Jonathon Perotti and myself were dropped at Kiandra goldfields in Kosciusko National park near Mt Selwyn snowfield by Ashleigh Clarke at 8:30AM on the 4th of February 2015. The aim was to run the 105km along the Australian Alps Walking Track to Tharwa on the outskirts of Canberra within 24 hours.
Jonno and I at Kiandra before we set out
We set out at a steady pace making good time and covering the first 23km to the Murrumbidgee river quite easily. Things were looking good, at the pace we were going we would be in Tharwa by midnight 8.5 hours before the deadline we had set ourselves. Then we reached the part of the trail that required significant navigation and bushbashing. The pace slowed as we were continually forced to stop and check the map and compass regularly, however by careful navigation we soon rejoined a fire trail and were back on our way making good time.
About the 50km mark we began to feel the effects of fatigue, the time spent running decreased as our muscles began to feel the strain. Soon we were only running on the downhills and very flat sections of the track. As the light of day started fading and night took over we reached the foothills of the ACT border, in front of us stood Bimberi Peak the ACT’S highest mountain at 1912m. Our path was through Murray’s Gap, the elevation gain up to the summit of the Gap was roughly 900m. This climb ate into the little reserves of strength we had still had left, we reached the summit of the Gap just as night completely took over.
The next section of the track went by in a blur of fatigue and pain. We had both entered a trance like state were nothing existed except putting one foot in front of the other. Fording the Cotter river in the dark we didn’t even bother stopping to remove our shoes we had reached a point of uncaring if our feet were wet or not. At about half way up the summit of Cotter Gap we realised we would not be able to make it to Tharwa the decision was made to stop at Orroral valley roughly 15km short of our original goal, it was becoming dangerous to push on. At this point in time it was only mental strength that was keeping us moving and the knowledge that the only chance of getting home was to keep walking.
The last section of the track was the worst, the blisters on my feet were becoming more painful with every step I took. In our minds we knew if we stopped and rested for even a moment we wouldn’t be able to start again. We reached Orroral valley at 1AM on the 5th of February, it had taken us 16.5 hours to cover roughly 95km, we were spent. The next 5 hours we huddled together and attempted to stay warm until we were eventually picked up at 6:30AM by Rosie Anderson. I had never been so glad to see a car in all my life.