Saturday, April 29, 2006
The event is filling with 2/3 of the slots taken. Applications are
coming in fairly quickly now so be sure to enter soon if you are
interested in competing in this year's Vermont 100. We will tell you on our website when the race is full. Please don't rely on any other
sources as we had a published miscommunication last year that led
runners to believe VT 100 was full when it was not. To keep up to date
on the entries and when we close, go to www.vermont100.com
If you are not running, we can always use volunteers. Thanks.
For those interested in the final decision on the runner's shirts, they
will be Patagonia silkweight long sleeve capilene in mandarin, a color
not available to the general public.
Look forward to seeing many of you in July. Vermont Dot
Dot Helling, Attorney at Law
29 East State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602-3011
Virtually of course, and fifty-six 4th graders are not far behind. Check
out their progress, their purpose, and the promise made to them at
Paul Staso will be 'really' running the same route that the kids completed.
Twenty years ago he was going to attempt the trans-USA speed record but
injured himself on the first day. Well, he is back with a different
priority, a different route, and the opportunity to inspire others easier
through updates on his website: http://www.pacerun.com
Friday, April 28, 2006
This year's 20th annual Ruth Anderson Ultra was another success. Although the volunteers battened down the hatches in preparation for rain and thunderstorms, the day turned out to be great for running -- cool and dry(although a bit windy at times). The conditions seemed to help the runnersthough, who set four (4) Ruth Anderson course records, and one national USATF masters age-group record. As a tribute to the diversity of the field in the race, both the youngest and the oldest competitors set records!
Spencer Frasher, just 17 years old, finished his first 50K in a time of
5:14:58, claiming the previously vacant Ruth Anderson 50K age-group recordfor men under 20.
Patricia Zerfas, from Maryland, won the women's 50K in a time of 4:07:44 demolishing the 50K age-group course record for women 40 - 50 by over an hour and 23 minutes. In fact, Patricia's time is the fastest women's 50Kfinishing time ever recorded at Ruth Anderson, by over 15 minutes!
Dieter Walz, just 71 years old, broke his own national USATF masters 50K age-group record with a time of 5:13:36. Although he failed to also break his other national USATF masters age-group record for the 100K, his time of 9:35:18 claimed the previously vacant Ruth Anderson 50 Mile age-group record for men 70+.
Chikara Omine, the up and coming 23 years old, ran his first 100K
demolishing the field. His time of 7:42:10 broke the Ruth Anderson 100K
age-group record for men 20 - 30 set last year by Peter Vermeesch.
But of course, even those who didn't break any course records had a great time! Mark Henderson came all that way out to Lake Merced from Texas to try and qualify for the USA Men's 100K team. Things didn't go perfectly for Mark the way he needed them to. However, like a true Texan gentleman, Mark stayed around until the end of the race cheering on all the other runners (as well many of the joggers and pedestrians).
Patricia Zerfas, who traveled all the way from Maryland, blazed through the women's 50K course in 4:07:44, shattering the 50K women's 40 =96 50 course record by nearly and hour and a half. Jean Suyenaga finished second, winning her age group with a time of 5:32:42. Carol Cuminale was third at 5:35:44, also winning her age group. Cassandra Johnson won her age group in 6:02:35 and Gillian Robinson, of Zombierunners placed second in her age group with a 6:10:10.
Scott Dunlap -- the 2004 Trail Runner magazine Trophy Series Winner – won the men's 50K in 3:52:15, achieving his goal of going under 4:00:00 -- despite having run the Boston Marathon earlier in the same week. Willem van Dam (no relation to Jean-Claude) was the second man overall, winning his age group with a time of 4:03:45. Oliver Chan finished third in 4:18:09, also winning his age group. Eric Poulsen, Spencer Frasher, and Ron Peck each also won their age group. And as mentioned, 17 year old Spencer Frasher – whose parents embarrassed him by taking photos as he stood in line at registration earlier that morning -- completed his first 50K and claimed the vacant under-20 men's age group 50K record.
50 Mile Summary
John Mintz -- who had already won a couple of races this year including the Pacifica Trail 9K and Montana De Oro Trail 13K -- came home with yet another win in the men's 50 mile with a time of 6:30:12. Mark Henderson, the colorful Texan, decided to call it a day at 50 miles as well after his bid for a sub 7:20:00 100K fell out of reach due to stomach troubles. Mark bagged second place with his 6:32:48. Cecil Baumgartner finished third in 7:51:19, also winning his age group. Jonathan Gunderson, Dieter Walz, and Charlie Alewine also won their age groups. As mentioned, 71 year old Dieter Walz broke his own USATF national age group record when he flew through the 50K mark at 5:13:36. Dieter then claimed the vacant 70+ Ruth Anderson 50 Mile age group record when he called it a day at 50 miles with a time of
Soon Gaal celebrated her birthday in style by winning the women's 50 Mile race in 9:52:56. Although exhausted, she saved enough energy to blow out the candles on her slice of birthday carrot cake! Diane Vlack, who originall had her sights set on the 100K, decided that 50 miles was plenty, finishing second among the women and first in her age group. Amidst the confusion, the race directors forgot to present Diane with her first place age-group plaque
Wendy Georges dominated the women's 100K field with no one else even in
sight; Wendy was the only women to stick it out and finish the 100K,
powering through the course in an impressive 10:53:27.
Chikara Omine, the 23 year-old phenom, thrilled the crowd as he lapped the rest of the field on his way to winning the men's 100K. His time of 7:42:10 knocked over 15 minutes off the previous men's 20 - 29 age group record. Mark Tanaka, who finished second overall while winning his age group, at onen point thought he was gaining on Chikara, only to later realize (in good humor) that he had apparently been lapped while taking a quick nature break
Mike Sweeney, the experienced veteran, finished comfortably in third with a
respectable time of 9:13:15. Charles Blakeney, who won his age group with a fourth-place finish, unleashed a devastating finishing kick to break the tape in just under ten hours, at 9:59:51. Buddy Pohl, who signed up the night before the race, took home a second place age-group finish with his 10:42:59. John Newmarker, one of the younger 100K runners, definitely had the largest and most boisterous cheering squad. They went berserk as he crossed the line in 11:48:24. James Yee showed true Ultra Runner spirit by bringing the race home, running the last two laps alone in the twilight after other runners had called it a day. Despite failing light, bare-bones aid stations consisting only of Coke and Cliff shots, and proffered bribes from the race directors to pack it in early, James continued on (in trademark, perfect upright running form), crossing the tape in 13:39:17, snagging second place in his age group and valuable PAUSATF points.
Race Results, Photos and Descriptions
The full race results will be available at
Thank You, Thank You,
We would like to thank all the wonderful volunteers who gave up their
Saturday to help make the race a success! Thank you to Stan Jensen, Ken
Reed, Jim Pommier, Kristina Irvin, Mark Seaman, Cammie Dingwell, Jeff Jones=
Brie Reybine, Lee Blaine, Marianne Paulson, Bob McPhail, Bryan Wyatt, Mike Webb, Georgia Gibbon, Mark Magers, and Mike Mahone! Thank you all so much!
We definitely also want to thank Steve Jaber, who organized the race for the past 7 years, for helping out again this year with a large portion of the planning and work in order to make the handover to the new race directors as smooth as possible. Thank you Steve!
See You Next Year!
See you all next year! Have a great rest of the season!
John & Amy Burton
Ruth Anderson 50K, 50M, 100K
Pat Fisher, April 2006
I never intended to be an ultra walker. My background was in running with some racewalking in my younger years. I went to seed in the early ‘80’s and in 1993 found that my suit from a few years earlier was 4 inches short of meeting in the middle. I then made a comeback to running and shed 17Kg. By now I was 45 and the running eventually took its toll on my joints. I got sick of running in pain so started to walk. I found when I walked my joints weren’t as sore and if I did longer walks and threw in some hills I could get some of the training effects I got from running.
My last run was the Canberra Marathon in 1996, this finally finished me off and I couldn’t do anything for months after it. I then started to walk for fitness and weight control and started walking with the ACT Race and Fitness Walking Club in 2003. I was pleased that they had expanded from being just Race Walking as I could not get the style right and would be scrubbed out of any race. I had a good year in 2004 walking the ACT Veterans half marathon in 2 hr 14 and the ACTRFWC 50 Km on a freezing day in September in 5 hr 53min, and winning the Vets handicap walking pointscore for the year. I was particularly pleased with the 50Km and was thrilled that I could cover this distance and in particular that I was able to go on at a consistent pace and didn’t hit the wall.
Carol Baird was encouraging me to attempt a Centurion Walk in 2003 and even gave me the entry form for the Coburg 2004 event! I told her I thought you would have to be crazy to walk for 24 hours. Carol was also suggesting I try the Gosford 12 hour which is held every January, but I thought you’d have to be crazy to walk all night as well! I stood firm on this resolve but in September 2005 I started to have a few walks with a group training for the Gosford 12 hour walk in January 2006. I had no intention of going to Gosford and saw the outings as a social event and used them to try and get myself motivated after having gone through a rough patch in mid 2005 and having some leg problems.
There are pivotal moments in anyone’s life and, on Saturday 1 October 2005 one of mine occurred a few kilometres into a 2-hour walk around Lake Ginninderra when Val Chesterton asked whether I’d like to go to Gosford for the 12-hour walk in January 2006. For some reason unknown to me I said I would! I think the fact that a large group was going was attractive; I didn’t really think through at that time how hard it would be to walk for 12 hours around a track.
The rest, as they say, is history. I was on a slippery slope towards attempting what I vowed I would never do, the 24 hour ultra. I went to Gosford, thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie and, thanks to quite a lot of long walks both with the group (including 8 hours with Val one day) and by myself, managed to get used to longer walks and get fit enough to walk the 12 hours without stopping and finished quite strong at the end. The only problem was my feet were so painful I could barely walk after the event. I managed to cover 87.8 Km in the 12 hours and finished 2nd to a great walker called Peter Bennett from Queensland who bashed out 98Km, amazing! Peter was a Centurion and I knew this was something special. I went to the vets Tuesday group two days after the event and only Terry Munro was prepared to dawdle at my slow pace and my unsightly gait was a source of amusement to all who saw me.
A couple of weeks after Gosford and when my feet had peeled, I was feeling quite good and I recall a thought coming into my mind going up a hill in Chapman “If I can walk the 12 hour with relative ease, I might be able to do the Centurion walk!” On returning home after this walk I announced to the family “I’m going to be the next Australian Centurion!!” This comment was greeted with looks of disbelief and my wife reminded me that I had said I would NEVER do Gosford and I would NEVER do a 24 hour walk. I had no reply to this, I could see that I could live to regret this decision but at the time I felt I could do it.
With the decision made I counted out the days between D-day and the Coburg event and set out to do as much training as I possibly could handle in the intervening days. There wasn’t a large group preparing for Coburg but Sharon Chomyn who had competed in the Gosford event was keen to give the 12 hours at Coburg a go so we started doing weekend training walks at 6am from Lennox Gardens. These walks started in the dark and we mostly did laps of the lake with the occasional venture into some tougher terrain like Mt Ainslie and Stromlo Forest (including the Gun Barrel and Dairy Farmer’s Hill). The walks were at a good pace and were generally about 5 hours in duration.
At the same time I was doing regular walks of four to seven hours’ duration by myself. Early on I was training in the (treeless) Stromlo Forest. I had many memories of running through the forest many years ago when there were trees there. I made sure I picked out as many hills as I could and I just tried to maintain a steady pace. Carol advised me to walk on harder surfaces to prepare for the Coburg track so six weeks out from the event I threw in a lot of footpath and bike path walks.
I had read an article by Tim Erickson about preparing for the 100-mile walk and he advocated a long all day stroll to get used to being on your feet for long periods. So on Wednesday 8 March (45 days out from the event) I set off from home at 6am and circumnavigated most of the southern part of Canberra returning home to the bemused looks of my family 14 hours later just after dark. I was really tired and all I could think of was ‘at Coburg I would still have 10 hours to go!!’. My family were a bit concerned when I hadn’t returned by dark and my son apparently said to his mother ‘I think dad’s gone a bit weird’. The 14-hour walk put my feet back to how they were after Gosford so I knew I had to pay more attention to taping my feet. I made some tactical errors like complaining two days after my 14 hr walk that my feet were sore and actually expecting any sympathy at home! I can remember sitting on the lounge with my feet up with the balls of both feet throbbing wondering why I had decided to try for the Centurion walk!
In all I covered about 1,500 Km in February and March and started to taper and carbo load about a week before the Coburg event. If I counted my preparation for Gosford and Coburg I had been doing long stuff for seven months so I hoped this was enough. As the event drew closer I began to lose the confidence I had when I made my decision in January to try for the Centurion.
Robin Whyte drove me to Melbourne with his caravan attached. The closer we got to Melbourne the day before the race the colder and more menacing the weather looked. The night before the race was freezing and raining.
We set up camp on the edge of the track at Coburg on the night before; a tent city slowly grew in the hours before dark. As we had no power, we had no heating and I slept with five layers on top, a beanie, gloves and woollen socks. I tossed & turned all night wondering why I ever thought I could do it. I felt like someone about to face the gallows in the morning. It finally dawned and the day was here! Hard to believe it had all come to this. There was a guy called Louis who must have been tough, he was sleeping in his truck next to us having driven 1200 Km to walk 24 hrs and he was in shorts and a T-shirt! I remember we had a discussion on whether the 24-hour ultra was 10 per cent physical and 90 per cent mental; someone said perhaps it was 70 per cent mental and 30 per cent physical. What we all failed to see was that we were all 100 per cent mental to be trying it.
Prior to the race I prepared a schedule and my aim was to complete 17 laps per hour, which, IF I could maintain it, would give me 408 laps after 24 hours, over the magic 402.3 laps required to do the 100 miles. I was careful at the start not to go off too fast. I was going a bit faster than schedule for the first few hours but felt good. I saw Louis fresh from his sleep in the truck lap me many times in the first few hours, looking good. He would later pay dearly for this, as would several other walkers who went out far too fast. After 6 hrs I was 9 laps ahead of schedule, 111 laps down only 291 and a bit to go!! After 12 hrs I had covered 86 Km (almost as much as Gosford) and was 12 laps ahead of schedule. I was feeling ok and was pleased to have the 12 lap buffer as it would be foolish to think that I could cover the same number of laps in the last 12 hours as in the first 12.
Louis had warned me about the danger time 2am - 4am when the body wants to shut down, you just had to keep plodding on in the dark and cold and possibly rain. He was right, after about 15.5 hours (about 1.30am) I went into a slump. With almost 9 hours still to go my stride shortened, my legs felt like lead, and I was convinced at that time that I would not achieve it. I was almost asleep on my feet and I was lurching into the second lane. I was running the risk of being pulled off by the medics if I kept that up. Carol and Robin, both Centurions who had been where I was, were great. They had completed their races but chose to stay all night long to support me and hand me drinks, food etc. I am sure that without their support I would not have achieved my goal. I said to Carol I was completely stuffed and she said ‘keep going, you haven’t done all that training for nothing’. I told Tim (Race Director) that I was shot and he said ‘walk through it’. At the time I couldn’t imagine that I could walk through how I felt. I asked Robin for a very strong very sweet cup of coffee which seemed to help. I then remembered the MP3 player, which I left in the caravan in case I needed it. I had done most of my training listening to music and felt walking to a beat helped.
What happened next amazed me. With almost 9 hours to go til the finish I put the headphones in to listen to Dire Straits (how appropriate - I was in dire straits at the time). As soon as ‘Brothers in Arms’ started I lifted my pace to walk in time with the music. I literally went from half dead to flying – sub 3-minute laps with 8.5 hours to go. I began lapping people who were lapping me just half an hour before. I wasn’t just passing them I was flying past them singing the words to ‘Brothers in Arms’!!. They just stared in disbelief. I am so glad a psychiatrist was not trackside otherwise I may have been carted away! Someone commented on my pace and I said Robin must have put some illicit drugs in the coffee – I had to quickly assure the chap that I was joking, as I did not want to be pulled off for a swab.
I kept this pace up for over an hour and I made up the few laps I lost during my slump and was over 12 laps ahead of my schedule with 7 hours to go. At that time I thought perhaps I might be able to achieve it.
Carol was SMS-ing my sister and son about my progress and she was reading replies from my family to me trackside as I went past to the amusement of the other competitors. It was great to know that other people were thinking of me during the event and how good to know that my son was taping the Brumbies game for me! My sister was ringing my 90-year-old Mum in Bathurst late into the night advising her how I was going. I found out later that mum and my wife were lying awake praying for me about the time I had my slump, so it might not have been the coffee or Dire Straits that perked me up?
In the last 4 hours Tim was advising each walker who had a chance of reaching the 100 miles how they were going, how many laps they had covered in the last hour, how many still to go and how many they would have to average per hour in the time left. This was very helpful. With 4 hours left, I had to cover 51 laps to get to the 100 miles, an average of just under 13 per hour. I felt at that time I could do it. I was feeling very tired and Dire Straits were not having the magic effect of several hours earlier but I kept telling myself that I had done numerous 4 hour walks and this was just another, besides it was now less than 2 laps of the lake to go!
Two hours to go, now only 21 laps to cover. I knew that, unless one of my legs fell off I was going to do it. I was now extremely tired. Jens Borello the Danish walker who was already a triple Centurion in 3 different countries and who had flown to Australia just for the event encouraged me saying that everyone else felt exactly how I was feeling. I found tucking in behind Jens or the extraordinary Deryck Skinner from South Australia who achieved his first Centurion at the age of 72 last year (the oldest person ever to do so) and who was heading for his second at age 73 with apparent ease, or multi-Centurion Queenslander Geoff Hain was a great help to me in the last hours – something I never had on my solitary training walks. I found all the ultra walkers to be thorough gentlemen and it was a pleasure to be on the track with them.
Somehow I managed to string together 17 laps in the 22nd hour and as the clock ticked over to 23 hours Tim said ‘You have only got 4 laps to go’. I can’t describe how great this made me feel, I knew now that my dream would be a reality! It was great, other competitors were patting me on the back and shaking my hand and encouraging me, I had never experienced anything like it.
They had a tripod set up at the 100-mile mark for photos. I had watched Jens finish 8 laps ahead of me and he chose not to continue on to the 24 hours. I decided I would continue just in case they had miscounted the laps and, besides, it was a 24-hour race, not a 100-mile race. I’m glad I made that decision because it meant that in the end I turned out to be the overall winner on distance.
Coming down the straight with one lap to go I got rid of the hat and asked Carol how my hair was for the photo. Next lap 100 metres from the 100 miles Carol appeared with a comb and offered it to me. I said you are my crew you can comb it so she was walking next to me combing my hair. I passed through the 100-mile mark in 23 hours 14 minutes 03 seconds, the 53rd person to complete the feat in Australia since 1938. I will never be able to describe how I felt. I had done it, my statement on 17 January to my family about becoming the next Australian Centurion had come to pass!!
The pressure was now off and I strolled around the track for another 45 minutes eventually reaching 165.605 Km in the 24 hours. I was amazed to later discover that this distance would have placed me 3rd in the 24-hour run. Carol passed me the mobile and suggested I ring Marg which I did while I was still on the track. I was almost in tears as I spoke about what I had just achieved. As they say at the Oscars, I owe it all to my family who have been very supportive. Marg has been an ultra-widow for many months while I was out pounding the streets and she never once complained about the time I was putting into it.
I found out at the presentation that I was provisionally third in the Australian 100 Km Championship, which was incorporated into the 24-hour event. Geoff Hain and I were on the same lap at the 100 Km mark and they will have to do a manual check of the times to see which of us was ahead. I was also awarded the Jack Webber trophy for the most meritorious performance in the Centurion 24-hour event. I don’t know a lot about Jack except that he was the second Australian to achieve a Centurion performance in 1971.
As I passed the 100-mile mark my training partner Sharon asked ‘What’s next?’ to which I replied ‘The 48 hour and the Colac Six Day!’ Some people I didn’t know looked at me strangely (as an ultra walker you get used to such looks). But I was only joking, I think…..
26 April 2006
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Please be advised that wef tonight, I have decided not to stand for the AURA Vice Presidency role at the AURA AGM which is being held tonight.
I believe that I can better serve the sport by being a "worker bee" than acting in my current position which has involved me making quite a few decisions in the past 12 months which sometimes I haven’t been comfortable with. I also believe that I couldn’t serve very well in the role due to the limited number of ultras that I can attend each year.
I will still be producing my web site, which I believe is a great benefit to the sport and I will still help the Colac 6-day race with publicity and their web site when I can.
I will also be helping the multi-day race in India to get off the ground and hopefully increasing my walking miles so that I can compete in Ultras again! When I finish my degree in 12-15 months time, there could be another Ultra book in the pipeline.
AURA is in very good hands now and I believe will continue to play it's part in the development of our sport in Australia.
The Inaugural Australian Alpine 100 Mile Ultra Marathon
by Paul Ashton – April 2006
The stars twinkled overhead in the brisk predawn, it was minus 1 Celsius at 4am on 22 April 2006 and history was in the making. The inaugural running of the Australian Alpine 100mile Ultra Marathon (AAUM 100) was about to commence. As the four intrepid / mad runners donned head torches and gloves our support crew snapped a couple of commemorative photos and we jogged off into the darkness.
Over 2 years in the planning the AAUM 100 was developed to take in the most scenic and toughest terrain that Victoria has to offer. 100 miles of spectacular alpine scenery including; Mt Feathertop (Victoria’s second highest peak at 1922m), Mt Fainter (1820m), Mt Bogong (Victoria’s highest peak, 1986m), Spione Kopje (1840m), Mt Nelse (1884m) and Mt Hotham (1860m) plus some spectacular valleys in between – a total of 6 major ascents and descents totaling over 5,500m each and 2 major river crossings. The event, based on the Karrimor Mountain Marathon was not only about running it was about a shared experience where runners bonded together, stopping at a campsite, regrouping and supporting one another. This was an event designed to test the toughest of runners - and that was on a good day! In bad weather or snow, which could strike at any time, it had the potential to be awfully uncomfortable, cold, wet and windy at best, life threatening at worst.
Jan Herman and Lawrence Mead from Sydney, Tim Cochrane and Paul Ashton from Melbourne had agreed to test the run along with Seppo Kuusisto and Diane Paech who would provide the support. This was essential in order to allow the runners to not have to carry packs with full overnight gear and food for the entire length of the run which was estimated to take anything from 36 – 50 hours. The plan was to run the first 46km with light packs and then pick up our overnight gear, sleeping bags, bivvi bags, extra clothes and food for a 70km unsupported leg up and over Mt Bogong – the hardest and most exposed section of the course, before meeting up with the support crew at Langfords Gap and picking up the lighter packs and more food for the final 50kms. As we were latter to find out the support team also provided an invaluable degree of support in picking up exhausted and injured runners from different sections of the course and driving them off the mountains.
Soundlessly we ran through the sleepy hamlet of Harriteville and approached the start of the Bungalow Spur, a 1400m climb up a well maintained walking trail that wound gently up to the summit of Mt Feathertop. The guys were feeling strong and in the early pre dawn air we paced out alternatively jogging and walking up to the site of the old Feathertop hut. It was here in the shadow of the snow gums, below the twinkling stars and fading moon that we saw the hazard that had been placed in our path from the preceding days storms – snow. Turning off our head torches we joked about cold feet and pushed on up the now deeping snow, past the new Feathertop hut and on up to the summit. Our pace slowed to a walk, the increasing gradient and ice on the trail making running difficult and treacherous over the scotch paving which was all but hidden from view.
Below spread a winter wonderland, from Mt Bogong to Mt Hotham there was white everywhere it was a stunning and awe inspiring view, topped of with the sun rising over Mt Nelse casting a vivid light over all the surrounding peaks. We were awe struck and shivered in the gentle breeze with the temperature recording –4.1C. Standing on the summit we commented that it just did’nt get any better than this, we snapped off a couple of quick photos and headed down out of the wind, glad to have seen a perfect sunrise and covered 12 km in 2.5 hours.
Our next challenge was the virtually unrunable descent of Diamintina Spur a mean 3.2km drop down into the West Kiewa Vally. On a previous research trip this short leg had taken me nearly 2 hours. Today, with the snow filling the gaps between the rocks and providing a firm cover we made swift but careful progress over the upper reaches, the more we descended the more the angle of descent increased and we were forced to use our hands to hold onto rocks and grab trees to control our speed. We made it down on 1 hour, 20 minutes. The valley was glorious, the sun was starting to poke through the treess and frost coated the grass and ferns, avoiding the icy pools of water in the road we were able to make quick progress to Batty’s Hut where we invested 20 minutes in locating the access track to Weston’s Hut and our access to the High Plains.
On this the second major ascent Tim, Jan and Lawrence pulled away from me and I was forced to use my walking poles to try and keep up as we strode through unburnt forests of Mountin Ash. Finally I caught them resting in the snow outside Weston’s Hut. From here we continued in perfect conditions through snow gums in 10cm of packed snow and brilliant sunshine to Pole 333 on the Alpine Walking Track before racing down to Tawonga Huts. On the descent we were inspired by the sight of two sets of fresh foot prints in the snow indicating that our support crew had been able to get in as well. We were greeted by calls of “stop – I want to take a picture”, “do you want a hot drink”, “how about some cake”. It was wonderful. We basked in the sun in the relative warmth of 2 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes, fixing blisters, taking on food and water, applying sun screen, and revising plans for the support team for our next meeting at Bogong Village, 15 odd km away. Whilst we were already an hour behind our planned schedule we foolishly told Diane and Seepo to have the billy on for us around 1pm for lunch. What we didn’t know was that the snow would slow us down and impede our progress, we wouldn’t arrive at Bogong Village until 3pm, three hours off schedule. In the life of a 40 hour plus run this probably was not a major issue, however I was concerned as we had to climb through the newly emerging forest that was quickly suffocating Spione Kopje fire trail. This was the regrowth that had taken hold since the 2003 bushfires and it was becoming very thick. To get caught up in this in the dark would really hinder progress.
After a big feed of noodles, pizza and beer at Bogong Village and a change of socks we hoisted on our overnite packs and headed off again – the extra weight was immediately noticeable and we fell into a fast walk along the river flats. At this stage Jan and Lawrence had disappeared behind us and I struggled to keep pace with Tim who was surging on strongly up the ridge. With my Suunto watch and altimeter I was able to track our progress and it was inspiring to call off every hundred meters of ascent, we were racing against the clock and we had to be within 200m of the summit before it got dark. We just made it. The regrowth disappeared and the climb steepened as night and the mist descended upon us. A slight breeze sprung up and the temperature dropped to minus 2.7 Celcius. We donned, overpants, Gortex jackets, hats, gloves, thermals and headlamps, downed a couple of carbo shots and continued the climb. Summiting Spoine Kopje we could see the lights of Falls Creek shimmering off in the distance otherwise everything was black with the only light being from outr torch beams reflecting of the snow and mist. Our pace slowed as we tried to pickup the snow covered fire trail. Jan and Lawrence caught up with us and indicated that they were going to try and push on all through the night and ten disappeared into the blackness, Tim and I had discussed one more big climb for the night up Quartz Ridge to Cleve Cole Hut but the climb up Spionne Kopje had knocked the stuffing out of us. Our plan was now to head to the Helipad at Big River about 15km and 5 hours away. If we were lucky we would make it by 11pm.
Navigating in the mist and snow at night can be a frightening experience, tracks disappear, roads that should be traveling east turn west and you have no points of reference. You need to be cool calm and collected, know how to read a map and compass and use logical analysis, not so easy sometimes after 15 hours on the go. Tim and I had to make a number of navigational decisions and with the benefit of local knowledge and our map we went the right way, we could just have easily taken two wrong turns and wasted 15 minutes or more on each. We plodded on – there was no though of running at this stage we were focused on getting to our camp. Tim hit the wall, his pace slowed considerably and I worked on trying to keep him motivated, conundrums, previous ultra stories, anything to keep him going – he probably just wanted me to shut up. After about ½ an hour he took on food and surged off again – I went on, left foot, right foot, left foot on and on through the soft and deepening snow. I kept thinking I wanted to stop and sit down, but I knew if I did that it would have disastrous consequences, I forced myself forwards. The wind had picked up and the sky cleared, the heavens above were filled with the brightest array of stars, I felt humbled before nature, the overwhelming power and beauty of it all. Away from civilisation and all its trappings were just two blokes surrounded by the essence and beauty of our world, it was a truly moving and awesome moment! The increasing bite of the wind penetrating our garments forced us on and I reflected how lucky we had been with the weather, it could have been raining, it could have been white out conditions – this was a cold and hostile environment and we were out here, alone, at least 3 hours from shelter. The fragility of our existence and the potential risks hit me strongly and I wondered what we would do if the weather had turned. To stay out for two days running at the limits in bad conditions would be tempting fate too much.
Suddenly out of the gloom a snow pole loomed up from the ground and rose above us. I had no recollection of poles on this part of the trail and went to check it out – It looked new and I thought, through my fog encrusted mind, “what nice guys the rangers were, putting a pole line out to Spione Kopje”, yes there was another and another, every 30 metres, followed suddenly by a sign t Mt Nelse. We jerked to a halt – “we’ve gone the wrong way” I said to Tim – “were 180degrees off course!!”. I walked over to the pole and checked its number - 818 – we had come past about 50 poles – 1.5km off course and in the wrong direction. At least, with the help of the map we knew exactly where we were, but how easy to get off course. I checked the map and explained to Tim our options 1) turn back and walk for 3 hours to the helipad, it was now nearly 9pm and the temperature had dropped to minus 3.6 degrees, so we would arrive at midnight and then set up tent and cook some dinner or 2) continue on for ½ an hour and camp in the warmth and shelter of Edmonsons Hut.. It really was a no brainer. Both of us suddenly felt recharged as we surged down the hill wondering where Jan and Lawrence had gone. We were sure that we had been following their footsteps and assumed that they, like us had worked out that the snow on Bogong would be too deep , and so had opted to head to Langfords Gap instead.
With the light of Tim’s mega bright cycling light we came onto Edmonsons Hut feeling like a million dollars and two of the luckiest people in the world. The door was locked and after some banging we were greeted by “a wait a minute” and a bundled up body in a sleeping bag opened the door and greeted us - “where have you guys come from you look f….d” – we actually thought we looked and felt pretty good at that stage. But what did we know we’d been on the go 17 ½ hours.
Paul, our hut host, stoked up the fire, put on the billy and we stuffed ourselves full of noodles, muslie, and chocolate whilst and we regaled him with stories of our trip – eventually working out that it had taken us 17 ½ hours to do just 60km – we were astounded at how slow our progress had been. Unpacking our sleeping bags and slipping of our windproofs we went to sleep full clothed saying that in the morning we would examine our options. In our hearts I think we both accepted that we had run our race for this year. Sleep came quickly and in spite of the mice eating holes in Tim’s pack and Paul’s snoring we slept fairly soundly till 7am. As I moved off the bunk I felt the pain in my right ITB and knew that I was done – it was Langford’s Gap and a ride out for me. Tim was happy to support me to the end but said he’d be back next year. I was thinking, will there ever be a next year. This was a bugger of a run – it was hard and we hadn’t even done half the distance.
At Langords, we called up Seepo on the mobile – where would we be without them, and he said he’d pick us up in 10 minutes, the sun warmed our bodies and we relaxed, I called up Jan and he said that they had been worried about us. They had continued up Quartz Ridge to Bogong but got stuck in a white out with almost zero visibility and calf deep snow at 3am with the temperature around minus 2 Celsius, so they wisely decided to retrace their steps down the mountain. Then they had followed the fire trail back to Bogong Village and were expecting to get pulled out at about 11am by Diane. They had been on the move continuously for 31 hours, an amazing effort, although Jan did say that Lawrence did stop occasionally and sway – his version of sleep walking and not recommended in the snow.
So in 2006 it was Bogong 1, ultra mad runners nil. And an epic run was created!
What will 2007 bring, and what did we learn;.
- Subject to Parks Victoria approval and insurance coverage there will be a run in March 2007, possibly with some changes to the route and possibly with a 100km option.
- Support is essential on an event of this nature, without Seepo and Diane we would have struggled, especially at the end when they picked up both groups. In most runs the work of the support crews is not recognized, but in stage runs of this nature they are a most valuable resource and safety factor. Without support I would not put the run on again.
- Running in pairs is an essential safety factor in this environment.
- Stopping for proper food breaks and eating constantly ensures that the body remains fuelled and strong. With the long distances between support points proper food planning is essential
- The run is Hard with a capital H, the environment is hostile, weather conditions can and do change quickly and runners need to anticipate changes. It is too easy to lose body heat and get yourself into trouble
- The ability to read a map to ground and use a compass are mandatory skills.
- Carrying full safety equipment including, spare warm clothing and overnight gear is essential
- The run will start at 3am and with the help of daylight saving this will allow all runners to make the mandatory overnight stop Cleve Cole Hut
To Seepo and Diane, thanks for your fantastic support, without you guys they run would have been so much harder. To Tim, Jan and Lawrence. Thanks for joining me in the run and sharing my vision and the experience. See you and hopefully many others in 2007.
Paul Ashton is passionate about the outdoors, ultra running and experiencing life. He has successfully completed the Everest Marathon, Comrades Marathon, Great South Coast Run, Overland Track, Wilson’s Prom 100 and Cradle to Coast. He also has a love for Rock Climbing, XC Skiing and Snow Shoe running. As the coordinator of Trail Running Victori, Paul organizes a number of events in Victoria including;
AAUM 100ml - March
Wilsons Prom 100km - April
Grampians Grunt 50km - November
Mt Feathertop 30 / 50km Skyrun - December
During the winter months he can be seen training on racing snow shoes in anticipation of the formation of the Australian Snow Shoe Racing Association and races which he plans to establish, when he gets fit enough.
Paul has also written, in conjunction with Nigel Aylett, an article on “Ultra running made easy – a beginners guide”.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
- Orange Curtain 50k (I'm the RD so I have financial interest) - low elevation, very flat, choice of asphalt or dirt surface, 2006 was first year, designed to be fast
- Lake Hodges 50k - low elevation, pretty flat, mostly dirt surface, 2004 was first year, designed to be easy, course has changed each year
- Bishop High Sierra - medium to high elevation, long steady climb followed by similar descent, dirt to rocky surface, many years in operation
- Holcomb Valley (33 mile) - high altitude, some climbs/some flat, dirt trails/roads/some racks, many years in operation
- Baldy Peaks (32 mile) - medium to (mostly) high altitude, long very steep climbs followed by longer merely steep descents (except for the very steep descent sections), mostly rocky surface with a few (4?) miles of asphalt, been around for a while but is cancelled for 2006, designed to be tough and is
- High Desert - medium altitude, some gradual climbs but fairly flat, forgiving and mostly not too sandy surface (fast course), many years in operation, a big favorite of a lot of So Cal runners
Due to time and other contraints, what was intended as a group run hasn't materialized as a group run, yet. Trained and undaunted though, The Mississippi to Lake Michigan Run (190 miles in 4 days) to Reduce Stigma will take place May 25th-28th, as a solo run if need be.
The purpose of ther run is to raise awareness to the stigma associated with mental illnesses, how that stigma not only prevents people from seeking assistance but also access to assistance. Many people with Mental illnesses are denied the same services as others.
Literature will also be distributed about Whitney's Walk/CC Run, a suicide prevention event taking place in Jubilee Park in Brimfiled, Illinois on Saturday July 29th.
Your participation would improve awareness and initiate discussion about stigma and through open discussion, understanding of all people with disabilities.
When I began this, I truly intended to attrract many other runners, high school cross-country athletes and other like-minded people. And perhaps I will.
But that really doesn't matter anymore. I'm also not really that interested in raising money so why would I do this?
I do this for all the parents who know the feeling of tears welling in their eyes when they hope and pray for their child each day. I do this for all the kids who have no one who cares enough to shed a tear for them. I do this for my son Ben who I think is courageous by going to school every day knowing that the next bully he runs into may be the one who teases him to the point where tears run down his cheeks.
I do this because regardless of whether you have Autism, Aids or Arthritis, you deserve equal access and respect.
I do it because if reading this benefits one person, the journey was not in vain.
God Bless Us For All of Our Differences!
For more information email email@example.com or visit mhaiv.org or runstoreducestigma.com
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The 8th Annual Double Chubb 25K/50K results, can be found on our web site at:
We had runners from 12 states and Austria. The day started off at a cool 55 degrees, and slowly crept up to 84 degrees. It was mostly sunny, with a few clouds. As we have been having a very early spring, this year, the trail was more shaded than most years. After taking the customary SLUG photo, the race started. Adam MacDowell, once again won the 25K, 1:36:51, but this time without the sprained ankle.
He did manage to take a wrong turn, as someone took down our direction signs. Therefore was unable to break the course record. Brian Beckfort, from Indiana was unable to hang on, taking 2nd at 1:41:42. Robert Fuerst was 3rd, taking the Master division with a time of 1:50:50 for a new record. Mark Konya broke the Senior record with a time of 2:09:03. Slug George Powell took the Grand Masters award with a time of 2:46:39.
The women's race was about 5 minutes apart also. Renee VanHorn kept Noelle Morgan-Chilcoat at bay, winning with a 2:31:08. Noelle is new to trail racing, and enjoyed her day very much. Finishing with a big smile, with a time of 2:35:54. Several ladies dropped down to the 25K race, from the 50K for one reason or another. (they were ineligible for age group awards) This gave Slug Laura Vossman, her first ever Master's Award. Way to go Laura. Deb Schopp repeated her win for the Senior division, as did Slug Joyce Yarger in the Grand Master group.
Much to my delight, my running buddy Ed got to finish his first trail race. (He wanted me to join him, but with knee surgery planned for Tuesday, I couldn't) He was pleased with his time, and the fact that he did not get lapped by the 50K runners.
This years 50K runners had their excuses lined up way in advance. "well you know I am running McNaughton" "Boston is the Monday before" Did not matter in the least, I think this racing into shape just works for these guys. Joel and Tom were about 1 minute apart at the half way point. The gap spread at the finish.
Joel Lammers won for the 5th time with a time of 3:53:32. It was a little hot for the WI runner, but then again I did ask him to bring some snow. Tom Whalen was close behind taking the Masters division with a 4:04:25. Slug Tony Kramer took the Seniors award with a time of 4:59:44, and Slug Ran Ryerse shattered the Grand Masters record with a time of 5:16:05. Austrian Helmut Lizbichler age 64 finished his 50th Ultra, with a time of 5:54:42
For the women, Becky Leahy and Christine Crawford had finished in a tie, in 2005. They were about 2 minutes apart at the half way point with Becky still leading. We got reports later that Christine had managed to pull ahead at the turn-around and had a 6 minute lead. Christine Crawford won with a time of 4:33:23, 7th place overall. Becky took 2nd with a time of 4:55:35. New Slug Joan Bennett took the Master award with a time of 5:29:04. Raz Estridge and her dog Booper finished in 8:24:49, giving Raz the Senior award. Booper was the first K-9. For those of you who saw Heidi pulling around Tom Reich, Heidi did not do the whole 50K.
It was a fun day, with my sister Jane taking pictures and having them done before the runners finished. Jane let everyone who wanted to take their pictures home with them. Joe Miller filled in as camera person, while Jane went and got the photos.
Thanks to my aid station workers Angie, Jessica and Susan ,Jacob, Ken, Tom and Joe, Jenn, Tracey, and Rob .
Thanks to my husband David for all the work leading up to the race, and taking care of the timing.
The Kenners came and helped us load everything up and clean up.
I have such a wonderful group of Slug friends, without you guys this race would not happen.
Sign up early if you want to run next year, as Chubb filled in 8 weeks.
Excerpt from the AURA "Code of Conduct" - "No act shall be committed by a competitor or crew member that could be taken as offensive by anyone in the area".
The annual Self-Transcendence 6 and 10 Day Races in historic =
Flushing-Corona Park, Queens, New York begin this week (10 Day Wed. Apr. 26, 6 Day Sun. Apr. 30).
A combined field of close to 70 runners is set to take on the 1
mile loop along the shores of Meadow Lake (some of the same bike trail was home to Don Ritchie's 1979 road 100 mile record of 11:51 as well as many other records). Yiannis Kouros has run many remarkable races in this park.
Flushing-Corona Park is where the US Open tennis tourney is held, the 1939 and 1964-65 World's Fairs were located, the METS play baseball, and a large Zoo and other attractions are.
Runners in the field include USA ultra veterans John Geesler, Glen
Turner, Dave Luljak, and Bob Oberkehr. Other top runners include
Women's world 6 day road record holder (510 mi.) Dipali Cunningham of
Australia, Lithuania's (and Brooklyn's) Rimas Jackelaitis (the ONLY
person currently living in North America to have done 600 miles in 6
days), and Canada's Trishul Cherns (538 miles, also more multi-day races
completed than any runner in history). Several top European
ultrarunners are expected to toe the line.
The modern day ratified US best 6 day mark is 554 miles 72 yds by
George Gardiner. US womens mark=3D 487 mi. 1585 yds. by Donna Hudson.
If you go to www.multidays.com and click the Sri
Chinmoy Marathon Team link there should be race updates, a virtual
cheering section, etc.
6 Day Races were contested in New York City for many years before
1900, made a comeback in the early 1980s, and today in 2006 are still
Best of luck to all these multi-day runners as well as the handlers, lap counters and race workers.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
We are the Dead.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
Monday, April 24, 2006
Excerpt from the Webpage
21/4/6 Hi, have just had a long chat with Rosie earlier today. She is just about to set off from Manley Hot Springs a small village where she has been staying at for the last few days. Manley Hot Springs is a small village of around fifty people. Everyone has been extremely friendly and kind to Rosie, Earlier in the day Rosie had given a talk at the local school, that she enjoyed very much. Rosie has been staying with a lovely couple called Carole and Bunny. she would like to thank them for there hospitality and help with her equipment. Now Rosie is on the road networks, the sled 'Sprit of America' is no longer suitable. It has been a wonderful aid to her and it is being sent back to its owner Denis Douglas with thanks.
Double Chubb 25/50k in St. Louis, MO on yesterday.
Thanks to all the wonderful aid station volunteers for staying out on the
course for the endurance of a hot day. The volunteers were absolutely
excellent in the execution of their jobs. This is the second year that I've
had the pleasure of being served by these wonderful people.
I cannot praise Victoria enough for the hard work that she did in taking
care of the runners and putting on another great year of Double Chubb.
If you haven't experienced the Double Chubb, what are you waiting for?
Thanks again, Victoria and volunteers.
Check out the Berryman Marathon/50 Trail Runs on May 27th. Directed by the
husband of Victoria, David White. Another well done race with excellent aid
stations. You don't want to wait around and miss out on this one.
1) Next year there will be 50/100/150.
2) The 150 will start at 6 pm on Friday evening (13'th
of April)with a 48 hour time limit.
3) The first 12 hours (6 pm to 6 am) will feature
minimal aid station support (e. g., there will be
water) and of course drop bags and water at the
4) At 6 am (Saturday) the aid stations will be fully
staffed; the 50 mile and 100 mile will start then.
5) 100 milers can start at 6 pm Friday but will not be
elgible for awards (other than finisher's awards).
The 6 pm start will be the ONLY early start option.
6) The course will be open until 6 pm Sunday; that is
36 hours for the 50/100 racers and 48 for the 150's
(and early starting 100 milers)
7) The updated website will be ready in a few weeks.
I'll e-mail the lists when registration is open.
8) If the weather is dry, he'll put out firehoses to
wet down the trail to make it muddy. He'll also put
out sun lamps to heat things up to 90 F if the weather
is cool. Ok, I am just kidding about point 8. :-)
Sunday, April 23, 2006
The 2006 Coburg 24 Hour carnival was held on the weekend of 22-23 April at the
Harold Stevens Reserve in Coburg. A total of 25 walkers and 27 runners
submitted entries and all bar a few late scratchings keenly contested the
various running and walking events on offer.
The carnival started at 10AM on the Saturday morning in typical Melbourne
autumnal weather – variable and impossible to predict! The forecast
threatened showers but luckily the race was spared and conditions, although
slightly on the cold side, turned out to be nearly ideal for such an event.
It was particularly gratifying to see 31 of the 52 entrants choosing to
compete in the 24 Hour events.
The 24 Hour Walk events saw 4 walkers – Jens Borello, Pat Fisher, Deryck
Skinner and Geoff Hain - reach the 100 mile mark and thus achieve the
Jens Borello from Denmark was already a triple centurion - Continental (C317
22:15:34 2004), British (C1026 23:17:36 2005) and American (C62 23:21:14
2006) – and he made the trip to Australia specifically for this event. He
judged his pace perfectly, sitting back in the field as others pushed the
pace early. His patience was rewarded as those ahead of him came back to the
field. He took the lead soon after the 100 km mark and was untroubled to
become Australian Centurion number 52 with a fine time of 22:36:14.
Patrick Fisher came into the event with only one ultra distance walk to his
credit, a noteworthy 87.8 km in the 2006 Gosford 12 Hour. Prepared by and
supported during the event by Canberra based centurions Robyn White and Carol
Baird, he always looked strong and was still full of walking as he reached
the 100 mile mark in 23:14:03 to become Australian Centurion number 53.
Deryck Fisher became Australian Centurion number 51 with an astonishing walk
in the 2005 Sri Chinmoy. Aged 72 years at that time, he completed the 100
miles in 22:39:55 to set a whole swag of new Australian M70 running and
walking records. Now aged 73, he completed his second centurion qualifier,
this time with a time of 23:23:43.
Geoff Hain, Australian Centurion number 49, had already completed 3 100 mile
qualifiers in the previous 18 months (including one in NZ). Coming from a
backgound as an ultra distance runner, he has made a very successful
transition to ultra distance walking and produced a fourth centurion
performance at Coburg in a time of 23:38:25.
We welcome Jens and Patrick as new Centurions and we acknowledge the awesome
performance of all 4 walkers.
Of particular interest to all was the race within a race between octogenarians
Ken Matchett (84 years young) and Stan Miskin (80 years young) who between
them broke (subject to ratification) six IAU World M80 running records. Ken,
entered as a runner, broke the World M80 records for 30 Miles, 40 Miles, 50
Miles and 12 Hours. Stan, entered as a walker, broke the World M80 24 hour
record. The World M80 100 km record was almost certainly also broken but we
will have to wait a few days to see which of these combatants passed that
As usual, the Coburg Harriers did an outstanding job in hosting and manning
this event. They were ably supported by various external experts, the
principal ones being Malcolm Matthews (computer timing), Michael Gillam
(masseur) and Les Clark (whatever is required) who turn up year after year
and without whom the event would struggle.
Provisional results of both the running and walking events, individual
lapsplits and a selection of photos from the events will soon be available
for viewing at the Coburg Harriers website
http://www.coburgharriers.org.au/html/24hour.htm. Further photos and info
will be uploaded to the Australian Centurion Walkers website
We look forward to seeing everyone at the same time and same place next year!
Secretary, Australian Centurion Walkers Inc
Sunday 23 April 2006