Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 toward the Finish.
I emerged from the Port-a-loo’s feeling better but a bit shaky. My support crew gave a a 2 minute count down to get my gear together including my head torch and with in 2 minutes we took off as a group and I started to struggle. Brendan Davies joined the support crew at Davidson Reserve help out and to encourage us and I think this really spurred Andy on. Andy suddenly remembered how fast he could run. The guys were now on a roll and I was having problems keeping up with them. Far out man Andy is so fast and Jono can match it with him. I was happy that Paul was starting to feel tired.I was going to have to work my butt of to stay with them.
We ran up a set of stairs and I was dizzy. I’d had not eaten for about 45 minutes or more with my guts feeling a bit fragile.
“I’m dizzy guys”. I informed them.
“Eat something!” They all said as a group.
Paul gave me a Hammer Choc Chip energy bar and I ate about a 3rd of it not knowing what the calorie count was. (The body can only absorb 220 cal per hour) I was not able to read the wrapper while I was running through the bush in pursuit of Andy and Jono. Luckily the Hammer bar went down like a dream. I then waited about 15 minutes and then had a gel. Paul saw that I was struggling. He dropped in behind me and looked after me. I had some ventolin while one the run to help me with my breathing. I was gasping a bit with my breathing. My chest was feeling tight and I wanted to make sure my dizziness was to do with lack of oxygen. I tried my hardest to catch Jono and Andy who were powering on up ahead. I prayed for the track to narrow and become for technical so I could catch up with Andy and Jono without them having to slow down for me.
I welcomed and cheered with every land mark that I knew as we neared the finish line. The track follows the route of “The Great Nosh”. I use to train every week along this section of trail I know it well. Finally my prayers were answered and a set of stairs came into view and Andy stepped aside so I could freely run down them. Thank goodness. I needed a break.
I leaped down the stairs and yelled directions to the boys behind. I crossed the creek and stopped and turned around to direct them the quickest route to take across the huge boulders. I headed off thinking the climb up ahead would slow me down.
At the base of the climb the boys caught up with me and we crawled our way up the wet clay track and cautioned each other about what was to come ahead.
“Be careful there is a barbed wire fence that runs along the track”, Jono warned.
I was so happy to be running through this section with the fading light. It’s so much more civilized running through this technical section of the track in the light than running through here in the dark and trying to avoid the barbed wire at 11pm at night I thought.
We cleared the tetanus trap and pushed on up the next climb. We all decided that head torches would be needed for the next climb and we geared up.
Andy spotted some flat ground and he was off like a rocket again. I had to bust my arse to stay in contact with him. Jono was gone, Paul was following. Please make the track more technical to slow them down, was all I could think. Again my prayers were answered and the track turned to steep technical single man track. We scaled boulders, and I giggled at the rope that was put out by the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 organizers to climb up a sandstone rock face. Andy and I pushed ahead and squeezed through a rock. I always feel sorry for the back markers of Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 carrying heavy packs and hiking poles. They’d have trouble fitting through these 20cm gaps in the boulders. We climbed a few more bush stairs and I noticed that Paul was struggling.
“We are at the top, I can see the lights from the check point. It’s just up ahead”. I called out to Paul trying to encourage him up the final ruggered climb of the day.
At the top we re-grouped and then kicked it on. We ran into the check point at Ararat Reserve at 6:06pm 90km in 11 hours and 6 minutes.
We quickly changed our gels and electrolytes over with our growing support crew of Mikey, Garry, Beth, Brian and Brendan and this mystery female who I have no idea who she was….but she had been at every check point throughout the day.
“Hurry up you can still make it under the 12 hours and break the record”. My very optimistic husband said. In my head I knew there was no way we were running 12 kms an hour over the next 11kms. But I thought we could give it a go.
I grabbed my No Roads Expedition singlet and we headed off while putting the singlet on. The end was so close. Only 11kms away.
We hooned along the fire trail and my Garmin informed me that there was only 10ks to go.
“Who likes running 10ks? I do. Let’s kick it”. I encouraged.
Andy was off and running and I was happy to follow. I felt like I’d recovered and the end was so close. We entered the single man track bounded through the bush with Andy in the lead. This was awesome fun. I followed Andy too close and I cast a shadow with my head torch and he tripped in a rock and twisted his ankle and 20 seconds later he did it again. Sh1t Shona, now your tripping up Andy the Legend. Don’t hurt Andy.If you injure him you could never live with yourself. I backed off so he could not be obstructed by my light.
I was enjoying Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 so much I was loving running with these guys. It was turning out to be my Oxfam trailwalker Sydney yet.
We were popped out onto Seaforth Oval
Seaforth Oval and I directed Andy to the start of the Single Many Track.
“Cut straight across the car park the track is just over there. It’s the almost the last section of single man track only 100m of it.” I assured Andy, who’s knee hated the single man track.
We skipped through the bush together and we arrived back onto the Wakehurst Parkway. “Straight ahead Andy. Just go straight” I yelled as he took off up the road.
By the time I spotted the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 volunteer Paul and Jono had caught up with me. We climbed together as a group. Suddenly I had an urge to fertilize the nearest garden. I was about to when I spotted a resident casually watering his garden not 10 meters from where I’d planned go. Bugger. Bloody lucky that I spotted him otherwise it could have turned into a very embarrassing moment. I’ll have to hold on. Thank god I have strong pelvic floor muscles.
We ran up the climb and rolled down the hill to the Spit Steps. I jumped ahead of Andy and hooned down the steps. We had only 3 ks to go. Andy joined me at the bottom of the steps and we were off and running side by side.
“I can’t believe that I have been able to keep up with you today”. I said to Andy you is one of my personal heroes and an absolute legend of trail running.
“You’ve been really good all day. I think I am coming down with a cold, my knee was not good on the single man track or the descents”. Andy replied.
This made me laugh inside. He is so strong that even with a cold and a strained ITB band he is still an amazing runner over 100ks.
We crossed the Spit Bridge and I took my opportunity to relieve myself under the Spit Bridge out of sight from the boys. I jumped back up and rejoined Jono and Paul who caught up while I was squatting.
I struggled onto the back of the team and by the time we were at Chinaman’s Beach I had caught up with Andy. Jono sent me on while he looked after Paul and at the top of the climb out of Chinaman’s Beach we kicked it on together down into the final single man track for Oxfam trailwalker Sydney 2012.
After a few wrong turns we all made it onto Balmoral Beach. My Garmin clocked it at 100km and I noticed the time said 12 hours 4 minutes. Bugger. We missed out on breaking the 12 hour barrier by 4 minutes.
We ran along the sand, up the steps and past the Bathers Pavilion waving to Restauranteurs enjoying their meal. Andy was on fire. Hooning ahead and I was just trying to hang on with Jono and Paul following behind. Jono and I called out directions to Andy and we laughed as he kept veering the wrong way.
We crossed Balmoral Oval and headed up the final climb of the day. About 1/2 way up the stairs I started to have problems with my breathing. I was gasping for air, I could feel my trachea swelling. I started to swear a bit, “Fu3k, Fu3K” to say the least hurting like hell my quads were burning and trying to catch my breath. Andy again showed concern about my breathing. I was close to the top and I knew I’d be okay.
At the top Andy and I checked on the others, thanked the volunteers and crossed the road and entered the beautiful flat dirt trail that would take us to Georges Heights Oval and the finish. I was still having problems breathing and now my ribs were also starting to feel tight also. I just had to hold on for another 800m. I pushed on swearing and gasping.
We soon exited the trail and Andy I stopped and waited for Jono and Paul to catch up.
“It’s only 200m more meters”. I called out to Paul and Jono who were no where in sight.
Andy and I stretched and waited for our team mates to join us in the final victory run. We have done it. Basically completed the 101.5kms we have won and it was an amazing feeling.
Paul and Jono came into view and Andy and I started to jog slowly so they could catch up.
We crossed the road and took directions from the volunteers.
We ran down the final set of stairs for the day and we all joined hands as a team and ran the final 100m together totally unified, full of happiness and ecstasy. We crossed the line cheering. I can never cry after 100km I am too dehydrated to cry but if I could I would have. We all hugged as a team and acknowledged what we all had to push through to get the win. We all marveled at how well the team worked together. We gelled as a team instantly even though we did not train together once. We respected and trusted each other to the core and in the end that was all that mattered. We all had the same goal and that was to finish Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 as a full team of four first and foremost and we achieved our goal. What made our race sweeter was all of our hard work rewarded us with a victory. We broke the Mixed Team Record and we crossed the line in 12 hours and 18 minutes. Winning Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 has been an 8 months journey for me and an 18 year dream of mine when I first heard of the race when I was working in retail at Cue at Hornsby. I still remember that day, when someone first mentioned the word Oxfam Trailwalker. I always knew I could do it. To be able to actually win it in a team of four is just so rare. I will treasure the win and I feel so honored to be in such a strong team full of legends. All four team members have to be able to win on the day and getting all four team members to the line so they can win is a mission on it’s own. I have been so lucky. I have won this iconic event only 3 years after I ran my first 100km being my first Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney in 2010. I broke my own course record for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney by 4 hours and 51 minutes.
At the finish line all of our amazing support crew were there, my awesome husband Mikey (Michael Leadbetter the Photographer), Garry from No Roads Expeditions, Beth Cardelli and her husband Brian, Jono’s partner who I only worked out who she was after 101.5km and about 5 photographers and the Oxfam trailwalker Sydney Marketing Staff. That was about it. Our support crew was fantastic all day long. They made all of our check points run so smoothly. I really appreciate the time they gave up for our team.
We posed for photos as a team and popped the champagne which none of us drank. (Warning I’ve passed out after my Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2010 after been given a glass of champagne on the finish line with out being given recovery fluids and food first).We laughed and joked about all that went on that day and I stole Andy’s Pringles as I started to cramp up.
Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 was the best experience over 100kms I’ve ever had. My team mates from No Roads Expedition, Andy (Andrew Lee), Jono (Jonathan Worswick) and Paul, (Paul Robertson), were just so nice to me the whole day. They let me run to my strengths and I really appreciated it. They looked after me when I had asthma and dizziness and when I was struggling. Paul was a strong team mate, he was awesome considering he had an ankle injury only 3 weeks before on Mt Solitary, he was so lucky to manage his first ever win in his first ever Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012. Andy was super human in the last 20ks. I was blown away by his flat line speed. Andy also managed his first ever Oxfam Trailwalker win from his first Oxfam Trailwalker. Jono was the best team mate anyone could have. His Oxfam Trailwalker experience shined through, he improved his Oxfam Trailwalker record to 8 wins form 10 appearances. He held the team together, checking up on the person who was struggling the most at any given time. Jono kept the pace going all day long by helping out the person who was at the back of the group. I will happily run with any of my No Roads Expeditions team mates again any day I hope they’d run with me again too.