It was hard!

It might have been the cold, or maybe the slightly longer distance, possibly the recent long runs on treadmill and sand, or simply an additional year on my legs .. this year’ all nighter birthday run was hard.

As I write this, it’s Wednesday, four days after the adventure and my legs are still in shock. My calfs are heavy and swollen, my hips aches and knees bruised.

Enough complaining though. It’s was a FANTASTIC night of running with friends and I can’t wait to do it all over again in 2016!!

Last year the run started in Bondi, so this year we started little further, from Coogee.
I got my first ever UBER ride to the start line, chatting with the driver Rahul who couldn’t believe I was about to set off on a 90km run throughout the night. He kept repeating “90km oh wow! You inspired me to get back into fitness and lose weight”. I really hope he follows through after the excitement of the moment. I left him my phone number so I can keep him accountable and motivated but he has not yet contacted me.

You know you have great friends when they turn up at 10pm at Coogee beach ready for a run, while everyone else is out partying and drunk youngsters are looking to get on a fight with you – weirdos wearing head torches, gloves and beanies.
To join me at the start line, this year there was Kath, Peter and Andreas who was coming straight from work, what a champ.
We left precisely at 10pm, pumped up in direction of Bondi. The wind was pretty chilled, especially on the exposed sections near the rocks on the water edge.

With the speedsters leading the way, we made it to Bondi and progressed onwards to Watson Bay and Point Piper pretty swiftly, making sure we didn’t miss any hill.
It was great to chat and it would all have been the perfect run if Peter didn’t trip over on the uneven pavement to end up on the ground, bruising his hands and cutting his thumb. Blood and pain can’t possibly stop the Irish, so he carried on to Edgecliff without crying too much.

After a quick toilet break Kath, Andreas and I continued on, in the direction of the Cross. This year we didn’t indulge in the strange looks (and mild abuse) of the locals. We hit William street without actually running through the nightclubs and headed straight to the bridge where Christian was already waiting for us.

At the bridge, Andreas waved us goodbye, so it was up to Christian, Kath and myself to carry on from there. The first checkpoint, at my place in Cremorne Point, was only a couple of km away. We made it there accordingly to plan at 1:30 in the morning, 32km on my watch.

Waiting for us a piping hot soup, freshly baked bread, bananas, nuts and boiled potatoes with salt – my favourite running food. Lidia was an angel to prepare all of this and get up to say hi. I am really lucky, although I am sure she is making note of all these brownie points.
The kitchen was so warm and welcoming we ended up spending 15-20 minutes there. The truth is that my legs felt heavy; I was wasting time readjusting my backpack, without particular reasons to do so.

As we started running again, the night seemed it got colder all of the sudden. The wind had picked up again and we were fully exposed to it.

Reached Mosman, 34.5km into the run, Kath decided she had enough of men talks and looked for a taxi home. As the gentlemen Chris and I are, we didn’t wait for Kath to actually get in the taxi before we left. What’s the worst that can possibly happen at 2:30AM in a desolated road? : )
Kath made it home safe btw…

The section between Cremorne and Manly was a real killer last year, physically and mentally. It requires attention and its pretty demanding at that time of the night with 30km on the legs. This year was no difference as the cold and tiredness settled in.
Chris and I talked the whole way to Spit. It was a great and sincere conversation, those you can only have when running free. We talked about work, running, family and running adventure. The man has a busy schedule ahead of him!

A couple of wrong turns but we got to Spit, 5 minutes behind schedule at 3:20AM, 47 km into the run, to meet Brad and Gavin.

I didn’t talk much during the section from Spit to Manly, I left Brad, Gavin and Chris do all the chatting and lead the way with their day light bright head torch – note to myself to update my crappy one.
Half way to Manly, a strange creature surprised us on the trail – Stu. What else would you rather do at 4am than catching up with friends I wonder.
Now a 5 men strong train of runners, we pierced through the night committed to get to Manly quickly to enjoy some more warm soup. I stayed silent most of the way, coming to life only approaching the Manly wharf.

Life-saver Laura prepared a checkpoint for us at the Surfclub on the south end of Manly beach and we got there in around 6hours (running time) and 57km into the run, at about 4:40AM. I had initially told Laura not to worry about setting up a checkpoint but I am so glad she didn’t listen to me. I needed 5 minutes to slow down, stretch and gather my thought.
At Manly, Jacob, Mark and Joey joined in and we left full of smiles around 5AM. Next stop Dee Why.

In this long run, getting to Manly gives me a motivational boost for many reasons – from there it’s only 30km to go with the toughest part behind me, Joey joins in and he is always so entertaining and energising running with him. He is a legend.
The other reason for being so happy @ Manly is that coffee break is only 40 mins away!

40 mins later we are in Dee-why, drinking espresso @ Bacino caffe! I’m amazed as well as thankful they open so early on a Saturday morning during winter.
With perfect timing, Derek joins in and it’s the full team, ready for the last stretch to Palmy.

I am pretty cold and tired, so my running is not that fast or graceful but I feel much better than a couple of hours earlier.
We are now a 9 person strong team so the time and km pass quickly as we chat and joke.

Stu and Mark wave goodbye at Long Reef as they both need to run back home to family duties early in the morning.
We carry on, while the sky starts to brighten up.

Just before Mona Vale, on a big staircase leading to the trail, Chris’ legs cramp up. So much so that Joey saw the spasm going down the leg and calf muscle. We lose contact with Chris and we wait for him at the top of the hill. 5 minutes later we head down looking for him but no trace. He took a different route but the good news is that he is still running, we agree to meet further up when the road and trail meet again.

It’s now passed 7AM in the morning and I am super keen to get to Palm Beach. We will be late, probably by half hour and I can’t wait to be there.
Despite the fact that the sun is coming up and some of the bravest and toughest of our group strip down to their t-shirts, I’m still cold. Very cold. Right to the bone.

As expected, we meet Christian just after Newport. He is feeling better but still cramping unfortunately due to dehydration. He tell us to continue on and that he will meet us there.
After all, it’s only 10km to go.. you can’t stop there after you have been running for the whole night.

The last 10km are not that enjoyable, running on the road and with a few hills.
But we can all smell coffee and breakfast so we start picking up the pace clocking a couple of <5 mins pace which feel fantastic. We finally arrive at the Boat House around 8:30AM, 9hour running time and 10 ½ hours after leaving Coogee Beach. Total distance 87.7km . And this time I can feel every km of it. At the Boat House, Lidia, Lorenzo and few friends are waiting for us! Time to sit down and get some calories back in the system! Thank you to Kath, Peter, Andreas, Christian, Brad, Gavin, Stu, Mark, Jacob, Joey, Derek for yet another awesome run. Lidia and Laura for the fantastic support. Thanks to Keith, Alan, Kim, Nicole, Nat, Olivia for welcoming us in Palm Beach. I hear someone said next year we start from Maroubra.