Home > Kev's Blog > 17-Aug-2008  12 Foot Track Race report

17-Aug-2008  12 Foot Track Race report

Sunday 17 August 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I awoke at noon today, felt like I’d been run over by a truck. The kids were up a lot earlier of course and my wife had been running for the day and got back. I was oblivious. “Where’s Dad ? “, “he’s still in bed”. I looked in the mirror to see a haggard 40-something looking back at me, maybe too many late nights. I’d got home that morning approx 5am after a late night out. My mouth felt like sandpaper – what had I been drinking last night ?! Like all party nights, it all started out as good clean fun, but gradually deteriorated as time wore on and ended up as a vague blur such that I can hardly remember how I got home. I staggered to the front door, and saw that the car was there, in one piece, but inside it was a right bloody state. I opened the door of the car and was hit by the smell of poo, saw a table that wasn’t there when I left home (!) and found a pair of (used) underpants.

However, we both know that I wasn’t getting my kicks at a boozy nightclub last night, but had been on my annual pilgrimage to the 12 Foot Track. I won’t call it a race, although people do record their times. Its definitely in that class of run where the runners are more inclined to help each other out – its a “runners versus the course” mentality. Many runners know about the Six Foot Track, and the annual 45km run each March. In 2008 alone, well over 800 people entered this race, so its quite an achievable goal for many. Running the same route AND BACK is stunning in its simplicity, but like a game of chess, it can all unravel quite quickly. By some strange quirk of physics, out and back is about 3 times as hard as just the one way.

Like any run, 2008 was no exception : some people ran better than expected, some ran about the same and some experienced some difficulties and may come back next year to improve, this year’s knowledge tucked away to be learnt from, sometimes painfully. For myself, I have had a lot more failures than successes – Out of 7 previous starts (2001 to 2007) I have one finish, 2 serious attempts at a finish and 4 not very serious excursions. So with some improvement in training, both physically and mentally, I thought I had a good chance of a finish in 2008. This is the story of how my weekend unfolded.

I left work approx 6pm Friday and had an veg-Thali at my favourite Indian restaurant in the city – rice and nan is good (ditto lentils..). Train to Sutherland to pick up my car then drove to Leura to pick up a table I bought from eBay. (I figured a 6am knock on a Saturday morning or worse a 2am Sunday morning wouldn’t go down well). I struggled to put it in the boot (station-wagon type car). I nipped into to Coles in Katoomba to buy some batteries and some nut bars as I forgot to bring any food (!). By about 10pm my time was my own so learning previous lessons from the race I made my own arrangements for aid at the Deviation (36km/ 54km points in the run).

I drove round to the deviation – my wife said I was nuts – but its a damn sight easier than taking stuff to pluvi by car (which I have been doing for the megalong mega). I stopped off at Mt Vic servo for a coffee on the way. I put out 2 cans of coke (one for the way out and one for way back) – figuring I can crush them and carry the empty. I also put out a bag with some more drinks, tights, beanie, thermal top, more food and importantly my torch. I would pick this up on the way back, but it was there if required on the way out. It would be a good incentive for me to run back to deviation at least. I buried it all under some leaves. There had been no discussion on CoolRunning about any aid there – I think its a better aid drop than the caves as there is a shop at the caves. Anyway Katoomba to Deviation is approx an hour or a bit less. I know the way well now and don’t even get scared of the dark. There were signs out saying ice and snow on the road but I didn’t see any but it was cold.

Afterwards I drove back to the Explorer’s tree and parked by the hut where Six Foot starts (further away from the road). As I am a short arse I was able to get in my sleeping bag on the back seat, i bought a pillow and doona as well. My head was positioned so I could look out the window up to the stars. Lovely. Went to sleep just after midnight.  The next I knew it was just before 6am as it was getting light. I didn’t realise it but lastish and Coolwalker David must have come past (separately) during the night. I wasn’t first at the start! there were already people gathering. It was great to chat for a while whilst slowly getting ready. I had my normal breakfast of cold porridge. We signed a sheet that Rod passed around and had the usual photo by the tree. We left almost dead on 7am, amazing to start on time (quite clearly nothing to do with me).

I went off with Alison and Meredith but must have just got in front of them going down Nellies Glen and was quite happy just drifting by myself. Megalong Valley was simply stunning – the firetrail section was cold – but not excessively – with white frosty grass and blue skies. Buzzlightyear was at the cemetary, where I picked up my 2 handhelds  – I wasn’t wearing a pack – just a striders “thermal” and cr tritop (with pockets) and shorts. he bright blue sky with no clouds was superb, it was really enough to make an adult cry it was just so perfect. Seeing the track wend its way over the hils was breathtaking. I ran to the river with a guy, but can’t remember his name (sorry), and he took the bridge and I took the river and we got to the other side almost spot on the same time. We passed Coolwalker David going up mini-mini I think. He was cursing about something or other and had lost his scarf (we saw it miles back). I was pretty much by myself after the river and started listening to my ipod. I felt I was going at a decent pace. Sometime after pluvi the guy I was at the river with went past. I must have slowed down but was still tootling along ok. Close to the deviation Alison and Meredith came past, or nearly past, I must have been daydreaming so I zoomed ahead only to stop by my bag and they went past. I had a coke and put my gloves away.

My next goal was to make it to the road before I saw the first runner coming back – I had always managed to do this. The girls must have scotted on a lot quicker as I never saw thenm but was still moving ok. I made the road and a fair way after then the first runner I saw was Shogun. Wow. He said Tim had blown up (he had said he would go hard). I think he needed to show a bit of respect for the race (refer: http://au.youtube.co…h?v=C6C83lwwxJ8 ). ha ha. Then came Tim, poor bugger looked tired, then Spud then a shite load of others. Someone had said that Kev Cassidy was at Jenolan. I got a round of applause when I arrived (from Kev) in 6:30. I don’t wear a watch but Kev showed me his – exactly 13:30 and given we left pretty much dead-on 7am it was 6:30. I then spent 10-15mins chatting. Then I got a coffee (short black, which took 10 bloddy minutes the effing slowcoaches) and a sandwich, then had a quick photo op with Jan. I noticed that Caves House looks a lot better since they took down the scaffolding – great paint job indeed.

We left together (23mins+ at Jenolan). 13:53 by Kev’s watch. Saw a bunch of roos at Jenolan Cottages – they are always there. We saw the last few stragglers coming down and Kieron + mate – stopped for a quick chat and photo. me Jan and Kieron go back a long way now! Moving on we were chatting about Jan’s attempt at Mont Blanc, Dawn, Bundeena etc as I haven’t seen Jan since Jan(uary). Jan took off just after the road (I am meant to be running and him walking). I caught him up by the black range campground. He leapfrogged and sorted my gear at the deviation (only 100m further on). I always chuckle to myself at the deviation at the time Max was crew-dude and built this campfire at deviation and almost everyone dropped out there. Lets hope no one does that again – its good for morale but bad for runners! He put on his coat and said the weather look bad, and I said it had never rained. Jan took off saying I would catch him later on the downhills. I never saw another person afterwards all the way back. 10mins later it was pissing down like cold shards of glass. Another 10mins and it was sleeting a treat. bloody hell! Thankfully it stopped soon after and I scootled off. Previously I had hit pluvi in the dark and I wanted to get past there this time. I did it I did it ! In fact I got pretty much all the way down to the creek. I got my torch out and put my tights & beanie on before it got too dark to see. I got my feet wet in every sodding creek and the water was really bloody freezing. Going past the halfway mark at Alum creek near the camp ground there was a couple putting up their tent in the wrong spot. I think they thought I was an axe-murderer some to get them. Coming down Mini-Mini I turned my torch off and just used the stars. Beautiful. I still remember running along here at this time of night with Dave Flimpyhead on the very first 12foot. I was running with my ipod down this section and I guess this was the first indication my mind was unravelling, as I approached the river I was running well, feeling good, well fed and hydrated. I suspect it was the Bauhaus song Bela Lugosi’s dead where I started to become unhinged. I was really pissed off at getting my feet wet and knew I was in for a soaking at the river.

I hit the camp ground by the river and remember this morning that it was just as quick to take the bridge than the river. I had come back by river once before and remembered it was a fair way round. So off I trotted, or walked, I can’t remember. Probably no difference actually! Anyway I was sure I had gone too far, have no idea of the time. Turned around. f**k f**k f**k. Then saw the path and sign I missed so followed that. Quite a few cows. Loads of cow pats. Am quite sure I went thru heaps of it. Eventually got to the bridge. I hate heights but was in no mood to fart around. Turned my light off – 2 reasons – 1- I didn’t want t see too much and 2- the moon/stars/clouds were really great. By the time I got across I was a bit cold so put on my last top. Now it was just back to megalong then the finish.

I started tripping over all the sodding f**king rocks, going thru cow pats. Didn’t care – just don’t fall over (I didn’t). The ipod play list was obviously on the female section – Germ-free Adolescents (Xray-spex) and Eight Day (Hazel O’Connor) are stand outs. I had turned it off during the bridge/river section as I needed all the concentration I could muster (evidently not enough). However I was still moving ok and thought that maybe I’d only lost 20mins on my extra excursion. So I could still be on for a sub-midnight finish. Who knows? I estimated at approx 9pm. I was mighty pleased to out of the rocky section back onto the grass. Coming over Pinnacle Hill I turned my torch off again to savour the sky (“big sky” as I like to call it).

Coming onto the track towards the Megalong Cemetery I was struck by an idea – maybe I would see David Coolwalker at Megalong, he was mates with Lastish and he looked like crap coming out of Jenolan and surely couldn’t be far ahead. Maybe I could catch a lift out. I thought I was going pretty slow and just. could. not. be. arsed. to. go. all. the. way. up. nellis. f**king. glen. by. myself. in. the. cold. Anyway I got to megalong. no one there. Found bottles ‘n’shit all over the place so put then all in the tree (the otto bins were nowhere in sight). drank a weird selection of blue and black drinks. I still had some left but not much. At least I got the pick of it. took a bottle with me (I only had a little left). Crossed the road and then stopped. Bugger – maybe I will wait and try to get a lift. I strained my ears left and right, jumped on the spot. But eventually my feet got too cold and I decided no one was coming. In any case it WOULD be better if I finished the bloody thing. I took off.

It was very frosty but I felt I was moving ok. The signage seems to be a lot better these days (most paid for by the Six Foot race). In a couple of spots I had wombats shot out of the bushes across the path in front of me. They are normally pretty slow, but I was starting to loose it. I imagined that all the leaves were like little animals, a penguin with a cat in its mouth, fancy letterboxes, just totally weird stuff. Eventually I hit the last section – you know it well, it goes up high, its got steps and jeepers, tonight it has a small stream coming down as well. There were the rough bits that I had forgotten about, then the stream crossings, and then finally the steps. I reflected that this morning I was skipping down these and now I was like Sisyphuspushing the damn rock up the damn hill, slowly, slowly, slowly … and finally, a gate, THE GATE, then I did break into a trot and went past the start of 6ft, past the hut, onto the road all the way up to the tree.

Nobody else was there. Who cares. Rod’s sheet was on my back wiper – I chucked it in the car without even looking at it. Turned the key to get the clock up 12:59, bugger, all that time lost, maybe going slow or getting lost of maybe just daydreaming on the track. My previous (and only time) was 17:37, I had just down 17:59. If I had wasted 50mins then It would give me a pb. who cares, I think the goal is 14:00 ie twice 6ft within the cutoff. Still I did make it the rat has been fed for this year at least.

I started off for home asap, still in my gear as it was so cold. however the windscreen was frozen with thick ice. I cleaned this off and started driving back. I was thinking I would stop off and get a coffee, but didn’t. I did stop at Glenbrook next to the servo, a regular, snoozing spot of mine, and slept for an hour, then drove as far as I could M4, M7 then near Liverpool near the M5 took another snooze. I was reasonably out of it, but knew where I was going and made sure I stopped whenever I needed to. Eventually I was on the drive back to home, it’s true I was barely driving a straight line. Eventually I got home at 5am, and took a bath and climbed into bed at 6am. t.o.t.a.l.l.y.c.a.c.t.u.s.

postscript – in some ways I hate this race, like running in a freezer, every year its the MIDDLE of winter. But I love it. I think I’ll be back. Its the challenge. Looks so simple on paper. But so hard in practise. Next year ok? 14hrs ?

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