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Hervey Bay Hike (50km)
A CoolWalker Writes ...14 June 1998
On Sunday, 14 June 1998, the Queensland Ultra Runners Club and the Fraser Coast Runners and Walkers Club held the inaugural Hervey Bay Hike. Distances offered were 15, 30 and 50 kms.
I walked the 50 km course which started at the Seafront Oval at Pialba, went 7.5 kms out past the Urangan pier, back again to the start, 5 kms out to Pt Vernon, back again to the start and then this was repeated.
We started at 5.30 a.m. Although officially it's winter in Australia, the weather was not overly cold - rather cool and brisk to start with. The course was a flat brick paved walkway along the waterfront Esplanade with plenty of taps along the way for those who prefer not to carry water bottles.
One male and three female walkers started in the 50 km distance which was a pleasing turnout for the event. Four males and one female ran the 50 km distance. Many more runners and walkers participated in the 15 and 30 km distances.
Although still dark when we started, the pathway was quite well lit. Don Worgner and Judy Moller took the lead, followed by Kerrie Hall and then me. We all set off at a fairly brisk pace while the weather was still cool. I do most of my walking early in the morning so walking in the dark was not a new experience. As the sun slowly rose I caught glimpses of the ocean through the trees. As I reached the Urangan Pier I had my first full view of the water as the sun was slowly rising. The water was like glass - there wasn't a breath of breeze. It was a truly spectacular site.
Towards the end of the first 7.5 km I passed Don, Judy and Kerrie (on their return to the start) and was subsequently passed by the runners who had started at 6 a.m.
When I reached the 7.5 km aid station, I was already feeling exhausted. Obviously this wasn't a good sign as I still had a long way to walk. I found the easiest way to manage the full 50 km was to break it down into shorter distances of 7.5 km, 7.5 km (back to the start), 5 km, 5 km (back to the start) and then repeat it.
Basically, I prefer an out and back course where you don't have to repeat a lap. There's nothing worse knowing once I have completed a lap of a course that I then have to turn around and do it again!
Once leaving the water stop, it was back on the same course to the start and back out 5 km to Pt Vernon. One benefit of returning to the starting point is I only needed to have one drop bag with all my sports drink, PowerGel, etc. There was a lot less shade on the 5 km section of the course, however, it was still early morning so was quite bearable. The last 200 metres was on the side of the road before reaching the water station and the turnaround. After a quick drink and some lollies, I returned back to the start and the halfway point which I finished in 3:16. The others were still in front of me and going well. I refilled my water bottle with sports drink and grabbed a PowerGel.
The thought of repeating all that was enough to make me cry as my legs were aching and I didn't seem to be able to "settle in" to the walk as well as I have in previous ultras. Off I went on the 7.5 km stretch back to the Urangan Pier. By now, there was plenty of activity on the waterfront - many people walking and cycling and all the 15 and 30 km runners and walkers in the last phases of their races. I don't know how many times I said "Good Morning" to people but after a while I simply nodded as it was wearing me out!
As I neared the turnaround, Don flew past me followed a few minutes later by Judy and then Kerrie. I stopped at the water station took a couple of drinks and some more lollies and headed back to the start. I managed to glimpse Kerrie a few times although never caught up to her. My mind was boosted by the fact that this was the second lap and once I reached the start point it was only another two 5 km laps (that's better than saying another 10 km) to go.
As I reached the start (40 completed), Angie Cotteril, the only female runner had just finished. I refilled my water bottle again, grabbed another PowerGel and was off. By now, the weather was quite warm and I was really struggling. My knees and ankles was aching so much and I can only put it down to the fact I was walking on the brick paved walkway which was a surface I was not used to.
About halfway to the turnaround Don passed me for the last time. He was still going strong. A few minutes later Judy went through as well. As I neared the turnaround Kerrie was just leaving. I had a quick drink and a few words to the volunteer and then set off for the FINAL 5 km. Five kilometres certainly isn't a long way to walk but on this occasion, it seemed to take forever. I was tired, hot, aching and simply longing to finish. A few metres short of the finish Brian Evans passed in his car to make sure I was still okay.
I finished the event in 6:58:12. Don Worgner was the first male in a time slightly under 6 hours. The first female was Judy Moller in just over 6 hours, followed by Kerrie Hall who finished a few minutes before me.
Needless to say, the majority of the 15 and 30 km competitors had long gone and once the presentations were over the rest of us dispersed.
I collected my son Richard who had been fishing while I completed the walk. He wasn't too impressed at being taken away from his fishing, but I mean to say - isn't about 7 hours fishing enough for a ten year old boy!!
The inaugural Hervey Bay Hike was a great success and hopefully will return next year with a larger number of runners and walkers. Brian and his helpers did a marvellous job cheering and supporting all the participants and keeping them well hydrated.
Alas the next day didn't start out too well for Richard and I. We left Hervey Bay at 7.45 a.m. and upon reaching the Brisbane area around 11 a.m., we were involved in a car accident.
Briefly, after losing control, my vehicle left the road at 100 kph (no I wasn't speeding!), went down an embankment, through a small chain wire fence, ploughed through some grass and reeds, overturned and was partly submerged in swampy waters. Our seat belts saved our lives - they held us so securely. We managed to undo them, push the driver side door up and open, climb out over the bottom of the car, through the water, up the embankment, over the fence and onto the side of the road where some witnesses had pulled up.
The doctors at the Royal Brisbane Hospital claim it's a miracle we were unhurt and climbed out unassisted. My son, who is only 10 years old was so brave and I am extremely proud of him.
This is certainly one ultra event I'll never forget!!
by Melanie Jonker (MJJonker@qdlgp.qld.gov.au)