Western States 100 Endurance Run 2024


My incredible hosts in San Carlos had clearly planned years ahead of my arrival by having a blazing hot series of trails at the top of their road – therefore within an hour or so of landing on the Sunday before the race I was hitting a big climb in the mid afternoon heat – and getting completely freaked out by all the lizards scurrying around thinking they were all snakes.  The perfect start to the week leading in – lots of rest and burritos.  

Got to the beautiful hamlet of Alpine Meadows on Wednesday – just a short drive from the Western states start line. It sits at 2,000 metres and the altitude change was immediately apparent when carrying the suitcase up the stairs to the accom.  You suddenly feel so unfit!  Found an amazing trail – nearly landed right on a little snake (a real one this time!) up around 2,300 metres.  Beautiful trail – and a teaser for what the alpine section of the race would be.  ( if curious, my VO2 MAX dropped by 5 points over 48 hours just with the elevation change.)

Got back to digs with the news that my pacer for the final 60kms of the race had been diagnosed with a major illness just that day – cannot travel let alone run (update: he is OK and will pull through because he’s champ).  It’s Wednesday evening and I’ve just lost my pacer (who was also going to help crew early on and had a car) – yikes!

The race has an online portal to help you find a pacer.  After a quick search to find someone who matched my projected finish time and had a bit of experience I came across Canadian athlete Claire Heslop and hit the ‘request’ button – and hoped for the best! It’s a big ask to find someone who is happy to run 60km at two days notice but sure enough, the next morning Claire gets in touch and is totally on board.  Stoked!

A little shake out run with other runners on Thursday morning was really cool – amazing too see how many people had travelled a long way to the race just to be a part of the weekend – no affiliation with any runner.  Don’t see that much back in NZ!

Friday check in – OFF THE HOOK – you get so much stuff at registration it’s ridiculous – backpack, HOKA slides, socks, a buff, gel bottle, magazines – other stuff I can’t remember.  The whole village is packed with so many excited people.  I popped into the UD tent to ask about new bungie cords for my vest – the bottle holders had broken after several milers – and the fella there was very apologetic and said he didn’t – but also added ‘hey you’re running tomorrow aye? Here, just have a new pack mate and all the best’.  Amazing – 5 stars for UD! 

Met up with some mates – the two Urbanski brothers  – I have, through good fortune more than talent, beaten both off them in races before – Matt is running Western this year with Jeff pacing him.  He said he’d go for 17 hours so I said ‘cool man, see you at prizegiving!’ My hoped-for goal was 21 to 23 hours.  My new pacer Claire had driven me to rego and hung around for the briefing – already proving to be a totally awesome part of the team.  


Part 01 – The High Country – 0km to 50km

I started near the back of the field – forcing me to go easy on the first major climb. The escarpment is a long steep climb and to be honest, you’re walking most of it.  The views are epic, the crowd at the top is amazing – hundreds of people (they have woken up in the cold small hours to be at the top in time for the first runners) 

Into the alpine section – there is very little snow this year – last year there was 22 miles of snow – we had about ten metres in total!  What this did mean though was dust – so much dust!  I got caught in the back of a few trains and I could barely see the ground.  In an attempt to get some clear air I tried to pass a group of people – this put me slightly off to the side of the main trail and of course my foot found the only root sticking out of the ground and I took a full stack into the dirt – luckily, after attempting to dust myself off, realised the damage was minor (although the humiliation was strong – stacking mid-overtake is never cool!)

I started using ice as early as possible.  I had an ice bandana from T8 and it worked miracles – used from 16 miles all the way to 90 miles. Melt times varied throughout the day – at canyon two it would only last about ten minutes.  Scorching.  

The first 50k of the course is, for the most part, all above 2,000 metres.  It is technical and has two huge climbs in it (the second was surprisingly long).  I was really surprised by how much of a challenge it was – certainly not as easy as some of the top times would suggest.  I was holding back on pace hugely as well – mostly out of fear of screwing up this potentially once-in-a-lifetime race.  I came into Robinson flat – the 50k aid station – exactly on plan – 6 hours and 30 minutes – but I had worked much harder than I thought I would have to – it’s no joke!

Part 02 – The Canyons – 50km to 100km

The first section out of Robinson is awesome – a short climb and then a really long 4wd packed gravel road where you can get some good pace on as it’s downhill but only slightly.  Feel good through Millars Defeat, Dusty Corners, Last Chance and then into the canyons proper.  This started to suck a bit for me – descent #1 was ok but the climb out I suddenly had nothing in the tank – and the heat was cranking.  When I finally arrived at Devil’s Thumb (just under halfway through) I was worked and needed a moment.  The good thing about running a race this important, is that when you start to feel a bit low you catch yourself with the line ‘bro, you’re running western states, get over yourself’ – worked every time!  

The drop into canyon #2 takes about 7 years.  Well, it felt like it.  Full sun, no wind and no shade as all the tress were burnt out from previous fires.  My left quad started to complain here as well – so I pulled back pace as I now know that once your quad stops firing you’re toast!  At El Dorado Creek came sweet relief in the form of ice, ice and more ice.  This is also where I broke the golden rule of don’t try anything new on race day.  I had been given a Precision Endurance caffeine gel – in case of emergencies – by my pacer the day before and I decided after the last very-low two hours that now was ok to roll the dice – and I’m so glad I did.  I half ran up the climb to Michigan Bluff and really felt a million bucks on the fast roll down into the 100k aid station at Foresthill at about 13:15.

Part 03 – The ‘runnable’ part – 100km to 161km

Foresthill is such a buzz.  I met my amazing hosts here (Brent and Wendy – who is my wife’s cousin) and they had the chair, gear and cheer all set up for me.  My first time to sit down for a minute – was nice!  Since this was going to be my only crew point I took a bit longer here just to enjoy the company and the moment.  Before long, it’s pacer time!  Claire was ready to go and off we went.  This first section out of the town was super fast and I felt great.  There are few aid stations perched in precarious parts of the trail for more ice and fill ups, and with good banter the miles ticked over well.  Until about 120k when my stomach started to complain a little.  Not much, just when I ran for too long I’d feel a wave of nausea hit me.  A little frustrating as I was still moving well, but had to take dozens of little walk breaks every few hundred metres as each wave hit.  

The Rucky Chucky river crossing was a massive highlight.  It comes at 125km on the trail so you’re pretty worked by then.  But it’s epic!  You cross holding onto a rope and there are volunteers standing in the (bloody cold) water every few metres to make sure you don’t head off downstream.  They were so chipper!  Positivity all round.  It’s actually quite deep in parts and in the dark it’s kinda tricky but you feel so good afterwards.  I did a shirt, shoe and sock change on the other side as there were drops bags there and I had developed two fairly big blisters on both my heels (that’s a new one for me – no idea why!) So Claire patched me up (did I mention she’s an ER nurse? Talk about lucky me)  and off up to Green Gate we headed.  

The run-walk continued until the end – the nausea never really went away.  Fatigue was also setting in so I’m not going to blame my slower pace entirely on the stomach! Claire was fundamental in helping troubleshoot and stay positive – and some form of an answer came from a most unexpected place – at mile 90 is the Quarry Rd aid station – and who should be there but seven times states winner Scott Jurek – dressed as one of the three wisemen I think – with 2 times champ sidekick Hal Koerner also dressed up.  From one tree hugging vegan to another we ascertained that the broth was good to go so I made sure I had a cup full at each stop from then on.  Helped a lot and got salts back in.  No I didn’t get the ultimate selfie – sorry!

Big climb from here including a vital left hand turn that Jim Walmsley infamously missed one year – I can see why – a couple of crucial turn offs have surprisingly small signage.  Probably the only negative thing I could say about the entire event!

Crossing no hands bridge was eerie – in my mind from watching it online all these years I thought this was a busy aid station – but it was just a deserted, slightly overgrown crossing with flags from all countries flying on both sides, which, in the middle of the night, felt almost post-apocalyptic.   NZ flag was first which was cool.

Another big final climb, ran straight through Robie Point and even ran up the final steep hill before finally rounding a corner and seeing the dreamy lights of the track up ahead.  Those final 300 metres are surreal – you are floating – and it’s such a buzz to finish.  Then, would you believe, sitting on a chair in front of me is Matt Urbanski ‘what took you so long mate I’ve been here for 2 minutes waiting for you?’  TWO MINUTES!  I hadn’t seen him all day and in the end he was only just ahead of me – wish I had known!  So I guess we’re even now.  We’ll need a rematch sometime!

After saying a huge thank you and goodbye to the incredible Claire (she just placed top ten at Hardrock so I’m claiming I helped with this training run of ours) I stayed at the track all morning – I finished just before 4am in 22:51 – just inside my goal time but most importantly under 24 hours for the coveted silver buckle.  I didn’t have accom so found food and a chair and just clapped everyone else coming in (as well as falling asleep a few times!).  This was cool and I’m glad I did this – really allows time to enjoy the moment.  Excitement builds as we got closer to the golden hour of 29 to 30 hours (this is the final cutoff – it’s a tough line in the sand that they’ve made).  An assisted blind runner missed the cutoff by only 30 seconds.  Gutted!  So many people there.

It’s now insanely hot and prize giving is under a tent that feels like a sauna – temps close to 40 degrees.  As soon as I got my buckle I exited stage left and we jumped in the car and headed back to San Fran.  

After all the nerves, the race and entire trip was a huge success and even a few weeks later the stoke is still high.  Maybe I’ll enter that lottery again…. After all, I have one ticket now…..

Thank you Brent, Wendy and Claire – you are all legends and a huge part of what made this a success.


Bag of Pure race fuel

Half bag of naked tailwind

One nut bar

Two precision gels

Vege broth

A little watermelon and oranges but not much


UD 6.0 mountain pack 

Topo Ultraventure 3.0 shoes x 2 (Change at 130km after river) – perfect shoe choice for the race

Buff air sleeves for ice

T8 Ice bandana

T8 ultra shorts and undies

The mighty bucket hat

Special thank you to Shoe Science NZ for all the gear hook ups


I took a million photos – here are a few:

2019 World 24 hour champs – Albi, France

It is such a huge honour to represent your country, especially doing something you love. Add to that, running is such a solo sport that you rarely get to be a part of a team. And what a great team to be a part of. FionaDawnEmmaWayne and Graeme were all familiar faces from Taiwan last year while Kim joined us for the big dance and it was an absolute pleasure to meet her – and hear some wonderful stories of her endurance running feats. And it was another opportunity to catch up and run with my good mate from over the ditch Mr Stephen Redfern (he is now 5-2 in victories over me – I have some work to do)

So how did the race go for me? Well, it was a bit of a disaster. And, three days later, I am still totally gutted about it. That’s pretty much the race report in a nutshell, you can stop reading if you like.

…but if you want to know more…..

All the ducks in a row was the focus in the build up to this event. I had trained and focused so hard on it and felt everything was bang on – I and woke up feeling like ‘today is the day!!’ on Saturday morning – starting the race 100% ready. 

However, it turns out, I haven’t actually figured out how to execute this style of event yet. I say ‘yet’ because even though the last thing I want to do now is do something like this again I know I need to at some point because it’s gonna bug the hell out of me until I nail one. I know I can and I’m learning more each time I fail. A lot of the problems from Albi were copies of problems from Taiwan last year – so there seems to be a pattern.

Start at 10am, was fairly near the back but was totally fine with that. Made sure my heart rate was mid 120’s for the first few hours. Easy running. Ankle gave me some pain after only hour which wasn’t welcome – physio and crew master Marcus Daws dug in there with a good deal of pressure and it really did the world of good. We might have to drag him to all our events from now on! Got through the marathon in about 3:50 and this was still cruise mode and happy. However, by hour five running suddenly got very hard as my chest started to tighten. Breathing was an effort. Once again Marcus worked on freeing up muscles in the chest and back. Back out but very uncomfortable. Stomach was getting steadily more painful as the heat of the afternoon wore on. By hour twelve everything was awful. Had to bless the crew tent with a huge vomit – which I hoped would help but I realised it was too late for whatever was causing the pain. Also, (apologies for too much information) my pee was steadily getting darker and after 13 or so hours it was very, very red and I was getting quite concerned. So, doctor time. There were others already on the beds with the same problem. While my vitals were all fine the basic advice from the doctor was ‘stop’. So I did. And the long walk around the track back to the crew tent was quite emotional with plenty of time to think about everything that had gone into this race.

However – sleep, as any ultra runner will attest, is an amazing thing. I drank about a litre of salty soup, ate half a loaf of bread and then went to sleep on the floor of the tent thinking that I would not be out there again. About an hour or so later I woke up and felt a little better. Started cheering on everyone still out there which is great to lift spirits. Pee stop – almost normal! Ok, wait a bit longer. Four and a half hours to go the FOMO was just too strong so I went back out and just walked – knowing that I shouldn’t take any risks. I walked for 3 1/2 hours and I gotta say, it’s not a lot of fun going at that pace – but it was awesome seeing just how incredibly strong some of the top elite runners were going – six people (including Camille with her new world record) going over 270kms is just insane! With one hour to go I felt almost like a normal human so I ran that just to make it feel like I had done something if only for that hour. 144kms total – I had added 29km by going out in the morning which, while insignificant in the grand scheme of things, made me feel a little bit more like the runner I’d like to have been that day.

So, what to take away? At first I had no idea and was frustrated. Then some advice came in which really seemed to ring true (and if anyone out there has something to add to this I am absolutely all ears). Basically it comes down to drinking too much water in the heat. I think that because it’s so hot (for me anyway) I need to compensate by drinking often. Eventually the stomach is forced to hold the water as it’s too much for the body to process while doing something as taxing as an ultra. Any nutrition coming in gets held up by the liquid in the stomach so the body ends up getting very little to operate on. Meanwhile, the kidneys are not getting enough liquid to do their job so you end up with the combo of stomach and kidney pain along with gnarly pee. Good times right? I’m sure someone who actually knows medicine can explain this better but that is my general understanding.

So, ‘next time’ (aargh!) I must have a more rigid nutrition/hydration plan and stick to it. This kinda happens automatically when you are carrying your own hydration in a mountain ultra which is why I’ve not had those problems in other races – just these loop circuits with water available all the time. My theory anyway.

So, in summary: brilliant event, amazing team and crew, wonderful experience and a terrible run. Maybe the next one will be a local one without all the pressure aye. Might help. Maybe….

And, of course, none of this mad running thing would have been possible without the incredible support of the super-crew wife Emma – who had to juggle the kids this time but still managed to be there when I needed it THANK YOU!!!

Cheers for reading, looking forward to figuring out how to do one of these properly one of these days aye – I’ll be back!

UTMB 2019

Hold on to your walking poles… it’s time for another race report!! UTMB 2019!!!

30th – 31st August 2019
Loop course, Chamonix, France
171kms, 10,061 metre climb, 10,061 metre descent

Strava GPS link: https://www.strava.com/activities/2669138482

Absolutely bananas. That’s what first kilometre of UTMB is like. it’s Friday and at 6pm on the dot we’re off – surprisingly smoothly considering there are 2,500 of us – through the streets of Chamonix. Both sides of the road are completely packed with pumping crowds and you feel the best you’ve ever felt running in your entire life. Floating, smiling, high fiving, laughing – absolutely on cloud nine. One enterprising bar was even offering runners free beer – 500 metres into the race. It looked tasty… but not yet.

Section 01 – Chamonix to St Gervais – 20km

Easy flat first 8km to Les Houches and then we hit our first proper climb – about 800 metres. Probably the most significant thing to come out of this section was the sudden and quite scary realisation that this course was nothing like what I had trained on back in NZ. The uphills were fine – in fact, they were fine for the entire race. No, it was the downhill from Le Delevret into St Germain – about 1,000 metres – that gave me cause for concern. I wanted to take it easy and save the quads – but it’s just so steep and for so long that you’re braking hard the whole way. Most runners around me took a different approach – total abandon at full speed. Like, ‘woah, see you later’ fast. I just don’t seem be able to descend like that. I tried a few times and was pretty sure the next step would be my last – this is clearly a major weakness for me and something I will need to work on for future mountain events. Looking at the stats I lost 73 places just on that descent (on fresh legs!)

Section 02 – St Gervais – Contamines – 10km – Total 30km

Short section but a bit gnarly. Super super hot and muggy too. Into night now but the air is still thick. I’m overheating and find myself coming into the aid station at Contamines feeling all of a sudden very tired and overwhelmed. My left ankle has flared up and I’m in a bit of pain. Stomach not enjoying the heat either. Only 30k’s of easy running and I’m feeling spent – what is going on!!?? Fortunately I get to see Emma here for the first time and I know she’ll help me get back on track both mentally and physically. The tent is rammed with runners and crew (very strict rules for crew at UTMB – only allowed in five minutes before runner arrives, only 1 crew) but Emma has found a quieter spot for us and I take a few minutes to re-find my happy place.

Section 03 – Contamines to Courmayeur – 50km – Total 80km

Right. So, reset and off again. I’ve just put the next 50km into one section because really, it’s all a bit of a blur. The climbs are huge but I quite enjoyed them – often passing 30 odd people on the way up – only to have them all go flying past on the following descent as I struggled with both my body and the terrain. Trying not to land hard on my ankle I was constantly off-neutral balance and I knew that at some point this would become a problem but couldn’t really do anything about it. Some amazing support still – to have people cheering us on at 4am over 2,500 metre passes is just astonishing – there was even a harpist playing at 2,000m! The descent into Courmayeur from Checrouit is only 4km but drops 900 metres. I was in absolute hell. Stomach pain, ankle pain, right knee now starting to scream. 30 people flew by – it felt like 100 – very demoralising. This is my second support stop with Emma. I’m super cooked and I even say to her ‘If this wasn’t UTMB, I’d pull out right now’. But it is UTMB. So quit your moaning.

Side note: The aid stations at UTMB are incredible. Considering the amount of runners involved, the execution is flawless. Plenty of food and the main two hot food items – soup with noodles and pasta – are meat and dairy free. Hallelujah! I ended up having soup+noodles at every aid station from 40km onwards. My collapsable ultraspire cup got a workout of its own. All the volunteers involved were simply amazing. Hats off and thank you.

Section 04 – Courmeyer to Champex Lac – 47km – Total 127km

Instant 1,000 metre climb was made easier by good company – chats with people from around the world all trying to communicate in various languages. I’m probably offending everyone around me with my attempts at Français. Then relatively easy running along a plateau which included one of the most demanding pit stops I’ve ever had. At Refuge Bonatti (we’re in Italy now) I discovered the only option was a squat toilet – having destroyed quads while three Italian ladies stood in total silence outside the door made this extraordinarily challenging – but not as challenging as the following climb up to Col Ferret. HOT. like, hot like I’ve never been. I thought my legs were going to collapse at any point. Mid afternoon and totally exposed just baking in the oven for hours. Finally made the summit and we’re in Switzerland! 1,500 metre descent now (you guessed it, 10 more places lost – at the time it feels like many more) down to a very pretty postcard perfect Swiss village (complete with Ferraris in the drive) before a surprisingly tough climb to beautiful Champex Lac. Feeling surprisingly chirpy as I arrive right on 24 hours.

Section 05 – Champex Lac – Chamonix – Leg 44km – Total 171km

Just three peaks to finish the job – easy right? ha. On the drop down to Trient at 143km (after the fist of these monsters) I started to get my now-familiar hallucinations. I saw a chap exiting an aid station in the middle of the forest – neither of these existed. I was very disappointed to discover the real aid station was at least another hour away – and a very painful (my knee was 9/10 pain) and difficult descent at that. Everything just got weirder and weirder as the second night wore on. On the final climb to La Tête aux vents I saw a lady in a bikini lying on a rock. Then some cheeky bugger put a giant Tigger on a fold out chair halfway up just to mess with people – I’m sure that one was real but actually I haven’t checked with anyone else so…. maybe?? Everything is kinda moving strangely in the corners of your vision. Surprisingly I was still relatively awake but at no point was I convinced of actually finishing until about five kilometres out from Chamonix. I decided to just go for it and suck up the pain because I really wanted this over with – dawn was arriving on the second day, I had been awake for nearly 50 hours and a lot of that was not vintage fun. 

Popping out of the forest into Chamonix I saw my old mate Geoff Higgins– who had guttingly had to pull out of CCC the day before with illness – waiting with camera in hand to accompany me the last 1.2kms to the finish – I really enjoyed that bit – it really is amazing how suddenly nothing really hurts when you’re that close to the finish. At 5:44am on Sunday, 35 hours and 44 minutes after leaving the exact same spot, it’s over. Emma is there and damn does that finish line hug feel good. My great aussie mate Stephen Redfern is also there – finishing 4 hours earlier but staying up (how!!??) to see me come in. Bloody marvellous. 


Worth it? Without a doubt. Reflecting on it a few days later you get a much better perspective on the experience as a whole. I’m still very sore – feet are huge and my right knee has swollen up like a balloon – but that will pass. Yes I’m disappointed it took me so long – I am quite competitive after all – but in the end that doesn’t matter so much either. I am astonished at the speed the elites can go at – and am in awe of fellow kiwi Scotty Hawker‘s third place finish in 21:48 – that is just so fast on that terrain. In the end it was just awesome to be a part of something that I’ve wanted to do since the day I heard about it many years ago. Job done now, time to put the feet up… for a week at least. Cheers UTMB!


Spring energy gels – not sure how many…. maybe twelve?

Heaps of soup and noodles and 1 x pasta 

Fruits nuts…. general aid station stuff. 


Garmin Fenix 5x+ watch recharged at each aid station with Emma

Altra Lone Peak 4 and Olympus shoes


UD PB 4.0 Mountain vest

Black Diamond Carbon Z poles

Fenix HP30r head torch with spare battery – lasted the full night for each set of batteries – really impressed with that.

The usual themals, jacket, pants, buff etc… didn’t really need any of it as was so warm even in the middle of the night.

Next stop is the world 24 hour champs in Albi in October. 8 weeks to go.

Cheers for reading!

Tarawera 100 mile and Northburn 100 mile 2018 double

When the brilliant team in charge of the Tarawera event announced (after much anticipation and badgering from all) that they were going to put on a 100 mile race around the lakes of Rotorua, I immediately put it on my list.  Great.  Unfortunately, I am also a huge fan of the monster that is Northburn as it’s the closest thing we have to a mountain miler that has vertical that compares to the likes of UTMB and Hardrock – and the very mad Terry Davis with his terrifying race briefing is a must-attend event on the annual calendar.

Which one to do? Surely not both eh!!??

Bugger it, only one way to find out.  They are only 1 month apart, well, as it turned out, 34 days, 4 hours and 40 minutes from finishing Tarawera to starting Northburn – stats!

Tarawera Inaugural Miler – 10th February 2018, 4:00 am, Government Gardens, Rotorua 

21 hours 19 minutes – 5th overall

Strava GPS link

(Photo by Kurt Matthews Photography)

I like early mornings – I do them most days in training – but this is pretty early – and the night before a race is generally short on sleep so this made it even shorter.  I think in a perfect world I’d like a race like this to start the evening before – even get into it straight after registration!  Might be just me though.  Regardless, here we are – and it’s a great start line with a few familiar faces around.  A brief yet stunning Pōwhiri and we are off – at a very comfortable 5:45 min/km pace – lots of chatting up front.  The first 30 or 40 kms were right on script – a trio of Dennis De Monchy, Chris Warren and myself formed something resembling a chase group behind the two leaders Grant Guise and Adrien Prigent.  Raining steadily but the track was in good condition so progress was swift.  The lakes still look beautiful even on day like today – mist and overcast skies – very broody!

At around the 47km mark we jump on a boat and fly across the water – all done without any fuss (and a good opportunity to get a stone out of my shoe and eat something) – it’s over very quickly and we are heading down to Rerewhakaaitu aid station at 52kms.  A quick korero with lovely wifey who is just so good with motivation and off we go up the backside of Mt Tarawera.  This is a pretty decent climb and the three of us drift apart a little but out of nowhere comes a lady by the name of Hannah McRae who, while flying past us, humbling announces that she ‘has no idea what she is doing here’ – a reference to the fact that this is her first miler and she is leading the women’s field.  Off she goes and it’s the last I’ll see of her for another 100 kilometres.

Tarawera Falls is the halfway mark in kilometres and I’m in fourth place – this is where we joined the course for all the other distances.  I was really happy to get there in under 9 hours – wild thoughts of a sub 20 hour performance started to form in my mind.

but then

the mud…..

All of a sudden we went from having the place to ourselves to being right at the back of the pack behind over a thousand other runners – who, thanks to the consistent rain, had understandably chewed the course up into a pile of deep mud from the Falls all the way to Millar Road aid station – 40 kilometres of single track carnage.  Times fly out the window and moral takes a big hit.  Just staying on my feet becomes the single focus for long periods of time.  It’s no-ones fault – but it sucks.  Andy Palmer passes me in the middle of this section looking very strong.

Nevertheless, I get a huge boost coming around the corner into Okataina at 100ks as the whole family is there with the girls fighting over the cowbell – they had been waiting in the rain for ages which I feel terrible about – sorry couldn’t go any quicker!  Off up the climb on the western Okataina and I get passed by an incredibly perky Dennis De Monchy who is clearly enjoying the vertical in front of us and then Sally McRae also shoots past on a mission.  Sally and I would have a bit of back and forth on this leg as I had ‘cheat stick’ poles and she didn’t.  Clearly the poles were an advantage on the ups of this section and I honestly felt a bit awkward about being able to go past her when the mud was really gnarly.  She’d fly past on the downhill – rinse and repeat – she eventually won this battle by eight minutes at the finish!

Millar road – an actual road!  Felt a combination of awesome and really hard – the legs were pretty toasted here so the long downhill isn’t pretty but you get there quicker.  Through quiet Okareka – I just wanted to join the locals on their deck having a beer – looked so good!  The approach to Blue Lake is another muddy affair but brief at least.  Seventh place, 35k’s to go!
The last part is a bit of a blur to be honest – some big climbs in there saved especially for us miler people.  A terrible single track that had been used for a mountain bike race that day – Puarenga aid station looking like a completely different world from when we saw it at 5:30 that morning.  I was almost falling into the dreaded auto-pilot-just-get-to-the-finish mode when something in my mind went click.  I was about 11kms from the finish when I went around a big tank and realised I knew where I was – and I also therefore could map out the rest of the race in my head.  Visualisation is a powerful tool – BANG – feeling GOOD!

Suddenly I can run everything – even the hills.  We’ve rejoined the rest of the field and I’m passing a few 100k runners when I spot a familiar figure – Mr De Monchy with super pacer Rob Bathgate – sorry fellas but I’m on a mission to finish this as soon as possible!  I also pass Hannah just before the final aid station who has put in an almighty effort and will finish second female behind Sally.

Emma is here to surprise me – which is awesome – but I just throw my poles over the fence at her and yell ‘sorry, not stopping!’ – sub 6 minute k’s from here to the finish and a very satisfying overall fifth to cap off what had been a rough day with many highs and lows.  The course is great – the Tim and Paul and co. have worked magic to get 100 miles of interesting terrain in – maybe next year we’ll get some sunshine eh?

Recovery – the time in between

Yeah.  Ummm…. this didn’t really go very well.  Overall I was exhausted – more than ever after any race – but the biggest problem was my feet.  They were wrecked from being wet for the entire race.  All swollen and burning hot for a few days.  When I could walk properly again there was a pain in my heel that I’d never had before.  After a trip to physio it turns out I had my first taste of Plantar Fasciitis – many runners will be familiar with this problem and it is very difficult to get rid of.  It also meant that training was significantly reduced and key workouts missed as I just tried to stay fit enough to make it to the start line.

Northburn 100 – 17th March 2018, 6:00 am, Northburn Station, Central Otago 

26 hours 51 minutes – 4th overall

Strava GPS link

Campervan time!  One of the many cool things about Northburn is you can camp right at the start line and this year, since we had all the kids for the first time, we went big with a camper.  This was great – roll out of bed and be at the start line in 25 seconds!  Highly recommend.  I’ve already done a race report for Northburn and the course hasn’t changed so I’ll spare most of the details and just write about the differences.  In 2016 I ran the first loop in 7:04 which was good.  In 2017 I ran it in 6:15 – which was BAD – contributing to my eventual DNF around the 105km mark (along with some serious stomach issues).  So the goal this year was to split the difference – and at 6:35 I did – but it was probably a little too fast in hindsight.  On the second loop the ‘death climb’ out from camp felt really tough with the temperature rising.  I was halfway up this climb when Emma sent a message saying that our girls had won the kids race for their age group.  There’s a 2km loop that has a decent climb in it that kids can do as part of the weekend’s activities and it’s brilliant.  The girls had a BLAST and it was one of the highlights of the whole trip.

The whole of loop 2 was just a bit of a battle with fatigue and heel pain.  The body and legs reminding me that they’re kinda over this running malarkey for a while and can we please stop now.  NO!  There’s more work to be done!  For most of loop 2 and the start of loop 3 I hung out with Andy Millard – a hell of a good bloke from Wanaka but with a very strong Scottish accent so I caught about every third word in our many hour + long conversations!

Back to camp at the end of leg 2 and I’m about 30 minutes ahead of 2016 time.  Feeling really stuffed but not sleepy and still very motivated to keep going which is good.  I’m early enough that the kids are still awake so that’s a real boost.I leave slightly ahead of Andy but when my headlamp decides to stop working (it does this regularly – I need a new one!) I just wait for him to rock up and use his light to sort mine out.  Loop 3 is well known as being a beast and it doesn’t disappoint.  It’s possibly mentally tougher when you’ve done it before – you know what you’re getting yourself into and how long it’s going to take.  I get to do pretty much the entire third loop in darkness – some of it very cold up top (all mandatory gear was on) and dawn only breaks on the final climb before the finish.  There’s something about the sharpness of a cold night that actually makes me move better.  In the ‘loop of despair’ I go from 10th place to 4th place as people start to struggle with the combination of cold, fatigue and vertical.  At checkpoints I was told that third place, another top bloke by the name of Adam Keen, was too far ahead to chase down but at the finish it turned out only 7 minutes separated us – so close but I never saw him ahead so I didn’t know.  Never mind!  It was still a PB by 16 minutes (which really isn’t much in the grand scheme of things) but more importantly I had achieved the goal of back to back 100 mile races.

Recovery from this race has been much quicker.  While the heel still hurts from time to time and my knees are a bit grumpy I feel back to full strength only two weeks after Northburn.  Ready for the next adventure!



COMBINED 2 x 100 MILE TIME: 48 Hours 10 Minutes – super keen to see someone beat this!


Approx 20 x Pure energy gels in total

2 x frozen smoothie – rice milk, banana, berries, LSA and ground almonds (approx 300 grams per bag)

2 x One Square Meal bars (bite size)

10 x date muesli bars

7,000 x cups of pumpkin soup (ok, maybe 12 or so across both races)

Some potatoes at Northburn which were excellent

Some nuts, chocolate, watermelon


Tailwind and water.


Garmin Fenix 3 watch with portable USB charger which allowed it to record the entire event

Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes (I had to buy new ones after Tarawera as they had shrunk so much!)

Gaiters (both races)

UD PB 3.0 Vest

Black Diamond Carbon Z poles (from 100km mark at Tarawera and for all of Northburn)

AY-UP head torch with spare battery (need a new one now – this one is knackered)

Battery charger and the usual thermals, jacket, pants, buff etc…

Great Southern Endurance Run (GSER100)

Great Southern Endurance Run (a.k.a. GSER100) 

17th – 18th November 2017

Mt Buller to Bright across the Victorian Alps, Australia

181kms, 10,000 metre climb, 11,000 metre descent

Strava GPS link

It made no sense on paper – why did they think the first 11kms would take the fast guys 2 hours? Really!?  Apart from the Buller summit it’s all downhill.  Hmmmm…… maybe there was something we didn’t yet know…


Section 01 – Mt Buller to Gardners Hut – Leg 11.6km — Total 11.6km – 352m up – 1,414m down – leg time 1:52 – total time 1:52

Easy listening hits waft across the PA, a polite countdown from race director Sean Greenhill, 5am,  and we’re off!….. slowly……  There aren’t many races where every competitor is walking within the first fifty metres – clearly a sign that this was not going to be any ordinary event. We kick straight into the first climb to the highest point in the race – Mt Buller at 1,805 metres.  Then super easy downhill for a few kms with everyone enjoying the fresh start and each others company.  ‘Sweet’ I’m thinking, ‘we’re gonna SMASH that two hour estimate – Sean doesn’t know what he’s talking about!’

Then, following a simple, innocent green arrow, we turned left off the road.  And suddenly it all made sense.

Lesson one: in Australia, never trust a log.  No, not because it might be a snake, but because it is the slipperiest object known to mankind.  It was carnage all around as one by one we all learned this valuable lesson.  There was also no track.  Well, not an obvious one.  We just followed markers through the bush really.  Very technical and you’d be mad to try and run.  After about forty minutes I foolishly trusted a log, slipped and fell hard and managed to ram a cut off tree branch into the top of my foot.  Serious pain ensued and I couldn’t bend my toes for around ten hours after that – seven days later as I type this it still isn’t great.  Towards the base of the descent the track improved and I actually beat the two hour mark by eight minutes.  Ha! See! Easy!  Yeah right…

Section 02 – Gardners Hut to Upper Howqua – Leg 33.9km – Total 45.5km – 1,854m up – 1,548m down – leg time 4:44 – total time 6:37

This is a big section but an enjoyable one.  Very beautiful running beside the Howqua river.  Then comes the main climb of 1,100 metres.  It’s very steep and the first real taste of what the remainder of the trails will be like.  Nearly all the tracks just go straight up the guts of the mountain – none of the criss cross traversing that we tend to prefer on our side of the ditch.

Leaving Upper Howqua

Most direct route possible!  I had almost run out of water so 20kms into the leg I refilled at a water tank beside Bluff Hut (32km).  While this did me no harm during the race, I’m pretty sure it was responsible for me being pretty sick for 24 hours after the event.  If I had known that the following 13kms to Upper Howqua were the easiest and fastest 13kms in the entire race I wouldn’t have bothered – but hindsight is often cruel!  Cross a river and there is the family!  So good to see everyone and soak in some aid station atmosphere.

Section 03 – Upper Howqua to Speculation – Leg 17.3km – Total 62.8km – 1,578m up – 822m down – leg time 3:56 – total time 10:33

This is where things got really interesting.  The ascent to Mt Howitt (54km) began harmlessly enough with a few meandering river crossings, then up we went through something that mostly resembled a trail – which was nice!  Then came the ominous sound of distant rolling thunder.  Not exactly what you want to hear when you are on your way up to an exposed 1,800 metre peak.  Soon we could see the flashes as well, then it boomed right overhead along with heavy rain and hail.  Fellow runner and all round good-guy-to-have-a-beer-with Simon Byrne and I hit the deck and threw our carbon fibre poles away – not great things to have on you in an electrical storm.

Simon and I throwing our poles away in the storm

After a few minutes we realised that lying still in a hail storm gets you really cold so we put on our big boy pants and carried on.  It was not long after this I was joined by fellow kiwi Tom Hunt – a seasoned ultra man who it turns out lives about ten minutes from me – small world!  We ended up running/walking/climbing together for the next twelve hours – so good to have company into the night.  The Cross Cut Saw, Mt Buggery, Horrible Gap – someone had fun naming all the points along this section.  We arrived at the Mt Speculation check point in good spirits and ready for a moments pause.  Looking back, that section was probably my favourite section of the whole race – lots of proper alpine running.

Section 04 – Speculation to East Buffalo Road – Leg 31.2km – Total 94km – 2,119m up – 2,637m down – leg time 7:29 – total time 18:02

Absolute monster of a section.  This took us 7 1/2 hours despite the fact that we were both in good shape.  There was a 45 degree rock face to traverse and a cable ladder climb up out of a rock shaft towards the top of ‘The Viking’  (73km) – one of the best names for a mountain I’ve ever heard.  A quick soak up of the view before yet another lightning storm started heading our way – here began a very very steep descent – especially tricky in the wet and wild weather – before we started making our way through the first section of the Barry Mountains.

On top of ‘The Viking’

A lot of this was runnable and we made good ground.  On the final climb up to the East Buffalo aid station the rain was really hammering down so it was a wonderful thing to get under the cover of the tents for a few minutes.  ‘Would you like some Hash Browns?’  ‘I’m sorry, did you say Hash Browns!!??’  Turns out they weren’t kidding – warm shredded potato goodness out here in the absolute middle of nowhere.  I think they even stood in the rain to cook them.  Now THAT is classy.  There is a lot to do at these aid stations especially when they are 7 1/2 hours apart.  Change of thermal and shirt, refill all the bottles – some with tailwind, some just water, eat, drink, eat some more, repack everything, stow drop bag and then get moving.

Section 05 – East Buffalo Road to Selwyn Creek Road – Leg 14.2km – Total 108.2km – 935m up – 859m down – leg time 3:40 – total time 21:43

This should have been fairly straight forward – a short leg and not too much climbing – but things are often not what they seem in ultras.  The first moment came around the 100k mark where it became evident that I was moving at a quicker pace to Tom and a very reluctant parting of ways had to happen – I was really enjoying the company but had to accept that this was a race after all and why not try and go for it.  So off into the dark and lonely night I went – for the first time solo – but it was not for long.  An Aussie runner by the name of Dave Batho was wandering around just past the summit of Mt Selwyn (103km) and he was not a happy chap – I quickly discovered why – the trail markers were nowhere to be seen (they are reflective and can normally be spotted from a long way off). We split up and criss crossed our way blindly until finally a shout from Dave signalled that a marker had been found.  But this was just the beginning of a very long and slow descent where we were constantly stopping and heading off in different directions to find the next marker tag.  Really, this is not what you want to be doing at 2 o’clock in the morning.  There a few rumours and theories as to why the navigation was so difficult in this section but I’ll leave that for another forum.

Section 06 – Selwyn Creek Road to Mt Saint Bernard – Leg 16.8km – Total 125km – 1302m up – 949m down – leg time 4:16 – total time 26:00

Quickly in and out of the aid station (no drop bag here) and I found myself in the company of Ross McPhee and Andy Turner – good blokes.  Once again this section was much harder than it looked on paper (you can see a theme developing I’m sure – everything was harder than it looked on paper!).  I knew there was this climb to something called ‘The Twins’ (121km) but the mountains before that were so tough I actually thought I’d already done it.  How wrong I was.

Dawn on day two

As dawn lit up the western sky in blood red we looked at an almighty climb that loomed ahead of us. The profile says it was only 200 metres – and I guess it was – but it’s the hardest 200 metre climb I’ve ever done.  It is followed by an equally steep 300 metre descent – quads starting to really voice their disapproval now.  An easy (by comparison) climb up Mt Saint Bernard, turn the corner and there is the wonderful sight of the family waiting on a beautiful clear morning.  Huge lift to the spirits – the pumpkin soup really helps too (thank you Emma!!)  I am now joined by my pacer Rod Foster – who also paced me at C2K last year.  Much better race this year though – moving freely and keen to get this done.


Section 07 – Mt Saint Bernard to Harrietville – Leg 21.9km – Total 146.9km – 600m up – 1,589m down – leg time 4:05 – total time 30:05

Tarmac?  For 6 kms?  No chance to fly though, it is a steep uphill – very reminiscent of coast2Kosci actually – suddenly the monotony of the road made me feel tired for the first time.  Luckily it didn’t last too long – we then hit a juicy 1.5 kilometres of descent in the space of around 8kms.  Really tough on the legs and I couldn’t go as fast as I wanted too.  Somewhere along here Christian Stockle flew past like a man possessed – he eventually finished a remarkable fourth place which goes to show that if you’ve managed to save a bit in the tank for the end you can really move up the placings.
Nice run into Harrietville and it’s the final aid station before the finish – last opportunity to see the family before the very long final section.  I am informed that they have the best donuts in the world here – a bold claim but sadly I never got to try them!

Section 08 – Harrietville to Bright – Leg 34.1km – Total 181km – 1,318m up – 1,511m down – leg time 5:36 – total time 35:42

Yes, the final section is 34 brutal kilometres long and there are no water drops.  I had been freaking out about this section since the day the course notes were released – and it delivered.  The long initial ascent wasn’t too bad – it was the twenty million little bitey ones that followed that started to break my spirit.  Up until this point I had been in a good headspace overall.  Now for the first time it was getting really hot.  It’s early afternoon on the second day, nearly 30 degrees and humidity is through the roof.  Just before the high point at 159kms I had my one and only pity party.  I was freaking out about the heat and our lack of water and I just wanted to get this thing over with.  I expected a little sympathy from Rod – ha! I got none.  Instead he said (and this is a very loose quote because I was a bit loopy at this point) ‘we’ve only got 20 to go.  Lets break it down into 5k sections – theres only four of those.  You’re going well, you’re in the top ten and we’re damn well going to stay there. Now get moving!!’  It was just what I needed.  Good on ya mate.  Then two merciful things happened – we started going downhill again and it started raining hard – a big temperature drop and we were moving at double the speed.  I was starting to mildly hallucinate by this point – seeing pot plants in the middle of the track – and every dead tree looked like a signpost – I kept looking forward to seeing what was written on them only to have my hopes dashed every time!  Anyway….  huge descent again and all of a sudden we only had three kilometres to go – and it was all flat.  We looked back down a long straight and there was no one behind us so we knew we could enjoy the last few minutes.  We joined a single track alongside the river and it was great to still be sitting on 6 minute k’s.  The rain had gone and all was well when suddenly the runner Stephen Rennick comes flying by.  ‘Where did he come from!?’ Rod and I asked each other.  He was gone in a flash and we had no chance of chasing him down – full credit to him – i would have done exactly the same thing if I saw a catch that close to the line.
The good news is I finished in 8th place which is where I thought I was before being passed so it was all ok with me.  A silver buckle (for finishers under the 40 hour mark) and a wonderful hug from super-support-crew wife then, for the first time in a day and a half, I could sit down.


It’s an amazing course, albeit far rougher than anything I expected but on reflection that makes conquering it all the more satisfying.  They want to do it in reverse next year – now that really is bonkers!


Approx 14 x Pure energy gels (kiwi made, very good on stomach, highly recommend)

1 x frozen smoothie – rice milk, banana, berries, LSA and ground almonds (approx 300 grams per bag)

2 x One Square Meal bars (bite size)

3 x date muesli bars

2 x cups of pumpkin soup

4 x hash browns!!

Some nuts, chocolate, watermelon


Tailwind and water.


Garmin Fenix 3 watch with portable USB charger which allowed it to record the entire event (had to recharge twice on this one).

Altra Lone Peak 3.5 shoes (didn’t change them, didn’t need to)


Icebreaker long ski socks

UD PB 3.0 Vest

Black Diamond Carbon Z poles

AY-UP head torch with spare battery

Battery charger and the usual themals, jacket, pants, buff etc…

A huge thank you to my family for their support, Rod for being a rock solid pacer and a damn fine chap, Stephen Redfern for his lending of stuff and also being a damn fine chap (and monster of an ultra runner) and thanks to you for reading this ridiculously long race report!  The inaugural Tarawera 100mile race is next (Feb 2018) – see you there!


C2K – coast2kosci – NSW, Australia, December 9th – 10th 2016

C2K – coast2kosci – 2016 – Race Report

It sounds horrible…and boring … surely!??  240kms on road. Most of it bitumen.  Uphill, downhill then uphill some more repeat repeat repeat……

Boring? Horrible?  Nope.  Not for a second.  Extraordinary?  Yes. Most definitely.



Crew (roving car)

(right to left)

Emma (wife and organiser extraordinaire)

Matt (our neighbour who I knew I could rely on to give me kick up the bum if required)

Rod (local fella from Wagga Wagga who was connected with us by another runner – he hopes to run this himself one day)



Friday 9th December, 2016

img_15904:15am  – alarm – brain slowly wakes up – what are we doing today? OH THAT’S RIGHT – wide awake now.  The crew is already up and prepping.  You feel immediately unworthy of everything happening – everyone in this little cabin by the ocean is here for you.  They were also up much later than you last night sorting everything else out while you did your best to sleep with such a monumental task ahead.  Your selection in this race also means you are expected to finish – if not, then someone else who missed out on a place will be mightily disappointed in you.  It’s also cost a lot to get here, and the logistics of leaving kids behind during school term with multiple babysitters was a monumental challenge unto itself.  And you’re the only one representing Aotearoa here.

So no pressure then.

img_16165:30amStart – Twofold Bay, NSW – simple countdown on the high tide line and we are off.  Weather is calm and cool.  Running is easy and the head is clear.  The inevitable lack of sleep leading up to race day is forgotten.  Ultra maestro and all round good bloke Stephen Redfern ends up beside me and we run along chatting away for the first hour through beautiful rainforest that reminded me of the blue mountains.  There’s a pretty big hill in the middle of this but it’s barely noticed such is the grand scheme of things to come.

imag01207:51am – 24.5km – 02:21 elapsed – Towoomba School – the first opportunity to see the crew – they were in great spirits having had a fantastic breakfast courtesy of the local school (their biggest fundraiser of the year).  Quick bottle change (drinking mainly tailwind for 2/3rds of the race) and few nuts and a muesli bar and off.  First opportunity to get a feel for the roving machine – crew cars start going up the road as their runners clear out of this checkpoint.  Suddenly there’s an energy coming from the extra traffic and support.  It’s fairly unique (I imagine Badwater is similar to this) and it’s really cool.  You get to know other runners crews really well as the hours tick by – and everyone is awesome.

70kdirt11:20am –  57.0km – 05:50 elapsed – Bottom of big jack mountain – this is the start of the longest steep climb of the event – 6 1/2k’s at a decent gradient – it took me 70 minutes even though I was giving it a good push the whole way.  Despite the time, I was quite surprised to reach the top when I did – I was expecting a bit more hurt – but there was plenty of that to come later so I should have been thankful.  The top of big jack is the start of the higher plateau – and a lot of straight road running into a nasty headwind.  It is surprisingly cold – it’s the middle of a sunny day in December in Australia and I’m wearing a jacket while running.  Very unusual!

tree4:51pm – 102.5km – 11:21 elapsed – Big Dead Tree – this is the world-famous-at-C2K big dead tree.  I am reliably informed it used to be much larger than it currently is, but being dead, bits have gradually fallen off.  A significant milestone of 100k’s here.  Very happy with time so far, I’m only 20 minutes or so away from the 30 hour split estimations.  However, problems are now becoming evident.  My left ankle is getting very sore at the top – like my laces are done up too tight but I have been checking them a few times and they are pretty loose.  Currently a mystery that I would be unable to solve until it was too late.  There is also a bit of pain developing behind my knees – both these problems are first time problems for me so I’m having trouble trying to work out what to do.

imag01267:19pm – 119.4km – 13:49 elapsed – Top of the windmills – You can see these windmills for about four hours before you pass under them – but mentally it gets worse – once you reach the top you find the setting sun revealing a very, very distant mountain range on the horizon – the finish line is somewhere in there – and it looks impossibly far – just a faint outline over 100 kilometres away.  What was I thinking?  Look down.  Don’t think.  One foot in front of the other.  Just focus on the next little bit.  Technically this is halfway – but it’s not really!

sundown9:45pm – 138km – 16:15 elapsed – on a hill somewhere – now there’s a new, very unexpected, problem.  I am falling asleep.  What!!? Already!!?  This is not ‘I’m tired’ sleepy either – it is full blown staggering into the middle of the road while the asphalt makes Van Gogh liquid brush stokes in front of me.  Shit.  My other all-nighter race (northburn) I never felt sleepy for a second so this is a major surprise.  I think the week of madness has caught up with me and it is putting its foot down.  I tell Matt, who has joined me for pacing duties, that we have a problem.  Up to this point I was holding a top ten position so it’s a gut wrenching decision (but, really, I had little choice) to jump in the back of the car and close my eyes.  20 minutes I tell the crew who show no sign of the disappointment they must be feeling.  After 15 minutes I self woke.  Again the brain slowly wakes up -‘where am I?’ then the loudest voice you could imagine in your head shouts ‘YOU’RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A RACE, GET UP AND GO NOW!!’  bang.  out the door.  Suddenly everything is clear again.  I have lost valuable time and position but I am moving again and I am awake.  A bit cold but I soon warm up and we make good time heading into the major checkpoint of Dalgety.

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-1-54-47-pm11:13pm – 147.4km – 17:43 elapsed – Dalgety
– this is an actual town – with a pub!  Which is now closed.  But the town hall has opened its doors and put on a feast for the crews – runners are actively discouraged from entering but a few do.  I was weighed here (identical weight to my registration weight – 68.8kgs – so no problems with hydration) and sent on my way with crew member – and Australian Army Sergeant Rod Foster – for what would be a very long night and morning of pacing duties.  Pain behind the knees is getting worse and the ankle is also screaming.  Ignore it.  Move on.

Saturday 10th December, 2016

102ks1:10am – 161.3km – 19:40 elapsed – base of Beloka range – 100 miles! and a new PB by around 7 1/2 hours – although comparing the vertical in this race to northburn makes for an unequal comparison of time – nonetheless – I’ll take it!  Very steep climb here – but relatively short – 3kms – I like these sorts of climbs as I can just keep plodding along fairly confident that nobody is going to come flying past me as running up here at this stage of the race is fairly unheard of.  Nice gentle descent as we make our way towards Jindabyne.  Despite running a reasonable amount of this, it takes forever to get there – lots of deceptive lights and roundabouts as we approach the town.  I am, once again, falling asleep on the slower hill climbs.  Dammit!  A few ks out of Jindabyne and I’m back in the car sleeping – this time in the passenger seat and for only ten minutes.  Once again I wake up without cue and am straight out the car – brain yelling at me once again GO!!

jindy-sunrise5:00am – 183.2km – 23:30 elapsed – Jindabyne – really in the hurt box now.  Managed to run fairly well into the checkpoint along the lake but the leg problems are biting now.  I stop here for some blister treatment – thank you Emma! (honestly, she was amazing every step of the way on this journey) nothing too major, blisters, thankfully, weren’t a problem throughout the race.  The Altra shoes have a wide toe box and the only blisters I had were between the toes – so no complaints there.  Change of socks here…. wait….. that feels much better on my ankle…. WHAT! REALLY!!!? are you telling me that the socks elastic was too tight around my ankles and that’s why I’ve been in pain for the last 15 hours?  Yep, turns out that’s all it was.  Tendon is buggered now though and a change of socks isn’t going to fix that sadly.  Rookie errors really (before the race I thought they were the greatest socks ever….).  I have taken a while getting sorted here and I make another rookie mistake – I got cold and didn’t notice.  As we head off again – Rod still pacing – dawn is arriving.  It is beautiful with the sun rising over Lake Jindabyne – but the air temp is hovering around 0 degrees C and I’m start to get hypothermia.  Rod had a walkie talkie but the car is too far down the road.  Fortunately another crew is going past and we flag them down to go and get our team.  Jump in the passenger seat, turn up the heating and throw everything on.  Takes a while to reach what I considered an arbitrary acceptable temperature and we’re out again.  Rod had fallen asleep with his head on the steering wheel but as soon as I said let’s go he was out the door faster than a bullet.  Army training eh.

perisher12:30pm – 222km – 31:00 elapsed – Charlotte Pass – Before reaching Charlotte Pass three major things happened – 1. I just about stood on what we think was a brown snake curled up on the side of the road (sorry – didn’t get a photo!).  I never saw it but Matt, who had given Rod a break on pacing duties, sure had and he grabbed my arm and pulled me away just in time.  Was a really close call!  2.  I had to sleep again – it appears that the ten minute power nap buys me about 7 hours awake time.  Pretty good return on investment there really but still frustrating to have to had slept three times.  Same story as the other two – self woke after ten and was off.  This was the last sleep until the finish – as I said to the crew during some of the darker hours – all I cared about was a pillow – not the finish, not a celebratory beer, just sleep.  I guess I really was far too tired going into the race but there you go. 3. I started to be able to run the downhills and the flats again.  It was under immense pain but I was sick of walking – so slow!  Weigh in again at Charlotte pass – 67.7kgs so only 1.1 kg loss – no problems.  Matt now had the big job of getting me to the summit and back.  The pacer also has the rough job of carrying all my mandatory gear as well as his own.  Thanks mate!

imag01282:30pm – 231km – 33:00 elapsed – Mt Kosciuszko summit 2228 meters
– Unbelievable views up here.  Picture perfect day and you could see in all directions for miles – the ranges to the west seem to go on forever.  A quick, and very difficult, climb up onto the rocky trig for the mandatory photo then off back down.  No chance of running anymore.  My energy and fitness is willing but the ankle and back-of-knee pain is just beyond anything I can tolerate.  I figure, what’s an extra hour of walking on such a nice day! (ok, I was probably less diplomatic than that but absence makes the heart grow fonder…)

c2k-2016-summit4:17pm – 240km – 34:47 elapsed – Charlotte Pass and Finish line
– 19th Place overall – it is a strange experience to be suddenly at the end of something this epic.  It’s not your standard cross-the-tape experience high-five.  Kind of a bewildered ‘is it really over? can i stop now?’ feeling.  I find a chair in the shade and try to let it all sink in.  More people finish and it is fantastic watching the celebrations from everyone.  The sun is shining, I have a massive jacket on and sleeping bag around my legs yet I am shivering.  Time to go.  On the journey back down the mountain to Jindabyne we pass other runners making their way slowly up to Charlotte pass.  They have many hours ahead of them – a lot in the darkness of the second night and I feel nothing but admiration for the guys and gals doing it really tough.  I pass out and wake up at our digs – beautiful lakefront – enough time to have half a beer, eat a burger and finally close my eyes for a proper sleep.  My feet are incredibly swollen and I have tennis ball lumps behind both knees.  The overall pain is monstrous.  As I type this one week later I am only just getting to the point where the swelling has gone down and I can walk without pain again – that’s a long recovery time even for a run as big as this one.  Many things have been learned.

Rod ended up running/walking 80k’s with me and Matt was somewhere over 30ks as well – a massive effort by my crew and I can’t thank them enough.

img_1715The aftermath

The next day is breakfast and prize giving.  Paul and Diane, the race organisers really are special people and one of things that stands out about the race is that every runner is treated as an individual – not a number.  At the presentation of the Akubra hats I was impressed to hear Paul describe every runners race without notes – pretty good for someone who probably hadn’t slept for at least two days!  A quality display of zombie walking from all athletes present.  Stephen had placed third on debut and looked fresh as a daisy – that day he ran back up Mt Kosci with his crew for a celebratory beer.  Some people eh!!

On the drive home Matt and Emma were already talking about ‘next time’ while I can’t even straighten my legs.  Hang on a minute fellas! I was sure this was a one-off adventure.  But there are three problems with ‘never again’ – 1. I’m sure can do better – many hours better so long as I sort out whatever happened with injuries – 2. the course is so much more beautiful than I expected – google maps really doesn’t do it justice! 3. the crews and community in and around this event are truly special – I’m going to have to stop taking the mickey about our friends over the ditch – they are a bloody good bunch I tell ya.



Food (loose guess – it’s all a bit blurry):

5 x snap lock bags of lentils, baked beans, avocado and hummus (approx 500 grams each bag)

2 x frozen smoothies – plain yogurt, rice milk, banana, berries, LSA and ground almonds (approx 300 grams per bag) I needed more of these – we’ll know for…cough… next time

4 x SAS gels (NZ stopped selling vfuel which is my normal go-to but I believe they are back on the shelf now)

4 x One Square Meal bars (bite size)

4 x chocolate muesli bars

5 x cups of pumpkin soup

Lots of nuts.


Tailwind, water and a 750ml bottle of coke.


Garmin Fenix 3 watch with portable USB charger which allowed it to record the entire event (had to recharge twice on this one!).

Altra Paradigm shoes (didn’t change them, maybe I should have, not sure)

Smartwool merino socks (never again – lesson learned – elastic is too tight around ankle!)

UD AK 2.0 Vest for carrying tailwind before I could have pacers.

AY-UP head torch with spare battery (kept randomly turning off – service time!)

Oh, and a carload of other stuff available if needed.

Thanks for reading!  Until the next adventure!!

-Andrew and the mighty ‘Paice Cadet’ crew of Emma, Matt and Rod