Where on earth is this year going? I blink and its almost half over! It reminds me of an odd sort of tradition my family had when we were growing up. Every birthday Mum would make me clap my hands because as a child I very much wanted to grown up and grow up quickly. By clapping my hands, I was marking a moment in time that I could clearly remember so the following year, when I clapped my hands, it felt that the entire year had rushed past and that I was growing up. It sort of did my head in as a child and it still sort of does.
It’s been nearly four weeks since Nich, Pat, Ben and I ran through the Blue Mountains in the Wild Endurance event and I still have blisters. We took a video camera to record our journey and, like the clapping, makes it seem as if the ordeal was over in a flick of an irritated cat’s tail. Sitting down to watch it afterwards is hilarious. It’s recorded directly after last year’s Wild Endurance and Nich, who at the time was part of our support team, is loudly claiming he would never be stupid enough to run 52km. I guess he was right as he opted instead for the full 100kms. It rained the entire week leading up to it, which made the track that much more…interesting. We got up way to early to make it down to the starting track and the hallucinations started early with a dingaroo, a kangaroo the size of a 4WD and as nasty as a dingo, thumping past our car in the dark as we eased our way down a narrow, snaking dirt track to Duphy’s Camp. Our spirits were high when the race began and, with a hundred other eager individuals, scrambled up a muddy track and tried not to elbow each other in the face.
Now try and imagine paths so thick with mud that with every step your shoe threatened to remain behind. In fact, we became experts on mud. There were three types. The first type of mud was a thick, mousse like mud that was almost black in colour and, although it squelched something horrid, was not nearly as slippery as type two mud. Type two mud was orangey and more clay than dirt. You didn’t sink into it but it was impossible to cross at anything faster than a walk and even then it was challenging. The third type of mud was a mixture of the two and if you angled your steps a certain way, you could actually jog across it and use any slipping to your advantage- unless you were going up hill. Then it just sucked.
After a few dozen people had passed before us, the paths were beyond lousy. But that did make it interesting. We climbed goat tracks, up ladders, hopscotched across massive crevasses and admired the non-existent views with heavy fog settling thick in the valleys. At times it felt as if we were the only people around for hundreds of kilometres. The Golden Staircase was exciting as it resembled more of a mudfall as we control fell down and the Giant Stairway beside the Three Sisters was just painful as we lugged our tired and abused bodies up. The support team were magnificent. I could’ve married the lot of them. They made us pizza and soup and gave us lots of hugs before kicking us out of the checkpoint so they could have a movie marathon.
Just past the 55km mark disaster struck and Ben had to be evacuated when he got hit by a wallaby…I mean he tore his hip flexor, which isn’t any nicer. So then there were three of us…in the dark…hearing voices…seeing lights…and Pat and I swearing that this section hadn’t been this long last year. By this stage we’d been up since 4:30am, we’d been moving non-stop all day and it was well after midnight. We stopped for two seconds, literally only two seconds, and Nich fell asleep on his feet. It wasn’t the only time either. I would take two steps forward, loose my balance and take two steps to the side. It got so bad that the boys walked on either side of me so I could bounce off them like a ping pong ball. Pat is just a machine. No more needs to be said.
At checkpoint three, just past 5am after 22 hours of non-stop moving, Nich and I bowed out after our knees refused to bend and we’d cried the last 3kms. Pat kept going and another six hours later he jogged through the finish line looking like he was completing a morning jog.
This event had consumed so much of our lives for so long that it was odd when it was finally over. It’s almost June and it feels like it all happened to someone else. Some things in life seem so daunting, so epically huge, that its hard to imagine them being completed and when it’s all over you’re left with this sort of empty feeling. I’m still not quite sure what to do with myself. Although I am definitely not going to ever do something that crazy again. Well…at least not the second half. The first half was kind of fun.