Ticked some firsts on this run:

  1. First time over 3000 m
  2. First time didn’t do a detour in the Alps
  3. First time the very last in a race

Exciting start at 6 A.M. Saw Gabor Jakus, Ben Clark, Dan Nunan, Jackie Hansen, Lucy Stabb and Coral Bayley at the start line… it was dark, hard to recognise people with the head gear.

Everything was OK on the first climb until we reached Federation Hut — it was so cold, such a chilly wind, many of us stopped there to put on the waterproof gear. Saw Paul Monks in a pretty bad shape in the hut, he said he’d pull out. We offered him to go back with Otto, but he said he’ll be fine. I didn’t plug in properly the tube into the bladder in the morning — so Otto tried to do it.  It’s very hard to do this with frozen fingers (he wasn't happy). Moved the race number onto the pack (which came off promptly on my way back from Mt Feathertop. Glad I could catch it and tucked it into my pocket).

 As I was leaving Federation Hut, a guy, 40 kayer was very lost. Put him on the Razorback Tk. At that point I somehow knew I'll be OK with the navigation.

Mt Feathertop — it was so cold, and such a gusty wind, everyone was freezing. The view was amazing. I wanted to take pictures of the runners on the Razorback — awesome view! — but changed my mind, couldn’t possibly work the phone with those frozen fingers. Saw Chris Piplios coming down and then Coral Bayley. I took a slow 360 degree turn on the summit, it was majestic! On my way down I slipped and landed on my bum, then I saw hot pink leg warmers, instantly recognised Lucy Stabb. Paul Monks was heading up – hats off to him!

I wish some oncoming 22 kayers would have let us pass — we had a longer day ahead…

After the Diamantina Spur turnoff, two guys were yelling after me, saying I was on the wrong track… I yelled back telling them that I am doing the 64 which seemed to satisfy them. I loved Diamantina Spur!! Beautiful track. I met Helen MacDonald there. Yes, the spur towards Kiewa River was very steep, similar to the Grose Valley in the Blue Mountains. Had my first quarter sandwich here with cherry tomatoes. Got to a part, where I couldn’t find the track. This is when I bumped into Helen again. She told me she was very happy to see me. We went into 3 directions, climbed over fallen trees, then finally found it through the overgrown bush.

The track around Blairs Hut seemed much simpler than in the course description. This was the part I didn’t fully understand, but found everything without a problem.

We filled up our bottles from Kiewa River, then ran/hiked together until Weston Hut. It was one steep climb!!! I decided to take some pictures, Helen kept going. I saw her again on the High Plains going towards Pole 333. Filled up my 250 ml soft flask a few times from the creeks. I found a first aid kit, handed it in at Pole 333. John and Tom [Brazier] (finally met him personally) were super nice to me. I was the last to reach that check point!

Picked up the pace a bit until I reached Cobungra Gap while trying. Had my butter and cherry jam quarter sandwich on the way here and some chocolate. Filled the flask again at the creek. The signs weren’t that clear, but I remembered Graham’s words “If you reached Dibbins Hut, you’ve gone too far” — I actually passed Dibbins Hut and took pictures. Interesting camping ground there.

The hike on Swindlers Spur was as hard as the one on Weston. Saw Helen again about 100 meters in front of me. It got a bit warm, so I took off my Bonatti jacket I’ve put on at Federation Hut. Only climbed about 10 m to realise it was a big mistake (it was still windy and I was sweating), got chilly very quickly, so I put it back on and didn’t take it off until I had a shower after the run.

After Derricks Hut, Otto came to see me (he parked at Loch Car Park), brought me an apple and ran with me to the Great Alpine Road. [He sent me a text while I was still on Swindlers Spur — that I can have a kiss at Loch and Diamantina Hut :—) so sweet!!] As we were running towards the GAR, my phone rang, Paul left a message to call him. Called Paul and told him where I was, he asked me to pick up the flags. Saw Helen going up to Mt Hotham. Otto came up to the third flag, he picked them up and drove to Diamantina Hut. I picked the rest of them as I was running along the course. Otto came to meet me again, took pictures :—) then we reached the check point, Helen was about to take off onto the last leg. Gave the flags to Paul, took a few pics with Helen and Paul, I had some water melon — gee that felt great!! Changed tyres at the car, then headed off onto the Razorback with Otto. After about a km I realised I’ve left my gloves in the boot… Otto ran with me a few kms, then turned back so he can get back to Harrietville and then run up Bungalow Spur to meet me.

Gee I cursed Razorback!!! I didn’t expect those climbs! Suzie called me at around 59 kms, told her I’ve got another 15 to go (I could see her rolling her her eyes) It got very cold again and my fingers were frozen. Taking out the phone, which was on charge, as well felt like a real punishment. I was very happy to reach the Diamantina Spur junction, only a little bit of uphill from here, then from the Cross all downhill! Saw some campers on the right, the smoke — although nice and warm — made me sick. Another chilly, windy section between the Cross and Federation Hut. There were lots of campers at the camp site and they didn’t seem fazed by me running past.

My average pace here was 14.28 min/km. The descent was a combination of many things. The sun was setting — absolutely stunning view! It also made it harder to see the track at it was straight into my eyes, but I still had a few glimpses of it and it was well worth it. Otto messaged me, that he is coming and bringing me a beer. I thought that will work!!! So I stepped on it, but it was getting dark a nd my fingers were still frozen. Otto messaged me that he is at Picture Point and asked whether I was OK. I replied then as I was putting the phone away into the zip lock bag, I slipped and ended up hanging from some grass in the valley, the phone about 30 cm from me… I thought “Shit!! This could be very bad!!!” — so I reached for the phone, threw it onto the track, grabbed some more grass and pulled myself up. It all happened in a matter of two minutes, but it felt like eternity.

When Otto’s next message arrived, I’ve wrote him back that I’ve slipped into the valley, let me put the phone away… then later on had to assure him, I was OK. It was seriously getting dark, I could hardly see the track, my watch was signaling “low battery” and I thought I’d just keep going, stopping and trying to get the head torch out with frozen fingers seemed a waste of time. Tripped a few times (although not as much as I expected).

When I finally saw Otto, he was shaking, really scared that something very bad happened to me. Never saw him like this before. He took my head torch out of my pack and offered me the beer.. I just wanted to finish so I told him, I’ll have it when I crossed the finish line. With the head torch on it was much easier (and faster), but Otto is not used to running at night, and not that much downhill, so there were a few trips and f$%&s. He knew the course – told me things like “there will be a fallen tree in about 100 m”, or “sharp turn to the right soon” — he is amazing! He told me on several occasions, that he had enough of this shit!

When we finally reached the bridge and the road, he was more relaxed and we picked up the pace (which was a bit too fast for me at that stage), then we saw Helen, who was about 10 m ahead of us. There were a few people (couldn’t recognise anyone in the dark at that stage) and Paul at the finish line cheering for us, the last two. Helen stopped to talk to Paul and I sprinted into the chute. The clock was showing 14.50.58.

We all gathered there and chatted for a little, while Otto went to get the beers I could only recognize Coral Bayley (thanks for showing me where the showers were), then Chris Piplios and Cassandra Gash came to congratulate us.

As for Otto… I suggested he did the 22 km event, but he said he’s not ready for it and he doesn’t want to carry safety gear; then he ended up doing 40 km only by supporting me and carrying at least the same weight in his back pack.

All up, I really loved this event, it’s on par with the Prom for me. I would do it next week. A few scratches and bruises to remind what I did this weekend.

I owe a huge thank you to Paul, Carole, Graham, John, the fellow runners and everyone at the finish line (really sorry we didn’t introduce ourselves).

  • Time: Garmin says 64.24 km – elapsed time 14.50.58 – moving time 14.11.13 (Strava says 12.52.19)
  • Pace 13.52 min/km
  • Elevation: 3,447 m
  • Calories: 2,872 cal (Strava says 5,369)

It means I’ve spent about two hours not moving forward.

  • Salomon S—Lab Advanced Skin3 12 Set SS15 (official name)
  • Salomon Bonatti w/p jacket
  • Salomon Sense Pro to Diamantina Hut and Asics Fuji Trabucco 2 for the remaining 24 km
  • Crop, top, socks Lululemon + the top I’ve started with (hot pink), but left it with Otto at Federation Hut – it was all wet.
  • Thermals (didn’t use them)
  • W/p pants (didn’t use them)
  • First aid kit (took two rolls of snake bandage and a triangular thinggy extra)
  • And the rest of the mandatory gear
  • Took 1 toasted sandwich — half butter and cheese and half butter and cherry jam, quartered for easy reach. Brought back one quarter with cherry jam. Had about 12 cherry tomatoes with the savoury quarters.
  • Lindt dark chocolate pieces (mint, coffee and chili) – brought back 2 pieces
  • Lollies – from Pole 333 check point
  • 1 apple (Otto gave it to me at Loch car park)
  • 3 pieces of water melon – from the check point at Diamantina Hut (thank you Paul for saving some for me) – it felt great!
  • Took 500 ml of home made electrolyte (2 potatoes, 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, 2 turnips, 2 stalks of celery, salt, cayenne pepper boiled for 2 hrs over low heat with 2 l of water) but brought back half of it
  • 500 ml Nuun Energy Wild Berry – wish I had more of that
  • 1 l of water in the bladder – brought back about half of it. Carried it for back up (want to slap myself for this)
  • Creek water – 4 x 250 ml
  • Thought of having a beer at the finish line – it works wonders!