Race Report by Babi Szolosi

Otto and I drove up on Saturday, checked into Merrijig Motel (overpriced for what you get, but the people were super nice), then headed off to Mt Buller for the briefing and gear check. We got there too early, so we went for a walk in the village. Saw Jaqui and then a few more runners.

At the Alberg I met Rich Bowles, Lou Clifton, saw Carole, Warren, Jo Noesgaard, the ASAR team, sat at the table with Nick, Levi, Steven and three MTB riders. It was nice sharing trail experiences. Otto and I shared a soup and a pizza — we didn’t want to eat too much. The briefing happened in the Running Wild spirit — low key and fun.

Didn’t sleep much, the people in the motel were returning from a wedding — after midnight, of course — and woke us up.

Next morning we gathered at the Village Square. Saw many familiar faces from previous trail runs and met Blake Hose at the start line — lovely young man (I must be getting old ). Paul has gone through the briefing one more time, then roll call, count down and off we went.

Otto said, he will run with me to Howqua Gap and then he’ll turn around to make it back to the motel (shower, have breakfast, pack, check out). He forgot his watch and HRM at home, so he ran naked. It must have been good, because he ended up running to Mt Stirling summit and back. He has taken many pics of us, me and the runners around us and was a great support for everyone we met on that portion.

Checked in at Mt Stirling check point, lovely vollies.

At the Mt Stirling summit we said good bye and I kept going towards Craig’s Hut. Well… on the map it doesn’t look this steep and big (this applies to Howqua Gap Trail, too). It wasn’t as dusty as Paul has projected, but rocky — yes. I passed the maps the course description lists; couldn't imagine how they must look before the day.

The middle of the pack runners were already coming back, flying down the hill. Except for one, they all had a nice word for me (and vice versa). Had half of one of the quarter sandwiches I brought with two cherry tomatoes. There were 4WDs at the camp site, fire going, said hello.

Got to the Craig’s Hut check point, checked in with the ASAR guy, then headed to the hut to have a look at it. I expected to feel something special — nothing like that happened. It looks so much better on some photos. Took a couple of pictures, went in looked around, then I asked a lady to put my USB charger into my pack (saved a few minutes there), messaged Otto, said hello to a few familiar faces, then headed back. I didn’t pay attention and kept running straight on Clear Hills Tk, when the guys from the 4WD camp asked me if I wasn’t supposed to turn right. So grateful!!

Rollercoaster to Mt Stirling from here. Saw Heather (the American runner) and David, the sweeper on my way down, wished them all the best and went on. At one of the corners I could hear some animal in the forest, wondered what it could be…

Moved out of the way for three 4WDs, glad at least two of them didn’t make much dust. Heard someone running quite fast behind me… it was Lou [Clifton], she got lost, added another 6 km. Told her I am really sorry and wished her all the best, and to not to forget to turn right onto River Spur Trail.

I was passed by a few runners, then saw Jo on the way up to Mt Stirling. At Mt Stirling check point, I posed for a photo, emptied my pockets into the bin, had a gummy bear and headed off with a “I am so looking forward to the downhill on River Spur Trail!”  Messaged Otto that I was at Mt Stirling.

Well… downhill it was (for the most part) and absolutely stunning place to run BUT my legs were cacti, so I hardly jogged. Took a few shots at the first crossing, then went on. Had the other half of the quarter sandwich with a cherry tomato, my stomach said it’s hungry. I was overtaken by a few runners (two of them got lost, and were making up time), then a group of MTB riders. They came in three lots, flying down the trail, had to step off the track to let them pass. Then at the next log crossing one of them was being filmed when crossing the water. The guy got stuck in the middle, so I said “One more time!!” — they laughed and probably made him do it again. Then they passed me again…

Messaged Otto as I was approaching Mirimbah, had another quarter of sandwich with tomato, as I knew eating while climbing won’t work. He brought me some electrolyte (love the grape Nuun). When I got to Mirimbah at 11.55, changed the shoes and socks (was wearing size 6 Sense Pro and changed to the new 6.5 Sense Pro) — felt good to have dry feet again (some crossings didn’t have logs, had to go through the water). Left the other half sandwich with Otto and only took the chocolate further. An MTB rider cycled past, asked about the run — he was very nice.

The last person, David Hobbs ran by, so I knew I was pretty much the last one (except for Heather).

Went to the toilet, put my pack back on (Gee, still heavy!!) and headed to the Mirimbah check point. Jacqui and Duncan were both smiling and lovely and positive! I gave Otto a kiss and hug and headed off for the Klingsporn Track.

It was all up, up, up!!! There were a very few rolling parts but mostly up. Saw lots of small birds, lizards and a snake. Went back to take a few pics. Getting across those obstacles (logs, branches) felt really hard with shaking limbs. I saw a sign further down saying “Beware of fast mountain bikes” — I was thinking, whoever rides down on his track must be a nut case!!! Very dangerous! I wouldn’t even had anywhere to step if one was coming.

Around the Thank Christ Corner, the trail was beautiful!!! Really loved that part. Pity my legs were too fried to enjoy it, too. Otto asked me to message him when I get to 40 km, so he can leave to meet me at the Mt Buller Summit car park. I was really happy to get to Burnt Hut Spur, but before that, I saw the sign saying that Klingsporn Track is closed for MTB, running event. "Aha!! That's why there were  no MTBs flying down my way!"

Happiness on Burnt Hut Spur didn’t last long — turned right onto the ski slope… all nicely uphill!! Lovely little hot pink flags showing the way. It was quite hot, too. Made it to the top and got onto the Nature Walk. Beautiful track, had some chocolate (my stomach was complaining) and this is when I hit THE WALL!! I felt like collapsing, but somehow managed putting one foot in front of the other…

As I was approaching the car park, I saw Jo heading to the Summit, then the other two runners coming down. Otto was already there, waiting for me with more electrolyte. He also brought roasted almonds, dried fruit, bananas… couldn’t eat any of those. We headed up to the Summit, saw David Hobbs —who passed me at Mirimbah— coming down, he was really struggling. We wished each other all the best, then Otto and I kept on climbing. At the Summit, we looked around, took some photos, then headed down. Otto kept telling me what’s coming, how long it is, etc. Such a lovely thing!!

We saw Warren going up to the Summit, probably to pick up the Running Wild sign. We also saw walkers.

Before the finish, Otto told me he will go ahead, so he can take some pictures. I said I think I can really sprint it, so I picked up the pace and bolted into the chute. Have no idea where I found that energy. For a moment I thought I’ll slip on that gravel and do a superwoman fly, but thankfully it didn’t happen. The clock was 8.14.34 or something (Garmin says 8.14.33). I’ve learnt that I was the last one — Heather has pulled out, she didn’t make the cut off at Mirimbah.

Big kiss from Otto, hug from Carole, and congratulations form Melissa end her partner and Sam Stedman, who finished first!

Went to Alberg for a beer and to change, then headed home. Had whatever I can find in the esky: boiled eggs, with salt and toast, ash brie… I was hungry.

What I’ve learnt from this event:

  • I could’ve done it without the 1 l water in the bladder (it was there for back up), because there was water at the check points and in the river
  • I could’ve used 2-3 gels on this course, the toasted sandwich was not practical
  • Roller Coaster style training would’ve been perfect before the event
  • Should’ve started with the larger shoes (they are perfect for the downhill) and changed into the other ones

I know some would not agree with me, but in my opinion —compared to other Running Wild events— the course was well marked with plenty of support at check points. I didn’t need to look at my map once!!

All up a great day, and so grateful for Otto - he’s a gem!

Huge thank you to Paul, Carole, Warren, David, Jacqui, Duncan and his team, the fellow runners and everyone else involved in making this Sunday so memorable.

Otto took many pictures, here is a selection of them.

Morning briefing
On the way up to Mt Stirling
The previous picture was taken from this point. Compared to those other hills, this seems tiny on the map.
This is how the maps from the course description look like
Still towards Mt Stirling - it IS steep
Had to touch the trig at Mt Stirling summit
Craigs Hut
The way back up to Mt Stirling
My favourite - Delatite River Spur. This was the first crossing
Walking towards the Mirimbah checkpoint
The snake I saw on Klingsporn Trail
The view from Burnt Hut Spur
Getting up to the summit car park and over THE WALL that I hit earlier
We still need to get up there before heading back to the village
On the way up to the summit - have no idea how I could smile here. Must have been Otto's charm
So that's why I climbed so much?!! For this rock!
Selfie with the summit
And the other side
OK, it's time to head down. Legs jelly
This was the pose I was walking with for the most of my journey
And the finish!