Sunday, 29 April 2012

Day 36……………..….A Pain in the BNT!

I was more than happy to see the Maui Mothership parked up at the entrance to the Mount Werong State Forest. I say more than happy, because for the first time, the 40km I had to cover became a painful one!
I was looking forward to today’s run. Going by the Garmin mapping program I use, the route was a steady climb over the total distance, and on fire trails, which are of the best part wide and open. This meant that I would be at the finish early for a change and me and Vickie could have a nice afternoon together, before meeting with Martin and Hazel, who had kindly offered for us to stay at their farm.
The sky was blue and the sun warm as I started the mild climb for the day. I was straight into an easy rhythm, feeling relaxed as I admired the valley I was climbing out of.


It was great to be feeling so energised and lose. Perhaps yesterday’s morning stretching session had paid off two fold? And the shorter distance just giving me that little break?

20km in and I could see myself finishing  in great time, which was fantastic considering the non-effort I was having to put in and the way I was feeling. Not that I feel terrible after running 20km, but the fact that I have been having these marathon days for some time now, means I’m not always so full of beans!
I stopped at the top of the spur to take a picture of the view and of course the sun went in! A four wheel drive came zooming past and I waved as it left me in the usual cloud of dust!

Back on the fire trail, I could feel that my left quad was tight, something I get often on this run is different body parts tightening up as and when, and I would just work it out in the evenings, ready to go again the next day.

It was only a mild tightness and it was only playing up on the steeper climbs. Another kilometre in and things got worse, it was now hurting on the declines too!
Another few KM’s, and it brought me to a stop. Up, down or even the flats were making it too painful to run and I was reduced to a walk. Looks like the four wheel drive I waved to could have been my ticket out of here I though, and it’s cold now the suns gone in too!

Frustrated, I tried to figure out what was going on and how I could get through the next 18km. Running in its normal form was more than out of the question, so I mixed it up with fast walking on the flats and uphills and this sort of one legged, left leg dragging, hop for the downhills, which was still painful but helped me cover some ground at least.
I was pissed off and shouted out how unfair this was and how far away I was from the finish, and how there was no phone reception and why, why, why all mixed up with a particular word that begins with “F”!

The good thing about being away from civilisation is that you can scream, shout and have a tantrum like a three year old and really spit the dummy! There is no one to pass judgement, but you get laughed at by Kookaburras, which always seem to be around when you’re having a bad time.  That itself makes you smile and be grateful for being out in the Australian Bush. Are they really laughing at you, or making a statement that its really not that bad and to not take yourself so seriously!
t made a difference. I was grateful for lots of things and I riddled them off counting them with my figures until there were no figures left and I was still going. Just goes to show that this was not really a problem at all, just another test of my personality. I laughed along with the Kookaburras as I hobbled along that fire trail, they had help me change my thinking and figured that there wasn’t a lot I could do about it, but do what I do best, and that’s put one leg in front of the other for long periods of time.

I met with a couple of other four wheel drivers along route, of course going in the opposite direction! But, something inside wanted for me to not take that easy option of a lift and to just brave it out what ever happened.
So, I sit here in the library at Oberon, where I would have finished my run today, Oberon that is, not the library!. A forced day off due to the quad still not being right. Normally I would be angry that I had to be made to stop with something as silly as a strained quad. But, the fact is, I’ve made it 1200km or so over the mountains in this last 35 days, without any type of injury, and besides......the coffees good in Oberon!
Day 35..............Relaxed Run

Lazing around all morning was just what I needed. Not that I’m away early each day as such, but it was nice to just take it easy and enjoy the sunshine.
The showgrounds at Taralga were basic, most of the showgrounds or BNT campsites are. Their more catered for horses than people, but the beauty of the Maui Mothership is we get to have that little bit of normalness in some less than normal places.
We brewed coffee for the second time and I was still wrapped up in the doona. I had eaten breakfast but was once again needing more than that, and was munching on bananas and muesli bars, not even the monstrous slab of steak I had at the pub last night and the tower of toasted sandwiches Vickie made on our return to the Maui afterwards come curb my hunger this morning, and before I knew it, it was lunch and time for a much needed sandwich, followed by a cup of tea and cake. “Are you even running today” Vickie asked. Of course I was I wanted to, and with only 25km to knock off I was in no rush to get out there. I just wanted to enjoy the day with this relaxed feeling.
I stretched in the warmth of the sun and reflected on just how far I had come over the last month or so. I was happy and felt lucky that I can be here doing this, even the odd bad day with logistics and bad weather couldn’t wipe the smile I had of my face.
Vickie was doing some of her own training on the showgrounds oval, which was nice to see as she never gets out much since starting on this project, she’s just been too busy catering for me, which I sometimes feel a little bad about. Team work it’s called and I know I couldn’t be doing this without her commitment, support and love.
I did finally start jogging up the Taralga Main Street about 2pm and the first 5km were a little difficult, as I tried to shake off the sleepy feeling I had enjoyed for the best part of the day.

Today’s run would take me to a winery 25km out of town and I urged Vickie to get there early to check it out!

Not much happened on the way, but meeting with another farmer!


I arrived as the sun dipped behind the mountains and the temperature dropped. Vickie had the usual Musashi recovery drink and sandwiches ready to go and I smashed them down as I waited for the water to warm so I could have a shower.

Peter at the winery, had kindly offered for us to use his phone as once again we were out of mobile reception, and I need to speak with a coaching client of mine that I have struggled to do since leaving Healesville.

Peter offered that we stayed a while and it’s hard to knock back an offer when the fires burning strong and the kettles on. Once again we were meeting with kind and friend people, people that somehow we just seem to bump into, and share a story or two.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Day 34........... Wild Man / Tame Dog

Crookwell – Taralga 43k

Crookwell was a nice town to be waking up in. It just has a good vibe about town.
Todays run would be taking me to the village of Taralga that boasts some of Australia’s earliest history. I heard that the local pub did some fantastic meals and promised myself that if today went to plan and I felt a little like socialising  then  me and Vickie would go there as a 1000km celebration
The only problem today was that my run was going to be  a little disjointed as I needed to be at the Crookwell Primary School for 12:15 to give a presentation at their assembley.
I left the Showgrounds for the first part of my run. The idea was to run as many KM as possible this morning and then for Vickie to pick me up at 11am to get back for a shower and be at the school on time. Vickie decided to run a few KM with me this morning. She was surprised at my pace even though I’ve been tired “do you run at this pace all day” she said to me. I was a little surprised to, thinking that I had slowed down a hell of a lot over the last month and have adopted this kind of BNT shuffle!
Vickie went back after the first 3km and I picked up the pace a little more in the hope to knock as much off as possible before the presentation.
It was a relatively flat country road, I only saw three cars for the whole morning which was nice. Being on sealed roads makes me nervous as normally they’re busier.
I noticed a lot on signs up protesting against the wind turbines I had seen only a few days before. Not sure why they are so bad if we are using natural power, but I guess if they are thinking about covering the land in them it could be an eyesore. Not sure of the polictics, but as I mention in my blog for that day, I don’t really know which side of the fence I sit on.
It wasn’t long before I heard the ‘toot’ of Vickie in the Mother Ship behind me, she was a little early and I decided to knock off 3km more before calling it a morning.
The drive back in to town was glorious; the day had really brightened up from the foggy start and going by the feeling of my face, I had been caught out and got sunburnt!
Vickie had me trim the beared, apparently the caveman look isnt a good one for primary schools and the local paper!
I hadn’t prepared for the talk, and really, what the hell do you talk about to a bunch of 5-11 years in the country, would what I was doing be inspiring to them? Or would they think I was just another wierdo from the city, that to them was another world so far away.
Vickie had put together some notes for me, as a guide as to what to speak about. The idea was to talk about some of the interesting things I had come across in particular anaimals, kids love animals right? And would kids who grew up on farms think that the most scariest animal I have come across on my travels was a bull……no sorry bull(s)!
It was a nice little school, neat and tidy and for the best part quiet. We met with the principle who lead Vickie and I to the staffroom and we both giggled like kids when she left us with a cuppa tea and we had our hands in the biscuit tin!
We were picked up and escorted to the assembly room by the school prefects and I smiled thinking back to the days of school that are now so long ago!
We were first up, I say we as I dragged Vickie up there for some help in dealing with what I thought was the hardest audience I have ever had to stand in front of.
The reality was that it was fun! The kids were interactive and wanted to ask so many questions. I hope that if I have inspired just one to go and do something perhaps unamaginable or to shoot for their goals than my job was done. But the real truth was that they had forgoten all about us as soon as they hit the playground!
We hung around for a coffee and a yarn afterwards. I could have sat there all day enjoying the country life, but I still had 23 km to get done and the day was fastly coming to a end.
Out I was on the BNT once again only 23km to get done. It was a dirt road all the way into Taralga, undulated but pretty flat, my only hope that it wouldn’t go through cattle land without fences.
No one for an hour, not even a car. Until I saw a dog in the distance. Was it one of those wild ones I had been warned about for the last 2 weeks? Or was it a farmers dog that was protecting the house? Either way I hoped it was friendly. I slowed down to a jog and as I got closer a walk. It was a farm dog and a friendly one at that


The last 8km in to Taralga was a tough one, my right glute had been a little sore over the last couple of days and today it decided to be a real pain… well you know in the……….!
The sun was starting to set and the temperature dropped quickly. I just needed to run the last 3km in to town and the day was over.
The pub was great. I had a giant T-bone with all the trimmings possible! It didn’t however fill me up and we went back to the Mothership and Vickie knock me up a sandwich. I have always eaten a lot, but running marathons day in day out gives you this hunger sometimes that you just cannot tame. I don’t think anything of munching down a family size bag of chips or a couple of those large bars of Cadburys and that’s after dinner, on top of all the other snacks I have to eat!
The good news for my nutritionist Alan McCubbin and my waist line is that I’m not putting weight on, nor am I really loosing any. Like all things in life there is a balanace. Logging some serious milage, means knocking down some serious calories and at the moment im enjoying the two.




Thursday, 26 April 2012


Day 32……………….Yet Another Marathon.

A marathon a day for 5.5 months sometimes more is what I had planned before the commencement of this trip, and I have stuck to the program plus a little more at times. The last few days have been just that 45, 50 and 43km.
It’s been a month like that and 1000km plus reached. I asked myself the question today, how long can this go on for? Not that I’m afraid that it can’t, but athletes take breaks in their careers, and I guess mine will be once reaching Cooktown. I have been looking after myself though. I have another 45km to run tomorrow, and then I have a rest day in the form of 25km, not a rest at all for most, but these days anything up to 30km is a dream distance, which goes to show how my body’s transforming and what’s becoming the norm. The long and more rugged terrain is behind me now and I’m hoping that my body take time to repairs itself over the flatter terrain.
Today was that flat terrain and for the most part a sealed road to, a quiet road that made its way through the grazing pastures of these parts. The weather was on my side today, and I enjoyed the views over the cattle stations and beyond.
It’s such a contrast from the alpine area, where I was just a week ago, I was slogging it out each day with monstrous climbs, I miss it though. There was something about that terrain or perhaps the rewards that came with overcoming it.
Today was more a mental challenge; days I knew I would have to tackle on this run and it was a reminder about SANE Australia and how some don’t get the choice to feel like I did today, for some daily life can be a challenge all of its own.
A simple 43km was all I had to do, but as mentioned before anything over the 30k mark it an effort, due to the back to back mileage I’m doing day in day out.
Reaching Crookwell today, I learnt that Vickie had once again been busy hitting up the media. Tomorrow I have an interview with the local rag and I presentation to give the local primary school over their assembly. Which I’m really looking forward too!
CROOKWELL – Can one be feeling both at the same time!

Day 31…………… Blown in from Gundaroo.

Weather wise it was the worst day of running to date. I’d run in weather like this before along my local trail back in Melbourne. But the difference there was that I would be going out for easy 20km knowing where I’d finish, that being the comfort of my old house!
Today was to be a 50km run taking me through the wind swept grazing country of the lower tablelands of NSW. It was cold, blowing a gale, with showers, and after the day before run through the rain and cold, I really didn’t want to leave the warm and now homely feeling of the Maui Mothership!
When I finally made the decision to get out and get on with it, I couldn’t open the door of the van as the wind was so strong, was it a sign to stay in bed today? I would have liked to have thought so!
I was wrapped up like a parcel as I jogged away from the Maui. I turned back to wave Vickie good bye and she shouted the words “Remember, this is what you do, you run long distances IN ALL WEATHER!”. I smiled and opened up the stride.

It felt like the lonely winding dirt road went on forever, as I was repeatedly blown! I was running at an angle so my feet went taken from under me. The trail started the climb up, and I knew that the windiest bit was still yet to come, as I would have to run along the ridgeline above Lake George.
The views were sensational, but like I thought, the wind was strong and the misty rain that was falling stung my face as the wind whipped it in all directions.
Safely down the other side and 25km in I was met by Vickie. What a welcomed break to be inside the Mothership to get a little warm and be sheltered for a while for the neverending and relentless blowing of the cold wind.
Back to it and only for a short few KM as I was heading for the 1000km milestone! For the first time today I felt warm inside, due to the achievement to date. I saw the Maui in the distance knowing that Vickie would have park right on the 1000k mark. It was a quick celebration, as I still had 20km to knock off for the day. It wasn’t so much the distance, after all I had run 1000km over the last 28 days, It was the cold, wet and wind, I really wanted to be out of, so I needed to bash on.
It was nice to have the Vickie alongside me. Rarely has it happen on this trip. We are working as a team, but we are both alone for the best part of each day. I dumped my pack in the van and Vickie would drive ahead so that I would have a drink station. It was also good when running through Cowville, that’s my name for the wondering cattle, that I fear, well the bulls within them!
We got to the Hume Highway. It felt funny crossing this road, as in just a few short hours I could be back in Melbourne where I had started. Just a few hours was sickening to think after all the hours I had put in to be here.

Once the other side there was only about 8km to go. We passed the back of the giant windmills or wind farm, looks like even on the better days this place is blowing a gale, why else would they construct these things here? I had an odd feeling about them, they were big, steel and dominated the skyline, but at the same time there was something quite arty, mesmerising and tranquil when you watched them.

I was happy to finish for the day. I felt really beaten up only by the weather. It takes so much of your energy on days like these, just to stay upright and warm. But, as I was reminded first thing this morning, this is what I do, no matter what’s happening outside.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Day 30.................Trail Running the Suburbs!

After yesterdays day off. I ran the leg from Hall to Gundaroo crossing the border once again and getting back in NSW!

Its a great feeling knowing that the ACT is officially behind me and I have no more back and Fourths!

It was a funny run today. With Canberra suburbs sprawling out in to the once countryside and the home of the BNT, it made for a challenging run, well staying on route anyway!



I'm looking forward to running back through the countryside, back to "Trail Running"

Sunday, 22 April 2012


Day 28……………….Run leg to the City.

Caloola Farm what a spot. Set in a picturesque valley complete with a clear flowing river. Australian wildlife in every direction, and just a great sense of being out in the Australian bush!
The morning was a quit one like most mornings on the BNT, the pure pleasure of being out in the middle of nowhere, no neighbours, no traffic not even the flickering of a street lamp. We open the mother ship curtains and have the dramatic back drop of the mountains with the low lying fog that sits around them outlined by the yellow glow of the sunrise. Even Skippy the resident kangaroo thought it was a great spot as he hadn’t moved from his spot where he was the night before. As I jumped out the Maui to put the gas on to make coffee, the silence was broken only by the flock of cockatoos flying overhead. I wish every morning could start this way, that’s right it had pretty much since we left in March! Does it have to end?!
I pull on my trail shoes and look forward to the run ahead. Again unlike most days Vickie would be able to take the mother ship all the way with me meaning that I didn’t have to carry my pack and she could share some of the day on the actual BNT route that she nearly always misses.
We left the farm heading for the gate which had a herd of cows surrounding it. They didn’t even move for the Maui so it was unlikely they would move for me. Now as you are all now aware, thanks to Vickies video post about me and cattle. I was a little nervous as I had to open the gate for the Maui. There was only one bull amongst the herd and they are what make me scared after my last interaction with them coming out of Omeo!, even more so as Arcteryx has sent me bright orange t-shirts, great for roads where there is oncoming traffic, or to be spotted when out in the mountains buy deer hunters or if I needed to be rescued, but not for the big fat angry bulls where by bright colours just piss them right off!
Safely through the gate the next 10km were to be straight down the farm track where by I would leave Vickie for a further 10km before re-joining the main road heading in to Thawa.
Then I would be heading towards the suburbs of Canberra, before finishing up at Pine Island, where I had started with the horses just a couple of day before that.
The terrain was going to be flat for the whole day and mainly on sealed roads for the 40km I had to cover. Why is it that the easy days have to also be the hardest?
I think it’s due to commitment. Long days of say 65km through some tough country and no support of refuge means that you just have to get out there and get on with it, because if you don’t, that long day becomes longer and you don’t make it back when it’s light and if at some point if only one small hiccup arises mid run then it really delays the outcome which is finishing. Those days begin with the finishing point concreted in your mind. Fixed solely on that, your focused on getting there regardless.
The short flat easy days like today, where you get support from start to finish and the protection of getting picked up if anything happens, even minor, make for a hard day. The focus just being to get to the next meeting point a mere 3 -5km away where Vickie was with drinks. 3km feel like 10km and you cannot seem to get the leg turn over you have been craving since being in the mountains. A run like this on any other day would be a fun one, but the lack of mental commitment makes your legs hurt and the distance grow and with every opportunity I got to meet with Vickie, I’d just complain about how hard it is today.
An easy fix would be to just run the bloody distance and finish up quickly as to have a short day. Funny how your body and mind responded to different situations!

I eventually got to Pine Island, and thought about what all the fuss was about?! Tiered, I refuelled on the usual Musashi post run drink and Vickie had knocked up some cheeses toasties!
Yet another marathon down and cheese toasties in hand, things do get a little better than the morning at the farm!
Day 25 - 27.......……Back to front.


Day 27 - 36km Mt Clear – Caloola Farm (Border ACT)
Today’s run was back at the border of ACT and NSW where I had finished only two days before, why? Well after crossing the border, we had to drive straight into Canberra centre as we had lined up some media. I would have timed it perfectly if we hadn’t have got the snow that day up on Mount Hope in Victoria, and then having to take the following day off. But, safety has to come first and the snow fall was beautiful none the less.
It felt funny being back here, it’s like all that should now be well behind me and I have taken a step back, in fact two! But, I have done the Canberra sections now which bring me back up to speed. This means; Running from the border to Caloola Farm, and then Caloola Farm to where I stared two days ago in Canberra, a place called Pine Island. Confused? Me too! What it all really means is that I am making sure I’m running the whole trail, just not in an exact order at the moment, but that will be back on track as of Sunday night!
We had spent the night on a farm right on the border with the owner Tom. Tom is the GM for the LHAS looking after the agriculture in southern NSW amongst other things. Vickie had, had contact with him about campsite permits some weeks ago, and he offered for us to stay at his farm when passing by. It was a great little property on about 200 acres. Just a farm for fun as Tom put it!
He had cooked up an amazing BBQ and cracked a bottle of red. It’s funny that most people think that I must have some special diet with all the running I’m doing, but, the truth is that I’m doing the complete opposite and have given myself a license to be shovelling anything in to my mouth, healthy or not!
It was a great opportunity to learn more about rural life and Tom shared some of the stories of his work as we sat in front of a cosy log fire in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t once cross my mind that we were in the middle of the bush in the pitch black with a guy we had never met. Something that we have found on this adventure is people are so kind and generous and like to help out and get involved anyway they can, and Toms was giving us a bed for a night and spending some time having a  good old fashioned yarn!
It rained all night, and it was still raining when I got up, it was really foggy up there on the farm and I was thinking of packing for a wet day.
Vickie drove the Maui Mother Ship out of the gate and to my starting point for the day. It got warm; the sky was overcast dotted with some very black clouds. I ran the first 5km down to the Mount Clear camping area, Vickie met me down there which meant I didn’t have to take my pack for a change.
I then left Vickie and took the 30km Nass Fire Trail that would take me to the finish at Caloola Farm.

The trail was pretty flat, which meant I could cover some ground quickly. I had this niggle in my right quad that has been there for a few days now. I pooped a couple of anti-inflammatories, to see me through and they did the trick, I’m just sitting here now typing this up, hoping that it’s not going to come back with a vengeance tomorrow!
The trail went through the valley and criss-crossed the Nass River that I had to then ford eight or so times. Luckily it was never more than waist height, but it had a fair flow on it from the rain.
I followed the hoof marks of Sam who I had caught up to before crossing the border those few days ago. Then I started noticing paw prints! As you know I had seen lots of signs and been warned about the wild dogs that roam these remote parts. I still hadn’t seen one, and still didn’t want to, but the paw prints looked fresh and I thought that today might be the day!
My Garmin Beeped and I thought I was going the wrong way. That would have been the good news, as it was telling me that the battery was low and I know from experience that this meant an hour or so was remaining. It was odd as I thought I had put new batteries in! Lucky the day was a straight forward and short one! 36km in the mountains seems like a sprint these days!
I came over another hill, but this time found Vickie at the bottom on the other side. She had run the 5km in from the farm to meet me, what a nice surprise, and we jogged back together, and here I sit in the valley, with kangaroos and galahs in piece and quit writing this up!

Day 25 - Half Marathon: Pine Island – Canberra Equestrian Centre
(Media day in Canberra)
We skipped two sections to be in Canberra for what was going to be a horse cavalry. We met with Jenny the coordinator for Canberra at Pine Island Reserve for the start of a short day for me, being a half marathon along the equestrian trails. It was the worst morning for me since being on this journey. I had awoken with a terrible feeling stomach, and had spent the better half of my morning on the porcelain. Of all the mornings to be sick on this trip, it had to be when I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere on my own, but in the suburbs with a bunch of horse riders who had gathered together to escort me into the Canberra Equestrian Centre for some media pictures and a story!
Vickie looked for a chemist on the way to Pine Island without luck. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day the way I felt. But, either way, I needed to just get on with it, like I always do, just in a different way.
First up was a live interview on ABC666 Canberra. It went really well. I have been doing a number of radio interviews and have seemed to figure out what they typically ask. I needed to have answers for anything they might toss up, and what I have done is put a new spin on the two age old questions that they seem to always ask, which in reality have dreary answers! “How many shoes will you get through?” They want me to say some exorbitant amount, but the fact is that I have planned for a new pair every 500km which only just puts me into double figures! “What special diet are you on?” It’s so special in fact that I can eat what the hell I like! But, again they want to hear something like 14 raw eggs with buck weed for breakfast or something to that effect.
I jogged down to the trail head with the first three horses for the day and we would pick up a further seven on route. I was clenching my bottom cheeks together, praying that I could make it through this half marathon and not embarrass myself in front of 10 horses and their riders, before arriving to the newspapers!
The first 10km were slow, I was surprised how slow horses can be and it boosted my confidence as a trail runner, but wasn’t getting me to the finish anytime soon. We met the rest of the Calvary and carried on to the finish. About halfway I just couldn’t go on with this new type of running technique I had come up with to control my bowel movements, and darted into the bushes, while the horse team went ahead. The hard thing about being in Canberra is that you’re not really in the bush as such and I had houses and dog walkers in eye sight!
I caught up to the rest of the team and we passed under the last subway, before arriving at the Canberra Equestrian Centre bang on time for the media. It made for a great photo as I ran down the dirt driveway lined with autumn trees of yellow and red with the horses behind me.
A quick interview and a warm jacket, and then it was time to get stuck into the buffet that the team had put on. Now, I eat lots at the best of times, but when having to run 21km on an empty stomach and then leaving half that stomach out on the suburban trails. I thought it would be rude if I didn’t eat a whole family sized Boston Bun to myself, washed down with tea, back up with cheeses and crackers a banana and my sport nutrition plan, sometimes being sick pays off!

Day 26 - Day Off – Canberra
A much needed day off after the sickness and run of the day before. Didn’t do much really, it was a good opportunity to catch up on things like washing clothes, yes, that’s on a day off! It was great for Vickie to take some time out, instead of rushing around after me. She even went out for a run herself early that morning, while of course I lied in! I had some treatment from my physio sponsors LifeCare which help to tweak a few things and reassure me I was going well considering the mileage and terrain I had covered over the last month!

Day 27 - 35km Canberra Equestrian Centre – Hall Showgrounds
As we were already in Canberra from the day before, I thought I would knock the next section off that would take me again on the city trails out the back of the suburbs. This meant that the suburban part of the BNT would be done and I could continue on in more wilder places!
It was odd running around the back of houses and along the side of freeways. I had been so remote just a few days before being here and the three weeks before that. If there is one thing you notice about Canberra, it’s the Telstra Tower on Black mountain. It seem no matter where you may be, this big spike seems to be there somewhere to!
I decided not cross the river as it was deep and wide. I ran further up the cycle path to find a bridge and came across this!


I crossed the dam and ran along the side of the zoo to find the trail the other side; I got to see a bunch of things for free from this overgrown passage and hoped I wasn’t going to just run right into the lion’s enclosure!
I met with the trail once again and headed under the freeway, to be confronted by a sign saying that the trail was close until 2013 and the only people who could pass through would be BNT travellers but only on Sundays! So, being a BNT traveller and seeing that Friday and Sunday both finish in day, of course I went through just like every other sign that I have seen telling me otherwise!
The last 8km of the trail went out away from the suburbs and touched the border before heading back into a new housing estate. Jenny had warned that the trail would be hard to follow as things had changed a fair bit around this area, and she wasn’t wrong. I couldn’t find the trail for the last 2km to get to Vickie, so I called her so she could come to me!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Day 24…………………………..Injured Cat.

I hit the ACT border just after lunch and I was glad to be there. For the first time in all of this I physically struggled to cover the easiest 24km imaginable. It was a relativity flat dirt highway from the finishing point of yesterday’s run to the end of todays. Every step was a sore one and I just couldn’t get my body moving and found it hard to just get on with it!
“Just getting on with it” is what I have been doing since Healesville. Even yesterday’s small mental barrier I still just went and dealt with what 65km dished up! It’s like it’s hard to commit to the short distance, even more so when you have the Maui Mother Ship by your side and Vickie severing up drinks as and when needed. It should have been paradise? But, having that all there stops you from just running regardless. I did it non-the less! So, I got on with it!

I took me two hours longer than normal to get out of the van this morning. It was in fact a glorious morning and based on the terrain I should have been out there doing what I do best. 165km in three days over mountains had exhausted me and all I really wanted to do was sleep and let my body repair itself and iron out some of the sore spots.
Back in February 25th a young man by the name of Sam Alexander left Healesville with three pack horses to ride the BNT up to Cooktown. Taking a year out of his medical studies to also pursuit the dream of covering the distance.
Knowing this, and knowing that he was taking the year to complete the trail. I knew that I would be catching him soon enough with the distance I was covering each day. The last week I have noticed that the hoof marks had become more defined and the piles of manure fresh. But being in Brumby territory it was to be expected. However, it did cross my mind on several occasions that I might be getting closer to Sam.
I had him on my radar yesterday, it helped me keep the pace strong, knowing that perhaps just around the next corner I might just bump in to him! It was a cat and mouse chase, but, the mouse didn’t know there was even a cat!
It was a short drive down from the camp last night and I knew that soon enough I would be back at it. I knew that I wouldn’t be catching any mice today, as I was covering such a small distance. And then as we turned the corner, there was Sam and his three horses coming up the road.
I jump out the van with excitement. He had heard a couple of days ago that I was attempting to run the trail and his thoughts were that I wouldn’t make it over the mountains. I had overtaken him late in the afternoon, yesterday, as he decided to take camp in a stock yard, just off the trail where I had finished, I knew I was close! We exchanged stories for a while, but, he really needed to get a move on as he had to travel about 28km to get to the Mount Clear horse yards that night. I would be seeing him again that day as I would be starting 10km behind him.

It was great to meet somebody else with a similar dream, but a completely different way of experiencing it. Nice guy that I will meet up with again after our media day in Canberra tomorrow, he will get a day or two ahead of me.
I was a little disappointed to have met him while in the Mother Ship, I really wanted to catch him on the trail. I imagined that I hadn’t met him as yet as I started my running for the day. I hoped that it would keep my mind off the tiredness and soreness I felt. 5km in and my right quad started to hurt, all I needed to do was to struggle over the next 5km to catch Sam and then continue on to the border another 15km away.
It hurt today, every part of me. Emotionally yesterday, and physically today. The BNT is really dishing out what I wanted to!


Monday, 16 April 2012

Day 23………………………..Tears.

Lake Eucumbene looked like glass and the morning fog was lifting from all directions. What a tranquil part of the country made better by the fact that there were only two other people in the area fishing, this was a vast open area set down below the foothills.

I didn’t feel too bad physically, and I rushed to get ready as I wanted to leave early knowing I had 65km to run over the hills to get to Yaouk, and I knew it was going to take some time based on the two 50km days that had come before it!

I had to carry my larger Black Diamond pack, as I needed the extra gear, in case I needed a night out or the weather turned south. There were many huts on the trail today, but I really didn’t want to be out in any of them and wanted to rap the whole distance up in a day.

As ready as I was with the gear, mentally I wasn’t even prepared. I really didn’t want to leave today, I felt sad at the fact that I had to head off, and I felt like I had to, like a soldier off to war. I felt like I was going and I may not be back!

I kissed Vickie good bye and whispered the words “I miss you already today” and I sensed she felt the same. It’s a strange feeling that, I was after all really just going off to work for the day, and I was coming back, It just felt like doing 165km over three days in the mountains, with umpteen marathons before that, that I could be going off for the last time!

The trail left the campsite and curved around the far side of the lake. It was cold as this side was still in the shade. I had only been running for two minutes before I welled up. I had no idea why? Was it because I didn’t really want to go, was it that I knew the day was going to be a long and tough one? Or was I proud of my achievement to date. I had no idea really? I was just overwhelmed by everything.

I crossed over the river inlet to the lake, trying to not get wet feet so early on for a change especially with it being so cold. I ran through a caravan park the far side of the lake, before crossing the main Alpine Way, and then started heading upwards on a single track trail that followed the power lines.

So far, the trail was well marked with new BNT markers all over the place. It’s comforting to know that you are on the right path. As, like on this morning’s trail, you really could be heading anywhere!

The trail opened out in to a huge valley and followed the river deeper into the wilderness, and once again I felt like a tiny speckle in this huge landscape.

The grass was long and the trail hard to follow and as the weather got warmer I feared of snakes in the long grass.

It was a lovely place to run, fairly flat, with 360 degree views of mountain ranges, and I stumbled upon many mountain huts over the first 20km.


The dusty dry air out here makes your sinus’s clog up and you find yourself constantly clearing your nose. This time there wasn’t just the usual dirt, but a gush of blood to go with it! It streamed down my face and I had nothing to curb the bleeding, except my t-shirt. Now, Arcteryx the brand of my clothing has been more than fantastic to date. I was told by fellow outdoorsman that the brand was like the Gucci of the outdoor clothing world, and as great as it is, doing its job, it’s also fantastic at soaking up blood! Something that you wouldn’t see on the catwalks of Milan!


The trail took a sharp turn in to a small wooded area and the trail became exciting, a narrow single track carving its way through the bush with the odd log to jump and low tree branch to duck under. My 20 minutes of fun came to a halt, when I came head to head with a Brumby! I’m not sure who was more scared of whom, but he made the first move and turned and bolted. Did I look like Rambo coming out of the bush like that covered in dirt and blood all over my face?

He ran over to a whole herd of them grazing in the sunshine in a piece of open land. What a sight, the first time I had seen any type of horse in the wild like that. Scared? A little, not sure how they would react? I jogged closer and they bolted again, stopping once in a while to check where I was and what I was up to.

I was once then back in the scrub dodging and weaving before popping out the other side in to a campsite. There was no one around, just a mob of kangaroos in and around the tents and four wheel drives that were there. They must have headed out riding or something, so I moved on.

Another 5km down I come across the almighty Oldfields Hut!



I only had 20km to go from here, and going by the elevation chart on my Garmin, there was going to be 50% of that uphill and a steep descent the other side that would take me quickly back to the Maui Mother Ship and Vickie that hours earlier I thought I wasn’t going to see again!

The sun dropped behind the mountain and it got cold, as I climb for the last time today. The other side was almost too steep, but who’s complaining!

I ran as fast as I could over what seemed like a floor of marbles, trying to keep upright, and smashing in my quads.

I made the bottom of the mountain, and found a little piece of heaven at there. It was the entrance to someone’s private property, and they had planted out some European trees around a bubbling creek, that were yellow and red, and stuck out compared to the rest of the Aussie bush. It was almost a shame that I wasn’t finishing here.

8km to go through the farmland negotiating cattle, figuring out if there cows or bulls? It was flat and a slog, but the end was just a stones through away.

Once again I was back in the arms of Vickie, feeling safe and warm. Tired and beaten up, It was great to be back. She had a treat for me for dinner, who would of guessed, Sushi on the BNT!

This trail is really having its ups and downs, both with the land and me. But this is what I wanted when I signed up for this…….Right?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Day 22 .................. Another 50km

I was dreading the run today. After yesterday’s exhausted finish and the feeling like I had been ran over, I wasn’t sure of how my body was going to take the same punishment over some more of the high country?

I literally waddled down the road from the Maui Mother Ship; I was as stiff as a board and thankful to be on a sealed road for the first part of my run, well the first 500 meters anyway!

The Garmin showed that I needed to take a sharp left into the bush, but where? There was a road 100mts down, it must be that? No, now I was well off course. So I trundled back up to where it original said, and there on a tree stump amongst the scrub was a BNT marker! So you want me to bush bash straight of the bat BNT? Why is it, when your sore and tired, things just have to be harder than they need be?

There was a remote outline of a four wheel drive track through the long grass, but it spilt in to two. The Garmin was telling me to go straight on, so off I went, but then the track disappeared and I was off course. So back down I run and took the other option.

The grass was light, fluffy and springy, it was just what my joints needed first thing in the morning. I got a bit of a pace happening as I ran upwards, to god knows where! Then the holes started. The problem with long tuffs of grass is that you cannot see the pot holes until it’s too late and you almost do an ankle!

I came across some steel construction; it was signed as a scientific area for the Snowy Hydro. What are they hiding? Is this where a spaceship crashed and they took the aliens away for testing?! My mind wondered for a while, this is the middle of nowhere anything could happen and no one would know it. But, it was just a weather station, still interesting, interesting to know why they always get it wrong!

The track was non existent, so I just relied on the purple line on the Garmin and my mapping skills when uploading it! I came across two mountain huts that weren’t on the map. Is this where they are hiding the extra-terrestrials? They were small and really in the open, but I suppose if you’re stuck out here when the weather turns sour, then it would be a welcome relief.

I fumbled around adding more KM than I needed to trying to keep to the trail, I just wanted to keep moving knowing I had such a big day ahead of me, I didn’t want to get caught out in the dark.

All of a sudden I popped out on a dirt road, what a bonus I could really get a move on now and make up for some lost time.

The track went down, and then down and then some more down. It switched back and continued going down for about 10km. by the time I reached the bottom my quads were screaming. The good news is that I had knocked of 16km and after fumbling around for 6km of that I was chuffed to be over the 10km mark!

Well, as the saying goes; what goes up must come down, but I was doing this in reverse. Up the track climbed out of the valley I had come down into. The river was roaring below, and I felt like a speckle in this vast wilderness. I came to a huge concrete dam just wedged in the valley, again something to do with the Snowy Hydro. The huge cliff behind me looked man made, and I knew at some point I would be a top of it, but that was going to be a long time from now!

I  was told by the Section Coordinator that there would only be the one climb today and going by my Garmin they would be right. It was a big climb to the top, but it climbed gradually, what a change compared to the other side of the boarder.

I got to the top and was running through the wilderness again, no tracks or trails as such, I was relying once again on that purple line to get me there. The only thing I came across was the signs stating that they had baited for wild dogs, something I kept be reminded of over the last couple of days!
video


I followed the power lines for a while as the grass was shorter near them, it took me back on a formed trail again and I was only 16km away from the finish, no all I had to do was get down to Lake Eucumbene and cross over at the low end. The guide book stated that if I took the low route and the lake was up, I would be meters deep and it would be kilometre long, that meant swimming for me so I took the high route instead, what it didn’t say in the guide book was that I would have to bush bash for 6km, get stuck in a bog and really have no ideas where I was going. It also hadn’t seen any form of person, horse or vehicle for any length of time. I get to the edge of the lake, or at least I thought so by the Garmin. I forded the river which was deep in parts, and I almost had to end up swimming anyway!

I was 500m from the main road and the pickup point, and the trail I was on was way off where I should have been, but as the road became closer I didn’t really care and was glad to see the Maui Mother Ship and Vickie once I popped out of the bush!

All I have to do now is relax, as tomorrow is a whopping 65km and off the back of two 50’s I’m really not sure how I’m going to go!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Day 21.............Easy Land, But Hard Work!

A 50km run from just on the outskirts of Khancoban up and over Mount Black Jack. Now 50km is a fair run at the best of times, and I wasn’t really looking forward to it this morning, even though the land was easy going. I was tired, sore, and for some reason I had a little fear of the day ahead. Why? I don’t really know, but suspect that it was a combination of the above, and the conversation that I had with Charlie last night about packs of wild dogs and charging Brumby stallions in the area.

This can be a little scary at the best of times, but when you’re feeling like being snuggled up on the sofa with a cuppa tea and a packet of biscuits then the thought of encountering one of both of those things, make you whimper like a school girl. Plus it was a 50km out in the wilderness away from any form of road or house, and those days always make me a little nervous.

The day had little action it fact. The weather was grey and a little cold all day. The first 25km was mostly downhill with some undulation, and the second half mostly uphill with some undulation also.
I ran through Jagumba Station, and like most, the sign was Keep Out! I came across a four wheel drive with two guys dressed like soldiers, and they pull up alongside me, asked if I had permission to be on the land or had cleared it with Barry. No, but this is the national trail! They were actually nices guys just making sure that everybody on the property knew what was going on because they were dear shooting and didn’t want me becoming hunted.

The last 10km seemed to take forever. It’s really frustrating that the land was in a sense quit flat, comparable with what I had been dealing with, so why were my legs not coming to the party? I could have run that section on any weekend in just a few hours, and enjoyed every bit of it, but today things weren’t happening for me, the whole thing was a struggle.

The last 3km were the hardest. Every foot strike was a huge effort. 3km at worst would take me 15 minutes normal on this kind of undulation and terrain. I found myself cursing the land, cursing my Garman for displaying the right distance, and getting frustrated with myself for tripping over the tiniest of rocks. My language was brighter than the day had been!

I was so glad to finish, I just had one of those days were everything was a struggle, but based on the mileage I have behind  me and the rest I have in front. I guess not every run can be an easy one, even when the trails are easy!

Day 20..........Picture Perfect

What a fabulous mornings drive we had down to Geehi Hut for the start of today’s run. The sun was shining; blue skies and we were driving down the mountain from a campsite call Leather Barrel Creek where we had stayed for the night on the way back from our shopping at FoodWorks Thredbo. We were above the cloud line, and the cloud was caught in the valley, just heavily sitting there, weaving its way through the mountains.

Both Vickie and I were in high spirits, but I really couldn’t be bothered to run up to Khancoban town this morning. Again, I wanted to run today; just not now. But with 40km to cover I couldn’t leave it to the afternoon, and as we all now know with the BNT any number of things could delay my arrival.

I crossed the river almost immediately when I left Vickie. I don’t mind running with wet feet for 40km, but the water this side of the boarder is somewhat colder than I had been used to, and it froze my calf’s, before they had even warmed up for the day.
video

The first few km this morning followed the river through the valley, and I was watched on by a huge mob of kangaroos, grazing in the long grass. Why is it that some kangaroos just stand there ground, I ran with caution, but he really couldn’t care. The map said that there were many old mountain huts on route, and I passed to two within the first three KM, I didn’t stop as I wanted to at least get a little chunk knocked off, before investigating things along route.

It wasn’t long before I was climbing once again, only gradually, but I knew it was the only climb for the day and the rest was going to be undulated terrain through to Khancoban and a lunch stop at the Maui Mather Ship.

Once again the views were not a letdown, and as I climbed a little, I would turn around to get a view of Mount Kosciusko dominating the skyline behind me.

Once the other side of the climb, it was a steady downhill to the river below. I put myself in auto pilot and just let myself go. It was quit, and I was relaxed and enjoying the serenity, just me in the mountain bush, fresh air, sunshine………………and HONK! I stumbled to a halt, shuck my head to get out of the trance I was in. “Where’s the truck” I thought! It was so loud that I thought I had come head on with a four wheel drive of something. And then 20 metres down the track I see a red dear taking off in front of me antlers and all. They make some funny noises these dear. They roar like lions and can honk like a bus! Not enough time to get it on camera, but took me out of my mediative state.

Next I came across a lady out riding with her daughters. Nice to see horses on the BNT, it is a horse trail after all, and it’s the first time I have really come across them since leaving Healesville. I stopped for a chat and a pat of the horses, that’s about as much as I can do with them, they scare the hell out of me and horse riding, to me, is like an extreme sport, to go out riding is like base jumping the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I got to a gate that said Private Property, this seems to happen a far bit on the BNT, and I understand that the trails committee have negotiated access to BNT’s. But being in the middle of the bush, with no one else around, I have visions of famers with shotguns!

The gate was on the edge of the National Park and once the other side the views down to the lake at Khancoban where fantastic, and I was looking forward to getting down to run alongside it.

I turn right on to Waterfall Farm Road. Sounds like the name of a kids show, but it’s appropriately named. No waterfall that I’m aware of, but, fields of cows and sheep, paddocks full of horses, little ponds with ducks, parrots fly over the road, there was even a dear farm, you know the ones that look like Bambi? Just, picture perfect.

I stop to watch the eagles fly overhead, and they disappear as soon as a get out my camera. I put the camera away, and then a flock of cockatoos fly over with that loud squawk that they have.

Lost in the Waterfall Farm Road show, I run the next 5km with a smile on my face, wondering if I was dreaming the whole thing up.

I cross the bridge that goes over the……….I stop, and what is the bridge going over? Huge white pipes coming down from the mountains and in to the lake below. Have I just come across the world’s largest waterslide? And then I remember that it’s the Snowy Hydro. Pretty amazing piece of engineering and something I wasn’t expecting to see.

The road flattened out, as I ran lakeside and only 6km until I would meet Vickie for lunch.

I run through the town centre, well the half dozen shops and information centre and of course a pub that makes up the town.

Vickie has everything ready for me when I arrive, even a seat so I could rest my legs and I much on sandwiches and a sports drink, before she had me back on my feet for the final 15km for the day up and over the back of the town. I take a detour through the golf course, as Vickie had met with Charlie the coordinator for these parts, and he said that the owner of the land that the next section I went through didn’t like people on his property, so I tried to take a wide birth as he had suggested.

As I’m running the track through the power lines, I think about how I would take a wide birth? The track I was on ran straight through the wilderness, so to take the wide birth option I would have to skip this part of the trail altogether! Well the trail goes this way, so if Mr Farmer didn’t like it, then he should go and take a leaf out of Mr Waterfall Farm’s book!

It wasn’t long before my day was over. What a treat seeing so many animals today, both wild and otherwise.  I jump in the Maui Mother Ship, Vickie has me fed and showered and we are then off to the pub to meet Charlie. Charlie? He could have been the owner of Waterfall Farm, but that’s a whole other story.

Friday, 13 April 2012


Day 19………………Not an Inch a Road Runner.

A simple little half marathon was all I had to run today, up a paved road, through the good old Aussie bush. It seems funny to say “just a half marathon” many train for months to complete such a distance and I’m running one off the back of 565km through the mountains, and days of 45 and 60km.

This is not arrogance, but it lead me to thinking what is an ultra-marathon, ultra runner, or whatever else you might like to call it? Of course I know that an ultra-marathon is anything longer than the marathon distance, but does 45km count? If you complete such a distance do you become an ultra-runner, or does that take a longer distance or just more of the same events. Or is it just the fact that you log a significant amount of mileage each week?

I feel the term ultra is being missed used these days; it seems that every man and his dog reports to be an ultra-marathon runner. But, as I like to class myself as one, I base that totally on the 250km weeks I was logging before this attempt, and based on the mileage to date I would consider myself to be named an ultra-runner.

I remember knocking off half marathons on any given Sunday afternoon in 1hr 30mins comfortably, and dropping a further 10 minutes or so off that on race day. But, this morning’s run on the paved road beat me up a little, I would rather be doing the 60km days in the mountains then be running 21km on a sealed road. I never used to notice it when running the road back in Melbourne between trail days. But after spending the last 18 days running for hours solely on trails I could certainly notice the difference. I really pushed it, wanting to rap the day up in that 1 hour 30. But, it was never going to happen, even in the back of my mind I knew it was going to take two.

It was an undulated road out of Tom Groggin up to Geehi Hut where I would be done, and it would be the shortest day since starting this journey. So, why should such an easy day and such a short distance in my terms anyway, be such a slog? I realised that I was not just simply running a half marathon, I was doing so off the back of some high mileage, with serious mountains climbs, with some extremely technical terrain and wanting to be back where I was some six months ago, when I was used to running roads, having the odd speed session and with lower mileage each week. If I really thought about it two hours was good going.

I stopped at a road marker, you know the ones that are thin and you can bend back? I used to use them as catapults as a kid. And yes, I did, and I giggled for five minutes, wondering what had come of me since crossing the border! It was a break from the inner me wanting to make this short run, just that.

As the road descended to Geehi Hut over the next 8km, the road was pounding my joints more than ever, and the niggle I used to get in my right hip came back, just like it did when I used to run more on the road. Have I made a complete switch to the trail? I used to have this dream of living at the base of the mountains and running them every day, complete devotion to them, almost becoming a sole mountain running man. Has it become who I now am, in such a short time, and what would become of me over the next five months?

I made it to Vickie in two hours as I thought, no longer the road and trail runner mix I used to be. I feel like I belong totally on the trail now and I’m happy to slow in down in the name of dirt.