I headed to Namadgi National Park. Bogong2Hotham was cancelled due to heat wave conditions in Bright, with predicted temperatures reaching over 42 Degrees. The chance of a bush fire in the area was extreme and the Parks VIC had closed that park for commercial businesses.
I’d booked accommodation, organized child minders in my parents and I was stripped down to race weight after the Christmas Break. I wanted to train that weekend but I did not feel like driving for 8 hours for a training run. When I saw my good friend Bryony post on Facebook that she was going to train in the Namadgi National Park that weekend I jumped at the chance to explore the mountains around Canberra and the draw card for Namadgi National Park over Bogong was that it was only a 3 hour drive away from Sydney. I was able to work the Friday and the Monday if I trained in the Namadgi National Park, but this would not be possible if I drove all the way to Bogong. I was so lucky that Bryony offered for me to sleep at her house for the weekend and to have her as a training buddy.
On Friday afternoon I busted out of Sydney. I could not wait to get the hell out of there and see my mate Bryony in Canberra near Namadgi National Park. In my haste to leave Sydney I totally forgot the route to Canberra and I headed down the coast instead of inland. It was not until I’d reached Wollongong over 100km south of Sydney did I realized my mistake.
“Doh! You idiot” I thought.
I took a right hand turn and followed the road over the beautiful Southern Highlands through the rainforest of Budderoo National Park and after my hour detour I arrived at Bryony’s house in time to have a quick swim and pack my gear for our training run. After a beautiful home cooked vego lasagna, prepared by Bryony, I went to bed.
At 4:30am, Bryony and I woke up, ate breaky and taped our feet and headed off in the dark wanting to start as early as possible. The forecast for Namadgi National Park was for 38 Degrees, and we wanted to try and beat some of the heat. At 5:45 we were running. The plan for the day was to run for 30km in Namadgi National Park up over Mt Tennant along a single man track then picking up the Deep Space Mountain Marathon route at about the 20km point.
We headed off at the Namadgi National Park Visitors Centre in the dark with our Ay-Up All Rounder Ultra Lite Head Torches on straight up along the single man track towards the Summit of Mt Tennant.
What I wore on my training run;
- Inov8 Trailroc 245
- Injinji Socks Medium Crew
- Compression Socks
- Compression Shorts
- Tri-action Bra Top
- UltrAspire Omega Pack.
- Hammer Visor.
About 1/2 way up we stopped and watched the sun rise over the city lights below.
Bryony and I carried in over 5L of Perpetuem and Fizz up Mt Tennant expecting that we would need extra fluid to prevent dehydration throughout the run. I was using the UltrAspire Omega Pack so I could carry all this water comfortably. I had 2L bladder, 750ml in my front pocket, 2x 750ml in my back pack pocket and I was running with 2x750ml water bottles in my hands. There was tank water available, but we wanted to not have to rely on those provisions. At the 6km mark we dropped 1.5L of frozen water each in the shade of the tree. We then continued on up to the Summit of Mt Tennant and headed straight back down again along the fire trail and out into the valley towards the start of Deep Space Mountain Marathon.
We turned right onto a fire trail then took a left. At this junction we dropped more water in the shade of a tree and continued along the single man track following the Australian Alpine Walk in Namadgi National Park toward Sugarloaf Ridge. (I’m not sure of the directions…..I need to get a map of the area. I was lucky that Bryony is a local and she showed me the way).
We followed this awesome single man track for about 5 ks before we passed through a camp site and continued along a single man track towards the start of the Deep Space Mountain Marathon. This was amazing. The track was perfect for trail running I was surprised that it was not allowed to be used in races.
We after a few climbs and descents we popped out onto the Deep Space Mountain Marathon Camp site start line. Here Bryony and I left more water and any heavy food or supplies that would weigh us down in the shade of a Gum Tree. The plan was to fill up with water at the creek at the bottom of the valley at the 30km mark.
We continued up the climb to the top of the mountain. I left my UltrAspire Omega Pack at the track junction to Sugarloaf Ridge so Bryony see I’d run up to the Summit and she knew to wait for me. I’d continued up to the Summit of the Mountain. This bought back memories of the first Marathon that I’d ever run Deep Space Mountain Marathon. I thought how much stronger I’d become. Crazy. I could only walk this back in November 2009.
I turned back and hooned down the fire trail in my trusty Inov8 Trailroc 245‘s and I soon ran into Bryony at the track junction. I picked up my pack and we rolled down Sugarloaf Ridge together into the valley below. We felt the temperature climb. It was getting hotter with every meter we descended.
We chatted while we ran, Bryony is a quick descender and real natural at leaping down the descents. We were well matched running partners.
I got just a bit head of Bryony coming to the creek and I spotted a extremely venomous Brown Snake disappearing off the bridge and into the grasses. Far out man that is a massive warning sign. I was happy I carried 3 snake bite bandages in my pack! I knew that Bryony had at least one so we’d be okay if we got bitten, even if we were bitten on the quad.
“The creek is not flowing”, Bryony said.
“Bugger I’m out of water. I only have water 8km back at the camp site” I replied.
“I have enough water, you could run on for 3km and fill up at a tank over there”, Bryony said pointing to the other side of the valley floor.
“Bugger that. I’d probably be more dehydrated running in this heat out on the exposed fire trail than trying to get back up the mountain into the shade. I can run 8ks without water”. I reluctantly explained to Bryony. It was scorching hot already.
I walked carefully down the the creek, stamping my feet trying to scare away any hiding Brown sSnakes. I dunked my cap in the cool creek water. I got my feet wet too. I wet Bryony’s camp and buff and we decided that we’d fill up with water in our bottles not to drink but to keep ourselves cool by tipping the cool creek water over our heads to cool out core temperature down.
After wetting ourselves throughly we headed off. Bryony wanted to run at her own pace up Sugarloaf Ridge. She’d had a tough year and felt like she was just getting back into shape again and wanted to conserve her energy and play it smart.
I felt pretty good. Totally hydrated, peeing regularly. I’d consumed 2.75L of water for the 4 Hours of running plus 600ml before we started. I knew I’d be okay. I was still concerned that I would not be able to drink for the next 8ks. It was getting really hot. It was already over 30 degrees. The heat was radiating off the exposed fire trail. I’ve had kidney pain in the past whilst racing and it is almost crippling and extremely dangerous.
I devised a plan. Every 100 running steps I’d walk for 20 steps and tip some water over my head to wet my hair and cap to cool myself down. I worked out that if I tipped more water on my head rather than less water then I’d stay cooler for longer. My hair was wet through and this also helped to keep my temperature nice and low. I searched for the shade on the exposed fire trail and I was encouraged that with every steps that I took up the incredibly steep climb I knew I was heading towards more shade, water and cooler temperatures. I finished my 750ml water bottle shower at the track junction at the top of the 5km climb.
I was much relieved to be at the top of the ridge. I turned right thinking it was silly to push myself to the Summit again in these heat wave conditions, especially because I was out of water.( This track junction was a good place to drop fluid if you plan on running this route) and I rolled down the fire trail for the next 3ks passing a creek. At the creek I stopped and wet my cap, body and re-filled my water bottle and tipped water on my body again. The heat was still climbing and I wanted to prevent myself from over heating.
Before long I reached the camp ground, picked up my water bottles, organized my gear, went to the bath room at the public toilets and chatted to the bikies until Bryony arrived soon after me. Bryony looked hot and bothered. She did not look very well.
“I was drinking hydration mix that was too strong with not enough water in it”, She said. I’d made a similar mistake a few weeks back during the 30/50 Challenge.
I can’t say that she was using, but on that day I was having;
Endurolyte’s 1-2 every hour
1 Hammer Fizz per 750ml of water (weak electrolyte solution for the hot conditions), Drinking Perpetuem 1 1/4 scoop per 750ml of water (Again on the weaker side just following the instructions for my body weight).
Eating Hammer 1 gel per 30-40 minutes in a gel flask 4 parts hammer Gel 1 parts Water.
This mix of hydration and fueling was suiting me really well.
After re-filling, showering in the tank and sorting out our supplies we headed off together. I let Bryony lead knowing that she was starting to suffer a bit. The temperature was still climbing. It must have been pushing 40 degrees.
After only 2-3 ks of running Bryony felt nauseas. She stopped to vomit but nothing would come out. We tried to run again but she was still feeling ill. She was suffering in the heat and she was de-hydrated. I offered to carry her bag, but she refused. I asked her if she had a chance to do any “Hot” long runs. But she said no. I really believe that you need to acclimatize your body for 2 weeks, or a few long runs in the scorching heat to teach you how to hydrate properly and your body to cope with hot temperatures.
We decided that we could only walk. Bryony suggested that I ran on so I could get a better work out. I refused to leave her. She was suffering from heat stress and it would be dangerous to leave her. The temperature must have been pushing the high 30’s.
We walked on together for the next few ks and the Bryony said that her kidney’s were hurting.
“Give me your bag, it will feel so much better if I carry your bag. It will take the weight off your kidney’s. I’ve been where you are now. Beth Cardelli carried my bag for the last 5ks of the 30/50 because I was de-hydrated and my kidney’s were shutting down. Just give me your bag it will feel so much better”. I pleaded.
Bryony reluctantly gave me her bag and she felt better. I made her keep a water bottle and I asked her to drink every 5 minutes and to pour water over her head regularly also. She again tried to run but waves of nausea came over her every time she attempted a run. We stuck to power walking and telling our birth stories to each other. (Sorry guys, but it works if you are a mum).
We were slow, but we were safe. We soon exited the fire trail and found our water bottles waiting for us at the track junction at the base of Mt Tennant. Bryony rested in the shade of the tree while I had a toilet stop. She put her pack back on and we continued on together up the fire trail to the top of Mt Tennant. After 500m she again suffered waves of nausea and I took her back off her and carried it up Mt Tennant.
We chatted about everything to do with trail running, mountain running, kids, husbands, families. We looked after each other and we did our best to move as fast as possible to get to our water dropped at the Junction of Mt Tennant Summit and the single man track back down to the Namadgi National Park Visitors Centre.
Bryony could see the end of the training session and she decided that she was able to carry her pack and start to run down the side of Mt Tennant. The temperature climbed the more we descended. We ran through hot waves of heat. Even I was starting to feel waves of nausea. I’d never felt like that before. My body was really stressed. I’ve never run in such scorching conditions. It was like being in an oven. We had to walk through the exposed rocky out crops to save ourselves from heat stroke.
“Shona run on to the car and put the air conditioning on so it is nice and cool when we get there”. Bryony suggested.
I could barely run any faster. It was so hot. I felt sick. I did my best to move fast without being silly and before long I was at the car. I grabbed out cool bags, turned the air-conditioning on and we hydrated in the shade of the visitors information sign. We called our husbands, letting them know that we were okay.
We checked out our Sunnto’s Ambits and we realized that we’d been running in temperatures of 42 degrees. No wonder we felt sick. Far out, it was hot. We ran 58.5km with an elevation gain of a nice figure of 2222m. It was a nice first day effort for our training weekend.
The Namadgi National Park is an awesome place to train. The Namadgi National Park is close to Sydney with massive elevation gains and beautiful single man tracks. The Namadgi National Park is close to Canberra for supplies and accommodation. The Namadgi National Park is also a great place to go camping. Namadgi National Park