Have you ever wondered what it would be like to participate in an ultra marathon event? The inaugural Gone Nuts 101 was held near Stanley in February 2017, a grueling 101 kilometre race around The Nut, coastline and farmland nearby. Restore clients Matt Fletcher, Kylie Cornish and Adrian Cornish took part as a team with friend Louise Blyth, doing 25km each. Another Restore client, Nikki Hall, did the whole 101km SOLO! They have shared their account of the whole event with us. Read on….
Gone Nuts 101 Stage 1 – Matt Fletcher
What can I say? An event that completely surprised me. I had never done anything like it and I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was. The climb up the zig-zag track to the top of The Nut was as tough a start as could be imagined. Spectacular view as the sun was about to sneak over the horizon. Then a run along kilometres of beach, varying in hardness where sometimes it felt like road and other times your foot would sink in up to your shin. In amongst this were two water crossings, shoes off up to your waist fighting an in-coming current. My thoughts were “What have I got myself into?!” but I just kept going. After the beach came railway lines to run on. Unfortunately when these tracks were laid they didn’t put the sleepers one of my stride lengths apart so it was very hard to get a rhythm. Once again, not what I was used to. After about 6 km of this, I finally got onto some Forestry roads. This bought its own challenges with large rocks to avoid and hill climbs but the finish line (for me) was getting closer. One last stretch of train line and I handed over to Louise. I had just completed the hardest thing I had ever done. None of my training had prepared me for what I had just been through! But I got to enjoy a beer and cheer on my amazing team-mates and other participants. For its first year, this was a great event. Can’t wait for next year!
Gone Nuts 101 Stage 2 – Louise Blyth
Having never undertaken a trail run before I was unsure what to expect but knew it would be an adventure nevertheless. In preparation I undertook half marathon training for 3 months before the event to improve my distance running. After tagging Matt it started out well, running along some forestry roads with a slight incline feeling like I was going well but just after the halfway checkpoint the terrain got a lot more interesting. I knew there were hills but honestly hadn’t spent any time analysing how steep they were or even how many. Running fell to the wayside and my priority became to just not lose my footing on the loose rocks covering the steep slopes. The effort required to get over these safely left me with not much left when things flattened back out again. My focus was just to get to Adrian so he could start his leg. I was in pain and I was exhausted. I kept saying to myself just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thankfully Jaimie directed me to my finish line as I was tired and getting confused where to go. I would approach it differently knowing what I know now but I’m proud to have completed it. It was by far the most difficult event I have undertaken and a test of not only physical strength but mental fortitude to keep going.
Gone Nuts 101 Stage 3 – Adrian Cornish
Gone Nuts was the hardest thing I have done in my life. I was not expecting all the hills and different terrain. I started off well into my leg 3 experience which was the Rocky Cape leg of the 101 KM course. I had all flat road for the first 3 Kms then that was it, the rest of the course was all hills and mountains and great views. I was feeling ok, getting to the 15 Km mark in around 2 hrs but the track got even harder at the end. The last 7 Kms was called the Postman’s Track which was full of forestry tracks, dirt, rocks up hill and downhill it took me 2 hours to do the last 10 Kms. As much as I was hurting I had to finish and I crossed the finish line around the 4 hour mark. Now I can see why they call it Gone Nuts. The organisers did a great job on their first event and hopefully it will run strong for many years. Just the amount of drinks and food that was available was great and the course was set out really well. Even though when I crossed the finish line I said I would never do it again, now I’m thinking I would like to and would recommend anyone else that loves trail running to give it a go.
Gone Nuts 101 Stage 4 – Kylie Cornish
I injured my calf 2 weeks prior to the event. My Physio told me I had torn my Soleus muscle. After having over 12 needles driven into my calf, I couldn’t walk, but with some kind of miracle – the pain disappeared just in time for this event. On the day, I felt sick with nerves but Adrenalin was pumping! I cheered on each of my team mates through their stages and saw the pain in their eyes and the exhaustion in every step. They finished gasping for air and hunching over as I helped support them with water and food but then thought, holy crap…it’s my turn next. It was a long hot day and I was getting tired before I’d even started. The time clocked over to 7pm and Adrian came running to the end of his stage and quickly collapsed into a chair, I tagged him and off I went. My stage was beautiful, sandy beaches, rocks and farms full of animals. I ran over small rocks, balanced on large boulders, climbed up hills literally having to use my hands to claw my way up them, slipped on cow pats and balanced my way over electric fences. You know how difficult something is to run when it takes you a whole hour just to get 5k’s! I stopped to take some pics of the 180 degree views and it was breath taking! Then darkness fell, I put on my headlamp and kept running, meeting up with a man named Dr Chung who had flown down from Victoria. I helped pace him for a few kilometres through bushland tracks, with reeds whipping our legs, slipping on cow pats and branches scratching our arms. Dr Chung stopped and told me to run on ahead as he could no longer run. I was all alone in the dark worrying about my team mate Nikki and how the hell she was going to get through this stage in the dark after already completing 75km! I had tears in my eyes and my body was aching, but nowhere near how Nikki would have been feeling. I kept running, listening to wave’s crash right beside me, so I must have been on a cliff face but couldn’t see. I bumped into cows, sheep, horses and heard possums growling up trees and god knows what scampering around in front of me. I was scared which just made me run faster! Then it started to rain….I needed to protect my headlamp as it was my only safety mechanism, so I got out my cap and rain coat. I was completely saturated in minutes, and couldn’t see a marker anywhere. Now I was lost…..I tried hiding under a tree to use my phone, but it was so wet the touch pad wouldn’t work. There were spiders and bugs crawling all over the tree, my heart was pumping and all I could hear was the sound of my panicked breath and the rain. I finally got the phone working and spoke with team mate Matt, who confirmed I was on the right track. So again, I just kept running. This was really tough, not only physically tough, but emotionally tough. Then I saw lights coming my way. I joined a team of runners who told me I only had 6km to go. They had great lighting and helped me navigate through terrain I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. I kept up an awesome pace just to make sure I didn’t lose these guys. When we crossed the finish line I couldn’t thank them enough. My team mates were waiting for me and cheered me over the line. We were given our medals which we wore with pride. I was checked over by doctors and offered food and drink. I will never forget how amazing those 2 minute noodles were and that beer!! The next day we were all walking like cowboys and enjoyed a huge breakfast. A few swear words were said about the event and how difficult it was, but then we discussed how we would do it next year. Yep, 2018 – look out!
Gone Nuts 101: Entire 101km – Nikki Hall
From a spontaneous entry into this years inaugural running of Gone Nuts 101, I had no idea what to expect. At the time my only thoughts were about how good it would be to run into my home town and also the fact that I didn’t want to miss any part of this amazing adventure. From this I ticked the 101 solo box on the registration and that was it.
Gone Nuts was a truly incredible experience and was made even more so, by the amazing support I had from family and friends.
There are so many wonderful memories I have from that day, from climbing the Stanley Nut at 6am to running the beach at sunrise. Water crossings up to our belly buttons and eating watermelon as the crowd cheered us along the train tracks. The first leg was extremely enjoyable and scenic and I couldn’t believe how great I felt coming into that first transition station after 27km.
Things took a turn around 40km and I suffered from agonising joint pain in both knees and my right hip. Descending was an absolute nightmare. As I fought back tears a few times and pushed through I started to wonder if I would be able to finish, or even make it to 50km. My determination was strong though and as I hit the last stretch of road before the Rocky Cape Tavern I started jogging…or shuffling as least. That half way mark was a truly welcome sight. After a rub down, some food and words of encouragement I was off again and in complete disbelief. I felt invincible in comparison to how I felt an hour earlier. This next section took us through the beautiful Rocky Cape National Park where I had a Wedge Tailed Eagle hovering just above me and I remember having a moment of “this is what it’s all about”. From here I shared jellybeans, conversation and moments of serenity as I ran through varied terrain. The final 3km of that third leg felt so much longer than it should have.
Running over that line at the third transition station there was no doubt in my mind now that I wouldn’t finish, even if I was hobbling around. Another short rest, some chicken drumsticks and touching base with friends and fellow runners, Arena All-stars, I hit the beach. With a smile on my face and the sun about to set I couldn’t have been more determined. Not far along the beach I noticed a fellow runner coming towards me. I knew she was a solo runner as I had seen her a few times through the day, and by this point we could pick each other out of the pack.
Her name was Karen and we chatted away like we had known each other for years. About a half hour into our final leg I said to her to go if she wanted to as I was going to be slow. She was quite happy to have company and was also getting quite fatigued, so we stuck out the final stage together.
So much happened in the final stage of my Gone Nuts 101 experience and I could go into it in great detail, but to put it simply, it was the highlight of my day. We started out as strangers with one crazy thing in common and finished as friends 6 hours later as we crossed that finish line where I mustered enough energy to shuffle my way along. As we crossed that line just before 1am on the Sunday our friends and family were still there waiting for us. I can’t even describe the emotions I felt. The adrenaline and excitement was so overwhelming that I no longer felt the pain in my joints, the blisters on my feet and sunburn on my face.
I had made it, and my family and friends were still there to greet me after what had been a massive day for them as well. I could not have done it without them, truly grateful.
Here’s to Gone Nuts 101, 2018.