Sydney Oxfam 2009 Report

Short Version: 4/500 in 14:52

My kind of 100km, good bush, good technical sections, good hills (a really big one would be nice though), warm but ok, plenty of variety so you aren’t doing the same thing for very long.

Best moment: Going across the line as a team of four, all in good spirits with a smile on our faces.
Worst moment: Can’t think of one.
Funnies moment: Sorry Beaver, but seeing the captain encouraging the team while walking backward and falling into a one metre drain was hilarious (once we knew you were ok).
Gutsiest moment: Seeing SlowManiac suffering in the last two sections but battling on without complaint or chemical assistance. I was very impressed mate.

Start 7:00am
CP1 8:51am ((1:51)
CP2 10:51am (2:00)
CP3 12:53pm (2:02)
CP4 2:12pm (1:21)
CP5 3:33pm (1:19)
CP6 5:10pm (1:37)
CP7 6:51pm (1:41)
CP8 8:16pm (1:25)
Finish 9:52pm (1:36)

Competitors (full teams)
1st Berowra Bush Runners
2nd ACT run
3rd Mitre 10
4th Add-Vize
5th Team Millie

The Gang
Beaver (Captain), Ourimbah, SlowManiac, Mick

The Crew
Buzzlightyear, Bec, David

I set the alarm for 4:25am, but as always woke before it. As arranged Darrel and I made contact via SMS as backup, and we were on the road by 5am. There wasn’t anything to do, we had rehearsed what we needed in our packs and gear boxes the week before. I ate my breakfast of 2 slices of honey toast + 600ml juice while waiting. It was going to be warm, so I started out with 3 litres of water + 2 x 600ml bottles of drink, and would drink another 600ml 10 minutes before the start. We were one of the first teams to register and got given the saying “Team 316, they are full of tricks”. We didn’t get here one and half hours early for nothing and I was keen to take up our spot on the line, not because we would be the quickest team, but might as well take any advantage you can.

Start -> CP1
The clock counted down, and we were off. It was a 100km race and good to see no frantic running. We were one of the first teams to reach the bottom of the hill and without question we would walk this entire hill. There was a lot of enthusiasm by many teams and we were probably 20th by the top of the hill. We had said weeks ago we were happy to be 20th to 30th at CP1 as this would mean many had gone out too hard and we would get them later.

I was using my Garmin with a course for each CP, and I also had a 30 minute timer to remind me to eat. What amazed me all day was how quick the first 30 minutes of each leg occurred. We were just happy to do our own thing and not have our pace dictated by anyone else, but we didn’t want to be stuck in a Congo line on the single track. This wasn’t a problem, and there was a reasonable gap to the team in front. Just as we got to the bay, we saw another team had taken a wrong turn and this allowed us to slip past. There were only 3 of them and apparently the 4th person had gone ahead. Why people would split up at such an early stage makes no sense to me. We knew fluid would be tight on this section given the warm weather and no crew at CP1, and we made plans to drink some bottles we could grab at least another 600ml at the CP if needed. We were all in good spirits, happy with our time and making sure we were all eating and drinking. After we crossed the railway line and crossed the road we got to see a couple of the top teams (Bush Runners and Striders), we were only about 10 minutes behind. As we approached the CP I heard the school kids tell another team they were in 6th. Ourimbah gave some of the kids a high five, cool. There were a lot of teams heading in and out in a short distance, and thought we were around 15th.

CP1 -> CP2
After we left the CP and ran past Cowan we noticed another team getting assistance from their crew. Bit annoying when we are carrying enough fluid for 4 hours and other are running light and getting assistance. After a while we caught up to another team walking and just as Ourimbah tried to pass they said they were going to run and then we were stuck behind. Ourimbah was leading and having a bit of a chat to them and then had a really big stumble. It was single track, so we decided to take a team toilet break to give some space between us. We caught another team that had a team mate in trouble on a descent and they kindly let us past. When we got near Berowra Waters I decided to go ahead as my bottles were empty and my pack felt very light, so I filled up a bottle at the tap just to be sure.

I took the climb fairly steady while eating a bread roll. Ourimbah was put in the lead again (he had been nominated as team pacer), but I think the hill had knocked a bit of wind out of his sails. The cool of the morning was gone and it was starting to warm up. Beaver was trying to drag the team along, but there was some suffering occurring and I was keen to know what as a team we could do to help. We were still on schedule; we had agreed before the start that the time to push would not occur until after we crossed the highway.

It wasn’t long after this that Beaver told us BlueDog was ahead. Yeah right, Beaver, nice try. He had been revving Ourimbah up for hours that Brick and Horrie were right behind as incentive to go faster, so we thought this was just another trick. But true enough, there he was, so something was obviously wrong in the Striders team. We just continued to do our own thing and just ran past prior to CP2. We had a really slick stop and were out of there in less than a minute.

CP2 -> CP3
After we left the CP and climbed the steps it is a road section for a couple of km and we weren’t running. I’m not sure what the problem was, just people finishing their food I guess. Beaver was getting annoyed. I’m a bit more laid back; as long as it isn’t me slowing the team down I don’t mind. I know everyone has their mind on the job and if they need to walk I’m not going to question them. We started running not long after and all was good.

We saw a few people heading towards CP2 as we headed towards CP3. I think we caught one team just before the single track descent and got ahead which was good. Ourimbah had a really big slip on a green rock at the bottom, but no harm done. That’s two get out of jail free cards used by him already. We passed two from another team with one of them bent over obviously having a bad day; we found the other two most of the way up “Driveway from Hell”. We also got passed by three of the Striders and they told us BlueDog has retired with stomach issues that occurred very early. There also appeared to be some vomit on the driveway. We got to the top and there were a bit of a Striders gathering with blanket and drinks laid out. We spotted what we called “Team Blue” on the bridge only a few minutes ahead. Beaver and I walked for a while, we re-grouped and from the top of the bridge we started running. Beaver spotted a drink bottle on the footpath and gave it a size 10 into the bushes.

It seemed to be a fairly relaxed pace here, we were getting protection from the sun, I think the rest were talking to another runner, probably banging on about the GNW250 that I didn’t want to hear about for the hundredth time, so I went a bit ahead for some time alone. I slowed down on the descent to reduce any risk of a fall and re-grouped at the bottom, everyone was fine, so at the bottom I thought I would get a little ahead again so our crew would have plenty of warning. The rest arrived; Buzz was very keen for us to do our crew stop first and then Check In-Out. It took a bit of convincing to get Ourimbah to do this. This was the only CP all day that I needed anything other than my pack. I got some tape for my nipples as my Band-Aids had failed, but I was still the first to leave.

CP3 -> CP4
I walked out of the CP with Beaver as the other two were doing some extra stuff, looked behind and could see them coming, but no point running. Walked the hill and had a bit of a chat with a volunteer at the top who was on a pushy. He said he was in his 60s, but he looked lucky to be late 30s.

We were a team again and Ourimbah led the way, but then SlowManiac said there was a problem with his pack leaking. I knew that even if it had failed we wouldn’t go back for this and we would share, so decided to walk. With the problem fixed, but a bit of fluid lost, we re-grouped. Through the next picnic ground, good to see a “no assistance outside CP” sign and continued on the board walk. The cooler conditions were great. We knew we had a climb ahead and had designated this as another “team toilet stop”. Beaver and I started the climb with the others not far behind. We reached the top and could see Team Blue not far in the distance. Beaver needed a #2 stop, so I suggested he push along and I will let the others know what was happening. I was walking to let the others catch-up, but still passed team blue and one of their team wasn’t in good shape. It wasn’t long before the others arrived and we pushed on towards CP4. We arrived just as Beaver was finished. Beaver and Ourimbah left and I waited to make sure SlowManiac knew that they had left (he was getting some water). I had my book out asking what everyone’s 1 out of 10 rating was and got asked by the volunteer if I was an accountant. They had muesli bars, chocolate, and apples on offer, but none of this interested me.

CP4 -> CP5
We caught up as we passed the Sphinx and saw the camera man for about the 4th time, but still not taking any pictures. It was nice and cool here and we were going down as well. I think we were all feeling good in the cooler conditions. I was surprised to not be able to cross the creek in the same location as I had in training, apparently it is tidal and it required us to go a few metres further. We then had a climb that knocked the stuffing out of all of us. We had gone from feeling great and being at a good temperature, to sweating profusely and feeling very flat. We took it a bit easy for a while. The track improved and we saw “Team Red”. We had let them passed half way to CP3 and Beaver thought they were previous winners so we didn’t think they would be seen again. We were running, and they were walking on a road section. Good to see them together as a team of four supporting a weaker member. We went passed with a few kind words.

We were approaching another “Out and Back” section and our captain didn’t want following teams to see us as a target and wanted us to make good time. We were approaching a hill that in training Ourimbah and I had challenged ourselves on a race to the top. I joked that we should do it now. I was told by the captain that if I did and strained a hammy that he would never speak to me again. I was joking; well at least I think I was 😉 Beaver wasn’t happy with our pace; he wanted this to be a section we pushed hard on so that other teams wouldn’t see us as a target. We saw ACT run and were impressed with their tight 2 x 2 formation, they looked very professional. We then saw Berowra Bush Runners and Beaver said hello to Beth and she replied and looked as fresh as a daisy. They were a bit spread out though and I think it was Beth with Sir Runalot bringing up the rear.

We got to the bicycle track and Beaver was very displeased with the pace. The track turned a corner and started uphill and three of us were together with Beaver just ahead. He turned around and started walking backwards up the hill and telling us how important it was to make good time in this section. He then walked into a one metre drain and fell. I was quite concerned he might twist something or hit his head, but he was fine. It then became a very funny moment. The humour didn’t last long and we were again being encouraged to push.

I had only gone as far as the fence in training and thought the CP wasn’t far, but it seemed to go on and on. I had the luxury of Garmin courses everywhere else and knew exactly how far the CP was away, but not here. We eventually arrived, David said I had it down to get my light here and would I like to delay that given there was still plenty of light, great to have crew that think on their feet. Check in-out, and then to the crew, change packs, grab an orange, start walking out. We see team red; they had obviously recovered a little which isn’t great news.

CP5 -> CP6
Back the way we had come, past the “Captain fall over spot” and still on the “out and back” section. We see a few more teams, hopefully we look strong to them and we continue.

Not long and we are on a street again with a bit of a climb to some traffic lights. Beaver and Ourimbah had gone ahead, and I decided to stay fairly close to SlowManiac. As we approached the light Beaver was yelling “it’s still green, it’s still green” indicated we didn’t have to sprint. But we were all then at the lights and it hadn’t turned. There was an official there to make sure we crossed safely, but Beaver saw a gap in the traffic and we were off. All I can remember is the official saying “you will get me sacked”. We made it across and continued down to the end of the road to enter the bush again. No obvious marker here, but we knew our way.

It was around here I started to feel a bit like the tank was empty. Legs fine, feet fine, no headaches, guts reasonable, just flat. I thought I would have some time on my own while in this low spot, so went ahead a little. I grabbed a muesli bar and just started taking very small bites every couple of minutes and chewing it as much as possible. I didn’t have any GUs at the time, could have gone inside my pack for my emergency lollies, but thought I’d see how the bar went. I probably spent about 20 minutes on my own about 50 metres in front and felt I was getting a bit better. We re-grouped and SlowManiac asked me if I had needed some “me” time. I told him I was a bit flat. He said when most people feel flat they fall of the back, so I took that as a compliment.

We saw the third team heading out and made a note of the time and what position on the track we saw them so we could get a gap on the way back.

We started the climb towards the road that led to CP6 and a sole runner went past. We asked him where the rest of his team was and he said “you will have to find out”. He then proceeded to run quite impressively up the last steep concrete section of hill. After 80km Beaver and I were impressed. This might have been a show for our benefit as we saw him walk the fairly easy road section after it when perhaps he thought he was out of sight.

We approached the school and Buzz was there to lead us in, we checked in-out one by one when I thought they would want us to all stand there together. I told David I was feeling a little low on energy and he made sure I had some GUs and I also decided to drink my mini-Fanta instead of sport drink for a sugar hit. Grabbed my lights and put them on so I didn’t have to fumble with them while running and walked out while others sat in their chairs and did stuff.

CP6 -> CP7
We talked as a team that some were getting a bit ragged from all the pushing and needed a break, and it was agreed that once we got past the Out and Back section where teams would not see us we would relax the pace for a bit of a breather.

We saw a volunteer and asking him how far to the team in front, he said about 10 minutes, but I’m sure he wasn’t timing this; his 10 minutes could have been 15-20 minutes. We got to the spot where we had seen the third team and the gap was around 20 minutes, so they had made some time on us.

We got to the turn, it was good to still have daylight here as it is quite technical and I think just the fact that it was flat and cooler made it easier. About half way along this river section we turned our lights on, we all had pretty good head torches and it wasn’t a problem to see all the trip hazards. What was more of a problem was when you are focused on your feet and an obstacle like a tree or rock overhang is at head height, a couple of near misses. We continued along, and I think we realised that unless the wheels fell off for a team ahead this was probably our finishing position. I didn’t want to feel low on energy again, and had switched to more artificial stuff to get more concentrated energy. I was eating a Cliff Shot block every 10 minutes in this section and was feeling good.

Ourimbah was leading the last of the single track section and the running was just a bit slow for me to do it comfortably, so I decided to see if I could walk and keep up. I did for over a kilometre and it really goes to show that a quick walk is almost the same as a slow run. SlowManiac commented that he wouldn’t be able to walk as quickly as I was though.

Beaver had revved us up to run the last 3km of this section at a good pace. It was ok, but nothing like how we had stormed this section in training. We heard voices and were panicked it might be the team behind us, but it was Dan who had come out of the CP to meet us. He had been watching our progress at work and had decided to come out to the last few CPs to wish us along.

Another check in-out, crew, down another mini-Fanta, packs on, and walk out. Got our picture taken here, but yet to see it on the web.

CP7 -> CP8
Now onto what we call the “Nosh Course” where the Great Nosh was run a few months back that we all did. Doing it just a tad slower tonight than the reckless nature it was run at in the race. I’d forgotten how flat and runnable the first few km were, but then it became a bit more technical with some ups and downs. There was also a lot of ash in the air from recent hazard reduction burns.

Nothing much to report in this section. I think I had a bit of a stumble at one point when I was looking at Virtual Partner on my watch rather than at my feet. The rope to get up a big rock was a nice addition we didn’t have in training. I was following slow maniac and I could see how tight his legs were as his stride had become quite rigid. We were almost out of the bush and had one last 1 metre rock to climb. I could see him look for easier options than having to lift his feet above knee height. Doing it very tough, but not one word of complaint.

Our crew guided us into the CP, this time it was go to our crew, then check in-out. I decided to down my red bull just in case we needed to run hard in this section if we got a sniff of another team (from either direction), I was first to be ready as usual and started walking slowly.

CP8 -> Finish
Dan said we should be able to run it in 1:05. Not likely, we did 1:20 in training. I did a bit of a pretend sprint and I don’t think SlowManiac was impressed that I still had that much energy. It wasn’t long before this that I had asked him about how he was going and I think it was “very very very very sore legs”.

We had the short section of bush, and then it was road all the way. Beaver was ahead in the bush section. He knows it doesn’t produce the quickest time when he leads, but he just can’t help himself. We got to the road and I wanted us to stay as a group. We had stayed together all day, silly to split up now given we are safely in our position, but be ready to respond if there is a charge from the rear.

The volunteers we saw he thought we were “awesome” as did the people playing soccer in the street. I think we would have felt more awesome if we were running the time for this section that we had done in training. The course on my Garmin wasn’t exact for this section as the steps were closed for training, so I only had an approximation of the distance. A 15 hour finish appeared safe, but if we dawdled too much we might blow it. It was decided we should make the 15 hours safe and push on a little.

I continued to stay with SlowManiac while Beaver and Ourimbah led the way. I watched SlowManiac use more shoulder than leg strength to get down the steep stairs. We then ran across the spit and started the climb. I ended up power walking this with Beaver as there were no push bikes to race up the hill. We were ¾ up and I looked around to see where the other two were, a bit back and I told Beaver we might as well back off. We went down the steps together, not forgetting to give Ourimbah a sledge about not remembering this section last week when he had ran it three weeks ago.

Fairly uneventful along the beach, but I heard later there was a couple canoodling, I must have had my mind more on running than everyone else. We did a good job on the steps and got told at the top just 1km to go. My Garmin found the course and confirmed 15 was very safe.

We got side by side as best we could and ran to the finish together.

We all looked pretty reasonable for four people who had travelled a fairly rugged 100km in less than15 hours. The chair, warm clothes, and a hot soup were very welcome. No complaints of blisters, cramps, etc. I don’t any of us took our shoes off all day. We did want to stay and wait for some of the other people we knew, but a look at the computer times meant we would be waiting a bit too long and everyone was keen to make tracks. I thought it was really cool that the vehicle we drove to the start in was at the finish ready to drive home. I wish this could happen on point to point training runs where you spend hours doing car shuffles. I had been promised a pizza at the finish, and I wasn’t going home without one. So we stopped at Pymble and it was the best pizza I have eaten in years, well it tasted that way. I was told I had to drive home or walk, I took the drive option. Got home just after midnight, quick shower, and off to bed.


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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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