Day 3 is a camp out night with no support for the next 92 k, so preparation was crucial. Andy and Phil started day 3 with a leisurely 9k warm up along the road, then it was time to don the fully laden packs.
Day 2 was long, with andy and phil covering 63 ks in around 15 hours. They will fill in the details later but bush bashing through prickle bush with no marked track for several hours topped off an already taxing day. Both made it back to camp around 9pm totally exhausted. Dave didnt run today.
Heres some pics of them earlier in the day when all was perfect, and a very hard working crew member, and some camp planning from the night prior.
With only 3 days left before we actually hit the trail, I thought I would reprint the quote from John Chapman that summarises the AAWT that Phil posted here last January. Chapman wrote the original guidebook and co-authored the latest update so knows the trail intimately. His words paint a picture of what we can expect:
"In many ways, it is the grandest and most difficult of all the long distance tracks in Australia. It is not the longest but with over 27,000 metres of climbing and descending it is indeed a tough walk (equivalent to more than 3 ascents and descents of Mt Everest!)
The entire route takes about 50 to 60 days to complete depending on the number of rest days. Fast walkers do the track in around 30 to 40 days. Several groups have walked it in 22 days but on several days they walked at night to reach campsites and such a short itinerary is not recommended - to walk it in 22 days requires an AVERAGE of 11.9 hours walking each day!. As this is an alpine area with variable weather, it is suggested to build in some extra days to wait out poor weather.
There are not just many tough climbs, the track crosses a number of rivers which have to waded or crossed by rough log bridges. Long sections of the track also have no markers as it passes through wilderness areas. The lack of markers in these regions is deliberate, as management of these zones dictate no formal marked tracks. The track has been planned for experienced bushwalkers to follow and is not suitable for the inexperienced. There are even some short sections without any track at all - you simply follow the ridges, at times pushing through scrub and occasionally may find markers confirming you are on the route. Tents are essential - there are only a couple of huts along the track."
I went over some notes sent to me by Karl today. Karl hiked the trail in February this year, in the reverse direction because of the fires. Unsupported, using pre-placed food drops. Amazing effort. His recollections and notes scribbled on the back of his topos will be invaluable in helping us plan and navigate tricky sections. Amazingly, I met Karl the day after he finished his epic hike. By some bizarre twist of fate the ride he hitched out of Walhalla ended with him overnighting in Geelong, my home town. In true ultrarunning spirit he has been incredibly forthcoming and helpful and we really appreciate his support.
With "possible showers" tipped every day in Walhalla this week, we could get a nice cool and damp start to the run next week. Only 7 more sleeps!
With Coast to Kosciusko run our attention is now firmly focused on getting to Walhalla in good shape. Both Tim and Phil finished the 240km C2K strongly, boding well for the challenge to come. Crewing for Tim I ended up spending considerable time on the Saturday night near the summit of Kosci helping rescue a depleted runner. The weather was fair but brutally cold. I had to stand in the open to maintain phone signal and the light breeze cut through my many layers and had me shaking uncontrollably. It was a salient reminder of how vulnerable we will be out there. Before the sun had fully set we were treated to a magnificent panorama of hazy grey mountains marching off to the horizon. We will be there again in a couple of weeks and will spend some time to soak in the achievement.
Injinji have stuck with us despite the delays. We are being kitted out with the latest graded compression toe socks. With time constraints not allowing any pre-run tryouts, we will be subjecting these socks to the ultimate test. But such is our confidence in the Injinji products that we are happy to "break-them-in" in the field.
We still have our fundraising effort underway. For us it is all about running through the wilderness to help save the wilderness. If we can inspire people to donate even a little towards buying land to save Pungalina - Seven Emus Nature Reserve then we will have accomplished something special. The link to the Pungalina donation site is on the sidebar.
OK this is it, we are on again! After much deliberation, and much calendar gazing, and even more weather watching, we have set a restart date for our grand adventure: Tuesday 29th December.
We have been reticent to announce the date for fear of another false start but airfares are all locked in, leave booked and maps getting spread out again. I had planned to spend some time on parts of the course this spring but a family illness has meant that was not possible.
Meanwhile, we have all continued our individual ultra experiences with Phil finishing the massive Ultra-Trail Tour Mont Blanc in August. Then after coming home he finished first place in the inaugural Great Ocean Walk 100km and then a handy second place in the Great North Walk 100 miler. Tim also completed the GOW100km then managed 100km of the GNW100. I stepped into co-race director role to help organise the GOW100s trail races and after a lay-off managed to finish my 4th straight GNW100 miler.
There is a possibility that we may have another runner on the team. But due to their propensity towards injury they don't want to be outed just yet for fear of putting the mozz on things!
This weekend sees the last big hit-out for Phil and Tim at the Coast to Kosciusko, 240km. Kathy and I will be crewing Tim.
After considerable disappointment at the postponement in February we nervously await the coming summer and listen for the fire warnings. Safety will always be our priority. We will continue to update our progress over the next couple of weeks as the start date approaches.
As Dave would say: "Bring it." Or as I would say: "Only 23 more sleeps!"
Undoubtedly the best running sock available, Injinji have supported our attempts at running the AAWT with gear and most importantly their magical toesocks.
Helping the animal shelter
As added incentive I have decided to raise money for the local animal shelter (Geelong Animal Welfare Society GAWS). There are many good causes but this is one close to my heart and one that often struggles to meet the demands especially over the coming holiday season. So if you are looking to support my efforts with a donation to GAWS please follow the link to Everyday Hero to contribute.
Link will be added here:
The runners - Andy and Phil
Midpack, middle aged ultrarunner with a passion for mountain trails. The tougher and gnarlier the better. Strength: downhills. Weakness: uphills. Motto: have poles will travel. Have dreamt of running the AAWT since a Canadian friend told me about a continuous trail from Victoria to Canberra way back in 1988. Have finished 15 x 100 mile races including Hardrock, Western States, Great North Walk, Glasshouse and Coast to Kosciuszko. After two failed attempts at the track a lot more circumspect but no less keen to complete a full traverse. Moving a little slower these days after developing AF, now mostly under control after an ablation (see personal Blog for more detail).
42 year old design engineer who likes to run lots. Got in with the wrong crowd 11 years ago. Have since ran 9 marathons and 80 ultras including 14 trail 100 milers (Glasshouse, Great North Walk,Western States,Alpine, UTMB and Hardrock) and 4x150 milers (Coast to Kosciuszko) Despite a failed attempt last year am still dead keen to get back out there again. Looks like it might have to wait til Summer 2011-12 by which time hopefully Andy will have a much better knowledge of the trail.
The lure of this great trail is still very much alive...bring it!