Well, so that was Blackall100 2018. I survived the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Yay! Now let’s get down to some serious ultra business.
Ten years from now, these are the things I would still remember from the race:
(1) A wonderful reunion with running friends, old and new, and witnessing their brave performances. There was some of the best trail running spirit on display in Mapleton over the weekend. I’ll spare you from more vision of pumped fists and beaming faces. Except mine, of course.
(2) The sight of runners of all sizes and running abilities huffing and puffing up the Bluff, slow and determined. As Captain Rick eloquently puts it, when hills get names, you know they are serious. Looking at these runners, I thought: “If moving does not hurt too much, there is really no reason not to get out there and give these Aussie bushes a crack.”
(3) The hinterland wildlife. I saw plenty of kookas, turkeys, cane toads, and insects of all kinds. A fellow runner almost stepped on a brown snake. He was too speedy for the snake to get away. Curiously, these reptiles seemed to avoid me, even though I spent all those hours looking out for them. Considering that my generous hosts in Changsha treated me to snake meat (with, like, a hundred chillies) at lunch only two months ago, these slippery friends are smarter than you think.
(4) For a quarter of the way, I was entertaining the idea of finishing at between 16 and 17 hours. My Garmin turned out to be a yes woman. She did not have the guts to say no to my fantasy. But the Bluff, the wonderfully honest Bluff, told me straight in my face that it was sheer fantasy, that I was just bluffing myself. From that point on, I let out a sigh of relief and shuffled more easily. Really, political correctness just does not cut it. People need to hear what they need to hear. Garmin, take note!
(5) How much I was looking forward to seeing those horizontal luminous 5km markers in the dark. I just wanted to give them a good sweaty hug every time I saw them. Bloody tease! That massive cowbell on the finish line was like a lover who had got lost in the woods for a life time. Made me ache with longing.
(6) The kids have been having the most fun with the cowbell medal. It has been clanging all day. I now use it as an alarm clock to wake them up in the morning.
(7) One could well use a half marathon to train for a marathon, or a marathon to train for a trail 50km, but using a single 50km seven weeks out to train for the Blackall 100 was a dumb idea, even when that was an epic Bright 50.
On second look, I doubt that I would remember any of that come next year, which might give me a chance to return here for another crack. Seriously, immediately after the experience of giving birth, who would want to give birth ever again? But then, last time I checked, I was not a woman, so I was just talking through my imagination there.
Thank you Blackall for testing me and letting me discover how much further sheer stubbornness can go. Thank you, friends, for another wonderful experience. Feral Pig in WA beckons end of next week, but I will need to do the right thing and assess how the body has pulled up in a few days. Idiocy can only go so far. Or does it?!
Photo credit: Steve O’Keeffe from SOK Images, who had the ability to appear everywhere on the course, and then stay up all night, to take photos of runners, fast and slow. He must have covered something like 200km during the event, seemingly all on foot, definitely not hanging off drones. Steve is undoubtedly the unacknowledged winner of this national long course trail championship. The cowbell photo is mine. All mine. I took it from my kitchen bench, faaaaar away from Blackall.