Saturday, 31 March 2012

Day Seven……………….Mountain Rescue!
This morning it was hard for me to leave the Maui Mother Ship. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go running, I just didn’t want to go straight the way. Did my body know it was a Saturday Morning and perhaps just wanted the lie in? I wanted to just laze around sip my coffee and snuggle under the doona for a little longer, and when it started to rain, I really just wanted to do all that stuff!
I decided to take the Black Diamond pack, as it was a little larger and as the weather didn’t know what it wanted to do, I thought it might be safe to pack my rain gear, as well as some warmer base layers, as we were now official in the Alpine Country and the wind was chilly.
I plodded down the dirt road waving to Vickie as I do every morning looking for the turn off to the Australia Alpine Walking Track. The Garmin beeped and beeped for the turn off, but it was nowhere to be found. After about 10mins of checking out all the trees for a track mark, there it was the yellow triangles that mark the route for this trail. But, there was something not right. It just went in to solid bush no trail to be had. I followed the map on the Garmin for a while, but it was no good, it was a real bush bash and I had no idea where I was really going. As I studied the map, I could see that the track ran parallel with the road I ran down from last night’s camp and doubled back on itself. So, I decided to go back to the road run back to the camp and join the Australia Alps Walking Track from a track that was opposite our camp! The same distance just a long way of doing it!
Views from Australian Alpine Walking Track

Once on the right track the running was great, no hard or long climbs, just an undulated trail winding its way through the beauty of the alpine region. I was knocking off some K’s and putting a lot of distance away. If the trail stayed like this I could keep this pace up and finish the day a little early for a change.
I stopped for a sandwich at a cross roads at about 1pm with only 8km to go I could be done and dusted by 2pm. I left the main trail and headed down Middle Spur Track. It was one of those tracks that clearly hadn’t been used for a while and I had to watch my step as I ran through shrubs that had covered parts of it……and then more parts of it and then. Before I knew it I had no idea where the track was, but new if I was following the track on my Garmin then at least I was heading in the right direction.
After a while I could see that I had been going around in a circle, as my Garmin struggled to get a signal through the mass of growth. So which way was a supposed to be going? I tried getting a signal without much luck and decided that I would head down the side of the spur as that is where I thought I should be going and it would take me to a river which is always a better place to be if you’re a little lost.
I made it half way down the spur through the rich bush growth, tripping, Sliding falling and bashing myself up, before the steep downhill became a 100m cliff face! I had no way of getting down from here, but it gave me a view of the river and the road below where I needed to be. But how the hell was I going to get down from here?
More tripping, bashing and getting whipped and cut by shrubs and bushes, I couldn’t see a thing for thick bush. I thought of those Sunday afternoon documentaries where people go missing when taking a hiking trip, and as much as I want to get a lot of media attention for Run BNT, I didn’t want it in the form of a helicopter evacuation on Day Seven of a 5.5 month run!
Calm Richard, think about this, I just needed to follow that little line on my mapping device, 3 hours of bush bashing, bleeding from cuts and slashes I made the river. For three hours today I covered less than 3km, doubling back on myself and in fear that I might just have to push that big red button on my Spot Tracker GPS safety device! That really was the worst thing that could happen, I would just have to sit tight in the bush for a few hours before, and hopefully somebody came to the rescue. It was funny that I decided to take the big pack with a few extras this morning, luckily I didn’t need to use them, but it goes to show just how easy it is to get yourself in a pickle in this part of Australia!
I ran through the river up on to the road and gave out a big YES, then turned around and gave the mountain a big V sign, as if to say, “is that all you’ve got”
Just a 4km run up the dirt road to get to the finishing and the meeting point for the day. I met a couple of four-wheel drivers on the way back, looks like Vickie had been worried and was getting everybody to look out for me.
Over dinner tonight I found that she had a bit of a day herself, but I leave it up to hear to tell you about that one!
Day seven, nearly became Day Mountain Rescue, but finished as Day Seven Happy to be back in the Maui, with another story to tell the grandkids!

VIC Day Six……….Keep Out!

When camping in the middle of know where without connection to the outside world, there is a sense of calm and fear at the same time. When it’s dark in the middle of know where….its dark and the only light there was last night was the amazing array of stars, and a slither of a moon that shone with a red glow. Amazing to say the least. But, there is always that fear of the unknown, that feeling that if anything happened then no one would have the faintest idea! Shouldn’t have watched those movies where people go missing in the bush before venturing out.

I awoke in the middle of the night to a flashlight flickering through the Maui curtains. I could here there was a car running at the end of the track where we had decided to camp for the night. Who or more to the point what would be around in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere? I lay there trying to figure out what was going on and if there was anybody around the Maui. The car revved up and began to cross the creek behind us. Night time four wheel driving perhaps? I enjoy running in the dark! It left and I fell back asleep, thing must have been OK as I have completed day six.

I got up in a great mood this morning which surprised me as I was so beaten up yesterday. I told Vickie the horror story of the night as she was fast asleep.

I bounced out the van, feeling pretty good about the run ahead, knowing there was going to be a yet another big climb, I was mentally prepared. 

It was a warm morning as I ran through the forest towards the spur climb, and the light was pretty as it shone through the morning fog and was broken up by the trees. It would have been perfect, but I kept seeing these signs that said “Private Property Keep Out” and they were everywhere. It made me feel like I was going to stumble upon something that I shouldn’t, but this was the official BNT route, I had to go this way.

Once I reached the spur track the climb began, and it was like Groundhog Day, just a repeat of yesterday’s steep climb. It was all over before I knew it and the views at the top as always were not a letdown. It was a steady downhill all the way back to the finish for the day.

Was it the finish? There was no Maui Mother ship! Ok, perhaps she got delayed in getting here. I stretched and enjoyed the warmth of the sun. 30mins passed and it crossed my mind that Vickie wanted the coordinates for the finish of day seven this morning and I was hoping that wasn’t where she was! No phone reception, no civilisation, just me wondering if everything was all right.

……..and it was!

Oh, and what was I in fear of during the nights drama’s? Well it turns out there was just another person wanting to find a camp for the night, on their very own adventure no doubt!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

VIC Day Five……………………Vertical Beauty

VIC Day Five……………………Vertical Beauty 

I feel like I have been run over tonight. I had a relatively short day in terms of mileage, but was out there for hours!
Leaving the campsite this morning I felt happy that the day ahead should be a short one. I wasn’t feeling terrible sore, but just felt like lazing around sipping lattes and eating junk. No such thing on the BNT it was time to get my stuff together and get on with the day job!
Both I and Vickie were a little off this morning, the routine is hard to get in to and the pressure of something so epic weighs on our shoulders still. It’s been nonstop for both of us, early starts and late nights seem to be the norm at the moment, but we still need to find a groove in what we are doing, So the days can run a bit more seamlessly. Something had to break sooner rather than later; and it was a quick  “I hate you, I love you” argument before getting on with it!
I wasn’t looking forward to the first five K’s of my run this morning, as it followed the Jamison – Eildon Road. What I didn’t expect was a slight downhill, quiet and scenic road, in the sunshine and a great time to prepare myself for the day ahead.
I only came across one person today. In fact there hasn’t been a day since the ravers that I have really seen anybody out on the trail. It was early on when I met this old boy heading down to the river with his fishing rod. I gave him a wave and a “Gidday Mate” as I plodded buy, but he headed towards for a hand shake. “Have you jogged in from Eildon this morning” he said, “No Healesville” I replied, “Oh goodo” he said. I filled him in on what I was doing, and he just gave me a “good on ya”. It’s funny how the country folk think about such things. They seem to have this positiveness to such things, and act like they happen every day. When telling people about Run BNT back in Melbourne I would often get a “Why would you wanna do that” phrase, or a million reasons why I shouldn’t do it. But the people out here, who know how difficult the terrain is, just smile and give you a “Good on ya mate”.
Is a mountain named for the obvious reasons? Normally they are named after the first man to summit it, but was there ever a Mr Terrible? Except the one in the MR Men books!
Well the first terrible incident came in the form of a 5km add on, as I went straight by the turn off to Mount Terrible track! When I finally got back to the turning point, I thought I must of missed it deliberately as it was vertical track that didn’t seem to end……..and it didn’t!
The summit of Mount Terrible was well worth the calf busting three hour ascent. It was a beautiful sight over the mountains and lakes below and I took half hour to enjoy the views. It was the best and only time to date to give Vickie a call as the summit had a telecommunications tower on the top! I let her know that I had 22km to go and should be back to the Maui Mother Ship (Campervan) soon, as long as the descent wasn’t too steep. This is where Mount Terribly Beautiful took a turn and became what it is…..terrible!
There was climb after climb, then followed by some short steep rocky drops before more climbing. Six and a half hours in and I was more than over the relentless climbs. My calf’s wanted to split, my quads wanted to explode and I was losing my rag a little. If it wasn’t for the continual views over the mountains it would have become Mount Terribly Worst!
Seven hours later and am giggling about what was, enjoying the great meal Vickie had yet again, seemed to just knock together! Tucked up in the Maui in yet another beautiful part of the Victoria.
The BNT taught me many things I am thankful for today, one of those being, that things are appropriately named!

Back at the mothership....soggy feet and a hungry belly...
Vix has the shrimps on the BBQ already!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

VIC Day Four....................Short and Sweet!

I wasn't looking forward to this morning. I was in high spirits when I awoke, but felt a little beaten up from the day before.

As always, you get two K's down the road (or in this case trail ) and feel amazing once again, and the spur a ran across offered some beautiful views.

A short day today and much needed after yesterdays sun burnt 40km up some pretty steep terrain!

We had to drive back to Marysville this afternoon for some shopping at our great sponsors FoodWorks and met with the local rag! I went a little overboard with the shopping, blowing the $300.00 budget, and having to go back down all the isles putting the non-essentials back! I added more kms to the day in store than on the trail!

Chocolate, Chips, an Ice Coffee and a BBQ feast tonight! Not quit what Alan my nutritionist put on the plan, but, I'm 120km in!

See......short and sweet!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

VIC Day Three……………Put the Keppel on Love!

Sorry its late no connection for anything last night!
I was told by Whippet my Mentor that Day Three is the one when you question yourself. What he told me is that Day One is all excitement and adrenaline fuelled, and of course it was. Day two is, I can do this this is easy, I did it but it wasn’t so easy, and then Day Three; what the hell am I doing this for?! I was thinking about this today as I made the climb out of Keppel Falls on my way to the finish 40km later the other side of Mount Bullfight. I can see why he said this; the body is of course a little beaten up, and what do you expect after 104km of running and a lot of that uphill over the last three days, and I did have a time about 25km in today that I did jokingly ask myself the question why, but it was gone as quick as it came.
The “why”, is a question I get asked a lot and ask myself not often? I got the “why” this morning when conducting an interview with Radio ABC National. If you have to ask the question then I can never explain, and that seems to be my answer at the moment, and of course raising money and awareness for may charity partner SANE Australia.
So, to sum Day Three up:  Tough little climb from the campsite, before reaching the beautiful Keppel Hut, where the kettle wasn’t on (See below)

Then the trail opened up on to a management track through an area that had been heavily logged, so sad to see the beauty of this area just flattened like that, it also offered no shade and I got myself a sun burnt face! This trail was mostly downhill which of course did nothing for my quads, but the complete reverse from the Yellow Dag Road from yesterday!
Then it was another climb through the woodlands up Mount Bullfight on a four wheel drive track, before the steep descent to the finish for the day.
Vickie told me she had just arrived three minutes before I arrived, funny because I was hoping she could gain access, as the management tracks I had been on were not too great. But I should trust my mapping as she had a long but good drive in.
Of course she had the food at the ready, some leftovers  from last night’s pasta, the usual Musahsi/Power concoctions and I sat in the sun and snoozed for an half hour!
We sit here, Vickie writing her diary, me this blog, in the middle of nowhere. With no phone or internet connection………Bliss!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Day Two................ Follow the Yellow Dog Road

Today felt tougher than yesterday and for those of you that ran with me over the back of Maroondah Dam yesterday would know, that first half had some elevation! Today's run was a continual climb from Narbethong. I toodled down the road from the Black Spear Camping Ground at around 10am, a much later start than I had hoped but with all the goings on yesterday and not getting to bed until late I was mentally tired and needed the sleep.
I was however woken up at 6am with a phone call. It was the NOVA100 team wanting me to do an interview 30mins later with Hughesy  and Kate.
They opened up with the line "Are you insane?" I was quick to point out that though many a person thinks that is true, you just can't say things like that when I'm supporting SANE Australia a mental health charity, and the stigma that surrounds the issue. I will be crossing over again over the course of the run.....I might even get Hughesy to join me, what do you think?

If I don't have to see anything for a long time to come it will be a yellow day and the road it was named after! The Yellow Dog road is just that a dog of a road, and as beautiful as it is out here sometimes there are just parts that don't do it for you. Lots of those to come. As I said at the start of this blog, lots of climbing today not short and sharp just steady for the whole day, and it hurts a little when you’re trying to ease in to the routine of things. 10km of dirt road that goes up and up. I giggled at the time, as I wanted to do this!

I finished up at the striking Keppel Falls 15min out of Marysville, where I sit and type this with a couple of eagles flying over the tree tops. Vickie’s busily sorting out dinner and we hope to be done and in bed early tonight as I have 40km and an  interview with ABC 1 (I think it's tv??)  at 7am.

No parties on the trails today, just the beauty of the bush and all the wonderful things it has to offer, looking forward to day three and again in just a few hours’ time.

Until then Happy Running :)

Sunday, 25 March 2012

VIC - Day One......A Surprise Party!

Well, what an amazing start to an amazing adventure with amazing support from all you amazing people! I don't use the word 'amazing' lightly. I really mean it.

Run BNT has begun, and what a great send off it was for the start of this 5330km journey. Thanks to the Healesville RSL for letting us use their dinning room and making the coffees and brekkie that was enjoyed by all.

It was a buzz to have so many people join me for the 3km road run to the Maroondah Dam Park, the kids did a great job at setting the pace a little high! With the BNT Maui leading the way, followed by the police four wheel drive we had a great procession to the trail head.

Those that decided to go that bit extra when entering the park, would have enjoyed the steep climb out the back of the dam, and had a real eye opener as to what I will face moving in to the alpine region of Victoria over the next week; where the climbs get bigger.

After the the runners started to peel off, it was time to get down to business, building the pace a little where I felt more comfortable. It was great to be running with Andy Hewet (Whippet) my mentor,  as well as training partners and some new found friends.

Great weather all morning, with the temperature plummeting some what as we reached the top of the climb. The rain stayed at bay thought it was raining in Melbourne when we took the early drive up.

Funny things happen out bush. Like a surprise party? 20km in and we are enjoying the beauty, smells and sounds of the forest. This came in the sound of duf, duf?? As we got closer we could see there were tents and a stage set up with people dancing. Was this a surprise party for the BNT launch? NO. We had stumbled along a illegal rave party that was in full flight. Strange to see people dressed as bunny rabbits and robots on a Sunday afternoon along the BNT route! One of our guys got called a freak by a guy dressed as a fairy! But the ravers thought it would be a great opportunity to take some photos of the man who was attempting to run to Cooktown. Freaky to them no doubt.

Finishing day one, I thought I could get some rest in, as I was up so early for an interview on The Australia all over show on ABC National radio and had to drive an hour to get to the start. However, I had to shoot some footage with my camera guy Andre for a piece he is putting together for Grays Online " A Day in the Life" great fun, but adding to a long and tiring day.

So, as I sit here at the Black Spur Camping Ground in this amazing part of the world, with the adventure of a life time now a reality. I would like to thank everybody for their commitment and continual support for this dream and the opportunity to make it real and help SANE Australia's work in helping those living mental illness.

Day two is only a few hours away. Until then I need some sleep!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Runnings Last Day

It's hard to believe that when I opened my mouth that Christmas and the words "I'm going to run the Bicentennial National Trail" came out, that 15 months later I would be a week away from starting! I often wonder how I got here? I can still remember that first day when me and Vickie put pen to paper, to write a list of things we need to research, and not having the faintest idea as to where to start, and now BOOM! we have everything good to go and have an astonishing amount of support in all sorts of forms and from all manner of people and places, and as I have said many times before its overwhelming to say the least!

I had a few going away pressies which was special. Food is always a good one as a long distance runner, and when it comes in the form of cookies and chocolate coated camermel slabs, its hard to go wrong! I also, had an Inspirational book given to me also, it was a sign that I'm doing the right thing with this run; when I opened the book on this page.......................
and got a rainbow to boot! Thank you to everybody for your kindness.

Last long run until next Sunday and it felt great. Not great that I was finishing for the week, but, so great that I wanted to stay out there past the fours hours I had allocated myself. Funny how that works? You would think after this years training or even the past week of 200km plus, that I would be ready for a much needed break? That break nearly came in the form of a broken arm today. I slipped over on a wet clay downhill. It amazes me that after all the mileage I have done on the trails over the years, that I haven't had more topples. Anyway, a fright, a bruised, grazed arm and a massive dent in my ego, was what I luckily got away with!

Busy last week with media interviews and my meeting with John Landy on Tuesday. We feel very privileged to have Mr Landy helping us  promote this project. I have a heap of questions for him, not that I'm planning to be breaking four minute miles along trail! Picking up the Maui camper home tomorrow and will spend the afternoon fitting it out with all our gear. Exciting times ahead!

I was having a good old think out there today, about how I am feeling about the whole thing. I think the answers neutral. Many people have asked me this question over the last week and I haven't really had the right answer. I hope I can outline this in the video below.

Physically I feel in good shape, but get the odd paranoid feeling that things are not right with my body, the mind starts to play tricks when you get close to something this epic!

One week ladies and gentlemen!

Richie B