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My "Prom 100" Cut Short
Article by: John LindsayReproduced with permission of the author
Just under 4 hours into the inaugural Prom 100 km run in the Wilson's Promontory National Park, I sprained my ankle while negotiating a very rocky section. The irony is that I had run a lot of this rocky trail without incident, and had slowed to a walk at this particular point to squeeze between two rocks. My left foot jammed between the rocks, I heard a cracking sound which I'm sure came from my foot, and I went down with a yell and some colourful vocabulary, in intense pain.
I've turned ankles on many occasions before, and after some initial tenderness, it seems to settle down enough to continue. In fact, about 1 km into 90 km Comrades two years ago, this happened and I thought at the time that I'd never be able to continue, but it settled down after 10 minutes and I finished the run.
Sean and I had been running together for a couple of hours at this point. He'd leave me for dead on the up hills, and I'd catch him on the downhills where I do better relatively speaking. Sean was about 20 metres ahead of me when I sprained my ankle, however the sea crashing against the rocks below drowned out my voice.
I got up and limping badly, started walking again. After about 5-10 minutes, the pain had subsided and I thought all would be OK. I caught Sean on another down hill, and we filled our bottles at the Waterloo Bay camp ground, and then continued on towards Telegraph Track. By this time, my ankle had started to play up, and it was getting progressively worse. Every time I placed my foot on the ground at other than a left hand camber, the pain was fairly intense. I was slowing down. I told Sean I would have to make a decision about whether to continue on for the 100 km, or maybe change my plan and do the 43 km option instead. He took off and over the next 5 or so km he put a 14 minute gap on me, according to his time marked on the chart at the Telegraph Track check point.
Just before the check point, Kevin Cassidy passed me. Kevin, a much better runner than me, was hampered by bruised ribs from a fall at home on Friday, causing pain every time he breathed, hence the fact that he was behind me. Kevin asked me if I had any vaseline, as he had omitted to properly lubricate a rather sensitive part of his anatomy. He was concerned that hikers may walk around the corner and spring him as he applied some lubricant to the point of irritation, but in true Ultra fashion, he did what had to be done. Kevin then went on, and I was last.
A few minutes later I reached the Telegraph Track check point to discover that my name had already been marked off a couple of minutes earlier. Kevin's name had not been marked off, so I assumed that for some reason, he must have put his time against my name in error, a fact that was to cause some concern later in the evening (maybe his mind was still on the his Vaseline adventure). I considered marking my time against his name, however I didn't think it was proper to do that, so I left it blank. Kevin had also told me that he was weighing up the pros and cons of shortening his run due to his rib pain, so I spoke with some walkers who told me he had continued on towards the light house.
Telegraph Track was make or break time for me. I could (a) continue with my plan and do the 100 km course, or at least the 78 km section back to Tidal River camp ground where our cars were parked, or (b) I could change plans and complete the shorter "marathon" option of 43 km. Option (b) meant a further 10.4 kms, whereas option (a) meant 52.6 kms to get back to the car. The pain in my ankle was worsening, and although there was no sign of bruising and only minimum swelling, I was concerned that I might do some long term damage which would keep me out of running for a prolonged period. I was also concerned that if I continued with the longer option, I might find it worsened to the point that I could not continue, and this would require some sort of rescue operation. With no mobile phone coverage over most of the area, this may involve quite a lot of people, which would not be good for the relationship Paul had developed with the Park Rangers, and may jeopardise future running of the event.
Although energy-wise I was feeling fine, I felt the correct thing to do was to switch to the shorter Marathon option, which I completed in 7.48, a very long time for a marathon distance. Part of this time no doubt was caused by the ankle injury, but having done part of the Prom trail once before on my own, I am more convinced than ever that this is a deceptively difficult course. It will be interesting to hear other opinions on this.
The final 10 kms back to Tidal River were relatively uneventful. The weather at this time was perfect and there were many holiday makers out on the Oberon Beach and the trail leading to it. At the end of Oberon Beach is a fast flowing creek about calf deep which you have to cross, and I was amused watching the mostly young people trying to decide how to cross it. Most wore designer clothes, and as they carefully took off their designer shoes and dipped their feet in the cold water, they had an expression of disbelief as I launched myself into the water shoes and all, carrying my back pack with water bottles fastened all over it.
It felt great to get back to my cabin, have a shower, a short 15 minute kip, then drive back home to Melbourne where my wife Olga was recovering from a bout of the flu. But there was also a sadness, knowing that I was comfortable in front of the TV while fellow runners were still out on the course with many hours of effort and fatigue ahead of them. Incidentally, the 60 Minutes story I was watching was not-so-comfortable, with the message that the world's glaciers are rapidly receding due to global warming, to the point that the famous vertical glaciers at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, on present trends, will have disappeared in 20 years. That's a disaster!
When I changed my plans, I was in mobile range and I had left a message on Paul Ashton's voice mail telling him what I was doing. He called me around 7.30 pm asking if I knew what had happened to Kevin Cassidy, so I told him what I knew. It turns out that Kevin and Sean had teamed up, but ran into some difficulty in locating the on the beach track in the dark. Sean, who tells a story better than anyone else I know, will no doubt tell us all about it.
A big thanks to Paul Ashton for a well conceived and planned event. This
run deserves a spot on the Ultra calendar for the future, and hopefully
we'll also see it with it's own Cool Running web page along with other
classics like Six Foot, etc.
John has also written the following articles that are published on CoolRunning Australia :
Feel free to E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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