Jan Herrman's 2002 12foot Report

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After Ross's great breakfast and a brisk start, I ran with Jonathon through the frosty paddocks and the glorious morning light of Megalong Valley, then to the Cox's, which we crossed with dry feet and where saw the bikers again. I stayed close to Jonathon up to Mini Mini Saddle, then let him do his thing.

After the usual struggle along Black Range Road and through the "new" section, I started the final descent down to Caves House, where I met Kieron coming back, with Jonathon in hot pursuit who told me that Peter was just ahead. I hadn't seen Peter since the start, so he must have passed me while I was having a toilet break at the Black Range Campground. I caught up with him on the last meters before Caves House. Our split time was 5 3/4 hours. The mountain bikers were there too, about to leave again.

I was in need of a rest, and while Peter soon rose to start the return trip, I was happy to stay a little longer, enjoy my James Boag's, and chat with Ross. Just when I was ready to leave, Sean and Lawrence turned up, so I had another quick chat while they were settling down with iced coffees. Then I set off, powered by an energy drink that Ross had kindly thrown my way. After walking up the hill for a while, I saw you coming down, headphones on, going really well.

Sadly, the Guarana rush wore off sooner rather than later, and I needed a decent rest at Black Range Campground, where the resident tourist wombat grazed happily, oblivious to my appearance, and where a magpie stole my cheese roll while I was refilling my bottle. From there, it was pretty good running down the gentle slopes of the Black Ranges. Just before the track starts plunging down at Pluviometer, I passed Peter, who was moving in a combination of powerwalking and slow running, plagued by ankle trouble. I knew the steep declines that were ahead would make his journey very painful and hoped he might recover a bit.

At little river, I retrieved my thermal top and torch which I had dumped there on the way out. The sun hadn't quite set yet, so after the strenuous climb up to Mini Mini Saddle, the horses and I were treated to the beautiful sight of the last sunrays lighting up the top of the cliffs on the northern end of Jamison Valley. I started to find the going tougher now, but managed to let gravity work for me one more time, reaching the Cox's with twilight approaching, the campfires going, and in need of another rest.

I managed another dry-feet river crossing and started the ascent out of the river valley. Unfortunately, I couldn't take too much advantage of the numerous flat sections and more or less powerwalked all the way to Megalong Valley, except for the downhills. By now it was dark, the stars were out in all their splendour, and the night was not as chilly as the one I remembered from last year. When I arrived at Megalong Valley Road, torchlight from the waiting crews greeted me, and I was more than happy to sit down for a rest and swap stories about runners coming past with Gayl and Ross. After dragging my jacket out of the tree hollow, dumping my rubbish, and leaving most of my food behind, I set off for the last segment. Again, I found myself reduced to powerwalking even the inviting flat road stretching for about 5 km towards Nellie's Glen. The air in the upper, and increasingly steeper sections of the valley was rather cold, and I was glad I had picked up my jacket. Three or four times, however, I was hit by really warm gusts of wind, which lasted for about 20 or so seconds each time. Lawrence told me later that he and Sean also felt this rather strange phenomenon.

Eventually, even the stairs and the steep hill beyond them came to an end, the gate at the top and the road appeared, and I set off for one last jog down to the dark car park and the Explorer's Tree. Finish photo, warm, dry clothes and, most of all, stop without feeling guilty. Finish time was 10 min past 9, total of 13:55 hours.

After a while, Gayl appeared and gave me the latest news from the course. I decided to stick around for Sean's and Lawrence's finish and didn't have to wait long until a bright and a dim light came bouncing out of the dark, with the two of them attached. We swapped a few stories and then headed for showers and beds.

Jan Herrman Sydney, Australia