Contributed by Nigel Hill, AURA member (Vic)

GREAT SOUTHERN ENDURANCE RUN 100mi, HARRIETVILLE Vic, 11-13 Nov 2022
1st Male 100mi

I had never ran in the area so I wanted to challenge myself and see what everyone was talking about.
It was predicted rain and the weatherman didn’t get it wrong this weekend, we toed the line at 6am in rain – we were off for our adventure. 

The lead pack formed very early on with Oowan Davies and Matt Gore; heading up NW Spur the rain has stopped so I removed my jacket running with long sleeve thermal instead. Not knowing the course I sort of third-wheeled this section but was able to take in the surroundings, however when we reached the summit of Feathertop it was white out and snow at the top, so disappointing as was really looking forward to the views today. 

Returning we could see we had a handy lead to the other runners and the Razorback was a welcome change, nice flowing single trail towards Blowhard Hut which was difficult to find due to whiteout conditions. I had decided pre-race not to load course on Garmin; this was a mistake and had even contemplated starting it at the aid station, looking back I should have as I hate relying on others especially when no course recognition had been done.

The start of the Twins was very steep and testing finding the markers to plot a path and meeting us at the top was Ian from The Eventurers photography duo…bloody hell they do a fantastic job taking photos. Yep it was white out again.

Plotting the course was difficult in the conditions but we had 3 sets of eyes which made it a little easier and off to Mt Murray aid station. Still feeling good and it was only 6.7km to the Selwyn aid station where I would see my crew. I was bang on target for time and had decided to take in some whole foods and had some noodles. The other boys had decided to push on but I had to remove soft heel raisers from my shoes as I was slipping and sliding due to the wet conditions these were not required today for the terrain. 

I pushed up the hill and was able to catch them within a couple of kilometres but had wasted energy I didn’t really want to. Mt Selwyn was solid and I had my first tumble. I wasn’t in a good head space at this stage thinking, why am I putting myself through this? And contemplated pulling out but kept thinking of my crew and how they had given up their time for me. Also the amount of training to get to the start line. We got onto some fire trail…it was wet, muddy and slippery but may have put my mind at ease just running and noticed Oowan had dropped off and this was the spur I needed. By the time we got to the water point we had put a gap into him. I have learnt from previous experience to always take water when you can, better to have too much than not enough.
The others were stuffing around so I decided to test the waters here a little and just got rolling on the flat roads doing sub 5min pace but thought they would catch me as they were both handy runners. I had opened up a handy gap when I made a navigational error at the junction following a sign up single trail, not the markers down the road. I quickly realised and got back on course but it took me 5km to catch them, very costly but I think this flicked a switch that I was stronger than them today.

From Van Damms aid station I just got rolling again and started to break away without too much effort, reaching the Viking Climb by myself. This was solid, steep, thick, wet and muddy – not what I was looking for at the halfway mark of the race but pushed through with the occasional vent off loud and reaching the top it was white out again. Turning around I could see I had .5km on Oowan and 1.5km on Matt. This was my time to go and put the hammer down and get a good break.

We moved into the night after Van Damms aid station. I had a couple ham cheese toasties, they were the bomb and I was starting to see more competitors wishing them luck back towards Selwyn aid station where I would pick up my pacer. I had developed some serious chaffing on my back from having wet clothes and a heavy pack but had to just put it out of my mind.

I was 2hrs ahead of schedule. Things were going well. Picked up my pacer Matt. The conditions were thick fog but just gave the instructions to power walk the incline and run the flats, we made good time with one minor navigation error up a hill for fun then back down towards Mt Murray aid station where they had mentioned Oowan had just gone through Selwyn aid station.

This time back through the Twins I had tracked back on my Garmin which made it a little easier but still was difficult due to the fog and white out conditions. Twins was a slog on tired legs but I got through unscathed through the grass, rocks, logs and mud to Blowhard Hut aid station and met my crew again. My friends were manning the aid, it was the welcome lift I needed and sure…I got a little extra attention. Whole foods, hash browns, soup and bacon made me a new man, as I couldn’t eat the toasties at the last aid station. It’s funny how your tastebuds change during a race, and I was definitely over gels so was on to cliff bars and blocks. I had noticed my hands blowing up – a sign of lack of electrolytes or blood flow from the mandatory gear in the pack. My shoulders were killing me.

Last section, time to bring it home. This is where the heavens opened. We decided to put on rain jackets, gloves and balaclavas. This was crucial as I was starting to shiver. Top of Bon Accord Descent was difficult – rocky and limited viability but we knew first light was coming and would make things a lot easier. The rain persisted and the descent seemed like it was never going to end but I was bloody happy to see the signs for Pioneer Park and the finish line taking out 1st place, so bloody happy all my hard work had paid off in a time of 25hr 26 min.

To Matt, Megan and the volunteers, you put on a fantastic event, well done! To my crew Georgia, Matt and Andrew going through the night, no sleep, driving all over the country side, I can’t thank you enough. I couldn’t have done it without you.

The shoes I wore were Altra Mont Blancs.

Photographs – Supplied.