Saturday, 30 June 2007

Hit the road Kel!

Yet another night with minimal sleep, spent most of the time till 3 coughing (can't believe one cold can last this long must be something about me & American air). Headed down to Hertz to pick up a car, suppose i was a little disappointed the cheapest one was a Toyota Corolla (was looking forward to a flash US made one they do make good looking vehicles), still as long as it gets me there. Hopped on the hotel internet as i thought i'd better make some bookings for the next couple of days. Pretty easy plans Hwy 49 all the way to Yosemite, driving on the 'wrong' side of the road was surprisingly natural. Lunch of chili dog & shake at a real Diner at San Andreas reminded me just how warm it was (96 degrees). Wouldn't be the same without one navigational error which i didn't realise till i was 20 miles out of my way meaning peak hour through downtown Merced, thankfully by 6 i'd hit Mariposa (40 miles from Yosemite) where i'd booked a room. Fascinating old town with massive mountains in the distance (something to look forward to the next day), shame the motel pool was condemned as still well over 90!. Been a great day, the countryside (in the grip of a drought) very reminiscent of home but higher and without gumtrees). Even managed a better nights sleep (so tired that my cold and the drone of air conditioning couldn't stop me sleeping), certainly i needed it as a big Thursday was planned.

Better days

Having coughed and sniffled my head off on Monday night i'd decided to spend one last day in Auburn. Was feeling a little better (though probably hard to tell from my still hacked voice or my hankies), so thought a day out in the sun (now near 100 degrees) exploring the town was the way to go. Was now the last Aussie left with Horrie, Blue Dog, Nic & Ron checking out that morning. A walk around the historic old town (where we had eaten Sunday night) and then to the impressive old courthouse which holds the museum (meaning a metal detector search and frisk just to go to the museum), very worthwhile as there were many pics showing WS checkpoints back when they booming towns. Funny enough the lady at the museum had spent 2000 living in Australia (Mereweather near Newcastle) so was happy to see an Aussie.
By now i had directions to the newer part of town and couldn't resist having a look in 'The Auburn Running Company' a runners dream, did resist the urge to buy but did have a long yarn with the staff. By then it was time to find my way back. On my way back bumped into (for the 4th time today we'd had a chat about the area each time & i'd worked out they were friendly locals enjoying their summer break and were as genuine as they seemed) Pat, Paul & Jill. So ended up going on a tour of the town as only locals could show. We dropped in on Pat's uncle Tom (a Deputy DA i'd seen at the courts earlier very small world) & i got plenty of advice and maps for where to head the next week (looks like the answer was Hwy 49 and Yosemite). Still 90 degrees so couldnt resist an invite to the local swimming hole (The Confluence), a mile walk from a busy parking area and just past under California's highest bridge. A truly magic spot, crystal clear water with incredible reflections (will post pictures on my return words dont do it justice), Paul caught up on his sleep while the 3 of us swum to the other side through the invigorating (and very deep) waters. We then climbed up on to the rocks the locals use as a diving platform (Paul as the local demonstrated, Jill up from SF for her first summer here and i werent quite convinced). We were just happy to lie in the sun and chat and watch the moon rise as well as the noisy, drunken antics of some 'Water people' upstream (one such a dead ringer for Paris Hilton in both looks & lack of class, i thought they'd let her out a day early!). By 9 they had gone (and surprisingly to their credit taken their pile of empties) and it had dropped to 80 degrees, Paul did convince Jill to take her first jump but sore blisters on sharp rocks convinced me to climb back down (just hope they don't think all Aussies are whimps). Didn't swim back quite as easily (tend to head to my right so was halfway down the rapids), but was almost dry by the time we'd made it back to the car. Off to the old town for dinner but being Tuesday night everything was shut (bar the alehouse where dinner started @ $25). So it was off to 'Dennys', was mystified when Jill ordered 'biscuits & gravy' after tasting i'd explain biscuits as a soft damper shaped like a scone as for the gravy can't explain it better than it being a tasty white sauce. I stuck to the very tasty meatloaf. Dropped off at the hotel at 11, very tired but excited about the days ahead (and i'd been shown where the local Hertz is so knew where to begin the next morning).

Thursday, 28 June 2007


Firstly the title of todays post does not mean the rest will all have Stones album titles this time it was pure coincidence ! Freely admit i was gutted to DNF, refuse to use my health as an excuse and can only think of it as a failure (at least that proves to me i still think as a racer - a positive thought). Off to a Mexican restaurant in Old Auburn with most of the gang and after many Margaritas (needed to wash down the hot food & corn chips :-)) was at least in a better state of mind. At least 3 or so hours of sleep but still coughing and sniffling my head off. Next morning it was breakfast at the hotel with Richard & Robert & family who were heading off straight after. Strange breakfast as no cereal offered at all!. Better news i did find the second part of my camera charger so finally i could take pictures again, downside i discovered i needed some software (that i have at home) to download my 7 minutes of pre race & race video (kindly taken by our own Spielberg Vegie-girl, thanks Lis !) so that will have to wait till i return. Various people left and continued on their journeys, meaning most of the day was spent saying goodbye to a passing parade as us people staying (Horrie & family, Blue Dog & Bernie, Nic & Damien) spent the day finally enjoying a relaxing day by (and in) the pool, lots of talking, some food & a few beers sitting around under a hot sun finally felt i was on holidays (albeit still with a damned cold). So relaxed in fact that when i went back to my room for a lie down before dinner (at 7) i didnt wake up till 11, meant i needed to sample the cuisine of the "In'n'Out" burger next door (actually better than i expected).

Monday, 25 June 2007

Not always happy endings

Heaps of group pictures followed by more pasta at Madigans, then i realised that i still hadnt got some cheap sunglasses to run in so off to the Chevron servo. After yet another night without sleep went surprisingly confidently into todays race, was really looking forward to escaping the hype and actually running. Well i'll be short and sweet (longer report to follow later) went out conservatively as i knew the cold would make it hard, all was good until Last Chance where i was told i was 8 pounds over my starting weight and was held and fed the appropriate foods as well as getting some blisters fixed. Was told to walk rather than run as basically hard running and my cold were too much in combination for my body to work properly. By Devils Thumb this was up to 10 pounds but at least my blood pressure and pulse were good so i was encouraged to go on. By Michigan Bluff was nine pounds but the doctor was a little wary and gave me a blood test that was then the end of my race, a helluva long way to come for my second ever dnf and only 55.7 miles into it. Otherwise a great day for the Aussies, 6 under 24 hrs including Martin Fryer's 21st place with 21 odd hours. As i type with an hour to go there is only one left, Bill, to finish.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Just over 12 hours to go

Interesting night across the road at Madigan's Diner with some of the others (Blue Dog and Bernie, Horrie and family, Richard, Brendan and Ron), ordered Ravioli and was given Pasta Rustica which i thought must have been the local equivalent until the ravioli came , meaning that i was eating Ron's meal, as well as getting Orange Soda as opposed to the Orange Juice i ordered and to top it off then there was one extra order of Apple Pie (which i proceeded to polish off). Good food and very filling but shame about the mix ups.
Another night spent trying to get to sleep and again putting a wet face washer over my forehead to stay cool around 3 so much time to worry about the run ahead.
Today was race check in, so back to Squaw Valley again, little bit of drama as the hotel lost electricity for an hour or so, because of a fallen tree and eventually me & Richard got a lift there with the only Aussies still there Paul & Diane. Amazing goodie bags, jumper, shirt, water bottle, mug and heaps of knick knacks as well as our medical. Well i guess i passed:
Weight 141 LBS
Blood Pressure 120/63
Pulse 67
which is now on my wristband. After dropping of the drop bags and a quick feed (some smoothie which had so many vitamins surely it would fix me up), it was off to the race briefing where we got to meet some of the luminaries of the race.
After i got to catch up with Jim Rudig from last years Trans Gaule as well as finally seeing Bill Thompson and Carol La Plante and Phil.
Now for a rest !!

Friday, 22 June 2007

A little better

Here i am a little over 12 Hours since my last blog
update and things are a little brighter. After
returning to bed at 4 thankfully slept till 9:20 and
woke without the sore throat but still with a pretty
hacked voice. Breakfast with a number of the Aussies,
and made sure i had plenty of orange juice.
Today is pretty much the ceremonial start to Western
States with a flag raising on Immigrant Pass at
Midday, so decided to get a lift from Tam's husband
Steven so me, Ron, Nic & Richard fitted easily into
their 7 seater (Tam possibly wisely deciding not to
As the rest looked around the WS Store i thought i may
as well head up via the trail (same way as the race)
as it would give me a better idea as to whether i was
physically capable (reckon when writing the last blog
i was a guaranteed non starter was an absolute mess).
Certainly feeling the effects of ill health i had my
jumper on the whole way up which was a little strange
compared to the US runners i was walking with in
running gear.
Finally got there in something like 70 minutes and
caught up with many of the other Aussies (including
David Eadie who was staying with his wife in the other
motel), some who had walked up earlier and some who
had taken the Cable Car.
Very windy up top so spent lot's of time staying in
the shade of others, but was quite a nice ceremony
although god knows how anyone took my croaky rendition
of "America the Beatiful" which we all sang along too.
Walked back to the Cable Car with Martin, Di (MRX &
99), Lis (Vegie), Nic (Prewannabee), Ian (Glassman)
and David (Chefs on The Run) and decided it would be
wiser to take the cable car down with them.
Was certainly worth it, awesome view (although you'd
swear we were going to crash into the pylons), took
some pictures with the phone (as i still haven't
sorted a charger for the camera), but unfortunately
not able to upload on this Hotel computer (no java
means i'm emailing my blog in via Yahoo Mail from the
pc as it doesn't work with blogger).
Was happy to get a lift back with Martin, Di, Lis &
Ian so giving me an afternoon to rest, though still
needed to head over the road to the nearest diner for
lunch (good old fashioned burger washed down with a
Ever since have been resting, i'd like to think there
is now a now a light at the end of the tunnel that my
health has made this trip so far.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Damned Colds

Here i am typing this at 3:15 AM local time, unable to
sleep as simply my cold is making it impossible, far
from ideal at this late a date.
Finally back at my hotel 4:30 Yesterday and later on
go for a walk down to Fisherman's Wharf, looked at
getting a bus to Truckee, however spoke to Robert
Boyce and he reckoned he could fit both me and Ron in.
Big dinner in Chinatown, as we caught up with Horrie
and his wife Belinda and son Tim as well as Robert and
his family. Later went back to Robert's room and it
looked as though his car would hold six (and had a
massive boot). Again feeling very drained and the
throat feeling like it was cut giving me another very
ordinary nights sleep (again a walk around the block
at 3 as was simply too hot).
Wake up this morning still feeling ordinary (shame
that you have to run the shower for 5 minutes before
the water turns hot - reckon you'd be shot for that
back home), and then off to Roberts to leave at around
9, was sort of expecting wall to wall McDonalds etc
along the highway and was surprised to find that
servoes and food places all tend to be on turnoffs
rather than on the side of the road like the Aussie
ones. Certainly interesting going over the double
decker Bay Bridge to Oakland and once we'd passed
Sacramento was really the open road (just can't
believe the size of the PickUps and Caravans), went
near Auburn (the finish of Western States), and 3 1/2
Hours later had made it to Truckee (interesting the
address is 10527 Coldstream considering there are only
5 buildings in the street) and the very luxurious
Holiday Inn.
Caught up with Blue Dog & Bernie as we checked in and
was offered a lift to Squaw Valley for the session for
novice WS runners, as well as shopping at the
Exhibition (what don't they have with Western States
on it ??). Here we caught up with Lis and the Mellum
Mob (who'd drove up the previous day), Brendan, Martin
& Di as well as Horrie and family who had flown up
from SF. Pretty much shopped till it closed and we
made plans to eat at a local Pasta Place.
By the time we came back Ian Javes, Tam & Steven, Nic,
Richard and Paul and Diane were there as well so the
Aussie contingent was looking impressive.
Off hand we had 22 for dinner, great food and
thankfully big serves as i hadn't got around to lunch,
but frankly my health was deteriorating rapidly,
barely any voice left (possibly a blessing to many)
and switching seamlessly between hot and cold, far
from ideal (and now simply unable to sleep).
Just hope that once i finish this i can sleep a
little, go back and do so more things at Squaw Valley
and then just sleep the rest of the day otherwise i've
got a helluva lot of problems, if you were to ask me
now you'd reckon i'd come all this way for a DNS !!.
One small problem for me (nothing compared to my
health though), realise i only took one of the two
cables needed to recharge my camera, so have a flat
battery after 60 pictures and only 2 days, who know
what i'll be able to do about that.
Just hope my next update is more positive.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Still as bad as ever !

Would you believe 3 hours later i'm back at the same place ? Turned the wrong way down Geary st and ended up at the beach so now very tired on way back still good training for spending long time on feet.

I made it finally

Finally last night made it to San Francisco at 6:30PM, another great movie to view "Smokin Aces", very violent very Tarantinoesque Mafia movie in other words right up my alley, after that a couple of Simpsons Episodes and the "The Best of Guns & Roses" which unfortunately was constantly interrupted by the PA with announcements about rescheduling of peoples transfers. Of course thought i'd be smart and be last off as i reckoned my luggage was first on, however i didn't realise we had to go through customs first so ended up in a massive queue, by the time i got out there were three bags being guarded at the conveyor belt and one was mine. Then spend what feels like forever wandering around the terminal trying to find by Hotel Shuttle, eventually find a manned info point and by 7:30 have found my transport. Share the ride with a mother and daughter from Florida who have never been here before either and finally get to Adante Hotel at 8:30. Ring Vegie to see where the "Mellum Mob" are and am directed to a curry place round the corner, Lamb Vindaloo sounds right up my alley (pretty sure he ignored my "make it as hot as possible" as it was too mild but still not airline food !!). So it Vegie (Lis), Spud (Phil), Whippet (Andrew), Tim (Tim) and Sportsman (Ron), for a few beers (of course they had finished eating more or less when i arrived, and then back to the hotel for coffee (think everyone else had used theirs so i had the full supply).
Totally out of it mentally, as shown by the fact i take 15 minutes to get the shower to work, finally off to bed, great TV though Law & Order (old episodes with Lenny my favourites !) followed by the X Files. 1AM and i'm woken by a call from a Palm Beach Real Estate Agent (only 6pm there !), not sleeping well as have only got a single bed despite requesting double (reckon i'll be on the floor tonight ! way more comfortable).
Up at 7 and have been on my feet ever since, pointed myself in the direction of the Golden Gate bridge, absolutely freezing in shorts !!), and after crossing it to Marin County finally the fog lifted am finally almost back to the motel when i saw this net cafe (no 3G service here i can find so can't email from phone at present), so cappucino and piroshki and now i'm feeling human.
Now the sun is shining and i may even get my jumper off at last, suppose i'd better see how me (and also Ron) can get to Truckee tomorrow (Mellum is off today).
Having spent 4 hours being so cold i couldn't feel my fingers i'm much more content now, but i'd be honest and say i'm much happier away from big cities, reckon once my planned part of my trip finishes i'll be heading off into the bush. Big positive the locals i've spoken to (when lost :-)) have been very friendly. Downside feel sh*t, the cold i had got rid of has come back with vengeance, not sure if it's the smog but my throat hearts like hell not a great start, bit worried it will get worse before it get's better (having been up since 7 i'm stuffed now and it's only 1 and i've got a couple of miles back to the hotel), probably thankful i didn't go any further than the corner of my block when i went for a walk (due to being unable to sleep in small bed) at 3, area seems to be bottle shops and XXX Movie theatres so probably not a great idea at night :-).

Monday, 18 June 2007

Maybe some people arent meant to fly?

Here i am in Auckland airport 8 hours after leaving Melbourne. We hit 3 swans shortly after takeoff & then spent the next hour burning fuel before we could land. Engineers are now looking at it if not fixable they will get us a new plane either way it will be a delay of a few more hours so will arrive in US at best 6 hours late. Not a great start, at least in flight entertainment was good very funny movie "Wild Hogs" & then listened to "Exile on main street" no complaints on that score.

A slightly longer second post

Picture Above:
My Second last Australian Start a win (my eigth) at the 62 KM Tamborine Trek, shame that two weeks later i was looking much worse at the 100K's also on the Gold Coast.

For those people out there familiar with my previous blog i'm sure that first post sounded terribly short and abrupt and unlike me. Very simple explanation i'd just arrived back in Melbourne at 2AM after a flight from the Gold Coast and had basically a day to find my passport and pack for a trip to the US as well as organising various things with my Real Estate agent and solicitor regarding the sale of my house, time was precious. Now i sit at 4:30 with a midday flight and no longer tired only excited about the trip ahead so i can give a little more background to it all, so bear with this long post as i doubt i will do any this long again, forgive the large amounts of links as they help explain it all way better than i could.
It all started with this post on Coolrunning on September 14 2005 by Geelong Ultra runner "Whippet Man" and i quote in full:
"OK, so now I can really say "walks with a limp but runs 100 miles". GH100 still surging through my very dilated veins but the seeds have been planted. I really wanted to go to WS100 in 2006 if I had a successful GH100 in 2005. But having experienced a 100 mile event alone (2004) and then as a group (2005) there is no comparison. So, I'm calling for expressions of interest in a travel group to form an aussie raid on the 2007 WS100. I'm offering to do the leg work and put this together if people are genuinely interested. You need a qualifier in the lead up to the entry cut-off in November 2006. This doesn't have to be a 100 miler but of course that would make sense. Several people have expressed an interest on the old WS100 thread from this years running but I'm starting this from scratch. I envisage a small group (with or without families as suits) that will hopefully get us a group discount. At the very least it will allow some cost sharing. But the big bonus, and my comrades of the recent weekend will attest I'm sure, is the real buzz of sharing the whole experience. And the best part: there's still lots and lots of sleeps left "
Essentially this was the beginning of the so called "Aussie Assault"
Most of us had sat through the 2006 internet coverage of the race as Victorian John Lindsay valiantly struggled through terrible conditions to achieve an incredible peformance and finish in a year where almost half the field didn't make it
So when entry forms came out in July 2006, there was a number of us already qualified who put ours in immediately to take advantage of the race conditions that the first 25 Non American entries get an automatic start rather than having to go in the lottery .
So that is the background, eventually we end up with the following 21 Aussies running (as well as some partners and support crew):
Number first, Name, Coolrunning Handle
110 Tamyka Bell Tank Girl
116 Robert Boyce RB
170 Jason Dunn Dunny
172 David Eadie chefsontherun1
176 Paul Every Paul Every
189 Martin Fryer Phibes
199 Sean Greenhill Mr G
207 Philip Murphy Spud
214 Andrew Hewat Whippet Man
234 Ian Javes Glassman
248 Wayne Gregory Blue Dog
274 Glenn Lockwood Horrie
283 Kelvin Marshall Kelvin (that would be me :-))
287 Brendan Mason Virtual
290 Richard McCormick RMC
302 Nic Moloney PreWannaBe
319 Scott Orchard chefsontherun2
362 Martin Schot MRX
364 Ron Schwebel Sportsman
397 William Thompson Bill T
407 Tim Turner Tim

So that's the background, many way more organised than me had booked flights last December whilst i'd had many other things (as well as many other races on my mind) for alot of that time only keeping this trip at the back of my mind (with 181 Ultras and 131 Marathons under my belt only one or two real goal races a year and simply this wasn't one of them). Having left my employer of 23 years in late February in theory i had plenty of time to organise things but me being me had been sidetracked with other projects (and frankly a dislike of flying had meant i'd spent much time doing other things to take my mind off it), still had thoughts of a 3 month tour starting with Western States, followed by some other races, then the Rolling Stones in Europe
and finishing off with a second Trans Gaule
but eventually other things got in the way and ultimately i needed to be back in Melbourne for my house auction on July 15 (still with thoughts of the Stones and Trans Gaule the month after all being well).
Fast forward to May 2007 and i had one goal race ahead of me the Australian 100 KM Championships my main aim being to beat a nine year old PB (which i'd been very close to the previous two years) and also go sub 8 Hours 30 Minutes, unfortunately that was two weeks prior to Western States and frankly was way more important to me so there i was still no trip arranged and away from a real phone and internet connection to make organisation much easier (as well as sorting out the sale of my house and seemingly a million other things).
The 100K's went from brilliant (the first half in 3:51:28 and 75K's in 6:15) to absolute shocker after the 86K mark, cramping incredibly painfully and unable to run (and a slow walk only at that) the rest of the way to come way closer to a PW and finish in 10:04:31
Basically i finished that and by the time i'd got back to Palm Beach i'd resolved to redeem myself, if possible, by organising myself and going over for this race.
Only problem, Monday June 11 is a Public Holiday as well as the fact i wake up with a shocking sore throat (possibly that explains why i ran so badly the previous day i was coming down with a cold) so unable to do anything and simply exhasuted after only 4 Hours up anyway.
Even worse on Tuesday and spend most of the day in bed, come Wednesday still crook but decide that if i'm to do anything i'll have to head down to Flight Centre and get a quote.
So off to Coolangatta and get a quote to depart on the 18th (the next Monday), rather interesting thought as i'd driven up the Gold Coast and in theory was going to drive back to Melbourne when i was feeling better, basically to get the flights reserved i would need to book and pay within 24 Hours.
At that time i was spending most of my time (shortened days as that as my illness meant i was only good for at best 6 Hours each day) going up and down the coast house hunting, so it wasn't till 3:30 on the Thursday that i finally came in to pay for the trip, of course nothing is that easy, was too late for BPay (needs 3 working days between payment and flights) and typically there was no way i'd be paying the %1.9 Surcharge by using my Mastercard, so into the bank (probably the first time i'd been in one for years - just where are the withdrawal slips ????) and a great wad of cash (shame they'd run out of 100 Dollar bills !!) and finally that was paid for.
In the meantime i'd booked a very cheap flight 10PM Saturday night out of Coolangatta (had an Auction Saturday Afternoon that i was not going to miss) so that i'd be back in Melbourne on Sunday. In short with a delay of 20 minutes and not arriving in Melbourne till after Midnight (and not home till 1:30) that brings us up to the first post. Now the journey begins !!!

Sunday, 17 June 2007

It begins

Hope this works, will be updating via phone. Heading to the US to do The Western States 100 Miler and possibly a couple of other races.