I like to think I’m always up for a challenge – in fact, I’m confused by people who do the same shit day in day out and let life pass them by.
But last weekend’s 24-hour challenge was next level.
A ‘race’ (for the crazy ones; for us, it was pure survival) to see how many laps of the 10km obstacle course you could get done in 24 hours. Yep, all day, all night, from 2pm Saturday to 2pm Sunday.
I’d done the 50km run a few weeks before, but I had a sneaking suspicion this event was going to take it up another notch – and it definitely did.
Quinny, his lady friend and I headed up to the Hawkesbury on Saturday lunchtime not knowing much about the course and what to expect, other than people telling us, “you’re f*cking mad.” Fair call!
As a team, one person would do a 10km lap and then come into the camp site and tag their partner in. Quinny and I decided I would do the first lap. Our goal? Besides finishing it (cute), we wanted to try to get through 12 laps in the 24 hours.
After my first lap, we (or maybe it was just me) thought we were killing it. A 1:25h lap, we were flying (as long as we stayed under 2 hours per lap, we would hit our target – a target we knew was dangerous to set when we really just expected to finish the thing).
Me, after 8hrs still happy
Quinny’s first lap was 1:33h. We were loving life, but we knew it wouldn’t last forever. After 3 laps, I was still on a high, having a chinwag with anyone who would listen and tapping people as I passed them, but by the 4th lap, all hell broke loose.
Quinny had come into camp at 1:30am to find me lying under a couple of rugs and a sleeping bag, frozen to the bone. The temperature had dipped below 1 degree; I hadn’t slept because they were playing music at the campsite all night; my body was starting to lock up; the chafing was kicking in; and I had forgotten to put my clothes in front of the bonfire so they were icy. I was in a pretty bad place.
The lights from the camp as you make your way back into the forrest
I eventually pulled my head in and got back out on the course. The empty course. There wasn’t a person in sight. And as I made my way back into the forest, the music got quieter and quieter until it was silent.
The fog was so heavy, I couldn’t see more than two metres in front of me. Along with the frosty breaths I was taking, that meant my visibility was next to nothing. The one thing holding me together was my trusty 2XU wetsuit. It was an absolute blessing in disguise at that time of the morning – all of a sudden, the small things made such a difference.
For close to half an hour, I DIDN’T SEE ONE PERSON. Dragging my heels through the ‘muddy mile’ (a mile of icy mud that came up to my knees), I started hallucinating, which is apparently pretty common during these kind of events. And as you do when you’re vulnerable, tired and uncomfortable, I started re-evaluating every area of my life. That was interesting.
So, the middle of the night was a slow grind, and our lap times had blown out to over 2:20h. Fast forward a few loooong hours, and Quinny pops up and smashes a 2 hour lap! All of a sudden, we went from 15th place to 7th place! With 6 hours to go, we found a second wind and picked up the pace – we had a chance of being in the top 3…. What?!
But Quinny was cooked. After belting out the 2 hour lap, he told me he had nothing left to give… I told him to wait to see how quickly I got my lap done, and then we could re assess. Game on. I knew if I could do it under 1:40, I would have a good enough argument to get Quinny back out on the course for one last lap. I somehow pulled off a 1:28 which gave Quinny enough time to bring home the bacon and have us cross the finish line in 3rd place!
The lap by lap breakdown
The two of us as Quinny crossed the finish line looking at the monitor and realising we’d come third
Take home notes:
Quinny is a beast, Oz is next level. On that last lap, Quinny had ‘checked out’. After I got back from my 10am lap, the big fella had started packing up the tent. He was feeling crook and was done. There was a ‘slight’ disagreement when I got back and asked him to punch out one more lap. He was quick to change it around, put his kit on and get out there. Incredible effort. Talking of incredible efforts, our mate Ozzie Mike (who I’ve mentioned numerous times before) did it on his own – the man is a beast.
There is no better kind of soreness. I was broken. I stayed up at the Hawkesbury with Ebs for a few nights after, and she was basically my full-time carer for the first 48 hours. Mentally I was a little scattered and I was sore – really sore. But I’ve never been sore like this before. There is something really satisfying about the soreness that comes after an event like that. Or maybe I’m just mad.
Just a tiny bit of chaffing post race
When you’ve got a target in sight, you can find another level. I have no idea how we physically picked up the pace on those last 3 laps, but I put it down to the competitive bug within us that saw a target and a finish line and went hard at it. We moved from 15th through the middle of the night and made up ground on each and every lap, until the last lap – when we finished 3rd.
Support means everything. Having Frenchy and Keri, two good friends, come up on the Sunday was the best surprise. I’m not sure if I made any sense at all, but it felt awesome to have them there. Also to Quinny’s ladyfriend Karina and the biggest shout out to Ozzie mikes sister Elouise who stayed with us for the WHOLE 24hrs…… To put up with us not making any sense and completely broken was super impressive.
Getting out of Sydney rocks my world. I’ve escaped Sydney less this year than any other year, which has been a struggle. But to have two days after the race just to chill and explore the Hawkesbury area was the best.
in the hawkesbury
That mind of ours is a colourful, amazing thing. 24 hours of exercise was always going to be an interesting battle mentally. There were the highs of the first couple of laps and my final lap and the absolute lows with that 1:30am lap, but for me, the most important thing was to focus on what I had in front of me and the lap I was doing at the time.
As for the next challenge? I don’t even want to think about it right now – it makes me feel sick.
Give me a couple of weeks to feel normal again ????
P.S If you’ve ever wondered what one of these events looks like. Here it is. 10kms in 5:20