Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Unfinished Business?

Mind Alpine Challenge 100 miles 20-22 Mar 2010 =10/18 (last place finishers) 46.07

2 years ago i fronted the startline with cortisone in my left itb realising full well i may injure myself for many many months as a result.
no-one had finished the course and it was my chance at history.
even an hour into the event i knew it wasn't my day and pulled the pin at the first opportunity: 28km at 7hrs.

you would think i would consider this event unfinished business and feel a lot of pressure to finish but the feeing was quite the contrary.
i saw this event as a huge adventure, felt well prepared and felt the most relaxed pre-race i have in a long long while.
and watching mellum fuss over logistical details the night before and develop pack envy made me feel even better prepared and feel even calmer :)

i hate endless blow by blow reports but the course is so huge it is probably worthwhile breaking it up into bits...

bogong village to warby corner 15.5km
nice steady climb up the spion kopje FT.
a creek crossing early on: had to laugh at a big group taking their shoes off for the crossing WTF?
steve met us at (hiked into) warby corner which was great: meant hauling up less food/water from the start and i could take the small/13 litre salomon pack for the first 60kms.

warby to warby then langfords 46km (61.5 total)
just a huge tough loop down to big river up mt bogong (reverse of b2h) down qaurtz ridge the other side to big river and up the long long wide open/warm timms spur FT.
tam was keen to go a bit faster here and leave us more time to down some food at langfords which is usually the opposite of what i do but my stomach enjoyed the plan.
arrived at langfords ahead of the 15hr (depart) schedule in 13.50 or so and had 25mins to repack and down some food. the thai chicken meal was just sooooooooo nice even if a tad spicy!! changed to night gear and left 45mins ahead of schedule.

langfords to mt loch 28.5km (90km)
follows the bogong-hotham course except at night! was not looking forward to swindlers spur :)
made steady time early - remembered not to take 'bluedogs detour'.
was somewhat eerie crossing the road and following the endless pole line across the highplains.
we both started to get a little sleepy before P333 and were pleased to see some shelter there and had a little sitdown.
swindlers wasn't that bad just a real trudge.
arrived at a very windy mt loch (steve looked like he was dressed for a k2 ascent!) with some repairs to do: feet etc... and ended up leaving a little late just after 3am i think.

mt loch to harrietville 16km (106km)
put the 'full night kit' on here to go up over mt hotham summit so 2 thermal tops plus small down jacket and gtx top plus thermal and montane on bottom.
official windgusts were low 60s and although no fog on mt hotham it created a big duststorm that reduced visibility at times.
little trouble finding the way to the top the way back down to the road was the first nav challenge in that as expected i didnt find the 'trailhead' down to diamantina hut (don't think it exists) so just basically followed the gps line (albeit an s-shaped course we followed) down to the hut.
was actually warm here and need to unzip some top layers.
razorback was not as exposed as i expected and the trail was easy to find.
then began the long long descent down bon accord.
this was always going to be the telling part of the race for me: concerned about a pre-dawn 'bonk' as i had experienced in my 2 previous 100 milers.
tam was starting to feel some shin and feet soreness here and we were both pretty sleepy though only one of us actually fell asleep whilst walking ;)
got through the long night and started to pick up spirits in the final hour or so.
got to the bottom (just out of town) just after 9am and tam had to stop and rest and take some panadol.
she was doing a funny shuffle/limp here and to be honest i was a bit concerned about her finishing in her current state; we had a long 55km to go.
a long but neccessary stop at harrietville to regroup: somewhat ominous that we had only just taked our headlamps off and we would need to repack them again as we may need them before meeting the crew again at tawonga huts!!
left around 10am after doing some gear reshuffling.

harrietville to tawonga 31km (137km)
a long section up to feathertop (1400m climb) down the infamous diamantina spur (which was even more diabolical than normal) back up to P333 via westons hut and onto tawonga huts 20mins away.
it was here i was starting to see the event as a 'mission'.
all we had to do was to feathertop/westons then fainters and we were finished.
it seemed so easy...until we were walking uphill for about an hour and tiredness and reality hit again.
started seeing glimpses of a few teams here and team mountain goats caught us just at federation hut (water fill-up) and followed us to the very windy summit.
i think the windgusts must have been 70km/hr+ here.
had to laugh at one daytripper with tshirt/shorts/hat and a camera.
bloody goose.
saw the mens singaporean team heading up on our way back: even with all their faces half covered i could tell they were pretty 'weathered' by the course already.
got the impression team MG was happy to follow us down diamantina (somewhat wisely as between us tam and i had been down there maybe 5 times before).
decided to give them a brief description incase they wanted to run ahead: follow the ridgeline down until a knoll at 1400m head off 'the edge of a cliff' to the right and follow the yellow tape down to the road.
its a bit of a scramble at first but then gets easier after that.
....whats a knoll was the response.
oh dear.
at least they asked i guess :)
at the bottom of diamantina spur some people were marking off names; they hadnt seen anyone for 6 hours!!
made the long climb back up to the pole line.
amazing how quickly it got cold in that 10mins from the road to tawonga and trotted downhill so we could put more clothes on at the cp

tawonga to finish 21km (158km)
just getting on dark for the 2nd night here.
was ready to go pretty quickly so had a few moments to think about what we had already achieved and what was to come.
neither of us had done the next section mt hotham forecast was for 3 degrees that night and we hadn't slept for 40 hours.
i was really really looking forward to the challenge/adventure.
the trail was easy to follow early althought littered with boggy areas.
after an hour or so it became more indistinct and night nav became a real potential problem.
it was around here we saw the last relay runners from team MG who had passed us whilst we were refuelling at tawonga huts.
they didnt seem to have a lot of clothes on and looked a bit lost.
at that time hotham was 3.2degrees (apparent -1.7) so i had my full kit on.
steve said later they were on the phone to other team memebers a few times after leaving.
they seemed pretty happy to see us and followed us for the next hour or so until i think they were getting a bit cold whenever we slowed to have a quick snack or break and went ahead though by that stage we were almost back onto the wide FT.
every 5mins or so i would stop for a second and check the gps to make sure we were following the course.
a very very useful piece of equipment.
a long downhill section to finish was almost like the course trying to have 'the final say' at tam's shins but around 2.40am we made our way back into bogong village and the finish.

steve was there and wrote down the times and took a photo.
quick handshake and a hug and left to the shelter of the cabin which was only a hundred metres or so away.
had a quiet moment there at the front door before pottering around inside.
spud had left his door ajar and sure enough he came out with a big smile on his face and a hand presented for my shaking.
spud is a nice guy!
we briefly swapped stories before i hit the hay.
wasn't planning on going to the presentation only 5hrs or so later but was awake and couldn't resist.
seeing the look on the placegetters faces was priceless.
beaver turned to darrel and said 'oh here he is' and gave me a little 'we are not worthy' bow of respect. pipi the winner stood and smiled and shook my hand.
the last finishers at ultras get a lot of respect.

i learnt a hell of a lot about myself that weekend.
i simply didn't know how i would cope with the first dawn and running through the second day (and night!).
people who i have seen go through this before have amazed me and not wanting to sound arrogant or weird but to be honest i amazed myself.
i guess its something inherent in all of us that with the right training and planning we can push through in double and multi-day events, ward off pain and the sleepmonsters to finish.
and i am no different.
i learnt a lot about navigation, keeping warm in alpine environments, the course itself, nutrition and the mental side of things.
a lot of the learning was from things we did right and not wrong.
which is a good way to learn in this environment!

we had a mission to complete and we completed it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Still here!

mind alpine challenge 100 miler on saturday.
training going to plan did 3.5hrs around coot-tha on thursday.
looking forward to it.