This weekend saw three members of Ultra168 head off to our trail heartland, the Great North Walk (GNW) up on the Central Coast, 1.5 hours north of Sydney. It’s an early morning start for us Sydneysiders, so armed with coffee and muffins, myself and Andrew (along with Marcus, Andrew’s Western States pacer) arrived at ‘The Basin’ just before sunrise to say hello to the leeches and some trail bikers whom we decided had slept in bed far too long and needed to be woken up at 6:30am.
The Basin is literally how it sounds, a bowl in the middle of the mountains, accessible only by dirt road and in the middle of nowhere. The only visitors down here are hardy campers who brave the millions of leeches that have made this place home. In fact the place is notorious for them, however in this instance, we were spared an invasion due to the unusual dryness and rather chilly temperature, a bit different coming back though when one or two decided that summer had indeed arrived early and made a beeline for our trainers.
Although it was pretty cold to start with, you can guarantee that the GNW will heat up soon enough. I don’t know what it is about this course, but it always serves up temperatures hotter than anywhere else in the Sydney area. There’s a race held on the track in November, and in the weeks preceding, everything seems to be fine. Then a few days before race day – BANG!- Mother Nature decides to turn up the oven and you’ll be sweating in 40 degrees and upwards of 80% humidity. That’s why there’s barely a 50% completion rate in this race.
Sure enough, despite being winter here in Australia, Mother Nature decided to serve up nearly 25 degrees on Saturday, which whilst nowhere near the summer temperatures we’re used to, is a little crazy for winter – the thermal top I started with was soon removed.
For most of the crew running on Saturday, this was a gentle warm-down from The North Face 100km last weekend, but for Marcus, Andrew and myself, it’s still full on training as Andrew prepares for Western States. For me, it’s about getting back into the groove for the next bout of training in preparation for the GNW 100 miler in November.
Apart from a gorgeous day, the most exciting thing to happen was an encounter of a deadly, but rather docile brown snake. Vizey and I were running along quite happily as we made our approach back to the Basin when all of a sudden he decides to challenge the World high jump record. At this stage I was oblivious to why he was attempting to jump higher than the trees around him, until he pointed in the direction of the snake, who was quite happily minding his own business on the side of the trail.
Personally, I think we’re extremely lucky to see these creatures in the wild. Despite the fact that these fellas can kill you within hours of a bite, if you take proper care and attention, then all should be good. Nevertheless, Marcus set a new trail speed record in his bid to get round the thing, whilst Vizey and I decided to take a closer look and picture the beauty – see the attachment below.
All in, a cracking day out and the hardest trail run of the next five months complete, can’t wait to get back out there. Next up, Mount Solitary.