I love Wilson’s Prom. It was a significant part of my childhood. We would go down there with my dad’s side of the family as a big group with aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents and grandparents friends. I had a plan to eventually go down and run the loop. It’s a very popular hiking loop that goes from Tidal River – Sealers Cove – Refuge Cove – Little Waterloo and back to Tidal River. Usually done over 2-3 days. It’s about 40ish kms so I thought it would be a fun loop to run. I found out a couple of years ago that there is actually an organised trail run that I could do instead. Yeah!
Again, this year the stars aligned and it meant I was fit and able to go and do this event. I signed up for the 60k because it seemed like a good distance that covered more of the national park, including some parts that I hadn’t been to before as well.
When I was in high school, we did an overnight hike to the Lighthouse and back. I had significant flashbacks when I was heading up that section of how steep and horrible it was to walk!
I headed down on Friday around lunchtime to avoid the traffic, get all of my mandatory gear checked (we had to carry A LOT of stuff!!), get settled in and have a little pre-race chat to a friend who was down there to do the 44k run.
I had to buy a new running pack as the one I usually use was too small to fit in all of the gear. Plus the water stops are few and far between so I knew that I would have to carry more water than I usually do as well.
As my usual pre-race entry process, I look at the location, distance and enter. The other details get sorted out at a later date. I didn’t realise that there wasn’t any trail markers, we had to use the walking track signs to figure out where we needed to go. We had to carry a map and compass. Two things I am not very good, okay, useless at using. Street maps, no worries. Bush maps, no chance. Compass? Forget it. Hence why I won’t ever be lining up for the Barkley Marathon!!
The route –
Start at Tidal River – Mt Oberon car park – Sealers Cove – Refuge Cove – Little Waterloo Bay – Lighthouse – Roaring Meg – Telegraph Track Junction – Oberon Bay – Tidal River.
Saturday morning 6am rolled around and we were off.
Before the run, I looked up the elevation of the course. I found somewhere that is was 2200. However when I was out there, I kept thinking, I’m doing a lot more climbing than I thought I would be. My Garmin told me at the end I actually did 3000m. That made a lot more sense!!
The 60 & 100k runners start off together then the 44k runners an hour later. This was a really good way of setting out the runners as the 44k runners then came past so I had more people to chat to as they came up on me. The 100k runners then run back towards us on their loops so even though everyone was really spread out, it didn’t feel like I was ever alone.
The start of the run everyone took off but then were walking pretty quickly as the road heading up Mt Oberon. I fell in with an older guy on the trail to Sealers Cove so we were able to chat about races we had done. We soon caught up with another guy and the three of us kept pace together until we got to Sealers Cove. I quickly gapped the other two without realising it but kept going as I figured it was going to be a long day and it was much better to run at my own pace than try and stick with others.
To be honest, I am still figuring out pacing over these longer distances. I walk the hills, run the flats and downs but I still find myself fatiguing towards the end. I realise that I haven’t done enough of these longer distance runs to get it right but I figure as long as I’m still running at the end, I’m not doing too bad!!
I had a leech attach itself to the back of my leg somewhere along the line, to be honest, I didn’t feel it, I didn’t even know it was there. There was a few trees we had to step over so the blood on the back of my leg from the leech ended up on my thigh and calf. When the 44k runners started to pass me, I had questions asking if I was okay and if I had fallen over. I had NO idea what they were talking about until I looked at my leg! It was impressive to say the least. I ended up with two leech bites on the back of my leg. The best comment I had was asking if I was bitten by a shark. When I finished, one chick said – oh, it’s the leech lady!! Classic. It certainly provided some conversation topics when going along the trails anyway.
The trails were pretty much either up or down. As I said before, I walk the hills as I know it takes more energy to run than it’s worth it so I try and walk as efficiently as I can. There was a bit of rock hopping, especially around Refuge cove when I had a runner come back towards me wondering if she had gone the right way. Luckily there was a bunch of other guys coming past who knew the route and could direct the both of us where to go. I seemed to have a decent amount of luck in timing when I needed assistance!
There was a couple of times that I convinced myself I was lost. One time when I actually didn’t know where to go when I was past Roaring Meg towards the Junction Track. The trail went towards the creek and the other direction had a sign towards the toilets. The toilet are usually off the trail so I was confused. I even got out my map. Laughed at myself saying – what they hell are you doing? You don’t know how to use that!! Hahahaha. Hmmmm. Clearly I was a little confused and out of it at this time! It was about 40ish km into the route as well. I figured I just needed to stay in the one spot and someone would either come up behind me or down the trail and I could ask them. I didn’t have to wait long when I saw another 60k runner then trail walkers who pointed us in the right direction. Thank you random, lovely people.
By this stage, my legs were well and truely hurting. The track up and down to the Lighthouse is so steep you actually can’t run it. I shuffled down the track, thankfully it was concrete so I didn’t slip and fall over.
The weather was pretty crazy the day before, rained a lot so most of the trails were muddy, thankfully my trail shoes gripped well. The gravel road down towards the Telegraph Junction was harsh on my legs. That’s where the wheels fell off. My knees and quads were smashed. It was steep and went for a good few kms. It was good for my average pace as it certainly picked up!! But it was tough!
The one and only check point was at the end of the vehicle track before we turned off onto the trail to Oberon Bay. I had a serious shuffle going on by this point. But all I could keep thinking was how amazing this place is. It’s so beautiful. I loved being able to reconnect with a part of my childhood that I loved.
I rang my friend at the Oberon Bay campsite turn off, just to make sure I knew where to go! I was deep into questioning where I should go and not wanting to make the wrong decision. Thankfully he could figure out where I was and help me where to go! The last section was very close to breaking me. My left leg is a bit weaker than my right and I was struggling to be able to use it to push up any rocks or sections of the trail that were a bit more technical which meant my right leg was struggling with the extra weight and stuff it had to do!! The last 6k felt like it went on forever. I knew that I was going super slow that I would still take an hour or so to cover that distance. I had 100k runners come zooming past me. I thought they were coming to the finish but I was later told that they had more to go. That made me feel a little better!!
I FINALLY made it to the beach to head back to Tidal River. The Ultraman Australia course in Noosa has a beach section to finish off the 84k run. But they have nothing on this run. The tide was coming in so I had to keep running up the beach to avoid getting wet! We had a few beach sections, one that I did towards the Lighthouse trail where it was super windy and raining. Crazy weather!
I cried tears of relief when I realised how close I was to the end. My grandparents ashes are spread at the Prom. I felt really close to them all of the day but at that moment, I felt grief and joy at the same time.
Running, well, shuffling down towards the end was incredible. I was significantly slower than I thought I would be. I honestly didn’t know how I would go but I didn’t think I would be as slow as I was! I try not to attach too much pressure to time goals for trail runs as you just never know how they are going to go. I mean, at one stage I had to navigate between two fallen trees that completely blocked the trail. Very random.
Overall, this run was amazing. My legs and body are completely destroyed. Thankfully I now have a couple of weeks off training and work to recover in my body and mind before my Ultraman Hawaii build begins!!!
By the numbers –
Times I convinced myself I was lost – 3
Actual times I was lost – 1
Huma gels consumed – 14
Dinosaur lollies – 10
Potato chips – 1/3 bag
Coke – 600ml bottle
Vegemite sandwiches – 3
Vomits – 0
Times I cried – 1
Blisters – too many
Toe nails lost – will be 2
Creek crossings – 2
Ankle rolls – 2
Times I fell over – 1
Toilet stops – 4
Total time – 11:35