Monday, February 05, 2007

Cradle Mountain Run

3rd feb 07. 80km+. 13.53. 36th/47 (7 DNFs).

long report warning.
brief version: lots of mud and treeroots. happy with my time. pulled up well.....

the things that make this run stand out from the others is the tough terrain and isolation.
it is certainly a place that if something bad was to happen you could feel very alone very quickly.

the run of course is along the overland track one of the best known walks in australia.
it is supposed to be 80km however at least one gps measurement (to narcissus) adds another 3-4km to that.

being such in such an isolated area and with no regular transport to either end entrants are bussed in from launceston and hobart.
half the entrants stayed at the start (waldheim) in bunkbeds however i 'slummed it' at the 5-star cradle mountain lodge :)
i felt a bit pretentious at the time but was very glad to get some decent sleep before the race and i'm not the worlds best conversationalist before a race to say the least.

it would have been below 5 waiting at the start so was wearing basically all my gear before stipping down to long tights and long thermal top at the 6am start.
the climb up to marions lookout is the only 'decent' climb of the day and certainly warms you up.
the last time i was up the top (in 2003) it was very cold and windy (not unlike kepler) and was pleased and somewhat surprised to find conditions very mild along cradle plateau that day.

it was interesting to see many of the peaks (cradle mountain) in the distance sticking up like sore thumbs not unlike the glasshouse mountains.
it was starting to warm up by the 1.30hr mark so sat down to put the shorts on only to be passed by pete gardiner (cr repete) who informed me the sweepers where about 100m back!
this sprung me into action and we both made haste for the next few kms (in so doing passing mitch from sydney who was having a 'break').
windemere hut (18km) should have been my first water top up however had some trouble finding the tank at the hut so pushed on.
realised this was a mistake 5 mins later when my (camelbak) bladder was dry.
lasting to pelion creek (another 8km) was originally on the plan but ill put this down to inexperience with the course and lack of planning.
managed to limit the dehydration by finding a creek somewhat earlier but i certainly blame my bad patch later on not drinking enough early.

the section leading to pelion creek (26.5km) and frog flats (30km) is called pine forest moor and is the first long section of tree root and bog.
some of the roots stick so far out of the ground that can literally grab a hold of your foot.
i was thinking at the time they could literally rip your leg off!
reaching frog flats signalled the start of some better terrain before reaching pelion hut and the first cuttoff point.
i was running with pete and mitch here and certainly enjoyed the company.
we managed to pass a few people just before here which certainly bouyed us - we hated being last man charlie and hearing the sweepers chatting away merrily a few hundred metres behind us!

the cuttoff at pelion is 6hrs and its advertised that 'very slow' runners may miss the cutt here.
well we left in 5.25 with a fair bit of sweat and toil and i dont think either of us are particularly slow!

the next section to kia ora hut i found particularly tough.
there is somewhat of a climb (maybe 400m total from frog flats to pelion gap) which is quite broken up.
however it was starting to get warm here (maybe mid 20s) and with some open terrain and being maybe a kg or 2 down in fluid i was really feeling it at the halfway (by time) point - kia ora hut (43.5km).
i decided to regroup here thinking that i was in good shape for a 14.30 or so finish if i recovered and didnt blow up.
i did manage to catch pete again briefly after this but he shot off again after that and that was the last i saw of him until the finish!
the next hour or so i drank and walked as much as i could.
i had entered a section best referred to as the enchanted forest - more bog and tree roots though not as bad as before.
the trail was indecernable at times - there were several 'clearings' to choose from - the only indication of where u were going were some occasional little arrows in the trees and a few bits of duckboard.
maybe it was a good place to be with someone else but sometimes 2 heads are worse than one!
i spent some time backtracking and looking at the map - determined not to make the trip down to the falls which brendon did!
although the going was slow (i doubt i wouldve done more than 5km/hr) it was steady and my spirits (and hydration) had lifted greatly by the climb up du cane gap and i was power walking up it.
my only problem at this point was peeing every half hour (my hydration was obviously better!)and the worry that i'd lost too much time to make the 11hr cut off at narcissus.

arriving at windy ridge hut (53.5km) at 9hrs was fantastic.
my spirits were high. they had jellybeans and the helpers informed he it took them 2hrs to walk up from the lake (narcissus hut) in the morning so even if i walked down i should make the cutoff in time.
but i was running again and wanted to get there in 10.30 and see if i could catch pete again!

the next section (9km) is easily the best running trail on the course. it is a steady 6km or so of downhill single trail with a few rocks to trip over.
at one stage i was 'flying' along (probably doing 7min/kms!) when i suddenly smacked my head and went to the ground.
because i still had my cap on i didnt see the huge (2ft wide) tree trunk across the track right at head height!
managed to settle down after a couple of panadeine and a little chat to myself!
it certainly reiterates the concentration required to do this run - even on the 'easy' bits its possible to fall, take a wrong turn or hurt yourself.
in the last few kms before narcissus hut i passed 5 people - some of which told me they were pulling out (and catching the boat across the lake to the finish).
i couldnt figure out at the time if they thought they would miss the cut (only 1 subsequently did) or were just plain stuffed.

just coming into narcissus (10.35) i was surprised to run into bryan (who shouldve been hours ahead) who was dehydrated (he hadnt drunk anything for maybe 4hrs?) and had tummy and chest pain.
i walked him the 2mins into the checkpoint.
after some coke i wanted to leave but felt guilty for leaving him there.
i figured he was just dehydrated and the organisers (including the RD) would boat him out to the finish and get help there but what if something really bad happened in the meantime?
i spent the rest of the race feeling bad for leaving but in hindsight i dont think i couldve done anything more from a medical point.
the ambulance saw him at the hotel later and did an ecg.
i heard yesterday he was checked out at hobart hospital ed and discharged.

looking at the map you could be excused for thinking the run home from narcissus hut is a gentle stroll along the lake (st clair) edge.
however its basically another 15km of treeroot infested bog (with some short sharp ups and downs) before the track improves closer to the lake st clair visiters centre.
i was lucky to run into another runner here (a local) who informed me of where to go in the last few kms.
i also ran into one of the runners wives who i knew was being boated out - i had passed him a few hrs back and he asked me to give her that message when i got to the end.
she however had walked an hour and a half back to meet him with some coke ..... which i duly scoffed.
well he didnt need it any more!
coming to the bridge at watersmeet (only 2km or so from the finish) i knew sub14hr was not only on the cards but a sure thing.
the run along the 4wd track to finish was one of the most enjoyable in memory.
i had been worried for several hours that i would miss the cuttoff at narcissus and be boated out but was now finishing in my goal time of sub14.
very satisfying.
i have no idea how someone can do that course in 8.46 (winners time) or 7.22 for that mater (course record).
but i guess all thinks are relative - all of the hikers were amazed anyone could do this thing in a single day.

i felt good at the end. and the next day. and again today.
the only sore bits today are around the ankle and lower calf/soleus - presumably due to the extra workout the ankles get trying to keep traction on the treeroots and rocks.

pleased to see pete and brendan at the finish - b had told me he finished 10 mins before which initially pissed me off until i saw it was more like 22.
there was no way i would have caught him - no mater how lost he got! ;)
even though team gbh beat me on the day at least i broke the team mellum course record which has stood since 2000.
well i am the only one to do it since then anyway!

the lodgings at bronte chalet were not quite as nice as at the other end but i expected that since it cost only 1/10th as much.
the bunkouse looked a little like a prison with padlocks on the doors of the rooms and the other guys dubbed it 'guantanamo bay'.
to be honest i thought it was fantastic just to have a hot shower and a place to sleep.

a fantastic weekend with many lasting memories.

a few things.....
hydration: i think lack of planning, an early fastish pace (trying to keep up with pete and keep away from the sweepers!), some inexperience with the course and hotter than expected temps cost me a bit here ie. i didnt drink enougth early. the camelbak and flatpack cup ( worked well. and with a little practice wasnt too hard. however i think 2x750ml bottles sttrapped to the front would work better.
calories: took 14x120kcal approx and ate almost all of this with some coke, jellybeans and a cookie in addition.
pace: too fast early but not a bad thing - just needed to drink more. was worried when the quads started burning in the 1st hour but they seemed fresh at the end. probably due to the technical stuff slowing me down.
pack: need a new one with more pockets on the side/back and drink bottle holders for the front.
clothes: should have been tougher and wore the shorts at the start (addidas short tights). wasted 3 mins or so changing from the tights during the race.
the unmentionables: changed back to vaseline (and some tape!) - worked well.
feet: EXTREMELY glad i wore the trail shoes - thanks to whippy, old knees and mr g for the advice here.
scenery: a little disappointing to be honest. not a lot of time above the tree line. lots of time looking at your own feet. nothing past marions lookout that is jaw dropping. not as spectacular as kepler.

rest of the week
ran with mr g on the monday which normally would be the weeks featuring highlight of course!
unfortuanetly didnt get put in the ballot for the hardrock 100 miler. have had some feedback already and basically they want me to do cradle (done!) and AAUM100/apline 100 mielr which was of course cancelled before reapplying next year.
feel like a bit of a dill now for going over there this year bit i think i just need to suck my pride in and hope it pays off in years to come.
huge congrats to whippet for being balloted and getting in!! i wil pace him (if i can keep up).


Blogger 2P said...

Wow great report UCB - congratulations on an epic run.

Don't feel too guilty about leaving the guy - he would have been in good hands and as a Dr on a recent Kokoda expedition said - "if there is any real medical drama out here with the lack of medical equipement & supplies about the only thing I can do different to anyone else is fill out a death certificate" :-)

At the risk of seeming a bit naf I recently purchased a Roman 35L pack from an Australian Geographic store (and it is co-branded as AG and Roman - which is the naf bit).

Apart from the a silly top handle that weighs a couple of hundred grams (and is now cut off) - it is a great design that has two bottle holders on the side/back which hold the bottles really snug and with a bit of practice can be accessed and returned whilst running + all the other standard features.

Well done again ;-)

2:53 PM  
Blogger Spud said...

Bloody marvellous, you did good Bro.
Next time take the time to take in the surrounds, might mean not racing though ;)
So Kepler, Cradle, 6FT's gotta be next?

6:57 PM  
Blogger Jen_runs said...


Spud's right - no excuse not to run Six Foot now :-)

8:11 PM  
Blogger Brendan said...

Well paced run on a warm day with lots of bog. Glad to know that my stuffed ankles are more to do with the run than crap biomechanics.

Please stay away from the Australian Geographic store..

10:08 PM  
Blogger Tesso said...

Huuuge congrats Bro! Wow, what a run. Sounds crazy - minus 5 degrees when you've been sweltering away in Brissie for weeks.

Good to see Repete running so strongly. Might have to get Team GBH to recruit him before GH in September.

Take care, recover well.

PS Did you have to mention the unmentionables ;-)

9:01 AM  
Blogger Tamyka said...

Wow, the overland track sounds just like how I remembered it! What trail shoes did you wear?

3:05 PM  
Blogger plu said...

Huge effort well done Dave..

9:29 PM  
Blogger Vegie-Girl said...

Loved the read Bro. Congrats on a brilliant effort.

Must've been good visibilty to see Cradle?

9:50 PM  
Blogger undercover brother said...

2p - thanks for the roman tip
spud - thanks capt'n
jen - c u at the start-line!
brendan - it was a pleasure to get my a*se kicked by u mate
tesso - sorry that should be under 5 not below 5!
tam - nike acg orizabas.
thanks plu and V - yep a perfectly clear day!

12:18 AM  
Anonymous whippet man said...

Only had time for the short version of the report. But that sounded great. ;)
Good effort. Does this mean I have to go back and try to beat your time? Glad the trail shoes worked out. I was sweating on that call. It is pretty scenic if you can look up. Next time? :) Whippet

12:49 AM  
Blogger Horrie said...

Way to go Bro! Another tough ultra under the belt. Don't worry about GBH beating Mellum again. You guys should be getting used to it by now. Agree with Spud that 6 Foot must be next on the hit list.

12:13 PM  

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