I arrived at the first check point right on time, I had just completed a tough section, with all the stairs to be climbed and the Landslide to be crossed, the first section of the track was really technical. I still felt fresh and I had heaps of water still in my camel bak, so when I saw the line at the check point for water, I decided that I did not need to fill up, or event stop for a drink, I just grabbed some caffeine gels and kept going.
Nerea, stopped only to say Hi to her Team support crew, and she was off also, up the long fire trail of Narrow Neck Plateau. She was a fantastic climber, not really fast, but just consistent, she just kept powering on up the ridge. I put my head down, took 20 walking steps then took 40 running steps, then 20 walking steps then 60 running steps, then 20 walking steps then 80 running steps, until I was at 100 running steps, and then I could run up the climb.
Nerea was the world champion who was tipped to win the event, I wanted to run at my own pace and own rhythm, there was no point trying to keep up with her on a climb, she was from Spain! Their mountains are huge over there, I live in Camperdown, I only have 100m climbs near where I live!
I was running along Narrow Neck Plateau, making great time of about 6 minute kilometres, then under 6 minute kilometres. Narrow Neck is one of the most gorgeous places in the mountain, it is a sandstone plateau that reaches an elevation of 1072m, the day was clear and when I could take my eyes off the track, I tried to take in the view, it was such a perfect day, the sun was shinning and it was clear, I could see for miles. I kept saying to myself, just perfect, beautiful,awesome. I was having a ball. And at about the 25km mark I was still fresh, and I was making great time.
Close to the end of the Plateau, there are a set of “climbing spikes”, at Tarros Ladder, near Duncan's pass. In training I found these most humorous, because I was by myself and I did not read the track notes, so when I was trying to figure out a way to get off the plateau, and I spotted the spikes, I thought it was the funniest joke of the day! I am only 5 foot 2 and 1/2 inches, and in training when I was descending these spikes, every step down was a leap of faith, I had to trust that there was a step, or a spike where my foot needed to go next. However, in the race there was a ladder with a rope net around it so prevent any falls. So this section was so easy. We hit a single man track again, then another set of climbing ladders. Again we followed the line down the caged ladder. Back onto another single man track, I caught another group of guys, then passed them on the track, just before it opened back out onto a fire trail at Medlow Gap.
I rolled down the hills, passing more guys, one staid I was in 4th position, I said, “It is a long race, and it is my first SOLO 100km”, he asked me “What team I was on”, I said “I’m just a mum”, he laughed, “Just a Mum”. We ran together for a while, then another climb came, and I let the guys go again. Again I started my counting, 20 walking steps, 40 running steps, 20 walking, 60 running, 20 walking 80 running, 20 walking 100 running. When I got to 100 running steps, I could run until the climb became more challenging.
Another guy in a blue shirt asked me what time I was aiming for, I said 13 and a half. He said “we wree right on time for 13.5 hours, but he got 13:42 last year.” I said cool, he asked “What time I did you get at 6 Foot Track ?” I replied “4 hours 32minutes”, He said “I ran it in 4Hours 22 minutes”. This kind of put me off a bit. He was faster than me , and fitter than me and he still still did not make it in under the 13 hour mark. I disliked him from then. I wanted to prove him wrong. I knew I was going well and I was right on time. He said “it will all depend on how you deal with the last section”.
We climbed up and onto Bellbird Ridge which was 800m above sea level, I pointed to another runner the gap in the trees, meaning that we were close to the top, and it was not far until the check point.
We climbed for a few more hundred meters, then descended a steep gravel track to a camp Site called Dunphy’s Camp. This was the Check Point 2, at the 38km mark.
I was still on time, it was about 10am, so I had been running for 4 hours.