Glow Worm Tunnel Half Marathon

How slack am I, it’s taken me all week to write this blog. Sorry!

Last Friday I set off to Newnes for a camping / running weekend as part of the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon & Half Marathon. After driving through Lithgow I was blown away by the size of the mountains and cliffs around me, it was breathtaking…….. my photos do not do it any justice so next year you’re all going to have to head out there and see it for yourselves.




As I drove through the beautiful cliffs that towered around me I felt like I had escaped to another world, it was so calming and set me in good spirits for the weekend ahead. The plan was to race on Saturday in the half marathon & volunteer to help out on Sunday if they needed it. So that meant 2 nights of camping in my tent with 80% chance of rain predicted for the whole weekend. I thought at the time, this could get interesting.

I pulled into Newnes and it seems the organisers were running a little late and I could not register straight away so i set off to put up my tent and met my fellow neighbors Pete & Maddy (his daughter) who was running the half, and Deb who was sleeping in her ute and also running the half. They were both great and gave me an extra pair of hands when putting up and pulling down the tent. Aside from helping with the tent they were very nice people.

Eventually I was able to register and pick up my race T-shirt, so headed back to the tent to get everything organised for tomorrow’s race. I was starting to feel nervous and also very tired. I got everything out ready for the run & headed out to have some dinner at the pre-organised buffet at camp HQ. It was a bit cold, but not too bad. Thankfully I had ran into Andy from Striders on the way to dinner so we sat and chatted with some other runners about race day tactics and shared other running stories.

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After dinner I headed back to the tent and Deb and I decided to go for a walk along the first section of the course to check it out. It was dark by now so we took our torches and made sure we were rugged up warm. We were also thankful that there hadn’t been any rain yet – fingers were crossed!!

There was a short fire trail road section which met the first river crossing, however we managed to get across and stay dry using the stepping stones on the right hand side. Mental note for the morning, stay to the right and use the stepping stones so we can keep our feet dry for as long as possible.

We walked and chatted and it was great to get to know Deb, she’s had a pretty horrific 5 weeks leading up the race and I admired her for being there and being so brave. I really do hope she adds me on bookface as i’d like to keep in contact with her and wasn’t able to find her so far. So we walked for a couple of kms then headed back to camp. I chatted to Deb for a little outside our tents but it started to rain so i retreated inside for an early night. It was 7.30pm.

And I slept like a baby… that is, until I woke up to a soggy sleeping bag and water dripping in several locations throughout. Not a great thing, but at least it hadn’t made me too cold and luckily missed my running gear and clothes so at least they were all dry.

I got up and had brekkie at 6.00am, race start was 8.00am so I had a few hours to digest the meal and I kept it light. Toast with honey, a banana and thankfully a ‘real’ coffee from the baristas who were there for the whole weekend (thank you). After that I headed back to the tent to get ready and made my way to the start line for the race briefing, where I saw Tanya & Andy eager and ready to run.


It poured, I mean bucketed down during the race briefing and it was cold. Not as cold as the previous year (so i’m told). But the clouds parted and as we set off the rain became a drizzle and for most of the run it did not rain at all, only spots.

Here’s a shot of us heading towards the start line, that’s the old Newnes Hotel in the background on the left, they do a mean plunger coffee for only $3 and the place is a museum, a must visit if you’re ever in the area.



We were off and racing and as planned I stuck to the right and managed to keep my feet dry crossing the river, which had not gotten any bigger since the night before so the stepping stones were clearly visible.

The first half of this run was mostly incline all the way up to the Glow Worm Tunnel, so i knew it would be tough. However it was all very ‘runnable’ and there was not a lot of walking done at all for the entire course. I was breathing a little heavier than usual but this was to be expected as it was all incline, so I just told myself to get into a rhythm and stick with it.

I passed a few people in the first 7km leading up to the checkpoint and saw one lady wearing no shoes, plus two others in just sandles. It was muddy, slippery and lots of branches and debris around so i hoped we would all stay safe.

I ran through the checkpoint thanking the volunteers and waving as i went. I was carrying all the water and food that i would need so there was no point wasting time here. I chatted with some lovely runners, a guy named Ian who is working a an engineer on the Barangaroo Project in Sydney, funnily enough our company will be moving there in a couple of years. Then I chatted to another Deb and as we got towards the Glow Worm tunnel we all slowed down to get out our torches.

It was pitch black in the cave and thankfully the guy behind me had a stronger beam than mine, as mine was not helping at all. Unfortunately I did not see any Glow Worms 😦 Maybe with all the runners coming through we had been too loud and scared them, it;s a shame but I know i’ll be back. There were cameras set up at this point too so hopefully I’ve got some good shots coming as I didn’t take my phone out to get an pictures.

After the tunnel was a few small hills and then it meant the rest was all decline. My strength is going downhill so my plan was to gun it from here to the end. There were some large downhill sections and I just let myself go, I was flying down some of these hills and i think some people thought I was crazy as I really was going fast. My Garmin told me that I was doing 4’06” pace at the steepest section (almost as fast as Shaun & Mike on the flat, ha ha).

I loved the second half of this course and felt great. It had started to sprinkle which cooled me down nicely and I stayed at a constant pace for most of the rest of the course. The first and last 7km were the same section, so once I got to the checkpoint I knew what was coming.

Then I rolled my ankle and fell to the floor. I think it was actually a good thing that I fell as it took a bit of the pressure off my ankle, but my knees were pretty cut up and the ankle was not feeling good at all. I stayed on the ground for a minute and then slowly got back up to my feet and tried to run. I will admit that it hurt to run but I kept going and eventually the pain subsided.

As i was approaching the final river crossing I’d decided that I would not take the stepping stones this time, instead I would plunge into the water and finish strong. And that’s exactly what I did, I even managed to pick up about 8 places as I overtook a whole group of ladies who were (being girl) using the stepping stones. How cool is that!!

I crossed the line on 2hr 35 minutes which is much quicker than I had expected, especially as it was my first long run since TNF 4 weeks earlier. I was so happy to have finished the race and had no issues with my hip/tendons which was the reason i had to pull out of TNF.

This was an awesome day – I was back and there’s no stopping me now!!


Below is the view back towards the road leading into Newnes.


I ended up only staying for a couple of hours after the race, enough time to see Tanya head off and finish the 6km race. Can you believe she actually was entered into all 4 runs that weekend..!?!? She did the half marathon, 6km, mountain dash & finished with the full marathon on the Sunday – she’s a machine! Great work Tanya!

So i packed up my soggy tent and belongings as there was more rain predicted and I did not fancy another night of getting wet and the possibility of it making me ill. It was pretty cold out there but the weather had cleared up a little so thankfully some of the water had evaporated.

I said my farewells and hit the road back home, i was looking forward to seeing my man and sleeping in a warm, dry, comfy bed.

The road leading out of Newnes was beautiful again I even had a small river crossing that was no challenge for my Yaris!



The final view (above) was taken at the last point where the mountains finish and the not-so-picturesque driving starts. How gorgeous is that view……

And my dinner that night, well…….

photo 3


Happy Running 😀

It’s a good thing I love hills!

I feel like I say this every week, but I can honestly say that last Saturday’s Mt Solitary 45km Ultra Marathon was the toughest course I have ever attempted. But it was also the most fun!!

Here are some stats to give you an idea of the course (as per my Garmin):

Distance – 46.3 km

Time – 8 hrs 36 mins 33 secs

Elevation Gain – 2,308 m

Elevation Loss – 2,292 m

Fastest km – 3’43” (running down Kedumba walls)

Slowest km – 28’44” (climbing up Mt Solitary)

I got up at 3.30am on Saturday morning to have some breakfast (toast, banana & peppermint tea) before jumping in the car and driving to the Blue Mountains. It’s about a 2 hour drive from my place which includes a toilet stop at the servo near the end of the journey to avoid the queues at the start line.

When I arrived it was still dark but thankfully not as cold as I had been expecting. There were a few other runners who were earlier than me and we got our mandatory gear ready for checking by the organisers. We were required to carry a course map, waterproof jacket, food for 3-5hrs, compression bandage, mobile phone, whistle, compass, space blanket and 2L of fluid. Plus they had added thermal gloves and a beanie/buff.

I chatted with Craig from the Striders at the start line and ran into lots of running friends as we prepared for the race. I even ran into Simon & Mike from my run club in the city, I had no idea they were doing this race but it was awesome to see them out there! Sam from PwC was also there getting another long run in before TNF100 and feeling much better than when I last saw him at Six Foot Track. And the lovely Sherin who was having difficulty with her hydration pack which was leaking and I worried that she would not have enough water, but tried to stay positive and reassure her that it would be fine.

We positioned ourselves at the start, a field of 168 runners with only 28 females. I know this means that I am guaranteed a Top 30 finish, but it would be great to see many more women out there competing.

The gun went off and we all made our way up the first section towards the top of Kedumba walls for the first descent. My goal for the day was to make it to the Checkpoint at 25km before the cut-off time which was 5hrs 15mins, which meant doing roughly 5km per hour (or faster). There were some really funny guys running just ahead of me and we all laughed at their jokes and it put me in a really good mood from the start. They were hilarious!

We ran down Kedumba and I love the downhill sections so I used it to get past a couple of people, knowing full well that they would catch me on the next flat or uphill, but you have to work your strengths. I used the downhill technique that Hanny and Graham had taught us at the training camp, and I was warming up and feeling good.

The first big hill we had to climb on this course was Mount Solitary and you knew it when you hit it. This was the slowest section of the course but it was also lots of fun. I had been chatting with a few of the runners around me and a Strider friend got some great shots of us making the climb so the next 4 photos are courtesy of Craig Thom.

The first shot below is probably the least steep section, it only got rockier and steeper after this point and you had to get your hands dirty too.

craigs shot 3

Here’s me holding up the speedsters (below). I let a few go past me on several sections as I need to make sure i left some fuel in the tank for the rest of the course.

craigs shot

And that’s me having a drink break (below).

craigs shot 1

And another break (below) for some air I think, but still smiling and thumbs up!

craig's shot 2

Once we got to the top it was rolling ups and downs and the views were magnificent. It was quite jaw dropping to think that we had started in the valley below and climbed our way to the top of the mountain….. the fog was so low beneath us too and i felt like I was up in the heavens.


And then even more fun began! You would be running a long and all of a sudden there would be a cliff in front of you and the only way to go was down the rocks on the cliff edge. Here’s one of the first climb down sections that was a good taster for what was still to come.


A new running friend (who I would later find out is called Blake) stopped to take in a shot of the view, and me being the tourist trail runner did exactly the same thing. So we decided to swap cameras and get a shot for each other. The view from Mt Solitary was amazing to say the least!!


The steepest section of rock climbing took me a little by surprise. I had been running through some thicker bush for a while and then all of a sudden there was an edge with some pink tape.

For the non-trail runners out there we always follows the tape along a course (today’s was pink) and it helps you to stay on track and not get lost. They are usually place every couple of kilometers and are most useful.

So I could see this pink tape flapping in the breeze ahead of me and I approached it slowly and with caution….


To say I have a slight fear of heights would be an understatement, so I crept closer and closer to the edge….


and realised this was going to be a very tough section for me. Look at that drop! I had to get photos because something a pictures tells a thousand words. And this one below should tell you that I was packing it!!


But slowly I made it down the rocky section and back onto some much loved dirt. It was a most beautiful course, rolling hills everywhere you looked.


We ran along some more dirt sections and rocky sections and then we hit the rainforest. The changes in scenery around me were so impressive that day. It was breathtaking.

Apologies for the awful selfie, but at least i’m still smiling 🙂


I took a break from photos through the middle sections which included the Furber Steps, as i concentrated on making it to the checkpoint within the cutoff time. I ran a few sctions with a lady called Tina, she was a lot faster than me on the flats so we played leap frog through a couple of sections here.

She was a bit lost as we approached the Scenic Railway and thankfully i knew this section so I guided her towards the Furber Steps. When I was about halfway up Furber Steps I looked back and saw Sarah-Jane, and if you’ve read the blog about my first marathon then you’ll probably remember this name. SJ  kept me company during my first marathon and we ran most of the second half of the race together. She’s an amazing ultra runner (who sparked the idea of doing an ultra long ago) and has a heart of gold. I was so happy to see her and we chatted all the way to the top of the stairs. She encouraged me all the way to the top and I was so glad to have bumped into her on the course.

I made it to the checkpoint in 4 hrs 45 mins, so that gave me half an hours grace. I was so happy to have made it within the cut off time, as they had strictly told me that I would be pulled from the race if I did not meet the cut off. I wanted to get in and out as quick as possible too, as I still needed to make it to the finish line within 9 hours, and there was another 20km of tough course to come.

We also ran into Sherin who unfortunately had to pull herself out of the race due to problems with her foot. But it was a mart idea for her as she didn’t want to jeopardise her TNF chances. So I wished her well and re-filled my water bladder and 2 electrolyte flasks, grabbed a banana and some lollies and headed with SJ and a few others back down the Furber stairs, I wanted to try and stay with them for as long as possible.

They pulled ahead of me a little while after we had reached the flat section below and i settled in for some quiet alone running time with yours truly. It was a great time for me to clear my head and assess how I was feeling. I had not had enough water and so I started making an effort to try and drink more than I had been all morning.

The time alone was very relaxing and it geared me up ready for the final hills that were to come. I knew there was another rocky section ahead of me and then the infamous Kedumba walls as the final climb.


There were more and more rocks developing along the trail and it was getting steeper.


I looked up to my left at one point and the cliffs were amazing (below).


The next 2 photos are the official race photographers shots ( and they give you an idea of how steep some of the sections were. I’ve even got my hand on my knee to help me up at this point.


The photographer just sort of appeared out of nowhere, so i’m glad I was smiling.


Then we left the rocks behind again and headed through another rainforest section. The colours and landscapes were all so different and it was almost surreal to be running in this place. Here’s Tina giving me a smile for the camera (below).


Then we headed for Kedumba walls and I was on track to make it within the cut off time. I ran a large section with Blake and we chatted about life and about running. He and his wife were expecting a baby soon so she’d had to stop running only recently, which was driving her nuts. One day I will probably have to do the same, but not for a little while yet… Margie, don’t get excited. You can sit back down! (ha ha)

Kedumba was tough, very tough. After all the grueling kilometers it was a slow journey to the end and i spent most of it by myself when I pushed Blake to go on ahead and not let me hold him back.

I climbed and climbed and it felt like it was never going to end. But I managed to catch up to a guy called Darren who had run with SJ and i earlier. We chatted a little and eventually I let him go ahead too as he was speeding up and i didn’t have it in me.

However he did encourage me to keep running and moving to get to the line quicker and with that I started running again as soon as I hit the peak of the hill. I ran the last couple of kilometers and crossed the line in 8 hours 36 minutes and 22 seconds, 3rd last over all.

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You could not wipe the smile off my face and as i crossed the finish line SJ was waiting for me with my medal and to give me a big hug!! I’d had my doubts the week before the run and I was so happy to have completed another exciting chapter in my journey to TNF100.


I came away from the race feeling a lot more confident about the big challenge that lies ahead in May, as i had handled this race and the course very well in my eyes. Especially when you consider that there were 11 people who unfortunately DNF (did not finish).


Now it’s time to taper and prepare for the biggest race of my life – bring on The NorthFace100 – 3 weeks to go!!

Happy Trail Running 😀


Preparing for Mt Solitary & other news


What about that elevation chart?!?!

This Saturday i’m running the RunningWild Mt Solitary 45km Ultra in the Blue Mountains, and although i’m looking forward to the last long run before my taper, it’s going to be the toughest course I have ever run to date!

So in preparation for this big race I decided to go for a massage yesterday and i’m so glad that I did, my body feels so much better today. Now for some carb loading and a few good night’s of sleep before the early start n Saturday.

In other news, today I was interviewed by a journalist for an article that will be published in Runners World magazine (I’m not sure which issue yet but I’ll keep you posted). The story will be about my running and also about my Fitness Ambassador role with UNSW Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA). I’m so excited about being in a magazine that I’ve been reading it for years, and I even get a photo shoot so they can include a picture of me running.

If you are interested to know more or would like to donate please use this link:

Happy Running 😀