Phil Murphy's C2K 2006 Race Report
Back to Coast to Kosciuszko
Spank the mammoth was the catch phrase for the weekend thanks to Jan and Lawrence, two of the pioneer runners of this epic. And that’s how it felt after completing this run. After the disappointment of a DNS at the last minute the year before, I was relishing the opportunity to take this challenge on, in fact this was to be the culmination of a hard years training, all tailored for this one event.
Preparation was excellent with a year of steady build up, 12 ultras for the calendar year, with two hundred milers in the preceding months, one of which four weeks prior. I was focussed and steely determined to not only make it to the start line this year but to get to the finish line too. This was to be the final leg in the Australian Triple Crown, which included the Glasshouse 100 mile race in September and the Great North Walk 100 mile race in November, a task completed by only one other runner, the irrepressible Paul Every. My only concern going into this race was the state of my feet, both of which still bore the witness of some nasty blisters from GNW 100 miler. They were healing nicely but would they hold up to 245km?
One of the biggest challenges for me was organising a crew, so when CR’s Vegie Girl (Lis Ferguson) offered to crew I eagerly accepted. I knew she was well up for the task after crewing splendidly for Kelvin at last years race and with her crewing experience of Mellum at various races throughout the year, I was in good hands and delighted to have her on board. Next up was the pacer issue. I asked a few runners I knew but because of various reasons most were busy that weekend, it is a tough ask I guess. I was confident I could do it sans pacer but really wanted someone else to help Lis with the crewing/driving. As it transpired Lis and I started it alone. The other half of Mellum teamed up, with Whippet crewing for Tim in the Mellum Mothership (Whippet’s VW Kombi).
All up there were 9 starters including two time finishers Paul Every and Jan Herrmann, two time starter and yet to finish Lawrence Mead and one time finisher Brendan (Virtual) Mason. The C2K virgins this year included US ultra legend Carol La Plant (first female starter), Tim Turner, Wayne (Blue Dog) Gregory, Ian Twite and yours truly.
After picking up Tim and then Lis from the airport we set off along the coast road for a very enjoyable drive to Eden. Tim knew the area well having lived in Eden for a while and pointed us in the direction of a wonderful vegie café on route that served up the best vegie burger I’ve had for a long time. We arrived in Eden and the Shadrock Resort about 4pm, where we bumped into the lovely Carol and her husband Phil. They told us about their recon of the course over the last few days and warned us about the swarms of flies around. Next Andrew Hewat (Whippet) showed up having driven up earlier from Geelong in the mothership. We checked in and not long after Brendan showed up followed by Blue Dog, Bernie and Sarge. After getting settled in we freshened up with a quick dip in the ocean. Brendan was trying his best to psyche everyone one out with his veritable array of medical stuff including trays of capsules of every description for every prescription. All was neatly laid out, even what he was going to wear at various times of the day; ever the logistics man our Virtual.
Dinner was at the Eden Fisherman’s Club and a chance to catch up with the other headbangers taking on this challenge and their perspective crew. A decent meal was followed by a welcome speech and a very animated description advising us how to crew from Paul Every, putting his Wallace and Gromit figurines to good use, hilarious. Jan Herrmann and Lawrence Mead were late arrivals having used public transport to get down from Sydney. They were intending on running C2K true fatass style, crewless!! This after Paul had explained how important one’s crew is, I was amazed.
Race day dawned with a glorious sunrise of pink and purple skies. We gathered on the beach for the start and looked out to the sea one more time before Paul drew a line in the sand and set us on our way. I was bubbling with excitement and fear all rolled into one. This was it; we were on our way, a new adventure! The early pace was casual as Paul, Blue Dog and I ran together. We ran along the Princes Highway for a couple of hundred metres, crossed the Nullica River and then followed a fire trail climbing up the hills that hugged the coastline. The pace was casual as we commented on how great it was to finally get going after weeks of preparation and anticipation. It was now down to the trails/roads, our crews and finally the running Gods. On one particular climb up under some power lines we glanced back to what would be our final glimpse of the ocean with the orange sun bursting up over its horizon, magic stuff.
We stayed together for the first few kilometres through Nullica State Forest where navigation could be tricky and were scheduled to meet our crew around 3.6 kms into the run, coming off a dirt trail at the Nullica Road junction. However they were not there when we arrived as they had got lost. I was glad to have carried my handheld water bottle, as it was quite humid. We kept on moving figuring they would catch up further up the trail. When they eventually did catch up, this set the tone for the day, leap-frogging cars driving by every so often. They were all courteous enough not to churn up too much dust whilst passing by. It was very dry. After 10kms or so Dog and I started to pull away from the others and so it would remain. We kept each other company for a while along the beautiful lush Tawonga Valley and later on at various times. But for the most part this race would be run alone at least until runners picked up their prospective pacers.
Lis was stopping every 4kms and the instruction was to have a cup of Sustagen ready at every second stop. I was alternating water and gatorade in my handheld through the day and eating vegemite sandwiches, creamed rice, gus and muesli bars at other times. This was working well and I felt strong right throughout the heat of the day. I was enjoying the countryside, great views out over rolling hills, vast tracts of land as far as the eye could see with the occasional farmhouse and a smattering of cattle. The land was brown and parched, the smoke from the nearby Victorian bushfires providing some welcome shade from the sun. In fact the first few hours were a lot cooler than predicted and whilst the temps were down Dog and I were taking advantage by moving along a lot harder than planned.
My goal for this race was firstly, and most importantly, to finish especially with the Triple Crown at stake. The hope was to go sub 36hr, which equates to sub 24hr 100 mile pace. Secretly I wished for 33-34hrs if I had a really good day/night. I was not racing anyone but myself and that was the way it would remain. When we reached the marathon mark in 4.22 I knew the pace was too rich. I backed off and let Dog go. Up until now it was quite a social affair with the crew cars still close together and runners no more than a few kms apart. Paul was not that far behind me and at times I could see Ian Twite not much further in the distance with his crew leapfrogging mine for quite a while.
We crossed Towamba River and began the climb out from Rocky Hall up Big Jack Mountain. The crew interaction became less frequent as runners spread out more and more. I really enjoyed this climb, catching up to Team Dog on the ascent feeling strong. I had been looking forward to some hills after the relentlessness of the flatish running over the last hour or so. The added shade provided by the tree-lined trail was also most welcome; actually this was one of the more beautiful stretches of the entire course with the trail cutting a path through some wonderful lush rainforest.
Lis was awesome. She would see me approaching, get out and have my drinks prepared and a choice of food available, always asking what I would like for the next stop and offering suggestions when I was too buggered to think about it. I would drink and eat whilst walking on ahead, Lis accompanied me and then she would take my rubbish back to the car. When passing me whilst heading up for the next stop, she would roll down the car window and ask me again if I needed anything for the next stop. This worked well as at times I would rue not asking for something to be prepared only for her to give me this second opportunity each time. We were working well as a team and my plan was to have my first sit down at dinnertime around 6.30pm or 13 hours in.
Once at the top of Big Jack Mountain we turned off onto Cathcart road and onto the higher plateau, enjoying some running again, past some farmland and into Cathcart itself. Along the way Dog and I agreed to work together to put some time and distance into the chasers. There was not much to see in Cathcart, with everything closed and not much life about either. Dog and I commented on the fact that this place was a world away from city life. This was cattle country and of course as a result there were flies, lots of them. We continued on Cathcart road for a few kms and then turned off onto a dirt road toward the Monaro Highway crossing at Bibbenluke. At this stage we were both swapping the lead, as our crew interaction was not so synchronised. Dog would run on ahead as I slowed for a refuel and vice versa.
Dry and dusty with cattle paddocks dotted along the road is all I can recall around here, and the flies, my God they were carnivorous. I was glad to have a fly net although must admit it took a while getting used to it flapping in my face. Flocks of sheep lined the road on either side as we approached, only to bolt off in all directions. I had a shoulder pain (an RSI injury), which was throbbing now; no doubt carrying a handheld wasn’t helping matters. I instructed Lis to have a couple of ibuprofen ready for the next stop.
I crossed the Monaro Highway on a dogleg, which picks up Bukalong Siding Road heading uphill and started feeling a little cooler here as evening approached and the temps dropped off. My thoughts were of a cool night ahead, hopefully with lots of running and not too many microsleeps! I was a little concerned as Lis had been crewing all day by herself and no doubt she would need some rest. I wanted her to drive on ahead 10km or so and just leave some aid out so she could have a kip in the car, but she refused, assuring me she would be right. I sometimes think running these things is easier than crewing! A short while later I crossed the disused rail line and continued on following Gunningrah Rd. Lis was down at the Cambalong Creek which marks the 96km point, camera in hand.
I reached the dead tree that marks the 100km point (actually 102km on the Garmin) in 11hrs30mins, feeling good and looking forward to a hot meal. My schedule had me stopping for the first time around 6-7pm for dinner. It was only 5pm and I wanted to keep moving even though I was starting to get cold. At 6.45pm I did stop for the first time, sat down and ate some lasagne and pumkin soup. Vegie had cooked up a stack of food in preparation for the weekend and there was plenty of variety on offer. In fact there was enough food for the entire field I’m sure. She did well to get the gas burner going as it was blowing quite hard now, but managed to find a spot using the car to block out the wind. I switched into a different top and put my thermal on and immediately felt better. I only stopped for 10 minutes at most and was back on the road wanting to cover as much ground as possible in the fading light.
Dalgety road turnoff was not much further and then the long undulating road to even higher country. The course follows the road for a good 40kms or so into Dalgety itself. I had no idea how the race was shaping up for other competitors; communication was quite scant out there. Dog was ahead and out of sight now and I figured Paul would be maybe a few kms behind with Ian and the others behind him. I recalled Sean Greenhill’s experience along here and description from his recon of how long and mind numbingly boring it could be with not much to see. I decided to just buckle down to a steady pace and keep eating regularly as I know how easy it is to switch off and neglect your energy needs when it cools down, besides there’s not much else to do. Another hour later and 119km into the race I stopped once more to change socks, apply some bodyglide to my feet and switch Forerunners. Hot spots had formed on the balls of both feet and I figured it was a good time to stop and be proactive.
When night fell I slipped on Lis’s MP3 player complete with 80s compilation of Oz rock, great stuff. I was in a happy place thinking there’s nowhere I’d rather be, it was late now 10pm or so. The last few hours had been good; I was enjoying the cooler temps (and yes) the nothingness of Dalgety road, the music in my ears and I was making good progress. The road had been dirt and unsealed up to now but as soon as you pass into the next shire it turns to bitumen. The odd car would come along its headlights piercing the blackness of the night like laser beams. I would shuffle off to the left and blink my headlight so the driver could see me in good time. Back to the right hand side of the road and back to the stillness of the night. Hunters and Collectors were filling my head with music. Shortly afterwards I got a bad attack of the sleep monsters. Microsleeps became frequent and I needed to stop, pull my cap off, switch off the headlight and step outside the cocoon of light that enveloped me. I need to just stand there for a while and try to wake up. I looked around, it was pitch black as far as the eye could see, absolutely no lights, Lis was still behind having not passed me yet. Then I looked up and almost burst into tears, the sky was alive with millions of stars sparkling in the dark night sky, giving life to it. I stood there picking out various constellations, magic. I wanted to freeze the moment, capture it forever but alas, there was a lot more running to be had, so I donned the headlamp again and set off on the lonely road to Dalgety.
My refreshed state didn’t last for long as I started drifting off again, falling asleep on my feet. I needed a rest and for the first time considered asking Lis to allow me ten minutes in the car. I had battled with this for a while before hand, would it be better to stop and rest rather than plod along slowly? Would ten minutes be enough or fifteen minutes or would I end up waking up feeling like shit, sore and stiff? I was very close to giving in to the sleep monster but Lis still hadn’t passed me since our last aid stop and I figured maybe she was having a kip. Bugger, I would have to keep moving. It was only 10pm or so and I was surprised to be having microsleeps so early on, maybe a result of pushing it quite hard through the day?
Not long after I heard a car coming from behind and looked around to in fact see two vehicles coming toward me. As they slowed I realised it was the mellum mothership. Was it coming to take me away? Andrew stuck his head out the window informing me Tim had pulled with a calf injury and that he’d pace me for a while. I felt sorry for Tim and knew he would be hurting, but must admit I was delighted to have Andrew pace me, this was perfect timing. He drove further down the road which allowed him time to get into his running gear. We were probably 10-15km outside Dalgety at this stage. With Andrew keeping me company now and Lis doing a sterling job with the crewing, I was set up for a great night. Tim drove the mothership on to Dalgety. We arrived there in 18.5hrs so 11pm. I was more revived now and feeling better for the company. Dalgety was quiet for 11pm on a Friday night, nothing happening at all. We passed through unnoticed.
I was delighted with my progress thus far and figured we’d make it over the Beloka Range and down to Jindabyne by early morning. Andrew was good company constantly chatting whenever I’d start to slip off into a slumber. I wasn’t much of a conversationalist as I was fading in and out. Every now and again we’d pick up a roo with our headlights skipping across the road in an effort to get away from us. A few would thankfully manage to jump the barbed wire that lined either side of the road, only for a couple to miss out and smash straight into it. Not unlike the sheep earlier on in the day that would almost stampede trying to move out of the way.
I was drinking coffee now through the night in an effort to stay alert and this was helping, with soup and the odd cake or piece of fruit going down well too. Tim was helping out with the crewing and I was delighted Lis had some company out there. The night went by fairly uneventfully. Lots of little targets were made, run a few hundred metres and then walk a little and repeat. Andrew pulled me along nicely and in no time we passed through Beloka and began the climb up the range. I was again happy to be climbing as we could break into a power walk and give the running muscles a break. There were some testing climbs but we soon passed the 100-mile mark (according to my Garmin) about half way up the Beloka Range in 20.05, a 100-mile PB! Upon cresting, an impressive vista opened up before us, with the Snowy Mountains on the other side of the valley floor silhouetted against the moonlit sky. We could pick out some lights in the distance, this would be Jindabyne, still another 15km or so away.
It was on the descent off the Beloka Range along Barry Way that things started to go south for me. I had a couple of hot spots on the balls of my feet and even though I had a sock change and relube about 50km or so ago, I needed to stop and address them now. We pulled over to the side of the road, Lis and Tim had been instructed beforehand to get the med kit out and have a chair ready. I pulled my shoes and socks off to unveil a couple of nasty blisters that were forming on the balls of my feet right under the old ones from the Great North Walk run. Andrew did his best to lance them but they were quite deep and he couldn’t manage to draw any fluid from them. He proceeded to put a dressing on them in any case, we got going again and I felt better for it. We also took advantage of the stop to refuel with a cup of soup.
The descent in the early morning to Jindabyne was beautiful, the sky filled with that early grey light. I was hurting again though and by the time we reached Jindabyne and the roundabout, I was struggling. The mellum mothership would be parked here now while Tim joined Lis in my car. Andrew stayed behind to help transfer stuff from the Kombi to my car. I continued on along the bike path and was surprised to see Bernie and Sarge just leaving, heading up Kosciusko Rd as I arrived. I had figured Dog would be a lot further ahead. I shuffled on for a bit and then was forced to walk; the pain was unbearable at times. Andrew caught up to me just as we rejoined Kosciusko Rd from the bike path. We continued on over the Snowy River Bridge and commented on how beautiful the sunrise over Lake Jindabyne was, but it was going to be a long hot day. I was feeling more energised as one does at dawn but there was no way I could run. I tried jogging a little only to have to stop. The road from Jindabyne to the Kosciusko National Park gates is a long stretch of sealed road tending generally upwards, lots of climbing with the odd down hill bit.
I was frustrated now as I had the energy to run but the feet didn’t want any of it and not being able to even jog the gentle downhills was very annoying. I tried compensating my gait rolling along the outside of my feet thus avoiding toeing off with each stride. This helped and I managed a shuffling jog every now and again. I’m sure Andrew was bored to death with the slow pace we were travelling along at and welcomed any jogging at all. We continued like this for a few kms until the jogging stopped and all I could mange was a walk. We were moving along at about 5km/hr losing a lot of time. At this stage I knew a fast finish was not going to happen and so I switched the mindset to just getting to Kosciusko.
Every so often Team Dog would come back checking on my whereabouts, no doubt relaying the distance back to Dog. This happened every hour or so and I found this quite amusing. Sometimes nothing was said simply a quick wave from the car and a u-turn back up the hill, I must have had them worried.
Given the pace I was moving at now, I was fully expecting Paul to catch up from behind and kick my ass. At one point we were convinced we saw Paul’s crew Diane and Katherine pass by in their little rental. As it transpired Team Dog thought it was them too. I turned to Whippet and mentioned it wouldn’t be long before we saw Paul.
I tried to stride out a little an a slight downhill stretch, when all of a sudden one of my blisters popped and sent an excruciating pain through my right foot. Andrew immediately switched to doc mode ushering me down to the crew car which was luckily just at the bottom of the hill. I was in pain, man it hurt. Just then from behind Diane and Katherine arrived with Paul in the back of the car, his race over due to injury. I felt for Paul as I know how much this race means to him. They slowed for a quick chat and then pulled up a bit further on, next to Lis and Tim.
My feet needed to be redressed and the blisters needed lancing. As we sat down on a bench alongside the lake, I took my shoes and socks off to assess the damage. I then attempted to get the dressing off my right foot. It was stuck down pretty well, so Tim went down to the lakes edge to get a bowl of water. I soaked my foot in it for a bit and then attempted to peel the dressing off again. It helped but felt like a dagger pushed up through the sole of my foot. I looked at my foot and thought DNF. I simply had to get this dressing off or I would not be able to continue. For the first time I understood why blisters can stop runners in their tracks. I continued peeling the dressing off slowly and in the process yelled like a big baby. A thick layer of skin was coming away with it but I was just glad to get the dressing off. Andrew then tried to lance the blisters that had formed around my toes now while Diane produced a thick dressing made of a skin type silicone that was placed over the whole sole of my foot. Andrew trimmed the edges to avoid any further blistering and I was good to go. Well I stood up anyhow and attempted to walk, not so much “good to go” but I could move forward. Diane took the opportunity to try and get some food into us offering us pastries and all sorts. I wasn’t really in the mood for eating but when she offered me some olives, I said yes. They were perfect and went down a treat. In hindsight I was very lucky to have such wonderful people around me at that time and can’t thank them enough. This may very well have been the difference between a finish and a DNF.
We had spent a good 25 minutes here, so I was now readjusting my ETA to “any old finish will do”. I was still very much in pain, with every footfall sending a sharp pain up my legs. Several hours of adjusted gait had taken its toll too with my left knee badly swollen now and right ankle not much better. Great sport this, I felt like an old man. I dropped a couple of ibuprofen and pushed on.
It was getting hot now as we climbed the never-ending road that winds through Smiggins Holes and then drops into the Perisher Valley before rising again to Charlotte Pass. Once again Dog was sending his crew back at regular intervals to check up on my whereabouts, only this time they even stopped to say g’day. I was surprised to see them at all again as I was thinking Dog would be well out of sight by now, given the stops I had had. He was a worried Dog, but in truth he needn’t have been, I wasn’t going anywhere fast but gee I wish I had good feet ;-)
Andrew was great company, keeping me entertained with tales of God knows what, but it was working, helping me keep my mind off the pain. We came across several wombat carcasses alongside the road, each one stinking horribly in the hot sun. I’ve never seen so much road kill in one stretch of road. The roos were crazy, hopping out onto the road only to then dart back off into the bush. I prayed Lis and Tim wouldn’t have any incidents driving along here. Somewhere along here we ate some more lasagne for breakfast, I had to keep the calories up although I did go back to the Gatorade and Sustagen as it got warmer.
The road winds on and on, up and over and then disappears at times around a bend. The scenery was wonderful with a definite alpine feel. We were about 210 km into this journey and “only” 19km from Charlotte Pass and the start of the 9km trek to the summit of Australia. I forgot about the pain or maybe it was the ibuprofen kicking in but I knew I was going to finish; it was just a matter of time. I started doing the maths based on my current pace, maybe I could still make it in sub 36hrs, but I would need to push it.
The final climb up to Charlotte Pass was relentless, Andrew ran ahead to the car park in order to get some food and stuff organised for the 18km round trip to the summit. As I pulled in I just grabbed a water bottle change from Lis, dumped some food in my pockets, applied more sunscreen and grabbed my spray jacket and clipped it around my waist. The likelihood of the weather changing was remote given it was 30C but on Paul’s advice I took it anyhow. And so we started the ascent. Lis and Andrew with Paul and Katherine joining us for the first few hundred metres. Tim would stay behind in the car, his injured calf not allowing him to join us. I was bummed the whole team couldn’t make it. It was nice to walk with Paul; the significance of sharing a moment like this with him was not lost on me.
The first kilometre or so of the climb was nice, the bush to the side of the trail providing some shade from the hot sun. We bid Paul, Diane and Kathryn farewell and continued on. Then the trail surface degenerated, with lots of small rocks underfoot, every footfall hurt. I winced in pain. I remembered Brendan’s advice to have a spare pair of shoes with a good hard sole for the summit trek and regretted not heading it. There are distance markers on the poles that line the trail but it seemed to take an eternity to get from one to the other.
Lis and Whippet were doing their best to keep me entertained, as we trudged our way uphill. Lis was constantly in crew mode reminding me to eat and keep the fluids up. We were a good 3-4km up the climb and I was surprised we hadn’t seen Team Dog yet, Dog must have been struggling here too, I thought. Then just as we approached Seaman’s Hut they came into view on their descent. Bernie and Sarge in front with a waddling Dog leaning to one side just behind them and looking in bad shape. We stopped briefly to share the moment and congratulate each other. A fitting touch for such a significant moment. As I shook Dog’s hand I couldn’t believe how swollen his hands and fingers were, then I looked at mine and noticed they were just as bad. We bid them farewell and pushed on past Seaman’s Hut. I remembered reading the race reports from the last couple of C2K runs describing this building as the highest in Australia and wondered how I would feel arriving there with only 3km to the top of Kosi. Would I be elated to be near the finish line or in pain like almost everyone else who’d taken on this challenge? Well here I was and yep I was in pain and all I could think about was just getting to the top and back down to the finish.
The final few hundred metres wind around in a full circle at the top on duckboard mats. I figured this change in trail would offer some relief for my feet but quite the opposite happened with the mat protrusions hurting as bad as the rock-strewn trail. Then Andrew’s phone rings and it’s Sean Greenhill on the other end checking on our progress. I spoke to him briefly and then realised he did the exact same thing near the finish of the Great North Walk 100 miler, calling me at the top of the drop to Patonga Beach. Uncanny timing!
Finally we could see the Strzelecki monument signalling the highest point on mainland Australia. We stopped of course for a few pictures and took a moment to try and let it all sink in. I was shattered though and as relieved and happy as I was at finally reaching the top, I knew I still had another 9km to go. How cruel this was, I just wanted to finish here, it was the Coast to Kosciusko after all, and well here I was at the top, why bother with another 9km? I now know why, because if that was indeed the finish line, I’m sure I would just have shut down there and then and never made it off the summit. The final 9km back to Charlotte Pass is most definitely required.
It was a strange feeling and not unlike Sean Greenhill’s experience when he summited back in 2004, where the opportunity to totally relish this experience was beat out of him, I felt the same. A few more happy snaps and we began our descent. The sun was burning us now and I regretted not applying more sunscreen to the backs of my legs. We had 1hr45minutes to get to the bottom for a sub 36hr finish and I was determined to reach that goal. I told my crew to get me there somehow. I managed to pick up the pace a little; with the Garmin telling me I was doing 12-minute kms. Lis and Whippet kept encouraging me while they both battled with the sun too. I had imagined a cold and blustery time up here from previous race reports but here we were in 35C plus. It was quite amusing watching the look of shock on the faces of some of the day-trippers as they made their way to the top. Looking at the state I was in they must have figured it was one hell of a climb.
With about 3km to go I knew I had sub 36hr in the bag. Tim appeared on the trail coming out to see us in. He hobbled back down to the pass to ready the camera for a finish line photo. We crossed the line bang on 5.20pm on the Saturday afternoon, 35hrs and 50 minutes after leaving Boydtown Beach.
We sat down for a few minutes in the shade of a tree. Wow, it was done, what a trip. All the pain of the last few hours subsided as I sat there in sublime contentment. The Australian Triple Crown was now complete. I swore there and then I would not be so silly and attempt this run again but of course that was rash thinking.
We piled into the car and set off for Jindabyne to pick up the mothership. Tim “Brock” Turner decided he’d had enough of this hanging around and decided to floor it down the road back to Jindabyne. We figured we’d start to see some of the other runners coming up the road and sure enough it wasn’t long before we saw Ian Twite. He looked absolutely finished, was staggering and looked very dehydrated indeed. We asked him if he needed anything to which he replied no, he’d be right, a very gutsy effort from him.
Next was Brendan making his way to Charlotte Pass, we pulled over to wish him well. He looked cooked in the sun (as we all were) but was travelling well enough. He mentioned he had lost his crew (Pip) and was waiting for Lawrence to catch up so they could walk it in together. We pulled away and figured we’d see Carol but as it turned out she was ahead of these two and in third spot and we’d missed her. She was having a fantastic run making up a few places (she would ultimately finish in 3rd place) showing her ultra pedigree.
Just after we bid Brendan farewell and continued on I had a post exercise hypotension episode, in other words I felt like shit, and Tim’s driving wasn’t helping any. I asked him to pull over; I needed to get out as I was feeling quite nauseous. Andrew hopped out and lay me on a towel and proceeded to lift my legs in the air in order to get the blood back into my head. Almost immediately I felt better. Lis put a cold wet cloth on my forehead to cool me down and then we looked over at Tim who was rummaging through the boot. We figured he was getting something to join the first aid carnival that was happening, he then produced a biscuit from the boot and with a bemused look on his face commented, “ what, I was hungry?” Andrew and Lis cracked up. At the time I couldn’t see the funny side, but looking back, this was a classic Tim moment.
We stayed there for a while, and then piled back into the car and continued down the road to Jindabyne. Lawrence appeared, Mr Fatass himself. He was carrying a pack having ran crewless and looked in better shape than anyone else thus far! Apart from a swollen ankle, he was upbeat and looking forward to finally finishing on his third attempt. Awesome to think he would do it without a crew!! There were no more runners behind him; Jan had pulled earlier at Cathcart.
After picking up the mothership we checked into our hotel room where I went straight into the shower to wash two days worth of grime off. It felt good to get under the water and I followed this up with a sleep for an hour or two.
The following morning we enjoyed a buffet breakfast and shared war stories. It was great to see the rest of the runners and crew once more, and with Paul saying a few words about everyone’s performance, a fitting way to end an incredible weekend. Brendan and Lawrence would enjoy a third sunrise on their way to their finish while Ian made it to the top but needed a little help getting back off the summit. Carol had a blinding back half to finish third and was smiling from ear to ear all morning. The crews looked as exhausted as the runners and deserve a special mention, without them it just wouldn’t happen. I cannot thank Lis and Whippet enough, without whom I would not have finished, let alone started this run.
6 weeks later now and I am still glowing with satisfaction having finished C2K and the Triple Crown. I learned a lot that weekend. Walking the last 50km was not much fun and with a better blister management program next time, I look forward to knocking hours off my finish time.