I love being part of a team and when it’s for a great cause as in this case Oxfam even better. I first ran with and met David O and David W in October 2013 when they were desperate for a team member for Oxfam Trailwalker Perth. They had always run with men and now they had a girl in the team and I wanted to run with them wearing a skirt, they were pretty brave to take me on. Team 456 had planned to run all 4 Oxfam Trailwalkers in 2013 and wanted to round at the grand slam. I was just excited to be back in WA and given the chance to run on some familiar trails.
When El Capitano (David O) asked me if I wanted to join them for Trailwalker Brisbane 2014 I was keen except they had introduced the 55km and he really wanted a challenge and wanted to be the 1st run both. Well ‘run’ was probably a stretch. We aimed to run the 100km as fast as we could and then ‘enjoy’ the experience on day 2 for the 55km from Lake Manchester. We then just needed a 4th member. I asked around of my Brisbane Trail Runner buddies when out running if they were interested. No one was ‘mad’ enough to consider it. Then I thought of my River City Runner mate Carl. I knew Carl was mad enough to consider it and would be a good fit for the team. He needed a bit of time to consider it but was in. Woohoo.
So now we just needed to train and fundraise and because we were doing two events we needed to raise twice the minimum, or $2,800 all up. That was a challenge in itself. Many of my trail running friends were also participating and fundraising as well. Many of those who weren’t doing Oxfam Trailwalker were doing the Kokoda Challenge which also requires fundraising. Nevertheless we ran some creative events, a girls night out at the movies, a come and try fencing afternoon, sold 150 bars of Oxfam Fairtrade Chocolate (yum) and have many generous friends and family who willingly contributed to the cause. Its amazing what you can achieve with the help of some friends.
So what happened?
We collected our bibs, a sick bag for the bus ride and hopped on the bus. The bus ride up the winding road to Mt Glorious was interesting if not a little scary in the wet and foggy conditions. Scot Nav was focussed on watching England play soccer on his iPhone until he lost the signal. We hopped off the bus in the light rain into the buzz at the start. The rain was light and soon cleared but the fog would remain for a few hours.
Before too long the fastest teams were asked to assemble at the front under the starting arch. We lined up alongside the Belle Birds, Chinwaggers and Red Man Runners. In true Team 456 style we sprinted off at the start and settled into a fairly fast pace as we negotiated the long downhill section.
We could hear the Chinwaggers 1 behind us (their name is very appropriate) and after a few kilometres they came past us and we exchanged a few words. We let them go but were always in touch on the uphill sections and right behind them coming in and out of checkpoint 1 and 2. The running here was beautiful and scenic and the clouds were nestled in the valleys. Sections would be misty and wet while others were dry, I love the diversity of this trail.
At kilometre 22 as we were crossing a creek, Scot Nav stepped on a big rock slipped, fell into the water and was bitten by a shark. (that’s our story anyway, it’s amazing the stories that come out when you spend so much time just running together.) He managed to fight off the shark but was a little stiff and sore on one side, fortunately there was no significant blood loss. We continued and on arrival at Checkpoint 3 Scot Nav made a quick visit to the physio and everything seemed okay. We refueled, reloaded or swapped our packs and continued on. I felt extremely tired and a little dizzy but was hopeful of coming good, the crew could see I wasn’t feeling well and reassured me I would come good. I made sure I took on plenty of nutrition, what works for me and what I took in at this checkpoint was 500ml Dare Iced Coffee, Double Espresso, 250ml of Gatorade and some salted potato.
We spotted the Belle Birds coming into CP3 as we were leaving. This got our notice. I have total respect for that group and I knew they had put in some really solid training for this event. The Chinwaggers appeared to be long gone and had built up a significant lead.
Trail Section 4
We continued along at a steady trot, I battled to hold onto the pace and still felt a little dizzy but kept refuelling and moving forward. The fast running at the start is not my usual strategy and it had taken its toll. I also think I may not have taken in enough nutrition at the start.
We approached the little out and back stretch to CP 4 (Scrub Road) and could not see footprints coming back out again which meant we should see the Chinwaggers. Scot Nav was on a mission, he needed a comfort stop and ran ahead. We heard the welcome sound of the generator at the Checkpoint and then we spotted the Chinwaggers heading out, running but not all looking entirely happy. We ran in and it was here I started to feel better. I drank about 500ml of water and helped myself to lollies and was heartened that we had made up some ground. We chatted to the checkpoint volunteers while we waited for everyone in the team to be ‘ahem’ comfortable again and then headed out again. Before long we came across the Belle Birds coming toward us all looking great.
A bit further along the trail there was a discussion and a bet on the offer as to when we would catch the Chinwaggers and then before anything could be finalised there they were. Evidently going through a rough patch. We gave them some encouragement we were sure we would see them again and continued on with purpose. It was at about this time I had gone from simply trying to hold onto the pace to leading out front, running with more purpose. I still experienced some dizziness but felt much better. I came out of my fog and was able to pick up the pace. There were some long downhill and more runnable sections and we powered on. The trails ahead being closer to Mt Coot-tha where I do most of my trail running were very familiar. I looked forward to seeing our crew for the 2nd time at Bellebird Grove. Finally we came across the tower marking the turn down to Bellebird and we cruised along the road entering a checkpoint in 1st place for the first time that day. It was awesome to hear cowbells, and to spot friends as well as our crew again.
We took our time to refuel and get ourselves together for the final push for home. We made sure we had headlamps and headed out onto the road and the long slog back up and out from Bellebird Grove, the Chinwaggers were heading in with purpose and then not much further on the road were the Belle Birds all looking great still! We high fived them and gave them encouragement assuring them the Chinwaggers weren’t far in front.
Trail Section 6
This trail section along Mount Nebo Road and then around the Enoggera Reservoir is very familiar. I ran it a few times in training and the running is fairly easy. We set off with purpose making the most of the fading daylight. As we skirted the reservoir a guy out running came past us from behind. We asked if he had seen another team, he hadn’t so we were sure we had a bit of breathing space, someone thought they spotted lights on the other side of the reservoir from where we had just come so we pushed on. Finally we made it to the dam wall and we climbed up and into the housing estate there was a marshall and friends to welcome us, a quick hug and we moved on. Then we negotiated an overgrown rocky path on our way to Corra Mulling Park and Checkpoint 6. El Capitano had to follow me closely as his headlamp was failing and it’s now dark. Then I spot a Tawny Frogmouth owl sitting on a railing right at my elbow and stop to shine my headlamp on him to admire him sitting there calmly less than a metre away. Scot Nav comes up to look too and then startled the owl takes off and almost takes out Carl.
We look forward to seeing our crew yet again. They are there without fail and welcome us in, we prepare ourselves for the final push and take off.
Checkpoint Crew Shenanigans
It’s dark now and we head off along the roads again looking forward to more trail. We know there are some steep uphills ahead but we look forward to running along Moggil Road because every year the local residents set up a BBQ and shelter on the side of the road and there are plenty of kids playing in the street and on the verge to cheer the runners and walkers through. We are not disappointed and we get a cheer and plenty of encouragement as we pass. They ask us if we are the 1st team and we quite proudly say we are. We can now visualise the finish and the pizza Katie promised is probably on order. We approach Mt Coot-tha and start the steep climb up Moggil Road. We encounter a Brisbane Trail Runner and then a cyclist descending. I spot a Cane Toad and Carl apparently came across a snake on Highwood Road. The reflective trail markers are reassuring in the dark and mark the way on the trails. We have a few kilometres to go and steadily hike up the Honeyeater trail. Then finally the reflectors on the barriers at the top are illuminated by our headlamps and we are at the summit it’s all downhill from here. We descend carefully Scot Nav’s knee is seizing up and every little hump is uncomfortable but what is mostly on our minds is crossing the finish line and we begin to hatch a plan on how we will present ourselves at the finish. It’s takes us the better part of a kilometre to do this. Then we hear the generators, never has the sound of a man made machine been music to a trail runners ears. Whoops someone lost their bib, this is not the time El capitano to be losing it, but we collect it and as planned dump our packs, headlamps and superfluous gear just out of sight of the finish line and cameras and run across the line in what we hope appears to be a carefully choreographed finish. The final result is probably far from it but it was great to be greeted by so many friendly faces. We pose for the camera’s under the finish arch and enjoy the moment and then finally we think we should formally check in.
Then the angel we have come to know as Katie has pizza and I enjoy my Dare Iced Coffee and a Chia Pod trying to be the sensible one. It’s not long before the Chinwaggers arrive and then in hot pursuit the Belle Birds squeeze in under 13 hours. The buzz at the finishing line is awesome. What a day.