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A Tale Of How The Faithful Crew Left The Sidelines And Joined The Fray
by: Phil Brown
We were somewhere around the second green when the bats began lying over. Not the wimpy little bug eaters that you normally associate with belfries! No these were the real things...big wheeling suckers with 5 foot wingspans! The appearance of these antipodal visions of Count Alucard could mean only one thing, we were back at South Molle Island recovering from another go at the Glasshouse Mountains trail runs! Quaffing another glass of Aussie champs, I lay back on the grass to watch this dusky fly-by, casting my mind back a week....
AN UGLY INCIDENT AT THE LORD NELSON BREWERY HOTEL or KISS ME HARDY, MY PLANTAR FASCIA IS DONE FOR.
"Oh shit! You haven't seen my orthothics have you?" I was in incipient panic as I ransacked our duffel of athletic gear that lay like a dissembled whale on the floor of our room in the Lord Nelson Hotel in the Miller's Point neighborhood of Sydney.
"Didn't you pack them before we left?" asked Carol. How'd she expect me to remember after a 14 hour flight, the loss of day, and several pints of the Lord Nelson's finest? Another search through the wreckage on the floor confirmed the awful truth: my custom fitted orthothics, my closest running companions, my veritable solemates for the last 10 years of my rather spotty running career, were in repose in a pair of fourth string shoes in corner of the bedroom back home in Berkeley!
The situation looked uncomfortable, perhaps dire, but not insoluble. I'll simply call Liz, our cat sitter, have her pull my orthothics and Fed-Ex them to Bill Thompson's home in Glasshouse. Even with the dateline and distance, I should be reunited with my little pals before the race.
The call was made, Bill was alerted, and Carol and I repaired to the bar to toss a few more pints and to catch up on the latest OZ ultra news with Sydney runner and Glasshouse veteran (although still a virgin) the ever-enthusiastic Sean Greenhill.
BAD NEWS AT DIMBOOLAH AND MY NEW FRIEND SOL.
After a thankfully uneventful flight aboard the Virgin Matilda, Carol and I were back where we belong in Queensland, ensconced in our home away from home, the Glasshouse Mountains Motel. The whole area has special meaning for us; along with the lovely scenery, and the friends we've made over the years, it was where we were married a year ago. We were back again to do the runs, Carol the 100 miler and for me, the 50 miler, and to celebrate our first anniversary with our Aussie mates.
The news from the Thompsons at Dimboolah farms (the world's best custard apples) was not encouraging: no orthothics! With only two days until the race I had to admit to a bit of concern. Quickly we found a louche little internet cafe and began to burn up the bandwidth in a somewhat desperate effort to find out what happened to my little plastic podiatric pals.
The answer rent my heart! They hadn't been sent! The cat sitter, appalled by the shipping charges, had decided not to send them!!
Crikey! I was stuffed! Was almost a year's worth of semi-dedicated training to go down the drain just because of a foot appliance?? No, a thousand times, No!
Extreme times call for extreme measures. In a nonce Carol and I were in the car and heading up the highway to Beerwah (home of TV's Crocodile Hunter) to visit Sol the Chemist who was rumored to have stock foam orthothics /insoles on his shelves. The rumors were true... Sol had a single pair of foam work shoe insoles...made for boots, thick, and with a prominent "cookie" in the arch. These monsters of the midsole would have to do the job!
In short order the deal went down, the insoles were mine, and I was back at the motel fumbling for my Swiss Army knife. I soon modified these off-shelf insoles into something that might be serviceable. Aesthetics be damned, they felt slightly comfortable, and I would tow the line on the morrow!
THE BERKELEY BATTLER MEETS HIS MATCH!
Carol and I arrived in plenty of time for her 5:00 am start. It's a lovely time of day; still cool, the sun streaks the eastern sky and a cacophony of sounds fill the air as song birds attempt to outdo each other for the loudest, most complex, and the most melodious songs. It's truly a magic time.
I'll spare you exhaustive details of my run except to say that things went swimmingly for the first12 miles until I came to the first "goat track" section of trail. It was a sight that only the legendary Roger de Coster could love: grooves, ruts, and jumps carved by mechanical goats powered by Suzuki and Husquavarna. Shortly thereafter I was feeling like I was driving a car with four different sized wheels, the joints and alignment were getting a bit rocky. No excuses, however, I started this run so it was up to me to finish. It was into increasingly low and slow gear to the end.
Impressions that day: coming across two rather large goannas mating in the trail, watching the stars come out as my flashlight faded during the last 12k of the races, scanning the night sky for the Southern Cross (which is barely above the southern horizon even in tropical Queensland), and my elation at seeing the finishing chute.
THE PRODIGAL CREW RETURNS or AID IN EXTREMIS
After a long hot shower, I found that I was surprisingly unrefreshed and not particularly tired. A couple of hours of futile attempts to get comfortable and get to sleep convinced me to return to the course to assume my traditional role of crewing for Carol.
I was able to meet her at several aid stations to lend moral support and to let her know how the other runners were doing. As dawn moved into day, she finally crossed the finish line in a truly gutsy performance!
We were done!
Our traditional post race R&R on South Molle Island on the Great Barrier Reef was only a few days away. Soon we'd be basking in tropical sun, snorkeling over coral reefs, and best of all, enjoying our sunset cocktail hour on the golf course, watching bats darken the evening sky and, in peaceful reverie, retracing the trails of the Glasshouse Mountains.
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