Saturday, 28 July 2012

Day ???...............What Day is it??

I thought that being an ultra runner was hard work. I mean running for hours each day, then stretching for more hours, needing that much important sleep only to repeat the process over again. Finding it hard to socialise and spend time with your loved ones and friends...unless their running friends that is!

Then I come up with this great idea of running the national trail that would still have me running for hour each day, while spending time with my love one and sharing the adventure with my friends, leaving me lots of time to do the other things that I have in my life and still have time to stretch and sleep well.

Well how wrong was I?

My time on the trail has been more than amazing so far, and spending that extra time with my partner Vickie great, though challenging at times, spending so much time in one another pockets quit literally in the small space that we call the Maui Mothership, is sometimes not the best of moods, can be a bigger challenge than running to Cooktown its self.

Still not really a problem as such, we are getting to know so much more about one another, after we thought there was no more to learn.

You would think that sharing the journey with friends and family would be easy these days with the likes of Facebook, twitter, Skype and the like? But this makes life more complicated swallowing up bags of time, downloading photos and videos to post about what happen each day but really happened days ago!

I find it so hard to keep up as to where I am at. Days turn into weeks, weeks months and all I know is the distance I have left to reach cooktown and how my body's feeling. Should be simple right?

But, then theres this Blog. You would think it would be as easy as finishing my day, doing all the things necessary to help me bounce back the next day, Social media stuff, blog writing, sleep and repeat, I wish!

I have found out today that our Charity SANE Australia use a media monitor to capture all print media that we do along route with papers etc. What I found out is that we have averaged 40 per month, that's right 40! That's on top of the 22 ABC Radio interviews I have done the Three Channel 7 News and One channel 9 News interviews, plus radio interviews with the Sports day Radio every months, as well as features in Outer Edge Magazine, Men's Fitness Magazine, RM Williams Magazine and the BNT's very own Track Magazine, plus school talks! and I'm wondering why I find it hard to write a Blog? This says it all!

Now I have told you my excuse for not writing something up sooner, let me begin.

So, I finished up last time with a jetski ride over the Paradise dam due the river being high adding KM to my already long day, all done in the pouring rain....that's right nothing new there this is the BNT its never that simple!

That took me to Mount Perry a nice little town in the mountains. The weather had become beautiful and I enjoyed my day running through the foothills away from the new mine site on the edge of town.

The trail passed through many stations on its route to the Boolboonda Tunnel ( I bumped into one of the land owners as I made my way down the spurline to the dirt road below.

Some interesting story's these guys of the land have to tell, and its always a highlight when having the opportunity to have a good old Australia yarn with them.

The tunnel itself was a little freaky, and I was glad that Vickie could meet me there to experience the spookiness with me!

The following day I would be running 60km in to Kalpower, sound like something out of Batman! The day was flat and straight, just a dirt road heading north through some farm country. Vickie had to take the long way around as the road would be to rough.
There was only one thing that happened the whole day, and that was a guy ran down his 500m driveway to ask if I had been down his driveway?? Go figure? I asked him way and his response was that he just wanted to know who was around his property, something to hide a reckon?!!

Kalpower wasn't even a town it had nothing. Vickie had slipped $10 into my pack knowing that her route would take her longer than it would for me to run there! I had to go starving, even the smallest of towns in Australia have a pub, but this place was lucky to have people, It was like a ghost town!

The next day was spent trying to work out the best way to tackle the Kroombit Top National Park it wasn't so much the 60km day I would have to run, but where I would be going. Its the only NP in Australia that I know of that doest have any maps of the trails or roads within it. Making it very hard to map out the direction I needed to go.

There was more complications after Vickie spoke with Parks. They would be shooting feral pigs the day I wanted to pass through and would be finished until 1pm making it a short afternoon to be running 40km mainly uphill in the middle of no where, with no idea on the route.

I arrived at the park gate early and waited until 1pm and started the climb into the park. I bumped into the rangers about 10km in, who informed me that the trail turn off was hard to find and that the distance from where I was now was going to be another 50km until I reached the far end of the park where I would be meeting Vickie.

Not only was I going to struggle to find where I was going, but the terrain was steeper than I had anticipated and my day had now turned in to 80km with 50km to run in 3hrs before it became dark.......not going to happen, but I pushed as hard as I could for the afternoon.

I was still making my way down the spur line when the sunset. I had phone reception for a while as I was up high and communicated with Vickie my whereabouts and how long I was likely to be!

It was pitch black when I crossed the creek at the bottom of the spur and chest deep. Not one star in the sky and no moon to be heard of, bringing me to a walking shuffle. Stupidly I had packed everything but my head torch. I used my mobile phone to shed just a little light on trail...nothing.

It was a long a painful 10km to the pickup point, and poor old Vickie had been worried sick!

Luckily safe and sound another lesson leaned and another story to tell!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Day 113……………………………Dam and Dogs.

Of course it was still raining when I got up this morning, it had been raining all through the night as well and I could only imagine what the river was doing at the end of the road. Today was the day I would be practicing my kayaking skills and would be surfing the white wash to get to the other side of the river.
Rod the farmer was up and about already and was in his garage, I suspect getting the gear ready for my paddle over. But Rod had been having second thoughts about me kayaking across as the rain just hadn’t let up since having the idea to paddle across the day before. Vickie had also been up during the night worrying about me making the crossing too. It was after all, not just raging, but full of branches and logs getting washed down from upstream.
I was excited about the new idea of getting to the trail the other side; it wasn’t half as dangerous which makes for a poor video on YouTube, but was going to be way more fun! Rod opened his garage door and there on the trailer was a supercharged jet ski. We would drive 4km up the road to the dam I passed yesterday, he would then take me over and I would have to run an extra 2km back down to the river crossing, a small detour and added mileage, but well worth it I thought.
Still raining we launched off from the boat ramp at one hell of a speed, leaving Vickie in a white wake of water with the still camera in one hand and the video camera in the other, I waved her good bye while clinging on tight as we raced across the dam.
30 seconds later I was jumping off at the other side, thanked Rod and waved him off as he left me in the same wake as Vickie got. It was now time for me to get on with my 55km day, now made 57km with the added detour.
JetSkiing the BNT
The track on the opposite side made its way up to the top of the range a fairly steep climb. It then went up and down for almost 4km before I made it to the junction where I would have come to if I had crossed the river. Now a 59km day I needed to get moving as time was getting on and I had a day running through the network of tracks that made up the Good Night Scrub National Park.
I got onto a nice little single track that made its way up in to the forest, it was still raining heavily and visibility wasn’t great. I saw some movement up ahead, as I got closer I realised it was three dingos. After over 3000km and warnings of wild dogs and dingos all the way along the route, this was a first and I didn’t really know how to tackle them. I’m sure that a “sit”, “Fetch” or “down boy” wouldn’t do the trick, so I picked up a giant stick not so they could chase it because I’m sure that wouldn’t work either. I yelled out and whistled, two of them ran straight away and the other hung around for a while, so I waved the stick and made more noise and he was off then too.
The trail I was on wasn’t even on the map or my Garmin, but I had seen a BNT maker so knew I was heading sort of in the right direction.
The trail then took a steep descent to a T intersection, where I needed to turn left, no marker once again I had to head towards where the Garmin would have popped me out if I hadn’t come down the unknown track. I couldn’t really work out where I was, I seemed to be going around in circles, something wasn’t right with my map, either way I went I was going in the wrong direction. I decided that I would take the most logical way, meaning that if the trail isn’t marked at a junction just go straight ahead. It was a mistake, because 10km later I didn’t see another maker and was heading well away from my waypoint for the end of the day.
I had two choices head the 10km back to where I had been and hope that I could figure out where to go from there, but this meant that I would be adding another 20km to what was a 57km day already and it was getting late in the day and still pouring down. Or, and this is what I went with, run the 30km to the highway the way I was already heading and get picked up by Vickie there. That way I would still run the distance I had set myself for the day just in a slightly off course direction.
I sat in the Maui disappointed that I hadn’t taken the exact route, but looking at the hard map I was only a little way off ending up close to where I should have been. It looks like it was a blessing in disguise I later found out that the trail was now missing as there was a new mine site, meaning that I would have had to make a detour around it anyway. Funny how things turn out?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Day 111.....................Mixture of All Sorts!

Rain, Cranky Old Wemen, Mandarin Oranges, No Markers, Spanish lessons, Unpassable Rivers, English House sitters and Prawns???

That’s what the BNT dished out today, what a bizarre mixture of things to have on a trail run. As a trail runner, I have seen my fair share of oddities along the trails of Australia, but it’s not until running on Australia’s National Trail that I have come across all things odd, and people tend to be heading it.

Rain; something not so different, living in Melbourne and originally coming from the UK, I have had my fair share of rainy days both on and off the trails. The difference now is that I have ran 3000km across this great country with three rain days before hitting Queensland, where at this time of year it shouldn’t be raining at all. Here’s me thinking I’m leaving the worst of it behind me and heading into the sun, and Queensland decides to do what it normally doesn’t and piss it down!

Cranky Old Wemen; I have come across plenty of these in my time and not all of them old. But, today’s came in the form of a Grey Nomad. In fact it was Vickie that got hit up first over something as simple as laundry. Old people annoy me, well not generally, but when retired, touring the country with plenty of time to do the things you like, you would think that they would be happy. Not the case when you use a washing machine that they always use on a Saturday at 8am, you really don’t want to upset their schedule, because they don’t have all day to do things like that, yes, I am being sarcastic.

Mandarins; I’m not talking about the people, but the massive supply of oranges that we have on board the Maui Mothership as present. I’m sure the fuel consumption will go up. The first load came this morning from a lovely older lady at the campsite we stayed at last night, clearly the opposite of the above. A carry bag full of juicy ones that they had been given from some guys that worked on an orchid near where they stayed the night before, it funny how people like to feed you up, they send you on your way with all manner of foods, lucky for me this time it was a healthier option. Then tonight we met the owner of an Orchard and yes, just one that so happened to grow mandarins! Looks like I should be right with my vitamin C for a while!

No Markers; Nothing new here either, but today I learnt that the station I have been through has been taking them down straight after the coordinator had put them up. Obviously this makes life difficult, even when using a GPS it’s nice to see a marker now and again so you know you’re defiantly heading in the right direction. Some of these stations are massive, it’s not unusual to be running through what can be thousands of acres without any type of road or trail to follow. Some of these station owners don’t like people coming through their land for one reason or another, hiding something no doubt. But, by taking down the marker, they have travellers all over their land looking for a way out, rather than just following the markers. Simple!

Spanish Lessons; Its funny, I had this idea of learning Spanish while running the trail. The idea was that I would carry an iPodCDs buy a farmer called Rod and his wife who’s property we parked out the front of last night. We only when in to ask if it was OK to be camping on the trail that passed straight passed their place. Next thing we know, we are having cups of tea in front of the fire, I had a great hot shower and we got some local knowledge. Just as well we did get the inside scoop as to what was going on locally, as I found out the bridge was washed out that I would be supposedly crossing in the morning.

Unpassable River; Unpassable due to the bridge being washed out many years ago. Rod explained that normally you could make your way across easily, but with the nonstop rain that we have been getting the last week, things were a little different down there. It had become raging rapids due to the over spill of the Dam 5km up river. I tested the waters while Rod was there, but I only made in two meters from the banks I was waist deep and had no footings. Rod said we would sort it out in the morning with me kayaking over and him pulling it back when I was over.

English House Sitters; he front of the farm looked a little like a campsite with our Mothership parked up next to another caravan. We later found out that the English couple in it were going to be house sitting the farm while the owners when away, looks like we were lucky meeting them when we did!

Prawns; 3000km hit! What an achievement getting ever so close now to the finish in Cooktown. Vickie surprised me with a seafood delight, a large plate with beautiful fresh prawns and all the trimmings that go with it, how does she do it, and why am I so lucky? It’s always a surprise when I hit the 1000’s mark and I still have another couple of them to go, what will she come up with next?

3000km is a long way through the great divide. I didn’t really know how far I’d come until looking on the map. I find it hard to believe I have come that far on foot, especially with the terrain, weather and wildlife I have had to contend with. In some ways it feels like Australia isn’t as big as I first thought if you can travel such a long way in a relativity short amount of time, and it’s not like the trail heads straight north, it’s pretty indirect at times. Looks like all these 40, 50 and 75km days soon start to add up, when you running them daily.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Day 110................Rain, Rain and More Rain.

It rained all day yesterday, in fact in rained the whole night before as well. I lay in bed that night wondering if we would have the Mothership bogged and have to spend the day trying to get her out.
We had camped at the side of the track in the middle of nowhere, where we seem to be most of the time, the BNT rarely goes through any towns, and the one’s it does you couldn’t really consider to be.
It was a warm morning wet a humid; I was tossing up whether to bother with a rain jacket knowing that it would be coming off within the first 10mins. But then there’s the possibility of it cooling down, me being soaked through and then getting cold. Anything could happen and I was going to be out there for some time with 55km to cover through the overgrown state forest where I would be spending most of the run.
I decided to cover all bases as a true professional should, stop laughing those who know me! The morning would have me climbing up and around a mountain that I can’t remember the name of!
It poured, none stop, even the trees were offering zero shelter, and I was soaked within minutes of being out there. The long grass and shrubs added to the wetness as I brushed by and through them.
I was popped out the other side of the forest on what they call the Old Coach Road, it was old and a road, but of course no coaches these days!
I was welcomed by yet another BNT sign.

For the last 200km or so I have come across these great signs. It’s a really good way to showcase the trail and it’s the first time I have come across anything like it since being on the trail. It baffles me why no matter which sign I come across the distances seem to be the same, not only that , but the overall distances don’t add up to the 5330km that the BNT is advertised at!
Once on the Coach Road I though the rest of the day was going to be easy following it through to Biggenden. The Coach Road turned to trail 5km later and had me bush bashing for another 10km before finding the other side of it.
Still raining, I made my way through the forest on a four wheel drive track. I was feeling pretty good mentally considering the rain was relentless. My knee had the odd feeling of not being fully functional, and this was really noticeable on some of the steeper descents.
The final 20km was on a farm track through a huge staawtion. Looks like the farmer wasn’t happy with the Dingo’s on his land as a sore a couple hanging up in the trees that had been shot. Not a nice sight on any day of the week, but with it being wet and soggy it wasn’t pretty.
I was soon back on a sealed road and making my way in to town. I was looking forward to the finish of today, getting dry and eating!
We checked into a camping park last night. We needed to get some things washed and dried, including myself. It was a change to be having a shower with some space and not timing myself to save water! It rain again all night, and the days not looking to bright at the moment. But, its warm and I’m going running again today so I’m all smiles.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Day 107.............What the....Queensland Weather?

Its been a funny few days for many reasons. Firstly the weathers been a bit all over the place with it raining, being gray, then sunny, then cold, then to hot...sound much like a Melbourne day, but for the best part its been warm.

Vickie mum Linda and her husband Trevor came out for a few days to join us on the BNT, and it turn out to be the worst few days we have had in QLD.....Not because of them! It was great to see them, in fact them being here over that period was a good thing, as the weather was dreary the media meetings a little non magical and the scenery not very pleasing to the eye, typical when you have guest, right?

There has also been this feeling of unfriendliness in this area. Its not that we haven't come across any great people because we have. I had just one of those great people track me down quite literally by using the SpotTracker., so he could shake my hand and donate $50.00 to my cause! Simple Amazing, people on this trip are amazing!

But, the people on route in some more remote parts of the countryside have been less friendly and a little odd!

I bumped into one such guy on the top of a hill in the middle of no where, where he had built his house (well shed really). It wasn't until I reached the top that I realised there was a property there and a very unfriendly dog to go with it.

After a few #$%$ &^#@( &^&$ words with the dog it backed away and the came the owner who had a few of the same words in return to me, watched on by his 7 year old son! Not a nice thing to be witnessing.

To cut a very long and swear ed filled story short. He didn't want anybody coming through his land and was either going to shoot them or have his dogs chew their legs off! I tried to defuse the situation a little, then I got the response "would you like a Mandarin from my orchard" strange I know, so I joined him for an orange some more complaining, before he decided that he would wish me luck and explain the way through his property. Bazaar to say the least, but it would be an adventure if people were always so nice!

It was nice to have some new and familiar faces at the end of each day. We didn't do much really the whole time Vickie's mum was here, but I think it was good for them to take time out of their busy work life to spend some time just relaxing in the Maui Mother Mothership so we called it!

Its been warm today, wet, but warm, and the forecast for the next few days are the same with the sunshine coming back on Saturday, in time for the weekend that makes no difference to me!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Day 104............Hard Start, Strong Finish.

I was nervous this morning. I was worried about my knee playing up on today’s run. Yesterday’s last 8km was hard work due to the consent pain. It started off only when I was running downhill, then up hill, and of course just when I ran.

Vickie had spent the evening putting me through more pain in the hope to get things back to normal, if there is such a thing when running as far as I am each day?

I spent the morning back on the roller, and yet more pain. Sometimes I feel like the only time I escape some sort of pain on this trip is when I’m sleeping, but then there’s the odd nightmare.

I was saved by the pain when Vickie received an early call from SeaFM part of the AusStereo Network, for a brief interview for their show on Monday, funny how these radio stations work… “We now cross live over to long distance runner Richard Bowles, as he takes time out from the trail to chat with us”…. No you’re not, you just playing a recording from three days ago, that we did over the phone, I love how they jazz things up, like what I’m doing already isn’t a little different anyway!

The first 24km of the day would take me over rolling countryside through the cattle stations. Vickie could go ahead a little for this part as it was made up of sealed and dirt roads, leading down to Macumber Station, where I would be bush bashing the next 15 plus K’s to meet with her the far side of the valley.

It was a quit day with plenty of sunshine and a breeze that made you shiver a little, but, perfect for running.

The knee was alright; I could run, just not as well as I would normally. I shuffled between meeting Vickie for a drink and a pick me up.

We finally got to Macumber Station, and I made my way through the farm gate and up through the first field. I was hoping to be meeting Vickie between 1.5 and 2 hours later, you just never know when there is no trail to follow.

When on the top of spurlines or deep within tree field gulley’s, you realise just how insignificant you really are, just a speck on the planet. I climbed up to the top of the first spur after scrambling under numerous barbed wire fences to get there. I was hoping for some sort of perspective on things, but this is when I realised how massive some of these stations are and how quickly you are removed from civilisation.

It’s the first time I have felt like that since being in QLD. I think I have got way to comfortable with the easy access and navigation that QLD has had to offer so far. However, this was only 15km of navigation, compared to 75km which I have done before.

 8km in and I pick up an old track and there was the first BNT marker for the day. The track behind me lead its way in to a disused mine that they used for mining gold many moons ago. It was eerie, there were no warning signs or signs of any life for that matter, I could have just walked right in to the mine site, just out here in the middle of nowhere. But, this also meant that I could be confident that this track would be cut right the way up to the road where I would be finishing for the day.

 Some sections of the trail where overgrown and I kept picking up spikes from the weeds that covered the track, the tops of my socks look like a porcupine.

I kept coming across these black birds with a red saggy neck that looked like turkeys, perhaps they were wild ones I had heard about them. There were also more wild pigs out today, but one of them took some convincing to clear off, and I made all manner of noises to shoo him away if anyone was around they would think I had been smoking something!

 The trail climbed steeply toward the turn off point, but when I got there the trail was completely grown over and for the 6km I had to go I knew I could be out there for hours as it dropped down in to a gulley.

 I decided that my best chance would be to stay on the trail I was on and take the turn for the forestry road that ran almost parallel with the trail I was meant to take and would only add 2km extra, but 2km in better than getting caught up and lost in a over grown gulley.

Once at the road I tried my luck with the mobile to find I had a full signal, I called Vickie to let her know my new plans and 30mins later I as finished and eating sandwiches that Vickie had made.

On reflection of my day I realised I had ran the last 15km pain free. I’m not sure if getting of the tarmac had anything to do with it, but I’m guessing my bodies telling me to stick to pure trail, its what I do its who I am.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Day 103…………………….Why Run Long?

Yet another late start to the day, normally it bothers me to be leaving so late in the day, I like to get out there and knock off the set mileage for the day with plenty of day light up my sleeve and the option to add a few km’s if I’m feeling good. But, this morning I must have needed the sleep in as both me and Vickie missed the alarm clock and it took me a while to get myself together.
I was awake by the time I got off the foam roller…no prizes for guessing why!
Once out on the trail, I was back out what I like doing. There hasn’t really been a day where I need to really motivate myself to get out of the Motheship, Even on mornings where I really can’t be bothered; I still want to go run, just not first up. But what I do know is that if you don’t just get up and get on with it, time quickly disappears or tiredness sets in.
The motivation thing comes up a fair bit, I’m always asks what motivates me to go out there every single day and run a marathon plus over the mountains, rain, hail or shine, and trust me Ive had all three! There is a simple answer…..Because I love it.
Its easy to do something you like doing. No one has to motivate themselves to eat chocolate or go to the pub on a Friday night for a few beers. Why? Because you like doing it. Running is one of those things that the best part of the population do, because they feel they should, rather than for the pure love of it, there isn’t many of us like that, but the few of us that run for fun are the ones that take it to the extremes and go run regardless of injury, weather or family commitments.
Today’s run started with a climb up in to the hills at the back of Nanango with views all around. The trail then headed towards the State forest, which I hugged for the best part of 15km.
The rest of the day would be spent in the undulated country side through huge cattle stations and on to Elgin Vale, which is marked on the map as a town, but Vickie past it on her way in to find me and said it was just another station.
I was happy to see Vickie as I was tired. I started out great, but come the afternoon, I was struggling a little.
My days out on the trail seem to be very different in terms of how I’m feeling. It’s not always due to the terrain either, it just seems that some days I’m on fire and others flat, no real pattern, but I’m happy to say that for most days I’m loving every moment of it!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Day 102..................Eagles to Poems.

Freezing start to the morning, by QLD standards anyway!

The first 10km was on a sealed road out the back of town, just nicely undulated through the trees and towards the valley that would take me to Nanango.

Once at the start of the valley the trail took a steep and rough decent, which made it fun to be dodging the giant boulders and huge cracks that made up the trail.

Once on the valley floor I followed a very rough four wheel drive track that offered some magnificent scenery with its gentle walls, tree filled and long grass that changed colour depending what angle you looked at it.

The creek was up and the crossing was more like a river crossing as the water came well above knee height.

An eagle flew over head and followed me for about KM, I watch trying not to trip as he left his shadow in front of me.

I would scare red deer know and again and they would run up the valley sides and disappear into the long grass before I could get a picture of them.

The end of the run was a climb out of the valley and then a sealed road in to town where I met Vickie for a late lunch, before knocking out another 10km to make up for what I missed yesterday.

Then in dawned on me that I am now over the halfway mark!! No celebration as in only realised  that I had crossed over that mark as we were working out what we were going to have for dinner.

So, as our usual evening celebrations go we went to the local RSL tonight for a dinner and a couple of beers!

The state of origin was on and the place was busy. We met a very kind and generous guy from NZ who was interested in our story and passionate about the work we are doing with SANE.

A long story, but, his daughter is having a struggle with mental health at present and he is terminally ill. We sat and listened as he shared his story, and thanked us for what we were doing for others.

As we were living he gave us this poem about the things he had learnt from us in such a short space of time.

Why do people from the coldest place always have the happy face? people like kiwis, us who care I wish you people were everywhere.
Just because I'm dying, please you people don't stop trying, just like birds to a feather, I hope your guys stick together.
Even tough we have had some laughs, please (forest) run your path.
I guess people like me need to go, for people like you that need to grow. xx

Its a wonderful feeling knowing that your making a difference in the world, it sometimes feels like your doing nothing while you are out there pushing forward out of your comfort zone. Its little moments like these that make it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Day 101......................Tough By Their Standards

The BNT has many coordinators that look after different sections of the route. I understand that it is their job to make sure that the trail is marked and cleared , as well as liaising with land owners and campsites that the trail runs through or passes. They are an amazing team of people that give up their time for free to take care of the trail just for the love of it!

These are the same great people that welcome us into their homes, make sure we know where we are going, give us gifts of homemade fruit cakes and the like, and just all round great people that are passionate about what they do and  care for others.

However, and yes, there is just one thing that most of these wonderful people have in common. They all think that their section is the toughest!

Toughness is hard to measure, for instance; I like to run mountains, lung busting glute pumping ascents that make your calf's want to split and then the roller coaster technical single track that terrifies you on the steep descents from the top that if you tripped you would brake everything!

Now, that to me isn't tough, just fun and what mountain and trail running is all about. A 15% incline on a dirt road isn't a climb in fact it isn't worth noting as a slope, as with a few loose pebbles on a steep decent, it isn't high risk stuff.

Its great that people want to look after your welfare, but comments like "Its going to be some tough going up there" and "its a real steep decent, please be be careful its hard taking a horse down there" just dont need to be made.

Firstly horses and humans or trail runner for that matter are different. I have learnt this first hand after my run with the horses through Canberra. I'm faster than the average horse, I'm not scared of steep drops on loose ground and I certainly don't get spooked at a passing car.

The BNT is full of life threatening terrain and situations, but these are the same places that many of the coordinators havnt traversed themselves, even if its there section!

Queensland has had more of this talk, about it having some "toughness". The truth is that since arriving in QLD the trail so far has been easy going or at least relative to some places I have been, and there is still such a long way to go and anything can change.

But listen up people, I have crossed rivers up to my neck, 43 times in a day in one place, scaled rock walls to avoid obstacles, bashed my way through harsh scrub down steep spur lines, gone under, over and through electric, barbed wire fences and been chased by all manner of wildlife as well as getting lost for hours at a time, all this on top of running high mileage days. Dirt roads are not a challenge, neither are sealed ones of any degree!

Ok, enough about me being the Pat Farmer, Bear Gryls crossbreed if there was such a thing.

What happened today. We slept in the FoodWorks carpark in a town called Nanago as we had a media gathering there at 7:30am

Marnie the store manager had organised a bunch of great things. They had the local radio broadcast live at the store where I had an interview and asked people to come down and support us with the gold coin donation BBQ that the store had also put on.

Then it was a interview with the towns local paper, followed by another radio station where I crossed live and then another paper that was regional, busy morning meeting the locals and giving FoodWorks, the trail and SANE a plug, and after the photo shoot the day before I was tired before I had even headed out on the trail for the day!

Vickie took me to the starting point of today's run. The first section would have me following the rail trail from Blackbutt and then over the valleys to Nanago. It was a great afternoon, sun shining but not overly warm with nice flat easy going.

It was all good until once again K's were being added. The first section was meant to be 15km but after and hours running with 12km still left to go I knew of course it had to be much longer, typical of BNT, it always has something to through up.

Just after that section and heading into the second part of the day, my right knee decided to play up again. I say again, as its been coming and going for a number of days, but I have seemed to have managed it with the good old foam roller. But today I couldn't shake it.

This sums up the ease of QLD so far in three points.

I called Vickie. Firstly there is phone reception. She was going to have to pick me up so I could spend the afternoon knocking this little niggle on the head, secondly, she could just drive to where I was and pick me up. I decided that I would end my run there for the day only knocking of 25km or so and would add the remaining mileage to my 40km run tomorrow, and finally I'm able to just add one day to another, because I know the goings easier!

So we have found this little campsite that is free in a great location with hot showers and power, I have rolled my ITB to bits and we are going to snuggle up and watch a movie together, something else that takes some of that toughness away.

Until tomorrow anyway.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Day 100...............................Who am I????

Day 100...............................Who am I????

Since crossing over into the sunshine state of Queensland, the trip has become more social. I don’t know if it’s because people are extra friendly here or the fact that the trail makes its way through many more small towns on its route, or at least for now anyway.

We have been extremely busy having dinner with section coordinators, meeting land owners that the trail passes through and having events with our sponsors, it all fantastic and can only benefit all involved but for us it’s been a tiring week or so, more so than banging out K’s on the trail, which or course I have been doing still every day.

So where have we been and with who?

When arriving in Kilarney which is the town just over the QLD border we bumped into a lady called Sonia, who we heard was the town runner, she often runs to the next town and back the locals told us. We caught up with her at her work place at the Saw Mill and Vickie arranged to run with her early the next day while I slept some more. She was training for her fist marathon at the Gold Coast where we heard she ran a 4:27. Well Done Sonia!

From Kilarney, the BNT route went through the Condamine Gorge. Its was nice easy going crossing over the Condamine River 15 time or so between huge walls of rock and bush scrub that made up the gorges sides.

I was then met by Ben from TRAQ (Trail Running Association of Queensland) as well as Danny and Russ his team mates for the up and coming Kakoda challenge in QLD. It was nice to have some company for a change, just a shame that the trail wasn’t as amazing as it had been, but beautiful none the less.

Next, was being met by the Toowoomba Chronicle when running on the town’s fringe for a photo shoot and story. It was a wet day, as was the previous two, something that has rarely happened on this run so far!

It was nice to reach the town of Toowoomba, it was like being in the big smoke from where we have been since leaving Canberra, and they had traffic lights something we haven’t seen for a while!

We would have a busy few days here. We stayed with the Section Coordinators for this section Pauline and John Dewyer, who spoilt us rotten with great meals and let us feel like we were at home, well, the Maui feels like home these days.

The follow day saw us at the ABC studios early for an interview, before heading off to yet another FoodWorks store visit in North Toowoomba for a sausage sizzle and a Q&A with the local community, which happened to be a lot of people as we broadcasted it when having our interview on the ABC that morning.

That night we had dinner with yet another coordinator at Murphy’s Creek, where we were once again spoilt with goodies, these guys owned a chilli chocolate business and Lyn and her son Jack made sure we had enough chocolate to last us the trip, as well as making us two fruit cakes and a bunch of chilli condiments which will really be spicing up things on the trail.

The following afternoon we met with another one of our sponsors Nacap Australia. Mark the CEO, as well as Vera and Susan stopped and had a coffee with us on their way back from a bit of a road show in the QLD bush.

Then, and yes there is more. We met with a guy called Mushgang a fellow trail traveller, but I will come back to that later……..

Last night we met with more BNT coordinators Bruce and Beril and had dinner at their home with some fellow POM’s that happen to be their neighbours.

……and today we had Tim Miller out from DreamSports Photo for some trail shots for the RM Williams Magazine story that’s coming up! And then there’s been the running of back to back marathons in-between all that, sometimes it’s hard to remember that’s what I’m here for with all this other great stuff that comes along.

Meeting with BNT coordinators seems to be a regular thing for us; many travel the trail with horses, knocking off 15 or maybe 20km at a time and taking months to get through each guide book. But for me, I’m doubling the distances and sometime tripling the distances each day, turning the year plus journey into 5.5 months!

This leads me to Mushgang……

Born in the mountains of Switzerland and arriving in Australia in 1978, Martin which is his real name has been on the BNT for the past 6 years and still isn’t quit half way. When arriving in Australia he went and lived in the north with the aborigines’ where he learnt his bush skills and they gave him the name Mushgang. He then moved closer to civilisation for a while where he got his builders licence, before heading out on the trail with his two horses, Fritz and Oskar. That’s his story in a nutshell, but living on the trail is what he’s been doing for all this time now and not just living on the trail but living off the land too, using his bush skills that he learnt all those years before.
Me and the legend thats Bushman Mushgang.

That said, we had wild pig for dinner the night we met with him, cooked of course in a camp oven on a fire. He’s been living in one of the many huts along the route for the last few months getting over some sickness before continuing his journey south. Amazing story and even more amazing guy, If I didn’t have a deadline to stick to and a beautiful girl friend to look after, I would probably go and do the same as him, and be the Cabello Blanco of Australia, running up and down the trail and living off the land!