resurfacing.....Wilsons Prom 100 | Race Report
The â€˜Karman lineâ€™ is the official boundary of outer space. 100km. Youâ€™re not classified as an astronaut until you cross the 100km threshold. Last weekend, I ran this distance, with my legs, on the ground.
It was scenic, but gruelling. 25kms beyond any previous runs I had participated in, an un-supported event, almost entirely over a single technical track.
>Food Drop Fiasco
Friday evening, head off to collect our numbers and the race director informed us of the planned food drop location (Telegraph Track Junction). The race consisted of a 80km loop, followed by a 20km loop. The first loop you have zero access to sustenance, with the exception of an infrequent rusty water tap. The drop point was about 60km in, but if we drove to a certain point the infamous location would, according to the race director, â€œonly be a few kâ€™s away.â€
It ended up being a little further than advertised. After a 12km warm-up run, finishing in darkness, we werenâ€™t rapt. From there we bee-lined to the Fish Creek pub for some serious pre-race carbs. A few beers, a parma and half a steak sandwich later we were itching to go.
The first thought that goes through my mind when the alarm roars at 4am is always the sameâ€¦â€I have made a big mistake.â€ Thankfully this passes a few kâ€™s in. A last-minute decision left me with a two pack configuration, a standard camel pack with two litres in the back and an AK racing vest, with another 1.4 litre capacity on the front. Great call Garner, as there were infrequent places to refuel, and the compulsory gear took up a bucket of room. The race itself was seriously difficult, although it is almost impossible to reflect clearly on that now. The notorious post-race runnersâ€™ high eclipses those seriously dark moments when you loathe yourself for ever starting.
Some basic facts in an attempt to articulate the sort of race it was. There were no course markings other than the trail markings which were irregular and often inconspicuously placed. There was no support on the course other than the occasional camp site with drinking water. The race traversed mostly hiking trails, with a few beach sections and a short boardwalk. The hiking trails were narrow, covered with rocks, and undulating, making it difficult to muster much more than one km every six minutes, and the course had around 4000m~ of elevation over the 100km. These factors compounded to create the hardest race I have ever completed.
The first 30kms from Tidal River, up Mount Oberon, to Sealers Cover and around to Refuge Cove I ran with a few other people. It was severe and I found it hard to find a comfortable pace, making up my mind I would be content to hobble over the finish line at all! The other runners around me kicked on, and for the remaining 70kms I ran almost entirely on my own, which I think worked in my favour. I found that elusive comfortable pace, hiked the hills and hit the down hills and flats as hard as I could. I churned through the next 20kms and found myself at the lighthouse with stunning 360 degree views. It sounds trite but having spectacular scenery accompanying your run really does give you energy and drive you never knew existed.
The next 10kms along the coast towards Waterloo Bay was a serious death march. A lot of vertical gain, hard technical single track and not another soul out in the jungle. When I finally emerged at Waterloo Bay I felt I had broken the back of the monster and ran back across Oberon Bay and up to Tidal River feeling relatively comfortable. I pulled into Tidal River before heading out on the last 20km loop, doing a 80km loop finishing at the finish line and then going out for another 20km was a serious mental battle but I tried to push through the transition as quickly as possible. I ran into a friend who gave me a hand filling up my camel pack and there were a lot of surprised looks and comments, apparently I looked to be in pretty good form. The last 20kms was hard, the calves started to cramp, my body started rejecting food and darkness descended. Pulling the head torch back on wasnâ€™t much fun but with the end in sight the mental strength was easier to muster. The race started at just after 6am and I made it back to Tidal River around 7.30pm, a decent day in the saddle.
Out of the 45 or so starters only 19 finished and it was a welcome to surprise to hear that I had come fifth place, in just under 13 and half hours.
After my last big run (Mt Buffalo 75km) I couldnâ€™t walk for almost a whole week. This race was substantially more difficult and 25kms further. I continued the standard JPG practise of no warm-up or cool-down before or after the race, however I did master a light jog Sunday morning. By Tuesday (the race was Saturday) I was almost 100 per cent. My neck and shoulders were sorer than my legs from carrying 6kg+ on my back. However I must admit I have been deathly sick these last few days which I think is a direct result of running my body and immune system down to almost empty. Once I start feeling semi-human again I will pull on the shoes and start pounding the pavement once more.