I'm not a natural blogger and I'm no techie. I'm an ultra trail runner by passion, and a journalist by profession - in that order of priority.
In this blog I use the one to talk about the other - my trail thoughts, musings and meanderings about running mountains and trails.
I call it rockhoppin', just because... well... that's what we trail runners love to do!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

delayed update on C2K

The start line of Coast to Kosci 2010
Apologies: delayed Rockhoppin’ update on the C2K due to festive season slow-down :-)

Marie achieved her third Coast to Kosci, finishing as 4th woman and 11th overall in a blistering time of 37:28. Seven of the 38 competitors did not complete the full 240km, and the final finisher crossed the line in 45:49. This race is gruelling.

Despite her good result, my crazy SiL says she’s disappointed. She’d wanted her PB – a sub 35 hour. To achieve this she knew she’d not be able to sneak in any breathers or rest breaks. And that she did: aside from two 5 min massages, she went continuously for more than 37 hours. But, in her words, she got her nutrition wrong, she felt nauseous so couldn’t take in enough calories, and she ran out of energy.

“Anyway, I feel reasonably pleased that I was only an hour slower (than last year) even though I felt so weak. I've learned a few things for next year!”
Spoken like a true fighter – bring on Marie’s C2K 2011!

Competitor + crew in the mist at the summit

The weather conditions of this year’s event were not great. The runners fought a headwind for most of the 240km, and it became stronger as they neared the summit of Kosciuszko. This was even worse for those finishing later, as conditions deteriorated into the afternoon and it became dark, cold and misty.

“But while it was bad out there, the conditions were nothing compared to the 2008 run when we couldn't get on to the mountain at all. This year, although the wind made it harder, closing the summit route was never considered.”

Most of the times this year were slower than in 2009 except for a few stand-out performances. Of the 15 repeat offenders, four were quicker and the rest were slower than last year. To put this into perspective, Jo Blake, winner of C2K in 2009 and 2010, was a full 2hrs45 slower this time, finishing in 28:45. Still a phenomenal time though.

Friday, December 10, 2010

my incredible SiL

In case anyone’s wondering, I’m not the only nutter in my family. There’re actually two of us. My sister-in-law, Marie, is a complete and utter, dyed in the wool, pedigreed Nutter of Note. There’s almost no running challenge that scares her, no distance that makes her laugh in disbelief, and virtually no endurance feat on two legs or wheels that she wouldn’t try.

Marie is, without a smidgeon of doubt, the most mentally strong woman I’ve ever run with. I’ve witnessed her block out pain as if the injury isn’t there. I’ve been with her when she’s commented that she had “something in her eye” and chosen to ignore it so she didn’t have to slow down or stop... and then three hours later when we crossed the finish line, I picked the blade of grass from her eye.

Distances just don’t frighten Marie. Ten years ago she was a 21km road runner. Now she has more ultras under her belt than I can keep track of. And I’m not talking about ultra marathons that just sneak over the 50km mark, I’m talking ULTRAS. Try 204km in 24 hours (when she represented Britain at the Brive 24 hour champs in France, May 2010 – and yes, that’s the one where they go round-and-round-and-round a 1.25km circuit to see how far they can run in 24 hours. Fun stuff!).

And then so not to lose the edge, she did a 48 hour round-and-round-and-round race in Australia just two months later, in which she clocked up just over 261km. (Her incredible achievement shows that while 48 hours may be double 24, but it sure as hell doesn’t mean the runners double their 24hr distance. The 48hr is mindblowingly gruelling, never mind the physical strain of pushing through continuously for that long.)

Now it’s December, and time for Marie to do her favourite ultra: it’s the Coast to Kosciuszko in Australia, affectionately known to the nutters that run it as the Coast to Kosci, or the C2K. It’s a 240km race that’s mostly on tar, and goes from Twofold Bay on the NSW south coast to the top of Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko (2 228m).

This will be Marie’s third running of the C2K. Her goal this year is to finish the 240km in under 35 hours. The weather conditions this time of year can be perfect... or they can be foul, with icy temperatures and gale-force winds.

The event started this morning, Aussie time. Excitingly, it can be followed with almost-live updates on (http://www.coast2kosci.com/live2010.html)
And as I write, the most recent update has Marie at the 148km mark, it’s just before 2am there and she’s been going for just over 20 hours.

Sheeez, my fingers are tired just typing that!

Next blog post, Marie will have her 3rd C2K in the bag. Watch this space :-)