I spotted some of the leading male contenders running back to the trail after they had been to the check point. I was feeling green, I pushed on knowing that the check point was only a kilometre to go, so it will be only a few minutes before I could have a drink. Mikey better get the bloody Eski out of the car and have my hydrolytes and sunscreen ready for me.
I ran up a final small climb and entered the gates of the small bush school. I could hardly take in my surroundings, I have no idea what the school looked like, I was just so focused on getting the food, hydration, water and any gear I needed. I run to the check in, said my number, “One, One, One, I think One, One, Shona, Shona Stephenson”. My number was 111, but I just said as many Ones as was needed! Not totally with it at the time.
“Where are the scales?”, I was interested in what I was going to weigh, I had been without water for at least 30 minutes, and I wanted to know if I was really that effected. I stood on the scales and I felt dizzy,“I ran out of water 5km ago” I informed the marshals, “53.8 Kilos, I had lost 1 kilo.” Cool I thought. That must be expected. I probably pissed out 500ml before the race even began, and I had a huge bowl of pasta the day before, and 2 lunches of carbs so no wonder I was heavy at the start and loosing weight as I completed the kilometres. this amount of weight being lost did not bother me. I weigh myself all the time, and losing a kilo in a day is not that hard for me especially when it is mainly fluid that I purposely put in the day , night and morning before.
I ran to Mikey and my gear area, trying my hardest to be calm. He had my hydrolytes out for me but where were the scissors? He only had 2 hydrolytes out, but I read the back of the packet and it stated I could have 3 in 30 minutes, and considering I had been out of all fluid for 30 minutes I was going to have the 3. He ran back to the car to get another Hyrdolyte. I found the scissors, downed the hydrolytes, swopped my food bag over. “Where is the sunscreen?”, again he left that in the car. “Far out Mikey, you are such a bloke!”. He ran back to the car and when he returned I was smothered with sun screen, whilst drinking water from my containers, and re- filling my water bladder for my pack and swopping my electrolytes over.
I was then ushered into the gear check area. “Do you have your head torch, spare batteries, and reflective vest, plus all your other mandatory items?”, Mikey, what have you been doing for an hour whilst you are sitting here I thought. “No, I’ll get them”, I said in a hurry. Mikey started running back to the car. “Nah, they are in the gear box”, I ran back to our gear station and grabbed the extra required gear and ran back to the check point marshals and my gear was then assessed.
“Head Torch, Check, Spare batteries Check, Reflective Vest, Check, Rain Jacket Check, Whistle, Check, Crepe bandage, Check, Mobile Phone, Check, Compass, Check, Maps Check, Water, Check, Food Check, Emergency Blanket Check”. Cool I had everything and I was allowed to go.I grabbed the Voltaren and rubbed it all over my hamstrings and quads. My hamstrings were tight, and my quads had taken a pounding from all the climbing and running at speed down the hills, so I decided to give them some pain relief. I thanked the marshals,and Mikey and I started to leave.
I could tell Mikey was worried about me as I had already run out of water once. He could tell I was feeling sick. I was staring to become de-hydrated. It was hot, and I knew it was going to be stifling on those climbs. “This section is much harder, be careful, use your water wisely”, he said with a concerned voice. “ I will fill up at the top of the climb, I can have an extra 2L, I will fill up there I will drink all my water, I’ll be okay.” Then I was off, running out the gate and back down the road. I suddenly stopped. I had forgotten my maps, I must have left them on the ground at the check point. Again I had to run back to the check point for something stupid, I ran and grabbed my maps. I would be totally lost without them.
I hit the dusty country road again, soon turned right and entered the Glenagra Farm. There were cows right near the pathway, the one thing I am scared of is cows. I quickly scanned their privates, and noticed that they were mothers with their calves. One of the calves was getting a bit feisty, cantering in a playful way near the trail, he must be a young male getting all boisterous. Just don’t chase me I thought, and I moved as far away from them as possible. Trying not to offend any of the mothers, moving as quickly as possible to get away form them.
I ran on, up a climb along a fire trail through this gorgeous farm. I was conscious to take small sips regularly. I usually drink every 15 minutes, but I switched to drinking small sips every 10 minutes in the hope to try and re-hydrate myself. I was feeling a bit green and I still had a long way to go,the mercury was rising fast, especially on these exposed rocky fire trails. I was really paying for my mistake of tipping out the precious water. On TNF 100km race I was in back in May, I was without water for about 5km or more, and I really did not recover from my mistake. I knew I was not drinking enough during that race and that was in winter. This is practically Summer and I have already run out of water once, I can’t afford to run out again.
I turned left onto a walking track and I was shaded by the gum trees. The trail then started to climb the steepest climb of the day, I climbed from 179m to 496m in only 100m. The trail was so steep that I had to meander up the rocky ridge like a snake, saving my legs from being over extended. Mal was still not too far behind. Every now and again I would turn back and wave at him encouraging him to come on and join me. But he just did not have the pace, or the legs that I had.
As soon as I was up the top of the climb I was running down again. Cool a recovery, that was not so bad I thought. I knew the climbs were going to bite, I just had to wether the terrain. I threaded my body along the narrow steep descent from 496m back down to 150m to cross Watagan Creek. I made my way through about 5 cattle gates, which in it’s self were like working out a a puzzle and I spotted a spectator. “There was a guy about 7min ahead of you”, He said. “I don’t care, I’m a female, how hot is it?”, I replied. “27 in the car”. I looked behind me, Mal was still there, he was almost like Gollum, just in the back ground. I looked down at my body, I was covered in sweat, either I was finally hydrated again, or this place, being in this gully at about the 65km mark was so hot and still I was for once showing signs of sweat.
I hit the next climb, again it was a rocky exposed ridge line which went straight up to 402m I knew that once I was past this the trail would get easier. There was also an unmanned water stop up ahead. I kept drinking small amounts, hoping that my diligence would pay off. At the 68km mark I spotted the drink stop. I drank the rest of my water from my hand held bottles and filled up with only 1.2L, and topping up my bladder with another 800ml, knowing that this would be enough to get me to the next check point at the 81km mark.
When I was finished I spotted Mal entering the area. He looked relieved, we said a few words, I think he said he had just spewed. He seemed alright though, he looked like he was just pushing as hard as I was, so I was off again and running. The trail changed to rolling hills ascending on a single man track. I was at the highest point on the trail, Mt Warrawalong, and there was a storm brewing over my head. I heard loud cracks of thunder, and the sky grew dark. Please rain. Rain now, and I will be the luckiest runner in the race. I needed desperately to cool off and a good thunder storm would be just what I needed. I hit the top of the climb reaching a height of 547m and the rain started, and it was absolute bliss. It cooled me down and I relished every big thunder storm drops that hit my heat stressed body. I am the luckiest person around I thought. It only rained for a about 10 minutes, and then it stopped. I was just in the right place at the right time. Someone was looking out for me. The trail soon changed into dense scrub again, with bush stairs and I could hear voices up ahead. I had caught some other runners,I could hear them talking to each other. This spurred me on. I was starting to feel great I had conquered the biggest climbs of the day, and everything else just seemed easier. I crossed over some trails, and I had to stop and check my map, track notes and the track itself to make sure I was heading in the correct direction. I looked for foot prints in the sandy clayish ground.
I crossed Pig and Sow Road and before long at about the 75km mark I came across the 2 runners. When one of them saw me he said a few words to the other and was off and running. The 2nd runner was walking, walking very slowly. He look knackered. Defeated. Barley able to walk in a straight line with his shoulders stooped forward. “Are you okay? Do you need a gel?”. I asked as I ran past feeling bloodily good compared to him. “Nah”, was all he could manage. “Your in 2nd position”,(There were 2 races happening at the same time, a 100km and a 100 Mile, I was now 2nd in the 100km race) He said totally deflated. “Are you bloody kidding me?”, and with that I charged on feeling so good about myself. I was shocked that no other male could stay ahead of me in the 100km race. I was just so chuffed, thinking only positive thoughts about my race, and how far I had to go.
I was doing so well and I was feeling great, then bang. I hit one of my “Runners Toe’s” on a large rock. I took a step and I felt sharp stabbing pain coming from my toe nail that I knew had a “Hot Spot” on it. I tried to run on but the pain was so immense that I had to stop. Thoughts of having to stop because of a bloody toe nail crossed my mind. I had only just moved into 2nd position, and I was winning the Women’s race by a chunk and a silly toe nail was going to cost me time. I quickly took my shoe off , fearing an attack of leeches if I stayed in the same place for too long, especially now that it had just rained. I tried to pull the toe nail off but it was so incredibly painful and still joined to my toe so I could not move it. I popped the blisters that had formed at the start of my toe nail due to the impact they had received from all the down hill running and tore off some callused skin that was underneath the toe nail at the end, I pushed the excess fluid out of my blisters and with care in put my injinji socks back on, replaced my shoes and took a step. The pain subsided, and I was running again. Thank you. I had come too far to have something as insignificant as a stubbed toe nail force me to retire from the race.
The trail narrowed and entered a sub tropical rainforest again. The fear of leeches spurred me on through the maze of trees, rocks, creek beds, vines, following the little pink dots in the lush green surroundings. I came across some more runners, and I flew straight past them using my small size and narrow frame to my advantage. I past some more trying to cross a fallen tree. It was odd, I did not think I would be fairing so well at this late stage of the race. The descent was not so steep, so it was really fun to run along the thin shady trail. I dropped from 445m down to 250m in about 3km, but because it was technical trail I made up some great time compared to these big blokes. I was hydrated, so hydrated I needed to pee, as soon as I ran some distance between my self and my fellow runners I peed. I only had a short climb to go, willing the camp ground at the check point to come closer. I spotted a clearing in the trees, and desperately listen for voices up ahead, and like magic I was greeted with a beautiful trail of ferns for my descent into the Basin Camp.
I was feeling great, and I only had about a 1/2 Marathon to go. I knew Mikey would have the gear ready for me this time. So Hopefully it will be clear sailing in and out of the check point. I felt great and I knew that the worst was behind me.