Monday, November 17, 2008


The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and who comes short again and again and again.

There is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do deeds, who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.

Who at best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither defeat or victory.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Out, But not Down

Friday afternoon 7th November, with enough gear to clothe half of the entered runners and enough food to feed a small army, we set off for Teralba in Warners Bay. I get very nervous driving to the start of a long race….. Did I pack the headlamp, compass, maps, camelback, the list goes on. It turns out I had.

Craig and I joined Vic, Bart and Kristy at the motel. Advertised as a 4 bed room, it was big enough for 2 of us, so we all squeezed in and had the worst nights sleep ever! Alarm was set for 4am, but really we didn’t need it. The ritual last minute checking of drop bags for the checkpoints, filling of camelbacks and application of tonnes of bodyglide, bushman’s repellant and plaster to prevent blisters quickly burned up the next hour.

The start area saw about 80 nervous faces milling around and the instructions from the Race Director were given. Before long we were off, with about 7k on the road to start with before heading up the side of a cliff (perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but only slightly) on trails. Kristy and Bart were to run together, Vic after them, and me taking up my traditional position right at the back of the pack. Craig had very kindly offered to be support crew for the race, and carried our multitude of supplies in his car from checkpoint to checkpoint.I started out ok, running for a fair bit of the first section, which is 28k long. I managed to somehow damage my hip flexor early in the climbing, which made the hills painful to negotiate. And this whole section was HILLS!

I got to CP1 with only 8 minutes to spare, with 6 hours allowed for the lunacy that is section 1. I had kind of decided to toss the race in, until one of the volunteers said "No one has EVER pulled out at CP1". So at 11.59 I grabbed my camelback and a vegemite sandwich from Craig and headed off for the next section, 24k of less hilly terrain. I was only walking/shuffling by this point so just enjoyed the scenery. I ran this whole bit on my own, pretty much as I had done the last, and had a wonderful afternoon.I had to pull out at CP2 as I was a few minutes over the cut-off time, but I was pleased to have made it half way on my first attempt of this monster course. I was feeling great except for my hip, so next year should be good. Despite being unceremoniously tossed off the course, it was still the fastest I had covered this distance, so there is hope for me yet ;)

I then joined Craig crewing for the others and before long we had a call from Bart saying Kristy required assistance. After several hours of driving up and down the same road trying to find the turn off for CheckPoint 3, we arrived, completely out of petrol, cold and ever so slightly annoyed with the lack of adequate road signage. Our first step was to organize some (permission given by the owner) petrol siphoning. Disaster avoided, we then saw Bart and Kristy arrive, followed shortly by Vic, who was the only one of us left on the trail. He had a very quick stop and departed for the last Check Point.

After 21.15 Vic arrived at the finish, looking so fresh and cheery that it belied what he has just achieved. The hardest 100k trail race around. We then all piled back into Craigs car and took the scenic, longer, windier route back, via every small community in the whole area. Finally arriving at a motel in Wyong, which thankfully, this time, had plenty of room for us all. A few hours sleep and then up to pack and drive home.

Lessons learned:
* GNW really is as hard as everyone says!
* I can read maps and find my way around without any trouble.
* I quite enjoy running alone in the bush.
* Magpies still attack in November.
* Cows scare me.
* Good crew (thanks Craig) is invaluable.
* Even though I didn't make the full distance, this is still the most fun you can have standing up!