Wednesday, May 23, 2012

CP2 Dunphy's Camp to CP3 6 Foot Track

I ran into the Check Point 2 at Dunphy's Camp feeling good. I was on schedule for a great run. I just needed to get over Iron Pot Ridge and recover before I will start to feel more confident about my position in the race. Iron Pot Ridge is a bit of an unknown element of the race. It is a scared indigenous site and it is protected by the local indigenous land owners. You can't train on that section of the track. So you can't prepare your body for the ruggered onslaught that it gives your body. The most similar terrain that I can think of is the ascent up to Mt Solitary. I guess in a way making it "Out of Bounds" to us local runners makes it a more fair race for the interstate and international runners.
At the Check Point 2  I was asked to show my Thermal Bottoms and my maps. Bugger. I packed my thermal bottoms at the bottom of my pack so I had to empty my entire bag to get to them show the marshals then quickly repack my bag again. I ran over to the water station and again replenished my 600ml water bottle with Hydralyte Sports and then I was off.
I was feeling a bit sick. The hydration mix was not agreeing with me. I had to keep going. Julie and everyone else will be on my tail shortly. I kicked on up the wide fire trail and I spotted a bunch of chips and rice crackers on the dirt track. I giggled knowing that they were Beth's. Only Beth would be out here eating the most simple every day food items and still be running like super woman. She is amazing. She can run on almost nothing. It was a sign that she was up ahead.
The track started to climb through the most amazing bushland you could ever see. A lone stallion cantered by the track playing as a few of us runners jogged past. I was happy to say there were no cows in the area.
Before long I was at last at Iron Pot Ridge. I was all alone. Just me and the ridge. Last year this was the exact spot where Julie Quinn past me and romped to the finish line beating the World Champion Nerea Martinez with a record breaking time. This year Julie was no where in sight.
I put my head down and climbed. I was smarter this year. I was careful not to fill up with too much water before climbing up this scared indigenous ridge. Soon the track all but disappears into a trail of foot prints of the runners that have been before. I put my hands on my quads and tried my hardest to climb as fast as I could. I was stronger this year. I was able to train in the mountains more often and it was paying off. I got to the top with still no one chasing me down and I again urged myself to "Run".
I ran along the ridge hurting but so happy I was achieving my goal of beating Julie to the top. I still had a chance of getting a place. I pushed on along the trail that was a line of dotted rocks surrounded by long sliver green fluffy grasses. It was beautiful. I can see why the Indigenous land owners want to keep it in pristine condition. Iron Pot Ridge is a special place.
A kilometre or so later I spotted Beth and some other runners along the turn around section of the track.
"Well done guys". I said as I dodged and wived along the track trying my best to stay out of their way allowing them a clean run through the track. The track etiquette is to pull over for the people ahead of you.
"Doing well Shona". Beth said before she past me.
I could tell that she was about 2km ahead of me at this stage. Cool. I just wanted to see her at some point on Iron Pot. It meant that I was not doing so badly. Along the most exposed section of the track the Ingenious Land Owners sat on the rocky out crop and played the didgeridoo and tapping sticks and sang to us runners as we bounded past. It was a tricky section. The rocks can be ankle killers, and if you dare to take in the amazing view of Narrow Neck in the distance you will fall over. I felt slightly a bit rude not paying full respect to the land owners. I did thank them when I jumped from rock to rock past where they sat.
I ran to the end spotting more friends and wishing them well and a run safe. I made it to the end of Iron Pot Ridge and thanked the marshall and started to run back along the same track. I again thanked the Land Owners as I past and I soon spotted Bernadette and Julie. Who is Bernadette I thought? I knew Julie would catch me here. But who was this other female who was matching it one of the best? I was not happy. Bugger . I'm going to have to work harder to get on the podium. Have I done enough? Am I good enough to beat either Julie or Bernadette?
"Well done Bernadette, well done Julie."I then spotted my mate Matt. "Well done Mate" I said as I ran past.
Within a few hundred meters I was happy to be descending. I was all alone again and I was not going to be held up by anyone. I slid down the steepest section of the course following pink ribbons to indicate where the track was to go. This section of the course was so un-touched that there is barely a track to follow. The dirt was a lovely deep brown, and the most gorgeous long silvery green grass grew in long fluffy toughs and trees were scattered along the side of the track. I enjoyed the ride down the side of the ridge knowing that I had to make the most of my agility and go for it without getting injured. I  grabbed trees as I tried to control my descent if not sliding or running but falling down into Green Gully. Last year I strained a quad through this section of the track. This year I felt good. I managed to make my way to the bottom of the gully in one piece and un injured.
At the 45km when the track began to climb again through the gum trees I started to hurt. The track was so pristine that steps were freshly cut into the soft dirt by the land owners so the trail would not be eroded and we would have a more stable footing to follow. I felt like I was in an untouched virgin forrest. Clean, pristine and remote. I climbed up the dirt cut steps and I looked up and I spotted Lisa Tamati.  She was standing beside a cameraman near a dirt bike.
This was so surreal. One minute I was totally alone in the middle of the most pristine bushland the next I had a camera in my face. It was just bloody funny. They caught me off guard.
"Shona, how are you going". She asked.
"It's hurts. I'm hurting". I said as I pushed on up the dirt steps past her. Run. I urged myself. Run. With that was off and running through the bush. The trail soon widened and I started to hurt some more. I was thinking of Julie and Bernadette chasing me, hunting me down. I thought of Beth way out in front. I started to think about giving up. I felt sick in my stomach and I had a little vommy. I will always vomit after coming down a big climb if I am not feeling the best. The vomit did not really bother me. The fact that I was feeling tired and out of energy bothered me more. I had tried hard to get over Iron Pot Ridge before Julie and I was now feeling really low. I was hurting, feeling sick and tired. I wanted to give up. And who was the Bernadette person anyway?
At the 46km I looked in the long grass and wished that a snake would bite me on me ankle. I little snake bite did not seem as bad as pulling out for just feeling sick or tired. But a snake bite that could be acceptable reason for having to pull out of a race. I had my compression bandage in my pack. I've done first aid courses I know how to strap a snake bite. I was not that far from a road. I could just hop over to the road that I can see just a few hundred meters away and wave down a car and get to the local hospital. I'd get some anti-venom and I'd be up and running again in no time.
I looked around and I tried to remember how far I have come in a year. I checked my watch and saw that my splits were still okay. Not a winning split but they were still good enough to get you a respectable time. I started to count again. 12345678910, all the way up to 100. I ate some food and just wished I had my old trusty Sustain mix at the next check point. I knew I did not.
I ran out onto the road and I started the next big climb of the day a 200m climb up to Euroka Ridge along a fire trail. Again I started to count. 12345678910 all my way up to 100. I checked to see who was coming behind me and I could not see any one coming up the ridge after me. One of my great running mates warned me that Julie won't slow down she will just keep coming after you. I remembered this when I was hurting on the steep fire trail. I just had to keep going keep running and keep moving forward.
At the top of the climb I spotted three guys. I had caught up with my mate Noel.
"Back from the dead" He said to me.
"I hate climbing." I replied. It was funny. I caught him at the top of the climb. I'm really not that bad of a climber after all. I just think I am not that good. I made it to the top and I got my legs on and started running. I had to make the most of this descent and try and crawl back some time I had lost near Iron Pot. I hooned down the wide fire trail which soon turned to a road then turned right and headed through the golden grass of the Private Property of Old Ford Farm and up a final climb and into the Check Point 3, 6 Foot Track 54km 5 hours 54 minutes. I had made it over half way in under 6 hours I was stoked. I was still on track for a great time.

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