Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Contentment, Sleep Monsters and Sufferfest - Coast 2 Kosci

Day One – 03/12/13 – What a ripper day!  We started our journey at 5am from my humble abode with dad and Rod.  We headed to Brisbane and picked up Lori for the first leg of the trip.  And what a fun day it was!  The weather was absolutely beautiful and traffic was good!  Sun was shining, the country side was gorgeous and the company was stella!

Kicking back on top of the camper before the cold arrived  

I do however have some reserved judgement about my crew.  I knew Rod was a triathlete with a dirty ultra running secret but it turns out that Lori is an ultra runner with a FILTHY triathlon habit!  HELP ME RHONDA!  I thought heading to Australia’s longest ultra, I would be far away from the triathlon madness, but no!  It follows me and haunts me forever more!  Needless to say, much laughter and taunting was had during the day!

We pushed on through the day, relaxing, talking, listening to some tunes and generally having a top time!  We made it to about 40km from Newcastle before calling it a night and setting up the camper for a nights kip.

I am super, super excited to start running however a bit nervous about the weather.  Snow has been forecast during the run, which may make things very interesting to say the least!  What will be will be!

I got some beautiful cards from Mum, Lori and the Zigdermanns which had some awesome words of encouragement.  I am so blessed to have so many friends and family supporting this adventure!

Day One down…come at me Day Two!

Day Two – 04/12/13 – Well we woke this morning after FREEZING our arses off all night!  Dad and Rod at least got to spoon a little (that may be an exaggeration) but Lori and I were SO COLD!  After stopping only at 10:30pm the night before, we had a quick set up and laid our heads down.  Not preparing was a bad idea!

(Disclaimer – Rod states, ‘What goes on tour stays on tour!)

So, after having a rough, interrupted nights sleep, we woke early, packed whilst still freezing and got on the road.  I swear my feet didn’t get warm till about three hours later. 

The chocy gobler!
Our drive today was again beautiful.  The weather was magic, everyone was cheery (after an early catch up kip), we took our time and had a top day!  There has been something completely soothing about this trip.  My relaxation has been at a level it has not been for a long time and my stress levels have been nearly rock bottom. 

The preparation for this race has been entirely bizarre and nothing like I have ever experienced.  My brain cannot completely comprehend the journey that awaits me.  For this reason I have been nervous but at the same time, 100% at ease about it all! Different, but soothing.

We arrived finally at Eden at about 3pm and set up our top little camp.  It has been such a blessing to be able to use Rods camper trailer.  It has been a super home away from home.  After setting up we went for a little drive to town (Eden is a lovely spot) and a look around before returning back to the park and going out for a little run.  Legs felt like they had been in the car for two days…funny that! 

After a shower and relaxing for a little, we headed to the Pub for dinner and had a gold feed and even met another runner. 

It has been a super day, even though it started raining pretty constant this afternoon.  I have become quite overwhelmed today by the pressure and support I have received for this race.  I have got so many lovely well wishes and kind words from so many people, including from a friend in New Zealand this afternoon.  Further to that, my crew who have taken time away from their lives and families to come and support me.  I am truly blessed to have so many generous kindhearted people in my life.  I just pray and hope I can make them all proud come Friday!

With a joy in my heart and a smile on my face from a super day, I lay my head down to get some rest tonight.  Tomorrow will be another great day of relaxing and preparing before the big dance begins.  BRING IT ON! 
Chillin out before race day

Day 3 – 05/12/2013 – The nerves are mounting!  Today was blessed.  Cruisy, sleep in (never happens!), quick podcast chat with Jeff ( Coach Jeff Podcast) great coffee and tangello at a local gourmet deli, shopping at an awesome little hippy shop and catching up with fellow runners and friends, new and old!  We had a little crew meeting and talk about what was ahead…I am so fortunate to have these guys on my team!

Pre-race briefing
We headed to race briefing and dinner tonight and had a ripper time there chatting, eating and hearing about what was ahead.  I got a chance to meet an exiting new friend and fellow runner Grant, who is a raw food ultra runner ( rawaussieathlete.com ), I am sure I will be throwing a number of emails and questions at him in the coming weeks!  What a champ!

After a great time and many laughs, it was home, have a cuppa and then off to bed.  Life is blessed!  I am ready, lets get this dance on!  Cold, hot, up/down, weak, strong….no matter what, I am ready to rock this party!

Dear Diary….see you in 240km!

08/12/13 – Contentment, Sleep Monsters and Sufferfest

Pre Start
Start crew
Disclaimer – Some of this may not be in the correct order as your brain becomes a little mush after running for so long!

OMGosh, where do you start with a race report for a 240km run?  At the moment I am sitting back with my feet in the air cause of the brutal swelling.  What an adventure it has been though!  Lets start a little before the beginning!

The night before – We slept in the camper trailer again…in cyclonic winds!  Needless to say, we all got about 1-2hrs sleep each in TOTAL!  More on that later!

Race Day – Contentment – After our terrible nights sleep we turned up to the start line in serious anticipation.  We were all super excited and ready to get the show on the road!  The race started on the beach in Eden and after some photos and nervous excitement we got started. 

#again YES!
The start of the race went along swimmingly, chatting to a heap of people and making some new friends.  I got chatting to a guy named Joe Ward who was lovely.  After some general conversation I found out that he was also a vegan!  Must have been why he was so nice!  Ha!  We ran together up until the first Checkpoint, chatting and enjoying each others company.  It surely made the time go quickly!  So stoked I met him and I am sure we will stay in touch and be friends for a long time, gold!

After leaving Joe, I was able to see my crew for the first time at 24k.  It was a quick in and out stop, grabbing some food and saying g’day before heading on. 

Badwater kit!
After leaving the Checkpoint, I met a few more friends and was really honoured to get to share some k’s with running royalty Jane Trumper and Andy Bowen.  They made me feel really welcome and although I already knew Andy who is a top bloke, it was super to get to know Jane a little.  The people I meet through ultra running never cease to amaze me by their friendliness and outreaching of love and kindness.

The opening stages of the race were incredibly beautiful (as the whole race was) and it wasn’t hard to look around and enjoy Gods beautiful country.  For what downfalls our country has we are incredibly blessed to live here!

Upon meeting my crew again at Checkpoint 2, I had needed to go to the loo for about an hour and was promised there was a toilet there…well there was, however it was locked!  I ran through disappointed and had to go bush!  After this my belly felt a fair bit better and I carried on.  I got chatting to Micky Arthur who was a top fella and has done some amazing endurance events all round the world.  I didn’t get to spend ages with him but enjoyed the time we got to spend together.     

After this I spent a fair bit of time on my own in the wind!  The plains were open and the wind gusts were pretty brutal.  This didn’t bother me too much, and once on my own, really started ticking of some good km splits.  My whole goal for the first 12hrs was to be consistent, keep moving forward and enjoying myself.  Every now and then I would find myself breaking the race down and thinking too far ahead.  I find this is dangerous and I am better just taking each moment as it presents itself, concentrating on what is going on in the present.

Mother ship
After a short time, I got to a major climb in the race called Big Jack.  I was able to have a crew member join me so Dad jumped out and hiked the hill with me.  It was good to have his company and do it together.  Good times!   

After leaving dad, I continued to click of 5km sections (generally where I would meet the crew) in good time.  My consistency proved valuable as I started working my way up the field.  From this point, for the entirety of the race, I can not remember anyone passing me (although I passed quite a lot).  Pretty stoked with that!

The only real concern through the day was that I only took two pee’s I think, and they were bright yellow.  Any runner knows this is not ideal and I needed to get more fluids into me.  I started to do this but would prove problematic later on….

Metronome k's
The day ticked by and coming up to the 12hr mark, I had clocked up 100km.  That was a mini goal I had and I was really happy to have achieved a first little milestone!  Only 140k to go!  Ha!

The next few hours was on road with some good climbs.  I had a good old chat with some country boys who were intrigued as to what was going on.  Very funny.  I continued to keep my consistency when I was able have a pacer the rest of the race, 8:30pm daylight savings time.

Dad joined me here and we had some good chats and spoke with some friends on the phone.  It was nice to hear some familiar voices however at this point I wasn’t so keen to be chatting too much.  This is where the sleep monsters arrived!

Sleep Monsters – For those who don’t know, sleep monsters occur in ultras when you have been running for a long time and start falling asleep while running!  I have never experienced this before, however, due to my terrible sleep the previous nights, I was about to be introduced to the beast big time!

From about 10pm to about 5am I was in a bad way.  First thing – I was peeing about every 20min…not good as electrolyte balance gets thrown out.  Second thing – I was falling asleep every time I started power hiking.  It was like nothing I had ever experienced before.  The feeling of not being able to control your body to stay awake when you know it can is terrible.  I was staggering all over the road on numerous occasions and at times, when I stopped to pee, it felt like my sandals were about a foot thick and I was sinking into them, about to face plant into the dirt.  Through the night there were some serious climbs.  Dad urged me along the best he could and we spoke a fair bit about me having a power nap.  I was really keen on this idea, as I could not control what my body was doing.  Dad thought it was a bad idea though as it was so cold and he thought I would find it too hard to get out of the car.  I decided to battle on in the hope that sun up would revitalise me.  I have read a number of race reports where this has helped runners in the past so I was keen to see if it was true!  Another thing that encouraged me to keep going , as much as I don’t like relishing in peoples struggles, was seeing another runner taking about three steps (two sideways and one forward) then needing to hang on to her pacer to remain upright!  She was in a bad way.  I though to myself, if she can keep going, so can I!

The sun started to rise just outside Jindabyne, another milestone I had set in my mind.  I was keen to try and get to 180km in 24hours.  I fell just short of my goal, getting to 178km in that time.  Close enough! 

At this point, Rod was keen to join me while dad had a rest.  We started a massive climb out of town and this is where the sufferfest began.

Sufferfest – As day two began the pain kicked into a new gear!  The whole day was nothing like I have ever experienced before!  The pain in the front of my shins and legs in general was devastating.  Walking hurt but had to be done as there were SO many long steep hills.  Running took time to get up to speed as every time I started the pain was so intense it took a number of steps to get to any sort of minimal speed.  From here on in the k’s seemed to take FOREVER!  This was playing with my mind as I was just keen to get there but it was taking so long!  The hills were also mind destroying!  I knew we had to be going up, like the top of Australia up, but every time I seemed to do a massive climb, there was a massive descent following!  Ugh!  Rod did a good job of keeping me moving forward, as frustrating as it must have been for a speedster like him!

From about half way through the night Friday to the end of the race, I really did not want to eat.  I knew I had to, but nothing appealed to me.  Such a bad feeling!

I eventually made it to Perisher, which was the last Check in.  Here, I was pretty much annihilated!  I went to the loo, washed my face and generally felt sorry for myself.  The k’s seemed to go SO slow and my body was SO ruined, life was tough at that point.  I continued to move forward with Rod helping me along the way and Dad and Lori helping along.

Slowly but surely, we kept going and EVENTUALLY arrived at Charlottes Pass.  What a freaking relief!  Dad told me that the organisers had said that I wasn’t able to wear my sandals to the summit.  At that point I was beyond caring.  I had my Altra shoes ready in case and they were to be my footwear for the last 18k.  Sandals for 222km is a pretty darn good effort I reckon!  I didn’t even realise either but Lori pointed out that my hands were swollen…like super swollen!  The race medic checked me over and said that I had some good hypotremia and oedema going on…no more water for me!  These conditions can be fatal so I listened good and proper!  Whilst concerning it was not going to stop me finishing!

Top of Australia!
Vegan wearin my Akubra trophy!  Oxymoron but super proud!
Charlottes Pass to the Summit of Kosciuszko was super special!  We were able to do it with our whole crew so we took our time, enjoyed the views and loved every minute.  There was HEAPS of snow which made things a bit more challenging.  Once we got to the top after about a 9k hike we got some beautiful photos and then started heading down.  The conditions were super icy and at one point there was a bit of an avalanche and I slid about a meter and a half down a VERY steep slope!  Close call!  We continued to work our way down and relished in our amazing day!  Coming up to the finish I was just overwhelmingly happy to finish and stop moving forward!  I reached the finish line in 35hr 14min and 51sec.  So so stoked with my achievement!  The finish was a little bittersweet though as I found out the organizers weren’t letting any one else up to the summit about 15min before I finished due to safety concerns.  Whilst I appreciate this would have been one of the hardest decisions for them to make I completely understand why they did.  Any sort of accident could jeopardise future races.  After a little rest, we headed back to our accommodation after a while, showered and rested up!  Job done!

Crew on top of Kosci!  Lori, Me, Rod and Dad
The wrap up – Sunday morning there was a race breakfast then presentations.. This was SUPER special, hearing stories and receiving our C2K Akubra.  Even though I’m vegan, I will wear this trophy with pride!  We then relaxed in our unit and I got my feet up as they got REALLY swollen!  We headed to a dinner at the pub at night and caught up with all our new friends.  We met so many amazing people and their crews on this journey but most memorable would be Kieron, Paul, Lisa, Jane, Joe, Nat, those along with our existing friends will stay with us for a long time.

Lastly, my crew.  I don’t even know where to start!  To say that this journey wouldn’t have been possible without you is the understatement of the year!  Your encouragement, devotion, commitment, selflessness and love was amazing!  Dad, Lori and Rod, you deserve as much or more recognition for the success of this race as I have received.  For you to all give up your time away from your families and give so much of yourselves blows me away!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  You are all so beautiful and I am forever indebted to you!

It DID just work!
In the aftermath of this pilgrimage I am so very proud of how I performed in my first C2K.  It was more than I could have ever expected and harder than I could have ever imagined.  This race now holds a special place in my heart and I hope to be back next year toeing the start line, ready to do it all again!  GOOD TIMES friends!

We now start our journey home where we can relax, chat and debrief.  What next for the TattooRunner….time will tell!  Love you all, thank you for being there for me, supporting me and saying such nice things about my lunacy!  Love you all and Ill see yall soon!  Run Free…


  1. Omg congrats Mat!!!!. I can't comprehend it. All I know is you are friggin AWESOME!!! Your crew would've, and should be so so proud and honoured to have shared the experience with you!!!

  2. Wow and AWESOME such a powerful message and thanks for wearing my son Ted's Luna Sandals...great job. :) Ted's mom Sally

  3. Mat. Great result. I love catching up with your whole family at the many ultras around SEQ. You have a great team there with everyone who helped on the day and during your training at home. Hoping to see you on the start line next year.

  4. Grand effort Mat. You have come a long way, my friend. Anybody would be proud to be associated with such a great athlete. You are a Legend and headed for greater things. Good onya Mate and Run Free!

  5. A huge Congrats from Team Tomlins Matty you astound us all our love to you and your beautiful family and support team - Go the distance mate!!

  6. Yeah Mat! Congrats! Way to endure the distance and keep moving. Looking forward to your next adventure.

  7. congratulations on an awesome run Mat...you are a true champion - 222kms in your Luna sandals pure grit. thanks for a great read as usual

  8. Thank you everyone for your beautiful words. It is friends like you all that make it easier to get through the hard times and keep moving forward. I am truly blessed! Love to y'all!