Sean Greenhill's 2005 12foot Report
Crispy cold at the start. I'd spoken to Spud during the week and we'd discussed running together for the first half, but within a few minutes of hitting the stairs he and Herrmannator had taken off to leave me ambling along at my own pace. I figured halfway in around 5.30 would set me up nicely for a sub 13 hour run.
As it was, I'd do all but a few hundred metres of the 90K solo.
Running down into the Megalong Valley, the farms were covered in frost and puddles on the trail were iced over. I felt quite lethargic and slow and not really enjoying things, so just put my head down and hit the Megalong Valley Rd in 48 minutes, to be told by the crews that Spud and Jan had left a minute earlier. I walked out of there eating a sandwich and with another in reserve, then trotted on down to the river at an easy pace. I saw Jan and Spud as they crossed Pinnacle Hill and I was turning off the farm road, so about 3-5 minutes behind, then I didn't see them again till near halfway.
I reached the river in 1.38, filled my bottles, took out my other sandwich and exchanged a few words with Tim and Whippet as they came in, then set off walking up Mini Mini, which I did without pushing too much, then ran down to Little River. By now it was just past 10 in the morning and I was startled to see frost and ice still on the ground. It was a clear, cold, sunny day. I wore a thermal longsleeve under my tritop, Raceready shorts, Striders cap, gloves, Target coolmax socks and Asics 1100s. I carried my Vaude Speedrunner pack and two handheld bottles, and stayed with this arrangement for the whole run.
I reached the top of Pluvi in a tick under 3.30 elapsed and set off at a steady jog, walking a few of the ups. I now felt considerably better than I had earlier, and was surprised to notice some accumulations of snow on the side of the trail- at first just in sheltered areas, but then in greater and greater amounts, until, as I approached Deviation, it covered almost all the ground.
I ran into Deviation to meet Mum and Mel feeling pretty good, having covered Black Range in 61 minutes. I ate two tubs of creamed rice, was advised that Spud was 25 minutes ahead and Jan 5 minutes ahead, then set off with the aim of catching the Herrmannator, then seeing if I couldn't reel in Spud.
Along the new section, the snow was piled up on the embankments. Ran all the downs, walked all the ups, crossed Caves Rd, as I came through Binda Cabins Jan was sitting on the side of the trail. He said he'd just eaten, got up and started to jog with me, then after a few hundred metres he dropped off.
I found the last 3K down to Caves House quite difficult, as I had to hold myself in check and not bomb down it as I did at Six Foot Track, and also the surface was quite wet and slippery. When Spud came walking back up I asked what his halfway was, he chuckled and said 5.04. I ran on wondering if he wasn't going to pay for such a fast first half later on.
I reached Caves House in 5.38, 69 minutes after leaving Deviation, refilled bottles, my crew passed me a bag of hot chips, then Jan came in just as I was leaving. I walked back up the hill eating, with chips in hand.
Once the trail flattened out after 3K of walking I broke into a run again and ran most of the way back to Deviation. I had a few hot spots on the arch and heel of my left foot, but metaphorically I could feel Jan's breath on the back of my neck (he is such a great runner of the back half of ultras) so elected to put up with it rather than stop to tape it up.
I ran into Deviation exactly 90 minutes after leaving the Caves. As I ate more creamed rice, I outlined my master plan to the crew- I couldn't do much about Spud, he was either going to blow up or carry on by a lot. I wanted to get the sub 13 hour finish, and I wanted to hold off Jan and retain second place. I left quickly and headed back along Black Range.
If I ever had a low point in the last 60K this was the closest- I seemed to take forever here, including a pit stop and another stop to put a second pair of socks on over the first to see if this would help my feet. The afternoon light reflecting off the cliffs of Narrow Neck and surrounds was magnificent.
Descending Pluviometer my right shin started to ache- from all the downhill pounding, no doubt. However, when I hit the bottom and negotiated Little River, I perked up considerably and aggressively attacked the hills climbing out of there. I was looking over my shoulder for Jan every few minutes, but, having run 68K so far, my energy levels were excellent. I was going to run on into the mountain night and grinned broadly to myself at the thought. Yes, I was enjoying this.
I pushed fairly hard down Mini Mini Saddle- I wanted to cross Coxs River in daylight and then cover as much of the rough trail climbing out of the river to Pinnacle Hill in daylight as I could. I thought that if Jan had to cover more of the rough stuff in the dark than I did, I might be able to secure a couple of bonus minutes.
I reached Coxs River at about 5.10pm, refilled bottles, some campers told me Spud was almost an hour ahead, then I crossed the river and walked up the back on the opposite side eating two more tubs of rice, then started a run/walk up the climbs. I finally switched on my headlamp around 6.15pm, about 3K before Megalong Valley Road- I'd covered quite a bit of the rough stuff in the natural light and congratulated myself on that, even as I kept looking behind me. Any minute Jan would surely loom up like some sea monster from the black depths, and blow past me.
I reached Megalong Valley Road around 6.40pm, refilled bottles, took another pack of hot chips, then walked off eating, with instructions to the crew to pick up a pizza in Blackheath en route to the finish, which I anticipated was 90 minutes away, around 8.15pm. Once I finished the chips I found myself running strongly up Nellies Glen Road, my headlamp beam cutting through the icy darkness, illuminting the bursts of fog that escaped my lungs. Off to the side, the occasional horse or cow would flich as I went past.
I ran almost all the uphill from Megalong Valley Rd to the foot of Nellies Glen, feeling strong. Looking at my watch, I wondered if I'd finish before my crew! I was still looking behind for Jan- last year Paul Every had caught Kieron Thompson on the stairs and won by one minute, and I didn't want the same to happen to me.
Going back up the stairs was tough, but once I reached the trail I was able to run most of the uphill to the top gate, which I reached just as Mum/Mel's car, and Ross' car, were pulling up. I ran past and onto Explorers Road. As my feet touched the bitumen, I broke into a sprint and finally realised that Jan wasn't catching me and I had second place secured. I ran up to the Explorers Tree and hit my watch button: 12 hours, 30 minutes. It was exactly 8pm and I'd done the second half in 6.52.
My reliable crew drove up and produced a pizza, half of which I inhaled at once. Ross offered a drink. I changed into some dry warm clothes, then, after a few minutes with no sight of Jan, we drove off. I got Spud on the phone and he verified he'd come first in 11.26- a truly inspired run. It turned out later Jan finished over an hour behind me in 13.35.
Energy wise I felt fine at the end, very strong and could have run much further. Everyone that evening and on Sunday commented on how positive I seemed about the run. I was very happy- there would have been no catching Spud today, but my energy levels were good for all the last 60K and I was still running uphills at the end.