Skip to main content

Narrabeen All Nighter 2010 – My First Ultra

So you’re standing there, embracing the sea breeze, light about to go off; perfect rave conditions. Pumping up your iPod you yell 10 seconds before the gun goes off; “And the Rave has already started!”


Who would have ever thought Defqon1 would return so early?

“When you feel like giving up 1 hour remix” sends Goosebumps through you; you can’t help but feeling that 6min km pace is too slow; there’s this itch to go out! Give it all you got!

“But, this is a ‘special rave’ you tell yourself. More chance of, well, having a heart attack…”

“BULLSHIT!” It’s that itching voice wanting to step up to 4min km’s. “How many fatalities and hospital admissions per rave???”

It’s one of those many lessons you’re learning to master; knowing when to stop, rethink and filter between objectivity and too much subjectivity.

Too many opinions = psycho!!

First lap is 2km, forward planning you yell out to your crew “Water and at 10k give some of that Bread and Butter pudding slice”

Lap 2 is underway; 3km lap’s have started and you notice you have company; a fellow just behind you. 5k races would tell you to speed it up a little bit and play her around as she tries to take over her, but you keep your pace and let her sit there. Coming around the turn point and crewing area you notice your cute father poised there with a loaf of rice bread shoving it in your face. It’s 5km;

“10km bread and butter pudding” – you conserve your energy with your words

Lap 3 and the conversation finally starts; stares have subsided, our preconceptions accumulated and assumptions to be tested. It sort of reminds you of that idea in one of your Extension German Text “Spaghetti Für Zwei”; your thoughts begin to trail as you remember the story…

Heinz war bald vierzehn und fühlte sich sehr cool… 

You can almost recite the 10min42 recording…you actually have on your Ipod now. Your desire is repressed to listen to that as the lady is trying to get your attention.

“So how have you done any of the Ultra’s before?”

Your guess is that she is trying to establish where she’s at in terms of you. There’s a form of comfort in knowing that someone is at or below your level.

You reply with the “Oh no, no just did a Marathon under age, as you do. Just giving this one a go actually. Trying to keep up the 6min k pace. How about you?”

“Sameee to the 6k pace!” It’s a form of commonality; a founding friendship establishing element. “I’ve done a few others.”

You try and show you know a bit about the field, it’s how the human psyche works; “Like North Face and Wild End?”

“Yeah how did you know! So what training have you done for this?”


Think, think, think!

“In all honesty I just go to raves whenever I know they are on and that is pretty much 12 hours and not too dissimilar…wait this song just came on and reminds me of Maths…”

“Oh no, that’s not something you want to be thinking about during this!”

“I know, it’s making me too nostalgic…”

We established our grounding; no intimidation; all preconceptions from any outfits, crewing or setup resolved.

Skip a few laps;

In a nutshell you are right ahead of this lady each time you pass the start, your ipod is sending up impulses throughout your body; drinking 750mL every lap, starting to feel the darkness and BAM…

Calmly and collectively you are informed that no headlights for this run as it disturbs runners eyes. Your Ipod is be your savior for this dimly lit course… a savior in many ways!

Come 20k mark

Your dad has finally located the bread and butter pudding IN the paper bag. You take the bag, finally don’t have a mother screaming at you for using your hands to grab a mouthful and give it back to your dad who stands there with a headlamp on, looking as though he has been through the search of his life for this food! (Note to self – pack better next time).

The bread makes you feel slightly sick; is it hunger or is it vomiting or is it the wrong thing to eat?

You tried to avoid reading any internet doc’s on ultra running just simply because of the confusion that could result, so don’t have anything to fall back apart from the feelings. And you feel pretty GREAT you’ve keep up the pace, you’ve just run a half marathon and 1/5 of the way there!!!

But word of warning from a passing competitor;

“Wait until 2 or 3am come along…then you will feel it. The pain and the sleep deprivation…” (obviously you tried to turn your Ipod up louder for that comment but were a TAD too late; you don’t like hearing those comments; those comments – I wish they had the ‘not equals to’ sign on Word Doc – don’t equal motivation!)

Come 36k

Send me an Angel, Send me an Angel, Right now, Right now.

It’s a trance song that’s playing on your ipod.

You’ve been pretty consistent, keeping to your target, finished your bread and butter pudding slice but suddenly it’s there.

Do you remember those cartoon shows where there’s the hero in between two wall’s that are merging together as he tries to escape? He puts his legs out to try and stop them, then tries again with his hands? The hero always seems to be some sort of Ice-Age-cutie-look-alike and ALWAYS gets out (I always forgot the reason why though…).

But NO this is not another one of your-mind-wandering-repeats-because-you-are-reaching-midnight-and-running-a-pretty-long-way thought. That wall analogy is what you are feeling; pain in your legs and dead of energy.

You scream out “PANADINE” as you run by and funnily enough there stands one of those people you’d expect to see on customer-delivery-expert-adds smiling with a lamp shining on 2 pills and some red flavoured carb gel.

Take one of these Panadine tablets

Next lap

And you’re feeling it; You start to walk as you notice your dad is doing his nightly midnight walk.

“Dad why am I doing this? I’m not even half way there! It hurts! This Bra hurts, I need tape…”

“Ok well get back there you don’t have much time to muck around. James is waiting for you with the tape. Just lift up your top and he’ll fix you up. And you are doing this because you are AMAZING!”

Reaching the Marathon Distance

There stands customer-delivery-expert man, poised with a tablet in one hand and strawberry flavoured carb gel in the other.

“We’ll get that tape on you but as you do so just bend down and stretch you adductors”

Positioning yourself in a squatting-for-the-toilet pose you cry in agony; it’s a combination of the tape and the position.

“We’re not in China!” It’s the race co-coordinator laughing quietly behind this scene.

“Speaking of which,” I mutter, “Haven’t been to the toilet yet…”

Customer-service-guy feels my skin; “You are salty as! And very dry! We have to make sure we monitor this…” It’s more directed at my father who has now returned.

The tablet and gel get consumed and BOOM! It’s like the good old days again; instant effect; your body seems to have that affect. Hairy Lemon’s ring a bell…?

You’re buzzing with energy and shout words of encouragement to everyone on your way to complete your first 100k run…when you felt like changing to the 12 hour event…

On a side note

Truth being said, upon reflection, you can’t remember the vivid details you did remember at the start. But your whole body changed with the gel and panadine. The electrolytes, the protein, all those fancy mumbo-jumbo things; you would like to scream on some advertisement how great they were!

16 laps to go


You repress that desire to Mathematically calculate that simple Year 4 Equation in your head; 16 x 3. They say innocence is bliss; it sure is when it means that 16 laps feels like nothing! You are jumping for joy…until you notice your watch is reading 3min40 km’s…MUST slow down you say…resist the urge. But wow does it feel great. And this customer-excellence guy is shouting;


“16” you repeat.


“16!!” you yell back as you continue your 16th last lap, “AND HELL YES CAN I DO THIS!!”

Between then and Sunrise 


Each lap you were provided your refreshment; each lap you had to show that your 750mL bottle was empty; no way did you want to calculate 750mL x 35 laps…

Each lap you just felt I am doing this. These Gels are working, this crew is great, the water on my body each lap I pass is a blessing. There were a few moments of:


You couldn’t see the nods but finally after your plees came (alongside some choc coated protein ball) Voltaren… a pill of wonders…of bliss…of ceasing any other muscles spasms…

Now to the best part; SUNRISE 


It had been a night of using an Ipod as your sole lighting, where the closure of the Restaurant nearby had meant complete darkness on one part of the course… the ducks were a cue when you got to this part…you had to make sure you gave way…of course!! A night where the darkness brought upon hallucinations; garbage bins starting becoming humans, almost pilgrims praising down and bowing to you.  But the sun…the light…on the water…it was like no other feeling. It was as though Genesis had come to life, as though you were an element, you felt so connected, with everybody, the animals, the wildlife, the surroundings, the participants. You could not help but preach;

“And God said, let there be light!”

“The light doth shine”

You were quoting. But no one cared. Everyone was experiencing this wonder. The morning bike riders gave you a second glance, also the odd drunk here and there, sometimes a couple out for a Sunday morning stroll. But you could not help but share your joy. Because a positive emotion is not worth having unless you can share it and spread it around. Your thoughts begin to think back to Anthony Robbins and his quote of the ratio of negative words to positive words; at that stage you would like to remember that Maths but just remember overall ALOT more negative words and emotions. What does that say?? That society needs some form of cognitive shift!

So you continued spreading the emotion as you ran.

Come 94km you knew you had made it within the target 12 hour time and opted to power walk a lap and finally get that chat to James. You couldn’t actually bring your arm to extend to hold his hand, as your right arm had so become pre-empt to holding the Ipod and your Left to the drink bottle and assorted Gels. Keeping the walk at 8min30 km pace you watched the ducklings cross the road and expressed all forms of gratitude. It felt like this was you. This was where you could really think. Be at one. Reunite.

The Finish

The Crowd, still wide awake, quite loud-voiced (but you were not quite sure if that was a microphone or just your head playing up) made your finish home a YES one.

“Here comes our 19 Year Old! Finishing her 100km! This is amazing! I can sure say that I was not thinking of anything like this at her age!!”

“Yes! I feel great! I feel fantastic! Thank you!!” You scream back as you cross the finish 11min40!


3rd place female overall

First ultra…

You feel quite drunk as you hobble around wondering what to do. James comes over and hugs your dirty body…your arms looks kind of blotchy from where the blood has gone to. Your pants have white spots from all the salt you have lost.

After the Race

Hobbling over to the lake you are assisted to take off your shoes and stare at your blood-blistered feet; you didn’t feel a thing!

Taking off your top you see all the scarring from your wired bra and number on your chest and stomach; didn’t feel much!

Adrenaline! What a great thing!

It stings in the water…too much to go all the way in, despite James splashing away it it’s serenity on this hot summer’s morning.

Back at the car you make a few changes to your outfit and start feeling faint…

“Get some protein into her!” It’s customer excellence guy who has just come over…

He hugs you. You embrace him; “Thank you sooooo much! Really.”

“Not to worry! I hope I didn’t take over your Dad and James’ Role. My name is Keith by the way…”

“Thank you…” You trail off as you lay down on the matt your dad has set up, raising your legs.

In no time the nurse is there checking your pulse; “everything will be alright”. As per standard nurse-calming-down-talk.

The protein-shake is fed into you as you lay down and tastes remarkably good. James jokes; “hey, maybe we should be having more of these!”

Bam! You’re asleep like a baby!



Until, car time! And BAM, unconscious, blissful dreams…none can describe.

The drunken Blur arriving Home 

“Give a wave to Mummy” you look over at these three people barely recognizing them; one is poised with a garden hose, the other 2 lifting you out of the car.

In the Bathroom you turn to your left and see a Ghost, touch your arm and realise it’s you. You are white; FREAK OUT!

You scream as the water hits your chest and stomach and blisters and cuts!

“NO!” it’s a demand.

“Do you remember who I am?” It’s your dad towel-drying your half washed body.

You nod.

In bed you fall, passing into a deep sleep with an armband around your arm for Blood Pressure, as your now-yellow-body goes into its sleep waves

Awake enough to express your gratitude only to be awoken to a proud father, your trophy and an upcoming massage!


Special Big Thank you:

Bren for firstly telling me about this event, then helping me out through training, tactics, race course review and his motivational achievements

Dad for being there, getting the best runners light (even though we didn’t need it!), hearing out my demanding voice during the run and keeping me conscious

James being there, the ears to relish my final lap joys, the water man and supporter

Keith: All his nutrition, hydration and motivational help!

All my supportive friends: For Firstly thinking I’m crazy but then believing in me and having faith in my ability.




Mum: for actually letting me do this…!

Coast to Kosci

5:15am – You’re standing there on Eden beach, having just arrived for a few happy snaps with your loving father, supportive boyfriend, Jerel, smiley pacing friend, Katy, and student physio, Tiffany. In comparison to your frantic 24h track race in Coburg this year where you had you’re specific target of >200km, you’re rather relaxed, soaking in the atmosphere of the most sought after Australian ultra on every endurance runner’s trajectory, Coast2Kosciuszko. For you, it’s a finish on the cards. With the onset of a head cold and what you like to call an extra Swiss chocolate layer, you just want to make it up the top, alive. Your cardiologist, having done a full examination on your heart, has given you double thumbs up for health but, reluctantly, told you that ultramarathon running is bad for your heart. Something definitely that you should and will ponder about as you conquer the 240km that lies ahead…


The first third

Somehow the hype of the event gets you into a bit of a relatively fast start that you don’t notice until your Garmin gets satellite reception. You’re chatting away with Darren from WA whom you met at Coburg this year – talking about Skins, Ultramag and your support crew. Noticing you are above your premeditated 8km/h, you slow down to slot into a conversation with Roger, talking about how the race begins after Jindy and congratulating him for how dedicated he has been to his training this year. He runs off into the humidity as you cruise along on cruise control. Next it’s Sabina, someone you’ve run with so often, mostly around a 400m oval or a loop-type course. She is her talkative, bubbly self as she talks about her children at home, not quite up for a 30+ hour support crew endeavour. Not until they can drive that is…


Now that everyone has spread out, you use this as an opportunity to grow, listening to a few sermons your minister had recommended; Francis Chan, Tim Keller, Simon Manchester and Cornerstone. How often do you get so much time alone just to worship and praise God? It’s so easy to get caught up in life and collapse in bed day after day exhausted, all energy drained, only to squeeze in a quick prayer and ‘verse-of-the-day’ style reading of the Bible. Your first few sermons are on Revelation, arguably the most confusing part of the Bible. You can’t help but feel the urgency of Christ’s coming, praying for the salvation of those loved ones around you who don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour as the book of Revelations is already beginning to unfold…

Your next sermon is titled ‘don’t waste your sports’. You thought this one would be quite topical to listen to as you run. You’ve been in a bit of a mixed mindset about how much of a part of your life your running is occupying. Taking a step back with this sermon, God reveals His plan for your running – a place to worship and glorify Him (Colossians 3:17 – and whatever you do…do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him). You’re challenged to think about where your thoughts predominately are when you lie down in bed to think about nothing. As a bit of a fast-paced forward planner, being in the moment, meditating in gratitude and thanks doesn’t come naturally. You pray, centering and focusing yourself on God.

You’ve now reached the first marathon, slap the hands of Jerel, Tiffany, Katy and dad and continue down the dirt road at your slow, Cliff-Young-style pace, frosty fruit in one hand, ½ a choc-almond croissant in the other.


You’re next sermon is on your relationship with God. This metaphor really speaks to you. Everyone likes iced chocolate. Same goes for a good hot chocolate on a cold snowy day. But who likes to drink a lukewarm hot chocolate after it has been left out in the room for one hour? No one including God himself (Revelation 3:15-16). Something that you’ve really latched onto in saving up for your investment property development project is money. God has blessed you with these gifts that earn you the money I get, He gave His son for you and you are hesitant about giving to Him? It sounds so silly.


You’ve now moved back into the world of interactions, beginning with your pinnacle of excitement: going up the 7km Jack Mountain with Jerel alongside you. The downpour of rain proves to be a romantic bonus as the two of you chat away, catching up on the last 7 hours, sharing with him everything you learnt on those podcasts and hearing what’s been happening in the Maui campervan. He brings out his phone to snap some selfies of the two of you conquering this hill, taking only a mere ten until he reaches that perfect angle to store away in his memory box. Your mind is already playing games as you mistakenly call him a ‘suss’, only to find his head tilting the exact way your little puppy Maximillian would when he’s confused.


“Do you mean wuss?”

“Uh…yes…Oh dear I’m going crazy already… and I’m only 7 hours in!” You are staring out these prickly things just near his underarms that he was jumping up and down about in fear.

You’re now playing games, distracting yourself from the relentless up on this hill. It’s eye spy followed by memory until you come across a quilted man walking next to his runner, Jason, going up the hill. Complementing the outfit, you pass the two, promising to play tag team as the race unfolds.

Jason later becomes a bit of a man saviour for you as you are confronted by your first storm. You’ve recently developed this utter fear of lightning so upon seeing the first strike, you pancake to the road, not caring one bit of the exposure to the rain, almost crying realising there is no one around.

“Is everything okay?” Jason runs on by, seeing you down low on the road.

“Yes I’m just petrified of lightning…”

“Come with me. I’m taller than you.” It’s this comradeship of ultramarathons that make them really stand out. You run on over to Jason, absolutely comforted with the company amidst the storm.


You get to 80km and its pelting down in rain. You’ve jettisoned your Ipod that was playing ‘Monster, How Should I Feel’ ( on repeat and opt for a rain jacket, only just realising how cold you have become.

The second third

Any ultramarathon is like a story to you – there’s the orientation, the complication and the resolution.

“Why did you start this race? Why aren’t you just in the Maui, helping out other runners rather than running yourself? You shouldn’t run with a head cold. Your physio, cardiologist and doctor would not be awfully happy with you…” Your complication is your mind – how much of it is actual head cold and difficulty breathing and how much of it is actually your thoughts and anxieties? 99% of the population fear death.

You powerwalk on into the dusk, one step in front of the other, riding out this wave of negativity. It’s raining, your cold, you’re not breathing at your best and you’re surrounded by lightning. Yay…

It’s 8:30pm and the rules tell you your pacer, Katy, is allowed to join you. You’ve really been looking forward to this; you really enjoy Katy’s company and smiley positive personality. A little bit of the negativity somehow lingers; you’re not running as you think about your breathing and you just keep wondering why you are here…

A quick refresher in the Maui campervan, praying to God for guidance, grabbing some sticky rice, warmly heated up nestling on your fresh beanie, you enter into the stormy night, screaming ‘WE’RE GOING TO DO THIS!” as the race director, Paul, drives past.

The slumber party begins as you and Katy chat away and giggle into the night. She’s giving you targets – run to that pole and then you can power walk. You run through storms and power walk through the darkness, shouting in glee as you hear the chirps of the first sound of daylight as you arrive in Dalgetty to be greeted by a sea of tired runners and crew.

As an extrovert you draw in your energy from the chats over warm pesto pasta, placing your feet up on the table. It’s so lovely this community atmosphere, sharing Aeroguard to combat the flies that are now loving this bit of sunshine coming through, attracted to your smelly body. Onwards and upwards as you run with the sunrise glistening and warming up your body.


The final third

The next complication presents itself – making the 190km cut-off. It’s a scary 41km of highway speeding cars and you’re just feeling glum, never having been awake this long and really wondering what you are doing. You can’t even smile or talk to your bubbly Katy – its music time, listening to your rave music as you conquer this cut off. It’s 6km/h and any faster you treat yourself to a stretch, massage and lie down as you eat a frosty fruit. The sun is holding up nicely but you can see the storm in the horizon, where you are heading, rumbling in the mountains.


As you make it to Jindabyne, your crew are enjoying their lunch in the campervan, of which you sit and join them for a bit, knowing you are way ahead of the cut off with only 13km to go in 2.5 hours. You hear the amazing news that Sabina has won the female event and you can’t help but shout with joy! Go Sabina! The break is short, enough time to put on your rain gear and ‘hail-proof’ hat which you make good use of in the next stretch…


With the hail pelting down, you begin to get your smile and laughter back. You are joking with Katy as to how this could be so much worse, thinking of leeches, wind and snow. You know you’ve made it now.

You reach Thredbo River with half an hour to spare. It’s time to change into another set of clothes and different wet weather gear as your conquer the climb from the 1000m you are now at to the 2200m you will finish at.

Jerel accompanies you up the hill, chirpy, energetic and his usual fun self. You get 7km and are soaked from your hips down on your thermals (you of course failed to pack rain pants). Getting warm clothes on in the van, Jerel decides to crazily wait outside in the downpour, starting at a puddle. You get your temperature read – 36 degrees Celcius. Your dad motions Jerel in to find him reading at 35 degrees Celcius. That explains a lot!

He puts on some warmer layers and continues on with you. You know he can’t last much longer with such a low body temperature so receive a big blessing – one of the sweepers offering to pace you. Jerel gets the gift of warm dry clothes, a blanket and the spacious confines of the van whilst you and Rod purposefully continue on up the mountains.

Rod’s an interesting man. At 67 he is amazingly fit, but not only that, he has slept 40 minutes in the last 30 hours and still shines with passion about this race. He just loves helping out. He teaches you about pacing, how a pacer should lead (and is sometimes not liked for that reason) and you chat away, passing numerous runners along the way who are finding the weather and the last stretch the hardest, as Roger predicted.


Come the nightfall, the rain is so heavy your headlamp is not working so you use the lighting of the Maui behind to run up the hill to the finish. You’re hallucinating, as all the trees become Maximillian woofing at you. But you know you’ve got this.

9:10pm: It’s an uphill finish but you and Katy, who joined you for the last 10km, are holding hands, running together, acknowledging the team aspect of this event. Team Coldral passes the finish line in Charlotte’s Pass in 39h40min, a quick kiss on the cheek to thank Paul and a ever-so quick happy snap crossing the finish before you retreat to the Maui to regain warmth and feeling in your limbs!



In the car its kisses and hugs all round! Brushing your teeth in bed you lay down in you warm change of clothes and thank each and every one of your support crew for everything.

Dad, having slept very minimally, drives you to Jindabyne where you shower and sleep at a very reasonable time of 10:30pm.

Thank you to Dad for his loving support throughout the race from driving to his project management skills in helping organise to his mindset altering psychology challenges when my thoughts were riding the wave of negativity.

Thank you to Jerel for being that bubbly, excited face to look forward to each 5km, for conquering the rain with me and for keeping me laughing. I love you very dearly.

Thanks to Katy for pacing me 102km, for helping me think in setting goals and for our slumber party deep conversations in the night.

Thanks for Tiff for the stretching, massages and tending to my strange lumps on my feet. You are a great physio and I can’t wait to get you to your first marathon:)

Thanks to Sean for coaching me in my running, getting my 1km times down to 3min33! Really looking forward to your running camp between Christmas and New Year:)

Thanks to everyone for their best wishes, to Monique for the bible verses and to Tom for the recovery Thrive smoothie.

Thanks to Bren for getting me into ultra running when I was 19 – it was great to share this race with you


Thanks to FILA. Your running attire proved very light weight in the rain!

Thanks to Macquarie University for getting me there and for your financial support and academic flexibility.


Lastly, thanks to all the runners, the other support crews who at one stage took some rubbish from my hand, and to Paul for granting me entry into this race and organising such a fantastic event.


I will be back.



Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: