For about 15 years I’ve wanted to visit the Lamington World Heritage Listed National Park. It took a back to back event with 42km Saturday and a 21km Sunday race to give me enough motivation to finally get there. The Lamington Classic has a historic South East Queensland trail running event that has been around since 1970. It is said to be the oldest trail running event in Australia. The Lamington Classic has an amazing history of great runners who have run the 21km distance from Binna Burra to O’Reily’s for over the 30 years.
Initally the event ran one way only for example from O’Reilys to Binna Burra Lodge and then the following year the opposite way. Then the race was evolved into the 21km O’Reilys to Binna Burra on the Saturday then Binna Burra to O’Reily’s on the Sunday. Last year was the first year that the race ran as a 42.2km out and back from Binna Burra to O’Reily’s return on the Saturday. Is your head in a spin yet? Confusing? Yes. Heaps of fun? Yes.
My adrenalin was pumping on the drive into the Lamington Plateau. I love racing in new locations, it always brings a new adventure. I arrived at Binna Burra Grooms Cottage registration and I was introduced to the great Bruce Hargreaves AKA Digger. The Lamington Classic is his baby. Digger shook everyones hand, introduced himself as Digger as we all arrived in the Grooms Cottage at Binna Burra Lodge. What event does a race director take the time and effort to meet, greet and make every runner feel special? This race was small, relaxed, and a far cry from the Ultra Trail du Mt Blanc (UTMB) that I’d raced only 6 weeks before. I loved the relaxed atmosphere of the Lamington Classic. It reminded me of my first every trail event The Great Nosh in Sydney and the Deep Space Mountain Marathon in Canberra.
I believe that Digger has had to work tirelessly with Queensland Parks and Wildlife to get this race off the ground and to keep it running for 46 years. The course records are staggering. Some say the track is slower and more eroded now. What ever! I still am in total admiration of Nikki Carroll who managed to run the 21km course in 1 hour 35 minutes. Thats on the Long Course. If you want a shot at the record you have to run it on the Long Course which is about 800m further than the 21.1km course we will be running. It will take one special runner to beat some of the 21km records.
The logistics of the Lamington Classic are a bit crazy and difficult for me to get my head around at first. I even had to call up Digger and ask him where the start line was and if it was at the same place as when I’d be staying in the Bunks. Too funny, I was totally lost in the event notes. It’s weird to talk about logistics in an event. To be honest with you running the out and back marathon st Binna Burra seemed like the easiest option logistically wise.
Okay let’s talk logistics, to race the Lamington Classic it’s kind of essential I try and explain the logistics.The remoteness of both the start and end points really is what makes this event so special but a bit of a nightmare with your cars. I chose not to worry about the logistics until after I’d raced my marathon, mainly because I was so confused. Bruce Hargraves AKA Digger and his mates organise car shuffles, car pooling or people to drive your car from Binna Burra to O’Reily’s for all the 75 runners for the Sunday 21km run. Nuts! Yes your car can be delivered to you at the finish line. Yes! Amazing. Once you’ve driven these roads you can appreciate what lengths these guys go to to look after the runners. The roads are not for the faint hearted, the bends were narrow and in a fair amount of the mountain road only one car could fit. The Lamington Classic is such a chilled out low key event that handing your car keys over to these guys whom potentially you’ve only spoken a few words too seemed perfectly normal to all the other runners except for my mate Steven and myself who on Saturday afternoon after racing the 42km marathon still could not get our heads around the thought of depositing our car keys into a key box and trusting your car to makes it to the other range at O’Reily’s the next day. Are they joking? I think both Steven and I did not want to put anyone out and did not want to appear like we were totally clueless of the logistics. It seemed a bit weird, too good to be true. Totally unheard of. Instead Steven from NZ and me from Sydney, the two novice out of towners did a 3 hour car shuffle to get one of our cars to O’Reily’s for Sunday and then we had to pick up the other car after the race. DOH! Instead of just handling over our car keys to the spectators to drive over to the O’Reily’s Finish line. Total trust. This is Queensland. Things happen differently up here. On the plus side we did spend a few hours at O’Reily’s. There is an awesome suspension bridge rainforest walk and tree house to check out. The cafe is also has one of the best views of the ranges in the area. See not a total waste of time.
Accommodation could be obtained at either Binna Burra Lodge or O’Reily’s. Digger puts on a presentation dinner for everyone including friends and family on the Saturday Night. Breaky, lunches are organised too for all the racing periods. Presentation lunch on the Sunday after the 1/2 Marathon too. It all runs like a well oiled machine. A lovely social running weekend.
Okay with the logistics out of the way, hot chips eaten, coffee’s drunk it was time to race.
The Binna Burra 42.2 start like the rest of the Lamington Classic was totally relaxed. All the runners were called to the start line and whilst walking to the start line from the picnic area we were told we were running late and we had to run to the start line so their watches will synchronise with the timers at O’Reily’s. With a warm up trot to the start at the Lamingtion National Park sign post we counted down, said a few hello’s and we were off with little fuss.
I cruised off with a group of two guys and my mate Steven. I lead and was able to set the pace along the Boarder Track. We chilled out and paced ourselves in a group for the first 6km of lovely single trail, which soon turned to amazing single track of amazing untouched virgin rain forest, covered in ferns, lichen, lily’s, snaking its way across creek beds, climbing up for the first 13km to the top of the Lamingtion Plateau.
Wow! The views were amazing. Mountains in the mist for as far as the eye could glimpse between dangerous trail steps. We chatted as a group, really enjoying ourselves along some of the prettiest trails I’ve ever seen. I really mean that. I’ve race in France, Japan, New Zealand and the laming ton Classic is just beautiful. Our group chilled out and totally paced ourselves, this race felt more like a relaxed training run. The Lamingtion Classic trails are just magic, I kept reminding myself how lucky I was that I’d finally made it to this part of the world after 15 years of dreaming about it.
The Lamingtion Classic course followed the ridge between NSW and QLD along a narrow cliff track. The Queensland surveyor must have been a genius setting the boarder between NSW and QLD which we were now following. The track was tiny in sections. One slip and the drop would break bones. Deadly drop offs were frequent along the track and it took full concentration to stay on two feet. At the top of the Lamingtion Plateau the bloke behind me, Daniel Hooley slipped on a rock shelf and almost slid off the cliff into the valley below. We all stopped dead in our tracks and made sure he was safe, back on his feet and able to run. It gave us all a real dose of reality. At parts the track was only 40cm in width, slippery in the fog and heavily eroded in some places.
After 15ks the track started to descend and I opened up and started to kick it a bit, curving along the mist covered cliffs and turned a corner and my footing totally gave way. I slipped over and with adrenalin pumping thorough my body I jumped out of fear and landed in the ferns on the mountain slide of the cliff track, on my back with both feet in the air. Fuck. It must have been hilarious to watch. It scared the shit out of me and also the guys following me. They all checked that I was okay, being true gentlemen resisted the urge to over take me while I was flat on my back. I jumped up a bit embarrassed and we were off and running again. I think they got the stack on their Go Pro.
We opened up again, jumping, dodging, weaving our way down the rocky ridge and when the path widened we knew that O’Reily’s was about 2ks away.
We ran along the now bitumen trail, up a small rise and into O’Reily’s Boarder Track Start/End Point. I grabbed some supplies and thanked the organisers for their help and while my back was turned the guys were off, sprinting up the 7km climb. I totally lost them within a 30sec stop. 1 hour 57 min. It was game on and those boys had a plan and used their position at the back of the pack to their advantage. Steven was ahead of me and I tried my best to run him down but my legs felt like they were full of lead. Totally trashed quads.
I soon caught up with Steven while he took a nature stop and I told him not to wait for me because he was doing it so bloody easy. He is one of my Ultra Training Australia (UTA) clients and he was kicking my butt! I always knew he had it in him. “Go chase them down, don’t worry about me”. I instructed. He’d never been in a podium position before. Off he went to kick some butt and test himself.
About 3 ks in I spotted Jess another UTA client also looking fresh on the out and back. We high fived each other. I gave the next female a high five too. I did anything to take my mind off the pain I was feeling. I was stuffed. I love out and backs, they can really boost your morale if you cheer and wave to the other runners.
I did my best to just try and stay consistent, turning my legs over and focusing on what is important and before long I was at the top of the plateau and my legs were given some relief. The scenery was just amazing. The reverse of the track gave a totally different perspective of the terrain through ferns, creeks, mosses, lichen, lily’s, it was like a perfect enchanted fairy garden. I loved every inch of this part of the world. I spotted plants I’d never seen before and I was just enjoying the whole experience.
I snaked down the descent, across a dried creek, fixed my water bottle and totally stacked it, flat on my face, arms sprawled, rolling up onto my chest, face planted to the side, with my feet almost touching my head. I landed hard on a rock that gave my left quad a corky. Man it hurt. I jumped up, in pain, groaning, pulling my Inov8 compression shorts over my bruised quad and started running again.
Now my abbs were killing me with every breath, every step. I’d over stretched them in my arching chest roll stack. Ripping up my separation in my abs. Ouch. Sore, sore lower abbs. I focused on what was important. Knee drive forward, lifting my feel high enough off the ground, drinking, eating, and in the back of my mind knowing I was racing the 21ks the following day. I counted out my steps and raced with all my heart or as fast as my miler legs would take me down the plateau.
The path widened, I waved to the walkers and said hello to the Korean tourist, Aussie Tourist and about 1k from the end I looked up and waved to more Aussie tourist cheering for me, tripped, fell, rolling on my shoulder behind a tree, off the track and down the bank. Man that must of looked funny. One minute I was sprinting along the track totally in control, the next I was rolling down the side of the track. I jumped up like an embarrassed cat and started sprinting again. Desperately trying to get a good time for the marathon.
I sprinted into the finish line in 1st female place and 4th place overall 4 hours 05 minutes breaking the record by 22 minutes. (The Marathon Record was only 1 year old unlike the 1/2 marathon records). Steven managed a 3rd place behind the two blokes who only beat him by 17 seconds. He was then left to wonder what if he’d pushed harder from the start…….
Jess was 2nd female overall. It was a great result for our little training group.
So with the car shuffles done the runners were divided into waves, start times written on our recycled race bibs with a text-a. The slowest runners were to run off first and the fastest runners last. Meaning that at the finish line of O’Reily’s there was the least amount of waiting time for the runners. It was actually a really nice way to run it. A bit like the old days of the 6 Foot Track, when the veterans started first. Us younger faster runners are able to catch, chat and be inspired by the 66 year old female runner out on the track.
Steven and I left in the 8am wave, sore and stiff. Both of us seemed to be the only runners nutty enough to race the double of the Lamingtion Classic 42km Saturday and 21km on the Sunday. I guess we both have that ultra runner brain, if there is a race that will push us and our limits we will do it. Jess had to work on the Sunday so she was really missed, we were bummed we did not have enough runners to form a team. You need 3 runners on both days to form a team. Steven and I are both new comers to Brisbane area and don’t know too many runners yet.
With the count down on we were off and running. This time Steven only stayed behind me for about 3 minutes, learning from his experience from yesterday, he has become way more stronger than he once thought. He found his rhythm and cruised his Kiwi legs up the 13km climb and out of sight. I was shot to shit. Totally hurting with no bounce in my legs. I counted out my tempo and before long the track narrowed and I did my best to keep moving in the right direction. The track looked totally different from the day before. The later start and the sun shining meant that the light was different and it appeared to be a totally new trail I was running on.
I gave myself a goal to run the 21km in the same time as I ran it the day before with fresh legs. At the 1/2 way mark I was about 3 minutes behind on schedule after most of the climbing was done. I dug deep. Hopped across creeks, snaked up the mountain, crossed the rocky out crop dodging earlier wave runners who all kindly moved aside for me to pass and powered to the top of the plateau. I was really quietly frightened of the drop off I’d almost fallen down the day before. My imagination getting the best of me. After about 15ks I was pleased to have past my fall zone safely. Today it looked like a totally harmless drop off, yesterday in the mist it looked hairy. What a difference a day makes.
The climbing all done I rolled down the descent, twisting my ankles on day old strapping tape 3 times on the rocky trail. About 2 ks to go the track widened, flattened out and I dug deep, feeling great now, hit the bitumen, lifted my knees up the final climb and into the finish line in about the same time as I ran this section of the course the day before. 1 Hour 57 Minutes. Not that fast, still not a bad result on tired legs. I still managed to win the Sunday 1/2 marathon, Steven finished 4th overall. He beat me by more than 3 minutes. Nice one Steven.
Saturday Results 42.2km
Daniel Hooley 3:58:57
Justin Williams 3:58:58 Daniel and Justine crossed the finish line together as mates
Steven Pemberton 3:59:13
Shona Stephenson 4:05:21
Jessica Schluter 4:45:21
Jo Collins 5:13:25
There was a problem with the Sunday 21km Results.
They have not officially been released yet on paper so I can’t add them to this blog.
We were all given our awards at presentation with our lunch and have been told that Digger will fix them when he is back from the much deserved holidays in the States. Here is the Facebook page for Digger
Inov-8 Race Elite Shorts
Inov-8 Race Elite Tank
Inov-8 Fitness Bra
Inov-8 Race Elite Vest
Hammer Heed 500ml 1 scoop per hour
Hammer Banana Gels 1 gel every hour in a watered down Inov-8 Race Bottle
Hammer Endurolyte’s every 30 min.
Two days before Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise 65km I realize I had run out of my preventive asthma medication. I started to freak out. I was sent into absolute panic. It was the end of my European Adventure and I had planed out my spending to the last Euro. I also later found out the Hotel Double Charged my credit card by mistake. The Aussie dollar was plummeting whilst I was on holiday’s. The little Aussie battler had lost 13% Shit! I have 2 kids back in Sydney and a Sydney mortgage to go with it. I run my own business’s if I don’t work I don’t get paid and I have almost been away for 3 weeks. Adding a possible overseas doctors bill plus medication could be really expensive. I contacted the Skyrunning Race Director and told them about my problem.
The North Face 100 2013 Race Report by Shona Stephenson. I’ve had a massive year 50km Aura Australian Ultra Runner Trail Champs VIC Feb 2013, Coastrek 50km NSW March 2013, Tarawera 85km (retired sick at 85km) NZ March 2013, Northburn 100M 160km NZ (my debut 100M) March 2013, UTMF 160km Japan April 2013 my 2nd 100M only a month later, plus 4 Sydney Trail Series speedy 10km and now I was about to run the premier Australian Event of the calendar The North Face 100km May 2013. In a way it is the last BIG Ultra Race in NSW Calendar before we all get a bit of a rest over winter then head to Europe for the Skyrunning Series.
It was 2 Wednesdays before The North Face 100 after a 10km time trial on road that I felt my Achilles go. It was only one and a 1/2 weeks after UTMF so I was probably still in recovery mode. I thought nothing of it as I have had Achilles tendonitis before and I’ve had so many other tendonitis before.
Tarawera Ultra March 2013 was a total disaster. I just had the most public withdrawal from Tarawera 100km due to me pissing and shitting blood only 1 week before attempting Lisa Tamati’s, Northburn 100 mile. A week before Northburn 100 Miles, I was made to stay in hospital over night to re-hydrate and for monitoring and testing at Rotarura Hospital.
I was guttered because I also withdrew from Great North Walk 100 Mile in November 2012. Withdrawing from the 2 biggest and longest events in a row on my running calendar was not the way I wanted to start my 2013 Ultra Running Campaign.
My head told me to pull out of Northburn 100 Mile and just race the 50km and run some hill re-peats and look at it like well deserved training holiday. My heart said that I should race the 100 miler. I did not want to let race organizer of Northburn 100 Lisa Tamati down. Lisa is one of my heroes. She is one of the main reasons why I run ultras. I like most Ultra runners out there read “Running Hot”, and I was motivated to run Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney my first 100k in 2010. I wanted to support her event. Especially because she is a fellow female. “I support women in sport”. As the slogan goes. Continue Reading
Wow what a line up to be part of at the Vibram Tarawera Ultra Marathon. I was so fortunate to be invite to race against the best athletes in the oceanic region. In Australia there is no better athlete than Beth Cardelli (Salomon) and in New Zealand Ruby Muir (Five Fingers UltrAspire and Barefoot Inc) is the young gun powering though the trails in her five fingers. I was so please to be named amongst these class athletes running for the 100km title. Niki Wynd (Hokka) and emerging athlete Steph Gasset were lining up for the 60km event and Canadian 100 Miler runner Candice Burt (Salomon) were also amongst the individual line up. This was a great race. The competition was deep for the females and I was oh so happy to be invited to join in the fun. The men’s competition was thick and fast. With young gun Sage Canaday (Scott), western States Winner Timothy Olson (The North Face) last years 2nd placed Vajin Armstrong (UltrAspire/Saccony), Australian Aura Ultra Runner of 2012 Brendan Davis (Inov8 and Barefoot Inc) last years winner Mick Donges (Salmon). The elite athletes at the Vibram Tarawera Ultra Marathon were treated to press conferences, athlete seminars, guided tours of the Rotorua Springs and Traditional Maori Villages.
The race director Paul Charteris thought of everything in regards to promoting New Zealand, Rotorua and Trail Running as a sport and I was so please to be part of this classy event. After a slight nutrition malfunction at the airport where my expresso and vanilla Hammer Jugs were confiscated from me by Airport Security at Sydney. “Doh! You idiot”. I thought. I’m blaming my Hubby Mikey for suggesting that I pack them in my carry on to get through quarantine. I met up with Brendan in the duty free area and hung out and tried to relax. I was on a different flight to Brendan, we were to meet up in Auckland to fly to Rotorura on the same plane.
I was asked by my sponsors Inov8 and Barefoot Inc to race in the Tarawera Ultramarathon Rotarura in New Zealand just 12 days before AURA Australian Ultra Runners National Trail Championships, Maroondah Dam. Being asked to race for your sponsor is a great honour and I did not want to let them down. It also meant that I had to pull out of the iconic 6 Foot Track 45km Trail Event scheduled the week before Tarawera Ultramarathon. I was bummed that I was not going to get a tough race in before Northburn and Tarawera. I then spotted the Maroondah Dam AURA Australian Ultra Trail Running Championships and I thought that it would serve as the perfect lead up to Tarawera Ultra Marathon and Northburn 100. I am to race Northburn 100 the week after Tarawera Ultramarathon. I am going to fly back to Australia in between the two events to see my husband and kids before racing in New Zealand again.
I was knackered. I had been diagnosed with haemophilus influenza only 12 days earlier. 5 Days after my diagnosis I ran the 30/50 Challenge with my good friend and No Roads Team Mate Beth Cardelli in the 50km event. We won the female division and we came 3rd overall.
I was still really sick and lethargic. My goal for the Sydney Trail Series was to just win nothing more. Just do what you have to to win. There is always a doubt in your head. Is there going to be an amazing local 10k specialist who will turn up and blitz the field? This is always my thoughts when I enter an event.
After the safety brief we were off an running. My race plan was just to make it to the to the pipe line first at the 5km mark. If I could make it there then I could hold anyone off for another 5ks. I had to do this and not use up too much energy.
We all took off in Sydney Trail Series as a group. I was running fine. I tried to run without puffing, staying under my anaerobic threshold.
I know you have been training hard for the GNW. How many hours a week did you manage to get out on the trail to train?
My lead up to my first 100 mile event the Great North Walk 100s (GNW 100s) was perfect. My body was feeling great. I finally felt like my body was finally able to handle the kilometers of training and racing I was putting into it. I won three 100km events in 3 months I was in great form. The only problem was that I was not fully recovered in my chest form Great Ocean Walk (GOW 100). During GOW I was having problems breathing from the 30km mark. I felt like I was only able to preform at about 80%. I should have seen this as a warning sign with my asthma, but I was busy (poor excuse). Too busy to go to the doctors and check out. Besides, who want to go to the doctors when you could be out running?
On the Wednesday before GNW 100s I was forced to go to the doctors. My asthma was now out of control. I felt like I could not inhale my preventive drug properly into my lungs past my swollen trachea. The doctor was not impressed with the state that I was in. She said I was rattling all over my chest and she prescribed me with some drugs to help get rid of the inflammation out of my lungs and a nasal spray for my nose to help me with my chronic hay fever. She then insisted that I come back for clearance on Friday before I raced because I clearly was not well enough to race in the state that I was in.
The GOW 100k was my second 100k trail race, after my first, The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains. I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing! I expected the course to be much flatter and with a lot less stairs. Also, the mandatory gear requirements were less stringent, which, thankfully, meant I was carrying less.
This race was run along the Great Ocean Walk coastal trail, which is located along the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian coast. The course itself was a mixture of fire trails, beaches and single track. The commonality of all of those was the beautiful scenery. The race started in Apollo Bay and wound its way around to Port Campbell.
Of course, being on the coast, we were subject to some tough weather conditions. We were faced with rain that came in sideways, and then warm sun that made me feel very hot! These two conditions kept swapping all day, but part of the challenge of an ultra race is dealing with different and difficult conditions. Such changes in weather also make a race more memorable, the coast is even more beautiful when the weather is blustery and wet.
Torquay CP2 to The Finish 100km Anglesea and Winning the Concrete Shoe!
At the the Surf Coast Century Torquay CP2 I quickly switched over my gels and water bottles in my pack. Up to 49kms I was running on Tropical Hammer Gels for my energy and Fizz for my Hydration. I also added in a small bottle of Perpetuem to add in around the 30km mark. I’d pre-made my water bottles, and my gel baggy’s so all I had to do was swap over my CP bags and water bottles. I then headed out of the check point.
The next section was made up of mainly rolling hills on a single man track or dirt path. We had been warned that the trail could be confusing through this section of the track. I ran back towards the beautiful Anglesea across the cliff tops, past Jan Jac Beach, Bells Beach where I was lead astray by a misplaced pink marker but I was lucky that I found another runner who was also turning back up the climb who had found his mistake. We pushed on together, chatted and were happy that we spotted another marker only 50m later. We then told two spectators to swap the pink marker to this trail and hopefully we helped any runners coming behind us. I then headed inland towards the check point 3 at Iron Bark Basin.
Getting to the Start to Check Point 2 Torquay Point Danger.
A sick feeling of dread flowed through my entire body while I was standing in the Virgin Australia Que at Sydney Airport. I thought I was totally organized for the inaugural Surf Coast Century 2012. It was my first time I was traveling inter-state for a race and I was so pumped. I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne, then hiring a car from Melbourne Airport and driving to Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. I’d packed my inov8 x-talon 190,UltrAspire Surge Back pack, 2XU Inov8 and barefoot Inc Branded elite compression shorts, bra and presentation jacket (all thanks to my awesome sponsors Barefoot Inc), socks, calf guards, tri-belt, TNF visor (why don’t other race organizers make awesome caps like TNF cap?) running sunnies. That was just what I was racing in. I had the mandatory race kit including the most extensive first aid kit I’ve ever had to carry, wind proof jacket, whistle, mobile, all my nutrition that consisted of Hammer Electrolyte Fizz, Hammer Tropical Gel, Hammer Expresso Gel, Hammer Perpetuem, Hammer Recoverite