Sunday, August 29, 2010

Week 8 long run & Oxfam Trailwalker

My long run for today (Saturday) was to be about 20k. Last week I did it along the bike path at the side of the freeway, kinda boring. So today I decided to do it on the sealed road in Lane Cove NP. I was up at about 7am, had my usual breakfast and got to the NP by 9:30. I had a few jellies and a 1L hydration pack with water in it. I set off on the sealed road, but it quickly turned into trail. I kept going but wasn't sure I wanted to go too far on the trail and was thinking about the best time to turn around and find a road again.
Then, I saw four runners coming towards me, so I stepped off the trail to let them by. As it happened, I recognized one of them from DailyMile! So they stopped and we chatted for a few mins and I asked if I could tag along and they were more than happy to have the company.
So we kept going on the trails, which led us under a low road bridge. Being second last in the group at that time, I saw it and made a comment along the lines of "I'd better duck for this one". Right then, Andrew ran straight into the concrete bridge and nearly fell backwards with the impact! He went down to the ground and started to try and stand, but I told him to stay where he was. He had blood coming from a cut a few inches back from his forehead, so we got him to sit for a few mins and it stopped bleeding. Then we went back to the park's toilets and he was able to clean the blood off, while we topped up our hydration packs. He seemed happy to be jogging/running, so we started off again, keeping a good eye on him.
The guys were doing a 100k run from the outskirts of Sydney, along trail as much as possible, to the city. We had a good chat along the way and they are a great bunch of guys that I hope to run with again.
At about the 13k mark, I had to head back to my car so I said goodbye and good luck to the group.
I stopped at a service station and topped off my hydration pack with a bottle of Powerade - much needed! I kept going along the road but wanted to get back on the trails. Unfortunately that is where I got lost and ended up about 9k out of my way. I asked a little old lady for directions and when I realised where I was I walked the rest of the way, as my legs were tired and it was a warm day.
Run total was 23k and weekly total was 48k.
I went home, showered and went to bed, as I had a busy night ahead of me...

Oxfam Trailwalker 100k 2010:
I volunteered for the TW a few months ago, it's an annual fund-raising event that 500 teams of four take part in - but not all finish. I was given the job of "Check In/Check Out Coordinator" on Checkpoint 7 from Saturday 19:00 to 03:00. I arrived at 18:30 and got briefed by the people ending the shift. They had been quite busy, as the weather had been good, so teams wanted to get as much ground covered as possible. The first teams had set off at 07:00 Friday and the winning team was already finished in 12 hours 8 minutes! When my shift started there were less than a dozen teams left to check in at CP7, which is just over 82k into the race.
The sun had already set, and it was getting cold, with the night time temps dropping to about 8 degrees C (there had been some frost the night before!). It looked like our shift wasn't going to be too busy. We could tell from the monitoring application who had checked out (to go on to CP8), who was staying for a while with us (for food, liquids, sleep etc) and who was still to come. When my shift started, all teams had left the previous CP, but the average time for the 10k trail was 3-4 hours. Bearing in mind that the teams left had already done 70k and had done about 30 hours of walking/running!
When the teams came in, we could see the beams from their head lights in the darkness and we started cheering them on. They all looked very tired and a lot were limping. Some of the teams had people retire due to fatigue or injury or just not being able to go any further. One of the rules, is that if a team has only 1 or 2 people left walking, they must join another team of at least 2. So from time to time we would get a team of 3 check in, 1 retire, and the others would have to stay until another team was leaving. Safety was critical. The team in last place checked in with us at 22:30 and they were really exhausted. Their support crew got them coffee and soup and some food (laid on at the CP). Then they decided to sleep for an hour. While they were sleeping, we started to break down the CP leaving just the minimum running to support the last team. We had a tent with 2 Physiotherapists, a tent for St. John's Ambulance, a "Meet & Greet" tent for teams and support crew, and the control tent with radios, computers, safety equipment etc.
The last team woke and refilled their water bottles/hydration packs and I checked them out at about 00:20 and we all cheered them on their way. They left CP7 after 34:30 hours of walking, over 20 hours after the first team had finished the course.
As an update, the last team finished in 46:38.

Our shift was meant to finish at 03:00, but as our job was finished, we left some of the crew to break down the equipment so we could get some sleep!

St. John's Ambulance tent - more of them than there was of us!

"Meet & Greet" tent


Checkpoint control tent.

I probably won't be in the area to assist with this for next year, but if I am I will...or maybe take part in it :-)

Take care,

Eoin

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