Adam turned to me and in a deep manly voice stated “Alan, if you were wearing my one piece you’d be second place female right now”, and in that one statement ladies and gentlemen, just about sums up my Coast to Kosci 2017 experience, wacky, testing and dare I say it fun.
A year ago, I never dreamed that I’d be the slightest bit interested in running C2K and would often think to myself that you needed a liberal dose of black magic to compete in such an event but having just come out the other side of C2K2017 I now believe I know what makes up this black magic potion, but, more on this later.
Let’s just take a step back, C2K2016 and I was all ready to crew for Chantelle Farrelly, but ten days out a sniper took me out on a Monday night sprints session and a torn hammy put pay to my crewing escapades, I was gutted and felt terrible for Chantelle, but as is the aura that emanates around the whole C2K fraternity Chantelle secured a last minute pacer (thank you Joe Ward), I followed the live updates wondering if I’d have a second chance to crew in 2017.
Rehabilitation was quick, three weeks, and I was back in to training. March saw me finish Six Foot in 4hrs 59 (a 1 hour 15 min PB). May came around and UTA100 beckoned, could I, should I, I did, finishing in 15 hours 08mins. What’s next? GNW100’s in September, at this point I knew I was stepping into ‘black magic’ territory but what the hell, I signed up and with the amazing efforts of my crew Nic Darwin, Aileen Davidson and Dean Israel I finished in 28hrs 8mins and more importantly felt good at the end which I told myself was the proviso of considering an entry into C2K. October I squeezed in Hume & Hovell Ultra 100kms and pulled off a third in 12 hours 45mins, I was ready (so I believed) to tackle C2K. The entry went in and, so I waited. The Sunday morning came and went, Doug Richardson who I’d trained with throughout GNW was in, I wasn’t. No email, no fanfare, but wait, where’s that spam folder? There it was in all its glory
Congratulations, we are pleased to confirm that your entry to the Coast to Kosciuszko Ultramarathon 2017 has been accepted.”
Warning, the following text may contain extreme profanity. I apologise in advance for any offence I may cause, particularly the section of this report I wrote after coming back from the pub.
Doug had a crew of Tim Lyndon, Chantelle Farrelly, Az Roberts, I had Robyn Bruins, Joe Hedges, and Adam Darwin, all past C2K finishers aside from Az (little does he know that he’ll be there in 2018). Wednesday Doug, Tim, Joe, and myself headed down in Doug’s car, I had my hire car packed ready for the rest to head down the following day. We were all booked into the Eden Beach Front Holiday Park, dinner at the Eden Fisherman’s Club that evening then an early’ish night. I slept remarkably well but woke early and had a walk along the beach to clear my head and take in the spectacular sunrise.
Excellent breakfast in town, I’d highly recommend Sprout, walk through the café to their small courtyard out the back, perfect place for breakfast and coffee. Provisions were bought at Coles in town, back to the holiday park to wait for the rest of the crew to arrive.
As is tradition on the afternoon before the race, all the crews (or those willing) join in the informal, and very funny cossie2coast. As the race title suggests, the crews wear swim costumes of some fancy-dress theme. All I will say at this point is that my crew did not let me down. Bravo!
Pre-race briefing was back at the Eden Fisho’s, all runners and the majority of crews were in attendance, weigh in conducted (77.4Kgs), we all thought that the scales were a bit dodgy, unless that third serving at the Fisho’s buffet the night before and three deserts were too much. The briefing was quick and to the point, a video was shown from the prior year, the nervous excitement was palpable. Sleep that night was ‘good’, I woke at 3.15, an hour ahead of the alarm, I did my stretches, applied the liberal doses of glide, Vaseline, and Squirrels Nut Butter, I was squelchy and ready to slide, I mean run.
A short ride to Boydtown Beach and this is really where it hit, there was a chatter in air, the sun was rising, the sea was calm, the nerves were not, but I was holding it together. I then caught Chantelle’s eye and I had to look away, sorry Chantelle it wasn’t you but having come so close to crewing for you the prior year, I knew how much this race meant to you on, so many levels and I felt the occasion beginning to well up inside me.
Photos were taken, and we were ready, do not run, do not run, and do not beat Trevor Allen to Towamba otherwise my crew and Chantelle would have my nuts (all be it greasy nuts) for breakfast. We were off, what was I thinking at this stage? Don’t get sand in my shoes, don’t get sand in my shoes.
Video pre-start: Pre Race Nerves
Boydtown Beach – CP1 Rocky Hall 50kms 5hrs 22mins (10:52am) – 7th
Doug and I passed through Towamba (2hrs 43mins – 25kms), the first point at which you get to see your crews. The run to this point had been through easy fire trail with three drink stops enroute, I personally had chosen to carry an Ultimate Direction handheld bottle for the race, for me the smaller 300ml was perfect for running. New GU’s, and Tailwind refills were taken on board and off we went. The countryside opened from firetrail to green pastural land, plenty of healthy looking livestock, such an easy area to run through, even the flies were behaving themselves.
Feeling good, running on and off with Doug, trying to keep at a sensible pace. It had been a constant joke between Doug and I that we’d try for the Strava crown on Big Jack, knowing that Chantelle was usually in ear shot when we discussed this, thank you Chantelle, you kept us both honest, although at about 30kms I lost Doug expecting him to catch me which we’d been doing up to this point but me being me I was off. I hit my first marathon mark in 4hrs 28, next stop Rocky Hall and on to Big Jack.
Along the way I was chatting with many runners, everyone accommodating and jovial, all with different running styles and approaches to the hills. We’d earlier had a long chat with Cameron Gillies who I seem to recall had done 220+kms at the CBR 24 hours, right I thought, this kind of puts a new perspective on how to approach a run like this.
So, what did I do, run faster of course. I hit Rocky Hall in 7th place (sorry Chantelle), 5hrs 22mins and 50kms down, there was Paul and Diane, beaming smiles by the payphone, was it a look of “watch out, here comes the first blow up” I thought to myself, but I’d later learn that they’d never think this, they were enjoying seeing a first timer like me just enjoy it. Was I enjoying it? Bloody-oath I was. I’d run with Pam Muston prior to hitting Rocky Hall, a runner who all my crew had said, if you’re with Pam during the run then copy her. Pam was wonderful to run with and feed off her knowledge, so of course coming in to Rocky Hall in front of Pam meant that all I got from my crew was “all you were meant to do was run with Pam” (in their best Michael Caine Italian Job style).
Through to CP2 Cathcart 70kms – 7hrs 55mins (1:25pm) – 12th
You have approximately 6kms from Rocky Hall until the base of Big Jack at which point you’re rewarded with a 6.5km 7.7% gradient climb. Pastural land had turned back in to fire trail look and feel on the lead up to crossing Towamba River ahead of Big Jack. Doug and I had run half-way up this during our training weekend the previous month, something tells me I wasn’t going to run this today. You get a ‘mule’ from your crew to help you on the climb, and up stepped Adam and with a slap on the arse from Joe and walking poles in hand we were off.
The training weekend I’d covered this in 44 mins, race day 1 hour 6 mins was more in order, I did feel as if I was going backwards though, unless I’m running up the hills I feel as if I’m going backwards, I lost count the number of runners who’d passed me on the climb, but I had to keep telling myself that this was only km 57 out of 240 km. At the top of Big Jack my legs were aching, I called out for the Voltaren much to the horror of the race medic who was at the top of the climb, only for him to realise that it was cream I was after and not tablets. Joe got his manly hands working (video) on me much to the amusement of everyone around me, the legs were revitalised, but the blisters had started to set in. Sure enough a kilometre later I was flagging my crew down as they passed, shouting out for aid for the blisters at the Mt. Darragh Rd intersection. I was hurting, and this was only km 66. On into Cathcart I went, further attention was required but the Calippo from the Cathcart stores was magical. I think I had my first pot noodle at this point too, happy to get something solid in to my stomach, something that I would continue to do throughout the race with a mixture of pot noodles, ravioli beef stew and cups of tea. I’d learnt the hard way during UTA100 that an empty stomach for me meant severe debilitating stomach cramps, something that I would not experience at all during C2K.
I had about a 10 mins stop here and then it was off again and towards CP3 at Gunningrah Rd some 36kms away.
Through to CP3 Gunningrah Rd 106kms – 13hrs (6:30pm) – 16th
This was High Plains land, rolling hills, big skies, big blue skies but lucky for us on this day we had some cloud cover meaning that race conditions were perfect. We were back on dirt road; the blisters were pinching but I felt good, kind of. I lie, I was hurting, I was annoyed, had I made the wrong runners choice should I have gone with my Altra’s? Who knows, but I was hurting. I think it was along this section that I met Matt and Emma for the first time, the roving medics who basically patched me up on three separate occasions at around this mark 103kms, at Dalgety (148kms) and half-way up the Kosciuszko Rd climb at around 200kms. Thank you both.
I clocked up my first 100kms in 12hrs, a 45mins PB for 100kms, was I mad? Hold on, I’d just entered a 240kms race, that’s a stupid question, of course I was mad, but even though the blisters were hurting at no point during this race did I come close to thinking that I would not finish. I didn’t come close to thinking this, all I was thinking was the next section of the run, the 36kms through to the junction of Gunningrah Rd and Snowy River Way. Believing that you will finish will get you to the end, your crew will do the rest for you.
An emotional lift was reaching the big dead tree, it seems such an iconic point in the race, everyone has seen someone kiss this tree, but here I was having just smashed my 100km best about to kiss this tree, the sun was out, the skies were big, not a worry in the world and I’m about to pucker up to a dead tree, how much better can it get than this? Better it did, I now had Joe and Adam giving my legs a double rub down by the tree, I hadn’t picked up on the fact that running to the tree the crew were playing “You can call me Al”, but I’ve just watched the video that Robyn took, brilliant.
Video: Big Dead Tree
I hit The Snowy River Rd at 6.30pm, 106kms in to the race and two hours from sunset when the crews are allowed to run with you. At this stage I was back with Cam and Pam, so I must have been doing something right, up to this point I’d been ticking over at approximately 6 to 7 min k’s depending on the terrain, up to 9 to 10 min k’s if there were hills. So of course, having taken everyone’s advice on board, once I hit the Snowy River Way I started to pump out 5 min k’s. What the hell, the sun was going down, I wanted to hit the windmills at sunset and Chantelle wasn’t around.
CP4 Dalgety 148kms 18hrs 33mins (12:03am) – 12th
Dalgety, 42kms away, a marathon, part way through the fourth one for the day. The food was going down well, the Tailwind was working, I’d knocked back my dosage from 1.5 scoops/500ml to 1 scoop/500ml, it was working for me, hell I was even taken on my GU’s without too much pressure from my crew. The run down the initial part of Snowy River Way was superb, I knew Cam and Pam were close behind me and I could see the Windmills ahead. The road was empty with a slight incline and the tiredness hadn’t set in, yet.
On the climb to the windmills Cam caught me and together we commented how magical the moment was, only to hit the summit for the windmills to find our respective crews having a dance-off, bloody brilliant, but it has to be said that Kelly-ann from Cams crew had the dancing over the Daddy dancing of Joe & Adam.
The sunset was magical, and I had the first of the crew to join me on the run, Joe and I had 28kms to go to Dalgety. Off we set as the sun set to our left, if only these bloody blisters would behave themselves. I was even beginning to think that I should have run in my North Face trails, I’d done 169 kms in them for the GNW100’s and not a single blister.
The night set in, I was hoping for a blanket of stars but with the earlier cloud cover which had served us so well it didn’t offer the magical night sky that I’d been longing for, but, there were stars and the torches were turned off. Robyn had taken over from Joe to get me into Dalgety, we ran through the constellations I could pick out and we hunted for shooting stars.
I shuffled into Dalgety at mid-night, weighed in, I’d lost 4kgs, all good, and sat down with Emma the medic for her to attend to my right big toe which had flared up. Word of advice, DO NOT go into the hall in Dalgety, for a runner it’s like a sauna, Emma initially took me inside to dress my blisters but there was no way I was going to stay in there so out I went, and everything was done under torch light in the porchway of the hall. Once done I stood up and this was the only time that I thought to myself “shit, this is going to be hard”, the pain was so intense on my big toe that I did not think that I’d be able to run anymore, and I’d end up walking all the way to the top. Adam took over the pacing duties and off we set again, it soon became a common theme though as Adam tried to push me along that I’d have to stop and walk constantly saying “Sorry Adam, I have to walk”, this seemed to go on for a long time, 26kms to Jindabyne, how the hell was I going to do it?
CP5 Jindabyne 184kms 25hrs 25mins (6:55am) – 18th
(Chantelle, I promised you I’d write this, this is the point where I’ve just staggered in from the pub after a Sunday session at The Public, the report may get a bit interesting from here).
As with many things, if the goal is strong enough you’ll just crack on. Before I knew it, we were managing to put in a few good k’s, another pot noodle and before I knew it we cruised past Barry McBride who was to comment later that he couldn’t believe the pace we were putting in, maybe that accounts why he ultimately finished 4hrs 15mins ahead of me. Another lesson learned.
It also meant that I clocked up 100 miles (169kms) in 23 hours, a 5 hour 8 min PB over my GNW100’s time back in May. Honest, I really didn’t think I was going that fast.
For some reason I thought the base of Beloka Range was further after Dalgety than I had remembered from the training weekend, but before I knew it we were there, but to put it bluntly I was shagged, sleep at the bottom or sleep at the top? My pickled mind won and a quick ten min sleep in the car won. I didn’t think I’d fall asleep, but I was gone, well and truly gone, it felt like hours then suddenly the door was slammed open (is that even possible), I was ordered out of the car and pointed up the hill, with Joe shepherding me up the hill.
It’s dark, I’m tired, the blisters won’t leave me alone, and by the way who put this bloody hill in the way? Add insult to injury only two thirds up I see writing across the road clearly stating “The Summit”, ha bloody ha, sense of humour failure, someone from the previous weekend of the running of L’Étape Australia thought that it would be funny to put the cyclists of the scent of the summit, none the wise to the complete mind fuck that it cause for the runners a week later in C2K. I was desperately trying to keep my sense of humour, Joe was battling to keep me focused coming out with all types of shit “Alan, you did those last two posts amazingly”, “Alan, your pace is absolutely outstanding”, “Joe, I’m fucking walking”, “Alan, let’s not try and walk in the middle of the road”.
It has to be said but Beloka was a complete mind-fuck (please refer to profanity disclaimer at the start of this report), it was shorter than Big Jack but in the middle of the night with 160kms in your legs and no sleep (oh yes, I’d had 10 mins at the bottom of the range) it was a challenge, this was where I fully appreciated my pacer being by my side, on the climb I fell asleep twice on my feet, how the hell do you fall asleep whilst standing I hear you say, well run for 160 kms over 22 hours and we’ll have this discussion again. The top, the top, the car, sleep, this is all I could think about. Nothing else for it I had to climb into the car, just another ten minutes I asked of my crew.
Bastards, how the hell can you open a car door so noisily, and besides that was not 10 minutes.
I was ordered, pointed in the right direction and this time it was Adam who had the duty of keeping me out of harm’s way. The sun was coming up, yey, no yey, oh fuck, the sun coming up was meant to re-invigorate you, it wasn’t happening, I felt like death warmed up with a liberal dose of blisters thrown in for good measure. Adam was trying his hardest to get me motivated but I wasn’t having any of it. How the hell could I not remember this section on the run in to Jindabyne, and then another bloody hill, what the hell is going on? I was fighting the sleep demons, they were winning, they were winning BIG time, bloody hell I’m not at Jindabyne yet and this is where everyone tells you the race starts, maybe I should have listened to Chantelle and not gone so hard at the start, but Pam Muston had told me to go with what you’re comfortable with. Who the hell can I blame, not me for sure.
The sun was finally up and into Jindy we dropped.
Let me put something into perspective here and acknowledge something truly remarkable. Jindabyne represents 184kms of the race, you hit checkpoint 5 in the caravan park on the side of the lake. At 181kms you are just coming down towards the roundabout in Jindy, you’ve been running for just over 25 hours and you have another 60kms to go. At this point Mick Thwaites has just finished. FINISHED! I think if I’d been told at this point that Mick had just finished then I’d have just strolled over to the Lake Jindabyne hotel and booked in a day early. Mick Thwaites finished in 24hrs 58mins, a truly remarkable feat, he was gunning toe to toe for a sub 24 hours, something that has never been done, he came close but still, his finishing time is only the second time someone has gone sub 25 hours, Shmick Productions of Micks run: bravo Mick.
For me I still had another ten hours to go, I was buggered. The legs were working but the mind had switched off. We jogged gently around the lake and tip toed across the flooded sections, made our way through the campsite then Adam gave over his duties for Robyn’s turn. 35kms to the finish, just a small 13kms straight uphill to contend with once we’d left Jindabyne.
CP6 Perisher 219kms 31hrs (12:30pm) – 19th
Again, I’d forgotten a huge chunk of the course, on leaving Jindabyne you have an approximately a 7km run from Jindy to the Thredbo River at which point you’re climbing for the next 13kms without respite. I had my mind all geared up for the climb, but I’d forgotten about the 7kms to get to the river. Not happy Jan. Again, Robyn had this bit where I felt I was letting my crew down. They’d been on the go too for over 30 hours, but I wasn’t coming to the party, how could I kick myself into gear? Little did I know but the crew had also been discussing how they could shake me out of this, but when the sleep demons kick in then there’s little that you can do. We’d organised to meet the crew at the Thredbo River, for Joe to take on pacing duties and for me to grab a cup of tea. Little did I know that my crew thought differently with Adam fast asleep in the car and Joe checking out the interior of the local public convenience. Oh, the simple pleasures of being able to go to the toilet, I’d not been able to sort out the world’s problems for almost two days now, bugger the toilet, if only I could shake these sleep demons and get rid of these blisters.
We hit the climb, Adam and Joe finally caught us up, I think we stopped and I took on some more solid food and that promise of a cup of tea, hell, it was even hot, no crunchy noodles or luke warm tea from this crew.
The climb was incessant, on and on and on, I was staggering from side to side, Joe was desperately trying to keep me engaged but it was a losing battle. My crew’s worse fears were coming true, how the hell were they going to get me to the top in a reasonable time? I finally turned to Joe, “I have to sleep, again”, I could not go on, my brain was quite simply shutting down and no matter how much will power I had it was not going to win. Joe called the crew car who were only a kilometre ahead for them to come back to us, little did Joe know that behind him I’d taken off my high viz vest, neatly laid it out on the grass next to the road, laid down and promptly gone to sleep. Don’t bother asking me why I’d taken my high viz off to lay down on, I think if I’d have had pyjamas by the side of the road I’d have taken the time to change, brush my teeth and then fallen asleep. The mind plays funny games when it’s completely cactus.
I woke to find that the crew had put a blanket over me, fortunately they’d not put it over my head too, passing motorists may not have seen the funny side of that, but it did make me chuckle. I was awake, and what’s more I felt human, I wasn’t moving well but I was better, but what was even better that I’d turned to Joe only five mins earlier stating that if he saw the medics to flag them over. Would you believe it, there’s Matt’s smiling face “Need any help”? Third and final bit of assistance from Matt and Emma. Dressings were redressed, new dressings were put on, and a Panadol or two was proffered.
“I AM INVINCIBLE”, well that’s what I was thinking but the feet/legs took a bit longer to be convinced, but I was moving, with no pain and no sleep demons. Before long we reached the top of the 13km climb and we had some respite. The crews offered to change but Joe was on a role. We had about 10kms to go to Charlotte Pass, Joe was feeling good, I was getting better, it was on.
Up to this point we’d been doing 12, 13, 20 min k’s, the going was slow, very slow, the crew had been worried, I was worried, I didn’t want to fail my crew. We hit the top of the descent down to Diggers Creek, Joe gave me a gentle nudge, come on Alan, let’s see if we can run to the next post. The next K we did in 5mins 11s. “Come on Joe, what’s keeping you”? I was back. Took a bloody long time but I felt good.
Joe switched out for Adam who would take me up to Charlotte Pass.
Finish Charlotte Pass 240kms 35hrs 21mins – 19th
I had been worried, there’s no denying.
I’d started the race well, conservatively and with sense, but then reverted to form and ran the only way I know, fast. Doing this for 240kms though will take its toll, and even though my legs and body had felt good all the way through the blisters and the mind had taken punishment. Would I do things differently IF I did this again? Of course I would, but hell I was having fun learning from my mistakes, how else do you learn? Never be afraid of failing, so long as you learn from it.
We began the climb up past Smiggin Holes, this is where Doug and I had done another leg during our training weekend, so I knew exactly what was in store. We were running the downhills well, the uphills were strong and with purpose, before we knew it we were dropping into Perisher Valley, but not before a certain Joe Gallagher drove up next to us, this guy really has too much energy, sign him up for C2K2018, that’ll sort him out.
Checkpoint 6 was reached in 31 hours and in 19th place, 219kms in to the race, 21 to go. This really was going to happen.
Next point of reflection,I was just outside of Perisher, at this time Katy Anderson became the first female to finish and seventh overall in 31hrs 8mins, congratulations Katy for an amazing race.
Joe and Robyn had gone ahead to have the mandatory gear assessed so when we arrived it was a quick weigh in, I think I’d lost minimal weight since Dalgety, and on we pushed as four to the summit. The sun was out, spirts were high, all was good with the world.
During the training weekend Doug and I had only run as far as The Snowy River, so I had no idea what was before me beyond this. Little did I know that I’d run 225kms only to stand right on top of a brown snake. Luckily for me it’s size was not much bigger than the sweet variety and off it slithered possibly feeling a somewhat deflated after being unceremoniously trodden on, but still, it gave me a start.
The path wound its way up past Seamans Hut then Rawson Pass, the final leg.
Still it went on, we crossed paths with Andy who was tirelessly cutting steps into the remaining snows on the shaded side of the peak. The path continued to corkscrew up around the peak until finally we were there.
What was I feeling? Utter and total relief, with such a sense of overwhelming achievement mixed with the joy that I could share it with such a remarkable crew all of which understood completely the emotions I was currently experiencing. I had run, shuffled, slept my way over 231kms to this point, climbed to an altitude of 2,228m, with a total climbing elevation through the duration of the course of 6,473m, what’s more I’d burned 24,603 calories, that beer and pizza was going to taste particularly special.
The trig point at the summit was duly climbed, the photos were taken, the views were savoured, this was something truly magical.
Time to cover the last 9kms back down to Charlotte Pass, the legs were feeling strong, the mind was clear, I was ready for a bit of fun. We were off. We dropped down past Andy and the snow steps, down through Rawson Pass and Seamans Hut, across The Snowy River, refuelled during the short ascent back up to the final four kms back down to the finish, I gave it thirty seconds for my legs to feel good then kicked on.
The last four kms were done in 4:50; 4:09; 4;10 and 4:29 with the last kilometre being slower so that Robyn could run ahead to get the finishing video. This was insane, I was about to finish a 240km event and I was pushing out almost 4 min k’s, I can only thank my crew who absolutely turned my fortunes around and drove me to the finish with a passion that could not be dreamt of. I leapt across that finish line as if I’d just won the Olympics, magical, I’d done it, Robyn, Joe, Adam, and I had done it.
Video: Leaping across the finish line.
Paul was there to give his customary hug, and boy how good did that feel, worth every aching limb, blister, tear, that hug was all consuming. To be honest I thought I’d cry, but the sense of achievement was beyond anything that I’d prepared myself for, I wish I could2 bottled it.
Diane handed me my finishing time card 35 hours, 21 mins, 11 seconds. I was an official Coast to Kosci finisher.
There’s just one last footnote to this story, running 4min k’s may not be wise at the end of a 240km event, and it can result in you losing your crew on the trail. Robyn had told me that I’d have to slow down for her to get ahead to video my finish, during this time Joe didn’t catch me up, so back up the trail I ran to run back in with Joe. Sorry Joe, it was you who got me running again on that descent to Diggers Creek, you forgot to tell me though to take it easy. It did make for a funny story at the traditional awards day the next morning where Paul took delight in recounting what had happened. He then goes on to present the finishers with their Akubra and finishers pin, walking up to collect mine I felt ten feet tall and proud as punch to be in the same room as so many wonderful people who had stood on that start line on Boydtown Beach and ‘believed’ they could complete this most magical of events.
What does it take to run 240kms?
Black magic, is this what it really takes? Yes, but I believe I know the magic potion.
It’s your crew who are your driving force, they’re there to guide you, feed you, water you, ensure you don’t wander off into the road in the middle of the night, they make you laugh, they kick you up the butt when you need it and they cover you with a blanket when you do fall asleep on the side of the road. I cannot thank Robyn, Joe, and Adam enough, you made this weekend special beyond words.
It’s the medics such as Emma, Matt, Billy, and Andy who drive the course willing you to succeed and will help you all the way, they’re not there to pull you from the race, this could not be further from the truth, call on their help, they want to help you, but don’t ask them to rub Vaseline between your buttocks.
Andy even cuts steps into the snow/ice on the final ascent to the summit and offers a hot chocolate to those runners descending after sunset.
It’s the volunteers such as Kieron, Eddie, and Cath (to name a few) who give up their time to assist you and the race directors throughout the whole event from registration, through to the finish. To Blair, Nick and David who provide live updates during the event, and Rod who shepherds the final runners who are keen to gain every cent worth of the race time.
Your family who don’t see you for days on end as you pound the streets, only to be confronted by a ravenous wide-eyed nutter who worries when they can get that next run in, to my boys thank you for putting up with a cranky daddy. Fee, thank you for shuffling parenting duties to allow me to pursue my goal.
And finally, but not least it’s Paul and Diane who make up this last of the magic potion and bring that final element to this unique event, intimacy. Running through the night, to have a vehicle pull up alongside you and to see the smiling face of Paul you realise that you’re participating in something special.
Coast 2 Kosci is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you don’t like tea, learn to like it, add your own bit of black magic potion and you’ll walk away under the spell of this most amazing event.
To help people who may be participating in this for the first time, here’s a rookie’s overview of what worked, what didn’t work.
Hoka One Bondi 5, also took Altra Paradigm 3.0 and North Face Ultra (in case the last ascent turned very icy). Wore my Hoka’s the whole way, but I did suffer with blisters which I got the medics to attend to as early as they flared up.
I had all my mandatory gear, even down to a ‘basic’ torch and food in a backpack which the crew knew they could grab at Charlotte Pass. I was prepared to carry it, but the crew ended up distributing the gear amongst the three of them. I then had extra items such as thermals, beanie, gloves, rain jackets etc. in my ‘stuff’ to use during the race.
I had pretty much three sets of shorts, socks, Long and short sleeve plus singlets. I placed each type of clothing in a zip-lock back and labelled. Visors, buffs, beanies.
Rain Jackets x 3. Lightweight running jacket went straight into my mandatory bag. The other two were labelled biblical rain (Gore-Tex above knee jacket) and not so biblical rain (Kathmandu rain jacket), I ran through the night with this, perfect comfort for me, hooded so was able to utilise this to keep the chill off my neck/head when required.
Sunnies/clear glasses, both for day and night time running
Caveat, eat/drink what’s best for you, in other words practice running and eating this stuff before the event, nothing new on race day.
For me, I learned in UTA100 that I need solids, eating something that is fluid in consistency with some substance changes my race, i.e. pot noodles.
Salted caramel GU’s, Tailwind 1 scoop/500ml whole race, salt tablets (had the odd one throughout the race, more precautionary than anything else). Banana bread and Fruit Loaf (thank you Aileen Davidson, YUM!!). 12 x 30ml Flat coke, Canned Ravioli stew, Chicken pot noodles. Tea bags, sugar, milk. Pre-froze 24 water bottles and stored in esky.
First-aid kit, Glide, Sun cream (Neutrogena Beach Defence Water & Sun SPF50, both cream and spray), don’t forget your crew needs supplies of this too. Aeroguard, Wipes, Rubber Gloves, Vaseline, Bepanthan (forgot this, wish I hadn’t), Voltaren cream (perfect for me for a leg rub down during event), Blister Packs, Panadol.
Important, unless you want lips like they should belong in a leper colony, then don’t forget the lipsalve, apply, apply, and then apply some more!
Please take heed to medical briefing you will receive before the race and at the pre-race briefing, in particular for Hyponatremia, Rhabdomyolysis (avoid taking NSAIDs (Nurofen, Voltaren) during an ultramarathon (ref: http://www.wser.org/research/scientific-publications/ ), and Postural hypotension.
Bottle opener, can opener, cutting board, sharp knife, esky, gas stove (spare gas), lighter, saucepan, kettle, mug, keepi-cup, spoons.
2 x flasks, one for hot-water so that a tea / pot noodle could be made immediately (Joe, note the word immediately 😊). The other was used for keeping pre-heated ravioli in. This avoids your crew having to heat stuff at multiple stops. Remember your crew need breaks/sleep too.
Bin bags, 2 x chairs, blanket, 2 x sleeping bags (didn’t use), tarp, toilet paper / wipes (I carried a few in a zip lock back in my short pocket), toothbrush/paste, zip-lock bags, umbrella.
Spare torch, batteries, iPod shuffle, spare earphones, power packs for charging Suunto whilst on the go.
I hired a Toyota Tarago, not cheap, but pleased I did so that I had the comfort in the knowledge that my crew had the space, plus took out the full excess cover again taking away the stress of damage collision with the kamikaze wallabies which you will see on the trip back down the mountain to Jindabyne along with foxes, owl’s, wombats, and runners.