2013 Hoka One One Kep Ultra – Run then WOG
By Mark Hoffmann
The 5th annual ultra marathon from Northam to Mundaring offered two distances 75km or 100km. Several North Coasters and recent members toed the line:
100km Mick Murtha (Shane Joyce recent member)
75km Mark Hoffmann (recent members Clint Moxham, Rachael Evans & Andy Hosgood).
The race sells out in short time due to the good reputation and field limitations. I got in through the waitlist, and received a confirmed entry in April. I cannot run 75km and never will so how do I get to the finish line in the shortest time was my dilemma…..
I stayed in Northam the night before and at the carbo dinner the mood was relatively quiet and pensive with the big day ahead. Mick chose an early start getting a lift with the North Coast bus (Dennis’s car) with Dennis and SJ who were providing runners entertainment for the day. The mood in the car was jovial and relaxed but it was evident that Mick, Andy and Rachel were pondering the long day that awaited them, hoping that enough training had been done ( or lack of it) to complete this huge task that lay ahead.
The start to the day was fine and clear with cloud cover (none of the rain that was experienced by those that drove up on the day). Conditions stayed cold with a light tail wind
The mandatory gear check-in was uneventful and ‘Paparazzi on the run’ was busy doing what he now does best, and SJ was a social butterfly. Competitors tried to stay warm and confident. The array of different running gear and hydration equipment that runners were wearing was interesting, Mick had his lucky Atacama buff on which had seen him through many events in the past.
Following briefing 66 runners from WA,QLD,ACT,TAS, NSW,VIC and the UK were milling around at 6:55am adjacent to the Avon Descent start sign and in keeping with “Any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an Ultra marathon” trying to banter around the odd joke, whilst the underlying mood was of “Let’s get this thing done”, for many the final chapter to months of serious training was now minutes away. Fingers on Garmin start buttons and it was off under the Race Director and fellow Ultra runners Rob Donkersloot command and the nervous tension could start to be released and the process of one foot in front of the other started (or Hoka One One’s in case of half of the field).
The event has 3 aid stations with the first at Clackline at 19kms, runners were settling into their chosen pace and nutrition plan that had been (possibly??)
Mick early in the race looking fresh
practiced in many training runs. Too fast and you would blow up- too slow and you many not finish…the fine line that runners had to get right or risk DNF.
The trail is a mixture of hills and relatively flat sections with much of it being on old rail trail and limited to rail gradients, plenty of pea gravel and not much water. Good running conditions
Dennis doing what he does best
43kms second aid station and SJ was on hand to help Mick with his fluid and food requirements – great to see a familiar face. From here for many of us 75km runners it started to enter unknown territory, with most of us being novice 75km runners and maximum event distances between marathon and 50km events. With the field numbers being limited by permitting at this stage everyone is well spread and the next 20km running in total solitude, no one in sight either in front or behind me. It was hard mentally to run the distance and extremely tough mentally to try and run without any benchmarks. For me it was too much of a WOG (Walk/jOG), but not being caught by anyone until the last 3km.
Mark and the solitude of an Ultra runner
For Mick running towards the third aid station at Mt Helena the day started to get tough, we were now well in ultra marathon distance territory (anything further than 42kms) and his body was telling him this. He knew he had reached the end of his physical limits and had to give himself a good talking to lift his game. He now had to run the rest of this race with mind and heart.
At Mt Helena 62kms third aid station, feeling tired but had a great pickup when we saw Steve & Kerri Waterman, and Fiona & Simon Longden there to offer encouragement. Fiona even assisted me in emptying the pea gravel from my shoes. For me it was under 15 to the finish, in contrast Mick still has a marathon ahead of him. At this stage I really appreciated the challenge in front of the 100km runners. Earlier in the day (around the 25km mark) Dennis was offering runners the opportunity to upgrade to business class i.e. change from 75 to 100km!!!! Mick drank some V energy drink and scoffed a jam sponge roll to give some energy as he began the push to the finish, just a marathon away.
The last 15 for the 75km course was relatively uneventful and I was caught by another runner 3 km from the end and we ran together sharing stories about how fellow work colleagues didn’t understand what we did or why we did it. The finish line couldn’t come fast enough, eventually getting there in 8:42. Whilst I recovered, congratulated Clint Moxham who was only 10 minutes or so behind, then followed by Andy and Rachel. Yes, I had run Galloway ~50 lots of 6min run, 1 walk, then had planned to run the balance of the course, did it help – dunno!
80kms was the final aid station, head torch and reflective vests on, a vegemite sandwich and Redbull, for the caffeine hit, and then it was 15 kms uphill before the final 5kms of downhill to the finish. Running 4 minutes and walking one helped mentally and was able to push on through the dark to the finish in 14:08. Mick said it was an awesome feeling completing a 104km ultra marathon after being told by his orthopaedic surgeon that I had only a 10% chance of running again after a cycling accident 18 months ago.
SJ commented “I am in complete awe of the participants: their mental tenacity and incredible spirit. Each and every person who passed us throughout the course, smiled, were positive and more importantly determined to finish. I love that!!!!!!” A big thanks to her and others that encouraged us to give it a go and supported us over the months on the journey and on the day.
Kep’s Mythical Creature –Purple bra bubble blowing Unicorn
To quote Clint Moxham “Fact: Columbus didn’t sail off the edge of the world, and you don’t die when you run further than a Marathon. 75km 8:55 Northam – Mundaring”. The event is well managed, includes lots of NSRG volunteers, difficult to enter, but offers the opportunity to achieve what your mind initially has a big mental problem grasping, what, how and why????
Links to a couple of videos follow: