I almost wasn’t going to write about this one as I was embarrassed about getting lost but I’m pretty sure that every runner experiences at least one occasion where not everything goes to plan,i was hoping to only write about perfect moments but the truth is we all can’t have perfect moments every time this is my first one of those stories.
Firstly I would like to tell you’d all how important this marathon was to me, I’m extremely lucky to have even been able to make it to Kalgoorlie at all, on the previous Tuesday I was out walking my dog when he got attacked by another dog that was not on a leash and as I tried to separate them I was bitten on my nose quite badly I went strait to hospital where I thought I was going to have my wound cleaned, get a tetanus shot, get some antibiotics and have some butterfly stitches put on to close the wound but when I went in for treatment I was told that the plastic surgeon needed to have a look at it and when he did he pulled the wound open so wide my nose almost rolled over the bone and he told me it had been degloved and that I was going to be emitted into hospital as I needed surgery.
He told me that a dog bite was one of the worst type of wounds you can get cause of the bacteria in there mouths and that he wasn’t even going to close the wound. When I found this out I just knew that if he left it open there was no way I was going to make it to the marathon. I received my tetanus shot before getting intravenous antibiotics and then I asked to use the toilet where I pulled my cannula out, ran straight out the door to the hospital chemist where I bought some stuff to stick my nose back together and did my own reconstruction in the toilet of the hospital using butterfly stitchers and went home to get some sun on it so it healed a bit. The next day I knew that I at least needed some more antibiotics so infection wouldn’t set in till after I got back and by then I would have already gone back to the hospital.
So I got on the train to go to Kalgoorlie still with my stitches on my nose hoping that as I took them off when we pulled in, that they were going to hold together because if they didn’t I would have looked like a stupid crazy maniac giving Hearts Across Australia a bad image. I was meeting Grant ,his lovely wife Rhea and a lot of other people that helped organize the event as well as everybody running in the event for the first time later that evening and the last thing I wanted was to be a bad representative especially as this was my first time representing as an ambassador for Hearts Across Australia and that this marathon is one of the most important of all because when I marathon all the way to Melbourne not only will I be running to Kalgoorlie to do parkrun before continuing on. Gary Wilmot told me I should take the time to get used to it as I will be seeing a lot of that pipeline along the way!
So I checked into my hotel room that was taken care of by Goldfields Pipeline Marathon and went and had a look at the towns main street took a drink from Paddy Hannon’s waterbag before getting ready to feed my face on the pasta buffet at the restaurant Monkey Juice where everyone was waiting to meet me. We had really nice meal where I met some of the best people one could hope of meeting and I must have done something right fixing my nose because no one said much about it and I knew everything would be OK so long as it held together and it did. Grant Wholey gave me my pipeline marathon showbag which had my hat, shirt and other things and I was really surprised when I pulled out a snow globe that even had the statue I was drinking out of with Paddy and his water bag, that made my whole evening, then after dinner everyone started leaving after a while I presumed it was to have an early night for the big run the next morning so I went and did the same. I was so excited about the run that I kept waking up every hour just in case my alarm wasn’t set right and I missed the bus out to the starting point but that didn’t happen.
When it came time to leave my room to have breaky and jump on the bus it was minus 1.1 pretty cold but warming up just to get on the bus was one of the last things going threw my head something I will keep in mind next time. I got out my wheelchair to throw myself up the steps, made it and as soon as I landed in the coach seat I realized I strained my shoulder a bit and that it wasn’t the best way to start the morning but not being one to winge especially as the great Grant Wholey organizer of the event and director of parkrun was sitting right next to me,knowing that he had a similar injury but to his knee and was running anyway I never even mentioned it.
We got to the starting point in Coolgardie after driving for some time and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, I thought there would have been a bit more civilization or a few more spectators to watch us take off but all there was was a dirt road crossing the pipe where the bus pulled up on, a couple of site toilets on trailers for the volunteers and the pipeline which we ran along.
We all peeled off our eskimo clothes keeping us warm I went and looked at the pipe a bit while I was shoving my three mars bars into mouth one after the other I was told this is what Moneghetti did for years right before running a marathon while sponsored by Mars and if it worked for him then it was good enough for me. I had my picture taken and then I took a couple more before looking at the road and thinking that’s a little rougher than I was thinking of and it won’t be the walk in the park I had envisioned I knew about the sand but thought the rest of the road would be smoother. Then I started warming up and getting ready to go. Just before we took off all the runners wished everyone else luck on there run and that they will see everyone at the finish line and to remember when you see the golf course don’t think your home yet cause you still have to keep running right around it till you get back to the clubhouse which is still a couple of Kms off.
So the race starts and all the other runners leave me behind I found it difficult to set a pace with all the cobblestones and at that point I knew I was running most of the marathon by myself so I pressed on with my music to keep me company and if it wasn’t for that it would have been a lonely road with not much to think about except my sore shoulder, its amazing how good positive music can keep you going. So i continue down the rocky road for a couple more kms and my shoulder feels like its continuing to slowly get worse right up until I came to a point in the road that branched off in two and I thought about taking the smooth lower road as I was sure that they would meet up again but the arrow pointed up over the rocky hill so that’s the way I went ,halfway up the backrest broke and I thought about fixing it as I was prepared for almost anything but it may have happened again so I left it.
To my surprise there was someone to take my picture as I rolled over the top this is the picture that was posted in the Kalgoorlie miner newspaper and just before I was thinking oh no it’s going to be slow downhill decent until I pulled out at the halfway point cause I thought my shoulder was going to get worse and worse but having my picture taken made me remember why I was there and I thought I’d better at least give it my best try because there were were a lot of people who believe in me. Runners pull out all the time from injury and I was no exception but I kept going till I couldn’t anymore then maybe no one would hold it against me. Then to my joy the rocks disappeared and the road smoothed out, from there there until the twenty three Km the track wasn’t too bad except for a few areas where there had been water lying on the track and four wheel drive vehicles left deep tyre marks all over the road.
There were also sections of corrugations that made the wheelchair vibrate quite a bit as well sections that were bumpy kinda like moguls but nothing compared to the cobblestones. By this stage I was well and truly warmed up and as I was taking easy to nurse my shoulder it began to come really good I couldn’t believe my good fortune, then came a million thorns as we turned off the pipeline and ran along a fence line I was sure this was going to be the end of me I had thorn resistant tyres and a spare tube but there is only so well that they work but once again the heavens were shining upon me because they held up then came the sand which I thought were going start to strain my shoulders again so I continued to take it easy until that obstacle was over there was only about a km a a half of that but about 2 and a half kms after that of soft stuff and although it wasn’t as bad as sand was still slow going.
After all that I finally came upon the good flat hard road where I knew I needed to pick up the pace so I put Nas and Damien Marley on distant relatives an album that always helps me run and as the third song came on strong will continue i started powering into it at about fourteen Kms to go I overtook the second last person and I kept going till I hit the five km milestone.
I was so happy thinking yes now it’s only a parkrun to the finish line I going to make the cut off, I’m going to make the train, I’m not going to let anyone down because I wasn’t even sure I could push those great big tyers that distance in the first place let alone with the obstacles and my shoulder. I got to the last drink station took off down the road and I must not have been paying attention because as I got further down that road all pink ribbons and foot prints came to an end, when I was just about to go back the way I came a vehicle came along and I asked them if they were with the marathon club and they said no.
At this point I was already suffering from tunnel vision because I knew I wasn’t far from the finish line and had I not have been so close would have turned back, but I knew the golf course wasn’t far and all I had to do was follow the fence. So I asked the driver which way to the golf course I he pointed down a track that I knew wasn’t the right one but I took it anyway thinking I’ll be at the finish soon. I found the golf course no problems but still failed to find any footprints except for one pair and they were running shoes, I could tell so I followed them for a while and when it seemed like I was going in the wrong direction I doubled back and went the other way, I went another two and a half kms or so and when I still couldn’t find the groups footprints and I thought that directions worse I stuck to the original plan and went back the first direction.
I ended up missing my train and almost missing the cut off time I only made it back with three minutes to spare and was lucky that grant was able to get me a lift back.
But besides all the getting lost I had a good time and would do it again any time!