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Glasshouse Trail Walk - 50 KM
Sunday, 2 May 1999 - Queensland, Australia
by Melanie Jonker

After a 5 month gap between ultras I was really looking forward to walking the 50 km distance at the recently held Glasshouse Mountains Trail Runs. A rare treat for me this time was to actually have a personal crew person looking after me.

Kevin (Cassidy) certainly was kept busy driving to the different aid stations and keeping me supplied with fluids and food. As well, he managed to take photos of the event, drive into the Glasshouse township and keep himself supplied with Diet Cokes and "munchies" as well as driving Bill Thompson home to his custard farm.

It wouldn't be a Glasshouse event if there wasn't some rainy weather! Saturday night it poured down for a couple of hours which resulted in some quite muddy parts on the trail. However, on Sunday morning there was evidence of a number of stars in the sky which boded well for the day. Kevin and I arrived at the starting point (base) just before 5 am. There were already a few runners and walkers preparing themselves for the 5.30 am start. It was a cool, brisk morning and I was reluctant to take my track suit off but alas the time came when I had to. I and the other participants were milling around waiting for the start rubbing our bare arms and trying to keep warm, when, Kevin, who was dressed in track pants, a long sleeved T shirt and my jacket started complaining how cold it was!!! Now coming from a Victorian who is constantly boasting that Queensland doesn't know what cold is, I found this to be very amusing.

Ian Javes (Race Director) started the race and we all took off on a small 3.2 loop before returning to base and then completing two 23.9 loops (the distance was in fact 51 km). As the two other walkers had started half an hour earlier I was a bit worried about losing my way during the 3.2 km as it was still dark. Although I had a torch, it was still a bit daunting on my own in the dark. Eventually I lost sight of the runners in front of me but luckily Charlie Hall (a regular helper at these events) kindly waited to make sure I didn't "lose the plot" so early into the event. By the time I had gone through base and started on the first main loop the sun had risen so I tossed my torch to Kevin and was on my way.

I can still remember my first few Glasshouse events in 1996/97 when I was always apprehensive about the course (which is always different) as I wasn't used to walking through trails and up and down hills. However, after completing my 7th event, I have become quite familiar with the trails and what to expect. I never tire of the solitude of walking around these wonderful mountains away from the hustle and bustle of my working week. This particular morning the weather was absolutely superb and I was full of enthusiasm as I tackled the trails.

Kevin met me at the first station (no 8) before I made my way back to base (no 5). There were a few wet areas, however, I managed to get through them without any mishaps. Kevin had already started calculating what time I would reach no 5 based on the time it took me to reach no 8 and his calculations were quite accurate. My walking pace didn't vary much throughout the whole event. Once through no 5 it was off to aid station no 6. This section of trail includes the infamous Hennessey's Hill which at one stage used to scare the living daylights out of me, but now I look forward to it as I know that there's no way this hill is going to get the better of me! Walking around and over these mountains during the last couple of years has certainly made me a lot fitter when it comes to climbing hills.

After a quick stop at no 6, I came to a part in the trail which I always think as one of the most spectacular sights. Although only a dirt road, as you turn the corner and are confronted by it, the vista literally takes your breath away. The road dips down steeply and then rises steeply and it looks as if it goes on forever. The first time I saw this road I was positive I'd never make it up the other side but surprisingly it's only when you're about three quarters up the other side that you realise there's not much to go and it wasn't that bad at all! Before I knew it I was back at base and ready for the second loop.

After replenishing my water bottle and other supplies it was back around Mt Beerwah to aid station no 8. Psychologically I was feeling better because I was more than half way through the event, however, I was feeling a bit tired but determined not to slow my pace too much. I had a quick drink and something to eat at no 8 and was on my way back to base. Although there is quite a bit of uphill walking throughout the event, there is also as much downhill and my quads and knees were starting to scream out in pain by now. There were quite a few finishers around base by the time I reached there and it was a bit deflating to know that I still hadn't finished. Weather conditions by now were still great - in fact it didn't get really warm at all so I was thankful for that. As usual, thanks must go to Ian Javes and his many assistants for providing three challenging courses. Congratulations to the other two 50 km walkers - Kerrie Hall and Peter Lewis (who walked 50 km for the first time). Also, special thanks to my personal crewperson, Kevin Cassidy, who kept me "fed and watered" and gave me so much positive encouragement and feedback during and after the event. I am now looking forward to September's Glasshouse event.

Editor's Note: Thank you Melanie for sharing your marathon story with us.

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