Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Head South Young Man
After doing another easy 20 Miles on Thursday Morning, i thought that doing one of the shorter Ultras at the Prom was probably going to be a good way to spend the weekend so it was onto the net to see if cheap flights were still available.
I get the feeling no one wants to fly from the Gold Coast to Melbourne in May as sure enough the cheap flights were still available, 10:30 on Friday would get me down around 1 in the afternoon.
I'd emailed and left a message with race director Paul Ashton that i'd only be doing the 80K option and i was pretty committed to only doing that as i knew the cold hadn't completely cleared and spending hours in the cold, dark evening would only be bad for me (as for the 80K's doubted it would do much harm to me although i knew that the weather would have a say in that as well).
Lovely day for a stroll down to the airport (now that's a change usually a signal for it to rain !!), and by 1 i'd landed at a very wet and stormy Tullamarine Airport and by 2 was in the centre of the city (interestingly the jetbus i'd booked over the net from Tulla to the city was not a bus but a BMW 735I Saloon, not exactly complaining !!) and was soon on a train to Dandenong, where i was getting a lift down from Beaconsfield with Richard McCormick.
From Dandenong station it was then catch another train to Beaconsfield, simple in theory but the train i was on obviously had some problem with the recorded PA announcements, when leaving Dandenong it said it was leaving Toorak and from then on announced stations from there onwards rather than the correct ones. Thankfully i found the correct station and nicely timed it to be picked up by Richard with his sons.
With a couple of hours before the drive down, ended up wearing myself out playing cricket with Josh and Thomas (Richard's Boys), personally reckon Ultra running is loads easier than running madly about back yards playing cricket so the next days 80K's would be relatively easy !!!
We were down the camping area by 9 and caught up with a number of the other runners, was good to see the weather was not too windy or wet (such a change from the previous year), but knowing that 16MM had fallen that day knew the next day could bring anything !!.
One embarassing moment, i couldn't find my tent, i had a feeling that Richards Ford Explorer was white so went to the nearest white 4WD shaped vehicle and discovered it wasn't ours after shining my torch in, i was about one camping space away.
Good night's sleep (after finding my tent !!) and awoke at 5 in time for the 6 Vita Brits etc, still good weather but certainly cold and dark.
Race briefing at 5:45 and then off at 6, lot's more comfortable than last year, wearing only short sleeved bike top, long sleeved polypropylene top, running shorts, warm beanie, running gloves and headlight. Certainly a little bit of cold wind about but overall looking a pleasant day, ran and chatted with a number of runners as we went along the road to Oberon Car Park where some just found another gear and took off. Spent quite a bit of time running with Sydney runner Michael Lovick (CR Milov), who like me had came down very last minute, enticed by the reports of this being one of the most beautiful places for a run.
Had turned the headlamp off halfway to Sealers Cove and by now was just enjoying the lovely wide trails and beautiful views (as in above picture), had my first drink of water at Refuge Cove and sculled the whole bottle had the feeling that this was more related to my cold rather than thirst but was thankful i'd taken two 600ML bottles with me. Was running with Michael and Kim Cook all this way with Mal Gamble just in front so navigational skills werent required (and basically no other tracks to distract). Incredible views and beautiful aqua water (the water was so Phuket like but i'm sure it was many degrees colder than there !), i knew Waterloo Bay was our first turn, but Kim had gone ahead when me and Michael had collected drinking water and was shocked to see him take after Mal and Peter Bignell who were doing the 60K (which is a different course). Michael yelled out a number of times, but the noise of the surf drowned him out so Kim was now off heading the wrong way (no point me yelling my throat was still pretty hacked from my cold).
Turned in just in time to see Robert Boyce taking the non beach track (deja-vu saw him exactly the same place last year), and we ran along together for most of the way to Telegraph Junction.
At this point i had a feed and drank some more (ideal would have been a bag drop)and me and Michael then headed off along the track, a few K's along and the intermittent drizzle had became heavier so it was off with long sleeve top and on with old faithful the Mountain Designs Goretex Jacket (used for 16 Hours there last year), and with the headband replacing the beanie. Rain stopped pretty much straight away but jacket breathes so well (and i'm so used to wearing it) that i didn't change, we then hit the trail to Roaring Meg, we had a long discussion as to what the old disused poles were (my guess was old powerlines to the Lighthouse, well maybe i should have taken in to account that the track was called "Telegraph"). Made good time to Roaring Meg and had another drink and feed but Michael had left one full bottle at the Junction (for use on the way back) and was now waterless, so i took a swig from my spare bottle and gave him the rest. Managed to see most of the leaders as we headed towards South Head which was comparitively calm (though still very cold between bursts of blue sky), and let Michael take the lead on the way back.
He'd left a drop bag at Roaring Meg but the ravens had made short work of it and it was a shredded black mess, but thankfully the birds hadn't worked out how to opened tinned spaghetti !!. Saw Richard and Brett Saxon just starting their loop and Peter Bignell,on his way back, also at Roaring Meg - talk about busy as Bourke St.
We both managed to run out of water before reaching the Lighthouse (also passing Amanda who had started the previous night with the second part 20K's) so very much appreciated when we reached the tap there (both other times i've done this run i've never even noticed the tap - obviously the cold was making me thirsty) and i filled both bottles
Ran with Michael for a while further but eventually he got away on the downhills going to Waterloo Bay, by the time i reached the beach he was a quarter beach in front of me but really this was now the easy part. The run to the Junction was spent trying to convince myself i may as well do the whole 100K's but i was taking lots of convincing !!!!.
From then on a nice easy run with the main excitement being a dead dolphin (i'll claim it was actually a small type of whale but whatever it was it had a helluva set of teeth !!) just before the Little Oberon Bay exit (my nightmare of 2006 in the dark !). I'd pretty much convinced myself i'd do the 100K option when i was only 1K from Tidal River but not taking the beach and heading along the track to the General Store and then less than brightly looking for 33rd AVE (as opposed to 23rd where our camp was) spent the best part of 20 minutes lost and so decided that 11 Hours 21 Minutes for the 80K's would be good enough for the day and a good hitout for Grafton to Coffs the week after.
Couldn't resist a Chilli Beer from Peter Mullins (CR Chilliman) and it went down well with my Finishers Prize Caramello Koala. Ultimately again my ability (or lack therof) to handle cold weather came into play as i pretty much spent the next few hours sitting at the finish line, occassionally drinking, occassionally grazing but more worryingly simply not feeling well enough to make a move (hence that last picture !!!).
Finally to bed at midnight, just after the last 100K runner finished (and i'd finally got internet access on the phone to find Richmond had again managed to give away a game) and next morning was as good as gold (bar feeling that damned cold again).
Finally home at 9 (couldn't resist the walk from Coolangatta Airport - beautiful balmy night) and ready for a good sleep, happy to be back in a real bed.
Looks like i'll get Ultra number 200 out the way at the Glasshouse 50K's in two weeks time, meaning i'll get there before turning 44 (i'm quite sure when i was i kid i didn't say to my parents "Gee i'd love to run 200 Ultras before turning 44").
So as far as i can see it's Grafton to Coffs next week, Glasshouse 50, then a week or so of seeing the Stones Movie http://www.shinealight.com.au/ , possibly the Doomben Half Marathon and then the Gold Coast 100KM and then it's back to the California and ultimately Death Valley (in the meantime race numbers for Badwater have come out and i'm number 65).
Certainly a busy schedule, but frankly it's just one race at a time !!!!.