I Finally Finished This Epic Race: Great North Walk 100s 10-11 Nov, 2012

My lips are finally worthy of the post marking the finish line (11 Nov 2012)

My lips are finally worthy of the post marking the finish line (11 Nov 2012)

After 7 years of DNF's (Did Not Finish) by only completing in those years between 103.7km (60 miles) and 162 km (100 miles) of the "Great North Walk 100s" 107.9 mile race, yesterday afternoon...I finally made it to the finish line!!!

I made it despite:
  • flying from the US to Sydney less than 48 hrs before the race start
  • only 3.5 hrs of sleep before the race
  • not having a pacer because all 3 potential pacers were carrying injuries
  • barely running at all for the 6-7 weeks before the race.

I ran twice for 90 mins just 1 week before the race (after others started tapering). Any other running I did during that period was less than 5km once or twice per week. I was too busy enjoying my work at healthy lifestyle events in the US to fit in the running I had planned.

Race Time
I completed the race in 34hrs 21mins.
I did the first 103.7 km (64.7 miles) in 17 hr 13 mins and the final 71.6 km (44.2 miles) in 17 hrs 9 mins, which is a perfect split looking at the race winner's time splits.
Official results are posted at these locations:
Body Weight
At the race start I weighed in at 76.8kg (169 lbs). I lost about 2kg (4-5 lbs) of body weight during the first 148.3km (91.5 miles).
The morning after the race I'm down about 4kg (9 lbs), but haven't yet eaten anything other than watermelon post race.

Great North Walk 100s: Checkpoint 3 "The Basin" (81.6km complete...only 93.7km to go!) (11 Nov 2012)

Great North Walk 100s: Checkpoint 3 "The Basin" (81.6km complete...only 93.7km to go!) (11 Nov 2012)

Post Race
I got close to 15 hours of sleep last night since finishing and could definitely do with more.
My legs feel good. Feet a little swollen. I could still jog this morning (only went a short distance, just to know) so that's good news.

Footwear and Blisters
I wore the Spyridon model of the Vibram Five Finger shoes which are made for trail running.
I had 2 identical pairs of them which I switched between at each of the 6 checkpoints.
I wore the Injinji toe socks which I also changed at each checkpoint along with donning a fresh t-shirt or singlet.
I had absolutely zero blisters which was most welcomed! I taped the pads of my feet (right across the balls of the foot against the base of the toes) with sports tape (Elastoplast) and changed that tape at checkpoints 3 and 5, once because it was damp and started to peel, and once because it was damp and muddy.
I put tape across my back at the start of the race to prevent rub from the bottom of my camelbak-style pack.

Leaving Checkpoint 2 with 52 km completed...and only 123.3 km to go!!!

Leaving Checkpoint 2 with 52 km completed...and only 123.3 km to go!!!

Weather, Fauna, Race Times and Sleep Monsters
The weather was only hot for the final 6 hours of my race. The first day was gloriously cool with light mists of rain.
I got 3 leeches in the rainforest before the renowned hugging post, only one of which left me with a small bite, but they weren't on me for long. This was fantastic as last year I think I had close to 30 leeches during the course of the race. I heard a number of kangaroos and saw no snakes, goannas, wombats, etc. I figure 150 runners is enough to keep them off the trail. It's always a treat to run through the beautiful rainforests of ancient trees. I also love hearing nature wake up as the light of the new day greets us. Reaching daylight is a major milestone from which a finish becomes more conceivable.
I finished to a huge cheer from the crowd who all know me, with the notoriety of competing every year since the race's inception in 2005, but never quite finishing.
Eighth time lucky (though it takes far more than luck), I now have a GNW100s bronze medal.
While I remained quite focused and in a good mental/emotional state for the race, the toughest part was certainly the hours from 10pm until 2am when my eyes kept glazing over involuntarily, in a futile attempt to be sensible and get a good night's sleep. Such times fill me with feelings of dread that at times seem insurpassable...but I know to never rely on short term decisions in an ultra. Re-evaluate an hour later and chances are that your world has changed for the better and you no longer feel the need to drop out of the race.
Fortunately by 2am my sleep monsters were put to rest and didn't haunt me for the remainder of the race.

24 of these huge mango formed the major part of my race nutrition which was the best food experience I've ever had during a race! (11 Nov 2012)

24 of these huge mango formed the major part of my race nutrition which was the best food experience I've ever had during a race! (11 Nov 2012)

Race Nutrition
I had a 3 litre (3.2 quarts) capacity water bladder but only drank 1-2 litres (1.1-2.1 quarts) between each checkpoint because the weather was mostly cool and because I was getting water from the mango and celery. While it would have been nice to carry less weight by carrying 1 kg (2.2 lbs) less water through the race, I've experienced pretty bad dehydration before and really didn't want to be on those remote trails with insufficient water.

During the race I consumed:
  • Mango: 24 huge Kensington Pride mango (600-800 grams each!)
  • Dates (about 45 medjool and 5 khadrawy dates)
  • Celery: 12 large,┬ádeliciously crisp stalks
  • Blueberries: 1 punnet
  • Nectarine: 1 small, white fleshed
  • Water: About 10 liters (10.6 quarts) of filtered rainwater from my home tank

Nothing else passed my lips. No salt, no stimulants, no No-Dose, etc.

Total nutrition intake (excluding before and after race)
  • Total Weight of food and drink consumed=29.1 kg (64.2 lb)
  • Total Calories= 14508 kcal (about 422 kcal per hour)
  • Total Water (including water from my food)= 24.25 litres (30.7 quarts)
  • Total Sodium (all came from fruits and celery)=971.9 mg (almost 1 gram)

Nutrition Breakdown (excluding before and after race)
Food Weight (kg) Weight (lb) Calories (kcal) Water (litres) Water (quarts) Sodium (mg)
Mango 16.8 37 10,920 13.7 14.5 336
Celery 0.8 1.8 120 0.05 0.1 614.4
Medjool Date 1.2 2.6 3,300 0.26 0.3 20
Blueberry 0.2 0.4 111 0.13 0.1 1.5
Nectarine 0.1 0.2 57 0.11 0.1 0
Drinking water 10 22 0 10 10.7 0

For the foods I completed the race on, nutritiondata.com says:

Mango:
  • The good: This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin B6, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.
  • The bad: A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

I say the good and the bad are both good. Mango is an excellent source of sugar. Mango let me replace my sugars while at the same time keeping up my hydration and delivering a barrage of other useful nutrients.

Celery:
  • The good: This food is low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese.
  • The bad: This food is high in Sodium, and a large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

For an ultra-runner, the good and the bad on celery sound fantastically perfect!

Dates:
  • The good: This food is very low in Sodium.
  • The bad: A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

I think the complete opposite is true. Who makes up this crazy nutrition advice?

Blueberries:
  • The good: This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.
  • The bad: A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

Again, the good and the bad, are both good. Berries are an excellent source of sugars.

Nectarines:
  • The good: This food is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Niacin and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C.
  • The bad: A large portion of the calories in this food come from sugars.

Again, the good and the bad, are both good. Nectarines are an excellent source of sugars.

TMI (Too Much Info)
I pooped 4 times during the race which kept me perfectly comfortably.
I peed frequently (every 1-2 hours) and pretty clear in colour indicating I was well hydrated, until the final 10km (6 miles) when it was hotter and I wasn't keeping my hydration up as effectively, despite seemingly regular drinking.

Special Thanks
  • Dave Byrnes for putting on such a professional event year after year and giving us the opportunity to rise to Australia's toughest trail ultra races.
  • Alastair Cooke for being my support crew.
  • James Stewart and Brendan Clark for being my pacers in 2010 and 2011.
  • James Stewart and Brendan & Lynita Clark for being my support crew in 2010 and 2011.
  • DanDann for being my remote pacer and for pre-race training including rock climbing and other less-conventional core strength workouts for ultra running.
  • Everyone else who in their own way has been part of the support that has allowed me the luxury to challenge myself while playing in the mountains.

Comments are closed.