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Sept 2001 - Glasshouse 100mile Trail Report

Sept 2001 - Glasshouse 100mile Trail Report

by Kevin Tiller

Click photos to enlarge


"It's better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all"

For all 100 mile DNFers, we could add that the experience of running a 100 mile trail run is approximately the same.

This was my first "real" 100 mile trail run attempt, but have completed 109 miles/176km in one hit before and done a bunch of other long ones. A year spent training, now behind me, and I can honestly say that I have learnt a lot about me, and my body. Like a teenager growing up, I can now detect signs of maturity showing thru the boyish gung-ho testosterone that wins thru like pimples on a face.

I flew up to Brisbane, from my Sydney HQ on Friday, and got a lift up to the glasshouse region in the afternoon. It was warm, too warm for my jeans and long-sleve shirt. Still, I like to travel light, and there's no lighter than the clothes you stand up in. I had an hour or so's sleep to try to shake off the ravages of a 5-day work week, crammed into 4. Got a lift up to the Cobb & Co bush hut for the race briefing, weigh-in, dinner, meet & greet on Friday evening. Lots of standing around and catching up with my training mates from the Fat Ass events, QLD-based runners from years gone by, and the odd (very) Victorian runner.

Back to the motel, and in bed at the un-Tiller hour of 20:30. Up at 3:50am to pack my drop bag, just the one, for the checkpoint 5 that would be re-visited 5 or 6 times in total, and off to the start with the Greenhills who were luckily staying 2 doors down.

We started at approx 5:10am, just after sun up. Well before 6am, the weather was hot and humid. OK, by QLD standards it could have been hotter (and would be before the day was done) but quite hot enough to run 100 miles thank you very much. I ran with the Robards, ex-Sydney and now living at Tweed Heads. Kerrie Hall was around there too. I was happy to plod along at a comfy pace, somewhere mid-pack. It would be a long day and I wasn't too worried exactly where, as long as I was on course and moving forward.

Every hour (I set my watch to beep that often) I took some salt tabs (Karl's Kaps). This is normally waaay too regimented for an old school anarchist, but as I said before, I'm growing up, and a bit of order here and there would pay dividends later. I find the Kaps settle me, so that I can still face the thought of food & drink later in the day, especially in the heat - and its always hot here in Australia, god's own sunburnt country. I also made sure that I drank truck-loads of water, courtesy of the camelbak HAWG. Everyone laughed at the size of the camelbak, but it didn't really weigh anything. At every aid station I ate sandwiches and stuff like that.

We climbed up the excessively steep Mt Beerburrum. It was hot work and the sweat was streaming off. But the views were great and I could feel the sydney-uptightness just seeping out of me. I was slipping into "ultra-mode" knowing I'd be out all day and night. Not a care in the world.

I plodded along mid-pack, and hit the goat track with Kerrie Hall. I'm not a good talker, which I think disappointed her, but we went ahead and behind each other, working as a twosome, along the tough section of the course, the "goat-track". Almost half-pipes of steep up and down, roller coaster fashion. Heavily rutted. I went well here, and pulled away from the more-cautious Kerrie, only to have her pull me back a short way along.

On the way out to checkpoint 7, she finally pulled away just a bit too far, and I felt myself slide into a now-familiar trough of despair where I ground to an almost-halt. I felt tired after only 4 or 5 hours into the run. Arriving, eventually, at checkpoint 7, I stopped and tried to quit - having decided that I wouldn't improve and just could not see myself lasting all night, especially as I felt like sleeping now, and it was only 10am or so. I always run ok during the day and totally die at night, so this was a strange sensation. The aid crew were wise to runners, and said I should just get out and do the 4.5km loop and see how I felt. I was shortly overtaken, by Bill the custard-apple farmer, walking, and then Phillipa Bolt, making me the back marker. I eventually completed the loop, walking the entire way, 4.5km in approx 50 mins, and still felt like sleeping. You know really just stopping and lying down on the ground. The high 20C temps were just perfect for it !

The aid station were no less sympatcheitc when I told them I was quitting. "Can I get a lift back ?". "we can call checkpoint 5 and they'll eventually send someone, you might be here a while." "shit". I stood at the table grazing the sandwiches and food and drink. "maybe I'll walk to 5 then and stop there". "yeah, good idea". And so I started walking back to checkpoint 6. After a while I trotted a bit. Didn't see ANYONE. Made it back to CP6. They had some really neat views across the hills - definitely a good looker of a position. Had more food and drink. Unfortunately I could see the next section went, down down down, then up up up. I took off. I ran everything except for the big hills, and felt I was gaining on the rest of the field for sure, so scanned the horizon every corner. Eventually I could see CP5 across the fields and then finally glimpsed Phillipa ahead of me. I spurred myself on, but didn't quite catch her. CP5 was approx 65km into the run.

I stopped only briefly at the checkpoint, fed and watered, and picked up my walkman. I needed some inspiration - and something LOUD and FAST. I took off like a loony, The Clash and Radiohead playing so that I couldn't hear ANYTHING else, my sheik hat on, so tha I could barely see anything. Brain fried by the sun. What was I ? The deaf, dumb and blind kid. Anyway within a couple of minutes I glanced past Sean who was just coimpleting the loop I was heading out on, and overtook Phillipa, then caught up with Kerrie, and attempted to go straight past, but I was taking it easy on the hills - run when I could, walk when I couldn't. Again she took it easy on the rough and downhill sections, and caught me on the ups which I was taking easy. I was hping to catch Bill, but he must have gone fast. We arrived back at CP5, and I started the long leg back to the base camp turnaround. I'd heard Jonathan was doing well and he flashed past me, presumably at the 110km mark. bastard.

I finally pulled away from Kerrie, as the trail was better for running and I took off at a comfortable plod, wheras she was walking more. I still had LOUD music on - must remember that it does wonders for your pace. I pulled up at CP1, 4.5km before the base area and it was getting dark now - although I decided I'd only put the torch on when I re-started out for the 2nd leg. I was still making good progress, and passed Carol La Plant heading out for her 2nd lap, with Kev Cassidy as minder, then Sean, and then finally I caught Bill and passed him. I got to half way (well, just over 85km) in 13 hrs 30 mins or so. I still felt well, and quickly ate somoe more sandwiches, had some coke, out my light on and left quickly. Bill had arrived and was opening a bottle of champagne (!?), and I soon passed Kerrie who was pulling into the turnaound aid station.

I made it back to CP1, and had some soup, which I knew they'd have and I knew that it did wonders to my system. I asked how far ahead Sean was, the next in front, and they said it was just over an hour. bugger. I took off anyway, not fast but at a fair pace. Unfortunately in the dark, I found the markings not so easy as during the day and thought I'd gone wrong, backtracked and bumped into Kerrie and Geoff Williams, who aid we were on the right path. Obviosuly she hadn't stopped for long, and they were making good progress, so I tried to stick with them. We eventually went back into the bush plantation area but I couldn't hold the pace. In fact my feet were feeling sore. I stopped and sat down in the middle of the path, carefully took my socks and shoes off, rubbed of any sand or stones, shook my shoes out, and my socks, turned them inside out. Put them back on and shuffled off. They felt a lot better. Not really blisters, just "sore". I pulled into CP3 and had some more soup, even more fabulous this time, then took off alone, as by now Kerrie was way ahead. I started to listen out for Bill as surely he'd be gaining now. My felt continued to get sore, and eventually I decided to loosen the laces such that the shoes were nearly falling off. It felt a lot better, for a while at least. The pain soon returned and my pace dropped off by heaps.

Bill eventually came past, without a torch light, so I couldn't see him. I taken the sheik's hat off, so I could see better (it had long been dark anyhow) but I still had music blaring out. It was a bit sneaky of Bill. Anyway he took off. I eventually rolled into CP4 which seemed to take a long time coming. I knew that Kerrie's son was working here. "Kerries doing well !", "nah she just pulled out with sore feet". bummer. told them my feet were sore and that Id take it easy back to CP5 and get them fixed up by the medics.

I'd gone about 200 metres up the track and realised that my feet were pretty stuffed and I could hardly even walk let alone run. Really painful.I knew there were some blisters there too. On top of that it was now past 11pm, and I was only in my Tshirt, all the rest of the gear was in the drop bag at CP5 (where I was headed) as it was hours ago since I last passed thru there. I started to get cold and stiffen up a bit. The long straights on the firtrail were becoming montonous, and each corner brought yet another vista of bush with a single path stretching off to the next horizon. Eventually I climbed over the gate onto the goat track section, which caused immeasurable more pain to my feet. The extra roughness of this track was sooo hard. I wanted to stop and lie down, but I knew I'd get cold, fall asleep and probably never wake up, but even if I did I'd still be so far from the ruddy aid station. I continued, but it was hard.

Finally, I saw some lights up on the horizon. weird. Pretty soon I was on the dirt road near to CP5 and Kerries' husband was driving around looking for me. It had taken me 2 hours to walk 6km. I walked into CP5, in pretty good spirits, which was surprising, but then I hadn't ben going fast enough to feel bad. It was 1am. I saw sean, and then I quit. Then he quit for approx the same reason. There was just no way that my feet could be fixed up to make them good enough to complete another 50km. It took me 13:30 to go 85km, then it took me 6:30 to go 25km.

"I've given all I can, but its not enough"

I think the big lesson that I've learnt is that after being out running for 20hours, I don't think it really matter whether you actually finish or not. I've been out for a 20 hour run and it's the most exhilarating up and down roller coaster ride you could imagine. Those thoughts and experiences will stay with me forever. DO ireally think that someone who completed the course wil have experienced any more ? a little but at the end of the day, the experiences will be approx the same.

Kevin Tiller
co-owner CoolRunning Australia
Sydney, Australia

email: info@coolrunning.com.au, personal webpage http://www.coolrunning.com.au/kevintiller


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