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Monday, May 19, 2008

May, 2008. Glasshouse Mountains - Woodford Qld. Ultra Marathon. 82 km.

Coolrunning Pics

Pre Race

My training has been average lately lately, (500km in 5 months) and I am running on a good base fitness level generated by a good year in 2007 and early 2008. I love running the marathon though. Michelle and Alun Davies and Grant were also racing the 82km.

The night before was a debacle as usual. Since the start was 3am, and I didnt want to get up at 1am, I chose to stay up at the race and sleep in the back of the Forester. But when I got there at 9pm and got ready to jump into bed, the gusty wind blew closed the door and the keys were locked in. I stood in disbelief for ages, frezzing my arse off, and then went and asked some other athletes who were sleeping in the car park to use their mobile phones to call Fiona to get her to bring the spare keys. Something I was not looking forward to doing, as she would have gone off her nut, having to get the kids out of bed and drive them up there. Also, I was going to be locked out of my car, in the cold, for at least another 1.5 hours. As it turns out, Joe helped me by ringing RACQ on his super card and they came and broke in for me. Late to bed, but safe from the wrath of the wife.


The 82km course starts at Woodford, at the pool, and goes through the bush, past the Glasshouse mountains lookout, to Beerburrum state school (Checkpoint 2), then back through the bush (the hardest way feasible) to Woodford. According to my Garmin Forerunner 305, the course had 3100m of ascent. As a comparison, the Six Foot Track, Australia's hardest marathon, has only 1530m of ascent. Crikeys - no wonder Im broken.

Checkpoints: Pool, 7, 6, 4a, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 8a, 8b, 7, Pool.
Map of the checkpoints available below.


1) Make the distance

2) Beat 10 hrs

3) Survive

The Race

There is an amazing amount of preparation for this event, planning and organising drop bags full of food, clothes, shoes, spares, headlights, sunscreen, hats, glasses, etc. At the start line, we all got kitted up and ready. It was really cold at 3am, and all the support staff were dressed up like snow skiing. Us poor bastards had running kit. I had a third t shirt on top, which I planned to chuck off at the first checkpoint (CP7) after 6km. As it turns out, I kept it until 55km!

We took off and I tried to take it easy. We found ourselves at the back of the pack pretty early. Alun had already started to move up ahead, being pretty bloody strong at the moment, and so there was Michelle and I (the 50 kayers) , Grant (50 kayer) and Chris (12 x Ironman), and Suzannah (Coast to Kozi champ). We changed positions a few times and moved up through CP7 without stopping and up eventually to CP6, which was the 13k mark. It was still brutally dark, and Michelle was not coping very well with her footfalls and just as we had finished discussing her woes, it was me, the surefooted one, who clipped a tree root hard and went splat, face first into the dirt. My hands hit hard, and I rolled onto my camel back, I was worried I was going to pop it, but all was OK. Only my pride was hurt.

After the lovely ladies at CP6 (the same ones who loaned my the blanket last night when I was locked out of my car), we continued on toward the lookout and CP4a, approaching Beerburrum. Itr was not going to be light until the 28km mark, which was a long time to be running in the cold and dark. Thirty minutes later a headlamp came up behind us, which was confusing, because I thought we were last, but it was Alun, and after exchanging lefts and rights, and checkpoints this and north that, we worked out that we had plumb missed a turnoff after CP6 (and so had Grant, Chris and Suzannah) and dodged 2km of the course. Very disappointing for me, as I am supposed to know the courses pretty well. We ran with Alun for a while up to the lookout, and he disappeared in the dark down towards CP4a.

By the 20km mark, Michelle was limping and obviously struggling. Her foot was hurting from an overuse injury and giving her plenty of jip. She was destined for a strong finish in this event, being stronger than me over the longer distances, but it was looking in jeapordy. The chance of pulling out hurt her more than the injury itself, as no-one can become an ultra marathoner with a 'give up' attitude, so it's kind of ingrained to keep going despite pain. Something we have all done multiple times in multiple events. Michelle has dragged me along during some of those downtimes, and I was keen to help her along here. Thirty minutes further along, approaching CP2, Michelle started to insist that I take off an leave her to pull out at CP2, so I knew it was serious. I hung around for a while longer until it got light, and then bolted up to CP2, to tell the doc there to get ready for her. CP2 was scheduled to be a long stop for me anyway, so I ate my 'breakfast' and the doc saw to Michelle. Tank Girl was looking after me getting me anything I need and imparting helpful advise. She is a nice lady, would like to run with her one of these days when she is healed up (not that I could keep up). After getting checked out, Michelle pulled herself from the race and told me to get going. It was going to be a long day without her for company. The small field had already spread out, with no-one behind me, and so it was very unlikely that I would catch any of the other 82 kayers.

After a running stretch from CP2 toward CP4, I tried to get the iPod out, but the f***ing thing wouldn't work. I reset it, bashed it, hard booted it, everything. I thought it might be too cold for it, so I stowed it for later. My singing is bad too. I liked the section from 2 to 4, because its one of the few sections that I havent done before. So it was sight seeing. It was a beautiful cold morning, and it wasn't muddy or anything, so good running conditions, albeit too windy.

It was an 8km stretch to CP4, and UCB was there to help me get some calories. He is a real nice guy. Saw him at earlier checkpoints too (4a), so he was working hard. He is always good for advice too as he is an accomplished ultra runner. Then up the hill towards CP6. To get there though, I knew I had to go along the goat track and up Hennesey's Hill. It was a real tough section, and there was no-one in sight. A lot of climbing, a lot of walking. Steep downhills, and badly rutted trails.

After leaving CP6, and seeing the ladies again (Mrs Raftery et al), I had just done the first marathon, and I was pretty sore. I knew I had another marathon to go, with some of the hardest hills at Glasshouse. Instead of thinking of another marathon, I broke it down to the sections, and it was like a mantra - Powerlines section (11k), 8a (11k), 8b (5km) and then home (14k), I kept thinking "Powerlines, 8a, 8b then home". I hit the powerlines and wow is it as heavy-duty as ever. Thankfully it wasn't wet, but I was at 45km and the rough tracks and steep hills are angry! I secretly love the powerlines section though, and got through it OK, I even passed three 50km runners and scared the CRAP out of one of them when I snuck up and yelled gday. However, the powerlines hills did hurt the fuel tank, and the legs. One of the guys asked me if I was doing the 80km, and I was proud to say yes I was, and he gave me the big thumbs up encouragement and good on ya.

I was NOT looking forward to the two loops at 8a and 8b, there is about 20 km worth of hard work down there, none of which gets you closer to the finish line. Because you hit checkpoint 8 three times, and its late in the race, it is the most popular CP for visitors and usually the most manned for volunteers too. As I approached many 30 km runners were returning after their 8b loop and heading for home. I wouldn't be heading home for 2.5 hours yet. Many of them recognised my number as a 80km number and gave the most sincere recognition. It struck a firm chord with me, because in all 13 of my Glasshouse races, especially the earlier ones, I used to see the 80 and 100k runners and marvel at there ability to run that far. They reminded me of myself a few years ago - it was hard to describe, but a special moment for me. I got into CP8 and Tanky and Michelle were there, and the doc and a few other guys, but no Craig, no Fiona. Instead of taking my long stop, I got back out and did the large 11k loop 8a before sitting in for a decent stop at CP8, where I had spare shoes, socks, change of pants etc. This was my first disastorous section. The old train line section is LONG way when you walk stints. For the longest time, there were no markers, and I thought that I had missed the turn off. Eventually I saw one. Then the hard section of 8a, I passed another 50km runner in this section, a lady from USA with a western states 100mile t shirt, obviously a legend. She said she missed the 30 cut off at WS100 by 10 minutes, I ruled that as a finish for her.

Eventually got back to CP8, and I was a bit defeated. I knew the 8b loop contained Cooke's climb, and then it was a long route home. I still had 20km to go. I was at 60km, which is the farthest I have ever run, with a long way to go. Changed out of my shorts and long tights, and put on short tights, I changed my socks, put more lube on, put new softer shoes on, ditched a layer of tshirt. I was hoping it would make me feel new. My tummy was full and unhappy. Craig showed up, and it was really good to see him and Oscar. I told him Id be back in 25 minutes, and set off for 8b. The new soft shoes were getting caned on the rocky trail, but I was confident they would be good later. I got to the big climb and started up. There are no words for this hill. It took me a long time to walk. It is so long and so steep that I had to stop and rest about 3-4 times. I finally got back to Craig, Tanky and Michelle at CP8, and set my sights on the 14km home, but I was battling demons, so I probably wasnt as sociable as I should have been.

Craig drove along side for a little while and wished me luck. He reminded me that it was going to be a PB anyway, so don't worry about the time. I had a strong section of running after the food at CP8, but then my stomach started playing up, and I couldn't work out whether I needed to go to the toilet or spew - so I did neither. My guts felt so yukky that I couldn't explain it, but I also didnt know what was causing it. I honestly couldn't work out if I was bloated from too much food, too little food or whether my gut was fine, but it was intestinal problems. Normally my guts is pretty sturdy. This was a very long race tho, I was 69km in, and had been ruinning for 9hrs, eaten about 3000 calories.

This section was my second bad section. It is 8km long, flat, windy and sandy. I must have walked 3/4 of it because it took FOREVER! I was getting pissed off by the time I finally, after what seemed like hours, got to checkpoint 7, the final checkpoint before the finish. They probably thought that I was a whining bastard, cause I bitched endlessly about the previous section from 8 to 7. Bruce Cooke gave me some good advise about food in long races. With 5 km to go I set out for the finish. I was way over my target time, and had just walked most of the previous section. I knew I wouldn't break 11 hrs unless I ran much of this section. I ran 1.5km which hurt like hell, and then run/walked the next couple. There were two hills in the last stretch which challenged the legs, but finally I turned into the home stretch bush section and ran up the road. I had run most of the section, and would make it under 11hrs. I saw Alun and Michelle waiting near the finish line with dozens of others, and I was hoping to see Craig or other friends and family, but none where there.

The cheering and applause from the crowd made me proud and emotional, normally there would be no way in hell I could run up that road to the pool. But I found myself powering up there faster than anything. I felt no pain. I was really enjoying the moment, and didnt want it to stop. I had made it, in 10hrs 56 minutes. The success was somewhat dampened due to Michelle's withdrawal and possibly serious foot problem, we should have celebrated her success too, so I felt a little guilty. In true spirit, she acted like she wasnt dissapointed, but I know she must have been. I got a very cool medal that says 82k on it, and another huge Ultra mug. I was about the same soreness as the 50km races and felt fine mentally to drive home.

I chatted to everyone and was amazed at how many people made the effort to come up and say 'well done' or 'congratulations'. Even people I had never met before. It made me happy and proud and took some of the pain away. I went for a swim, got changed, had a sausage, said cheerio to everyone and drove home. It was a tough drive, but not much could have wiped the smile off my ego that day.


- Don't have too many sweet things to get mega calories, upset tummy occurs.
- Stand-up routines that you generate between 65km mark and 75km mark are not funny to other normal human beings.
- My Garmin Forerunner 305, is keeeewl.
- 3100m of climb, is much higher than Kosciusko (2228m) is equal to that of the trip from Everest base camp, to the summit.
- It's amazing how much food you can eat the day after burning 7000 calories.

Return to Glens race results


812 Davey Waugh M 82km 6:51:13
808 Nigel Waddington M 82km 7:54:00
811 Nic Maloney M 82km 8:02:53
803 Michael Lovric M 82km 8:27:22
816 Roger Guard M 82km 8:42:49
806 Lisa Spink F 82km 8:47:44
810 Steve Appleby M 82km 9:37:45
804 Alun Davies M 82km 9:38:39
*814 Susannah Harvey-J F 80km 10:00:00
*805 Grant Cooper M 80km 10:00:58
*807 Chris Parkinson M 80km 10:00:59
*815 Glen Hendry M 80km 10:57:00
802 Mark Hester M 82km 10:57:51
801 Rodney Ladyman M 82km 11:48:55
800 Joe Raftery M 82km 12:03:12

Course Pic:

Everybody dies – but not everybody lives…

Hey - there is still more to see, posts previous to the one above exist in the archives, available on the right hand column.