SCC – Leg 1 – Post by Steve Campbell

On a brisk morning I started my first ever “fun” run. I had never entered into an event run before. I always had something else on, local sporting game, away for the weekend, or just couldn’t be bothered. At the start of 2013 I did say to myself “I want to complete a half marathon” but as the year went on I forgot about that dream and priorities fell elsewhere.

I was excited in the days leading up to the Surf Coast Century. I had been on a few runs, starting at 10km and building to 14km. Once I reached the 14km mark, and did that in good time, I thought to myself “I can do 21kms”.

On the eve of the run I jumped in my car and headed off to Anglesea. I arrived a bit later than planned but everyone was still up getting packed. Watching Azza and Michelle pack their bags, organise drinks and food plus transition tubs with all their gear it reminded me of “Tour de France”.

Azza had mapped out what time he would be arriving at checkpoints/transition areas and how much and when to drink (and eat) based on his sweating rate. Seeing this, it hit me how big this task was going to be and the months and months of planning that had gone into this Challenge.

After a bit of carb loading everybody headed to bed as I stayed up to watch the Hawks knock off Geelong. In the morning I woke to a big round face and a huge smile right next to mine. Azza was up and raring to go! I on the other hand was tired, slow and pretty groggy waking up at 4am.

We were basically the first competitors to rock up at the starting area. It was freezing cold, windy, dark and a little bit miserable. 5mins later all those taking on this mammoth of a “fun” run turned up and the atmosphere changed completely, all of a sudden I had that feeling from a couple of days ago, that excitement and electricity!

All competitors made their way down to the beach and on to the wet sand. A gateway marked with ‘Start and Finish” was there and everybody gathered just in front of it. A short count down and ringing from a cow’s bell started the race, Azza and I made our way under the Start/Finish arch and the supporters formed a line and cheered us off. It was slow at the start as we tried to find our running rhythm. I watched the elite and team runners take off at a cracking pace, a little bit of me wanted to run off with them.

When I first placed my hand up to do this challenge with Azza I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought we were a relay team, Azza included. When I found out I was running with him I thought to myself “oh no”. The problem was I can’t control my pace, with me it is either flog yourself or don’t run and here I was with my goal to support Azza in Leg 1 by running at a steady pace. If the pace was too slow then that would throw out all his planning, too fast and Azza would be burnt out later in the race. My plan, stay just behind his right shoulder.

We found our running rhythm, 6.5/7min kms. This running was something completely new to me and I had to make a conscious effort not to go any quicker. We started picking off people who were obviously too excited at the start and took off to quick on the first tiny hill. Azza and I made our way back down to the sand past the cheering supporters again and headed for Torquay.

It was a great morning, the cliffs gave protection from the wind, the wet sand was firm under our feet and the sun slowly rose and started to hit us. At this point I thought I was going to breeze through these 21kms!

Azza and I chatted for ages, about everything and anything; the run itself and the people doing the full 100km, past challenges he had completed, moving houses, work and of course Hockey. After 45mins I thought to myself shit he better stop talking and save some energy.

We reached the harder parts of Leg 1; soft sand, rocks and reefs. We slog it out on the soft sand moving up and down the beach trying to find the best sand to run on and avoiding other runner’s footprints. When it came to the rocks and reefs Azza was king. He led the way while I trailed behind, once we hit the sand I would then catch up to Azza.

His local knowledge of the area gave us the edge and we started to overtake slower runners and also set a trend for the competitors behind us to follow. I thought to myself if only Azza could run the 100km on the rocks he would complete it easy.

Towards the end with about 2kms to go I was in pain, my joints; ankles, knees and hips were screaming at me to stop, I never considered that outcome. We reached the last point and as we approached it we found a lady standing on a rock with water lapping over it with both arms pointing in different directions around a huge boulder saying “which way?”.

I looked at her and then at Azza, he decided the long way, he jumped into the rising tide and started to drag his legs through the water towards the 21km mark. I tried to follow right behind him however was cut off by the lady who had been stranded there. Once she had taken her time, I too entered the water submerging my legs from the knees down, it was immediate relief from the pain, so much that I didn’t what to get out. As I ran through the water and around the point I saw Azza already on the beach 100m in front making his way to the transition area. I stepped onto the sand and took off to catch up, I had made it to him with about 500m to go.

Azza, to run up that ramp and onto the foreshore to complete the first leg with you was an immense honour and a great experience. I loved seeing the photos on facebook throughout the day as you slowly but surely picked off each Km one by one. To hear that you had become a Surf Coast Centurion placed a huge smile on my face, I always knew you could and would finish this Challenge.

Seeing first hand and hearing about the amount of planning, training and commitment that has gone on for this Challenge has convinced me that I could never do what you have done. You have inspired many people through your accomplishments and I hope others take the opportunity to be a part of one. I look forward to hearing about the next challenge and who knows, I may be running, riding or paddling by your side again in 2014.


Steve Campbell

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Surf Coast Century – 100 KM Trail Run

‘I Can’t….’

I am almost ashamed that I uttered those words! But at that moment in time, I absolutely felt deep within that I could not continue. It struck me in and instant, as if someone had flicked a switch.

The weekend started well, as the car didn’t break down on the way to our accommodation! Michelle, a new found crazy friend of Sarah’s who was also taking on the 100k arrived and after a pasta dinner we headed off for the race briefing. Having thoroughly planned for the race the briefing was just a refresher on what lay ahead. After the briefing Michelle and I set about preparing all our gear for the 5.30am race start. Steve (running the first leg with me) arrived and we tried to settle the excitement and get some sleep. It was a restless sleep, only really sleeping for an hour at a time. I don’t recall feeling nervous, just excited and couldn’t settle into a deep sleep.

At 4 am the alarm sounded and so began the day. A light breakfast, last minute prep and down to the start line. It was a crisp morning with a cold breeze and as more people arrived I got to say G’day to Abe, who I had been introduced to by a mate. We wished each other luck and headed to the start line. I also got to say G’day to Adam, who after successfully completing the race last year, was support crew for Up There Bazzaley running a 2 Female Relay Team. It was great to get some encouragement from a successful Centurion!

Leg 1 – with Steve “Kid” Campbell – Absolutely Stunning!!

At the start!

At the start!

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…… and we are off! We immediately settle into an easy pace and just take it all in. It is still dark at this stage, with just a long line of headlamps stretching off in the distance. We head out to Pt Roadknight before running back over the cliffs past the start line on our way to Torquay. The atmosphere is electric. The amount of people out for the 5.30 start was amazing. A quick wave to Sarah and we head off into the Sunrise.






Steve, enjoying the Sunrise!

It was a stunning morning with a beautiful pink Sunrise. We made good time and then hit a nasty 5-600 meters of softer sand that really made running difficult, before heading up and over a rocky little headland and back onto some firmer sand to the half way mark of the first leg at Pt Addis. The running was at a really comfortable pace and we pretty much talked all the way to Southside which is where the more technical running started. Local knowledge was really helpful here. People were staying up high on the rocks and we headed out a bit wider to run on the reef as the tide was out and it made for much easier running. I really enjoyed this stretch as it required a bit of thought and made it easy to get focused on the job at hand. My wet feet were not bothering me and I knew it was only a few more k’s until I got to change shoes and socks anyway.

I talked Steve’s ear off showing him my favourite surf breaks and before long we rounded Bird Rock onto Jan Juc beach. Steve looked to be enjoying the run, and we only had a couple of k to go. Then as we rounded the last headland coming into Torquay, we become somewhat unsure of which way to go. Every way around the rocks looked deep! Stuff it, were wet anyway. In we got and luckily we didn’t get hit by any waves. It was knee deep for a bit, but then back onto the hard sand for the last 700 meters or so into the first Transition area. I noticed Abe up on the path, already on his way on Leg 2. He was looking good and it was to be the last time I saw him all day! As we approached the Transition we could see Sarah, Wally, Sooz and the girls up on the cliff tops cheering us along. 21k down, only 79 to go! We made really good time and arrived right in the middle of the time window I had outlined in my race plan. The day was off to an enjoyable and positive start.

Steve & Aaron end leg 1

Transition 1 – Great work Kid!

Steve I am so stoked that you decided to jump on board with this challenge for your first ever running event. To have never covered more than 14k before the day, you did a great job! I haven’t forgotten what you said about possibly coming back to do half of the 100k next year. I know Wally mentioned the same thing, so I am expecting a Kid/Wally 2 Man Relay next year!

Leg 2 – with David “Wally” Wall – Tougher than expected

Some photo’s with Steve, a change of shoes and socks and awesome support crew assistance from Sarah, who was all business as she got my new fuel mix sorted, more energy gels and an Anzac biscuit into my hands as I headed off out of the Transition. I was still feeling reasonable, and my plan was to walk most or all hills on this leg to save myself. Wally and I settled into the leg and talked about how good the surf was this morning and how that may have been a better way to spend our Saturday! But here we were, so I guess why not keep going. I know this area like the back of my hand, but no matter how many times I see it, on a stunning day like today, it is just an amazingly beautiful place. The perfect sky meeting a smooth ocean that is sending beautiful waves into the yellow cliffs. As we get up towards Bells Beach, it’s all laid out before us, a living, breathing postcard!

Anyway, I digress. We head across the sand at Bells and into a little climb at Southside before heading alongside the road for a bit and then a left into the Ironbark basin. A nice steady descent and then up a pretty steep little climb. I think this was the first time since entering the event that I started to think about how hard this was going to be. Obviously I had prepared myself for a long difficult day, but I was only about 30k into the race and I was just starting the get the first niggles of cramp. I felt that I was hydrating properly, but since taking on the Anzac biscuit, it felt like my body was not digesting very well. I was feeling the water that I was taking on start to accumulate in my stomach and I knew I was in a bit of trouble. As was the plan we just took it easy on the hills and kept moving forward. What else can you do!?!

We headed through the next check point with a quick drink and kept on moving. Before long we were in some great Single track. My memory of this section is actually a little sketchy. I know there was lots of single track and a fair few people headed past us, but I certainly can’t recall too much detail. I think I was concentrating a lot on foot placement and avoiding cramps. They were kicking in with certain types of movements so I was working hard on avoiding those movements.

It was a nice feeling to tick past the first Marathon of the day in just under 5 and a half hours. I was pretty pleased with the pace so far and it seemed that my digestion was starting to get a little better as the cramps were not as often. There were now only a few more short sharp hills before we had a mainly downhill last few k’s into the 49k Transition area. As we headed down past the caravan park, Wally sent the team a text to let them know we were only 10 mins or so away and I was getting pretty excited that almost half of the race was behind me.

We needed to head down onto the beach to get across to the transition area and the tide was now very high. We had to put in a 20m sprint to try and avoid waist deep waves and half way across my hamstring cramped good and proper. I really didn’t want to get swamped, so basically hoped across the gap and just made it before the next wave came through. It was awesome to arrive in Transition with a warm welcome. Sarah, Sunny, Nate, Mum, Josh, Sooz, Mila, Georgia and Mark all on hand to see us into the half-way point. I asked Sarah if a leg rub would be beneficial for the cramps and she set about giving me a sunscreen leg rub in the transition area, while Mark readied himself for his 28k leg. Again we were in my race plan window and I had aloud generous time for leg 3, as I knew it was going to be tuff.

Wally, I know this wasn’t an ideal lead up to your big surf trip and that injury was always at the front of your mind. Thanks once again for joining me. I was probably right about you witnessing the wheels starting to fall off, but I think we had an enjoyable leg and I look forward to seeing how you and Kid go doing Half and Half next year! Also, I don’t plan on tackling Everest anytime soon, so your safe there!

Wally handing over to Mark!

Wally handing over to Mark!

Leg 3 – with Mark “Marky” Altheim – Mixed Bag

As we set out I remembered that we had a nasty little section early on to deal with. We had to go under a bridge and it was tight! I was so fearful of cramping under here, but with some but shuffling, I got through without a dreaded cramp. Sarah’s massage had done the trick!

With trekking poles in hand, we set off again. I find the poles help me with my tempo as I get tired. It also takes that tiny bit of weight off the joints. It is sometimes awkward to get into a jog, but who am I kidding, by this stage, there was not going to be a lot of jogging going on. We headed out around the back of Anglesea and into some nasty hills. I was mentally prepared for these from training in the area, but that was on fresh legs. I know had more than 50k in my legs and we were heading into the great unknown. My longest run/walk was 53k! The first of the Hills was NASTY. It was long and steep and got steeper at the top. My legs just got heavier and heavier until I had to rest just 100m or so from the top. The stop was probably less than a minute, but it was long enough to get a bit of strength back for the last little bit. We headed over the top and actually got to run for a couple of k along the top of the ridge and then down a long hill, before once again settling into a walk up the other side.

This is where we bumped into ‘Shuffling Man’ for the first time. I was using poles for my tempo, Shuffling man was using his arms. He would be walking, then to get his walk a bit faster he would start swinging his arms and then after a couple of hundred meters or so, he lent forward and got into a shuffling run. I was so inspired! Here was this guy, telling me he was going to be in by 8 o’clock, and I am thinking ‘your dreaming’! He was deadly serious and his determination and will to push on was inspirational. I was starting to witness different techniques for finishing this thing. There was another guy we kept going past who was obviously really suffering going downhill, but as soon as he reached the flats and the ups went by us with ease.

I was getting an understanding that everyone has their own way of obtaining their goals. It is the most inspiring thing I have seen. Sheer Will and Determination to reach the end, for whatever personal reason!

We headed off into the most beautiful section of Single Track down into the valley before the longest climb of the day. 6k of Single track, nothing steep, just a long hard slog. Shuffling man had fallen behind, as we were walking up at a reasonable pace and after about 1k, Mr Uphill came running by for the last time, only to be seen again at the next transition!

This was a nice peaceful part of the day. We went about setting a steady walking pace up the hill and then came along a Solo guy with a  couple of Relay crew trying to help him through. He said he had a ‘seniors moment’ with some head spins and was just taking it easy trying to get to the next CP at 70k. They were getting it done, and as we crested the top of the climb we went by them and descended into the 70k CP. I got a little emotional here. As we came to the end of the descent, we were passed by a 60+ year old couple. Both completing the 100k. Seriously, what an inspiration! It really hit home what people are capable of when they want to achieve something.

On arrival into the CP at 70k, we had some water and kept moving. Mark sent the team a text and told them we were about 1.5 hours from the Transition and this is when I looked at my watch. 10hours 8 mins! Etched into my brain forever! The realisation I still had approx.. 6 hours to go. I protest to Mark that I don’t want to do this for another 6 hours, but we keep moving anyway.

I know there is just one more long steep hill before the descent into the Transition area. We get there and get to work on it. We keep moving, it’s hard work, but we are getting it done. We turn another corner and more hill. I am starting to get pretty pissed off about these hills now and I am yelling at them. I know there’s not much more hill to go and we get on with it. We crest the hill and it’s all down to the Transition. We make good time and I am feeling pretty happy that I now only have 23k to go. The last leg! I tell Mark how appreciative I am that he joined me and how much it means to have his support. We shake hands and head into the Transition area.

Once again we have arrived in my race plan window and part of my race plan was to enjoy the atmosphere here as I had heard it was great. Lots of support from spectators and they were right. A well stocked race kitchen and heaps of people about. Mr uphill is here with his support crew trying to ready himself for the run home. I sit down. Sarah offers me a Savoy and I oblige. I slowly nibble at the little biscuit that is about to put a stop to all forward progress!

Mark, thank you for everything! Positive reinforcement all the way. Telling me in the first couple of k of the leg that we just had to hold a steady pace and not do anything stupid was solid advice. It was great to have a voice of reason and it is probably that reasoning that got me so far!


Getting our Hollywood Blockbuster walk on!

Azz Mark hand shake

Job well done mate!

Disaster at 77k

I feel an instantaneous energy release through my body. I feel it go from my head down to my feet and into the ground. I look at Sarah who is standing directly in front of me and say “I can’t….”. She looks at me very concerned “What?”. “I can’t….” and with that I walk out of the Transition to the edge of the bush and lay down. “I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m done”. Josh comes over and says something along the lines of “Mate, I am not going to let you stop, just remember why you are doing this”. I know why I am here, but I feel I have nothing left to give.

I have covered 77k and I have done a good job. I have always promised myself that I will not give up under any circumstances, but here I was, prepared to break that promise to myself and all the people who believe in me.

Mum covers me with jackets and towels to keep me warm and Josh rubs my legs. As I lay there a man with a black dog comes over and gives me a good talking to. “Mate, you have to get up, you just have to keep going. You guys are all such an inspiration!” He leaves and Josh gives me 1 more minute before he says he is physically going to pick me up. Josh doesn’t f… around, I know he is serious.

Nate suggesting I "Suck it up and get in with it"

Nate suggesting I “Suck it up and get in with it”

Time’s up! I negotiate to sit up against a tree for another couple more minutes. A rapid ascent guy, Bruce, comes over and has a quick chat and offers me anything. I say I am good and I try and get some noodle and bean soup into me. I still feel horrible, but with Josh’s threat to carry me, I tell him I am going to get up and to get everything ready so that I can just start walking.

I get up, they throw my pack on me and Sarah and I walk out of Transition. I make it about 50m and just into the bush were I proceed to bring up the 3 mouthfuls of soup. As quickly as the energy left my body, I feel that I am back! I feel a instantly better. I had heard about people saying this in long races. It’s like a reset button. I just wish that I had of been able to vomit immediately as opposed to going through 45 minutes of thinking I was going to DNF.

Leg 4 – with Sarah “Red” Anstis – The Run (walk) Home

Mentally I was back, I now know that I am going to finish. I have also come to the realisation that I am not going to crack the 16 hours that I had set myself. I am disappointed by this, but it is what it is!

I now get to enjoy this experience with my wonderfully supportive wife. She must be over joining me when I am struggling. During the M2M I hit the wall during her leg and here we are again, me struggling and you trying to get me through it. She will have to do the first leg on the next one! I can’t express how much I love having her alongside me for these challenges. It just seems right.

One at their best, the other looking a bit worse for wear!

One at their best, the other looking a bit worse for wear!

We get up to the 80k point that brings us back to the coast and as I hoped we get there with enough light to take it in. It does not disappoint. I have no words to describe it. Simply Stunning! The Surf Coast has certainly put a show on for us today!

We head down to Moggs Creek and then up into the hills again. It’s long, but not too steep and we talk about lots of stuff as we walk into the night! I know we have a couple of k of short sharp hills before we head back into Aireys Inlet and into the last 14k. As we near the last real hill of the day, another Solo competitor comes past. He’s looking good, and I can see he will get his Stein (for finishing under 16 hours). It pains me again to think about not getting there in under 16 hours and without telling Sarah I pick up the walking pace a little in the hope that when we hit 90k we might be in striking distance of the Stein.

As we head into the 86k and last CP of the day, we are greeted with a solid “Great work Aaron and Support Crew” I look around for people we know, but it’s some people from the last CP that are cheering us on. Everyone is behind us and we are getting into it. This support is just so amazing. I can’t tell you how much it helps.

azz face

Lighting things up a little!

We head up to the Lighthouse and take a few photo’s before moving on. It’s now absolute darkness and we can only see what our headlamps light up in front of us, but we are going ok. As we get close to Sunnymead beach, Sarah mentions that our pace has been good for the last few k’s and maybe we should start making plans for running sections to try for the 16k. All this time we have both secretly been thinking the same thing. I look at my watch and make the calulations. We would need to cover the 10k in 1.5 hours. I know the terrain for the next couple of k. It’s rough single track and I just don’t have the legs! I make the call and I dismiss the sub 16 hours finish.

We head off into the bush for a few k of Single track before coming out at Urquhart’s Bluff and onto the beach stretch that signifies the effective ‘Home Straight’. We get to witness the most amazing Orange Moon Rise. It was unbelievable. Here I was, on the home straight with my wife, walking along a deserted beach under this amazing moon. It was like a scene out some romance movie, except for the romance. It was all business! We were both just desperate to get to the finish. Sarah was suffering from Blisters and I was well and truly over it by now.

We headed off the beach and walked into the back streets of Anglesea towards Pt Roadknight where Wally greeted us and cheered us on. We now only had about 1.5k to cover before getting to the finish. 1 more hill to get over.

Very Appropriate!

Very Appropriate!

A fitting photo at a ‘Slow’ sign and then down past the Surf club onto the sand for the last 400m or so. Holy Crap, we are going to finish this thing! We round the corner to see the finish line. We stop and have a hug and then I muster up the courage for a 50m ‘run’ across the finish line. 16 hours 27 mins. Hugs with Sarah, Josh, Em, Ash, Wally, Matt and anyone else that wants one. I get presented with my certificate to say I finished. We hang around for a while to cheer the next few finishers across the line while we wait for Michelle and ‘Bruce’ to finish. They come across the line about an hour later, an amazing effort. It’s a 10 hour PB for Michelle over the 100k. Her and Bruce have had to battle blisters, but they did and they too are now Surf Coast Centurions!



Azz certificate

It’s no Stein, but it will do!

Special Mentions to Abe, a bloke I only met for the first time the morning of the race after a few emails about the race. He went under 14 hours! I find that absolutely amazing and I take my hat off to you! And to the girls from Up There Bazzaley who took out 3rd place in the 2 Female Teams. Congratulations ladies, that is a superb effort!

Again, I can’t thank my Support Crew enough. Sarah, you are bloody amazing! You made all of the Transitions happen perfectly to plan and made sure everyone was where they needed to be. Then you back it up and go for a 23k walk into the night with me, a distance you have never even come close to completing before. Bloody Amazing.

To Steve, Wally and Mark. Boy’s, seriously, Thank You so much. I have heard stories of people who have completed this race by themselves and the mental strain seems to be a huge hurdle. Having you guys stick it out with me for all those kilometres means the world to me. It must be difficult to move at someone else’s pace and I appreciate it more than you will ever know. Each of the relay team smashed there furthest ever distance covered by a long way. That is something to be proud of.

To Mum, who, against every fibre in her body told me to keep going at 77k. Thank You. It must have been a very difficult thing for you to do.

Josh, mate, you have a gift. Your ability to get people off the floor is amazing. You did it for me and I know you did it for Emma the following day. Thank You.

To Emma, Matt, Sooz, Mila and Georgia and all the strangers out there that supported not just me, but lots of people throughout the day/night, Thank You. You make us feel great. You give us energy with every clap and cheer! Also, thanks to all the people who sent messages via Facebook and through Sarah. I got them all and they all helped. Thanks also to Gayle for the 100 Anzac biscuits. They are loved by all and kept everyone going!

On reflection I am a little disappointed by not achieving my sub 16 hour goal, but, as a wiser man than me stated after I finished “Mate, by the time you started, the stein was almost irrelevant. The finish is the real prize. You are a Surf Coast Centurion! A hard won achievement that you should be incredibly proud of”. Thanks Adam, that message certainly makes it easier to deal with.

And, on that note Sarah, I am sorry, but I am announcing now that I will be going again! I have unfinished business here. My goal was to see how far I could push myself and I think that I did that. I think I pushed pretty close to the limit! A limit that was set by my training. I will be back, lighter, fitter and better prepared next year. That stein will be mine!!

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Challenge 4 Charity Golf Day

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What is Possible?

Since heading down this path of challenging myself, I have discovered a new world! A world full of people achieving the most amazing things. People like Steve Brydon on his Odyssey 4 Autism. Steve has turned his life around in last couple of years and is achieving some absolutely amazing things whilst raising awareness and money for Autism. Others, like Adam Evans, The Bonsai Adventurer and part of the Tuesday Night Parma’s, take on all sorts of adventures and raise money for various charities along the way. Inventing challenges like the Tour de France Push Up Challenge. Doing as many Push Up’s as kilometres ridden in the TDF (Hardest thing I have ever done). People like these guys really inspire me! They are challenging themselves and making a real difference along the way.

I am certainly no Poster Child on how to eat well and be fit. I have been terrible with both looking after my Nutrition and training over the last couple of months since the Marysville 2 Melbourne. Old habits die hard, but, I am back on track, trail if you will! I posted my fasted 15k run on the weekend at the Trail Running Series with a great lead out by self proclaimed “Plodder” (yeah right), Steve Brydon.

Reflecting back to that initial run 2 years ago, where I had to walk after 2 very slow kilometres, here I am, a middle pack plodder, running 15k trail runs with other like minded people! Planning a 100k Trail Run! I have come a long way.

What is Possible??? The question is so personal. Until you set yourself a goal you ‘think’ is just out of reach, I guess you’ll never know!

Below: Steve and I after our 15k Trail Run. Planning bigger things!!! Finding out what is possible!!

Photo: Quite chuffed with 1:15:37 for 15k on Rapid Ascent Salomon running Race 1 today..better was running with Aaron and getting roped in for his crazy idea of riding 500km in <24hrs...I'm in! He's doing awesome things in memory of his late dad..well done champ!!!

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On Saturday, yes the day before the race, I finally got access to the Kayak that I was going to be paddling on the day. I needed to make sure that Josh was going to be comfortable on something similar, as that is what Stuart had hired and what Josh was going to have to paddle. We met down at the Barwon River and Josh jumped on the ‘yak’ and preceded to wobble, paddle, tip, wobble, padl…. splash, he was in the river. I was on the bank in tears of laughter, then suddenly realised that he was going to have to paddle one of these for 16k. A little bit of panic set in, and at this late stage we didn’t have too many options to make a ‘yak’ change. Then, on the way up to Marysville on Saturday afternoon my car decided to give up on us. Fully packed with everything we needed for the journey ahead, we were stuck on the side of the road 3km out of Marysville. Luckily Wally had come up in his own car and we were able to transfer everything across to his car and organise for my car to be towed back to Healesville. Josh’s best mate, Ash, then helped us out on Sunday after the bike transition. The car is still in Healesville and I am still waiting to hear what the damage is! If the weekend was starting like this, what did race day hold?


Transferring all our gear!

Marysville to Melbourne is one of the races that I had on my list of adventures to attempt. An event of this magnitude (19k run, 50k ride, 40k ride, 14k run, 14k paddle & 16k paddle), requires lots and lots of training. Lot and lots of training takes lots and lots of time, something that is not all that easy to come by with a family and especially difficult when daylight savings stops (that’s just a week excuse and something I need to overcome). I had mentioned the race to a few people and when Drakey (Greg Drake – from Altona Hockey Club) mentioned to me after I finished 3 Peaks that he was keen to have a crack at the 90k ride. From there I asked my brother Josh if he would join me on the paddle. Sarah was also really keen to get involved and I was really looking forward to running the 14k with her. Wally was keen to have a go at the 19k run and all of a sudden we had a Relay team taking part, as well as me taking on the full distance. On the day that Sarah was registering the team, Drakey asked if his brother in law, Stuart could join in and split the paddle with Josh. This late inclusion certainly turned out to be heaven sent as you will find out later!

We (Sarah, Josh, Wally & I) stayed in Marysville the night before the race at Camp Marysville. Very basic, but very comfortable accommodation and we enjoyed a Pre race carb loading dinner and sportsman’s breakfast. The food was spectacular. Josh even ate the vegetable lasagne (mum faints).

Race Day

Leg 1 – 19k Trail Run – Marysville to Dom Dom Saddle
We woke to a reasonably mild and calm morning. I was so excited! I was really looking forward to the first few sections of this race. The race kicked off at 6.30am in the main st of Marysville where Wally and I set off into the great unknown. This was to be our very first Trail run, 19k of mixed tracks, from 4WD tracks through to logging roads and single track. Leg 1 did not disappoint, it was breathtaking in more ways than one. Hills, so many hills! The first 3k was up a gradual climb, then some undulations, with the ups and downs being reasonably steep. Some required walking and I used this time to make sure I took on water and gels to try and fend of ‘The Wall’ for as long as possible. From about the 3k mark we were in pretty deep bush with no sound other than the feet hitting the ground and breathing. It was as if reality had completely disappeared. It was quite surreal. The contrasts in the bush here were just phenomenal. The lush green new growth against the bare, burnt tree’s from the fires a few years back. It was great to see Nature taking its course and coming back so beautifully. This is possibly the best run I have had from a ‘how I felt’ perspective.

Wally & Azz Start of the day

Wally & I just before the start

Our time was not all that great, but I had a plan and we stuck to it and it was all going so well, until….. my GPS watch ticked over 19k and we had not yet hit the final hill climb to the finish. I knew that there was a nasty climb right at the end of the 19k, but we just passed 19k! 200m down the track we see a marshal, maybe there is no hill. Me – “How far to the finish mate?” Marshal – “About 500m, but it’s all up hill”. We turn a bend and there it is. What the …. Hill???? This was not a hill, this was a wall. All the advice we had received was that even the pro’s walked this hill, but how bad could it be? BAD! We were moving at about 2-3kph, it was almost a crawl. It was still awesome, just another challenge. We laughed and joked our way up and before we knew it, it levelled off and we ran into the Transition. Wally was a great support to me on this run. He is much fitter than me, but in the spirit of the day we stuck together, he walked when I walked and ran when I ran. Thanks mate!

Coming into the 1st Transition

Coming into the 1st Transition

Leg 2 – 50k Ride – Dom Dom Saddle to Kinglake
Wally Transitioned onto Drakey and I slowly got myself organised to get on the bike. My wonderful Support crew (without a support crew this race is not even possible, Thank you so much guys)had set up everything for me, so it was just a matter of having a few ANZAC biscuits (Thanks Sarah) and re-stocking my pockets with energy Gels. The first 7k or so of the ride were a fast descent down towards Healesville. This was exactly what I needed, a great 10 minute rest for the legs after the run. My weight advantage on the downhill was certainly an advantage and I soon found myself a bit further down the road from Drakey. I stopped to make some small adjustments to my bike and Drakey and I got to work on the main part of this ride, Climbing! Over 1200 vertical meters of climbing laid before us over the remainder of the ride. Drakey set a great pace up a short climb and it was great to have someone helping with the pacing.

We were soon in Healesville and after heading through the back streets (did not hit one set of lights on the 50k ride) we were on our way to Chum Creek and the start of the longest climb of the day. Riding uphill is a tough thing to do with others, so Drakey and I climbed at our own speed. It turned out to be a beautiful climb, the scenery in this part of the world really is breathtaking. I do enjoy the challenge of climbing, and I was feeling surprisingly good. I caught up with a fellow competitor a few k into the climb and we had a really good chat on the way up. At the time I didn’t get his name, but he looked really familiar. Turns out it was Adam Evans, The Banzai Adventurer! I have been following Adam’s exploits for some time now and his blog has been an inspiration for many of the challenges I have on my ‘to do’ list.  It was certainly not a steep climb, but it made up for it by its length. We managed to get up towards Toolangi in reasonable time and only had about 15k to go to Kinglake. The 15k was up and down, but some of the ups were really getting steep. We worked our way through this last 15k and soon enough we were at the Transition in Kinglake.

Drakey arriving at Kinglake

Drakey arriving at Kinglake

Leg 3 – 40k Ride – Kinglake to Templestowe
It was a quick water fill at the Transition and making sure we were comfortable on our bikes before heading down a screaming descent from Kinglake to St Andrews. It was a very technical descent and it was somewhat hard to concentrate as this side of Kinglake was seriously scarred from the bushfires. I haven’t been to these areas before and they are just so beautiful, devastated, but still so beautiful. It did not take long at all to reach St Andrews and riding through the town past the CFA Shed I got quite emotional. I just felt so lucky that I was able to participate in such a great event, and although I have suffered loss in my life, nothing can compare to what the people of these areas had to face a few years back. It really was sobering!

As we headed out of St Andrews we had another 25 odd kilometres to go and we thought it was basically downhill from here on in. We were wrong! There were certainly no long climbs like the previous leg, but wow, it really made up for it by being brutally steep in parts. We were taken through a back road of Research and the hills were short, but they were just so steep. Drakey did a great job getting up these hills in much bigger gears than what I had. I had ‘Granny Gears’ on my bike and it made getting up the hills that little bit easier on my legs. After getting through these little climbs we came upon the next Transition. This was the most climbing that Drakey had ever taken on in a single ride. He did such a great job and I hope that he will be back again next year. Great stuff buddy!

End of the days riding

End of the days riding

Leg 4 – 12.5k Run – Templestowe to Eaglemont Tennis Club
I was so hungry when I got off the bike and thankfully Sarah had gotten me the best chicken wrap I have ever had in my life and washed it down with a can of coke. After 7 hours of activity I was desperate for something other than water or energy gels. This turned out to be a BIG mistake! I started off on this run expecting it to be the most difficult leg of the day, but it was also the one I was looking forward to the most. I finally had the opportunity to share this experience with Sarah. We headed out of the transition and after about 1500 meters I had to walk. My heart rate was out of control and my chest was a little tight. We walked for a little and then set off again, but again, not far along the track I was struggling with my Heart Rate. I just had to slow everything down. Sarah was perfect. She just talked me through it. I felt a little disappointed that we couldn’t run the whole way together, but at least we were still in it together. After about 45 mins my heart rate started to sort itself out, but my legs were shot. When I was walking though, I was walking as fast as I could, which wasn’t all that much slower than I could run. We caught up with another competitor, Scott. He was also doing the race solo, and he was struggling too! Sarah was great for us, she kept us moving forward. Although we were doing a Run/Walk/Run type of deal, we still did an OK job. Thanks so much Sarah. Your support and positivity really helped. You are the best and I love you so much.

The most Difficult, but one of the best parts of my day!

The most Difficult, but one of the best parts of my day!

Leg 5 – 14k (and some) Paddle – Eaglemont Tennis Club to Dights Falls
I was so happy to be in this Transition, or should I say my legs were! They had very little to do with the rest of the day. With some help from the Support Crew, the boat was taken down to the river and we were off. Stuart (Drakey’s Brother in Law) was with me for the next 14k and it was to be his first real crack at paddling also. There’s nothing quite like being prepared! I had been out and had one paddle lesson and Stuart, although a keen kayak fisherman, had not done too much paddling either. We were in the same boat, so to speak.

We settled into a steady tempo and after about 1.5k we hit our first bit of rapids. Not the type of white water rapids you’re imagining, but some water moving over a section of river that is a bit shallower with a few snags. Anyway, it’s simplicity did not stop either of us from getting into a little bit of trouble. I got caught on a log, turned sideways and was almost in. Then I had to give my best wiggle, jump, wiggle to get myself off. I called back to Stuart to let him know there was a log there and before too long he was suspended in the exact same position. With some smooth moves, he too got off and we continued. Another few k down we came to the next rapid, again, very loose use of the term rapid! This time I managed to get through unscathed. Not so for Stuart! Luckily i turned back in time to see it all unfold. He took the same line as me but got caught a little wider, his kayak hit a snag and splash!!! He was in. Best thing is he had his GoPro running, so it’s all on camera. Gave us both a good laugh and once he got back on and settled we were into again.

With about 6k to go we came across another competitor who asked how far to go. I told him we had 6k and the look on his face said it all. He was so deflated. He was a solo competitor and he said he had already fallen in 6 times and was over it. He had been hired the wrong type of boat for his ability and was now going to paddle the remaining 6 k and pull out. I tried to talk him around, he had come so far, he was only 20k from the finish, 135k behind him. I got him to the side of the river and swapped boats with him. I think it is against the rules, but I thought if I could get him to the next transition a bit quicker than he was going now he might continue. He was much steadier in my boat, me on the other hand, I was struggling in his. I must have nearly come out 3-4 times, but managed to just keep it upright. Anyway, we got him to about 1k from the transition and swapped back as I did not want to be DQ’d. He was thankful for the help, but I am still not sure if he continued on or not.


Stuart and I off at the start of the first Paddle

Stuart was starting to struggle a bit, but was still pushing on. I kept calling out the distance to go and the last I called out to him was 300m, he was pretty excited. However, the 300m turned out to be about 800m and we could still not see the Transition. “This is the longest 300m of my life” said Stuart, but as we rounded the next bend, it was there, all our support crew on the river bank cheering us into transition. All except Josh! He was up next and I am pretty sure he was trying to find the plug to let all the water out of the river. Stuart did a great job, was a great sport and brilliant company. He completed his first ever leg of an adventure race. He’ll be back, he’s got the bug, and I reckon he will be doing the full 30k paddle next year. GO STU!!

Leg 6 – 16k Paddle – Dights Falls to Docklands (FINISH)
It was a very long walk from the Transition to where we put the boats back into the River. We had to Portage around Dights falls and my legs were none to impressed! They were sore and I was starting to dread how they would feel over the coming days. I was still so happy though. It had been such a wonderful day, shared with some great people who are really special to me and it was slowly coming to an end and I was going to be able to cross the finish with my brother Josh. We were going to smash this leg. Josh had been training so hard. He would have done 2 – 3 Push ups and had sat on a Kayak for a total of about 10 mins. How could this not go swimmingly!?!

Josh put his boat in first and before I could even get into my boat, he was in…. Somehow, mid river, he managed to climb back on and get himself settled. I said my goodbyes to the Support Crew and was off also. 50m down the river he was in again. I couldn’t contain myself, I was holding back tears of laughter. Josh on the other hand was not all that impressed with the situation. Again, he clambered on and got settled. I think we must have repeated the process another 3-4 times over the first kilometre, and to my amazement, it was still just as funny every time it happened. Maybe I was delirious, or maybe the fact that we had passed the last cut off meant that the pressure was off and no matter how long it took, we were going to finish.

The last time Josh came out was the funniest. He had been going reasonably well for a few hundred meters and as we rounded a bend he went in again. He came up and was feeling for his head torch, he thought it had come off and lost it. As he put his hand to his head he felt his torch was still there, and then the screaming started! AAAHHHHHHHH! What the F#&K is that??? I turn around to see a Water Hen trying to nest on his head. Absolute gold!!! I was again in fits of laughter while Josh tried to fend off what turned out to be quite a persistent bird. He must have fallen too close to it’s nest or something. Whatever the reason, it turned out to be just what Josh needed. He didn’t fall in again after that! It took us about 40mins to cover just under 2k and Josh was getting pretty frustrated. At this rate it was going to take over 5 hours! “Just leave me here!” I am not sure how many times I was told this, but Josh was certainly struggling and as night began to fall he was suffering. To keep himself upright he had to have his legs mostly outside of the boat, using his toes to claw onto the edge, so not to just drag his legs along. It must have been really hurting. We talked through it and as we got toward the 10k to go mark, he was starting to enjoy himself a little, not too much, but enough to keep going. “How the hell are you still smiling?” “How can you do this after everything you have already done?” I was still enjoying myself, enjoying the company, the day/night and most of all the Journey.

Josh’s goal was to get to the section of river that went under and alongside citylink. He would then know where he was and only have about 6 or so k to go. We were also now making reasonable time. The next couple of k were kind of surreal as we could see the city and we were right alongside a major highway, yet we were in another world. It was really dark and really quiet. We were navigating by our tiny headlamps and the river edge. Soon enough though, we were within striking distance of the city’s beating heart. We past the new Soccer Stadium, we could hear the crowd at the MCG and were passing the Tennis Centre. The river was starting to light up and I was now coming to the realisation that I was about to finish another massive challenge. We were ticking off Melbourne landmarks with every paddle Federation Square, Southbank, Flinders St Station and Crown Casino. Coming up to the Poly Woodside, I knew it was only a matter of a few hundred meters to go and it would be over. I was going to be able to share this journey with my Support team. We rounded the last of the huge boats in the marina and made our way to the dock where we were unceremoniously wrenched out of our boats onto the dock. A few awkward steps and we were there, across the finish line.

Josh that was the biggest effort of the day! Underdone, wrong boat, too heavy; all your own doing, but you did it. My hat goes off to you! Please come back and do it again.


Happiness meets Relief!!!!

This was a GREAT Journey! I would encourage anyone with an average level of fitness to at least consider entering a relay team.

A few Thank You’s:

Ash – Thanks so much for spending your afternoon getting ASC and all of my gear around the course. We would have been in some trouble if you had not come to the rescue. Thanks so much!

Mum – Thanks for coming to the finish line. It was great to have you see us come across the line

Tracey – Thanks for your support all day. It was great to see you at all of the Transitions and along the route. It’s always uplifting to see a face you know along the way!

And last but not least, ASC (Anstis Support Crew)

Wally, Drakey, Sarah, Stuart & Josh – I feel so privileged that you all committed to joining me on this journey. These races don’t work for solo competitors without a support crew and I appreciate all the work you did to help get me to the finish line. Your attitude, encouragement and support were everything I could have asked for, and more!

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I want to Challenge myself and in the process raise money for Cancer Research! Why not join me on 1 or all of these challenges, and not only challenge yourself but raise funds for a charity that you are passionate about.

If you would like to get involved or donate, please contact me via email at or via the facebook link.

My dad, Trevor (T.D.), passed away in early 2006. At 49 years young, he was taken way too early in life by Multiple Myeloma. It took me a long time to come to terms with his passing, but I found that running gave me time to think and process him no longer being here. It also helped me get back into some sort of shape. I have now lost 20kg’s, run 2 Half Marathons and completed my biggest challenge to date, the Scody 3 Peak, in Victoria’s High Country. With with a bit more work, I will be the healthiest I have ever been.

Over the past 2 years or so, we have raised in excess of $45,000 for Cancer Research at the Peter Mac Cancer Centre. I am now hoping to step up the Fundraising by completing some major challenges over the next 12 months. 3 Peaks being the first of these and moving onto the Marsville to Melbourne, a Half Ironman in November and hopefully the Melbourne Ironman next March. I will be trying to fill in the empty months with other challenges also.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my website and I hope to hear from you soon about maybe joining me on this journey.


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My First True Challenge – 3 Peaks

Firstly, some perspective; at the end of the day, this was just a bike ride, a personal challenge.

I delayed entering this event as I was not sure if I was totally prepared! I had downloaded a couple of training programs and had done my research on nutrition, but, even with a supportive family (Sarah has been amazingly supportive), finding the time to train for this event was difficult. Two days before the cut off, I bit the bullet and entered the Scody 3 Peaks Challenge. I knew this was going to be the biggest challenge I had put myself up against, but had no idea just how big that challenge would be!

I have never been so nervous, the fear of not knowing if I could achieve what I had set out to was almost overwhelming and as it turns out, completely justified!

At breakfast, there was a feeling of quiet anticipation as I tried to fuel myself for the day ahead. There were 2 others staying in the Lodge that were up for the challenge also, and the silence was deafening!

As we moved through the starting chute, I was getting really excited about what lay ahead, a 30k descent down to Mount Beauty. It did not disappoint, fast sweeping turns and it just seemed to go on forever. Some riders were taking crazy risks and I witnessed some very near disasters. I was also surprised to see how many people had punctures and other mechanical issues on the descent. Unfortunately it didn’t last forever and after about 45 mins I was in Mount Beauty, making my way to the first Peak of the day, Tawonga Gap. At 7.5k and an altitude gain of around 470m, this was to be the biggest climb I had ever done. I looked after myself, got in a comfortable gear and tried to look after my legs for later in the day.  I made it to the top, feeling good and more importantly the nerves had begun to drop away as I gained confidence from the climb.

Peak 1 - Tawonga Gap

Peak 1 – Tawonga Gap

Again, time to descend. It makes the climbing worthwhile. I did however come across a sobering reminder to take care and remain within my limits while descending, a rider on the side of the road, not in great shape. He was being cared for and upon speaking to the rider who helped him; he had knocked himself out and broken his collar bone! After the descent, it was into the valley and moving through Bright, onto Porepunkah and the start of the next climb, Mount Buffalo.  At just over 20k to the Buffalo Chalet (turnaround point) and elevation gain of over 1000 meters, at an average of around 5%, this was going to be the new record climb for me.

It is a stunning climb, constant views into the valley and up to the towering rock formations above. About 10k into the climb I was out of water, not ideal. It was starting to get very warm, and I still had another 40 odd minutes ahead. About 2 k later, with still about 8 to go, I got my first cramp! I managed the cramps by stopping and stretching while still over the bike. If I tried to lift my leg over the bike I would cramp more, and feared I would not be able to get back on. I must have stopped 3 or 4 times to repeat the process, but in the end I made it to the top for so much need hydration. I stayed for about 10 mins to get some water in and make sure my bottles were full before I left for another great descent down to Porepunkah and Lunch!

Peak 2 - Mount Buffalo

Peak 2 – Mount Buffalo

I was still on reasonable time by this stage. I was just over half way and was probably on 11.5 to 12 hour time, but I was really starting to feel the effects of the heat and I was just about to start a 40k stint in the HOT Valleys during the hottest part of the day. I left lunch for the ride to Ovens, 20k down the road to the next water stop, Normally this would take about 40 mins. I was really struggling to hold any sort of speed and as groups approached from behind I tried hard to get on, but could only hold them for 30 seconds or so. It was a lonely, hot stretch of road and it broke me!

I rolled into the Ovens rest stop, found some shade and sat. I was at 140k, still 90k to go. There were people everywhere, but I felt isolated and alone. My mind was my own worst enemy at this point! I got my phone out and sent this text to my wife Sarah.

“I am in a world of hurt. Every Pedal stroke is so hard. I can’t keep any speed. I am dehydrated and apparently having a massive winge. The cut off times are starting to catch me too!”

I had fallen into a massive negative mindset. After about 20 mins or so of wallowing about in my own self-pity, I got back on the bike and pushed on… I made it 500m before I stopped again. I found some shade and stretched some more, still over my bike. I think if I had gotten off my bike and sat down in that shade I would have only been getting up to get on the SAG wagon. I began pedalling again and started to talk myself round. “Your longest ride is 150k; you have to at least get past that”. Ok, 10k, I can roll that out. I got past the 150 without much fanfare, again, I was alone, in the valley and only seeing other riders very occasionally. There was also something else happening. I was starting to see people in great difficulty. In the next 10k I would see 3 people being treated by Ambulance. It was a reminder of just how intense this situation really was!

I had now managed to get to around 160k and new I had another short climb to come, a 4k gentle climb over Rosewhite Gap. It was like a light had been switched on. There was shade, and I felt instantly better being out of that damn valley. Of all things, the road I was on was called Happy Valley road, and I can tell you, it got called every name under the scorching sun bar Happy Valley Road. The name of the road makes me angry now just thinking about it!!!!!!

I tapped out a slow, but consistent climb, only having to stop once to stretch. I also got to look back through the Hell Valley I had just come through. It was behind me and my mind was now starting to think about what averages I need to make the cut off. I knew I had to keep my rest stops really short now and that, at worst, I was going to make it to Mount Beauty and get to the 200k mark. This would still be a great achievement! I had a quick water filling stop at Running Creek, 170k behind me, 30k to the next stop. THROUGH ANOTHER VALLEY!!!!!

This one didn’t feel as torturous as the last, I was still on my own, but I could see riders ahead, in the distance, but they were there. In the same Hell as me! I eventually came into Tawonga South and found a little Milk Bar and grabbed my first Ice Cold drink of the day. A cold Coke! What a reward. I pulled into the Mount Beauty rest stop at 5 p.m., 10 hours after I started the descent from Falls. This stop was closing in 30 minutes, so I knew I had to keep it short and that the final rider on the course, the Lanterne Rouge, would be coming through soon. I topped up the water, and with the realisation that I had 3 hours of riding 30k uphill, I set off, breaking through the 200k mark as I started the long climb ahead. It was 5.08 p.m. and I need to be finished by 8.15. It was going to be close, but I figured an average of 10kph was achievable. I managed to ride between 1.5 and 2.5 kilometres at any given time and then stop to stretch out the cramps. At 10kph, every 100m seems to take a lifetime. After about an 1:20 I had made it to Bogong Village, half way up, only 15k to go. I had managed to average a little higher than I required so after refilling the bottles one last time, I set off with about an hour and 45 minutes to get across the line. I felt that I was so close now, I surely was going to get there, but with every cramp came another minute or so of stretching. It was saddening to see the poor souls on the side of the road at this point, completely spent, bikes upside down in resignation to the fact they were not going to finish. The fear of feeling like these poor buggers kept me moving forward, knowing very well that the Lanterne Rouge was not far behind me. With darkness all around and about 3 k to go, I got my first glimpse of the Falls Creek village. It was at this point I came to the realisation that I was going to make it. I was still having to stop and stretch and even walk, but I knew I had the time, just. As I moved into the village, I could see the finish, but something was not right, the course continued uphill past the finish, what the hell was going on! It must have been to get the last 200 meters of the 230k or something, but I had to ride uphill past the finish, but as I did my U-turn to head downhill for the last 100m, I let out a yelp of excitement, I was about to finish. And so I did, across the line in a little over 13 hours, but ahead of the Lanterne Rouge, who came in 10 minutes behind.

My Finisher's Jersey

My Finisher’s Jersey

I knew this was going to be a great test, that’s why I did it! But I had no idea it would be as mentally gruelling as it was. Will I do it again? Absolutely! Why? It was immensely rewarding. At the end of the day it’s a bike ride (sure a long and torturous one), something I did for the satisfaction of seeing whether or not I could. And it turns out, that even in some pretty difficult conditions I was capable, just. The finisher’s jersey though, just says “2013 Finisher”.

Pre 3 Peaks Stats                                                          Post 3 Peaks Stats

Longest Ride: 150k                                                      Longest Ride: 230k
Longest Ride Time: 6 hours                                      Longest Ride Time: 13 hours
Most Meters Climbed in a day: 2600m                  Most Meters Climbed in a day: 4000m
Biggest Climb: 420m, 10.2k @ an avg of 4.1%      Biggest Climb: 1260m, 31k @ an avg 4.0%

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