This time last week I was in Apollo Bay having a most awesome breakfast at a fabulous cafe who kindly made up a breakfast not resembling anything on the menu for a perfect post 100km feed. My legs were sore, I had slept about an hour, and the courageous 100milers were still running through the bush.
This run is my favourite run so far. It has everything. Beautiful long stretches of beach, sand dunes, river crossings, mud to stuck your shoes off, forest, open farmland, steep steep hills with stairs, kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, the most amazing views that stop you in your tracks and finally a little bit of flat terrain near the end. It was the best organised run I’ve ever done. The pre-race briefing over dinner at the pub the night before was great, the volunteers at the checkpoints were just amazing (Have a seat, want me to fill your water bladder? Want me to get your drop bag? Want would you like? We have fruit cake, biscuits, lollies, sports drink etc) and for me they really made my day, so THANK YOU MOST AWESOME VOLUNTEERS AND FANTABULOUSLY ORGANISED RACE DIRECTORS!
I hadn’t done 100km before so my only aim was to finish in the cutoff. I knew there were 3 people behind me the whole time and the sweeper would be behind them so I just wanted to hold my position. I found myself counting the kilometres to each checkpoint and trying to keep ahead of each cutoff.
At the 2nd checkpoint I was getting a bit concerned when I had travelled the required distance but the checkpoint was nowhere in sight. I was expecting to be about 30mins ahead of this one. Finally I made it smack bang on the cutoff time with my watch telling me I had done several kms further. This was the case for everyone so they adjusted the cutoff times and there was an extra hour to complete the race. This made me feel much better.
It got dark during some difficult steep up and down sections and I had to use my headtorch on the trails for the first time! It really wasn’t bright enough, but fortunately I was only borrowing this one so I know now when it comes to buy one I need a brighter one. I also had a couple of little led lights on my fingers which helped brighten up the trail a bit.
When I got to the last checkpoint, Moonlight Head, I was told I had 4 hours to get to the finish which was about 20km away and this was the most runnable part of the course. “Easy!” they said. Off I set.
Moonlight Head, Final checkpoint – decked out in flouro gear:
This is where finishing in the required timeframe fell appart. At one intersection I saw a Parks Victoria sign pointing left so I went that way. Then I bumped in to someone as we both congratulated each other thinking the other person was the leading 100miler on their return leg. OOPS! This was Lynda telling me I was going in the opposite direction and nearly back at Moonlight Head. She kept going saying urgently, “I’ve got to make the cutoff”.
I stopped and looked at the time. I had spent nearly an hour running around in a circle. Now I had less time to make the finish in time and this was no longer a certainty. I stood there pondering what to do for a moment. There was no going back. I came here to complete 100km and that was exactly what I was going to do.
So I bolted off after Lynda, running faster than I had all day. I passed her and when I came to the intersection again, I noticed a couple of metres above the Parks Vic sign, there was a GOW100 sign pointing in the opposite direction. My light was not bright enough for the sign to stand out the first time. So I kept going as fast as I could. It was only 20k or so to the end so I wasn’t concerned about running out of energy. The road was occasionally unrunnable when it would turn from nicely packed gravel to soft deep sand but I kept going at a reasonable pace. It was difficult not knowing exactly how far to the end but I just kept moving as fast as I could.
Then after Princetown I saw a sign pointing to a beach. I was quite sure there were no more beaches in the run so I thought it was maybe a beach campsite or something. We weren’t supposed to enter campsites so I went down a different trail. After a while this trail became very overgrown. I was practically crawling through trees. Then the trail divided into 2 animal tracks. This was so wrong. Shit shit shit.
I turned around and went back to the beach sign. Checked the map – no sign of any beach on the map, but double checked and the sign did not say it was a campground and the Parks Vic arrow was pointing in that direction. I should have gone there. I was checking the ground for footprints to make sure it was the right way. It seemed right.
Now I knew I was not going to make the finish by cutoff but I didn’t care. I was going in the right direction and running as fast as I could considering I’d already done about 90km, I had a 2-3kg pack on my back and poor lighting. This path just seemed to go on forever. It was supposed to meet up with the main road but it just kept going and going and going. I wondered if I was actually taking a detour but finally after what seemed like way too far I hit the main road.
I crossed to the right side of the road and kept running. I was sure we were supposed to just go over the road and there would be the end in sight but I couldn’t see it. I just kept going. There were witches hats placed there so I guessed it was right. It was now 2am – 1 hr after cuttoff so I sent a text message to one of the race organisers to say I took some wrong turns but was now on the final stretch.
Finally I made it to the 12 Apostles! Everyone at the end had gone home but Whippet who was patiently waiting for the final stragglers. I was the last person coming in at 20:09. Lynda was being collected in a car further down the road. I quickly put on some warm clothes while Whippet woke up A who was sleeping in the car while waiting for me. We gave Lynda a lift back to Apollo Bay and I finally got to bed at around 4am. I hardly slept though as my legs were so sore they could not get comfortable.
The soles of my feet were quite sore during the run – it felt like I had been on my feet shopping all day! My legs were not so bad though, probably because of all the walking. Some muscles cramped that had never cramped before but I did take some Saltstick caps and magnesium which helped. My legs really only got sore once I sat in the car afterwards. Considering all the energy I had at the end to run to the finish, I know I could have pushed myself more early on. I wore my Adizero PROs which turned out to be great for the trail. Because the mesh is so open they let a LOT of sand in on the sandy bits. On a long beach stretch I deliberately walked in the water to wash out some of the sand. I didn’t get any blisters and I think they were a more comfortable choice than the Frees. I think they also made it easier to maintain better running form, especially at the end.
At each checkpoint I ate a punnet of fresh strawberries. I also ate on the run some dried fruit (mango, paw paw + pineapple). I had some apple juice and some of dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial. I drank about 3L of water. Food and drink-wise I felt I did really well. I did get some hand swelling from about 60km onwards – Does anyone know what causes this??
During the run I never really questioned my ability to finish, but I did wonder if I was cut out for 100km runs. But then I realised this probably wasn’t the easiest one to do! Would I do this one again? Definitely! Especially now I know the right way!
Now I have recovered, I am ready to get back into training for the Bruny Island Ultra in December.