Health and Fitness Running

Delirious 200mi 2023 Race Report – Cosy Corner to Muttonbirds

If anyone traversed from Cosy Corner to Muttonbirds at night, like I did, they would have found themselves, tiny yet wholesome, in this magical landscape. You’d be forgiven looking at this picture, at first glance, to think that’s the sun setting.

There is something about running through the final night of a 200 miler. You know that you are close to the finish, yet your energy reserve seems close to depletion. Mentally, you are getting stronger and confidence level higher compared to the start of the race. Many runners experience hallucinations at this stage of a 200 miler. In this wonderful concoction of euphoria, fatigue and submission, every single time, I found inner peace in that elusive eye of the storm. Perhaps that’s why some of us put ourselves through these trials – to have a glimpse of a possible state of consciousness which through persistent practice could one day become the norm.

I will never forget the majestic star dome running through the Simpson desert at night. It was the door that opened many doors.

On the hills of Tahoe, after an unexpected snow storm, I was running over a star field for many miles, eating snow off pine trees to quench my thirst. The glittering ores in the dirt I ran on were bouncing off the light from twinkling stars. Imagine yourself utterly alone in such a majestic landscape, no noise in your head, the body in constant motion – thoughtless yet mindful, the lines blurred between yourself and surroundings.

At my first Delirious adventure in 2020, I was bushbashing my way up a hill to bypass an inlet to Muttonbirds. Andy led the way fighting off giant Shelobs with his poles. It was after a very emotional day around Monkey Rocks, where floods of memory of my late brother had overwhelmed me to tears. After the tears came peace. Funny how that works. We had found Sean Nakamura staggering like a dancing monkey, fully hallucinated, on the beach. We accompanied Sean to Muttonbirds and left him there to continue on to Sandpatch. That night was magical in its own way, thanks to Andy’s wonderful presence, but I do not remember the moon being this bright.

In New Zealand, running from Mt Cook to Oamaru as part of the Alps2Ocean race, that final night found my good friend Jules extracting every last ounce of energy to finish the long day. Jules is a fighter, and we have run the Tahoe 200 miler, Alps2Ocean NZ, Big Red Run and many shorter races together.

At the TOR330 in the Italian Alps, when I was toiling up Col Haut Pas (2,857m) then Col Crosatie (2,829m), the rock-laden switchbacks and alpine steps were engulfed in darkness. But as soon as I reached the peak at Crosatie, the harvest moon revealed itself in all its striking glory. The moon up this high was large, towering, golden, bright and completely still. I knew that a phone shot would not do it justice, so I refrained, out of awe and respect. The ambiance and experience were naturally beyond words, and I found myself evaporated into stillness.

This year, I had got to Cosy Corner well ahead of schedule. I was on target to reach Albany with a PB of about 2-3 hours. However, when I got to about a third of the way to Muttonbirds, the tide was expectedly high blocking beach traversal. After some fumbling about in the dark, I found the hill that Andy had bushbashed up 3 years ago. I was certain that I saw the same Shelob with her gigantic web hanging across the overgrown trail. But once I got to the top of the hill, I spent a long time failing to find a sensible trail downhill back to the beach. Runners had talked about climbing rocks in this area to bypass the inlet, but I spent a long time going back and forth without finding a Bibbulmun marker or race flag to help guide my way. With the body cooling down quickly, I sat down on cold sand waiting for head torch lights from runners behind me. About 30 minutes passed and there was no flickering light in sight, so I decided to return to Cosy Corner to wait for other runners. The local runners surely would know how to proceed from there. I was forced to have a rest that I did not need at Cosy Corner. After an hour and a half, a few runners were about to resume the race. I found Heath’s pace to suit, so I stuck with him to that tricky spot. The solution was actually quite simple. We climbed up the rocky edge and went around the corner. That rocky edge had not looked climbable to me when I was alone earlier. It only took about 20-30 steps to see a Bibb marker edged into the rock. There was no way that I could have seen that marker in the dark from the angle I was looking up from the beach. With 3 hours lost in this segment, I would need to push hard to match my previous finish time. When I returned to Cosy Corner, the moon was still rising. When I finally climbed the stairs onto Muttonbirds, the moon was already high in the sky.