GNW ****** 250
Australia New South Wales Newcastle
There was more to this than a run between Newcastle and Sydney along the Great North Walk with a couple of mates. This was about running through three consecutive sunrises exploring how quickly a 2 week hike can be completed and how if focused properly the mind can convince the body to continue on and even surprise itself sometimes.
We gathered at the bottom of the Obelisk in Newcastle around 11.45pm Friday night getting all our own packs ready to carry us through. Terry, Andrew, Allison and myself were ready and waiting for 12 O’clock to come, all rugged up in our thermals from head to toe when Louie rocks up shorts and singlet says hello and said I am ready. We go to the Obelisk take the mandatory photos and wait for 12.00pm to come.
Day 1 was “set up” day – we had to put ourselves in the best possible position by being in control from the start. By being in control you give yourself more options down the track. The first few hours were relatively easy except for the odd navigational problems all was good. We managed our way through to Teralba back to familiar territory we have ran this course a few times between us and knew it quite well from here. When we arrived at Teralba Louie decided to slow down a bit a let us run ahead. We knew that the next section was the time to get the mind focused and the hills were coming, we eventually arrived at Freeman’s Waterhole at 7.00am right on schedule our crew standing there with nice warm egg & bacon rolls and coffees.
As they say onwards and upwards and that’s exactly what we did for the next few hours. We made it to Watagan Camp Site expecting water to be there but the tank was dry. We work out the water between us and set off towards Congewai.This section is relatively easy so we cruised along at a good pace arriving at the Farm house gate right on 2.00pm, approximately 75km and all feeling pretty good, we had not seen Louie since Teralba and found out later he ran 10 hours and called it a day.
This was our last crew stop for the day so we took our time ate plenty and took enough stores to last through the rest of the day. This section is a grind you climb then you relax on a nice gentle run then you climb again. We were making good progress and amusing each other with some very bad jokes, we even started to name Australian rock bands with certain starting letters it is amazing what you can’t remember when your under pressure
We arrive at the 103km point within 30 minutes of our estimated time. Unfortunately the crew was unable to locate us so we pushed onto cedar brush and finally stopped for the night on the side of the road 7km out of Yarramalong feeling good at approx 10:30pm. Setting up tents, eating, packing for the next day, eating dinner took quite a bit of time and it was 11:30pm before we finally got to lie down. Allison decided to go home with the crew and call it a day. Having a problem putting the tent up done her head in. There was missing ropes and pegs too much to handle after you have just run for 22.5 hours.
3 hours rest it was time to get up and get going. Day 2 This was known as “moving day”. We had to consolidate our position. None of us had known how we would feel getting up after running 110km the day before but when we got up we were surprised how good we felt. We had 6 hours until we met our crew at Ourimbah Creek road for breakfast and we really enjoyed running along the road into Yarramalong – the moon had lit the valley up and it was stunning. Met our crew and have more bacon & Egg rolls more coffee and we set off again. There was a “work” like feeling to this day. It felt as though in order to enjoy the final day we had to slog hard all Sunday, and we did. Running with Matthew from Somersby to Patonga provided such a lift. Any outside influence, no matter how normal or boring, we could bring into our group conversation provided hours of entertainment – sad but true. Thanks Matt you helped us get to Patonga faster than we would have if it was just the three of us and we had a lot of fun along the way. We left Patonga around 8pm and arrived at Brooklyn around 9.30pm. I would not advise driving after having running 180 odd km and having slept for only 2 of the previous 60 odd hours. On the way we thought well grab something hot to eat. McDonalds through the drive in and 35 dollars later we were all happy.
We met up with Clifford at Brooklyn to run the remaining 77km into Sydney. By the time we were organized it was 10.00pm and time to move. We decided not to sleep at Brooklyn and try and go the rest of the run with only food stops. Martin never missed a beat and was great company. Logic was we would be tired whether we slept or not so we chose to carry on. Logic didn't allow us to realize that by carrying on we were turning Day 2 into a 40+ hour running day with no sleep after already running 110km in 22 hours the day before with only 2 hours sleep. We picked up Allison at Cowan and ran pretty well to Berowra. If there was a low point of the run it would have to be Berowra to Crosslands.This really got to us, it wasn’t physical it was mental. The three of us weren’t talking much we were complaining at anything we could blame. We were cold cranky and had enough. A text to Loz pleading for breakfast gave us something to look forward to and we ran Crosslands to Galston in 90 minutes as the sun came up and crushed the mental fatigue that crept up on us between 4am and 6am on the third night. 45Km to go and we were once again back in control. Galston Gorge to Thornleigh Oval is a great bit of trail and we moved well here, with lots of jokes and mucking around. Quite simply the three of us were in a state of sleep-deprived drunkenness. Nothing was making sense, we were taking the piss out of each other even more than usual but we were still running and still surprising ourselves that we were able to do this after so many hours and so many kilometers covered. There were times during this section when we could sprint along the trails without a trace of fatigue, running hills, chasing each other and there were times where just staying upright was a challenge. This was enlightening to me and I want to find out why it was able to occur. Hitting Lane Cove we were getting bored, but still had 15km to go, so we made the best of it and picked up Loz and Marcus along the way. GNW is still difficult to navigate through Woolwich and we ran like lunatics with Ron through the streets in hope of making the ferry. We climbed onto the ferry exhausted and deliriously ecstatic in equal measures. We touched the Obelisk in Macquarie Place in 66 hours and 36 minutes after leaving the Obelisk in Newcastle just on 250 kilometers ago. Running some of the best country in Australia it seemed like it had taken 2 weeks. Lots of people to thank including Our 2 Major sponsors REBEL Erina who supplied our entire running needs and Rays Outdoors Erina for supplying our required camping needs. Without the support of these businesses it is very difficult to achieve these goals that we set ourselves. We would also like to thank our family and friends for there support.