Thursday, 22 December 2005

Glasshouse 100 mile Trail Run Race Report 10 Sept 2005

Crossing Over to the Dark Side of Running

Glasshouse 100 mile Trail Run Race Report

10th & 11th September 2005

Absolutely Stoked! My finishing time was 26hrs 25min, Wow!

Longer Version
If you wanted to write a ‘how not prepare for an ultra’ report you would talk about a few of these things:

Do the 100km Trailwalker two weeks before the GH event
don’t do either of the preparation events held on the course in May & July
fly in from Melbourne the night before just in time to get to the race briefing
And use a pair of shoes that have been causing achilles problems since they were purchased.

I had a good race and finished with both my objectives intact:

· To complete the event in less than 30hrs
· run for a 28hr finish if the chance arose

Arriving at the Friday night dinner with my “bulletproof” t-shirt which was worn to tempt fate I was really shit scared. It was one of those events where you look at people like Paul Every and say to yourself, ok that’s what an ultramarathoner looks like. Here I was with a bunch of friends, few of whom I had ever met.

The briefing was confusing (my fault for having never looked at a map) and the, frequent, jokes about anyone south Coolangatta made it clear that we were in Queensland and we were going to laugh at Queenslanders jokes or we were to leave Queensland. J.

I made it back to the Glasshouse village and ran into Darlo who wanted me to check to see if he had woken the next morning. I was in bed by 11:30pm after faffing around for too long with my drop bags.

From a pacing perspective I decided that I would try not to stop at every checkpoint. Instead I’d run for about 2hrs each time before stopping. Figuring it out this way allowed me to determine where each bag should go to and how many times I would be visiting it. Within each drop bag I had placed the following food for one visit:

A small bag of glucose jelly beans
A small tin of Spaghetti
A small tin of creamed rice
A powerbar
A sack of homemade Goo (Basically maltodextrin and electrolyte)

I would take the Goo, the Powerbar and the jellybeans on the trail and I’d eat one of the tins at the check point depending on which one I preferred.

On the morning of the event the Glassman sent us on our way at 5:30. The first few kilometres felt like the final stage of the Tour de France, everyone was jovial and joking. I was easily able to keep up with the gun runners like Paul, Kelvin and David Waugh. I was wearing a cheapo polar HR monitor that told me my HR was 137. How could I be posting such a high HR at this slow (7min/km) pace.

We passed over Hamburger Hill and I noted that it seemed easy, (he says with a HR of 156), from that comment I received a tsunami of “YOU WAIT UNTIL 28hrs INTO THE RACE” “IT WON”T BE EASY THEN”. Ok, I’m a newbie; I’ll keep my big trap shut.

We got to Mt Beerburrum. Mr G and others literally walked away from me. By now my HR was 177 and my body was behaving like a lactate factory. (Hope that’s the correct spelling, I’m not a feeding mum). I was scared, 8 km into the race and I was suffering. It was about 7:20am and the sun was already heating the side of the hill. As we ascended we got a great view of the Glasshouse area and a hot air balloon that had decided to tour the area in style. We also got a view of the first of many squashed cane toads for the day.

On the way down Beerburrum Hill I heard a pounding like Shrek chasing his Princess Fiona into a dormitory. It was Whippet Man descending like a man possessed, absolutely flying. I don’t think he heard me ask “got a light pal?”

Chugged along at a fair clip, most of the field had now passed me. Obviously I had got this 100 mile ultra thing totally wrong. I didn’t realise we were supposed to run it like a Sydney Striders 10km series race. By this stage I was running with a few of the 100km runners who had started half an hour after us. Tank Girl came past me with Boonarga in hot pursuit, had a chuckle and said to myself “he never runs like that normally”. Went through CP3 and noticed that the CP8 bags were there so I grabbed a tin of spaghetti and shovelled it in. We had been going for 2hrs now and I needed to refill my Camelbak Lobo with my special mix of 150ml of Cottees cordial to 2 litres of water.

I jogged and walked and jogged some more, hmm, bored. What’s that noise? Oh Boonarga and Tankie are having a burping contest, lovely. Time for the MP3 player. Listened to AC/DC circa 1974 first. “Dirty Deeds, done dirt cheap” perfect. By know we are 18km in and I passed Louis who looked to be struggling a bit. A friendly wave from Louis and I continued on my way.

18km in. I have now got a headache, no hat and no sunnies. (same thing happened at the Canberra Marathon where it was very hot, and Comrades where I dropped my hat in the first 10km) The fluids are going in (and coming out) and the food and gel thing seems to be working well. Simon Thompson picks me up and we run for a while, I let him go, then I catch him, then I run with Tank and Boon and participate in the fun times for a while, Simon and I yo-yo for a while before he runs off into the sun.

I arrived at CP5 absolutely flying and in fact did a glider impression as I approached the CP. I decided to stop hanging around at the CPs and literally refilled the Camelbak and went through with Steve Appleby and Repete and another Peter in the 100km. At this point (about 10am, 4.5hrs into the race) I grabbed a tuna sandwich bid Boonarga farewell and shoved myself back out on the course. (I wouldn’t see him again until 3am that night)

By this stage I was with Repete and Peter. I was feeling good, except for the headache, which I assumed was just the sun. We went through a hard bit of track and caught some others. And started to feel stronger than I had all day. The HR was still not behaving itself and posting 155 – 160 on the flat. ie. way too high.

Repete and I stuck together for a long way. I realised that, with 36km in, I was 1hr 20min in front of my 28hr schedule. Got to the notorious goat track section between CP6 and CP8 and decided to let Steve run ahead and I’d take all of the 1hr 41min that I had allocated for this section to complete it. By now it was midday and it was very hot. The tummy was sloshing food and fluids. “ok the liquids are not going in” so I stopped eating and taking sugar and focussed on getting water into me.

The goat track section was terrible, it was very hard, real ankle breaking terrain and bloody hot. Repete and I regrouped at the end of it and we walked it into CP8 (45km) while we were talking to my ‘emergency contact’ Plu on the mobile. I got a report the other 100 milers and concluded that more than half the field were on a pace that would result in a sub 24hr finish. I could feel it then there was going to be toast on the menu. ie. It’s not possible that half the field would make sub 24hrs, this race is too hard for a result like that. I hoped that I would be proven wrong.

After CP8 my body started to take in fluids again, I also started to eat and digest, “ata boy” I thought. CP8 was very inviting. Lots happening, drama, distressed & hot runners, Undercover Brother was there taking pics as well as plenty of supporters, great fun. I broke my promise to myself that I wouldn’t sit down until after 100km and dressed a couple of blisters then I decided to weigh myself, 95kg, same weight as I was at the beginning, that’s fantastic.

I embarked on the (8a) western loop, which is 10.8km long. The terrain was nice and shady and relatively flat. Apparently there was a train that used to travel through there. At about the 5km mark I decided that I would start pushing harder, I had now completed 50km. Towards the end of the first loop (called 8a) I caught Adam who was suffering. I didn’t realise it but he was 8km in front of me having already almost completed both loops. He was cramping so I gave him a few salt tablets and walked it up to the party checkpoint (8) with him.

A few runners were in CP8. All seemed to be suffering a bit, It was still hot and some were getting tired. I blasted through CP8 in less than 5 min and went out for the second (8km?) loop. Apparently G.T. was 28 mins in front of me. I decided to see if I could catch him. I didn’t. Coming back to CP8 for the third time I came across Kerrie Hall who had scraped up knees, I enquired as to her health. She seemed to be in good spirits and we waved each other away. The CP8 team commented that I had just posted a good time for that 2nd loop. I thanked them and pulled out of CP8 at 2:15pm. Captain’s log: 64km down, less than 100km to go.

By now my legs were starting to get sore, but I thought I was moving quickly relative to the rest of the field. Thankfully it was cooling down a bit and my heart rate was starting to behave again. The headache was still there and most importantly it wasn’t getting worse. Flat running (128bpm, hooray!). I ran hard to catch G.T. (and saw a scary big goanna) and got in to CP7 with G.T.

CP7 was another great festive aid station I think Karisma and Run67 were there too. I seem to remember Carol’s husband and others giving me all sorts of great encouragement. The chicken sandwiches were brilliant. By now I was 2hrs in front of my 28hr schedule. Fantastic. I had a short break at cp7 and decided to run the whole of the loop back to cp7. Another short rest and decided to get going after about 10min. It was now 5:45pm so I donned my lights; I was 86km into the race. More than half way, great but keep moving forward.

I remember the moment when I noticed that my headache had been beaten it was 6:30pm and I was just making the transition from day running to night running. I was feeling great, ok a bit tired, and I was trying to focus on foot placement and not twisting my ankle. Ok no excuses now I thought time for the afterburners. Perhaps a bit early for the afterburners but lets test them for an hour or two and see how we go.

The next few checkpoints were a bit of a haze. I do remember that my feet were hurting but I decided to ignore the blister pain and treat them after the race.

I think it was on arrival back at CP6 (93km) when I came across Tim sitting and not looking so hot, undercover bro was with him, He was in trouble; he was struggling with a dilemma. Do I keep going or do I stop. He was injured and tired, obviously had been travelling on a dicky knee had sapped the life out of him. This is the moment that every endurance athlete dreads, Stay? Go? (Stay? Retire from an event that I’ve been living and breathing for the last six months) (Go? Risk permanent injury and probably still not make it to the end).

I offered Tim my Voltarin Gel that I keep in my trail first aid kit and he declined. I think I said something stupid like; just keep moving and you’ll probably get there. I found out an hour or so later that he’d bailed from the race. I thought he’d made the right decision he was really going to struggle to complete another 67km (which is a long ultramarathon in its own right). (Tim if you read this and my facts are out then please correct me)

I think I saw Steve Appleby again on the way from 6a to 5 having both done about 97km. By now I was playing the game called, hunt and chase the light. I was full of beans. I left Steve to chase another light, which I caught on a hard downhill section, it was Mr G who was feeling “fugly”. We chatted for 5 min and I moved on.

Amazingly I was running and my heart rate had come down to it’s lowest all day. 108bpm, try and figure that out?? I felt great, the headache was history.

At 1a (110km) I was told that Rodney (Herm) was 10 minutes in front of me. The next stage took us over Hamburger Hill. I arrived back at the checkpoint and found 3 or 4 runners there. Rod, Kelvin, Whippet and one other I think. I didn’t want to seem rude but I thought to myself that I had to get back out there as soon as I had refilled the Camelbak and eaten some spaghetti (cold of course). Obviously this is a major checkpoint and I probably should have taken some hot soup, or something substantial like that, but I was feeling good and I didn’t want to sit down and get stuck. I think I stayed there for 7-8mins.

A crook Kelvin & I departed base camp (cp2) with 114km in the legs. I felt like running but Kelvin was doing a very efficient power walk, which was about the same speed as my buggered running. Almost back to CP1a we came across a very bewildered Rodney on a hard section of the track. He was in trouble and finding it hard to stay on his feet. He dropped out at 1a having completed 118km. This race is so unforgiving.

I left the CP before Kelvin and thought to myself “savour this moment pal it’s only going to happen on his worst day”. I was running along the road, adjusting my MP3 player, and David Waugh came past me with a friendly wave. I must admit that I thought he was moving well but not at warp speed. What am I saying he was about 35km in front of me!!

Arriving at cp9 I started to feel the strain of the day. So stopped for a break. I can’t remember the names of the people at CP9 (they had accents) but I felt so welcome and so comfortable there I didn’t want to leave. Undercover Bro was there and advised that Rod was out. Jeez UCB had a huge day. Probably worse than running in terms of fatigue. Eventually I left but the longish break was nice.

Where are we? Oh yeah, CP9. We get given a little ticket and we have to climb the Wildhorse Mountain and put the ticket in a moneybox to prove that we were there.

I returned to CP9 and Whippet Man was running in to CP9. Departure moment: I chased Whippet Man all day. He has the same shoes as me and I just kept seeing the treads on the ground. After a dozen hours you start to talk to the treads, “Hello left Leona Divide, how are you? Are you hurting too? Me? The headache? Oh I’m just fine and dandy. Jeez I’m hot though” And the internal banter goes on and on and on.

I struggled a bit from CP9 out to CP10; I had run 128km and was over it. But I had to run because I didn’t want anyone to catch me. There were a number of people close by and either just in front or just behind.

Coming into CP10 there was a campsite where there was a wafting of loud music, the Cougar and cola drinks were flowing and there was a wafting of marijuana in the air. Here’s my conversation with the male that was urinating on the road (maybe we’re not so different after all).

Bogan: Oi mate!
Me: G’Day how are you
Bogan: What did you say?
Me: I said, It’s a nice night for a run
Bogan: Where are you going?
Me: We’ve got about 23km to go
Bogan: You’re all idiots if you ask me
Me: Have a good one, I’ll probably crack a stubbie when I finish
Bogan: Yeah, grunt

I think it was at cp10 (137km) where I felt bad and was in a bit of trouble. I remember Jane Thompson at the CP and I got the feeling I had resurrected Mum. She had all the right questions. I think I stayed for too long, probably about 10mins. On the down side I think CP10 was where the killer mozzies lived. I remember noticing that the mozzies were trying to suck blood out of the wall in my Camelbak. Little did I realise that the backs of my legs were covered in Mozzies and would soon be covered in red lumps.

I did a mix of trot and walk back to CP9. Must keep moving If I do I’ll finish. Then back up to the top of that Wildhorse Mountain again. And, who is this. It’s our mate Boonarga. Who was starting to sniff home and smiling from ear to ear.

So my little excursion to the eastern section was over and I had 14.1km to go to complete the race, I ditched my maps because I knew where to go. Big mistake.

I was told at CP9 that I was in fifth or sixth place, wow! No idea what the time was. But I remember thinking that I’d miss 24hrs under any scenario. Looking at the results I must have been sixth at that point.

Jogging back along to the Bruce Highway I started to feel tired, ok I had been tired all day, but this was sleepy tired. I’d be running along and then I’d doze off and trip or stagger. Oh no, I can’t DNF now. Only 12km to go. But 12km is sooooo far. What will I do? Lie down in the track and wait. No I must keep moving. Eventually I got to the highway.

So then it happened. I came under the little bridge that goes under the road, I saw the arrow but missed the next arrow. And followed my nose. Ok I now know I should have turned right. So I walked and ran for bloody ages. Of course I should have known that no ribbons means I’m on the wrong trail. But I knew where I was supposed to go; unfortunately the race went in another direction.

I rang Whippet. “Hi it’s Brendan. I’m lost and I don’t have my map.” And the palaver went on from there. I didn’t realise it at the time but Andrew was battling his own problem, his ankle had flared and he needed to manage it or else.

I did have a choice. I could have gone down Red Road and this would have taken me back to Beerburrum and I could have connected back to CP1a from there. This would have been roughly the same distance as if I had taken the correct turn.

My fuzzy logic went like this.. I’ve been running for a day. My objective is to finish, or better the time of 28hrs. I’m 4km or 5 km off course. Can I get back on the course? Yes. Do I want anyone doubting whether I completed the course? No. So get your arse into gear and go back to the bridge where you stuffed up.

I was pissed off, demoralised and surprised with my stupidity and the situation I managed to get myself into. So I slowly walked back to the scene of the crime and rejoined the track. By now I had decided to walk the last 11km into base.

The last trip over Hamburger Hill was sad. I knew that I had done well. It was now 7:30am on Sunday I had been going for 26 hours. I had experienced every emotion in one day. My highs and my lows were still fresh in my mind. I had witnessed many people suffering but effectively I had finished a 100 mile run on my first attempt.

A great achievement.

I’m not upset about getting lost because I effectively fixed the problem and kept going.

I think I crossed the finish in 26hrs 25min in eighth place. One day I’ll go under 24hrs.

From an injury perspective, it’s Wednesday and I’m still a little sore in the legs. I had quite bad blistering which is feeling better and should be 100% within a week of finishing the race and a few mozzie bites on the lower legs that have popped up in welts. Nothing to worry about really.

Congratulations to all who competed in one of the ultramarathons at Glasshouse this year.

I must thank a few people:

Ian Javes and his team. Truly great events are those that are well organised, consistently every year and that get the support of the community where the event is held. Thank you, I hope to be back.

Martin thanks very much for taking on the responsibility of being my emergency contact for this race. Thank you so much for allowing me to trust you with this huge responsibility.

John Lindsay, thanks for helping me (and mentoring me) with information that assists me with my preparation for Glasshouse and the Marathon des Sables to be held in April 2006. Well done on a fantastic result too.

Brian Schepisi from Sporting Spirit providing training advice and killer interval sessions down on the Tan in Melbourne.

And Nigel McCarthy from Total Health in Elwood for helping me stretch for the first time in my life. To both of you I promise to turn up more often

A bunch of really great guys that spur each other, and me, on from the bulletin board, Andrew, Joe, Tim, Phil, David, George, Kelvin, Sean and the list goes on. Thanks guys, if not for you I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start the 100-mile race this year.

All the volunteers who gave me all of their day on and all of their night, Thank You.
My wife, Juliet, and my two kids, Mia & Rory for putting up with my new obsession


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