This morning, I made a dash to The Nut State Reserve in Stanley TAS to have a look at this stunning starting point of the Gone Nuts 101km race yesterday. The route took me back through locations, having not meant much to me until recently, that are now filled with fond memories from yesterday’s race. Rocky Cape – the starting line of the 50km race, and its national park with the most gorgeous dawn transition one could experience up high on the hills on a full moon night, featuring down slopes too inviting for runners but lending themselves easily to ankle twists due to thick vegetation covering rocky ground. Sisters Beach – where there was some rare runnable terrain, sandy and rocky, in the first half of the race. I got lost for a while there being unable to spot markers. Looking at the dense footprints on the sand, I figured quite a few runners had got lost too. Boat Harbour – the midrace mark 25km away from the finish line, undoubtedly a testing point of mental toughness for 101km runners. The weaving course through private farmland all the way to the Table Cape Conservation Area, over which runners were spoilt with the most stunning views of the coastline – inaccessible to the general public.
A few of us, running friends from the Big Red Run in the Simpson Desert last year, gathered here for our first interstate running reunion in 2018. Everyone seemed to have an amazing experience. Naturally there would be tales of inner and physical struggles that might remain untold. Still recovering from a week of fatigue and sickness, I struggled until the halfway mark, taking a tumble twice in the national park, fortunately escaping ankle twists. I think I was momentarily distracted from where I would land my feet next, looking for those mutton birds rustling away in the bush. Somehow finding my second wind after the water break thereafter, I shuffled over the majestic farmland, with neverending rolling hills, at times weaving across the bush, until catching up with Rob and Julie about 5km away from the finish. The three of us crossed the finish line together. Anne was so fast, that we had seen her for about two seconds at the start before she bolted into the dark. Rick had started from Stanley for the 101km course, and he was not an Olympian yet, so we never saw each other on the run. We had managed to see Lucas and Jac at the pre-event safety briefing, but I had missed saying hello to Jenna in person upon her completion of the Tassie leg of Running For Bums.
For me, running, especially trail running, is not so much about the act of running itself. It is more about human connections and connection with nature. Throughout the race, I was deeply in touch with the land I was running on and felt very grateful for the opportunity. There was plenty of wildlife in the bush and in the sky, including what I think was a tiger snake. I managed to see about a metre of his black tail as he scurried away behind the rocks. I am not a reptilian expert, though. Reconnecting with amazing friends, running a race with them and witnessing silent acts of courage was a huge bonus. Farmers were very generous with their cold drinks and folding chairs. Vollies and organisers were top notch. This event was indeed a celebration of kindness, without having set out to be one.
Come to The Nut next year. You might have “Gone Nuts” doing so.