Thursday, 15 September 2011

Prep, Hiccups and Glory!

Well, first up, I apologise for not blogging for so long!  My computer has been out of action and then had a small procedure on my hand making it rather difficult to type!

So for those who don’t know, for the last few months I have been preparing to run a 100mile (161km) race through the Glasshouse Mountains.  I had previously decided to just do the 100k, however after The North Face, I lacked a bit of motivation and wanted a new challenge.

So, the 100mile it would be!  I have had a healthy respect for the distance as it is kinda the ‘done’ race when it comes to ultras.  I trained well (although I always want to do more!) and looked forward to the run!  Not only that, but meeting up with friends made through The North Face event.

We headed to the Coast a couple of days early after packing a ridiculous amount of gear, and making me very nervous, and did some relaxing.  We spent some time with Katie and her family which was great and also had a top lunch on Friday at Moolooaba Surf Club with runners Tylana (to do 50k), Dean (Injured but great moral support), Jaci (to do 50k), Andy (Resting/injured after a little run on the Nullabour), Ben (to do 100mile), Dad (to do 100k) and the rest of the family/support crew.  There were many laughs had, even though the weather was making us a little more nervous (pouring rain at times and blowing about a squillion miles an hour!)

On the Friday night we headed to Beerburrum School to register, have a race briefing and dinner.  I was dead set freezing and worried that I didn’t bring all my warm gear I collected for The North Face…oh well, things ‘may’ come good?!

So after a nervous nights sleep on Friday (what would be my last for at least two days!) I awoke early Saturday Morning to a howling wind.  No rain but WIND!!!  At least it wouldn’t be hot!  Tegs, Pria, Katie and I all then headed to the School for the start.  After a few nervous hellos and good lucks we were into it.

This run would be a little different as Dad was doing the 100k and I was doing the miler.  For some reason, distance I guess, at the 60km mark I had to do an extra 8km loop and leave dad to run on my own.  Dad and I started out at a pretty decent pace and in good spirits.  We got chatting to a few different people and soon made friends with a few new runners.  After a short loop we headed up old Mt Beerburrum to the usual uphill slaughter!  Love it!  We then continued to trot along pretty well without incident (apart from Dad having a good stack!)  We met with our crew regularly and also aide stations to good food and good laughs.  It’s incredible how smiling faces and a bit of good food can lift your spirits!

It sounds funny, but one thing that I was worried about in this run is that it was relatively flat (Hummm) and we would be doing a fair bit of running.  Due to the elevation at The North Face we did a fair bit of walking on the hills and it is a good break up/recovery.  On this run however, running would occur more, possibly tiring me quicker.  Only time would tell.

At about the 50k mark, I hit a low patch and found it pretty tough.  It was a shame cause it was a really beautiful part of the course with lovely single track and pretty purple flowers everywhere!  I will remember this section of the course for a long time for its secluded location and beauty! 

During this section, I also tried to round a massive water hole and left my shoe behind in the mud!  My dear father grabbed it for me and thought it would be a good idea to then throw it at me, covered in stinking mud!  TA!

Dad and I stayed together until 60k and I sadly said my fair wells to him.  He was looking strong and I did some maths and figured he would easily finish under 15hours…a great time!

Once he left me and I refuelled, I came good again and powered along from Checkpoint 8-10, about 30km.  I then had another little low, but nothing substantial.  By this time it was nearly dark and I met Tegan at Checkpoint 6 for a change of clothes (into warm gear), grab my headlamp and torch, and a good feed.  After a brief stop and kiss from my bride and crazy kid, I said good by and good night to them and  I headed off into the darkness on my own.

I have had a lot of people ask me about night time running through the bush and if I get scared, worried etc.  It is actually the opposite for me.  I really look forward to night fall as I seem to be able to get in a great headspace and really enjoy the nature, varying sounds and smells and stillness.  It really is a unique feeling running in the middle of nowhere, on your own, under a beautiful full moon and bright stars.  I LOVE IT!

For the first hour or two of this race at night however, for some reason it took me a while to get things right.  I kept thinking I had missed markers and nearly fell a few times.  I even had to stop and look at my map as I thought I had gone about 5km off track.  I back tracked about 500m to a Checkpoint marker and to my relief I was heading in the right direction.

During this time, I got a phone call from mum saying dad had finished?!?!  Amazing!  I thought I was going along ok, but he must have been really cruising!  I had allowed him 6hours to complete the last 40km on his own, in the dark and on trail and he did it in 4hrs 55min, finishing the race in 13hrs 55min!  AMAZING!!! A super job!

I continued on and things continued to go well and I arrived back at the School (109km) ahead of my predicted schedule.  I had a feed and refresh before getting ready to head out again.  I almost got in a fight as I found out the winner of the 100mile was sitting a couple of chairs over from me…ALREADY DONE AND KICKING BACK!  Bloody fast runners…incredible!

So I headed off again and did it a bit tough after the break at the School.  Mentally I was ok, but just starting to get a bit tired as it was now after 10pm and had been on my feet for about 16 and a half hours.

The final 53km started on the western side of Steve Irwin Way and then crossed over to the eastern.  It was pleasant to find that although this side of the road had some very sandy trail and some technical track, a good percentage of it was flattish.

Things again were going ok and glad I was able to keep a shuffle/walk motion forward.  I arrived at Checkpoint 9 in good spirits and had a laugh with the lovely aide station personnel and Mum, Dad and Ma who were now crewing for me, bless their hearts!  I completed a short trip up and down Wild Horse Mountain before returning to Checkpoint 9 and starting my journey to 10.

This went well apart from a small fall I had, landing on my sore hand!  OW!

Upon arrival at Checkpoint 10 we were to complete two short loops, both returning to 10.  Before going off on the first, I had a drink of Coke and immediately got gigantic hiccups!  These continued for about 45min!!!  They were so loud and violent, I reckon if anyone was within 500m of me they would have heard them!  Funny, but a little embarrassing!  After the 45min...they stopped???

I completed my first loop and then headed off on the second.  I predicted this would take 1hr 30min – 1hr 45min…I did it in 1hr 15min and arrived back at Checkpoint 10 to find my crew all sleeping!  Bless their hearts, it was a long night and I really appreciate them even being there!  I woke them as I was leaving the aide station and kept on keeping on.

All went well through this section back to Checkpoint 9 and another trip up Wildhorse Mountain (yes we had to do it twice!)  Upon returning to 9, I suddenly felt VERY sick!  Ma said later I went white and I thought I was going to power spew everywhere!  I couldn’t eat anything and it just felt bad!  I didn’t want to stop long as I was worried about what may have happened so I headed of on the journey home!

A short way from the Checkpoint I remembered earlier in the day picking up an unopened ginger chew.  I heard that ginger is a great way to help an upset stomach so I thought I would give it a crack.  The things tasted horrible, but I tell you what it did the trick!  All good I kept shuffling!

I was keen for a plain biscuit when I met the crew for the last time about 6km from the finish, only to find out they had left my esky of provisions at Checkpoint 9!  Oh well, I got some others and kept going! 

My spirits had really lifted by this stage as dawn had broken and I finally realised I was going to make the distance!  I shuffled/walked a bit quicker and managed to pass two girls about a km from the finish!

As I approached the finish shoot, I felt a great sense of achievement and excitement that I had made it!  It had been a long night but I had done it!  I ran though the finish to the claps of Tegs, Pria, Mum, Dad my Ma and other persons at the finish.  AMAZING!  I managed to cross the line in 25hours 16minutes, well within my very rough guess of 24-30hours.



My feet are a mess!  They are VERY swollen, had and has a vast number of blisters and black, BLACK toenails!  Only two good ones left now!

Always carry a ‘plugging agent’ in your kit!  Lucky my Ma had some as I started getting the runs and needed the help!  Also, always carry ginger and ibuprofene.

My family is amazing!  For Tegan to be out all day with Pria was incredible and then for my Mum and Ma to go all day and night was amazing!  Then Dad…what a lunatic!  To back up and be my support crew after running 100k!  What a top bloke and best mate!  I kept telling him to go to sleep but he wouldn’t have a bar of it!

I had a minor hallucination (yeah it happens quite often in 100mile runs) thinking a pine cone was someones shoe…I remember thinking to myself ‘Gee it would be hard to finish the race with one shoe!’

Someone at Checkpoint 8 makes THE BEST peanut brittle I have ever tasted!

The further I go, the better I seem to shuffle lasts forever!  What is next?!

Thanks to all my friends who believed in me and encouraged me in this new adventure!  It was amazing and I look forward to many more!  Thanks also to all for the post race get together, great!

Keep on keeping on crew, love each other, love life and until next time...RUN ON!!!


  1. Ur a legend Matt n not a bad bloke for a runner. I have ur next challenge mate. Come down n do the Noosa triple 000 8 hr MTB challenge at Pomona on the 1/10. Charity being the RBH kids cancer ward. U n the Welsh running Corgi can do a team! Cheers Rusty Ironman.

  2. Thanks for sharing your adventure Mat. What a truly awesome effort and a great finish time mate. I'm glad I got to share some of it with you. Enjoy your recovery and we'll talk soon. Cheers Benny.