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1999 Mt Wilson to Bilpin
Mt Wilson to Bilpin 35km Bush Run
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1999 Mt Wilson to Bilpin

by Sean Greenhill

August 1999

Steve Montgomery and I arrived at Mt Wilson, in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, at about 8.30. We'd driven to Bilpin (in Monty's car) then caught the bus. Silvana Plana Reserve, where we started, was a wide flat expanse of grass swept by a breeze that made a chilly morning even worse. All the usual crowd were there- the Tillers, Darryl Chrisp, Monty and Crofty from work, and plenty of other familiar faces.

I didn't know anything about the course, though it had been called a "sister race" of Six Foot Track. There was a pretty nasty escarpment descent and climb like the other race, but they weren't separated by 20K of valley floor here. I just wanted a long hitout to test how the ITB was coming along.

At 9.15 200 runners took off across the Reserve, and onto a road for a few minutes. I jogged along next to Charles King, whose 200cm frame makes me, at 190cm, feel inferior. Then we turned left off the road into the bush. From there, the next 10K was quite a mix. There were at least three ascents that forced me to a walk, just as many steep descents, we passed through open fields, along fence lines, and at one point on a steeply descending trail of bulldozed mud. Further along, we ran around the edge of an escarpment and on the left hand side we had a spectacular view from horizon to horizon of bush, ridgelines, fields and waterways, all of which we seemed to be incredibly high above. I redid my act from the Shoalhaven run, running along with my arms extended aeroplane fashion in joy at the sight.

The weather was just as changeable as the scenery, chilly with a breeze at the start, then the sun emerged and I was wondering if wearing a t shirt was a smart idea. Then it went over cold again, the reason being a storm cloud was blocking the sun. I thought we'd be in for rain but it never happened, then in the last 5K of the run the sun came out again and started to cook those of us still running on open trail. There was no shortage of aid stations however.

Just after the 15K aid station I found myself running sideways across a steep embankment which was covered in deadfall and damp leaves. There was no discernible trail here, I had to run from marker ribbon to marker ribbon, while twice my left foot shot out sideways and almost brought me down. Eventually I hurdled a creekbed and went up a quad busting climb which wound round along the top of a ridegeline. After that, there was a steep drop, another hard climb and another steep drop. I felt my ITB start to tighten up and started walking the descents.

We crossed a paddock of dead grass, and I was following two women in front of me. At the far side we ran between some farm buildings, and they turned around, figuring this was not the correct route. A few minutes retracing our route proved them right- we were meant to turn right halfway across the field. We ran through the bush, emerged on another fenceline behind some properties, and the view both sides was great. On the left ridges rose above eyeline, on the right I could see rolling hills and a dam, all enveloped in blue haze. "Wouldn't be dead for quids," I muttered. The course turned onto another road for a few klicks of bitumen running, where I met up with a Western Districts Joggers and Harriers member named Col, who I ran the rest of the race with.The setting was different again- houses on both sides with pleasant English style gardens. Then we were back on the dirt.

The race hadn't really started. The trail switchbacked across the escarpment, twisting back and forth to get down to Bowens Creek.The ominous footsteps of Kevin O'Kane came up behind us, then he took off down the trail. Looking across the waterway, we could see runners ascending the switchbacks on the other side. I thought we'd only be a few minutes behind them, but it was quite a wait before we reached the bottom of the river valley. A bridge crosses Bowens Creek and the trail starts winding back up. It's a long climb, but not as long or relentless as Pluviometer at Six Foot Track (which almost every climb in Australian trail runs seems to be compared to). The sun was beating down but there were two aid stations just on this climb, and three more in the 4K or so to the finish Reaching the top of the climb, we walk- jogged for a few minutes and reached an aid station 2.75K from the finish. We were twelve minutes off breaking four hours, but Col and I, after a half hearted attempt, agreed we were not going to run that distance in that time. We swung onto the road for the run to the finish, and Col looked behind him and exclaimed "shit, Mountain Man's right behind us!" I glanced back and there, unmistakeable with his Mexican bandit's moustache, was Grahame "Mountain Man" Kerruish.

Time to run.

About a mile later, Col and I crossed the line in 4.11 after a semi comic mad scramble to beat Mountain Man. Darryl, Monty and the Tillers were there, and, as I said to them, "I got some pride out of the race- I beat Mountain Man!" After the awards ceremony, Darryl gave me a lift home- thanks Darryl!

This race has its own character, and is very different to Six Foot Track, Shoalhaven or any other run. The changes in conditions are striking. The elevation changes a lot and frequently too, and the setting can be farmland, ridgeline, bitumen road or genuine bush bashing. I suspect it was the constant elevation change that made my ITB tighten up (especially all the long downhills), but I'll do the ice/ stretching thing some more and jog through next week's Cities Marathon. I need another long run, and Cities is it. Hopefully by then the sore muscles in my arse (overworked climbing out of Bowens Creek) will have recovered....

Sean Greenhill
Sydney, Australia

Sean has also written the following articles that are published on CoolRunning Australia :
  1. [Dec 2004] Coast to Kosi 236km
  2. [Jun 2004] Poor Man's Comrades 96km
  3. [Sep 2003] Glasshouse 100 mile
  4. [Jun 2003] Western States 100 Miles
  5. [Jun 2003] Auburn Journal interview with Sean before WS100
  6. [Jan 2003] Bogong to Hotham 60km
  7. [Sep 2002] Glasshouse 100 mile ( + photos)
  8. [Aug 2002] Katoomba to Mittagong 137km
  9. [Aug 2002] 12 Foot Track 93km
  10. [May 2002] Sydney Trailwalker 100km
  11. [May 2002] Thin Blue Line 88km
  12. [Mar 2002] Six Foot Track 46km
  13. [Feb 2002] Cradle Mountain Run
  14. [Sep 2001] Glasshouse 100 mile (DNF at 110km)
  15. [Aug 2001] 12 Foot Track 93km
  16. [Jun 2001] Wilson's Prom 100km ( + photos)
  17. [May 2001] Sydney Trailwalker 100km
  18. [May 2001] Lost In The Dark Run
  19. [Apr 2001] Brisbane Water Bush Bash 50km
  20. [Mar 2001] Six Foot Track 46km
  21. [Feb 2001] Cradle Mountain Run
  22. [Dec 2000] The Blue Labyrinth 50km option
  23. [Oct 2000] Glasshouse 100 mile (DNF at 100km)
  24. [Sep 2000] Royal National Park 50km
  25. [Aug 2000] Lost Worlds of Kuringai 56km
  26. [Aug 2000] Mt Wilson to Bilpin 35km
  27. [Jun 2000] Started the Glasshouse Trail Email-List
  28. [Jun 2000] Shoalhaven "King of the Mountain" 46km
  29. [Mar 2000] Six Foot Track 46km
  30. [Jan 2000] The Toughest Race in Australia - Bogong to Hotham
  31. [Sep 2000] Glasshouse 50mile/80km
  32. [Apr 2000] Glasshouse 50km
  33. [Dec 1999] The Blue Labyrinth - Original Route
  34. [Aug 1999] Cities Marathon
  35. [Aug 1999] Mt Wilson to Bilpin 35km
  36. [Jun 1999] Shoalhaven "King of the Mountain" 46km
  37. [May 1999] Sydney Morning Herald Half-Marathon
  38. [Apr 1999] Canberra Marathon and 50Km
  39. [Mar 1999] Six Foot Track 46km

Feel free to E-mail him at

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