Woronora Dam 10km

I was having lunch with my friend Amanda a few weeks back and she mentioned the upcoming Woronora Dam run, a local trail run organised by JORG. She was entered in the half marathon and there was also a 10km option that she suggested I should enter too, so I signed up.

The weather on the day was not ideal and I was prepared for a muddy trail as it had rained the few days prior and also on the morning of the race, but that never gets me down. I actually like playing in the mud. The course was unknown to me, I hadn’t looked up the elevation chart but I was assured it was one hilly bugger.

I chatted to Amanda and some other friends at the race HQ and after hearing more about the course I decided that my goal would be to run the entire trail to use it as hill training, I didn’t set myself and goal time and wanted to just go out and enjoy it.

The half marathoners set off first and Amanda looked strong and ready, she was coming back from injury and I hoped she would do well. After a short break it was our turn to start the race, I was nervous but feeling good.

The gun went off and we ran up the first hilly road section towards the trail. It was a tough slog at first running up the wet road and having to dodge other runners, and my right knee didn’t like the concrete too much either.

Eventually we hit the trail and it got hillier, great (ha ha). This was an out and back course and there were mostly downs on the way out, which meant only one thing….. lots of ups on the way back! So I slowed a little and made sure that I reserved some energy for the way back. There were some nasty steep declines at the moment and I knew it was going to take a lot to run them all on the way back up, it sure would be challenging.

It was great to be able to see the front runners smashing it back up the hill as we came down, they looked pretty puffed which only confirmed my fears of how hard it was going to be to run all the way back up!

There was a drink station at the turn around point so I grabbed a water and turned to head back up the steep hill we had just come down. This was it, time to hit the run button and just keep running no matter what.

I don’t remember looking up much on those hills. I had my head down concentrating on finding a rhythm with my breathing, to keep swinging my arms and lifting my legs. I managed to pass quite a few people as I ran up the hills, most of them were surprised I was able to run them and they encouraged me along. This gave me even more determination to not stop and to finish strong. They were some steep bloody hills! I had my coach Damon’s voice in my head the whole time, pushing me and telling me that it was possible, to just keep running, and that’s exactly what i did. He would have been proud if he saw my run that day.

During the last few kms I had the pleasure of running with a young girl called Sian, she was running her first trail 10km and doing really well. We chatted a lot about running and life and it made the time fly past. We were making good speed and I was surprised to note that we might possibly finish in under 60mins, i’d be VERY happy with that considering the hills!

We flew down the last hill both pushing ourselves to try and make attainder the hour. We overtook a lady as we neared the finish line and crossed in 58:37 – wow! I hugged Sian and we celebrated our fortunate race result, it was a great way to end a run!

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After some food & drink I went for a short walk after the run to check out the pipeline and the views, it’s a great spot and i will definitely be back for some training runs.

I waited for Amanda to come into the finish line and chatted to the race director Jim as I hadn’t seen him for a while. Eventually Amanda came flying home to finish in under 2 hours, a very great time!! Go Amanda!!

It really was a great event and you should all come down and run it with me next year!

Happy Running 🙂

City 2 Surf 2015

I know i’t very late, but here it is…

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This years was my 9th City 2 Surf and I woke up very nervous on the morning of the race. If you’ve been reading my posts I’ve been having a few niggles with my right knee and running on the road seems to aggravate it sometimes, so I knew there was a chance today’s run could be painful.

Last year I had to line up for over 30mins to deposit my drop bag and almost missed the cut-off time for those so I decided to arrive (very) early this year to avoid the hassle and stress of that happening again. So I dropped off my bag and waited around stretching and trying to keep warm until my friends arrived. Ganesh was there and I had a chat to him about his running, such a lovely bloke and he has achieved so much with his running.

I had organised to meet Emma & Maria before the race as we were all in the same red start group, so once they arrived we made our way over to the start area after another quick pit stop to make sure I wouldn’t have to stop for the toilet on course.

My goal with this race every year is to beat my time from the previous year and in 2014 my time was 74:04. It wasn’t going to be easy to beat that time as I had not done a lot of speedwork and most of my training had been long, slow distance, but I always give it my all.

We ran a little warm up in the small area that we had and ran into some other Striders friends who were also in the same group. We chatted nervously at the start line and my thoughts turn to my grandmother… I had been raising funds for dementia research with CHeBA for the past few years and today we had a large CHeBA contingency which was wonderful to see. Today when I was struggling I would think of her to help push me along, I do this in so many of my runs and it always brings a calmness over me.

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When the gun went off we all passed on our best wishes and I tried to stay calm and comfortable with my running. I wasn’t sure if I would see the girls again along the course but I secretly hoped I would!

I felt pretty good that morning but felt that my goal time of under 74mins would not be doable, so I just tried to maintain a pace a little faster than what I was comfortable with and see how long I could hold it for. And I had decided weeks before that today I was going to make Heartbreak Hill my bitch!!

City2Surf is such a massive run, there’s so many people to dodge around and trip hazards on the road, but it also has a wonderful atmosphere and this year we were promised more music along the course which I was very much looking forward to.

I remember thinking how focused I felt in the first couple of kms, trying to remain relaxed in my body but pushing myself at the same time. A wonderful friend Brendan called out to me at one point as I was coming down one of the hills and we chatted for a short time about how he was running with his sister. I”m not sure how much I said to him at the time and I hope that I wasn’t rude, but I just had no breath to talk as I was really pushing myself to make up time on the downhills. Sorry Brendan!

Then I started to think about that Heartbreak Hill, it wasn’t far off and I was going to run it and push myself the whole way up and over the hill (like we had practised at Runlab so many times). So I dug in and kept my arms driving which kept the legs spinning over. I found a rhythm with my breath and tried to hold it the hold way up that bugger. I managed to pass a lot of people on this hill and when I got to the top I felt fantastic!I tried to keep up the pace on the next few sections and prepared myself for the several small hills that were coming up.

I remember looking at my watch at the halfway point and doing some calculations in my head, I wasn’t going as fast as I needed to get my goal time but there were quite a few downhills to come (a strength of mine) which I could possibly make up some time.

When I started to hurt I turned my actions top encourage other runners who had began to walk, most of them started running again and thanked me for the push. I like to do this and take the focus off myself when i’m running, plus I know how much it helps to encourage someone as I’ve been in their boat before and it sucks when you feel alone and beaten. They always smile and have a crack, just what I like to see!

And we finally approached the last hill, I ramped it up a notch as I knew that I had slowed for some reason, probably just getting tired. I was going to smash these few last downhills and I kept doing the calculations in my head to see if I would make the goal… it was going to be close.

Secretly my goal had been to get under 70mins…. and I started to think it may be possible!

The last 3km of that race are the hardest I have ever pushed myself before. I knew I really had to finish strong if I was to get close to either of my goals and I just ran my little heart out, passing many people as I headed towards the last bend on the road and down the small section to the finish line.

I was sprinting, I was hurting but I felt like I was flying….. I made it in 70:35!

To be completely honest, as I crossed that line and looked at my time the first thought that came into my head was negative as I had not cracked the 70min mark. I kept thinking how or what could I have done different during the race to get that 35 seconds back, what had I missed?! I kept playing over scenarios in my head, I shouldn’t have stopped for those 2 drinks stops, I should have positioned myself better at the start to avoid the crowds and having to dodge people, I should have….

Some much needed friendly faces appeared at the finish line, it was Georgie & Michael and a few others from SHR (Sydney Harbour Runners). I hadn’t seen them for a while so it really made me smile and we chatted and laughed about the race. I also chatted to a group of Runlabbers near the finish and then made my way over with Georgie to collect our drop bags.

We grabbed our bags and put on some warm clothes, it was a beautiful sunny day but I always get a little chill after a race, it’s the body taking time to recover from the exertions you’ve just put it through. I ran into Peta from work and some other SHRunners and it was great to see so many familiar faces, especially amongst an entry field of 65,000 people!

I planned to call past the Sydney Striders tent and the RunLab tent however after searching for 20-30mins and not being able to find them I gave up and headed to meet my CHeBA team mates for a bbq at one of the beaches south of Bondi. The walk to meet them gave me some time to reflect and take in the beautiful surroundings. The weather was picture perfect and I felt so lucky to be able to be a part of this sport we call running.

My mood started to lift and then it dawned on me, I had just run a PB by almost 4 minutes. Now that was something to be happy about!!

Heidi and a few others from CHeBA were there to greet us with big smiles! Most of them were very impressed with my time and I thought about how much of an idiot I had been for being so hard on myself. We are our own worst enemies sometimes!

I got some food and drink into me and was so happy when Megan arrived excited and happy with her run, she had smashed her goal and also done an amazing job in raising funds for CHeBA. Megan is a friend and PT client of mine and I had introduced her to CHeBA, I was very proud.

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We chatted for a long while as other CHeBA champions arrived and we heard there race stories. Unfortunately we also learnt that Prof Sachdev, one of CHeBA’s founders, had taken a fall during the run, he’d hurt his shoulder and been rushed to hospital. He was such a lovely man and we all felt sad when we heard the news.

Aside from the Professor’s bad luck it has been a pretty awesome day. I had learnt a lot and would be back in 2016 for my 10th time at this race, and I wold be ready to crack that 70mins!!

Happy running 😀

Back into the swing of things

After a few bumps in the road I’m just starting to get back into running again on a regular basis, and the time off really did make me appreciate the fact that I can run. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on how far I have come over the past couple of years, and all of the wonderful friendships I have made along the way, and I feel super lucky to be where I am today!

I can still remember the first few run group sessions in the city with my bestie Megan, who dragged me along each week and got me to enter events with her. I remember meeting Todd for the first time, our run group leader who helped push me along and got me running a full 5kms without stopping, a major feat for me back then. Both Megan and Todd have seen me grow from these early days, and supported me at everything from from 5km to 100km events. I’m very lucky to have met both of them and will be forever grateful.

From my beginnings at Nike Run Club, to run leading at Sydney Harbour Runners, to learning the trails with Sydney Striders, and working on my speed with Runlab, I have improved and learnt so much from each of these groups, and I know I will continue to do so in years to come. Every group has offered me so much and the friendships I’ve made along the way are ones that will last a lifetime.

Last weekend really highlighted to me just how much I love the sport and how much it means to me. I spent the day volunteering at the Centennial Park Ultra and I was surprised at just how many runners I knew and could assist/encourage while they were out there on the course. Their smiles, hard work and determination made me really appreciate what we have and are capable of doing when we put our mind to something. The sky is the limit!

So back to my running.

Term 3 of Runlab started 2 weeks ago and I was very nervous about getting back into the interval sessions as it had been longer than 6 months since my last session. The first week was Kenyan Hills and it destroyed me… I went out too hard and had nothing left for the last few reps. I was knackered.

Second week back at Runlab was Time Trial (TT) week, and this scared me even more. First up we did some intervals of 800/400/400/800 and to my surprise my average pace for these was 4:05, much quicker than I thought I would be (especially with my lack of speed training). We then had a short break and got stuck into the TT, which was a 1 mile distance. We all set off and I tried to stay with the front 2 runners as long as I could, which went well for the first 2 laps and then they started to pul away from me. I felt pretty good and pushed myself quite hard so I didn’t have much left in the tank when I finished. My time was 6:33 for the mile which equates to an average pace of 3:45, a massive sock to me as I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast before at any distance!!

The funny thing is, I did’t realise my average pace times for these Runlab sessions until last Sunday when my friend Maria pointed them out to me. I had been feeling a bit down and felt slow on the day, so I didn’t even bother to look what the pace had been, silly me!

So there you have it, i’m getting faster and i’m coming back stronger than before. So who knows what’s in store for me next…. bring on City2Surf this weekend, stay tuned!

Happy Running 🙂

10 Benefits of being injured

Having recently become injured and told it ‘could’ be a couple months before I should run again, I thought I would reflect on some of the benefits that time off from running can have in our lives. So here are 10 of the benefits I see from a little time off from running:

  1. Getting to sleep in on Sundays (but knowing you’ll probably wake up at some ungodly hour anyway and not be able to get back to sleep, ha ha)
  2. Giving your body a well earned rest (I have been training pretty hard for the past 18 months without much of a break so it’s probably good timing really…)
  3. Cross training in the pool or on the bike (which I’ve been told I can do as long as there is no pain, yay!!)
  4. Constantly getting emails from Strava letting you know that someone has ‘Stolen your CR’ (Course Record) for a section & then adding that section to your list of ‘things to do’ when you’re allowed to get back out there (am I alone in this?)
  5. Catching up with non-running friends (because i’m a slacker & usually I can’t handle your 9pm starts – that’s by bedtime, seriously)
  6. Getting to leave the house in ‘real clothes’ (which is especially exciting for me as a full time Personal Trainer who lives in training clothes 24/7)
  7. Getting some housework done (ha ha – wrong, that’s what a husband is for)
  8. Spending hours on Youtube catching up on Salomon Trail Running TV (if you haven’t checked it out yet then what are you waiting for?)
  9. Having time to bite your fingernails (no wait….. that’s not a benefit, I must try to kick that habit, they look terrible!)
  10. Having time to write funny posts like this one on a Friday night because you have nothing better to do (ha ha).

Happy non-running 😀

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Careflight Woodford to Glenbrook 2015

It’s been a long while since my last running blog and there’s a very good reason, I took a break. After 18 months of training for the 2014 TNF100, getting injured, recovering, running Oxfam 100, then more training for the 2015 TNF100, I figured I should really give my body a well earned break. So I have spent the past 4-5 weeks enjoying no set training schedule and catching up with friends and family. There have been only 2 occasions that I have run during that time and both were for less than 7km each (and only as I had to take a run group for work, a great crew to run with). However I have done some cycling and some swimming to keep up a little cardio, but again they were not of a high intensity so i’m not sure they count.

After such a long break I was a little nervous going into Sundays race, a 24km trail run in the beautiful blue mountains, but I knew the course (which was all downhill after the 12km mark) as I had run it last year for the first time and managed a half marathon PB back then.

So Sunday morning I met Maria (my most awesome running buddy) at her place for 6:45am, then we picked up Fran and were on our way to the mountains to park at the finish line where we met Liz & Nigel who were transporting us to the start line (thank you so much guys!). Thankfully it wasn’t as cold as last year, but this also meant that I was dressed inappropriately as I probably should not have worn my long thermal tights. Oh well – too late now.

I ditched the gloves and the arm warmers and we got ready at the start line. Maria and I had decided to take it easy today as we both had done little to no training, but I knew she would probably kick my butt. Here’s a shot of a few of us goofing around at the start (below).

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We saw some others Sydney Striders and had a photo with the group before the gun went off and we were running up the first hill under sunny blue skies. We chatted and wished each other well for the run and Maria and I stuck together as the gun went off.

There were lots of ups and downs but nothing like some of the mountains I have run in the past, so I tried to run most of them or at least power walk up the ones that I walked. I felt great. I was slamming it down the hills and the body was feeling fantastic. I was so happy to be back out running on the trails and felt lucky to be there. I pushed myself a little more at the start than I probably should, but I knew the second half of the course would be a lot easier as it was a gradual decline to the finish after the 13km mark.

I realised early on that my Garmin was still set to Bike mode which was a bit annoying, but after both Maria and I trying to change it and failing I gave up. I left it on bike mode and relaxed back into my run feeling great. Somehow I managed to lose Maria when I was going downhill but she caught up to me again further along and I was happy to see her face. My right knee had started to hurt a few kms back. I had feared that it might flare up again after little to no running or strength work over the past couple of weeks, and I don’t think it had fully recovered since TNF.

From here the pain got progressively worse and I slowed my pace and added some walking (with lunging strides) to release some of the pain, but it didn’t get much better. I decided not to push myself and cause further injury and cruised home in the slowest possible speed to try and avoid making it worse.

I got passed by just about everybody, which wasn’t much fun. But I was still happy and kept smiling and chatting to the other runners as they came past. Some of them even stopped to see if I was okay. Trail runners are the nicest people 🙂

The last 4km seemed to go on forever and I was relieved to see the finish area when I eventually reached the Euroka clearing. There was a nice long downhill & an older lady in a hot pink top that I could not let beat me, so I blasted down that hill (with a lot of knee pain) and sprinted up the final hill to the finish line. I was so glad it was over so I could sit down and rest the knee.

I found our crew and we all chatted about our run and picked a lunch venue for celebrations (yes, there’s always something to celebrate). We ended up the Ori Cafe which is at the Oriental Hotel in Springwood and the meals were fantastic, I highly recommend that place if you’re ever up in the area.

My run didn’t go that great, but sometimes they don’t. It’s reminded me how important strength work is and that you really should not attempt a run of that distance with no training. Looks like some more rest and strength work is needed then i’ll be back into it again soon.

Stay tuned & happy running 😀

Redemption at The North Face 100

Like most of my race reports this is a long one, so grab a cuppa and get comfortable while I take you on a ride through the 2015 North Face 100.

On the Friday before race day I picked up my running buddy Maria and we made our way up to Katoomba in my little Toyota Yaris. I wish I had taken a photo of the boot of my car as it was chockers with gear for the run. We looked like we were going away for a week!!

When we got to Katoomba we did a grocery shop and the amount of food that we bought could probably have fed a small army. It’s quite hard to know what sort of food you’re going to feel like eating when you’re out on the trail for such a long period of time, so you always end up taking more than you actually need. And we only ‘just’ fit the shopping bags it into the boot with our gear, ha ha

We then checked into the 3 Explorers Hotel which was old but very comfortable and cosy, as it had a working heater and electric blankets. Maria and I carted our gear up to the room on the first floor (and spoke of how much we would hate these stairs on Sunday, ha ha) and got our gear ready for race day. My sister (Shelley) who had generously put her hand up to be our support crew (for a second time) would arrive on race morning to drive us to the start line.

My training in the lead up to this race had fallen (very) short of the kms I would like to have run, but a few small niggles had held me back along with starting my own business and not having the time to fit in as much training as I would have liked. I had spoken to my coach Damon about these issues in the weeks leading up to the race and to be brutally honest we thought that perhaps I should drop back to the 50km event, which I almost did. But my stubborn Taurean nature kicked in and I decided to lower my expectations for the race, so instead of aiming for a time my goal of 18 hrs that Maria and I had previously spoke of, instead I would be just aiming to finish the race. This decision meant that perhaps Maria and I would not end up running the course together because I did not want to hold her back from her goal, especially when she had been running up a storm and smashing her running goals lately!

So Maria packed her drop bags in case we did not end up running together and then we caught up with our good friend Emma who was staying at the same hotel. I helped Emma with her drop bags too, as she was missing her ultra buddy Dominic (our team mates from Oxfam last year), and we all jumped in my car and headed to Registration near Scenic World. Both Emma and Maria had never run this race before and were very nervous, okay I was very nervous too but I was just trying not to thin k about it!!

We had a fun time at rego and saw lots of our running mates, it seemed everywhere you turned there was someone that one of us knew. I saw friends who were doing the 50km for the first time, a friend Todd from High School, some friends from old workplaces and other running friends I had met on the trails over the past couple of years. The excitement and buzz in the room was electric!

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For some reason it didn’t feel quite real to me yet, that I was actually going to attempt this run again and I think I had been in denial about it all for the past week. Last year I got injured on Nellie’s Glen (halfway) and I pushed on for a long while, but eventually made the tough decision to pull out at 78kms or risk further injury, I was devastated. I had trained so hard for the run and felt more ready than ever to finish, but (like life) sometimes your run does not go to plan.

This year I was going to be rocking up to the start line with a race plan that i’d prepared the day before (last year I worked on it for weeks!!) and with no expectations, just the goal of crossing that finish line. My race plan is a document that I give to my support crew which has goal times and items needed for each checkpoint, and is usually 4-5 pages long but that’s because it also includes directions and maps to each of the checkpoints.

Now where was I? After a lovely welcome from the local Aborigines from the area, and some funny antics and information provided by the race director and the safety crew, we left rego quite late and headed back to our hotel for some much needed sleep. Setting and checking the alarm had been set a few times before our heads hit the pillow.

Our synchronised iPhone alarms went off at 5.00am, so we got up and prepared ourselves for race day. I had some breakfast (banana, muffin and a coffee) then dressed for the start. Shelley (support crew and sister) arrived at the hotel on time as planned and drove myself, Maria and Emma to the start line. Emma was starting in the wave before us so we let her out of the car close to the start line and then parked the car.

We made our way nervously to the start line and wished many friends well along the way. As we walked up I managed to see Andrew (a friend from my gym) and several of my Sydney Striders mates as they set off in the earlier wave. It was starting to feel real and I could not stay in denial mode for much longer.

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Maria and I chatted to Leah and Liz and slowly made our way to the start area where all too soon the gun went off and we were running!!

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

Start 6.40am at Scenic World (10.5km to CP1) 

The first section of the course is road and includes a few hills, it’s also an out and back which I like in this race because you get to see your mates running back towards you and wish them well for one last time before hitting the trails. It’s also nice to run back past the start/finish area and be cheered on by all of the many supporters, including my wonderful sister, as we would not see them again until we hit CP3 at 46kms.

After the road section you head down Furber step and then head right towards the Landslide and the Golden Stairs, before heading up to Narrowneck. Just after Furber steps somebody had managed to fall and was being taken care of by some other runners, and as I approached them I also slipped and managed to land on my (well padded) butt, cut my hands up a little, and ripped a hole in my tights! But thankfully I was not hurt and I’d chosen to wear black undies that day!! 😉

This section was lots of fun and we chatted to many runners through the different terrain. It felt cooler than last year and there was some cloud cover, and I hoped it would not rain. A man playing music and wearing a fluorescent vest (already) went past us up the hill, so we chatted to him and many others who were all in high spirits at this point.

CP1 at Narrowneck (20.5 to CP2) ETA 8.25am 

Maria and I arrived at CP1 10 minutes ahead of schedule (8.15am) and it was nice to know we had a bit of a buffer up our sleeves, even if only a small one. We both had a quick toilet stop, I grabbed a band aid for my finger as it had been bleeding since my little stack earlier on, and then we got back out onto the trail.

This section had some magnificent views as we run at one of the highest points on the course, however I did not stop to take any photos this year as I wanted to keep my momentum going.

Maria and I enjoyed running together and were keeping the same pace, much to my surprise as I thought she would be much speedier than me on race day (but that came later, ha ha).

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

We took in the views and eventually got to Tarros Ladders to find a short queue and we waited for our turn. If you have read my blogs before you will know that I do not like heights, so I was a little nervous about climbing down these ladders strapped to the side of the cliff. Okay, I was VERY nervous about it!

It came my turn to climb down the ladders (after I let MAria go first) and I tried to calm my breathing and my nerves. And I was doing really well until I got to about halfway and had to walk the narrow ‘plank’ to the next ladder, which meant that I looked down and freaked out. I lost control of my breathing and water started coming out of my eyes, but I just kept saying to myself “One step at a time, keep moving and you’ll get there”. Eventually I got to the bottom, after some much needed encouragement from Maria who was counting the steps for me to let me know how far until it would be over. And when i got to the bottom Maria gave me a big hug and we carried on our way down the mountain.

CP2 at Dunphys Camp (15km to CP3) ETA 12.00pm

We got into Dunphys Camp at 11.10am which was 50 mins before our scheduled arrival time of midday. Woohoo!! We got some food, filled up our water and queued for the toilet. We spent a little too much time here queued for the toilet, but I did not want to have to go in the bush later down the trail.

After a quick chat with our friend Paul we left Dunphys Camp and headed for the next landmark, the Ironpot Mountain. Most of this section of the course is on Private Property so not very many people get to train on this section of the course.

There is a very steep hill section up to the top of the Ironpot Mountain and Maria is much better on the hills than me due to her smaller frame. My goal for this early stage in the race had been to just stick with her for as long as I could and so far it had been going to plan, but I feared she would move ahead of me soon.

Partway along the ridge Maria got ahead of me and I got stuck behind some runners. On top of the ridge there is an out and back section again, so you get to see many other runners coming back towards you and wish them well. I really like this and just about every runner gives you a smile and wishes you well. The camaraderie out on the trails is amazing.

On top of the ridge there was a gentleman playing a didgeridoo, the same gentleman who had welcomed up at the registration the night before. I didn’t stop to listen like last year, but I thanked him (both times I went past) and continued up to the turn around point hoping I would catch up to Maria again soon.

After the turn around point I eventually caught up to Maria and we headed down the slippery section off the Mountain and into the beautiful fields that greeted us at the bottom. Then it was onto some fire trail and up a large windy driveway which met the start of the Megalong Road. It’s a tough, continuous slog up that hill and every bend reveals another incline. So you just keep moving and pushing and praying it will end soon.

We got to the top and Maria started to run, I needed a minute to breath (or so my head was telling me) so I walked for a little while at the top before gathering myself and catching up to her again promising myself not to lose her yet.

Just before the checkpoint there was a professional photographer and we got some great shots (below).

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

CP3 at The Six Foot Track (11km to CP4) ETA 2.40pm

We arrived at CP3 at 1:48pm which was again 50 mins before our scheduled time and we could not locate my sister who was set to meet us there. I gave her a quick call and she was shocked to hear we had already arrived! She was just leaving the car and she sprinted up to meet us with food and clothing while we filled the water up in our packs.

My awesome trail running buddy Sarah-Jane was the first person I saw coming into the checkpoint and I have to thank her for the photo below. It was great to see a familiar face and seeing all the support crews waiting and cheering us into the checkpoint was such a lift!

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I changed into some warmer clothes and we chatted nervously to my sister who was so happy that we were progressing as well as we were. She told us we looked fresh and gave us a big hug before we headed out onto the trail again.

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We left the checkpoint after a 14 minute stop (longer than planned) but felt much better to be in warmer clothes. Maria and I both knew the next section of the course very well as it traveled along the Six Foot track, a trail we had raced and run many times. So we knew the joys of the HUGE stairs that awaited us at the foot of Nellie’s Glen.

Maria was looking strong and I was starting to fade a little. We ran together for a while and we collected and chatted to a lovely lady called Ellen who was from the Mountains (Glenbrook I think). Eventually we got ahead of Ellen and then I also had to let Maria go ahead of me. My head was telling me to walk (stupid brain). I was angry with myself for walking these flatish sections, but felt I needed the break to prepare myself for the 900+ muddy, uneven stairs that were coming up.

I ended up power walking with a gentleman who was doing his 6th TNF100 and another lady who was running it for the first time. We got to Nellie’s Glen together and I let them go ahead of me as I thought I would be quite slow on this section. Unfortunately I was right and soon I could not see them ahead of me, plus I got overtaken by some speedy runners who were doing some very heavy breathing as they went past. My friend Rob from Nike caught up to me at one stage too and we chatted for a while. He had taken a fall and was not doing too well, he wasn’t very optimistic about making it to the finish line, but I tried to change his mind and keep him positive.

To my surprise I caught up to a lady, but she was not in a good way and was vomiting on the side of the trail every 10-20 steps. I didn’t want to get to close for fear that it might make me feel sick too, but I kept an eye on her and talked to her to help her get up the stairs one at a time. Taking the focus off myself for this brief section seemed to make the time pass more quickly and before we knew it we were at the top of the stairs and celebrating!

It was about here that I realised how light the sky was. That might sound a bit silly, but at this point last year it had already gotten dark and I had needed my head torch to see the trail and stairs coming up the Glen. But today it felt like there was a lot more daylight left which really lifted my spirits as it reminded me I was well ahead of schedule.

At the top of the stairs there was a short section of trail followed by some road into the next checkpoint. As I ran along the street there were people out the front of their houses who cheered me on and wished me well, and I actually overtook some runners before I got to the checkpoint.

CP4 at Katoomba Aquatic Centre (21km to CP5) ETA 4.40pm

I arrived at CP4 at 3.55pm which was 45 minutes ahead of schedule, so I was still traveling quite consistently and on target to an 18 hour finish. Was that really possible!! I started cry…

My sisters smiley face was waiting to greet me as I came into the checkpoint and she helped me change and feed. I put on some dry clothes (thermal shirt) and picked up my AyUp headlamp (thanks Nigel). I also had some help from Sarah-Jane who came over to assist and got me moving and out the door again quickly to make the most of the daylight that was left.

I saw Maria just before she was leaving the checkpoint and I would have loved to leave with her but I still needed to eat! So off she went with my blessing and I stuffed some food down my gob. I think it was rice pudding and nutella sandwiches. I only stayed in this checkpoint for 12 minutes, much quicker than last year when I spent more than 20 mins here, and felt elated to be out the door with the sunlight still beaming through the trees.

How good was this!! I was so happy!! But this next section was one of the toughest parts of the course, full of stairs and I had bad memories of it last year when I had hobbled most of it in pain. But this year I was determined to run a lot of this section, even the stairs, and I really was feeling fantastic so I pushed it a little harder than I had all day.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

And eventually (to my surprise) I managed to catch up to Maria who I think had stopped for a toilet break. I was so happy to see her again! You can tell by the smile on our faces below.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

This section included some really pretty areas. We ran past Echo Point where you could hear runners being cheered over the finish line in the distance. The beautiful Leura Cascades where I had stopped many times for photos during training runs. There was also Lillians Bridge and Wentworth Falls but it had grown dark before we got to these and so the starry sky was now our only view.

There was a water point at 66km and we were delighted to see our friend Brad here to greet us with a smile. He had been following our progress after he had completed the 50km race earlier in the day (what a LEGEND!). I quickly made a toilet stop here, then grabbed some lollies and we got back out onto the trail again, into the darkness.

It was somewhere in this next section that I lost Maria again. She was still looking so strong and I was still struggling a little, so again I pushed her to go on ahead and kept moving my legs as fast as they would carry me.

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

This year there seemed to be much, much less stairs than last year. I don’t know why, but the mind does play tricks on you when you’re fatigued (and injured like last year). I kept moving at a consistent pace and hoped I would catch Maria at some point.

I was still feeling very positive about how I was travelling and even though the legs muscles were feeling tight I did another check of my body and was feeling much better than I had expected to feel at this point. I had changed into different shoes at the last checkpoint and so was enjoying the luxury of the extra foam in my Hoka One One.

When I eventually reached the end of the trail and hit the road section which I knew took me down into checkpoint 5, I started to cry. Last year I had started to cry at the same spot but for a totally different reason. This year I was still running, and I promised myself to run all the way down the hill and into the next checkpoint. And I did.

CP5 at Queen Victoria Hospital (22km to Finish) ETA 8.20pm

I sobbed my way into CP5 at 8.06pm which meant I was still on track to finish in under 18 hours, it felt like my dream was still within reach. Some of my beautiful Sydney Strider friends were waiting at this checkpoint for their runners and they cheered me in very loudly. Leonor and Margaret had a hilarious sign that said “F**k the wall” and I agreed!

Shelley and Brad greeted me with big smiles and were excited at how well I was doing. They told me that Maria had only just left the checkpoint before I arrived and I was thrilled to hear she was doing so well, she would definitely crack the 18 hour target. How exciting!

We got me into some more dry clothes and I put my CHeBA (UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing) singlet over the top of my thermal. I had been raising funds through this event to help Dementia research, as my grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and the singlet reminded me of her and would push me through the hard parts of the next section of the course.

I then scoffed down some noodles that I had been craving too and got myself moving again before I got too cold (and comfortable)!

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Finish at Scenic World ETA 12.15am

I spent 16 minutes at CP5 which wasn’t too bad considering all that I got done and in the back of my mind I was trying to calculate whether or not I had a chance of making the finish within our original 18hr goal time. I headed out into the darkness up the hill towards the start of Kedumba. Kedumba is a 10km downhill section that would tear up your quads and knees if you let it. I had promised myself that I would run down all of this section and despite having some knee pain I stuck to that plan all the way, passing many runners as I did so. It felt pretty good to be moving past people and keep the legs ticking over, and it also meant that I kept warm.

Mos of the downhill here looks the same, wide fire trail with trees either side. There are a few small concrete sections but not very much.

I reached the clearing at the bottom of the mountain at 11.05pm and there was a water stop at the 91km mark. This meant that I had about 1.5 hrs to get to the finish line. It was do-able, but there was a lot of up hill to come so I would need to keep moving, no walking.

Here a girl called Ellen caught up to me, we had met earlier on the trail, and we chatted some more as I sat in behind her and just tried to keep up. We were moving at a pretty decent pace (or so I thought) and this section of the trail was  very muddy and tricky in some parts. I managed to stick with Ellen all the way to the bottom of Furber steps where I proclaimed to her that I had 20 mins to get to the finish line within 18 hrs. She moved aside and I shot up past her to push myself and use up every last bit of energy I had. My breathing got really heavy and so did the legs, but I wasn’t going to slow down now, I was too close and had come too afr to give up now. A gentleman moved aside to let me past and nicknamed me “Darth Vader’ due to the sounds that were coming out of my mouth (not the first time hey Damon, ha ha). They seemed to be a bit longer than I remembered.

When I reached the top near the boardwalk I was completely out of breath and thought I still had about 1km to go. As I looked at my watch I saw there was roughly 5-6 minutes till 18 hours and my head dropped as I feared that I wasn’t going to make it.

But to my surprise as i rounded the next corner the finish line was only 50 metres away and I sprinted over the line with the biggest smile on my face! I had done it. I had come back and finished the 100km course in 17 hours 55 minutes!!

The North Face 100 2015

The North Face 100 2015

Getting to bthat finish line is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It had taken me 18= months of training and preparation, but I had finally beaten the TNF100 course. I did not let it beat me a second time! It just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how big they are or how far away they might feel at time, just keep striving and learning and planning and you’ll get there. Never give up! Here’s a pic of me holding my Bronze Buckle which is given to everyone who completes the course in under 20 hours.

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And for all the statistics lovers, here are some more numbers for you:

Distance: 100km

Elevation Gain: 4,308m

Rank: 546th overall (out of 840), 95th Female (out of 187), 45th in my age group (out of 75)

The above results do not take into account the large amount of people who withdrew from the race on the day (DNF). There were actually 1,126 Entrants who toed the start line on Saturday morning but only 840 people who actually finished the race. That means 25% of people who ran did not make it to the finish line, a true testament of how tough this race really is.

So if you include all of the runners who started the race then my ranks looks more like this:

Overall: 546th out of 1126

Female: 95th out of 249

Age Group: 45th out of 102

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Now I must say a big thank you to my beautiful sister (pictured with me above on race day) who was not only there for me at this race, but has always been my support crew and motivator at every big race in my life. It has meant the world to me and I will be forever grateful.

Thanks Shelley!

And a big thanks also goes to the generous people who have have supported my running and helped me raise over $5,000 to help UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). They are:

Kristian, Ganesh, Leah, Don, Sharon, The Tracey Family, Keira, Brendan, Lisa, Rebecca, Anonymous, Carol, Duncan, Anonymous, Matt, Kelly, The Roland Family, Joyce, Angela, Claire, Toni, The Hall Family, Sam, Anonymous & Anonymous

If you would like to donate to Dementia research through CHeBA you had better do it quickly here: https://cheba2.everydayhero.com/au/haileyrunstnf100

 

Happy Running 😀

The Shire Amazing Race

On Friday 20th March I hit the gym (Shire PTC) for a X-fit class. I have never done a X-fit class so my arms took a bit of a hammering, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s good to push yourself and try new things every now and again.

After the session the owner of the gym came around and asked if anyone was interested in taking part in the Shire Amazing Race the next day, as a team had pulled out so there were 12 spots to fill. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, I’d actually looked it up online a few weeks ago but couldn’t afford the entry. And after some discussions with my new friend Leonie (we met that night in class) and the gym owner we were signed up!

Leonie and I met up to register before the race and chatted nervously about what we thought might come up on the days travels. We tried to guess obstacles and had a bit of a game plan thought out, god knows if it would help.

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We saw some other entrants from Shire PTC and chatted to them before the race,and I also ran into Sonia (from Runlab) who was teamed up with Jo, a girl I used to play volleyball with. Such a small world!

The organisers did their introductions and for the warm up (Challenge 1) we all stood up and did Zumba, my friend Erita would have loved it!!

Then the countdown was on and the organisers hurried around to hand out the Hint papers with all our clues. We were entered in the ‘social’ category so we only had to complete 16 of the 20 Challenges to finish, plus we had paid $20 (donation to Enough is Enough charity) to get a ‘Pass’ for 1 challenge, so that meant we only needed to tick of 15 things from our list, and that we did.

We had a out photo taken with the captain of the Cronulla Ferry. we played OzTag on the Tonkin Oval. We took consecutive selfies of us with a race official, with a lifesaver ring & with a monument monument. We visited the local coffee shop to get a ‘cup’ which had to be used to bury one of you in the sand (we skipped this one as it was sprinkling with rain and we both didn’t want to get sandy, ha ha)

As we ran to the next challenge we saw it meant getting into the cold water, to swim and paddle a few laps before carrying the board around Cronulla for a lap. we skipped this on too!!

The next stop was the Rydges Hotel pool which was full of small plastic balls with team names on them. You had to locate your team name. I jumped into the pool and it was only waist height, I thought it would be the quickest way to find our ball but it turns out we were looking for the wrong ball (we didn’t find that out until after the finish!!). The race official saw how long we had been looking for the ball and showed us some leniency, thank you whoever you are because otherwise we would have been there all day!

We ran out of the hotel and down the stairs towards the beach where a Red Bull tent was setup and we were given a riddle which would help us crack the safe which was locked on the table. After phoning a friend and watching some other people we eventually got the safe open and we were off to our next challenge.

Most of the time we ran in between Pitstops (challenges) and the next stop was for a 3 minute spin session at Fitness First, which they filmed and asked us silly questions while we were out of breath and struggling. It was very funny.

And my favourite was next. We got to go inside an Orb ball and run/roll down the hill and back up again while battling the side winds and wet conditions. I wish we could have done a few laps in this thing as it was awesome. Also sponsored by Runlab, woohoo!

pUp next were the Bouncy Spring shoes (see picture below) we had to wear for a lap around a small course. I think I laughed the whole way around, they were good fun too.

SAR 2

 

We ran along the beach towards the south of Cronulla again and I bumped into my friend Amanda along the way, she was out doing her long weekend run – Go Amanda!

The next Pitstop was for a Water bucket puzzle challenge which we had some help from also, the other teams were so helpful. Thank you!

Next up was the obstacle course with Omar and the crew from Shire PTC. We had to take our shoes and socks off, jump into a potato sack and jump around a course while holding hands and not dropping the sack. You then had to slide along amat covered in water and soap suds, down a hill under a low netting which was heaps of fun. I laughed and got suds in my mouth! Then one of you was blindfolded and the other person had to guide you y voice around some cones and to the finish. We did this relatively fast and it was a lot of fun. Thanks Omar and crew 🙂

We got our dry clothes back on and headed south again for the next Pitstop. This challenge included counting a large staircase and then taking off 58 from the amount of stairs. If you got the answer right you proceeded to the next challenge.

Up next was a paddle in a large Outrigger, and it turned out that Leonie knew some of the ladies on duty and had paddled with them years ago. Small world. I had never done anything like this so really enjoyed the team row and trip out and around the bay even though it was cold and rainy.

Next we made our way back up to the Memorial Park and we had to climb (hang) our way along a rope, then perform some martial arts, and then finally get together with a huge group to solve a card puzzle that was 8 x 8 tiles. When we all worked together it was very quickly solved, go team!

Our last stop was at the Library for a short questionnaire (and chocolate) then we made our way running back to the Start area. Along the way I got some cheers from a running friend Jarrod, so funny that he should spot me out of all the entrants in our yellow shirts. Thanks for the cheers Jarrod!

We got to the line in 14th place (out of 79) which i think is fantastic!! Leonie was a lot of fun and I was so glad we had decided to give it a try. Maybe next year we can be in the ‘competitive’ group 😉

The event was so well run and the volunteers were fantastic. I was very impressed with the organisation of the event and am so glad to hear they raised a huge amount for their charity – Enough is Enough. What a fantastic event!

SAR 3

Thanks again Leonie! 😀

Tramping the Routeburn Track

I woke to the alarm at 5:45am feeling very tired and groggy. I felt like I had just gone to sleep. I needed more sleep, but unfortunately there was no time to get it now. I got up, had a shower, scoffed down some breakfast and headed to the reception desk to check out and meet my bus.

Bruce our driver was a chatty man and I felt sorry that he got stuck with me as I just couldn’t find my words that morning. The body was aching and my brain was not functioning yet. We left Te Anau and picked up some other people along the way, but none of them were going to The Divide, the start of the Routeburn track for me today.

We stopped to let a lady out who lives at Glades House on Milford, she was going to trek over the Dove Pass which we had spotted while on the Milford Track a few days ago, crazy if you ask me but she was obviously an experienced hiker. There was another girl from Poland and one from the Netherlands, they were nice to chat to.

Day 1 – Walk to Mackenzie Hut, 12km

It was pouring rain when they dropped me at The Divide, so I shuffled under the shelter to get my wet weather gear out and convinced another hiker to stand in the rain and take my photo at the start.

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The first thing I noticed, aside from the torrential rain, was the technical trail and how steep it was. Underfoot was very rocky and slippery so moving was quite slow on my already tired legs. I’m sure there would have been some beautiful views that day as I spent a lot of it above the treelike, but unfortunately the clouds were blocking the view. I stayed positive and added the uphill side trip to Summit Walk, however the rain just got heavier and the wind picked up so I didn’t stay at the top for very long.

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The walk was very tough this day, but so beautiful. The rainforest was a beautiful green colour and the rocks underneath my feet were all the colours of the rainbow. I noticed because I was looking down a lot, trying to make sure that I didn’t trip over.

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I passed a hut within the first few kms and there was a little lake just next to it which looked very pretty. There was nobody around to chat with so I kept moving.

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I went past several streams and waterfalls, and some very wet sections of the trail. In some parts there was water gushing over the path and you had no choice but to step into and through the water. I had given up trying to keep my socks dry and trudged through making it fun by splashing about. How old am i again? ha ha

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There was also a giant worm on my trail, check it out – even looks big next to my size 8 trail shoes!! (below)

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Eventually I came to a large waterfall that had a detour for flood’ sign, however I decided to take the trail next the waterfall and chance it. As I was about to start a young girl came out smiling and laughing in front of me, we started chatting and she said that I should definitely go past the waterfall. She said she got soaked but it was the most fun she’d had in ages. So off I went being very careful with my footing and she was right. I was giggling like a school girl and had so much fun getting soaked and cried with happiness, life was good. The photo below does not do it any justice but it was a moment in time I will never forget.

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I’m so glad I had gone that way and not chickened out and taken the detour, a risk that paid off thankfully.

I passed a lot of hikers going the opposite way on this trip yet somehow felt more alone than ever, which made me sad at first, and then brave. The trekking was quite hard through this section as there were lots of technical slippery sections to brake your ankles or knees on, but it was like a scene from a movie or postcard. Breathtaking.

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I caught up to a lady called Jane who was from Perth and she was going even slower than I was, being very careful. We also saw a (rude) lady come flying past us without responding to a word we said, which was very strange as most people on the trail at least say ‘hi’ and most stop to have a chat and ask you about your journey. Oh well, her loss.

Eventually I got to Lake Mackenzie (pictured below) and I was very glad to see it as I had been getting colder and colder despite my efforts to speed up. My hands were freezing inside my wet gloves.

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I scored a bed upstairs and chatted to Jane as she arrived just behind me. I removed my wet gear and hung some inside the hut and some outside under the awning. The dry clothes felt amazing. I grabbed some food and went downstairs to fuel the body and score a nice spot near the fire to thaw out. My stomach had been grumbling on the trail too, but it was too wet to stop and put my pack down so I had my late lunch at the hut when I got there.

I chatted to some really nice ladies who were travelling in the opposite direction to me. I also got chatting to Marg and Ken from Canada who were lovely. Marg and I ended up chatting for hours, then I took some time to catch up on my journal.

Dinner was good and filled the belly very nicely, along with the red wine….. such a nice luxury to have and it would send me right off to sleep later. In fact, I missed the ranger talk this night as I was really starting to feel exhausted, the body was starting to show signs on tiredness and I thought an early night with some extra sleep would be perfect. My calves felt like they were on fire just to touch them and my body had chafe in places it never had before.

The next day was another tough 11+km  of mostly uphill so it was nighty night for me.

Day 2 – Walk to Falls Hut, 11.3km

I woke many times during the night, once for a toilet trip and many due to snoring Suzie above me. Somehow I had developed a knack for choosing beds below snoring people, great!

As soon as it got light I was up and I realised that I had not once yet used an alarm during my treks, funny that. It was raining again and very cloudy which meant visibility would be poor and probably no views for this most picturesque section of the trail. Oh well, I would find the beauty in whatever came my way.

I said goodbye to the lake and gathered all of my belongings. I said farewell to my friends and we exchanged contact emails with the promise to keep in touch and to visit if we were ever in the others country, maybe one day I should visit Canada.

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Todays trek started with a large hill through what the girls had called the ‘Fairy Garden’ and that’s exactly what it looked like. It was beautiful and green and felt somehow magical.

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On the way up the first hill the views back down to the lake weren’t too bad, see below.

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And of course another shameless selfie below, getting soaked and still smiling.

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The trail was not as technical as the previous day. The trail wound up and around the mountain and I came across many runners and walkers going the opposite direction, all of them stopping to exchange a few words and encouragements.

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A man called Bernard came blazing up from behind me and we chatted a while. He told me there was a side trail coming up called Conical Hill which was about a 1 hour return trip up a hill and back. Thankfully we had somewhere to drop our packs, Saddle Hut, and then we made our way up the hill into the clouds. I’m so glad that we made the side trip as the views were spectacular!

The hidden lake was eerily beautiful amidst the mountains and the grey sky, beautiful. The weather was incredibly windy at the top of the hill (I almost got blown over a few times) and the trail was very steep and slippery, but I struggled up feeling very thankful to be there.

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There was even snow on some of the peaks of the mountains so that gives you an idea of how cold it was in this place, although I kept pretty warm on this day and thankfully did not get too wet. It was grey but I was smiling from ear to ear. Being in this beautiful place is hard to describe and the emotions you feel sometimes do not have words.

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It was a slow trip back down the mountain and into the valley. I ran into Jane at the hut and a few other people from Melbourne. I made use of the toilet back at the hut and got some food and water into me. Bernard had said farewell and trekked on ahead of me as he had a longer journey ahead of him than I did, and I was thankful for the silence again.

The views along the next section were spectacular. The lake, a huge waterfall that went down the valley and followed the path next to me was beautiful. I can see how this route had become so popular, as it has more view points than Milford.

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I went down the last rocky section past a small waterfall (pictured above) and onto the hut (pictured below). I got some dry clothes on to warm up and had a ‘trail shower’. I felt very refreshed and warm after that, but the legs were still struggling.

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I then gobbled down my food in the kitchen/dining hut (pictured below) and took a seat next to the window which looked out over the valley below, the route we would be taking on the final day of the trek. I ate so much of my food, I had been starving again and didn’t stop for long to eat, just kept moving to keep warm.

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I sat and chatted with Tina from Germany (left most in below photo), Asheem from the USA and Jane who i’d previously met and chatted with (far right in below photo) and played cards.

We were all travelling solo and we got on really well. We even won a game that night which was run by the ranger. You had to guess as many of the languages written on the quilt (second picture below) and we ended up with more than anybody else so we got the chocolate bar. Jane and myself had already gone to bed by the time they had chosen the winner, so Tina brought us some chocolate to have in bed and the rest was shared around to the other hikers.

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My dinner was a dehydrated chicken tikka masala and it wasn’t too bad. I washed it down with the last of my wine and felt very sleepy. My bunk had a view of the valley (pictured below) so I put it to good use and then hit the sack. Only one more day to go.

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Day 3 – Walk to end of Routeburn Track, 9km

I woke feeling quite sad as it would be my last day trekking. But the smile soon grew on my face when I realised that a long hot shower and decent food would be on the agenda for tonight. I’d woken to the usual hustling of people inside the hut and felt like I’d actually got a decent amount of sleep the night before. I was restless during the night but there was no sign of a snoring person underneath me. Finally!!

I has breakfast (horrible dehydrated, powdery scrambled eggs that made me want to vomit!) with Jane and Asheem while Tina was still sleeping. I had a black coffee which I’d grown accustomed to but didn’t really enjoy. I was craving milk. That’s right, fresh, delicious milk and made a mental note to pick some up when I got back into town. Asheem was heading the opposite direction to the rest of us girls, and both Jane & Tina were on an earlier bus than I was so I had plenty of time up my sleeve.

I packed up my things in the top bunk and couldn’t believe that I had been living out of this pack for the past week. Pretty awesome to think that everything you need you can carry was in one backpack.

And it was still raining so on with the wet weather gear (again!). I stood on the balcony (pictured above) and took in one last mental image of the view into the valley and chatted to some other hikers making their way out onto the trail too.

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There were some huge boulders going down the trail today and it was very slippery and wet. As like the other days I stopped to take in the views a few times and they did not disappoint.

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I got to Routeburn flats (pictured below) within 30 minutes and the time on the board had said 1 hour, so I must have been moving well again. I felt pretty cold so I went fast to try and keep warm. The rain was drizzling so I didn’t stop to take too many pictures.

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These huge boulders were scattered along the waterways and the one pictured below is about 2 storeys in height!!

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I crossed a few bridges and the running water sounds filled the air all morning. Speak of water, at one stage I was busting to go to the toilet and was getting worried that I might have to remove my gear and make a side trip into the bush, but just as I was about to get desperate there in front of me was a toilet. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was out there in the middle of nowhere, no hut in sight, just a toilet all by itself in the woods. Perfect placement if you asked me as I was bursting!

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I slowed down for the last section as I had plenty of time and wanted to spend as much of it on the trail as possible, even though my legs were aching. How often would I get to do this, hardly ever, so I was going to soak it up for all it was worth.

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Most of the days journey was downhill and the poles came in super handy again, they had been a lifesaver really. I don’t think my legs would have coped at all if I did not have them. And I finally made it to the end of the trail (pictured below) and it sure did put a smile on my face.

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There was a little shelter for me to sit and wait for my bus, so I chatted to other hikers who were doing the same. It was just after midday when I arrived. I finished off the rest of my food (which wasn’t very much) and chatted to 2 girls from Israel and 2 guys from Canada. They made the time pass quickly and before I knew it my 2pm bus pick up had arrived.

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The bus trip back to Queenstown included a short stop in Glenorchy for people to grab a quick drink/food if needed. But i was feeling so exhausted that I stayed in the bus and had a power nap. Not that it did much good as 2 noisey americans got on the bus and talked at the top of their lungs!! Seriously, they could see that I was trying to sleep too. Just rude! ha ha

We got back on the road after about 20 minutes and soon I was back in Queenstown where I had a 10 minute walk to my hotel (Nomads Hostel). I was booked into a ‘King Room’ and it was lovely, had a balcony and all. The shower was heaven! I’m not sure how long I stayed in there but it was divine!

After wallowing in the shower for what seemed like an eternity I dressed in some non-trekking style warm clothes and headed out the door for some real soon and some milk. I took myself to Patagonia and had a chocolate milkshake with cookies and cream then took myself across to the pub (view from the pub at dinner below) and had Beef Wellington, which I also washed down with 2 pints of beer. The beer went straight to my head (ha ha) and the food was amazing!

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It had been a very busy and strenuous couple of weeks and it was starting to hit me physically. I felt very tired after dinner so I headed back to the hotel and packed my gear up ready for my flight home the next day. Once packed I put on my pj’s and watched some telly while catching up on writing my journal.

I was very much looking forward to going home and seeing my beautiful family and friends, but the misty mountains have left me wanting more and more, so i will be back one day soon and hopefully with the hubby this time.

Wishing you safe travels 🙂

Tramping the Milford Track

I’m not sure what I wast thinking when I organised my New Zealand trip all those many months ago, but apparently I thought all I needed were 2 days rest after the marathon before my legs would be recovered enough to walk the Milford Track Unguided. I was wrong.

And what is Tramping I hear you say? It’s the New Zealand word for trekking.

So on Tuesday 24th February 2015 I woke up at 5.30am, had a light breakfast (banana & coffee) and packed all my gear into my backpack and suitcase. The suitcase had all the things I would not need on the trail, and luckily I could store it at the hostel for the week I would be tramping. Although i was a little worried about how secure the storage room would be as they gave the key away to any guests without much questioning. I stored the suitcase and gathered my things. I put on my backpack and it didn’t feel too bad (yet!) then headed outside to meet my bus. It had been raining, the first rain I had seen in my time in New Zealand, so I’d been pretty lucky so far. I headed to the Kiwi Discovery store where Sarah took our names and made sure we got onto the right buses. i chatted to a couple from the UK and another gentleman, they were heading to Milford Sound for a cruise, it seemed I was the only hiker getting on this bus. The bus left and we picked up some other people from different hotels, but none of the people who got in had big packs like mine so I figured I was the only hiker 😦

I was feeling a little nervous about doing this trip solo, but the company I booked with assured me that the track was very well signposted and i would be very safe. So I tried to remove the negative thoughts from my mind and started to get really excited about the adventure ahead. It had been a dream of mine for a long time to walk the Milford Track and now I was finally on my way!!

The bus went past Frankton and Fairlight where the old steam train used to travel, and the drive gave us great commentary on the local area and it’s history. It was very cloudy the whole way, but we didn’t get any more rain. It was mesmerizing to look out the window and see the ever changing landscape that surrounded us. The 2 hour journey went relatively quickly and i was dropped off in Te Anau Terminal where I had second breakfast of bacon, eggs, mushrooms, hash brown and a real coffee. It would be a while before I got to have food like this again so I made the most of it. I finished up my breakfast and wandered around the tourist shop although i did not want to buy anything or it meant I had to carry it for the next week!

Once I had wasted some time at the Terminal I began my slow walk to the Department of Conservation (DOC) Hut where I had to collect my Hut tickets and meet my next bus for the trip to Te Anau Downs. It took me about 15-20 minutes to walk there, a beautiful walk beside the lake, and i stopped to watch sea planes and boats going about their day. My pack felt awfully heavy and i wondered if there was anything that I could part with permanently, but unfortunately there was not so I just had to grin and bear it. I arrived at the DOC and the lady behind the counter was very helpful, she also recommended I buy their $9 heavy-duty water-proof plastic bag to put inside my pack to protect my sleeping bags and clothing, and after having heard that the Milford gets 300 days of rainfall per year I decided to take her up on that offer. There would be nothing worse than getting a wet sleeping bag or having no dry clothes!

I wandered around the lake and took a few photos, visited the ladies room and then sat down to re-pack my bag with the new heavy-duty plastic lining bag. When I finished that I had a snack and caught up with writing this journal. I met another hiker called Daniel who would be tramping Milford at the same time as me and he offered me a lift to the ferry instead of the bus, and of course i declined this offer (how stupid to you think I am Mum? ha ha). I also met a another gentleman called Lee who had just come from the Keplar track and I quizzed him on what it was like and a thousand other hiking questions.

I still had another 1.5 hrs to kill and I was getting very bored, but eventually more hikers came along to wait for the bus and we all got chatting about where we were from and the destinations we were headed for. 5 of the others were heading for the same place as me and it was great to chat to them and feel like I wasn’t going to be alone out there. The bus pulled up right on time and we made the 25 minute journey to Te Anau Downs to meet the ferry.

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Once onboard the ferry I met a lovely young couple Amanda and Chris, Chris’s whole family (it seemed) were travelling the Milford with them too. I also ran into Daniel who I met earlier at the DOC and I introduced him to my new friends. We all chatted happily as the excitement rose the closer we got to end of the ferry trip.

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Day 1 – Walk to Clinton Hut, 5km, 1-1.5 hrs

The ferry trip took about an hour and the unguided walkers (us) were allowed off the boat before the guided walkers (woohoo). Of course we all stopped and got photos next to the sign at the start of the track (below) and then headed on our way through the trees. Today’s walk was only very short compared to the rest, a nice way to ease ourselves into the journey.

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Milford Track

 

It was about this point that I felt the full weight of my pack and starting to get worried about whether or not i would be able to carry it for the whole week. I adjusted the straps and moved it around until it felt a bit better then kept moving on my way. I walked and chatted with Amanda and Daniel, and Chris’ parents and we took lots of photos, but most of mine all look the same!

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We reached our first bridge and river crossing, which was just after the guided walkers hut and it was much more solid than I had been anticipating, thank goodness!

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We laughed a lot and chatted about selfie sticks and other happy travels and we hung out for a short break on the pebbly beach we came across (below). The water was freezing but that didn’t stop a few people fro putting there feet in. We noticed how bad the sandflies were and applied more and more repellent to help combat the enemy.

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We also made another side trip to the Wetland boardwalk which was very educational, but I didn’t get any good pictures here. I also ran into a lovely man from Tokyo who had run the 30km Shotover race a couple of days before, and we chatted about the course and how we both went. I thought it was amazing that he had the same idea to do Milford too.

After months of planning I was finally walking the Milford Track – how exciting!!

The next stop was Clinton Hut (below) which would be our place of rest for the night. There were 3 main buildings, 1 kitchen and dining area, and 2 huts with bunk beds that slept about 20 people in each. I chose the first one on the left and as I’d got in last I was left with the top bunk right next to the door. It was right next to a window (with no curtain) and the door, but it would have to do.

Clinton Hut

After setting up my bedding arrangements I put on some warmer clothes and grabbed my dinner supplies. We then met the delightful Ranger Ross, a very tall skinny man who had been semi-retired and doing this job for over 11 years. He looked just how you picture a bush range to look. Ross took us on a Nature Walk and it was fantastic!! I won’t go into detail here as I’d hate to give away his secrets, but make sure you do the Nature walk with Ross if you’re ever on the Milford Track, and if you take him a bottle of Scotch he will be your friend forever!!

At about 5.30pm I headed over to the kitchen dining hut (far right building in above pic) and prepared my dehydrated spaghetti bolognese (below), and I must say that it didn’t taste too bad. I mean, it wasn’t great but it would do. It had to.

Rehydrated dinner - spaghetti

It was pretty early to be having dinner but I was quite hungry and tired from the days journey. I had my dinner with Lee, Daniel and 3 veterinarians from Canada who had actually packed and carried red wine with them and they offered to me to have with my dinner. I was very tempted, but could not bring myself to drink what they had carried in by themselves. I also made a mental note to pack wine on my next hiking trip.

As soon as we started to lose light i decided to hit the hay, I was feeling pooped after getting up at 5.30am that morning. I put in my ear plugs and got as comfortable as i could, but it turned out to be a very sleepless night.

Day 2 – Walk to Mintaro Hut, 16.5km

After a restless night I got up to go to the bathroom and when I got back to my bunk I decided to grab all my belongings and head to the main kitchen hut for breakfast and to get my pack organised. I didn’t want to be nosey rustling around in my bag in the hut.

Once I got my gear organised I gave myself a trail shower (cleansing wipes, face washer and water style) and got into some clean clothes. I had a breakfast bar, black coffee and a banana.  It had rained a lot the night before so we were expecting a wet day.

I saw a Kia (see picture below)) as I set off half way through the group so that I had people in front and behind me. The people in front clear all the spiders away and the people behind will find me if anything happens or I get hurt. That was my philosophy.

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My bag hurt my shoulders from the moment I out it on, but I adjusted the straps a few times and it started to feel better. Actually it didn’t feel better, but it didn’t seem to get any worse. I walked casually along the trail and could feel my calves burning even though this section was relatively flat. It might be a tough day….

Ranger ross has told us to keep an eye out along the trail for the red telephone box that was inside the tree (see picture below) and I managed to spot it even though it was off the trail a little and tucked away hiding. It’s weird to think that they used to have a phone line along this trail, but it would have been very helpful to them before all the modern day technology that we have today.

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We crossed small bridges and lots of rocky areas. It rained gently for the first half of the walk which meant that there were lots of waterfalls surrounding the valley we walked through.

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I have never walked alone so much. I cried, I sang and I took in all of the surroundings of the area. It felt surreal being out there in the middle of nowhere with all your belongings on your back, everything you needed right there with you. I came to a calm state and thankfully began to feel very relaxed despite the cold, wet conditions.

I went to the hidden lake (see pictures below), The Prairie and stopped for morning tea at the Hraire Hut near the river. The river was crystal clear and you could see the large fish swimming down the stream unaware of us looming overhead. The rain had eased a little and a cheeky little finch came down to say ‘hi’.

The pictures I took below were my first ever try at using a selfie stick! ha ha

View thru valley near hidden lake

Hidden Lake

 

I saw lots of birds along the trail, they were not scared of me much at all and it was really lovely being so close to these birds out in the wild.

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The mountains around me were covered in clouds and fog so I was’t able to see the mountain tops.

Crossing a slipway - do not stop

View to St Quintin Falls

Rainforest

 

I walked using my poles and felt some discomfort/chaffing on my left hip so kept adjusting the straps on my bags to ease the pain. I realised that my straps kept coming loose so I made a mental note to keep adjusting them and try to make them stick in the same spot my tying them close to the top, but that didn’t seem to work which was annoying.

I kept walking and it got steeper and steeper. My calves were really hurting by now and the hills were not helping. I kept plodding on and couldn’t help but smile being in such a beautiful place. I remember thinking how lovely it would be to run in this area and considered ditching my pack for a while to run ahead on the track and back, but I didn’t really feel like I had the energy and my legs may have gotten angrier with me.

As I was going up the last hill I ran into 2 Rangers who were heading out to do some repair work to the track. We chatted a little and then parted as I kept moving up the hill towards the next hut. I passed the turn off for the Guided walkers hut and heard a helicopter taking off in the clearing not far from the trail. It sounded weird hearing something so mechanical in the middle of nowhere, but also reassuring that they could get to us if it was needed.

The last hill was very steep and it took all my energy and the last of my strength to get there. But I ended up getting to the Mintaro Hut (see pictures below) with only 3 people ahead of me. This was great news as it meant I had a better choice for a bed this time, woohoo!!

Mintaro Hut

Mintaro Hut 2

 

There were 3 rooms to choose from, so i chose the one that did not have my snoring friend from the night before and prayed that the 2 guys already in this room would be non-snorers. I sat down and got my gear organised, changed into some warmer clothes and made myself a hot chocolate. I chatted to lots of other hikers as they came in and realised that I’d just about met everyone in our group now. There were only 2 people that seemed to get on everyone else’s nerves, an American couple who were loud and very inconsiderate of others when it came to all matters.

The guys got the fire cranking as I put on more layers of clothes and wrote in my journal beside the fire to warm up. I spent the afternoon resting and recovering as the next day would be our biggest climb up to the Pass and then a huge descent into the valley to the next hut. We all hoped the weather would clear for tomorrow’s hike which was supposed to be the most beautiful part of the trail.

The Ranger gave us a talk at 7:30pm but it was nothing like Ross. This guy was a young English lad from the UK who had been here for 6 months. I sat and chatted to a couple from Israel, they were lovely and taught me how to play an Israeli game called Yanniv. We had some others join us and Bar taught me to play another game called Shithead. There were a lot of laughs and it passed the time quickly. Some of the hikers decided to walk up to the Pass late in the afternoon when the sun came out but I decided to keep resting the legs and pray for good weather the next day.

For dinner I had dehydrated Teriyaki Beef and I added some rice to bulk it up a little as the meal the night before had not really been enough. I was so glad to have bought the rice as a back up if I got hungry. I ate my 2 carrots raw as i couldn’t be bothered cooking them and after dinner I read through a large wooden book kept in the hut and learnt more about the Milford track.

Amanda came and asked me if I’d like to play cards with her family so I went over to join them, apparently they were quite competitive and I was to expect a tough game. We had so much fun!! It was a real hoot playing cards with the Maclean family that night and the title of the game was very fitting, Scum! ha ha

Before bed I went to visit the ladies and when I looked up at the sky it was clear as ever and filled with thousands and thousands of stars. It was breathtaking. I’m not sure how long I stood there for but it was something I’ll never forget. Beautiful.

Day 3 – Walk to Dumpling Hut, 14km

I don’t think I got much sleep during the night, but I think I did get more than the night before which was something. When the early birds in my room got up I decided it was time to rise and shine too. I had my ‘trail’ shower and got into some clean clothes and then had some breakfast, the same as the day before. I was a little jealous of the hot breakfasts that people around me were having and made a mental note to take something similar for the next hike.

Todays hike would be the toughest one and so I ate a little more than most mornings. I got my pack on and headed for the trail with only a few hikes in front of me. I was feeling pretty tired but was happy to see the sky was clearing and hoped it would be even brighter when we got up to the pass. The rainforest was green and vibrant and the birds were singing all along the trail.

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I caught up to a Canadian couple I had met that morning while having breakfasting hiked with them for the next section. We also ended up hiking with couple from Canberra (Penny and ?) who were experts on the trail and really great conversation. The time flew by having their company and before we knew it we were at the Mackinnon Pass.

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It’s hard to describe how I felt up there being so high and surrounded by beautiful mountains. The endless views and blue sky really took my words away. I took a lot of photos up here and they don’t do it any justice.

We were so lucky that the weather had cleared and I honestly felt blessed just standing there.  Check it out below

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I had a quick snack while I was at the top here too and made sure I had plenty of water as I had;’t really f=drunk enough the day before and felt a bit dehydrated when I woke that morning. I put my pack back on and climbed up another section to the highest point of the trail.

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The little pockets of water on the tops of the pass were still and reflected gorgeous mountain tops in them. There were some snow capped peaks, including Mount Elliott. This was such incredible place, I felt on top of the world – literally!

I stopped at a hut on top of the mountain and made a cup of black coffee and had some more snacks. we used the ‘Loo with a view’ (see below picture) which looked back down towards the valley where we had walked that morning and the previous day. Amazing!

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The temperature had dropped up here so I applied some more layers, I put on some gloves and my beanie too. But I ended up removing them only a little while down the trail as it got warm and we were exposed to the sun for most of the rest of the hike that day. I hiked by myself for the rest of the day, over taking a few people along the way. i enjoyed the quiet time.

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I went on a swimming bridge over the Clinton River and eventually got to the Roaring Burn (see pictures below), a large waterfall that was really loud and powerful (as the name suggests). I walked down some wooden steps on the side of the mountain beside the waterfall and it was gorgeous!

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Eventually we got to a cluster of huts where there was a day shelter for us to use and I ran into Seth who had just got back from the Sutherland Falls. This was an out and back section and a chance to walk without my pack!! I gladly dropped my pack and had some food and water, then made my way out the door towards the trail for the Sutherland Falls. It was so nice not to be wearing my pack that I decided to run this section and it felt amazing to be moving with a but more speed again.

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I cruised along the trail with my poles all the way to the falls and the spray at the bottom of the falls was very refreshing after the short run. Check out the falls pictured below.

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I sat on the rocks for a while and took in the view then got up and ran my way back to the shelter to collect my pack. I saw lots of other hikers on my way back and they nick named me Speedy Gonzales – that was a first! ha ha

When I got back to the shelter I didn’t waste any time. I grabbed some water and put on my pack heading for the next hut which was apparently only an hour away, but I thought I could get there quicker. Challenge accepted. I did it in 40 minutes. It was a lovely downhill section, very rocky and rainforest and beautiful.

I dumped my pack in the first hut with a nice couple who I hadn’t roomed with before and they told me of their hikes on other mountains all over New Zealand. I certainly was learning a lot this trip and already wanted to come back and do more.

 

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As I chatted to them I notice my calves were aching. They actually felt bruised all over and were sore to touch. I think they were even swollen. Not good. The couple mentioned a nearby waterhole (see below pictures) so I decided to pout on my shorts and head down to give my legs a dip in the cold (freezing) water to help ease the muscles.

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My legs felt so much better after the dip, it was heaven. The water had been bitterly cold, but I lasted about 3 minutes before it got too much. Some people actually went all in and i’m not sure how they did it.

Tonight was our last night on the trail and we had a 6 hour walk ahead of us tomorrow. I decided to have a nap and then hopefully wake refreshed and ready to make a plan for the next day.

Unfortunately the nap didn’t happen but I did rest the eyes for about half an hour before I got up and headed to the kitchen/ dining hut to write my journal and get ready for dinner. On the menu tonight was dehydrated Pasta Vegetariano and although I picked out a lot of the ingredients it was’t too bad.

After dinner Ranger Jen gave us the run down and then took us down to the swimming hole for a feeding of the eels. She fed them a mixture of tuna and water, and about 3-4 large eels came out to take advantage. they were pretty huge and ugly. One of them tried to eat the guys GoPro! I found out that eels can live to about 100 years old, who knew!

The sand flies were really bad here so i didn’t stay down at the water for longhand I headed up to the Dumpling Hut to have a ‘trail’ shower and get ready for bed. I planned to have an early night as my body was feeling exhausted and sore all over. Thankfully there were no snorers that night, just the noise (annoying) American couple I mentioned earlier.

Day 4 – Walk to Sandfly Point, 18km

It sounded like everybody in my room got up at 5am and decided to make as much noise as possible. So annoying. But I thought if you can’t beat them, join them! With that i got up and headed to the kitchen for some breakfast, making sure that I ate most of my food so al I had to carry were a few snacks and lunch for the day.

I had my ‘trail’ shower and when I got back to the room everybody was up and packing their bags. It was supposed to rain that day so we readied ourselves for a wet trip, making sure our clothes and belongings wouldn’t get wet.

I headed out about halfway through the pack again, some slower walkers had got up super early as we had to be at our ferry by 2pm and they knew they would take longer than some of us faster walkers. I was feeling very tired, drained, sore and saddened to know that it was my last day on the Milford Track. But so happy to have made it this far and been lucky enough for the gorgeous weather over Mackinnon Pass.

It was long before I overtook some hikers in front of me and I even caught up to the 2 guys speaking to the night before (the speedsters Scotty & Mark) when they stopped to adjust their packs. They were walking a little faster than I would have liked but they were really great company and I spent the rest of the day hiking with them. They had met in the UK but Scotty was originally from NZ and Mark from Bermuda. They had taken a year off to go travelling, lucky buggers!!

The weather was warm so we removed our rain jackets and hiked past rivers, waterfalls and rainforests. The scenes were like something out of a movie, gorgeous!

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We stopped at some falls and checked out Bell Rock, it was actually a hollow rock that you could crawl under and stand up inside, very cool. The water was so clear too and check out the luggage under my eyes (below).

 

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I remember Mark accidentally slipped down some stairs at one point and poked me in the eye. It hurt a little and he felt awful, but it was so funny! I’m glad we could laugh it off and it had’t been worse.

We headed back out on the trail animist of today’s walk was through rainforest. there were a few beach sections and some peaks in the distance too. We were starting to get really hungry and were looking for a good spot to stop and eat, but nothing looked suitable and we didn’t want to block the trail. After about another 30-40 minutes we found a rest area and got stuck into some lunch and chocolate. I think the trail would have been very lonely without there company, such a nice couple (pictured below).

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Many other hikers we had overtaken caught up to us again here and we all chatted about how wonderful an experience we had been having, and how lucky we had been with the weather.

Eventually we got our packs on and were moving at a pretty speedy pace, but I had to make sure I got on the 2pm ferry or I would miss my connecting cruise on the Milford Sound.

We ended up making it to Sandfly Point with plenty of time to spare and Mark decided go for a swim after a lot of heckling from Scotty and myself (ha ha). There was a little hut for us to escape from the Sandlies and I finished off the food in my pack here, plus got some water into me and filled up my bottles.

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We all had our photos taken next to the famous sign (below) and then boarded our ferry back to Milford terminal only 20 mins away.

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We got to the cruise terminal and all said our farewells. It was sad to be leaving the group and the trail but I was happy to be back in civilisation (I think). I found a powerpoint and charged my mobile phone at the terminal so I could get some photos on the Milford Sound cruise, the battery had died minutes before so it was perfect timing!

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I collected my cruise ticket and Daniel bought a ticket to come and join me on the cruise. When we boarded the boat we were so excited to be offered free coffee and tea. We had not had this luxury for a week and I think I had 4 cups of the stuff. The lady even offered us a hot chocolate which was normally reserved for the staff, it was delicious!!

The clouds, fog and light rain had set in again but it didn’t matter. The Milford Sound was gorgeous with waterfalls all around us. I saw the Mitre Peak who h was enormous and near one of the fishing boats we saw a group of Albatros birds, they were huge and glided through the air behind the fishing boat hoping for a feed.

We saw seals taking a nap on the rocks in several spots around the sound and the highlight was the pod of 20+ dolphins that swam right up next to our boat. Dolphins are my most favourite animal (aside from dogs) and one of the dolphins swam next the bow right underneath me for what seemed like an eternity. He was almost 4 metres long ad so graceful getting his free ride at the front of the boat. It really took my breath away, something that had happened so many times of this trip.

On the way back to the terminal our boat went under a waterfall and most people on the deck got soaked, it was hilarious! I chatted to a lovely couple from Denmark (I wished I’d gotten their contact details) and they took some photos for me with my camera too. Check out my photos below.

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We got back to the terminal and ran to meet our connecting bus which would take up back to Te Anau. What an incredible day it had been!

I sat in the front with the driver to avoid motion sickness and was thankful that I had as the road was very twisty and there were lots of turns going up and over and won the hills. Daniel actually asked to driver to slow down a little, as we learned he had been in bad bus crash during a trip in Argentina and he had broken his back. This was actually his first trip hiking since the accident. Poor guy, sounds like he’d had a rough time.

We stopped at the start of a tunnel which went through the mountain, it’s a one way tunnel that runs for 1.5km and when it was built they had to dig and carry everything out by hand. It would have taken years!!

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A few of the people from our hike were on the bus as they had done cruises with other companies, so it was nice to see them again too. I started to get veery sleepy. We dropped of people at different stops and I was the last stop at the Te Anau Caravan Park. It was now 7pm and I was feeling utterly exhausted.

I checked into the place and got the key to my single room, I would have to share a bathroom and kitchen but that would have to wait. I dumped my pack and headed into town to do some shopping for my next Trek which started tomorrow. It took 20 minutes to walk into town and I went to the supermarket where I got all my supplies for the next journey ahead. I tried to carry lighter and smarter than last time and I think it worked.

On the way back to the caravan park I stopped and got fish and chips for dinner, followed by ice cream dessert. The ice cream was so good as I had been craving milk. After scoffing those down I gathered my shopping and headed back to the caravan park. It started to sprinkle with rain so I quickened my step and it was pouring by the time I got back to my room at 9pm. I still had to do my washing, dry it and pack for tomorrow, so it was going to be a late night.

I got all my dirty clothes and headed for the laundry. I did a load of washing and stuck it in the dryer hoping it would not ruin the clothes. i chatted to an older man & his young son who were holidaying and hiking together, they were from the US. It was great chatting to them to pass the time and I eventually got back to my room at about 10:15pm.

By now I was having trouble keeping my eyes open but I had to pack. So I took a swig from the bottle of wine I’d just bought and planned to take the rest with me on the next trek. I would be pouring it into a much smaller light-weight container though. I’d been so jealous of the people on the Milford Trek who had taken wine and I thought I deserved it after all the hard work i had done over the past 2 weeks.

Finally I packed my gear and hit the hay, I was very thankful to have had such a wonderful, beautiful, amazing, breathtaking trip the past 4 days and was getting excited about my next adventure on the Routeburn Track. I dozed off to sleep as the sound of the man snoring in the room next to me carried through the walls…..

After the Marathon, before the Tramping

The night after my marathon I had trouble sleeping, my leg muscles were twitching and I just could not switch off my brain. I think the calls with my Mum and Hubby had made me a little homesick and the temperature in my room was boiling (with no fan), and a thousand bitey insects kept buzzing past my ear. Eventually i dragged myself out of bed at around 6.30am and checked my phone for bookface updates. I was completely overwhelmed to see that more than 200 peple had ‘Liked’ my post and photo from the marathon finish line, possibly the most poplar post I have ever (or will ever) have. I was feeling the love. Thank you all for being so supportive of my journey. A runner often feels very alone but at times like this you realise just how many people you can reach who care and support you in these conquests. I had been feeling so down and you all cheered me up immensely.

I met up with James at Joe’s garage for breakfast and we also ran into some guys from Auckland who I had run with during the race the day before. They asked me what I thought of the race and all I could conjure up was ‘Brutal but Beautiful’, and they agreed. We chatted and finished our breakfasts then went our separate ways. Breakfast was delicious too, make sure you visit Joe’s Garage if you’re ever in Queenstown.

The weather was stunning and so I slowly strolled back to the Rydges hotel along the lakeside. I was lucky enough to run into Jill and her daughter and we had a quick chat about our plans for the next few days. When I got back to the hotel I washed all my clothes and packed my bag ready to check into a new hotel the day. After washing my gear I had a much needed nap in my roon, then headed to the world famous Fergburger. I took the burger and say by the water side (see below photo) and OHMMGEE!!! It was the best burger I have ever had. The meat just melted in my mouth and the sauce was divine. Definitely worth waiting in line for.

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I strolled back to the hotel and by this time it was late afternoon and so I took myself to the bar for a well earned drink. After the drink I took myself to the hotel restaurant and they gave me the best seat in the house so I could watch the sunset while I had my meal (see photos below). I had pork with apple sauce and vegetables as the Remarkables lit up in front of me across the lake. I downed a couple of reds with my dinner too and was feeling very tipsy by the time I got to my room, but it helped me nestle off to sleep nicely.

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The next day I got up and had my breakfast in the hotel, very expensive and not worth the money. I should have gone to Joe’s!! I scoffed down some food and made my way into the main part of town to wait for my bus to the Shotover Jet. On the way I went past the Fergbaker and bought myself a coffee, the only place open that early in the morning. Thankfully it was good coffee.

I then checked in at the adventure counter and eventually boarded the bus to the Shotover Jet which was only 10 minutes dive away. I had booked the Sunrise Jet at 8.15am (because it saved me $20) so it was quite cool even though the sun was shining. We met our captain Adam who would be driving our boat and I boarded the jet and sat in the second last row on the side. We set off and you could really feel the power of the motors as we skimmed across the water and did 360 turns. It was so much fun!! So much so that I ended up buying a second jet ride (for only $19) and did it all over again!! Woohoo!!

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I met the lovely girl (above) who spoke hardly a word of english, but i worked out that she was in New Zealand for Chinese New Year with her parents and having a great time! We smiled and laughed through the whole ride and her Dad took a photo of us (check out my cold, red nose! ha ha).

We got the bus back to Queenstown and i headed straight for my hotel to collect my bags, check out, andthen  walk to the Nomads Hostel which were my new lodgings for the night. My broken suitacase wheel made the trip a little slow (and noisey) but eventually I got there, checked into my double room booked and was relieved to see I had my own bathroom too. The room was actually much nicer than what I’d had at Rydges, and less than half the price too!

I then took myself to the Kiwi Discovery store to pick up my tickets and information about my trip and the lovely Sarah gave me my trek briefings. I took close note of everything she said as I had never trekked before and made a lit in my head of all the foods she recommended that I carry with me over the next week, then took myself to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.

Did I mention that I was trekking Milford and Routeburn back-to-back? Yes, quite optimistic!

After getting the groceries and having Subway for lunch I headed to my room to pack my trekking back pack ready for the next day’s journey. On the way through Queenstown I saw a gentleman roll his piano into the mall and start playing away, he was quite good.

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After stuffing everything into my bag and wondering how on earth I was going to carry this contraption I checked my phone to see I had a dinner invite from Jill for Fratelli’s. It was 6.28pm and she had said if i was free to come and meet them. So I quickly got my gear together and raced to the restaurant. They had just ordered so I added mine and we chatted about our days explorations. I had the spaghetti (for the second time) and we laughed and chatted about how Wes had gotten lost on his run up the mountain, and how Jill had spent hours looking for him with her 2 daughters, Ava and Jasmine.

Eventually I had to say goodnight and we all hugged and wished each other well. I’m sure Jill knew I was feeling homesick and they made me feel like part of their family. I was sad to see them go but very thankful to have met them, and i knew I would see them again one day soon.

I took a moment to sit by the water (see below) near my hotel as i soaked up the view before bed. I had achieved and learnt so much in the past week and was feeling excited for my new adventure that started on the Milford Track the next day.

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