Razorback Run - Reports

Elevation: 4,800m
Distance: 85km
Duration: 17:22
Place: 9th

adam brodie 01Hells Cauldron - for me it was the ultimate Schrodinger's Cat of a race. Was I alive or dead? Was I strong enough, or not? Did I finish, or should it count as a DNF? Even the race tag line "where runners are forged or broken" - I definitely experienced a quantum state of both these feelings simultaneously. The mental highs and lows were just as challenging as those on the terrain in front of my feet.

This all started so many months ago - an epic sounding race, no course markings, navigate by map and compass only, plenty of vert, and it coincided with the weekend of my birthday! The perfect challenge!
But even before I entered I built it up too much in my mind and put too many expectations on myself - I've done plenty of races on the qualifying list, but none with a fast enough time to qualify. Somehow, I was still accepted into the race. A great opportunity to prove myself worthy, but I knew I'd have to work so hard to meet that cutoff time of 15 hours.

Breaking my 2nd metatarsal a week later didn't help matters - I lost 2 months of training and then had to ramp it up so quickly. I have the greatest physio in the world who helped get me to the start line (thank you Pete I couldn't have gotten there without you)! But I put a lot of pressure on myself, and it's been the most stressful training block I've undertaken. But then again, would I have trained so hard without the challenge presented by the adversity of injury? (I like to think I would have - at the time, I wanted to hit that 15 hours more than anything).

If you've been following my journey, then you'll know that I felt good going into the race. Despite the injury setback, I put in absolutely everything that I could with my training, and I knew that whatever happened on the day, I had done the very best I could in terms of preparation in the lead up - managing injury and niggles was a balancing act, and I know that I couldn't have possibly done any better or worse.
In the end, doing your best is the best you can do - and that is always good enough.

The Race

4800m+ elevation
Unmarked course

Pre-race excitment

Harrietville Caravan Park 5:55am:

People are milling around the startline in the pre-dawn darkness, headlamps on, nervous chatter breaking the still early morning air.  It’s the inaugural running of the Hell’s Cauldron, an 85k monster through the brutally beautiful Victorian Alps.  I’ve been in the same place at the same time for the last 3 years….but this year feels different.  I feel more relaxed…calm even.  Previous years I’ve been racing, but this year feels like an adventure, or an expedition.  I feel like I’m here to complete, not compete.  It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt at a startline in a long time.

With a few brief words from Paul reminding the 40k & 64k runners to turn up Feathertop Lane & not follow us out the Great Alpine Rd, we trotted out of the caravan & on our way to one of the biggest adventures of my life!!!

Now, a word of warning…I’m going to be very sketchy with the details of the course.  As part of entry into this race, we had to sign a waiver not to share any GPX files etc. in regards to the course.  I will only share details that are already commonly known!  In the true spirit of the event, I ditched my GPS watch for a very classy $13- Casio!

After the fun at this event last year I was happy I managed to get back here in 2017, a really nice day in the Victorian Alps enjoying the scenery and terrain. Also after competing in the Alpine Challenge 160km event in November I was keen to get onto sections of this course feeling fresh and lively again to enjoy the terrain rather than be near tears down descents such as Bon Accord Spur or Diamantina Spur (we do not descend Bon Accord in the 64km event but the idea is defintiely there to get into the terrain in a fresher state).

I had run here in 2016 (photos and words) and it was a fantastic day out. Still only a week after doing the Six Foot Track but I mostly just wanted to enjoy the day out in the moountains again. I admit I messed up my food twice (going up swindlers became a crawl as I ate and crawled my way up) then after hitting the bitumen in the final 2 km I had to walk into the finish line for 2km on wobbly legs (gels or other sugary food take about 15 minutes to come in to play for diabetics—and probably everyone else).

I did however have a great run along the Razorback Ridge nad passed many people there so pacing worked pretty well for me I think. I ran 9h12m in the end so 12 min faster than last year so not too shabby.

I once again will point out this is a fantastic day out in the mountains and I would put it on top of any list of must do trail races in Australia. Thanks Paul and running Wild Victoria for the Razorback Run.

Ticked some firsts on this run:

  1. First time over 3000 m
  2. First time didn’t do a detour in the Alps
  3. First time the very last in a race

Exciting start at 6 A.M. Saw Gabor Jakus, Ben Clark, Dan Nunan, Jackie Hansen, Lucy Stabb and Coral Bayley at the start line… it was dark, hard to recognise people with the head gear.

Everything was OK on the first climb until we reached Federation Hut — it was so cold, such a chilly wind, many of us stopped there to put on the waterproof gear. Saw Paul Monks in a pretty bad shape in the hut, he said he’d pull out. We offered him to go back with Otto, but he said he’ll be fine. I didn’t plug in properly the tube into the bladder in the morning — so Otto tried to do it.  It’s very hard to do this with frozen fingers (he wasn't happy). Moved the race number onto the pack (which came off promptly on my way back from Mt Feathertop. Glad I could catch it and tucked it into my pocket).

On Saturday 24 November 2012, 6 months of hard work culminated in my running at the Razorback Run.

Run throughout the gorgeous Victorian High Country, the Razorback Run consists of various distances ranging between 22 and 68 km. The run is fully self-supported, meaning you have to carry your own food, water and mandatory safety gear.

Of course, being slightly crazy, I elected to run the 68k! I should also point out that I have done the 64k and 22k versions over the past 2 years, so had some idea of what I was getting myself into.

A motley crew of more than 60 runners assembled in Harrietville at 6 AM on Saturday to tackle the 38, 58, 64 and 68k events. Another 10-15 22k runners would start later from up near Mt Hotham—around 50 competitors in all.

My first task in this event was to run a mere 11k from Harrietville to Mt Feathertop via the Bungalow Spur. Did I mention this climbs from 500 m above sea level to over 1920 m? Yep, 2 hrs 20 mins later and I was soaking up the glorious vista provided from the top of the still-snow-capped Mt Feathertop. From here, there’s a gentle trot along the Razorback to Diamantina Hut (the start/finish of the 22k event), and then up to the summit of Mt Hotham for more scenic views.

Cyberspace had been buzzing with excitement for weeks. The Razorback Run with 5 course options was looming and people were frantically chatting on facebook and Coolrunning, trying to find out which course distance they should do. Should they do the classic 38 km or the challenging 58 km Alpine Challenge leg with its quad busting descent of Bon Accord Spur, or have a day out and just enjoy themselves on the 64 or 68 km courses—too many choices—but such magnificent country to run through. The poor race director suffered with a flood of last minute entries, cancellations and distance changes as runners jockeyed for position even before the start.

At the pre run briefing a record field of over 70 runners and their families turned up to go over final details—mainly in relation to weather—it was going to be hot, water—where to find it, getting lost—how not to—it became apparent that no one was listening as sightings of runners going in all the wrong spots came in during race day, and then it was off for a fitful night’s sleep.

In the pre-dawn gloom runners sauntered to the start, old friendships were renewed and new ones made as people talked quietly about the big climb up Mt Feathertop, Victoria’s second highest peak, about the snow that they might encounter on the top, of the chance of seeing brumbies around Pole 333 and how they would cope with the expected heat.