Started off in a mad rush searching the car to find my contact lenses. Ended up finding a pair 0.5 weaker but good enough. Found Bart at the start and stuck together on road, Furber, landslide and joined the back of a congo line up Golden Stairs. Despite being about 100th back there was hardly any congestion.
Came into CP1 Narrow Neck 11km right on schedule and unintentionally left Bart. Ran all the steep bits to Taros Ladder with a general feeling i could do this forever that was helped by some cracking chats, particularly with Joe from Manly Beach Running Club who is a absolute champ and was telling me about his coaching business and running the GNW. Taros Ladder and the single track after was ripping fun too. Happy days :)
CP2 at Dunphys at 3hrs 31km after gaining 30 places on Narrow Neck feeling sweeeet. Grabbed some watermelon, refuel 1L and pumped for Ironpot. The climb was Nice! and awesome to bump into another 21yr old Kevin (who unfortunately DNF'ed). Views at the top were spectacular, made even better by a guy playing the didgeridoo, though wasn't able to appreciate it much as the trail and rock hopping was pretty technical. Bart caught me on the steep descent and just as the track joined Megalong Rd again my right kneecap started getting really niggly. At least there was a climb so was able to power hike to the top. Running off it wasn't good news. Felt like buckling each step and gritted my teeth hard just to hold pace. Why the fuck was this happening...again?? I really didn't want a repeat of Hounslow so rang dad for the first time today saying i wanted to DNF.
CP3 at 6 Foot at 4:50 46km. Took a few minutes to reassess and talk it through with Dad. It was only 5km or so to Nellies and the thought of being able to hike it got me through. The 6 foot grind was painful and the niggle i was hoping would go away looked like it was staying. I remember having the first of many 'ah shit' moments here. Was so relieved to start climbing and absolutely smashed the shit out of Nellies. Energy levels were high and was on a power hiking mission, passed at least 20 people going up, including Joe and Kevin who started 5-10mins before me. Stoked but was also in a LOT of strive running off the climb. Managed to shuffle to Aquatic in a tonne of pain and was a bit disheartening to see all the people i'd overtaken catch me on the road.
CP4 at Aquatic 6:24 57km. Told dad i wanted to quit because i'm only going to do more damage to the knee. He said I may as well walk then as there's nothing else to do this arvo. Fair play. Couldn't argue there. Dragged myself out and walked/shuffle to Echo Point. Giant Stairway was brutal. My saving grace was the railing which allowed me to hop down. Even tried going backwards at one stage, a big nope for future reference. Reached Leura Forest and again, crushed the climb. The undulating stairs to Fairmont were a bitch though and was really fucking the knee here. I think i called dad at Pool of Siloam and told him i wanted to pull out as i didn't want long-term damage (he said he'd get a medic). Fineee.
Fairmont 8:30 69km. Got the medic to strap my right knee which surprisingly helped. Yippee! It was alright until the descent to Wentworth Falls when the left one started to go. Faaaark. Hit the road and was suffering real bad. Called dad to get the medic to strap my other knee at QVH.
QVH 10hrs 78km. Dawled/walked in with a bit of a bruised ego too after losing 20+ spots on the 2km road alone. The medic strapped the left knee and said it wasn't the smartest idea to continue and i agreed. I was ready to finally pull the pin but thought fuck it. Only 22km and i didn't suffer all this pain to quit now. Was pretty optimistic that once i went down Kedumba, my love for hills will get me through too. Also sub-14 was still on the cards...
Watermelon in mouth, poles in hand i shuffled back out 16 sec apparently before the fleece was mandatory. Hehe. Then i was in for an absolute world of hurt. I haven't been in that much pain running before. Left tape fell off straight away so that was killing and right knee was flaring up again too. Both knees felt like buckling every step now. On top my headlight was flickering on/off when running for no reason. Luckily, picking up poles from QVH saved me. Managed to repeat a 200m shuffle then 100m hop with them. I knew if i wanted sub-14 i had to keep this up all the way, no wimping so gritted my teeth to get it done. I reckon 30+ people overtook me here too which is doesn't help morale. I was staying positive though, focusing on how awesome it is to be out here with like-minded people and amongst wicked scenery.
Reaching Jamison Creek i felt like i'd finished the race already...never been so relieved. Considering i wasn't running, i was smoking it up the climbs with poles but in hindsight it was all for a net loss as everyone i passed put a bigger gap on the small downhills. I think my climbing pace was actually faster than descending by this point.
5km to go at 13hrs and there's a single track downhill. Arghhh.
4km to go i called dad to ask how long Furber takes again. He didn't know.
3km to go "Where the bloody hell is the climb!!!". Noticed 2 juicy blisters on hands from poles.
2km to go with around 30mins left. 15min/km is doable if i don't cramp...
1km to go. FINALLY hit Furber and was flying up the steep sections but too many breaks in the climb to gain much time on people. Took just under 15mins which i was stoked about and honestly, had the energy to climb again.
Let out a yell at the finish and then felt both done and dejected so sat in the shower for some time after. On a bung knee, this was harder than Hounslow. Less hills and less places to get away with hiking. Still have no clue why knee flared up in the first place. Pretty bummed that it happened again (although a bit different) after training so well. A lack of strength and conditioning or too short/long taper? Or maybe this is just part of being new/young and ultrarunning? If so i might stick to <50km for the rest of the year, focus on vert and aim for CCC next year and besides I've already proved to myself that i can get through shit times. Either way, loved the event and would definitely do 50 or 22 again.Results