The year started with me drunkenly crumpled on the bitumen after spectacularly missing any cognition of a crossbar in a carpark and sumersaulting myself off my bike. Fortunately the rest of the year was less incompetent and bruising, and 2019 started with no hangover and an early run. Winning!
Our major improvement to our home this year was to finally act on having our bathroom replaced. We had the plans drawn up years ago - but had defered doing anything about it for a number of years. When work kicked of in mid August we expected we would be without our only bathroom for a few weeks. It turned into a couple of months; so we got well acquanted with our local public toilets. Despite everything the company doing the work did a quality job despite being shit communicators - and the layout, fitings and light filled room is now much betteror. That’s also the last major thing we had to do to our house - so we can get back to squirelling money away for a rainy day (or a holiday home).
I spent my second year on the Wybalena Grove Executive Committee. It’s been mosty fun - except for the bits involving a dispute with an owner and the protracted use of engineers and lawyers. One of the most succesful parts of the year was seeing the Grove finally getting a community garden. The garden beds have only been in for a couple of months but are already brimming with vegetables, fruit and brassica. Our tiny 1mx1m plot has already given us a fair swag of lettuce - and aside from some garlic bulbs tucked in there will lie dormant for the first half of 2019.
I set myself a goal of increasing my yearly mileage by another 500k this year to 3000km. That was going to require a pretty consistant 60+ km / week. As you can see below I’ve hit my target with a very consistant year, which I was pleased with.
I’ve only had one injury - a badly rolled ankle 12 days out from Ultra Trail Australia. That injury, along with my headspace caused my first DNF. A good learning experience - and a step on the path to completing my first 100k race later in the year - at the Hume and Hovell ultra.
I took part in three main races this year - plus a 3rd in the mixed team Sri Chinmoy Canberra 105 relay event.
I bought 3 pairs of shoes this year (*), my current stock on rotation is looking pretty good:
Inov-8 Trailroc 285 (1173 km)
Inov-8 Trailroc 245 #2 (1215 km)
La Sportiva Arkasha (784 km)
La Sportiva Mutant (340 km)
New Balance Vazee Summit * (313)
La Sportiva Lycan * (169)
Altra Lone Peak 4.0 * (13k)
Next year I should have plenty of time to lace up and explore new places on the trails (or roads where I have to). This should build up to the 5 day Dragons Back Race along the length of Wales, taking in all the mountains in late May. 315k, 15000m of climbing, and an unmarked course - should be epic and a real challenge.
Early in 2018 Dense and I took a few weeks to see her family, and our friends in Europe. The trip was excellent - despite Denise picking up a nasty flu that kept her in bed for a chunk of our time at the parents. A full write-up of our trip is here. We did realise during the trip that we should try to spend some more time closer to Denise’ parents for a while. This spurred on our always planned, but never enacted Australian privilege of taking Long Service Leave. We both locked in a mix of Long Service Leave and annual leave - at half pay - and locked in 6 months of travel in early 2019!
The trip is coming up fast now - with everything important booked for the first couple of months, with arrangements to visit Amsterdam, Berlin, Cologne, Norway, Stockholm planned. We then in mid March head to Peru for two full months of treking and touring around the whole country! On our return to the UK (post Brexit?!) in mid-May I then have my Dragons Back race. That just leaves June, and some milder weather where we will play it by ear. Should be grand. Expect more updates on here as I go.
Denise and I just got back from a long overdue trip down to Tassie over xmas. It was a terrific trip - we got in a lot of walking, relaxing, catching up, and obligitory food and drink. Of particular note we managed a couple of excellent walks out to Cape Huay and Cape Raoul.
A lot less reading this year for some reason. I’m sure I’ll rectify that with a lot of long bus rides, air travel and lounging at the in-laws. The virtual bookshelf this year consisted of the following (although I swear I’ve forgotten a book or two!)
Not many adventurous beers brewed this year - but my method is simple and the results are reliably good. I’ll need a new brew bag next year when I return - as my long standing one is now a bit clogged and slow to drain.
Very few tech purchases this year :( but the one I did acquire I am very pleased I did - the Garmin inReach mini. This tiny satellite based GPS and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) also supports two way SMS/email communication with friends and family. Super useful when out on very long and remote missions - where a simple checkin can make a huge difference. If your interested - this is a great write up of it’s features.
Here’s some other awesome things I discovered in 2018:
CAMRA real ale festivals in the UK are brilliant. I should get to go back to the Manchester one again this year link
Dan Whitehead is worth following on youtube - brilliant quality videos, and takes in the best of good food, good trails and good coffee.
Dan put me onto Ciele hats - and I confess they are really good
In the middle of the year after my first DNF attempting UTA100 - I started casting for my next ultra. It was going to be a toss up between the Sri Chinmoy Canberra 105 and the Hume and Hovell. Whilst the former was in my backyard - the tiping point was when a few friends indicated they might head to Tumbarumba for for the Hume and Hovell. I’d heard it was a nice trail, well run, small event. So I signed up - booked a room in the local pub and hoped not to suffer an injury 13 days before the race like happened last time.
Denise headed down with me on the Friday afternoon and after a “relaxed” check-in procedure at the local pub we made our way up to the motel for race check-in, dinner and the briefing. We caught up with Graham who was lining up for the 50k the next day and his partner Ruth had a nice meal and turned in early to organise myself and try to get a good nights rest.
Of course in an uncomfortable bed the night before a race - only a few hours of sleep was had. Then a quick aeropress, and the drop bags and my racing pack were loaded into the car with Denise to Henry Angel campsite. In the pre-dawn light 100k and 100 mile runners huddled around roaring fires. Drop bags were dropped ready for me to re-unite with them at the 40k and 70k mark.
Once frst light was upon us and runners could safetly head off without a head torch - we got the go ahead in an informal and quick kick off. We all left the campsite north, under the road, and off for the first stretch of what was almost solely single-track towards Manus Lake and our first turn around point. The pace was gentle, but fast enough to keep me warm in the still frosty morning. We followed the river for a while, before crossing a steel bridge, and up over Mt Garland as the sun started its arc for the day. A day I would see it rise and set whilst out in some beautfiul country on some beautiful trails.
I started a conversation with Kevin - he was here for the first time too. But unlike me was very much used to the “long run” having regularly competed in the Coast2Kosci 250k run. We carried on through the first checkpoint at 12k, and down into Mannus Lake. The lake looked stunning in the early morning light with swans and bird life. This was the first stretch of fire trail, and the first stretch you could relax and enter auto-pilot. Not long on this stretch the front-runner, Brendan Davies, ran past - a good 20-30 minutes ahead already and we were only about 20k in. After the turnaround point we entered the second checkpoint - and I topped up a water bottle I’d prefilled with TailWind and grabbed a vegemite sandwich. I hadn’t had a big breakfast and I was hungry already!
Heading back towards Henry Angel and the start/finish - the day was now moving into comfortable temperatures, I caught back up with Kevin and we chatted casually. At 30k in - I was feeling comfortable and running within a comfortable zone. As we got closer to the start, we started to see the 50k runners passing through.
I was getting tired and warm under the late morning sun as I came into Henry Angel. I took time to swap out my shoes, swap out my top, pack my headtorch and change out my hat for the hottest part of the day. I also turned ond threw in the garmin mini inreach and set it into track mode. I headed off talking with David who was an acquiantance I met at last years Run Larapinta, and again at UTA this year. It was nice to be back running alongside a stream, although now quite hot, so I began semi-regularly stopping to dunk my hat in the stream for immediate relief.
Very quickly (apparantly was 6k) the next Check Point appeared. A few relaxed folk around a gazebo and a small campsite. I was starting to get the sickly taste of Tailwind - so had some more coke and when David re-appeared topped him up with half my bottle of TailWind. I refilled both bottles with water - it was a 15k stretch to the next CheckPoint - CoffeePot. I moved out of the aid station and out through an open and pine forest section, even managing a brief glimpse of a feral horse (Brumby). I started to hit some climbs and now at about the 45k mark decided to get out the wizard sticks (poles). David caught me back up and we carried on walking, jogging and running up what was mostly runnable, gentle single track. After a while we both caught up with Kevin - who was walking slowly. He had misjudged the check points and was almost out of water - so asked for some. Both David and I gave him what we could - and kept moving. A few minutes later we heard him hurl it all back up again. We saw someone coming up behind him, and knew we were only 4 or 5k from the next checkpoint so new he would make it if he kept moving slowly.
As we kept slowly climbing, with my hat on and my head bowed watching my feet - I was startled as a shout of “headsup” came at me. It was Brendan Davies on the homeward stretch. It was well over 30 minutes until the next person came on through. Brendan was killing it only 6 days after winning the CBR105 solo event last week. As David and I entered Coffee Pot together we had about 42k left to run - I felt tired but not exhausted, I was still very much enjoying the day and the trails. Leaving Coffee Pot David pulled away and I was back on my own. I noticed my right achilles was starting to feel sore but it wasn’t particularly painful more an annoyance and something to watch. I kept moving through the last of the uphill section, before dropping down into Paddys River dam and the campsite there. This was a nice mental checkpoint, with lovely views acros the water as I moved around the dam, and then onto another small stretch of fire trail to the turnaround checkpoint. As I ticked off the few k’s up this road I could gauge my progress as I saw Kevin, then the David pass me on the return.
I came into the checkpoint feeling relieved to hit this mental milestone. In preparation I had told myself so long as I got to the 70k mark in good nick, it was all “downhill” from there and I’d get it done. Coming into this checkpoint I had no doubt I would finish - and I was pleased my pacing and heat management had worked. My cravings for ginger beer was even answered! I grabbed a banana, and some of a nut bar, filled up my water bottles, messaged Denise and started charging my watch. There were 100 milers and pacers for them arriving - this is where they added on an additional 40+k loop, before returning.
After a good 10 minute or so stop I grabbed my stuff for the 30k home stretch. The sun was waning, I decided it was time to introduce music and started rocking a new 2hr Breaking Bread podcast. Rocking new music kept the motivation high, as the gradual downward trail. Mentally I was continuing to break it down - back through Coffee Pot checkpoint, and a very brief rest here. Then the long 15k section to the next check point. The sun was setting, and a natural urgency arose as I moved relatively quickly trying to make good ground before it was dark. At about 8pm I stoped to put the head torch on and let Denise know where I was - about 10k to go.
There was a fair bit of walking now, and one or two runners who were finishing strong running past me in this home stretch. The end was getting inexorably nearer km by km. As I came into the final checkpoint I was ready to finish - there was just 6k to go. I jogged where I could, and hiked quickly the rest. At some stage I saw a runner coming the other way - which was strange but I put it down to someone heading to the checkpoing to meet a runner.
For the last couple of kilometers I moved pretty quick, then I could see the Henry Angel campsite and the lights of the finish line. I ran it through - feeling good and strong. My first 100k. 15hr 24m. 14th out of 32 runners. I had Denise, Graham and Ruth there to greet me and a medal around my neck. Whilst it was a long and at times hard day out - it was in may ways the most comfortable ultra I’ve run - no cramps, only a few brief moments of stomach distress, and 30k longer than my longest run. A great trail, well run event and a thoroughly enjoyable day out
After 10 minutes or so recuperating - I saw David cross the line - he was well ahead of me but had got lost and was the runner I’d seen running in the wrong direction.
La Sportiva lycan (first 38k), La Sportiva arkasha (back 62k)
gore top (first 38k), run rabbit run top (back 62k)