Dwellingup Drop Bears and Drop Bags

Always listen to Julie – she climbs a tree and scrapes her knee, her dress has got a tear. nature enthusiast from way back. The nuns knew it and so do you. Word.

The good news is I survived the 81km WTF race

The bad news is I went off course for around 9km.

The best news is that I learnt something amazing about myself, finished what I had intended, and am a stronger person for the experience.

So as Julie Andrews would sing “lets start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”

Suzuki Convoy on the road
The Adrenaline Junkies Rig

Arriving at fellow runner Karen’s house, we made our way down South West Highway in convoy, two little Suzuki’s skimming and bobbling along through the winding hilly roads of Dwellingup. Now that we were driving, that familiar rising thrill of a long awaited road trip and much hyped running event started bubbling up through the depths of my body. And the realisation that in less than 24 hours I would be pit patting my way up and down the dusty trails of the very hills we were driving through hit me. I swallowed hard just absorbing the breath of the elevation and descents I was travelling in my car. Phew. Seemed a bit hectic and that was just driving them!

Nevertheless no backing out now. I couldn’t be more ready. “Take it as it comes with gusto!” I thought, gees what else could one think at this point?!

We arrived at Dwellingup Chalets and Caravan Park a quaint little hidden gem of a park, very spacious and with lots of tall green trees and bushes. If it wasn’t for the small feeling of dread about what was to come it would’ve been somewhere I would ordinarily find perfect for a relaxing nature filled getaway.

Karen and I set up the tent with relative ease, even though we shared a giggle over the question of “How many brunettes does it take to set up a 8 man tent” when we fudged putting together a few of the poles. Lucky Karen knew what she was doing because admittedly I had never erected a tent of this proportion before and proved to be little more than a stationary pole holder.

Once it was done I quickly got to setting up my bed and organising my running kit for the next day. Race Bib collection was at 6-8pm and so I had planned to collect my bib then promptly get to bed to try and get as much sleep as possible for the 3:30am wake up. Needless to say it didn’t quite happen like that. As expected the other two girls we were camping in the tent with turned up and we spent a bit of time going through the usual camping anecdotes, like packing the kitchen sink, comparing sleeping quarters and discussing the dangers of nearby drop bears, while organising all our different bits and pieces.

Always a fear in the Australian Bush

We all went to collect our bibs at 6pm but I didn’t get back to camp until a bit later and sadly still without a bib. Luckily the other girls were kind enough to wait around a bit longer and collect my bib while I popped in my ear plugs, changed into the in-famous ‘Lucky Jersey’ nightshirt and bunkered down for a restless night of tossing and turning.

Spaghetti Bolognese my fav pre race dinner.

Spaghetti Bolognese my fav pre race dinner.

Now I knew camping grounds would be noisy, especially on a long weekend and I expected to be waking up on and off because of the noise. But what I didn’t expect was some idiot to pull out a electric guitar and amplifier at 9pm and continue to play until what felt like midnight. It was an obvious bother to the other girls too as one of them rustled in and out of the tent to thrice ask the guitar player to please keep the noise down. Needless to say we all woke up at just after 3am looking and feeling less than impressed with the nearby campers previous nights shenanigans.

Consequently we proceeded to be somewhat unapologetic in our early mornings organisation, and somehow it felt good being less than concerned with our own noise levels, because even though we had no electric guitar we certainly weren’t going to tip toe around after last night.

After gathering our breakfasts and having a little chit chat about apparel and supplements in our drop bags, it seemed to me that we all had slightly

My 4 drop bag esky's plus extra camping supplies

My 4 drop bag esky’s plus extra camping supplies

different approaches to what we decided to have waiting for us at the four checkpoints. One of the runners went with a very minimalistic approach, in fact in her own words I heard the old adage “Keep It Simple Stupid”. I on the other hand opted to have every kind of supplement and food I was used to packed into 4 little esky’s far too big for what was in them.

So for anyone who might be wondering what ultra runners use on their runs, here is what typically made up my one of my drop bags (keeping in mind the drop bags for this race were at checkpoints spaced every 20km):

  • One peanut butter and jam sandwich
  • Two-Three Hammer Nutrition Gels
  • One whole pack of Cliff Shot Bloks
  • One 500/600ml bottle of water
  • One 8 ounce bottle of Hammer Heed (One scoop with water)
  • One voltaren anti-inflammatory tablet
  • One Hammer Nutrition Endurolyte tablet
  • Blister Tape and scissors

Now for any runner this is obviously waaaay too much for a 20km run. But in my own mind I was happy to be over prepared than underprepared, dehydrated, undernourished, uncomfortable or any of the above.

Secondly you never know when you may go off course, get injured or have to go further or be out on the running course longer, so it made sense to me to always account for bonus km’s or hours.

Thirdly whatever I didn’t use was no loss. If my stomach turned and stopped accepting one of the types of fuel I had, I easily had other options. If I got a blister I was covered. If I had a niggle or strain I had anti inflams to get me through, as far as I was concerned I had all bases covered, I was practically a girl Scout, someone give me my ‘preparation badge’.

To be continued…….