Sealers Tk was quite dry, very few muddy patches to hop over and the board walk was nicely cleaned – thanks Parks Victoria!! Saw a tent and a bivvy at the start of the board walk, then a few hikers before reaching Sealers Cove. Thought I’d use the toilet there, but the smell as I opened the door was revolting, so I gave that a miss. Sealers was at high tide – I knew it, because I’ve checked the tides, but have never seen it like this before. There was blue bottle on the beach – no wonder no one is in the water. Took my shoes off and jogged a little until I saw a guy walking in the water… I was thinking maybe he is trying to avoid the deep bit… Then I saw someone in a Two Bays t-shirt and asked him if I could take a picture of him with the high tide. By the time he said yes, I pretty much took the shot. Then we started talking about the tide, Two Bays and stuff like that… in the mean time the other guy arrived, we introduced each other. Tim [Baldwin] already knew who I was (I was convinced he is Tim Woods… what a mistake!). Him and his brother Kingsley were about to head back to Tidal River.

Sealers Creek at high tide
Crossing Sealers Creek at high tide

We said goodbye and I headed into the above waist water, then turned around and asked Tim to take a photo, which he did. Thanks Tim!!

On the other side there was a lady and many kids. We had a quick chat while I was putting my shoes back, then I got going. The camp was full, I sloshed (wet pants and all) across and off on the track. Water was trickling down from my clothes, straight into my shoes… not sure how effective taking my shoes was.

I’ve bumped into many hikers on my way – won’t get into details. Some of them were nice, others were indifferent and just said “Hi”. I chatted with a few (the nice ones) – they kept popping up in the most unexpected places.

One of my favourite beaches
One of my favourite beaches

So far I’ve been eating every half hour – a biteful or two, not too much, just to keep my energy levels up. My plan was to carry 1 l of liquid (500 ml of water and 500 ml of sour cherry juice) until Refuge Cove and fuel up with water there, while trying to pace the sour cherry juice to last to the Lighthouse. When I finally got to Refuge Cove, the first thing I’ve noticed the 5 boats in the bay. “How good is that?!” – I thought. Then I saw a family with a dog on the beach… the sign clearly says no cats, dogs or firearms in the National Park. I thought what kind of example that man shows to his kids… at the camp ground I headed straight to the tap. There were lots of tents there and the smell of the toilets hit me from quite a distance. There was a young lady filling up her flask at the hardly trickling tap. I stood there with my 500 ml soft flask for a minute or two, then I turned around and headed back to the track. There was no way I’d spend 10 minutes there to fill up my flask. I was hoping I’ll find water at Lt Waterloo Camp. When I had reception I’d message Otto (that I am at x km and doing OK), then had a quick fb chat with Evgeni… didn’t move while this was happening so the thing sends.

I started to get worried about this whole water thing, because I was sipping on the sour cherry juice – which was very nice by the way – just not such a good idea, as I didn’t feel like eating anything. A bit like having a dessert before lunch.

Decision Rock
Waterloo Bay from the Decision Rock

The tap at Lt Waterloo was dry. Saw people with yellow water in their plastic bottles, probably waiting for it to clean. I had two purifying tablets but the thought of filling the soft flask with that not-so-healthy-looking water and then drinking the chlorine tasting result somehow didn’t appeal. Of course, as a last resort, I’d do it.

I decided to have a dip at Waterloo Beach and that kept me positive and going. There was a group of youngsters playing cards when I got there, said hello, I took my shoes off and started jogging, eyeing a spot where I could stop for the dip. A couple was coming from the opposite direction, the girl was limping a little, her knee was bandaged. Asked her if she needed anything, maybe more bandage. She said she’s OK. Asked them where they are heading to – they said Refuge Cove and asked whether it was far and whether it was straight forward getting there. I assured them it’s not that far and the track is easy to find – they can’t get lost.

Then I took my clothes off and went for that long awaited dip. Water felt really good and I wished I could stay longer. Managed to delay the starting migraine with a bit of cold water on the back of my head, but I knew that’s not over, yet. Putting the already wet clothes onto wet skin was like trying to get into a wetsuit. Jogged nearly to the beach exit (gosh they need to fix that sign – can’t see it from the distance), changed socks, then turned to start the climb, when I saw a few kids taking pictures. Then the parents… they asked me how far the turnoff to Telegraph Tk is and if it’s easy to see.

Didn’t find the hike out that bad this time, perhaps because compared to the Alps this was not a big deal, but can’t say it was easy, either. I was really thirsty, had the sour cherry juice and the little vitamin juice from the Virgin lounge (150 ml??), still hoping I’ll find water in that creek I always filled up from. I was pretty much walking like a zombie. Could hear water flowing in the valley, but didn’t feel like bush bashing… then I finally got to that creek with plenty of water. Climbed down and somehow filled up the flask (a bit like doing push ups), had the half of it, then filled it up again. I decided to fill up everything at the Lighthouse and rather carry extra than run out of water again. Saw a few hikers with water bottles in their hand – told them to be careful with the water, there’s not much along the way.

The obligatory Lighthouse door touch

At the junction I saw a backpack on the ground. Its owner obviously didn’t want to lug it up to the Lighthouse. I soon saw him and chatted with him a bit about water – of course. He said that if the tap at Lt Waterloo is not working I could go further up and get water from there. He also said there is plenty at Roaring Meg (which I knew). I asked him which way he’s going, he said he’s heading to Moaring Reg and will camp there. We had a laugh. Told him I’ll probably catch up with him on the way there.
I promptly filled up the flask at the Lighthouse and had half on the spot, then headed to the toilet (after checking all the corners for snakes, of course). There was soap!!! How nice?! It was a strong, cold wind – had to put the Bonatti on, then I took the customary selfie at the door.

When I was about to go back to the tap, I saw a boy and thought I know him… fair enough Renata (the ranger lady) appeared and was really happy to see me as was I to see her. She greeted me like an old friend – it felt really good. Then asked me if I was OK. Told her not 100% and she asked if she could get me anything. Told her if she had anything fizzy, that would be great. She brought a blue Hydralite and a glass and mixed it for me – such a beautiful gesture!!! Then Sean appeared – the guy I saw at the Prom a few other times with his son. He is training for the Marathon des Sables. We had a chat, then I thanked them and said good bye and headed down.

I was getting warm and took the Bonatti off, then thought I MUST eat something and take two Panadols, otherwise the migraine will make it way harder than it already is. I somehow swallowed two bites of one of the sandwiches and had two tomatoes, then took the Panadols. The two hikers coming towards me didn’t know what was happening and looked at me very strangely.

I tripped many times and hit my toes today. There was a bit of cursing happening… realised the Sense Pro 2 is definitely not the best shoe for the Prom. Should’ve worn the Sense Pro Max for this – next time!!

Otto called me once I was on Telegraph Tk and back in Reception World. Told him what the situation is – can’t run but walk as fast as I can and not to worry.

Tried to jog, but every time I gave it a go, I felt nauseous, forcing me to speed walk instead. At Roaring Meg – there was plenty of water – saw the hiker I spoke to at the Lighthouse earlier. He just got there. He asked me about where I came from and where I am heading. When I told him he seemed shocked. Like others before, he asked if I do this in one day. Told him yes, and my best time is 10:17 and that’s not a big deal, others can do it in about 6 hours, I am a back of pack runner. Told him about the Prom Run and the other two distances – you never know!!

I was at about 46 kms when Otto rang again, worried because he lost the signal. Told him not to worry, still can’t run, but will walk as fast as I can.

The flies!!! Gosh, they are a nightmare!! Stopped at Half Way Hut (first time) and got some water in the flask I’ve been drinking from. It was rain water and a bit luke warm, so maybe the tap water from the Lighthouse is a better choice. At least it’s cleaner.

Don’t know how I did the sandy 4WD track to Oberon Bay – just wanted to get over it. At Oberon Bay, there were quite a few people on the beach – they looked at me strangely when I appeared, waving the flies away with my white triangle bandage. The beach brought on some more pain – the March flies!!! I hit a few, but two managed to bit me, so my arm is now not so pretty with the red marks… couldn’t wait to get out of there. It was low tide but had to step through the flowing creek, so sloshing was on the cards on the way up. 5.7 km to Tidal River!! Let’s do it!

I was hoping the big flies go away once I get off the beach… I was wrong. One of them kept following me until I hit it. I was also hoping for that thunderstorm – didn’t happen. Could see Lt Oberon Bay and was already dreading that climb out. Imagined the flies making it worse, too. I tripped a few times in those rocks and that really hurt. The crows were flying across kind of laughing at me.
At Lt Oberon Bay I thought I’d just go crazy, the flies were like in a horror movie. Sand got into my shoes, didn’t care, just stepped as fast as I could. When I got to the climb out, a couple was about to set their picnic basket and rug onto the rock, they were having a great time. They looked at me like I was some alien, didn’t even say hello. Once I was on the bridge, I took a deep breath and kept thinking of that beer… it should be cold enough. Imagined how I’d open it and pour it into the tall glass I brought with me… another 3.7 km to Tidal River (which felt like eternity).

Did the few climbs, grinding my teeth, then passed the track to Norman Point (300 m), then called Otto, told him I was nearly back at Tidal River. Looked over Norman Beach – people were walking leisurely, probably with full tummies. I honestly don’t know how I did that 1.3 km from the beach to the car, all I remember is that I could smell steak, juicy steak and I wished I could have a bite; then I had to let two cars pass at the pedestrian crossing – they didn’t think it would be nice to let that crazy woman pass.

First things first: opened the boot, then the car. Got the house key out (there is a bottle opener on it), got the tall glass out of the kitchen towel (it was nice and cool from the ice pack), then opened the beer and poured it into the glass just like I imagined all the way from the Lighthouse. Had a big sip, then two smaller ones. Then put my gear down, took the shoes off, grabbed my stuff and went to have a shower. Forgot to stop the watch – only realised in the shower.

Then hobbled back to the car, tried to reach Lucinda and Steven, but facebook was overloaded, couldn’t post anything and couldn’t message. I drove around a bit, looking for their caravan; couldn’t see it and I was afraid I’d run over the kids playing on the road, so I headed home.

Food and drink

  • Toasted sandwich quarters (two bites each, really) some with butter, cheese salami and sliced cornichons, others with Philadelphia mashed with cornichons and salted capers and turkey breast. Packed grape tomatoes with them. I think I had 8 of these mini sandwiches (and tomatoes), but only had 3-4
  • VFuel gel – had one salted caramel apple
  • Clif Blok Shots – packed about 12 pieces, but only had about 6
  • Chocolate and ginger
  • 500 ml Sour Cherry Juice
  • 150 ml Fly Healthy (??) Vitamin Juice
  • Water – not sure how much I had all up, was sweating a lot. Carried the bladder and the tube in the pack to fill it up at the Lighthouse and thought refilling the soft flasks will get me there. Not on a hot day!!!

Gear

  • Didn’t take all the mandatory gear with me this time – had the Bonatti, a head torch, the PLB, snake bandage, other first aid stuff (first time I had the Panadol). Used the Bonatti at the Lighthouse – it’s always windy and cold
  • Usual Lululemon gear
  • Salomon Sense Pro 2 – the Sense Pro Max would’ve been a wiser choice here. I’ve noticed at Alpine Challenge that I wasn’t tripping that much in them
  • Salomon agile 250 belt – perfect for carrying gels, blok shots and the like
  • Triangle bandage – seems like that is an essential item in the summer, too
2017 AC 100 km

AC miler – turned AC 100 km

25-26 November 2017

Before the start with Gabor
Before the start with Gabor

Really missed the briefing this year. It’s a great show, I hope Paul is going to put it back on the program.

Otto told me he can’t make it as support this year – so the crew was like this: poor Nelu and Ani (tired since Europe) in Harrietville and Suzie at Langfords and Pretty Valley. Suzie couldn’t leave Melbourne earlier, so I organised some food to Warby Corner – Christian Day was really kind to offer.

I’ve seen Ben at Spine Consultants for a quick check up, then headed to Falls Creek with a few stops in between – Bright Brewery was one of them. Bought a pizza and two six packs, then smelled the pizza for an hour and bit until I finally checked into the room and wolfed down two slices on the spot.
It was nice to see Jacqui’s smile at the Country Club Hotel, then Carole’s at registration. John, who did the gear check told me he’s sorry he can’t get me a cold beer to Pole 333 – he remembered from Razorback, where he manned the checkpoint in March.

A bunch of us on Spion Kopje
A bunch of us on Spion Kopje

Missed out on the first Q & A session, so waited a bit for the second. In his usual low key style, Paul gave us a quick run-down about the course and what to expect, then after a few questions people went to mind their business. I guess I was the last one to go to bed that night – at 10:30 still packing my food and posting on facebook about a spare Ay Up battery/charger (forgot the charger at home). Thank you George Mihalakellis for offering.

When the alarm went off at 3 AM, I suddenly didn’t know where I was. This is what sleeping in several places does to you! Made the coffee, had a few bites, a shower, got dressed and headed to the start line with Jacqui and Darren, then Celesta and Adrian caught up with us. In the starting chute I saw Gabor (we took a selfie), met Kate Sanderson (such a lovely lady!!) and said hello to a few more runners around me. Paul said something about a storm (??), but we couldn’t hear well at the back, so just waited for the countdown and off we went. I was glad the watch started the LiveTrack properly, so there was no need to fiddle with it as I did last year. The weather was just perfect for running. I was hoping we’ll get some rain along the day…

Frank - we did the whole Spion Kopje together
Frank – we did the whole Spion Kopje together

Ran between Celesta and Todd [Freestone] until Junction Spur, chatting away. I ran with Todd at Lysterfield a few times, with the group before. I stopped the head torch, there was enough light to run safely on that track. Overtook a few people, then I was overtaken by others. The steep part was still steep, then on Spion Kopje Tk I saw two guys, one of them taking his top off. I told them “I didn’t order a pole dancer!!” and we all laughed.

This year I decided I’ll save time and won’t take off my shoes at the water crossings. I bought a pair of Salomon Sense Pro Max, the specs said high breathability – I thought I’ll be good. Took a pair of spare socks with me, just in case and planned to put them on around Cleve Cole. Crossed Rocky Valley Creek, the water was nice and cool, but that sloshing after?!!!… pain in the ears! As I started climbing, I’ve passed a few people, then again was passed by others, until someone shows up next to me and said he’s the pole dancer. That was so funny!! Great sense of humour! That was Frank [van Haren]. We kept talking and found many common things apart from trail running. Stopped for pictures every now and then and managed to get to Warby in record time (for me).

Velta took this awesome shot just before Warby Corner
Velta took this awesome shot just before Warby Corner

Velta was taking pictures just before Warby – awesome shots!! Checked in, grabbed my food, had a piece of banana and Otto rang to congratulate me on how well I was doing, as he could see me on the map. That was such a nice thing!! Told Frank that I’ll have to stop at Ropers, so he continued with his friend, Sean. I caught up with Tamyka and Stephanie – Tamyka wasn’t feeling that well, but she said she’ll be all right. At Ropers, I did a toilet stop, then went on. Didn’t rush down on Duane Spur as last year. I bumped into Ian (sorry don’t know his surname), who was checking his phone and map. Told him he can’t get lost here, there is only one track all the way to Big River. I passed a happy couple, exchanged a few words. They caught up with me at the crossing, then swiftly passed me on the hike. Especially the lady was going so strong, I was amazed.

On T-Spur - it was getting hotter and hotter
On T-Spur – it was getting hotter and hotter

Last year I pushed too fast on T Spur, trying to keep up with Lesley and Ryan [Noreiks], but now I decided to save my energy – it’s going to be a looooong day. The sloshing started to make me think this is not a good idea – need to put those dry sock on, otherwise it will be blisters later… so I looked for a tree across the track. Dunno who put it there, but it looked like it was especially for me. Sat down and changed the socks. In the mean time Tamyka and Steph caught up and passed (there was a lot of this during the day and night) – Tamyka even making a remark about changing socks being a good idea before it becomes an issue. Then I bumped into Thomas, trying to fabricate some poles from sticks. Told him about the trail head at Mt Donna Buang and the poles that line up for everyone to take.

It started to get warm, the ants were nuts, running up my feet and legs every time I stopped or slowed down. The flies weren’t pleasant, either. I have taken Gabor’s advice and ate every half an hour. A little something, but I ate. This seemed as a great strategy – it was working, but I was really looking forward to the cold water at Madison Creek. When I got there, Tamyka and Steph were already filling up/getting ready to fill up, chatting away cheerfully. I filled up my soft flask, too and wetted my triangle bandage. I am sure I’ve taken Tamyka’s spot – sorry Tamyka!! They took off and I went, too. They were using the run/walk strategy and got to Cleve Cole a few minutes earlier.

As I was approaching the check point, a SAAR volunteer was coming from the opposite direction. He asked me if I saw an injured runner. Told him I only saw Ian behind me and he wasn’t injured when I spoke to him.

The track towards Mt Bogong
The track towards Mt Bogong

Tamyka, Steph and Thomas were already at the checkpoint, the SAAR lady nursing Thomas’ blisters. I hoped there would be some fruit, but there was none. The milk chocolate and sweets didn’t appeal, so I added an electrolyte to one of my soft flasks – it was grape!!! My favourite!! I found out it was Ian, who was the injured runner – he has rolled his ankle on the way down Duane Spur. How sad?! Then after a toilet break I continued up to Mt Bogong. It was getting warmer and warmer. Remembered one of the SAAR volunteers at the checkpoint telling me that it will be a nice breeze at the top… I was so looking forward to that. Could see the girls in front and Thomas not that far behind me. Then some hikers heading up to the cairn at Mt Bogong.

That track is as painful as the one going to Pole 333 – uneven and full of rocks! At the cairn we took some photos. Me of the tourists, then they of me, then I took a few shots of Thomas. He shot off with great energy, which I was amazed by. I called Paul and asked about Celesta. I was really worried about her and pissed at myself for forgetting to ask at Cleve Cole. Paul said as far as he knows Celesta wasn’t feeling well from Nepal, but she didn’t pull out or anything. That was good news; that she was OK.

At Mt Bogong Summit
At Mt Bogong Summit

Saw two hikers coming down, laughing, said hello. Not far, I bumped into Thomas sitting on the ground. Asked him if he was ok, he said yes, but he needs to wait until the skin dries so he can stick the tape back before he continues. Further up I saw Tamyka and Steph, tightening their laces for the downhill.
Saw some snow close to the track, thought I’d touch it, at least. Looked a bit dirty, but I scraped the top and there was the clean, icy snow. Thought it would be a great idea to fill the cloth with it and cool down my neck, skin, face, back of my head… glad I did that, it kept me cool for a couple of kms. The sole of my feet started to make themselves known – this was something new for me. Never had blisters from running. The only big blister I scored before was from a beautiful hot pink shoe in Sydney… Damn!!! I should’ve taken those shoes off at the water crossings!!! Somehow I knew from the beginning I’d be doing this to myself!

On Quartz Spur - love those outcrops
On Quartz Spur – love those outcrops

Made it down to Big River Fire Tk. I filled my flasks at the pipe, cooled my neck and washed my face in the fresh, cold water. Felt awesome! I kept looking up the track, thought the girls or Thomas would’ve caught up with me by this time… Then I continued my journey on the grassy trail down to Big River crossing. I didn’t remember this track being this beautiful.

I started to run out of food that I was happy to eat. The Bloks got a bit too much, but still the only thing that felt good at that time, maybe because they were a bit sour. I’ve packed some bite size rice with peanut butter wrapped into nori sheet – that didn’t go down well in that heat. It was perfect when we were in cold and rain with Suzie, but in the warm weather it was just sticky and hard to swallow. Same with the rice, jam and peanut butter. Brought them back all!! Didn’t feel like anything sweet – the chocolate was melting in my pack and the dates were too dry to eat (bought these beautiful Bateel Medjool Dates in Doha). I only had a half of the quarter sandwiches I’ve packed – the one with cream cheese, capers, pickles, smoked salmon and grape tomatoes, but again the heat interfered with eating the last bit.

Thought I should treat that water, I had some Micropur tablets with me. Stopped in a corner and added a pastille to both 500 ml flasks, while drinking from the small flask that I was carrying in my hand. When I got to Big River, I could hear and see more runners. Tariq was lying on the ground, I went close to him and asked if he was OK. He signaled, he is, just taking a rest. I went to fill up my small flask and wet the triangle bandage at the nearby stream, then crossed the water, worrying about wetting my phone (should’ve taken it out from the thigh pocket for this crossing). On the other side there was James and Freya, getting ready to get going and I think two more runners… not sure. I said hello and told them how great they were doing, then kept going.

James and Freya were the first to pass me, Freya switched to high speed. I thought “how good is to be young and strong?!”, then Thomas and Tamyka and Steph. Could see Thomas was struggling, we yo-yoed each other for a few more times. It was warm. Could see the clouds gathering and I was hoping there will be at least a tiny rain to cool us down a little and make this never ending climb a bit more bearable and exciting.

I started to feel the lack of nutrition, then even the sips of water weren’t feeling good. Especially since the purifying tablets made the contents of the flasks taste like Melbourne tap water. I was thinking of last year… that I was pretty much in the same state here, except I knew I have support at Warby… this time no support until Langfords. Let’s hope there is some watermelon at the Warby checkpoint.

And this is when Suzie rang, letting me know she has arrived and she’s got beer!! She asked me how I was, so I told her that I can’t eat or drink and running out of juice. She said she’ll be waiting for me at Langfords. Then she rang back and said she’ll bring me beer to Warby. I was run/walking to that point, then I realised we won’t get there at the same time, it will take her longer, so I slowed down a bit. Saw Tamyka and Steph ahead and thought “Gee, I can’t recall this uphill being this steep?!” – it’s not even steep, just looks like it from that angle and from that state (both physical and mental). I could see the tent at Warby… on the top of the hill.

Someone is very serious
Someone is very serious

Got to the checkpoint, Graham was clapping and saying encouraging words – love this guy!! – then asked me what I would like, offering all the goodies available. It was so touching. Told him my daughter will bring me beer here, he wasn’t too impressed by that and said at least have a piece of water melon, which I did, and later on I regretted not having more of that. Everyone was so nice at that checkpoint, would love to give them a huge hug. The lady was knitting and another volunteer cooking in the front of the tent. I asked Graham if it’s Ok if I get that beer along the track, instead of waiting for Suzie to get here. He said of course it, OK, so I took off, speed walking, thinking of that beer…

Family reunion on Big River Fire Tk
Family reunion on Big River Fire Tk

Saw a group of hikers coming, when Suzie rang, asking me how far I was because she can’t see me. Told her I must be behind the hill. Then she called me again, we spotted each other (she was wearing white, so it wasn’t hard) and started walking faster… when I was getting closer, I was thinking… “how come Suzie is walking next to that older guy?! She is not that fond of meeting new people”… looked at her smiling pretty face first, then realised the person next to her was Otto!!! What a surprise!!!! I was really happy to see them both, but knowing he was there gave me a piece of mind – he is the BOSS OF ORGANISING! He knows what to do and what to say…

We took a few pictures, Otto opened a bottle of Bright amber ale with a stone, cutting his finger in the process… I had a few sips, about half the bottle and then instantly felt better, even though watermelon and beer???!!! There is a joke about that. Otto started the reasoning why I should only do the 100 km: your feet are hurting, you haven’t done it before (not working…), Ani and Nelu can get a proper sleep, they are tired (OK, that’s a good one), Suzie can drive back tomorrow, so Nelu doesn’t have to take her car (that’s a better one), I (Otto) need some rest (fair enough, the guy is on his toes for months and burning the candle at both ends) and then the last one – we can all have a decent lunch at Bright Brewery and celebrate your birthday in some way.

Because that’s why I signed up for the miler – I turned 50 a few days earlier and thought it’s a great way to celebrate.

I said to him, I’ll think about it until Langfords. Suzie said “if you want to do it, do it! This is why we came here for and I’ll be there at Pretty Valley to do the last stage with you”. At Marum Pt Tk we said good bye, big hugs and I took off on the single trail while they started running toward Watchbed Ck.

It would be so nice to run this track with fresh feet!!! Beautiful single track, but for me at that time it was a pain in the sole of my feet. Big one! I realised there must be a blister on my left big toe, another one on the sole just under the big toe and the next and one each on the inner and outer parts of my heels… I also thought about the track from Cope Saddle Hut to Fainters… how painful that was last year in the dark and so much water on the track…

I could see the foot marks of the people who ran there before me. I was wondering how fast they were going? Did they have sore feet like me?! …then I got to the little bridge. Love that crossing! I knew I must be getting close to Langfords, I only need to go around a few corners.

The white dots are hail pebbles
The white dots are hail pebbles

Last year I did this bit with Nelu, checking nearly every pole, looking at the map in the dark. As I was getting close to the corner with the pond, Otto calls me asking how far I was and said they’ll start coming towards me. Then the hail started, hitting my head through the hood and my face. One piece hit the tip of my nose – that was unfair!!! It hurt! Took a few shots, it was beautiful. I thought I should call them and tell them to stay, it’s hailing, but then I better stepped on it. This time it didn’t feel that long and I started jogging as I was approaching the check point. They were waiting there, with an umbrella!!

I told the volunteer at the check point that I am switching to the 100 km. He asked me if I was sure. Told him I am positive. Tamyka and Steph were already there, opening their drop bags. The guy told me to go change, do whatever I need to do and then come back. I went, changed shoes – gosh my feet looked like I have spent the day in the pool, all white and wrinkled – put my overpants on, got the Ay Up out, had another few sips of beer, then watermelon at the check point. Again, I should’ve had some more or taken some with me, as eating become a real problem. I’ve been going for 20 odd kms without proper nutrition. At least I could get some more Bloks – at least those worked and I also got a quarter sandwich (with butter, cheese, salami and grape tomatoes).

Went back to the checkpoint tent and told the man I was definitely cutting back to 100 kms, then headed off. It was raining, a few more people were going back into it, James and Freya were two of those, Freya speed walking like a daemon, James worried that she doesn’t know where she’s going. My total admiration for this girl!! I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, trying to avoid the puddles and hissing and cursing every now and then, as those blisters started to yell at me.

Pulled out the phone at some point to see how far I was from Cope Hut – it seemed like it takes too long, but the map assured me I wasn’t far away. Before reaching Cope Hut, I passed James and Freya again, then finally got to the road. Crossed it and looked for that sign that used to be on the other side… well Parks Vic must have changed it, all the writing was saying was, that the Australian Alpine Walking Trak is that way. Shrugged my shoulders and headed on, feeling each and every pebble under my feet. I was waiting for the rubber bit… didn’t come until later. I could see the light going on and then off at the check point in the distance. Gosh, how many poles?! 168?! That’s about 8.3 km and the worse comes later, after I pass Cope Saddle Hut… checked the Avenza map again, didn’t seem that far. I said so many ouches and some swear words along those kilometers.

As I was approaching Cope Saddle Hut, I could hear voices… looked back and saw two head lights. Must have been James and Freya. The bit between Cope Saddle Hut (with its beautiful red roof) and Pole 333 really hurt. I was walking like a drunk person on that uneven terrain with its sharp rocks and water puddles. Couldn’t eat or drink and could feel my energy levels going low. Nevertheless, I pushed on, walking as fast as I could. Every now and then silently swearing of course.

The sky lit up with the moon and shiny stars, it was a pretty sight. At some point I thought I saw someone with a head light coming from the left (Mt Jim), but then nothing. Only a fox with its eyes in the dark… yayyy!!! There was another creature out there, not only me. Then I could see lights heading to the left towards Youngs Tk – the milers!!! Brave people, probably also hurting, maybe not that bad as me. Gosh, that checkpoint felt like miles away! When I finally reached it, checked in, assured the man I have already let someone know about the downgrade. He offered me chips and snakes; I took a pinch of chips, but could hardly eat them. He told me which way to go. I thanked him, then I said I know, last year I missed the turn – learned my lesson.

The bit between Pole 333 and Fainters seemed like the hardest stage of my journey to that point. Those blisters hurt so badly that I could cry. I just swore instead and put on the gloves, as it was getting really cold – just like last year… I had to fiddle with the gloves a little as I made the mistake of clipping them together, but then it felt good once I put them on.

When I finally got to the Fainters turnoff I saw the car the volunteer told me about and promptly turned right toward Pretty Valley. Checked the pdf map just to make sure. A 4WD appeared on the road, strong lights. When it got in line with me, it stopped and I realised it was full of SAAR people, the ones I’ve seen at Warby. One of them even told me how great I was doing. In all hat pain I asked him “compared to what?!” – he said they saw me at Warby, then he said there is a bit of a hill, then all the way down Pretty Valley. I thanked them for all their help then kept on going, trying to avoid the rocks and the puddles. Didn’t always work.

Otto and Suzie called, asking me how far I was. Told them I just got onto Fainters, there must be about 3 kms to get there. They said they were coming to Pretty Valley. Surely a few minutes (or so it seemed to me) they called again. It was a pain in the butt taking off the gloves every time, risking freezing fingers, but I know they meant well. Told Otto I could see them, then shook my head so he can see which one I was (he said he could see three lights and wanted to know which one is mine). He laughed and said they are waiting for me at the check point. Those rocks!!! Each and one of them!!! Ouch!!!

1:11 am at Pretty Valley Pondage
1:11 am at Pretty Valley Pondage

When I got nearby, I got some big hugs! That was so worth it! Then Otto asked what I wanted, so he can get it ready while I checked in. I said I’d like some of that sour cherry juice. Had some and asked him to fill one of my soft flasks with it. If there was any watermelon at the check point I would have had some, but wasn’t sure I could eat oranges at that point. Suzie was ready to go, all cheerful and happy. This is someone who trains hard with weights, doesn’t run and is normally fast asleep at that time of the night.

The little climb up from Pretty Valley seemed like a mountain at that point, the rocks still not going away. When we were not talking, all you could hear is the swishing of the overpants. At the camp Otto was waiting – we started calling him “tha Stalker” – just making sure we are OK. A car was heading the pond way, the driver asked if he was going in the right direction. We told him yes, he was. Must have been someone’s support – no other person in their complete mind would have been driving there at that time. We could see lights moving up and down Mt McKay, at least we knew how far we needed to go.

I was watching this young, strong woman – my daughter. She made it look like walking up the hill way after midnight, all geared up, supporting her crazy mum was the most natural thing in the world. And I was so proud!!! We haven’t done anything together since she moved out about 6 years ago and now here we are second time in a week doing this crazy shit that makes me tick. She still has the little girl charm I always loved about her, but now she is a real tough cookie, as well. My total admiration.

As we were going up Mt McKay, runners were coming down, didn’t look up so I won’t blind them and ended up calling Todd – Sean… we had a laugh, wished each other all the best then went on. I thought we’ll never get to the top! Suzie checked out the snow. It was dirty, but it was snow. We talked about how different is now, compared to when we were here last time. At least is not raining… at the shelter we took a few shots after Suzie closed the door. Someone must have left it open. As we were coming down on that rocky road, we realised there were two runners going on the side, in the grass… Suzie asked if they were cutting it short, when we realised the orange markers there. It was us, who missed the course – well, we made the most of it, going around instead.

Each and every little rock, pebble and maybe sand hurt my feet at that point. Everything else was ok, but the soles. When we got to the bottom and about to cross the road, someone on the left greeted us – it was Paul, doing the sweeping. Tamyka and Steph (they were the two runners going to the shelter earlier) passed us and nearly went on the road, when Paul told them he’ll disqualify them if they won’t take the marked path across the shrubs. They laughed and went on chatting away cheerfully. Suzie and I followed path, looking for the markers. My Ay Up started to fade. I should’ve been disappointed in that highly regarded torch, but I knew very well it was my mistake not fully charging it before I left.

Yep - we finished it
Yep – we finished it

After a while the girls (Tamyka and Steph) disappeared, we were wondering if they took the wrong turn… because it looked as they were heading to the right, and I knew we’d need to go left after this trail. Suzie mentioned that this is indeed a pain in the ass – this track. It’s so uneven! Finally we got onto the Pretty Valley Rd so I could “enjoy” the rocks a little bit more.

As we were walking and talking, wondering how long we’ve got to go, Suzie held my hand. I thought that’s nice! We haven’t done that in ages!! Then she went on and asked whether I saw any animals on my way. Told her I only saw birds and a fox. And ants and lizards. Nothing else. Then she asked if I wasn’t scared alone, in the dark. Told her there is nothing to be afraid of. You are there in nature, not many people come this far. She said she would be shitting herself. “Really?!” – I asked. Then she “Why do you think I am holding your hand?!” – if I wasn’t hurting that much I would’ve pissed myself laughing. It was so funny!! Then we went on to talk about horror movies and what we were scared of when alone at home.

At the finish line
At the finish line

She has recognised some points we’ve passed when we came here the other week and we realised we must be close to The Last Hoot. Sure there was the sign to the left and onto the grass. That grass bit… gosh it was hurting!! Uneven and curly. I didn’t remember it this long from last year. We were looking for the finish line lights, when we could hear some “Whoo hoo!!” – recognised Otto’s voice. Made sure we ran into the chute and were greeted by a volunteer and Otto. The clock was showing 23.01. Big hugs, pictures, then off to the final check point. I showed my number, handed in the PLB and kindly asked the gentleman to put the medal around my neck. He took it out the plastic bag and did, remarking that I surely deserve to have it hung around my neck.

I thanked him, said hello to Todd, Tamyka and Steph, then headed out. Wanted to walk to the hotel, but Suzie thought I was nuts, so I got into the car, then had a shower, a beer and went to bed. I was really scared not to break the blisters in my sleep, it would have stained the bed linen. We woke up around 10.30?? called Nelu to see what we are going to do. We decided to catch up with them in Bright at the brewery for lunch, then drive back, pack up and drive home, while Suzie and them to drive home straight from Bright.

The bling was the license to wobble
The bling was the license to wobble

Had a great time at the Brewery. I asked for the ribs. I was hungry. And the matching beer. But I couldn’t eat even half of it + 2 slices of pizza. Celesta came by and we talked about how it went. She told me she pulled out at Warby 2 – she didn’t have her heart in it. This is impressive, going that far with a chest infection.

While we were there, a band was setting up. It would have been nice to stay there a little longer, but we had to break it up. We said good bye in the parking lot and Ani, Nelu and Suzie headed towards Melbourne, while Otto and I back to Falls Creek. We went to HQ to check out how everyone is going: someone just finished. I congratulated him and asked how he went. He said he just finished. Dan [Beard] was on the phone, would’ve loved to congratulate him. Paul thought it was a wise decision to change distance, then there was Jacqui, who did the same because of her hips. We had a little chat, checked out the chart, then headed off bumping into Carol on our way. Big hug from her.

And the boys!
And the boys!

At the end of the day I have done what I should’ve done a year ago 🙂 finish the 100 km in a decent time 23:01. I didn’t get what I really wanted – the miler – but I had a great time with my family, the runners on the course and the volunteers. I am eternally grateful for everything they’ve done for me. Even if it was a nod. It all counts.

 

 

Gear

  • Lululemon top and crop – top was old, the crop relatively new, but it worked, I’ll keep doing long distances in this. I like the thigh pocket, I can put the phone in it, keeping it at hand. Miss the back zippered pocket, though. None of them gave me a chafe.
  • Lululemon socks – might need to swap them for newer ones
  • Salomon Sense Pro Max shoes from start to Langfords – they are not that breathable as they claim to be. The Sense Mantras I first had were more reliable in this department.
  • Langfords to finish – Asics Fuji Trabucco – these are really good but not for this occasion. I mean running/walking with blisters. I’ve got many kms in them and their soles are quite thin.
  • Bonatti jacket – they were perfect to keep the rain away, but I was a tad cold when the temperatures got low. If I have put on the thermals, it would’ve been the best combination, just couldn’t be bothered.
  • Waterproof pants – Rainbird??? Something from Anaconda. Very cheap and effective. Worked a charm in those scratchy bushy areas.
  • Salomon S-Lab Advanced Skin 3 12 set hydration pack with 2 x 500 ml and 1 x 125 ml soft flasks. I had the 1.5 l bladder with me until Langfords, but never used it. Carried it for backup.
  • XTM gloves
  • Thermals – polypropylene
  • PLB and heat pack as supplied by RW

Food

  • Toasted quarter sandwiches – butter, cheese, Revilla salami and grape tomatoes; philly, capers, pickled cucumber (in a paste) with whiskey cured Huon salmon and grape tomatoes – not sure exactly how many I had. Maybe 4-5??
  • Chocolate – had very little, maybe 2- 3 pieces. With crystallised ginger twice
  • Date – ½ it was too dry
  • Mandarins – had about 6
  • Mountain Berry Bloks – lots of them. They were a bit sour, which was perfect for me at the time
  • VFuel Gel – 1 and a bit. Didn’t go down well on Timms Spur
  • Rice with peanut butter and home made strawberry jam – 2 pieces. Couldn’t handle them
  • Rice with peanut butter in nori sheets – 1 small ball. Couldn’t have any more
  • Watermelon – from checkpoints
  • Chips – very little from checkpoint
  • Beer – about ¾ bottle all up
  • Sour cherry juice – about 500 ml
  • Electrolyte – 125 ml home made (boiled potatoes, carrots, celery, parsnips, turnips) and 1 tablet of
  • Fizz Grape