Day 27 - 36km Mt Clear – Caloola Farm (Border ACT)
Today’s run was back at the border of ACT and NSW where I had finished only two days before, why? Well after crossing the border, we had to drive straight into Canberra centre as we had lined up some media. I would have timed it perfectly if we hadn’t have got the snow that day up on Mount Hope in Victoria, and then having to take the following day off. But, safety has to come first and the snow fall was beautiful none the less.
It felt funny being back here, it’s like all that should now be well behind me and I have taken a step back, in fact two! But, I have done the Canberra sections now which bring me back up to speed. This means; Running from the border to Caloola Farm, and then Caloola Farm to where I stared two days ago in Canberra, a place called Pine Island. Confused? Me too! What it all really means is that I am making sure I’m running the whole trail, just not in an exact order at the moment, but that will be back on track as of Sunday night!
We had spent the night on a farm right on the border with the owner Tom. Tom is the GM for the LHAS looking after the agriculture in southern NSW amongst other things. Vickie had, had contact with him about campsite permits some weeks ago, and he offered for us to stay at his farm when passing by. It was a great little property on about 200 acres. Just a farm for fun as Tom put it!
He had cooked up an amazing BBQ and cracked a bottle of red. It’s funny that most people think that I must have some special diet with all the running I’m doing, but, the truth is that I’m doing the complete opposite and have given myself a license to be shovelling anything in to my mouth, healthy or not!
It was a great opportunity to learn more about rural life and Tom shared some of the stories of his work as we sat in front of a cosy log fire in the middle of nowhere. It didn’t once cross my mind that we were in the middle of the bush in the pitch black with a guy we had never met. Something that we have found on this adventure is people are so kind and generous and like to help out and get involved anyway they can, and Toms was giving us a bed for a night and spending some time having a good old fashioned yarn!
It rained all night, and it was still raining when I got up, it was really foggy up there on the farm and I was thinking of packing for a wet day.
Vickie drove the Maui Mother Ship out of the gate and to my starting point for the day. It got warm; the sky was overcast dotted with some very black clouds. I ran the first 5km down to the Mount Clear camping area, Vickie met me down there which meant I didn’t have to take my pack for a change.
I then left Vickie and took the 30km Nass Fire Trail that would take me to the finish at Caloola Farm.
The trail was pretty flat, which meant I could cover some ground quickly. I had this niggle in my right quad that has been there for a few days now. I pooped a couple of anti-inflammatories, to see me through and they did the trick, I’m just sitting here now typing this up, hoping that it’s not going to come back with a vengeance tomorrow!
The trail went through the valley and criss-crossed the Nass River that I had to then ford eight or so times. Luckily it was never more than waist height, but it had a fair flow on it from the rain.
I followed the hoof marks of Sam who I had caught up to before crossing the border those few days ago. Then I started noticing paw prints! As you know I had seen lots of signs and been warned about the wild dogs that roam these remote parts. I still hadn’t seen one, and still didn’t want to, but the paw prints looked fresh and I thought that today might be the day!
My Garmin Beeped and I thought I was going the wrong way. That would have been the good news, as it was telling me that the battery was low and I know from experience that this meant an hour or so was remaining. It was odd as I thought I had put new batteries in! Lucky the day was a straight forward and short one! 36km in the mountains seems like a sprint these days!
I came over another hill, but this time found Vickie at the bottom on the other side. She had run the 5km in from the farm to meet me, what a nice surprise, and we jogged back together, and here I sit in the valley, with kangaroos and galahs in piece and quit writing this up!
Day 25 - Half Marathon: Pine Island – Canberra Equestrian Centre
(Media day in Canberra)
We skipped two sections to be in Canberra for what was going to be a horse cavalry. We met with Jenny the coordinator for Canberra at Pine Island Reserve for the start of a short day for me, being a half marathon along the equestrian trails. It was the worst morning for me since being on this journey. I had awoken with a terrible feeling stomach, and had spent the better half of my morning on the porcelain. Of all the mornings to be sick on this trip, it had to be when I wasn’t in the middle of nowhere on my own, but in the suburbs with a bunch of horse riders who had gathered together to escort me into the Canberra Equestrian Centre for some media pictures and a story!
Vickie looked for a chemist on the way to Pine Island without luck. I didn’t know how I was going to get through the day the way I felt. But, either way, I needed to just get on with it, like I always do, just in a different way.
First up was a live interview on ABC666 Canberra. It went really well. I have been doing a number of radio interviews and have seemed to figure out what they typically ask. I needed to have answers for anything they might toss up, and what I have done is put a new spin on the two age old questions that they seem to always ask, which in reality have dreary answers! “How many shoes will you get through?” They want me to say some exorbitant amount, but the fact is that I have planned for a new pair every 500km which only just puts me into double figures! “What special diet are you on?” It’s so special in fact that I can eat what the hell I like! But, again they want to hear something like 14 raw eggs with buck weed for breakfast or something to that effect.
I jogged down to the trail head with the first three horses for the day and we would pick up a further seven on route. I was clenching my bottom cheeks together, praying that I could make it through this half marathon and not embarrass myself in front of 10 horses and their riders, before arriving to the newspapers!
The first 10km were slow, I was surprised how slow horses can be and it boosted my confidence as a trail runner, but wasn’t getting me to the finish anytime soon. We met the rest of the Calvary and carried on to the finish. About halfway I just couldn’t go on with this new type of running technique I had come up with to control my bowel movements, and darted into the bushes, while the horse team went ahead. The hard thing about being in Canberra is that you’re not really in the bush as such and I had houses and dog walkers in eye sight!
I caught up to the rest of the team and we passed under the last subway, before arriving at the Canberra Equestrian Centre bang on time for the media. It made for a great photo as I ran down the dirt driveway lined with autumn trees of yellow and red with the horses behind me.
A quick interview and a warm jacket, and then it was time to get stuck into the buffet that the team had put on. Now, I eat lots at the best of times, but when having to run 21km on an empty stomach and then leaving half that stomach out on the suburban trails. I thought it would be rude if I didn’t eat a whole family sized Boston Bun to myself, washed down with tea, back up with cheeses and crackers a banana and my sport nutrition plan, sometimes being sick pays off!
Day 26 - Day Off – Canberra
A much needed day off after the sickness and run of the day before. Didn’t do much really, it was a good opportunity to catch up on things like washing clothes, yes, that’s on a day off! It was great for Vickie to take some time out, instead of rushing around after me. She even went out for a run herself early that morning, while of course I lied in! I had some treatment from my physio sponsors LifeCare which help to tweak a few things and reassure me I was going well considering the mileage and terrain I had covered over the last month!
Day 27 - 35km Canberra Equestrian Centre – Hall Showgrounds
As we were already in Canberra from the day before, I thought I would knock the next section off that would take me again on the city trails out the back of the suburbs. This meant that the suburban part of the BNT would be done and I could continue on in more wilder places!
It was odd running around the back of houses and along the side of freeways. I had been so remote just a few days before being here and the three weeks before that. If there is one thing you notice about Canberra, it’s the Telstra Tower on Black mountain. It seem no matter where you may be, this big spike seems to be there somewhere to!
I decided not cross the river as it was deep and wide. I ran further up the cycle path to find a bridge and came across this!
I crossed the dam and ran along the side of the zoo to find the trail the other side; I got to see a bunch of things for free from this overgrown passage and hoped I wasn’t going to just run right into the lion’s enclosure!
I met with the trail once again and headed under the freeway, to be confronted by a sign saying that the trail was close until 2013 and the only people who could pass through would be BNT travellers but only on Sundays! So, being a BNT traveller and seeing that Friday and Sunday both finish in day, of course I went through just like every other sign that I have seen telling me otherwise!
The last 8km of the trail went out away from the suburbs and touched the border before heading back into a new housing estate. Jenny had warned that the trail would be hard to follow as things had changed a fair bit around this area, and she wasn’t wrong. I couldn’t find the trail for the last 2km to get to Vickie, so I called her so she could come to me!