*DUE TO A SNAP COVID-19 LOCKDOWN THE 100KM COURSE WAS CHANGED TO A MULTI-DAY 53KM COURSE – IT BECAME THE ARCHIES 53KM COURSE IN REVERSE ON THE 19TH THEN THE TRADITIONAL ARCHES COURSE DIRECTION ON THE 20TH*
- Location: Mount Buller, Victoria, Australia
- Time: 12:45:47 (Combined Days)
- Date: 19-20/02/21
- Overall Place: 1/147
- Full Results
Before I even start my race report I think it’s important to highlight the beginnings of the event and the reason for it taking place in the first place, to raise awareness for autism and funds for the Oscars100 organisation. The Oscars100 organisation aims to improve the lives of kids who are living with autism and the funds generated through the organisation goes to two major non-profit organisations; Irabina and Mansfield Autism Statewide Services (MASS). Both Irabina and MASS supports children living with autism and helps families adapt to challenges of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Those living with autism find it extremely difficult to connect with the world and communicate with people around them, Irabina really focuses on helping families manage this so they can better support their loved one. MASS offers placements to children living with ASD aged between the ages 5-18. The placements aim to improve the quality of life for the children by helping them build independence skills. The placements offer a highly supportive and consistent environment structured to reduce anxieties and build capacity to learn new skills. MASS also helps to create support networks between different families who are living with a child diagnosed with ASD, to strengthen the child’s support system. Aside from raising awareness and funds for autism itself this event promotes values that are especially relevant and significant to those living with autism, resilience, acceptance and being different. “You have more resilience than you know. Acceptance can change lives. Celebrate what makes you different” (quote from Oscars100 Hut 2 Hut Facebook Page). This mantra pretty much sums up the vibe and atmosphere for the whole event and is why this event is so special. A bunch of unique individuals celebrating their uniqueness by coming together and showing resilience by pushing to complete the extremely difficult race/course that is the Oscars 100 or Archies. I personally relate to this mantra, as someone who had issues with anorexia and depression (and still do, its a constant fight) as a teenager largely due to low self-esteem and not accepting who I am, I’ve had to learn and continue to learn to accept myself and to celebrate who I am. Getting over anorexia and facing it regularly taught me resilience which has translated well to ultra running, so now I celebrate who I am my tackling races and events such as Oscars 100 with a group of amazing people.
Alright so with all that being said this event really is something special, the volunteers, the race organisers, the spectators and the participants; everyone together has created this awesome party atmosphere that lasted all weekend! A huge shout out to the race organisers; Chris, Andy & Simon for stimulating and facilitating this atmosphere. Another shout out to all staff and volunteers who not only worked hard behind the scenes but kept the atmosphere alive! And because one shout out isn’t enough, I’m giving another shout out to the volunteers for manning the aid station to helping mark the course and performing gear checks, thank you, you did an amazing job!!
Now to the race report, I came into the Oscars 100 with the aim to finish, I wasn’t fussed with how I placed. I didn’t feel I was in shape to stand any chance against the top runners and honestly I never do, but even more so with this race. Two weeks prior I competed in Trail+’s MVP Last Man Standing event and was fortunate enough to run 200km over 30 laps/30 hours. This event not only took it out of me physically but mentally also. I left MVP disappointed in myself because I pulled the plug a couple laps too early, I had more laps in me however was defeated by my own head, as someone who prides himself on mental strength it hurt my ego and my mindset knowing that I was mentally defeated. I wasn’t in much better shape physically either; from lap 6 my quad was giving me trouble, it felt like I was being stabbed right in the quad and the more I ran the further the knife went in. Over time I learnt to manage the pain, however the following days and week after the race were difficult. Walking was painful the first couple days however eventually as the week went on I could walk pain free and eventually run again. Kind of…after 30 minutes the pain would flare up, going downhill and uphill only exaggerated the pain also. I took these sorenesses all the way with me to the starting line of Oscars 100. So combine this with my damaged ego and mindset, I thought I was being optimistic just thinking I could finish Oscars 100. It’s one of the most difficult 100km ultramarathons in Australia. Thats why I would’ve been stoked to just finish, I don’t consider myself a top 5 runner in any ultramarathon let alone a race with the likes of amazing mountain runners like Burty, Ultra Chef & Mike, along with many other top ultra runners. So you can only imagine how weirded out I felt after my result….
So after 11 days of swimming and weights with a side of running I found myself in the car on the way to Mount Buller for gear checks with two friends, Cam & Mel. Quick add on here, due to a snap 5 day COVID-19 lockdown we were no longer running the offical Oscars 100 course, instead we’d be running the 53km Archies course, Oscars little brother. However we wouldn’t be running it just once, we’d be running it in reverse on the Friday and then in the traditional direction on the Saturday. I’m still not sure if this is harder or easier than running 100km in one hit, I think mentally it’s harder but maybe physically it’s easier? I’m not sure. Either way, although it was disappointing we didn’t get the chance to run the gnarly full course I was looking forward to this different type of challenge. Cam, Mel and I arrived at gear checks located at Mount Buller Village Centre (race event hub/start/finish line) mid afternoon, we ticked off all our gear with the amazing volunteers and then head off to our apartment, which was only around 500m-1000m from the start line. Understandably for safety reasons we had to carry a lot of gear and as a result my pack was quite heavy for a running pack, a good reminder why weight training is so important. If you had a weak core and back you’d have some trouble trying to run 50km+ with a pack this weight.
A couple hours later after unpacking and getting ready for the next day I walked back down to the event hub (Mount Buller Village Centre) to watch the race briefing. It was great to see everyone, a realisation that even after the COVID-19 snap lockdown the event really was going ahead. The briefing lasted around half an hour, and after a quick chat and catch up with a few familiar faces I made my way back to the apartment. Once back at the apartment I finished off getting ready for the race, ate dinner and went to bed, excited and nervous for the next day.
3am, I woke up to the familiar alarm sound and instantly got out of bed, right awake and ready to go I head straight to the kitchen, Cam was a little slower ;). Heading straight to the kitchen I made breakfast and started eating; bowl of granola, toast with peanut butter, a glass of milk and a zero sugar Monster Energy drink, nothing fancy. Something I’m sure some runners can relate to is my biggest concern before every running race, going to the toilet! Thats why I woke up at 3am and went straight to eating breakfast, to give the body as much time as possible to digest and empty the bowels. My concern is legitimate too because even though I went 3 times before the race I still had to stop at the fist aid station for 10 minutes to properly clear everything out of the system! I’ve also missed the toilet and have had an accident causing me to run like someones stuck a stick up my a** numerous times during training runs over the past 6 months (definitely don’t recommend this). Anyway enough of that, after breakfast I doubled, tripled and quadrupled checked my gear and prayed my quad held up. Looking back its funny, my biggest worries was my quad holding up and hoping I didn’t s**t myself. The fact I was about to take on a pretty damn difficult 53km course that I’d have to do again in a different direction the next day wasn’t even going through my head. By 4:30am Cam and I were ready and made our way to starting line, a short 500m walk to the event hub. It was cold, I considered starting with my thermal but reminded myself to not be a b***h because I knew I’d get too hot after 20 minutes, and would have to stop to take it off. “Be bold and start cold” a saying I learnt from the great Mike Hamill (Owner of Climbing the Seven Summits, amazing mountain guide and multiple summiteer of all the seven summits including Mount Everest). I loved the start line, a big glowing blue starting arch, Christmas like lights everywhere and a couple fire pits all set up around the start line, awesome way to start in the dark on a cold morning. Anyway with my singlet on it wasn’t long before it was 5am and the race started! Through the glowing blue starting arch everyone went, well not everyone we were separated in 1 minute waves, each wave had a maximum of 20 people. I didn’t want to get in anyones way and I thought the trekkers may of wanted a few extra minutes to finish the course so I put myself in the last wave, Cam did too. So with nerves building we watched 5-6 other waves take off before finally it was our turn to start. Soon as I took off I realised I made a mistake starting in the last wave, almost instantly I was having to run around people walking up Athletes Walks gravelled path from the Village Centre. Luckily it wasn’t long before I was up he top of Athletes walk and running along some single track trail. I will say other participants were great and were more than happy to move aside as I ran past. Still in the dark it wasn’t long before I found myself running down Mount Buller via some switchback mountain bike trails, heading towards the first checkpoint, Howqua Gap Hut (approx. 10-11km). As I mentioned above it was dark so full concentration was required to make sure I didn’t trip going down the rock and root covered track which was lit up with my headlamp. I had no idea where I was placed, I assumed it wasn’t anywhere near the front so I really just focused on enjoying the run and not worry about competing. This was easy, I started chatting to a couple runners in front of me, it was too dark to see their faces so I had no idea who they were but I was enjoying the chat. We pretty much chatted all the way down to Howqua Gap Hut aid station. During this chat I only fell over once so that was good, and by the time we got to Howqua Gap Hut it was still dark, this was good because it meant I was making pretty good time. The one bad thing was as mentioned above I had to go to the toilet, again!! 10 minutes wasted at Howqua Gap Hut, “oh well” I told myself, I was more disappointed losing my chatting partners than losing the time! Other than going to the toilet there was no reason to stay at the first checkpoint so with my mask on, I checked in and checked out. From there it was a nice gradual decline down a dirt road called Circuit Road for a couple km’s, I hoped to use it to catch up to my new found chatting partners, but also I can’t lie no matter what I told myself I’m a competitive person so I can’t say I wasn’t thinking about lost time. I pushed the pace getting to around 4 min km’s as I made my way down the road, after a few twists and turns I was off the road and running on a trail again. I’d run past a few runners here but not my chatting partner. The trail was wide, an old logging track which ironically goes by the name Cornhill Logging Track. I continued to pass a few more people as I continued my way down. The sun finally rose and my headlamp came off and to my left I was treated to a beautiful sunrise behind the mountains, quick selfie!
Not long after the selfie I was treated to a nice surprise when I ran into an old running mate Ben! Sadly though I didn’t get to see him for very long, so a quick “well done! And good to see you” was all I got to say. At this point I realised I had run past my chatting partner from only an hour or so ago, I just didn’t recognise him because we were running in the dark (I’m an idiot like that). So until the next checkpoint (Pikes Flat) which was at the bottom of Mount Buller in the valley I had no one to chat too, I was by myself. This quickly made me a little loopy, I mean if you heard me or saw me you’d definitely think I was a little (very) strange. Talking to rocks and trees, humming a made up soundtrack in my head, doing weird little jumps and hand gestures, its quite embarrassing to write about if I’m honest. Switchback after switchback I made the what felt like never ending descent to Pikes Flat, I will say the views of the mountains to the side of me was quite nice! At the bottom there was a few steep descents which hurt the toes and the quad! I took note to remember these hills for tomorrow when I’d have to run up them, I’d need to make sure I had the energy to keep a solid pace up them. It was a still early morning when I ran through Pikes Flat checkpoint (25km approx.), so although it was light it was still kinda dark, kind of like overcast. I didn’t stop at Pikes Flat either, I didn’t need anything, so I quickly put my mandatory mask on, checked in, checked out, took the mask off and began running once again, thanking all the volunteers as I left. I liked the vibes at Pike Flat, it had that smokey morning camp feeling, when everyones woken up to make the first cup of coffee over the fire or portable stove. Anyway soon as I left I was surprised to no longer find myself running alone, there was a group of 3-4 runners (forgot the exact number) walking up the 4WD drive track coming out of Pikes Flat. Again though I was a little disappointed when I shuffled pass, I like chatting to people when I run ultramarathons, it passes the time and takes my mind off the pain! At this point I had no idea I just put myself in second place, thank god I didn’t know this because once I passed them I had no anxiety of them catching me or losing second place because in my mind I wasn’t in second place. The other great thing was my quad was hurting but wasn’t deteriorating, I forgot to mention above that coming down from Mount Buller to the first checkpoint (Howqua Gap Hut) I had a fall, before the fall my quad was getting quite sore, to the point were I was going to need to limp however once I fell the pain stayed the same and never worsened! The only time it exaggerated itself now was the really steep descents (like parts of the descent going into Pikes Flat), running on gradual ups, downs and flats was ok. However I was getting a dull, tight ache at the top of my hamstring/just below the glutes which was gradually worsening, however it was always tolerable. Anyway I continued up the 4WD track by myself until I made my way back onto some single track trail that quickly led me to the river banks of Howqua River.
This is where all the major river crossings took place, I believe theirs 12? I lost count after 3 but there was a lot. River crossings do a god job of softening the feet and toes which leads to sore toes, for me anyway. So after a few of these crossings my toes began to get a little achy. I was also using the river crossings as an excuse to slow down and walk, overall I enjoyed them because they broke up the monotony of running. After 10 however it was getting kind of stale and I was looking forward to the next aid station which marked the end of majority of the river crossings. Finally after what felt like a thousand river crossings I made my way into 8 Mile Aid Station (35km approx.)(another campsite). This time once I put my mask on I stopped to refill two of my 500ml soft flasks, this is the only aid station I refilled anything! This aid station also marked the end of the mostly flat and gradual descents, from now on it was mostly up, and would culminate with running up the infamous and dreaded 4 mile. It was here that I started to feel a little bit of race anxiety, I still didn’t know I was in second place however the competitor in me didn’t like the idea of anyone behind me catching me, so for the first time I really pushed the accelerator with the hope of holding onto whatever place I was currently in, I was hoping I was in the top 10! So after leaving the 8 Mile aid station I ran up and along some 4WD drive tracks before making my way back onto some single trail tracks, that ran along some saddles of a couple hills. It was here at around the 38km mark were I decided to whip out the trekking poles to help with the ascents, it was also here were I got to say a quick hello to Ian, one half of the legendary Eventurers (photographers) who told me I wasn’t far behind the guy in front of me. This took me back a little, why are you telling I’m not far off the guy in front of me? That would only be relevant if I was in second or third place right? Theres no way I’m placing though I thought to myself, no way in hell, it got me thinking though. Anyway I ran along what I believe to be a saddle of a a couple hills that gave me some great views of Howqua River down below to the right of me, it was a long way down, wouldn’t be nice to fall. After 2-3km I made my way into another aid station/checkpoint at the bottom of the beginning of the end, running up 4 mile. Once again I put the mask on, checked in, checked out, thanked the volunteers and made my way towards the start of 4 mile. 4 mile is a steep and technical section of trail which pretty much took you from the bottom of the valley all the way to the top of Mount Buller, I believe its around 8-10km with around 1,200-1,500m ascent, and some parts is like rock-climbing, other parts are overgrown with ferns which makes it nearly impossible to run. I’ll be honest, although the views going up 4 mile are stunning I nearly lost my s**t going up, it really did take part of my soul that I’ll never get back. To give you an idea of what is was like to go up 4 mile here’s a fact, it took me just under 4 hours to run the first 40km of the race before 4 mile, however this last 13km up 4 mile and then to the Mount Buller summit took me nearly two and half hours. I fell over quite a few times here too, trying to run some of the very “runnable” parts, it was impossible to get any sort of momentum though. At the start of the climb your surrounded by bushes and shrubs the path would be runnable if it wasn’t so long and steep, then as you got higher and could start seeing how high you were you were greeted by some narrow rock formations cutting into the path, along with trees overhead where you have to duck to go under, then as you finally got above the treeline you were now just running/hiking/stumbling/climbing on rocks, literally rock climbing, like there was a few times hands had to be used. I would’ve loved it if I hadn’t been running for 5 hours and my heart rate wasn’t in the 150 bpm range. The views were stunning although they also made you realise that if you fell your really gonna be in some trouble, like falling down a mountain and breaking your back trouble, the “fun” trouble. Anyway there was nowhere to go but up, so up I went, I could feel a part of my soul break once I passed the “rock-climbing” ridge-line part of the climb. Why you might ask? Because it never seemed to end, after the ridge-line I was greeted to more trees and bushes, I thought I was above the tree-line, god damnit! I kept checking the distance on my watch, how much km’s of this do I have left? The up never seemed to end and I was starting to red line, I was also being chased by someone, they were right up my a** all the way from the “rock climbing” part, giving me anxiety. Still though up was the only solution to all my problems, so up I went as fast as I could, I rolled over a few fallen trees, climbed a few rocks and stumbled more times than I could count but then finally the path started to become more prominent and there was less debris, it was becoming a normal trail. A little further up and I was greeted to a beautiful site, a dirt road, I was up 4 mile!
Once up it’s pretty much an upwards dash to the summit, well not really a dash, more like a shuffle. So I shuffled along the now much appreciated wide 4WD track which eventually led to a single track trail that lasted around 200 meters before it took me to the base of the summit (a car park). Thats when it finally hit me that I was definitely at least top 5 because “the tank” i.e Burty was running up to the summit. I wasn’t sure if he was running Oscars 100 due to the snap COVID-19 lockdown and the legend lives in NSW so the border could’ve been an issue but there he was, he definitely was running and if he wasn’t winning he was definitely in a top 5 position, which meant I was at least sixth, this shocked me. Shocked or not I had to make my way to the summit, so up I went apparently chasing Burty now, which still seems so wrong to say! I wasn’t really chasing him though, I walked to the summit my legs were too far gone to run! As I just past halfway Burty ran past me coming down, giving the quick fist bump and “well done!”. As I was making my way to the top I was surprised to see one of the race organisers Chris live-streaming for the Facebook page on his iPhone, maybe I am second? Why else would he be recording? Then he confirmed I was indeed second, and asked if I was going to give Burty a run for his money to try and take the win tomorrow. In my head that sounded ridiculous, me compete with someone like Burty for top spot? That sounded preposterous, he’s a top caliber mountain ultrarunner, I’m a slightly above average ultra runner who can run a lot but not fast. I really can’t do it justice how wrong and weird it felt, but with that being said I responded to Chris with a “yeah, I’ll push him”. The other thing that was tripping me up was I was being recorded, I consider myself an introvert and when people pay me attention I feel guilty because I don’t understand why they’d pay me attention. So you can only imagine how weird it felt to be recorded, I kind of forgot about running and instead thoughts like “don’t disappoint, think of something to say” all came to my mind. Such a weird experience, anyway I reached the summit and ripped a page out of a book to prove I’d been to the summit, funnily enough the book was part of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, to good! This gave me a bit of a laugh but there wasn’t time to stop and laugh for too long, off I went, back down. Once down the summit, its a quick run along some single track before getting back to Athletes Walk, the same track I ran up first thing in the morning. Running down I passed all the snow village apartments and before I knew it I found myself across the finish line in second place. Burty being the legend he is was there to greet me and congratulate me along with the awesome race directors and volunteers. Finishing was great and coming second was also great however the best part of crossing that line was the Oaks (chocolate milk). In my opinion an oak post ultramarathon is mandatory, if you don’t drink one you may as well get a DNF. This was the first race that had Oaks as part of their post race nutrition. It’s like they organised it just for me. Once finished I chatted to Burty and probably stayed at the finish line drinking Oaks for about 2-3 hours just soaking in the atmosphere, congratulating finishers and chatting to Mel. However after that 2-3 hours I decided I should probably get something to eat so I could do it all again the next day. After I ate one of my frozen meals at our apartment Mel and I walked back to down so we could be there when Cam finished, I stretched while we waited. Then at around 3-4pm I walked back up Atheltes Walk to finish with Cam, after a quick celebration we drove down to the bottom of Mount Buller and got ourselves in the cold river, to help us do it all again tomorrow.
The rest of the day was about recovering, stretching and rolling the crap out of my niggling hamstring, there was nothing I could do about my quad. I did walk down back to the event hub at The Village Square to watch the Archies race brief to further soak in the atmosphere and buy one of the curries, but other than that it was all recovery with active walking, stretching, eating and drinking.
I definitely came into day 2 with a different mindset, I wasn’t just running to finish, I wanted to hold a top 3 place. I’d come 2nd the previous day beating 3rd by 6 minutes but more importantly to me 4th by 20 minutes. This meant I had to hold off 4th place, I couldn’t allow him gain more than 20 minutes on me. Coming first was totally out of the picture I didn’t see myself beating Burty and I didn’t think a 6 minute advantage would be enough to hold off 3rd, but a 20 minute advantage may be enough to hold off 4th. Anyway these thoughts heightened the anxiety levels big time! It was another chilly but fresh morning, a little bit warmer than the previous day and once again the starting line was magical with the glowing blue start arch, Christmas lights everywhere and fire pits lit. The biggest difference this time was I found myself in the first wave, I had to make sure I wasn’t stuck behind anyone whilst going down 4 mile! The course today was to be exactly the same as the previous day except in reverse, which meant instead of going up 4 mile we were to go down. Its unsafe to pass people going down parts of 4 mile and extremely difficult in most parts. Participants from previous years had warned me about being stuck behind people on 4 mile so my main mission was to not allow that to happen, whilst also not getting in the way of others. Going down instead of up 4 mile was both good and bad, good because we don’t have to go up it but bad because its technical and hard on the quads to go down. My injured quad only just survived the previous day and I’m not a technical runner, most of my training takes place on flat non-technical trails and roads. So I knew lots of people would catch me and beat me going down, and I didn’t believe in my ability to catch them afterwards. Anyway 5am hit and off we went, I took off in the lead, running up Athletes Walk for the second time, my legs and lungs tight from the previous day. Head-torch on I made my way into the darkness along the single track trail known as The Mount Buller Summit Walk, this would take us past the summit and to the beginning of 4 mile. I reached 4 mile in the lead after 3-4km but knew I wouldn’t be holding it long, and I was right. After 3-4 minutes I could see Burty making his way down, it was an epic site to see. The best way I could describe his ability to go down is when you watch Kilian Jornet run along and down those ridglines, thats what it reminded me of. No brakes whatsoever, I moved aside so he could pass, “well done mate” I yelled. I actually surprised myself, I was making my way down much faster than I thought I’d be able too. I was able to run down most of the technical parts without much brakes, it felt good and past the time quickly because how hard I was focusing. About one third of the way down I was past by another runner, which was ok and no surprise, I was only surprised it took someone else that long to catch me. Once I got out of the trees and onto the rock ridgeline things got really fun, I was back to using hands and was trying my best to hop from rock to rock whilst staying on the track and not fall off down the side of the mountain. Again though I surprised myself, I made it past the rocky ridge-line in pretty good time and was back amongst the trees and bushes, I’d only fallen over twice so far! I started running again still concerned more people would pass me, I was stumbling all over the place, shins banging into sticks poking out into the trail, tripping over rocks on the trail, trying to jump over fallen trees, I fell over another 2 times here. However I was still stoked when I noticed I was near the bottom and still in 3rd place I’d managed to hold most people off! However I could hear some more runners catching me, “c’mon nearly there just get to the bottom before they do” I thought to myself. However sadly saying this to yourself doesn’t actually slow them down and a couple minutes later they were right behind me. The one good thing was I got to chat a little, even if it was in passing, Stef & the twins (Ultra Chef & Mike) passed me right at the bottom. I was concerned I’d get in their way and said if you want to pass let me know and I’ll move aside however they didn’t need to ask because it wasn’t long before I found myself running off track! This gave them the opportunity to pass. Fortunately it wasn’t long after they passed that I found myself at the bottom of 4 mile alive! I believe I made it down in sixth place which was better than expected. Once down I knew I had to dig deep and risk blowing up in order to catch up and get a comfortable lead. I still didn’t expect to catch Burty but I was hoping I could get and hold a top 3 spot. Once down 4 mile, I made the quick check in and out of the checkpoint and got to work, I treated it like a new beginning to the race. Fortunately it wasn’t long before I caught the runner who passed me early on that morning along with, Ultra Chef, Mike & Stef, this gave me a huge mental boost because it meant I was now in second place, much quicker than I thought. It added a little anxiety though because now I had to hold them off. Having this anxiety is both good and bad, good because its an extra motivator and passes the time quicker, bad because its not as fun and I can’t enjoy the scenery and the trails as much. So I kept pushing, my quad and hamstring niggles stopping me from being able to 100% enjoy the run but happy to be where I was. I pushed past 8 mile checkpoint, stopping only to refill one of my 500ML soft flasks and check in and out. It was then time to attack the river crossings, the day prior I was crossing the river crossings without trekking poles and walking, this time I had them out and boy they made a difference. I could really push hard as I crossed and use my trekking poles to keep me up, using my forward momentum to get across. Even though the rocks at the bottom were extremely slippery I didn’t need to worry about falling over because I could keep myself up by falling on the sticks, well so I thought…. On the very last river crossing I fell over into the water making it at least the seventh time I’d fallen over that day. To make things even better not long after, once back on dry land I fell over again, luckily never hurting myself, I refuse to call myself a good runner but I will say I’M GOOD AT FALLING OVER! I train it frequently, just not on purpose. Anyway I got back up and kept running along the single track trail towards Pikes Flat checkpoint. Then the unthinkable happened, at around the 25km mark I caught sight of Burty, I couldn’t believe it, I actually caught him what’s going on? It kinda felt awkward as I passed him, I felt bad, Burty’s someone I’ve always looked up to so it really felt weird as I passed him. Funny story I nearly took him out, as I was about to pass him I scared the s**t out of him by nearly falling right on top of him, lucky for both of us I kept my feet and instead made a loud bang noise. After that he noticed I was there and the legend moved for me to let me pass. A couple km’s after I passed Burty I found myself running into Pikes Flat checkpoint (approx. 27-28km), which meant it was time to move out of the valley and start making my way back up to the Mount Buller summit. Unlike making your way to the summit via 4 mile which is ridiculously steep and pretty technical getting back to the summit from Pikes Flat is quite gradual and runnable (more like a shuffle), and is not technical at all. This suited me, for the next 13km to Howqua Gap Hut checkpoint I shuffled and hiked up the gradual ascent, it was a real grind. I focused on staying in the zone right before redlining, if it meant hiking I hiked, if I meant shuffling I shuffled, if it meant running I ran. I can’t remember much whilst running this part other than than being scared s**tless people were catching me. It felt shorter than I remembered from the previous day and it wasn’t long before I heard the magical sound of a cowbell, I was at Howqua Gap Hut checkpoint and was still in the lead! It still didn’t feel real, but with my mask back on I made my way into the Howqua Gap checkpoint to sign in and out. Putting a big smile on my face was the crew, from the vollies dressed in superhero outfits to familiar faces such as Jared from Endurance Medical Services (love these guys!). Its the people that make these events, anyway sadly I was racing so couldn’t stay long, I refilled both my 500ml soft flasks and made my way out of the checkpoint. I was relieved to see no one was on my tale as I left, from the checkpoint there was one more push up some switchback single trails before making it to Buller Village where from there its a quick 4km dash up to the summit, and then back down to the starting line (about 11km all up). I was feeling tired but the pain in my quad and hamstring had seemed to alleviate, so overall I was in good shape. Once again a combination of running, shuffling and walking was performed to get up the single trail switchbacks. I kept thinking I heard a runner behind me and as a result I kept the foot on the gas, anxiety levels at a high. Up I went, like a scared snake slithering along the switchback trails. The trail felt shorter this day compared to the previous day, maybe because I wasn’t putting pressure on myself to hold 1st place and it was in the dark the day before? Something I appreciated this day was I could actually see the views as I wasn’t running in the dark. I could see the valley I’d just been running along, and beyond! You could see how vast and remarkable the Alpine National Park is, it’s just stunning! Before I knew it I was up the single track switchback trails and found myself being recorded once again as I made my way through Little Buller aid station, an aid station I was unaware of. It was great to see the race directors out and about, it’s funny how self-conscious I become soon as someone starts either filming me or taking a photo, it takes me right out of it. I tell myself I hate it but I can’t lie I think part of me likes the attention. Anyway, I ran right past the make shift aid station and started making my way to the summit, I didn’t want to waste any time stopping, I was still scared someone would catch me. Although this was when it really starting hitting me that my body had pulled through, I was so concerned before the race about my quad, then my hamstring flared up after day 1 but here I was making my way to the top of Mount Buller for the second time in two days. The weather was beautiful, sunny with a slight breeze, perfect. Once at the summit I ripped a page out of the book and started making my way down. I couldn’t see any other competitor, I was shocked, winning was one thing but the fact that no one was up my a** just blew my mind. Even though I was exhausted and my legs were aching I tried to enjoy the moment and take in the views as I made my way back down to the start line at the Mount Buller village. Down the Mount Buller summit walk I went, and lastly and finally, down Athletes walk. Then there it was, the finish line! I summoned the last bit of energy and “sprinted” to the finish, I was done!!
Thank you once again everyone who made this event possible, the race organisers Chris, Andy & Simon, the amazing vollies, all of the Endurance Medical Service crew, The Eventurers (AKA the best photographers that ever stood foot on the trails) the spectators and all the participants! Such an awesome community event for a good cause! A special shout out to Cam who also competed in the Oscars 100, Mel who kept Cam and myself in check with her care throughout the whole weekend, Burty & Lexi for being legends! Really enjoyed our post race conversations and its always a privilege to race against Burty, Chris for buying me pizza and kinda forcing me to eat it even though I was feeling kinda full 😉 and to everyone else I had some awesome convo’s with Ben, Greg, Kara, Sean, Stephen, sorry to everyone who’s name I’ve forgotten, there so many of you!