Monday, April 30, 2007

Wilsons Promontory



28th April. 100kms 18.16 6th/8.

That was one bloody tough run.

I have wanted to do this event ever since reading a certain famous coolrunners report in 2001: http://www.coolrunning.com.au/ultra/wilsonsprom/wp2001-4.shtml
He spent some hours getting cold and dehydrated trying to find the trails exiting the beach at Oberon and little Oberon bays.
Apparently the EPIRB almost got unleashed.
The following year runners including a certain Mr Whippet suffered hypothermia (in the 80km) whilst people doing the 100km found snow on Mt Bishop.
Last year another infamous CR got lost for several hours in the same area and even blew his emergency whistle before struggling on to finish in over 24hrs.

In preparation for this event whippet and I spent the weekend at the prom 5 weeks before the race.
I had spent much time thinking about the course and the difficulties I had on that day.

The first problem for this weekend was the kombi was broken so as well as whippy being late picking me up we didn’t have the benefit of the mothership for the weekend.
Setting up just after dark was ‘interesting’ to say the least.
The forecast galeforce winds had already arrived and we were lucky the rain held off.
A few more sturdy tent pegs from chilliman certainly came in handy and whippy took the unusual step of tying his tent to the car for extra security!
Think I got about 30mins sleep overnight – it was just too damn windy and noisy.
Everytime I would get close to being asleep a wind gust would shake the tent or lift sand up and push it through the netting onto my face!

Right on cue it started raining at the course briefing at 5.45am and the wind was still strong – with gusts up to 50knots.
500 meters into the run I realized my camelback hose bite thingy had fallen off.
Running up the hill to telegraph saddle carpark I was wondering what the hell more the day could throw at me.
The rain was bucketing down and the wind was pushing it into my face/glasses so I couldn’t see.
Already I wanted to hop into the RDs car at the top.
Once onto the trail we had more shelter however our first port of call was windy saddle!!

The trip to sealers cove (via windy) is good trail – all runable with some duckboard at the end.
It took me 2hrs to do on the ‘recon’ and only 5 mins longer this time which I was surprised about.
The rain was still coming down but was less heavy and less persistent.
Every time I took my cap off (used as a glasses shield) it would start raining again so I simply left it on!

The constant hills start from sealers where u get into a rhythm of beach walk -> climb over headland -> back down -> beach walk.
I certainly got into a good walk/run/eat rhythm throughout this.
Once at little waterloo bay I needed to find the west-east track that leads to the t-track junction and made a little nav error here costing me a few minutes.
The east-west track is all good running – nice and flat, a bit sandy in parts but not very technical at all.
The loop then heads anticlockwise to roaring meg (and then south point), the lighthouse (approx half way) and back to little waterloo.
We had done this loop in the reverse direction on the recon and I was very mindful of all the hills and heavy bush covering the track. Whippy calls this ‘the car wash’ when u brush into all the wet bushes.

I took things pretty steady and easy and was pleased to see both Brendan and Kelvin on the outNback to south point and figured I was 45-50mins behind them.
I arrived at the lighthouse (52.9km) at 9hrs and with some mental arithmetic figured I could have a crack at making Oberon bay before dark.
I was also eyeing off a sub 19hr finish figuring on a slight slow down in the second half.

The next section is certainly the worst of the course – first a 100m climb a quick ‘break’ then another 200m climb most thru heavy head high bush that covers the track.
After leaving the lighthouse I was pleased to see more evidence of whippersnipping but after a km or so the bush suddenly reappeared – obviously they had stopped their trail maintenance work there for the day!

Arriving at little waterloo bay at the 11hour mark I knew I would face the tough Oberon and little Oberon bay crossings in the dark so settled into a good rhythm trying to conserve energy.
Heading to the t-junction I saw the first bit of clear sky for the day just in time for a remarkable sunset.
Found a strange footprint track in the sand – a giant 4 pronged thing with big claws.
Initially I thought it was a wallaby but it was way too big and they weren’t two together.
Unfortunately this thing was heading in the same direction as I was and after some initial thoughts of some prehistoric teridactil monster preying on slow 100km runners the marks stopped, I calmed down and figured it was maybe an emu??
Arriving back at the t junction (under headlamp/light) I found the water and coke I had dumped the first time around and felt an immediate buzz and felt strong and unconcerned by the infamous river crossing.

In the weeks before this event I spent much time thinking about the river crossing and even had some crazy thoughts about bringing a personal floatation device of some kind but figured I would probably just end up floating out to sea!
High tide was supposed to be at 9.30pm so I was surprised to see the sea so far out when I arrived at Oberon bay.
As I approached the crossing I could see the shapes of the ‘identifying rocks’ that are like goalposts with a reflective marker on the sign inbetween.
As I got closer and closer I thought it strange that my feet hadnt got wet yet.
Soon I saw that the ‘crossing’ was a 2 metre ankle deep stroll and had a big chuckle.

Was probably chuckling too much when climbing over the next headland smashed my right knee into a tree root that I didn’t see.
It was one of those things that you know instantly u haven’t done any major damage but it doesn’t stop you screaming out in pain.
Unfortunately when landing awkwardly on my other leg I had stretched my calf/hammy junction which was already sore to begin with.
After limping for a while I figured I hadn’t torn anything major.

Found the exit at little Oberon bay easily – a mixture of footprints in the sand and a small reflective marker on the rock.
Came into tidal river in 13.50 which was well ahead of my 20 hour finish schedule.
Was informed Brendan had just left and figuring I had at least a half-hour buffer over Amanda behind me I decided not to chase but fix some blistering/chafe issues and have a quick hot meal.
I felt good enough to head straight out but thought I deserved a rest!

Very pleased to hear whippy arrive back after his final 20km loop as I cooked and gave congrats on what I assumed was 2nd place behind Tim Cochrane.
However Tim had fallen earlier in the day and Andrew had worked his way through from 4th to 1st including a sub 3 hour final loop!

Spent almost half an hour at tidal river and with some encouragement from Andrew (calling me an old woman) left for the final fling.
Saw Brendan again just before the 2.2km mt bishop return trip (on the 9.9km lilly pilly loop) so figured he had at least 40 mins on me.
Had I realized he did the loop in the different direction to me (short bit first) maybe I would’ve tried to chase him down! 
Coming back to the road after the loop I saw a light approaching who I assumed was Amanda.
She must be 2 hours or so behind me now so I knew that I would not be the last of the finishers.

As Brendan had said when I saw him on Mt Bishop I was ‘over it now’ and just wanted to finish. I wondered how much tougher it would be to do Hardrock and spend 48hours climbing up and down 11km of ascent/descent!
What a stupid idea! …. Sorry Andrew 

Finished in 18.16 which was much quicker than the 20hrs I had planned.
Felt very chafed/blistered and sore at the end.
Also very tired – not helped by a lack of sleep the night before.

Couldn’t wish for a better finishers prize than a caramello koala.
Who needs medals and t shirts?

Overall I think despite the first hour or so being terrible the weather was better than planned.
Probably because the weather for the recon was also terrible, the forecast was for afternoon thunderstorms which never came and because Andrew spent the whole car trip reliving stories of snow and hypothermia from previous races.
A lot of the bush covering the trail had been cleared which also made things easier.

This is the longest and hardest run I have done since the 100 miler in 2003.
I can see now why it has so much ‘cred’ in the ultra world and now whenever people look at me they can say hey this guy finished the Prom 100km.

How cool is that.

5 Comments:

Blogger 2P said...

Congratulation UCB - wonderful effort in crappy conditions - good report too.

Nice foot :)

1:32 PM  
Blogger Tesso said...

Pretty bloody cool! Though I had a (giant sized) Caramello Koala the other day and I only had to walk 10 metres to my fridge to get it.

1:37 PM  
Blogger undercover brother said...

we only got a small koala :(

9:40 PM  
Blogger Horrie said...

Congratulations Bro on adding another notch to the belt. You are certainly knocking out the big ones. Enjoy the recovery!

8:20 AM  
Blogger Virtual said...

Hope you're still enjoying big breakfasts. Well done.

10:43 PM  

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