2016 GNW100 Miler

I’ve been dreaming about this race for a few years now. I’ve seen every video on youtube, read every race reports and heard about so many DNF (Did Not Finish) stories that I’ll admit it had me a little scared. But I’m always up for a challenge and the Great North Walk 100s sounded like it was just my cup of tea.

I eventually started telling people about my race plans and thankfully had 2 wonderful humans volunteer to crew (Sally Dean) and pace (Brad Smithers) for me at the race. Sally and I met when we crewed together for Jane Trumper at the 2015 Coast2Kosci, she was very experienced and I learnt so much from her over that weekend, an invaluable asset to have on my team! And that’s also where I met my pacer Brad, he was crewing for another runner at Coast2Kosci, his bubbly personality and helpful nature meant we became good friends straight away. Brad had also run the GNW miler in 2015 so he knew the course well and was experienced in ultra running, another invaluable asset to have on my team.

Like most of my races I would also use this event to fundraise for Dementia research at the UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) and run this race in honour of my grandmother Betty who passed away recently after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Since 2013 I have run many events and raised almost $20,000 for this cause and I think my Nan would be very proud.

Months of training went past with the experienced help of my coach Andy Dubois, and it was not without the usual speed bumps of life along the way. I got to run on most of the course before race day, and I also spent a couple of days hiking solo and camping on the course, which I later realised was one of the toughest sections. It was a great experience for me as I love the outdoors, even if it meant getting a few blisters along the way!

Fast forward to the day before race day, where I met Sally in Woy Woy near the hotel I would be staying after the race. I would leave my car there and Sally would drive us to Warners Bay where we would stay the night before the race. We checked into our Hotel (pub, big mistake!) and went to do the usual final shopping trip. We also drove to the start area, a large football field which would be flooded with runners, supporters, organisers and volunteers the next morning. We went back to the hotel and Sally meticulously organised my food bags, she’s awesome! I’d also given her a 7 page document which outlined my plan so we chatted about the finer points on that too ( I know, run nerd). I also (half) taped my feet which took took much longer than expected, next time i’m just going to call Berny, ha ha!

Now all that was left to do was sleep, but that didn’t really go to plan as it sounded like the pub band were playing directly below our room and when they stopped playing at midnight we were treated to more ‘doof doof’ from the DJ until about 2am. Not the best way to spend the night before you are about to run 175kms, but hey what could I do?!

The alarms went off and we sleepily got up and prepared for the day. You couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

We parked the car at the start area and checked in, weighed in, and I visited the toilet 5,000 times (okay, slight exaggeration). Always happens to me before a race, and thankfully I found a toilet that didn’t have a queue. I spent time chatting to lots of friends who were running both the 100km and 100 mile events and I sat down to rest my legs before the race briefing.



Wayne (Blue Dog) Gregory and I had planned to start the race together and run together as long as we could. We had not done any training runs together but he said that he was going to be slow and being my first miler I told him I would be taking it slow and easy to ensure I could make the distance, it would be nice to have his company.


And we were off, I was talking so much I missed the starting gun (if there was one?) but everyone started running and we joined them.

I was running GNW100 Miler!! Woohoo!!


I started the race with Blue Dog as planned, and we ran with friends Seb, George and his friend Simon for most of the first road section. I also saw my physio Pete as we crossed over the railway bridge, he was looking fit and I wished him well. It was raining at this point but only very lightly and it was actually very nice as the temperature was quite warm that morning (15 degrees if you believe the Liquorland sign near our hotel).


Photo Credit: George Mihalakellis

Eventually we hit some trail and some hills, Blue Dog. And so it began, the power hiking up and the running down, plus running the flats. We hit our first steep, technical hill and Blue Dog commented on how strong I was going up them. I felt good, no I felt great.



It was during the jungle that Blue Dog slowed and I kept getting ahead. It was a beautiful section of the course, very much like a rainforest and I took lots of time to look around and enjoy the view while I waited for Blue Dog to catch up, but eventually he told me to go on ahead and stop waiting for him and by the look in his eye I knew it was the right thing to do, he was struggling. I wished him well and caught up to another group of runners just ahead, one of them was Michael that I’d met at C2K, then there was Nick who has done this race 7 times before (!!), plus another first timer who from the Ukraine. They told me about a ‘huggy’ post that was at the top of the climb. We eventually got there and after a few laughs I managed to snap a shot of us all leaning on the post.


I got to CP1 (28.6km) with relative ease and was greeted by John Love from Terrigal Trotters. I had never met him before but he was a friend of my massage therapists and he was going to help look out for me. From then on I was known to all of the volunteers as “John’s (only) friend”, the joke of the day/night/day! ha ha

I saw Sally straight away when I came into the checkpoint and she gave me all the supplies I needed, dead set legend. I made a quick dash to the bathroom and hoped that I would be able to leave with the same runners I had come in with. Unfortunately they were nowhere to be seen as I Checked-Out and got on my way. Here’s me heading out of CP1.


Being alone for part of this section took me back to when I had hiked it a few months earlier, only this time I was not carrying a 28kg pack!! It was beautiful to hear only the sounds of my feet and the birdsongs all around me. Just beautiful.

After a while I caught up to Nick and the crew again, and our group chatted and laughed about so many things I can’t even remember. It was fun and I was loving this. Eventually it was just Nick and I and we were running along the road to Congewoi, it was an undulating section and we took the run/walk/run/walk approach. It was getting quite warm and the sun was beaming down on us at this time, but we were thankful of a few clouds and large trees and ran whenever we got a shady spot too.


As we approached the checkpoint a lady who has been crewing for someone came past and offered us a Boost chocolate bar, she was running just ahead of us holding it out to show us and as we chased her we could not stop laughing, it was like dangling a carrot in front of us to make us run into the cp. I wish someone had filmed it as it would have been very funny!


Coming into CP2 (52.5) it seemed there was a lot more excitement and atmosphere than CP1, lots more cheering and smiley faces. Sally found me straight away and got me weighed, seated and fed. I saw the smiling face of Roger Hanney too, he had just got back from his UTMB challenge and he filled my bladder up with iced water – it was divine, thanks Roger!

I did a quick toilet stop, changed my underwear & put on some tights as I was getting some chaff between my legs (TMI?) and I didn’t want it to get any worse, better to prevent if you can! Here are some pictures from the checkpoint.



Getting my mandatory gear checked off.



As I was leaving the cp Roger from Hoka One One made an embarrassing impromptu video interview that you can watch here (sorry about the swearing mum): https://www.facebook.com/HokaOneOneAustralia/videos/pcb.1099883286726723/1099879683393750/?type=3&theater

I left the cp feeling good, scoffing some ginger kisses into my mouth (god they were good) and hoping I would catch Nick who had left just before me. And thankfully I did. The next section of the course was a brutal one, two of the biggest climbs and not a lot of flat at all. We ran along and another runner called Roberto (from Argentina) caught up to us and we chatted about the next section. We also learned that Roberto was doing 8 milers on 8 continents, this was number 7 in his quest – wow!

The first climb was tough but I was ready. I’d hiked it before with a heavy pack and I knew I could do it again. Nick and I chatted the whole way up and it seemed to make the time go faster which was great. I pointed out the spot where I had camped during my hike and Nick named it Haileys Corner, which sounded a bit rude to me (ha ha) and I re-named it Haileys Campsite.

When we got to the top we realised we had caught up to a few runners, one of them being a good friend of mine Adam, and we were also joined by another good friend of mine Leah. So we decided to have a log party and get some food into us, good times!!


After a few shenanigans we were soon up and on our way, it felt great to be running again on the fire trail that lay before us. We chatted to some more runners that caught up to us and continued with our running banter and stories. None that I can share with you i’m afraid, as ‘whatever happens on the trail stays on the trail’ (ha ha).

We eventually came to a property and we had to pass through some gates, past some cows, over a stream, through some more gates and then up towards the next big climb. Adam, Leah and I chatted as we made our way up the next steep hill, it seemed that it would never end. It was here that we also caught up to a friend Kurt, I hadn’t seen him for a while so it was really nice to run into him (pun intended).



The next part I cannot remember too well, probably because it all looked the same or I’ve decided to erase it from my memory (ha ha) but I know that I somehow lost Leah and ended up heading into the Basin by myself. It was dark now and I’d prepared for this as it was a tricky section, but I had the trail etched in my memory so that I wouldn’t get lost. And as I was heading into the Basin I managed to catch up to my friends Kurt and Adam, and we chatted about the food we would consume and the things we needed to do at the next cp. We all decided that we should try and stick together for the next section and leave at the same time, it seemed like a great plan to me.

Coming into the Basin (81.6km) you could hear some (awful) Karaoke singers who had clearly been living it up by the campfire all afternoon/evening, and there was a buzz in the air as we flew into the check-in tent and collapsed on the chairs ready to get stuck into some tucker. I’m pretty sure I had 3 cups of soup and more, it was so tasty and felt good going down. I changed my shoes here and put on the trusty Hoka that feel like clouds, they were so good on already sore and blistered feet. Sally was an angel and made sure I had everything I needed, that I was fed, that I was warm, and gave me updates about other runners she knew of. I was feeling so excited and positive. This was going well and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

I chatted to Nick & Pete who had come into the cp earlier than we had, but were both struggling. Pete hadn’t been able to keep food down and Nick had decided to lay down for a nap. I hoped they would be able to get up and keep running.

Sally also gave me some emails from my family, they had such lovely words of encouragement and they brought a happy tear to my eye. So thoughtful, so motivating.

After lots of laughs, lots of food, some name calling and a toilet stop we eventually got our butts organised and headed out into the night. The next cp would be Yarramalong and the finish for the 100km runners, a massive tick off the list i’d been keeping my head. My plan was to get in and out of that cp as quickly as possible. And I was really looking forward to seeing my pacer Brad, his smile had a way of making everything okay and he would be very welcome company for the rest of the race.


It really was so much fun running with Kurt and Adam, both had a great sense of humour and were easy to talk to. We planned to take the trail section here petty easy and then once we hit the road we were going to opt for a run/walk/run/walk option along the 10km+ road section. As we were approaching the road we somehow got a tiny bit off course and poor Kurt and Adam ran into some stinging nettle. I’m glad they had been ahead of me as it meant I had fair warning and could avoid it. The trail was just 4 metres to our right and we back tracked onto it and then onto the road. As we got to the road we saw a few other runners who had stopped and were reading a map. We told them they needed to go left and just keep running.

It really did feel good to be running again and I wanted to use this road section to make up some time, so I promised myself I had to keep the run/walk momentum going. We took turns saying let’s run to that post, or that tree, or that letterbox, or that scarecrow. Yes that’s right, the road was littered with houses that had dressed up their own scarecrows in costume and themes and the local town were having a competition for the best one, you could even go online to vote for them! They were fantastic, check them out here: http://www.yarramalongvalleyspringfestival.com.au/spring-festival-events/scarecrow-competition/

We kept up the run/walk but there seemed to be more walking than running, and I remember at one point thinking shit I need to run some more, so I told the boys and thankfully they followed behind me as we put some distance between us and the other runners we had seen earlier. It was dark, but it wasn’t cold. Thankfully it was a beautiful night and you should have seen the stars, thousands of them filtered the sky…!!!

It was at this point I thought of my friend Jill who at the same time was running the Glasshouse 100miler in Queensland. I wondered how she was going, how she was feeling and felt like part of her was there with me edging me along the road.

Eventually we got closer to town and we headed into the Yarramalong cp (103.7km) where I saw the smiling faces of my friends from Trailblazers Brad, Emma & Filimon. I made a quick dash to the toilet and then headed to find trusty Sally who would get me re-fueled, re-energized and back out there.

I saw Brad and he commented on how fresh I looked and I said I was feeling good. I really was looking forward to his company and being able to ‘switch-off’ a little, as I’d been cautiously searching for trail markers and stressing that I’d get lost for most of the day. It was nice to know I had a fresh pair of eyes looking out for me and to help share the journey to Patonga. We ate and ate and ate, and I stretched a little too. The body was holding up well and I reminded myself to keep re-assessing and making smart decisions. I was surprised how alert I felt and that I was still eating real food, usually for the second half of the 100km races the only thing going in would be gels at this point. But the food tasted good. I had soup and chips and coke and whatever else I could get my hands on. I was still loving those ginger kisses!!


Kurt, Adam, Brad and I departed the cp together as we headed for another tough section. I think we were all very glad to have Brad join our crew and he chatted to us about a plan of attack. I was so excited to be past Yarramalong and told the gents this was the furthest I had even run before. We had a mini celebration and then got stuck into the hard work that lay before us.

After a few hours into this section, probably at around 3:00am I started to get sleepy and was slowing down. I could feel my eyelids getting heavy and they wanted to close. Picture micro-sleeping while on the run, that was me. I told the gents how I was feeling and Kurt said he was a bit the same. So we tried to keep talking to each other and keep the brain awake, but it was really starting to slow me down. Brad went ahead chatted to the other guys to tell them to go ahead as I was slowing everyone down. There were only a few hours until sunrise and prior to the race everyone had told me that once the sun comes up your body will re-charge, I hoped that was true.

Brad kept me alert and upright as we kept moving through the early hours of the morning and sure enough once we started to hear the sounds of the early morning birds we knew the sun was on it’s way, and a new day could start. You could see the sky starting to lighten and as the sun lifted high into the sky so did my spirits.

I started running again and it felt great. I felt awake and alive, and was looking forward to getting into the next cp at Somersby. The sleepiness had gone and i was very thankful. We caught up to Kurt who was now alone and we ran past him wishing him well.

We ran, walked, ran, walked, ran, walked, and ran some more until we eventually go to the next cp at Somersby (132.1km). I was looking forward to some breakfast and some coffee which we had planned to have here. I had porridge and a delicious cup of ‘real’ coffee, thanks volunteer lady for sticking around and making it for me – you rocked!!

Sally gave me a blanket and food and took care of my emptying and re-filling my pack. I told her what I had eaten and she was impressed (ha ha). Such a caring, thoughtful woman. I really had chosen the best crew-lady ever!!

Brad surprised me with a beautiful little bunch of lavender, something for me to remind me of my grandmother. It brought a happy tear to my eye as I remembered her and reminded me of the struggles her and my family had been through with her dementia. She was a beautiful lady and I was going to get back out there and do her proud.



I chatted to Sarah (Adam’s wife) and she said that he has left only moments before we had arrived, it was great to hear he was doing so well. I did some more stretching just to get the body moving and eventually Sally had us all prepared and on our way. I’d even filled my bladder with Coca Cola to help get me caffeinated and ensure no more sleepy patched would appear on the next section. And I only had one more cp to go, then the finish. How awesome was that!

Brad and I got up and on our way heading back out onto the road section, over a little hill and then back onto the trail. Only a marathon to go now!!

This was a gorgeous section to run and having Brad’s company was great. We chatted and laughed and I was feeling so much better than the low point I had had earlier during the morning. The new day brought new opportunities and eventually it would bring that finish line. It was in my mind, I could picture it, and I was going to do whatever it took to get there.

We got to Mooney Mooney cp (149.9km) and were greeted by the smiling faces of the volunteers and gorgeous Sally. We also met the lady who would be sweeping the course and I started to get very aware of the cut-off times and wanted to make sure we stayed comfortably ahead of them. This meant that we didn’t stay very long as we had to keep moving.

As we left the cp I waved to Sally and we headed off dancing down the hill with big grins, as we knew the next stop would be the finish at Patonga!!



There was some lovely trail at the start of this section before we hit some nasty hills and a sh!tload of rock, rock and more rock. Oh and there was some rock too! By this point my feet were aching, the blisters had formed nicely around my toes but I was determined to ignore that and get the job done. So we went up on the rock, down on the rock, up on the rock, down on the rock, and Brad put up with my groans and sighs as we made our way through this section. It felt like we were going round in circles and not getting anywhere and I was starting to get frustrated. When would this rock ever end?!

I remember going quiet for a long time, and internally I was stressing about the next cut-off. I also remember saying to Brad “I feel like we have been on this rock forever” and he replied, “That’s because we’ve been on it for over 2 hours”. It made sense. I tried to relax my body and focus on the finish. I remembered the quote Blue Dog had said, ‘It’s going to get ugly, but it’s going to get done’, and i’m pretty sure my style at this point was very ugly! ha ha

The last cut-off was 3:00pm at the Staples Lookout Track (160.8km) and thoughts of not reaching the lookout in time seemed to consume my thoughts, no matter how much I tried to think of something else. And I’m sure I asked Brad about a thousand times ‘are we there yet?’. I’m sure he was getting sick of me now!

Brad and I sat down for a minute to rest during this section, and he read me an email that my husband had written for me to encourage me along. It was beautiful. It was perfect. We shared some more tears and then we got back up and on our way, getting back to business.


I was still feeling pretty good, tired but better than I expected to feel at this point. I felt very alert and awake and was determined to run as much as I could, and I did.

Eventually we went past the cut-off point with 30 minutes to spare, I said my prayers to the trail running gods and promised myself to lighten up and enjoy the rest of the journey. And as soon as we got off that god awful rock I started running again, further and further than I expected to be running at this point.


I could almost smell that finish line. I could hear it calling me. And I ran, I ran even though my head wanted me to stop. I ran. I pushed harder. I even managed to cachet up to a few runners as I hit the fire trail before the last downhill section to the beach. When I got closer I realised one of the runners was Adam, and I was hoping that he would tag along and speed up with me so we could get to the finish together, but he stayed with his pace and I wished him well (with a slap on the butt) as I went past.

The down hill section in front of me had a little bit of concrete and rock, and after that it was my favourite type of trail. I decided to give it everything I had and finish the race running from here on. I felt like I flew down the last hill. It was single track, stairs, rocky, it had lots of turns and I was having lots of fun. I passed another 2 runners on that section and Brad and I eventually hit the beach.



We heard the bell sound telling everyone that there was a runner on the beach and we made our way along the sand to the finish area. I could see the finishers post, I was really doing this, I was going to finish the GNW100 Miler!!

I fell to my knees in awe of the race and all that it entails, I could’t believe I had made it. My eyes were filled with tears. I kissed the post. I hugged the post. I did it Nan!







Finish line Video: https://www.facebook.com/jill.saker/videos/10153990253633380/

Tears are filling my eyes as I type this and I have so many people to thank for getting me to the start line and supporting me on this journey so far. Without them I would not have been able to plan and prepare for the event in the way that I had. I truly believe that my race could not have gone any smoother and it thanks to my wonderful crew Sally, pacer Brad, coach Andy, massage therapist Faye, husband Jared and my beautiful family & friends.

Thank you to Dave Byrnes the race director and all of the wonderful volunteers who gave up their time to support us crazies, you people are wonderful and the world would be a better place if there were more people like you.


Thank you to everyone who sponsored me and helped me raise funds for UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing, we got to $2,00 and i’m thrilled. So thanks for the support team!

You can still donate here if you have a few spare dollars: https://cheba2.everydayhero.com/au/hailey-runs-gnw100mile


So what’s next for me? I’ve applied for a little race that’s coming up in December and I’ve got everything crossed in the hope that I get chosen to race this spectacular beast. It would be a dream come true!

Stay tuned and happy running 🙂


2014 Oxfam Trailwalker 100km

photo 1-2

We pulled up at the drop off area at the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney last Friday and were greeted with rain and a very grey looking sky. Thankfully we were all in high spirits and the mood at the registration tent was excitement plus!!

Our team bibs were given out and the nerves were starting to show more and more. This was it, we were here at the start line and there was no turning back now. We donned our temporary ponchos and made a quick trip to the toilet before taking our place on the starting line. Everyone was chatty and positive and I could feel it was going to be a great day (and night!). Roger had even organised some team shirts for us and they looked (and felt) fantastic. Thanks Roger!

photo 2-2

photo 4-2

We talked over some last minute race plans and tried to make sure we were in front of any walkers who might slow us down on the single track later on the trail. And the countdown began, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….. we were off!

photo 5-2

photo 1-5

We waved to Pip our lovely chauffeur to the start line and support crew extraordinaire and made our way along the road to the first (bloody steep) fire trail hill. Emma and Dominic were just ahead of Roger and myself and we chatted all the way as we walked up the hill, everyone was friendly and wishing each other well.

Our first section was 15.6km from Parsley Bay to Muogamarra RFS which we estimated to take 2 hrs 35mins, it was very technical and very hilly and on this day very, very wet! We ended up completing the section in 2hrs 23 mins (9:23am) and spent less than 10 minutes in the checkpoint getting some food and having a toilet stop.

The second section from Muogamarra RFS to Berowra was 11.9 km which we estimated to take 2hrs 25mins and this was the roughest, most difficult section we would encounter. It ended up taking us 2hrs 15 mins (11:48am) but we took the whole 10 mins at this checkpoint as it was the firs time we saw our crew. I changed my shirt which was very wet from sweat and rain, and Pip refilled my bladder and flasks. I also had a nutella sandwich, so gooood!

photo 2-5

photo 3-4

The third section was 15km from Berowra to Bobbin Head which we estimated would take 2hrs 50min, and rated the same difficulty as the first section. The rain had been on and off in a light flutter all morning but it was starting to clear by this point. However my feet were completely soaked and the trails were so slippery and muddy it was much tougher under foot than our usual training runs.

We got to Bobbin Head in 2hrs 53mins (2:45pm) which was pretty much right on plan. It was great to see the crew again and they made everything so easy and were so reliable. We got out of there in 10 minutes again, thank to Kerry our fabulous timekeeper, and headed for St Ives Showground. It was going to get dark before the end of this section so we had not only changed our shirts but also picked up our head torches.

photo 4-4

photo 5-4

The distance to St Ives Showground was 15.6kms and we estimated it would take 3hrs 10mins. Some very hilly sections through here and very, very wet under foot. I had not changed my shoes socks yet but planned to at the next checkpoint. The day was going really well and my legs were feeling great, the team were really coming together and we were having lots of fun…… until poor Roger got the dizzies and started feeling sick.

Dom & Em had been running ahead of myself and Roger, when I thought Roger had slowed behind me to go to the toilet. However I slowed down (even walked a bit) and he wasn’t catching up. I got a bit worried and when I caught up to Em and Dom we decided to turn back and look for him. Another runner told us he was lying down and didn’t feel well, ooh no! We rushed over to see him and he looked pale as a ghost. We eventually got some water & food into him and when he felt he could walk we folioed at his pace.

He started to get better and even ran some more of this section, however when we got to just before the sphinx track he started vomiting. Funnily enough he felt better after he had been sick, however it was to be short lived and he ended up dry reaching a few times and you could see that no matter what he tried he wasn’t able to keep anything down. Poor roger was fading, and it wasn’t looking good.

We got into St Ives in 4hrs 20mins (7:05pm) and decided to take a longer stop to help let Roger recover, re-asses and for us to all have some warm pumpkin soup (thanks so much Helen, it was delicious!), get changed and prepare for the night sections that clay ahead. I had some soup, some noodles and changed into some long pants. For the last couple of ams before this checkpoint I had felt like there was a rock in my shoe under foot, however it turned out that my feet were so prune-like (after all the water) that they had shrivelled up and there was a crease in my underfoot that didn’t look pretty. I aired my feet for as long as I could and decided to tape the underneath section to try and avoid blisters and the pain I had been feeling. I also put on some new socks and changed into my Hoka trail shoes, previously I had been wearing my Brooks Adrenaline ASR trail shoes for the extra support.

It was about this point that Roger declared he would have to retire, he didn’t think he could go on and he did not want to slow us down. What a tough call, but one that only he could make. We wishes Roger well and hoped that he would be feeling better soon, and we finally got moving again and got out of the checkpoint. I think we were there for about 15-20mins, which meant that we were very much behind our original schedule.

As we ran out of St Ives towards Macfarlane Reserve, which was 12.5km, we said we would work together and try and make up some time (if possible) and re-asses our goal at the next checkpoint. Our plan had allowed 2hrs 5mins for this section and we ended up completing it in 1hr 50mins (8:53pm) so we were stoked to be making up some time and felt confident we could keep up the pace.

We didn’t spent too much time at Macfarlane Reserve as we were still trying to make up some time, so before you knew it we were out the gates again. We kept checking in on each other, how we were feeling and alerting each other of tricky sections that came up. Which meant that mostly Em & Dom were alerting me as I’m the slower runner and sat at the back for the rest of the run. Ok, so it wasn’t just because I was slow…. there was another reason you would not have wanted to run behind me at some points…. (wink, wink, ha ha) and we made some great jokes about that too.

The trail was so slippery, and some of the cliff sections had all but washed away so it made manoeuvring very slow and you had to be so careful. Throughout the day we had crossed many creeks that were overflowing, large trees and branches also blocked the way and we detoured in certain spots. I remember going through one creek that was above our ankles and it felt like rapids, like we might get washed away! Crazy!

Towards the end of this section my stomach had started to feel queazy and even Dom and Em said they had felt it too, so we had some ginger pieces thrown at us and i’m so glad we had that. It really made me feel so much better!

Earlier in the day we had decided that when we got to 80km we would have a mini-celebration, as this meant it was the furthest we had all run. It was such a great milestone to reach here and we cheered and high fives and carried on being clowns.

We headed for Davidson Park and our estimated time was 2hrs, however we managed to make it in 1hr 50mins (11:14pm) which meant we had again made up some time and our goal to hit 20 hours did not seem that far out of reach. I ran into a friend at this checkpoint and got a little sidetracked as I was changing my socks again, however after scoffing down some noodles (while being yelled at to hurry up, ha ha) we only spent 8 minutes at this checkpoint and were soon on our way to Ararat reserve, the last checkpoint which was only 7.5kms away.

The next section was short and our estimated time was 1hr 40mins, so we kept the pace up and ran all the flats and down hills. I think it was about this point that my body went into auto-drive. I had been going through all this technical trail, with stop/start running and the legs were feeling more and more tired, but they just kept going and we kept up a very consistent, steady pace though it started raining again at this point and the ground was very soft and sloshy. I’m not sure if it was this section (I think it might have been earlier), but we came across a “puddle” that we could not go around and it ended up being past my knees. It went for a good 10 metres too so we got drenched through our shoes again.

I cannot stress how slippery, muddy, wet and rugged the conditions were which also added to the difficulty in staying on your feet. It really was quite dangerous out there and we had heard from other groups about twisted knees and ankles so we had to be super careful, especially now that we were all exhausted and the only light we had was from our torches.

We had been playing leap frog with many teams through out the day and at this point we actually knew we were in about the top 20, how cool was that!! And section seven ended up taking us 1hr 38mins (1:00am) and when we got into Ararat Reserve it was pouring with rain. I ran into Margaret from Striders here at the check-in tent and she was heading towards Seafoth oval to direct runners from there, it was so lovely to see a familiar face. Em ran for the toilet for a quick stop as we had decided to keep warm, keep moving and not stop at this checkpoint, as we had only 11.2kms to go till the finish.

The transition was quick and we were back on our feet and onto the trail in lightening speed, we had 2 hours to complete the last section and hit our goal of 20 hours – very doable, we just had to keep running as there were some tough hills in the last section (especially on tired legs). We were all in high sir its and feeling pretty good considering, our goal was so close we could almost feel it.

When we got to the road sections Dom kept checking to see if other teams were catching up behind us, but we had not seen another team for a long while now. Things were looking great!

We managed to run all of the flat and downhill sections and I felt like running was all I knew. It was like my body just subconsciously knew it had to run and I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. We ran through the streets and over the Spit Bridge and headed through a park and hit the sand section. It was here that I heard another team behind me, catching up! Dom and Em got worried we would lose a place but all I wanted to do was finish strong.

The 2 guys caught up to me and they actually wanted to chat and run with me, which was fantastic. We actually walked the beach section together as Dom and Em ran ahead. The guys were great company, they’d lost 1 team mate to vomiting and 1 mate to a twisted ankle, so they asked if they could check-in at the finish with our team (Sure! As long as we got to go through first! ha ha).  They actually mentioned that they had been trying to catch us for hours and were very impressed with how well we were doing, I was chuffed.

The last set of stairs were in sight and we swung around to the last hill up towards the finish area. I decided to hit the gas and lose the boys on the hill, taking aim at Em and Dom walking in front of me. They saw me speed up and started running too, we got to the top of the hill and we held hands as we sprinted across the finish line in 19hrs 43mins – we had done it, we had reached our goal. We had overcome all the obstacles and life could not get any better!!

photo 2-4

photo 4-3

photo 1

We all hugged and laughed and I cried, it was such an emotional time for me and i’m even crying now as I read this. After having to DNF at 80km in Northface100 due to injury, I had been questioning and doubting myself for months. I wanted this 100km so badly and I had been training so hard for this race. It really was a dream come true!

photo 2-3


And Roger even made it to the finish line which was fantastic, he had eaten, slept and was feeling much better which was great!!

photo 4

We have managed to raise just over $4,700 and to make things even better we came ended up coming 15th out of all the teams entered, 3rd in the Mixed Teams category. Amazing!! Truly amazing!!

And now I must say thank you to everyone who has supported me/us and helped us achieve this massive goal, as we honestly could not have done it without there support.

To my wonderful team: Roger, Emma, Dominic – I have had so much fun training with you and working with you towards this goal. I could not have picked a better team and i’m so lucky to have shared this journey with you. 2015..? (ha ha)

To our wonderful support crew: Pip – you were an angel, you had everything ready and packed as planned and you did not falter. Your smiley, encouraging face was such a pleasure to be greeted with and I promise to return the favour one day if you’ll have me! And everyone else: Helen, Norm, Sam, Kerry, Nick, Fraser (I hope I haven’t missed anyone, if I have I’m sorry!!) – you guys all played a wonderful role in keeping us on track and ready to go. It was so good hearing your encouragement and seeing everything ready for us when we got to each checkpoint, it could not have been any better! And thanks for the lift home Norm!!

To my family/friends: You have always encouraged and supported me through the good times and the bad. Even when you thought I was completely crazy for taking on such a huge challenge you have never stopped believing in me. M&M – thanks for letting me crash at your place before/after the run, it made life so much easier and you spoiled me so much as always.  Sydney Harbour Runners – You guys are all tops and the reason I started and continue to love running to this day. Seeing how much you have all achieved makes me want to never stop reaching for the stars! Sydney Striders – You guys have taught me so much about the trails and helped me finish other races that I never thought possible. Such good running company and I look forward to running with you all again soon. Trailblazers – We have had a short, but very sweet time together so far and I look forward to running with you more and more in the future.

And last but by no means least, thank you to everyone who sponsored us to raise funds for Oxfam. You kindness and generosity has helped to raise over $2m towards putting an end to poverty and you should be proud.  Last minute donations can be done here: https://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/team/home/17564

Happy Running 😀

Berowra to St Ives Trail Training

I cannot believe how fast our race day is approaching! And on Saturday we met with our support crew for an 8am breakfast planning meeting. The planning meeting went well and I had not met the support crew before so it was great to finally put a face to the names.

After the meeting Roger, Dominic and I hit the trails and ran from Berowra to St Ives, which is checkpoint 2 to checkpoint 4 of the Oxfam course. It was a cracker of a day and we had a lots of laughs as usual, but we missed have smiley Em with us, she is the only one in our crew to have kids, so she is generally a lot busier than us but always gives 200%.

Here’s a few shots of us on the boardwalk during our ron. The first one if Dom and I, and the other is Roger and & I – we’re always acting like fools! ha ha

2_Boardwalk with Dom

2_Boardwalk with Roger

And the bridge was out!! The boys were trying to tell me that I’d have to swim across, but i’m not that gullible and luckily that was not our direction of travel today.

3_Bridge Out

Roger was taking notes the whole way on our trip, timing each small section and giving us an update on how we were tracking compared to our planned times for race day. We ended up being ahead for most of the run but that’s to be expected as we were on fresh legs, however on race day we will have already done about 30kms before we even get to Berowra, so it will be a lot slower.

3_Taking a break to take notes

There were some awesome caves and rock formations on the run, a very beautiful trail.

5_Roger and Dom

Dom was trying out some new energy snacks and we couldn’t get a word out of him until it was finished. He would not stop talking about how good they were so i’m off to try some and might use them on race day too. Cheeky monkey!! ha ha

6_Snacking Dom

A small path section before we hit the trails again.

7_Pounding some pavement

Just before we got to checkpoint 3, which was roughly our halfway point, the view was spectacular. How lucky were we to be out there!!

7_heading into cp3 up the hill next

7_river shot

And while we rested at checkpoint 3 having coca cola’s and snacks a cool army-like car went past, never seen one of these before either. My brother (and Dad if he can figure out how to work facebook) will love this shot!!

8_Taking a break at CP3

And we were off again over the bridge and onto the trails….

9_Taking the bridge

Whilst climbing a very short but steep hill we came across this pile of rocks and i had to stop and take a picture (plus it was a great excuse for a breather, shhh!!)

10_Stone tower on the way up a big hill

We ran past this monument on the Sphinx track, I’ve heard about it before and seen pics but never gone past it.


Dom was powering ahead…

12_Dom on track

and Roger took more notes….

12_Roger on track

and I took a selfie! ha ha


All in all I had a fantastic time on our run and felt a little relieved when we got back to the cars at St Ives. Today was our last long run before taper mode, less than 2 weeks until race day – how exciting!!

happy Running 😀