"The goal is to become the unique, awesome, never to be repeated human being that we were called to be." -Patricia Deegan

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bibbulmun Track Fastest Known Time: 15 days 9 hours 48 minutes

Type 1.5 fun Squared.

That's the best I can give it. 1.5 squared = Type 2.25 fun
My statistics reveal a total of 1,007 kms logged (Garmins tend to record slightly long), 18,900 metres of elevation gain, 19,100 metres of loss, and 213.75 hours of actual travelling time.

The stories from this record attempt have yet to end - we are both still having nightmares, my foot looks like an elephant's, and the car is still in Albany under repair. Yes, I think there will be a bit of a documentary made!

Here's a brief synopsis:

Day 1-2: Running 202 kms with 4,600 mtrs of elevation gain in unseasonably hot weather. Stopping at 30 minute intervals to soak my hat and shirt. Headlamp going out at 10.30 PM atop the summit of Mt Vincent. Ticks that were not deterred by DEET. Running with one or other eye closed, as there were invariably at least 10 flies stuck to my face (and corners of my eyes) at once.

Day 3: Pacer's dad ringing pacer to warn of torrential rain at Collie. That's okay, we're not going as far south as Collie today. Apparently torrential rain goes where it likes. Afternoon and evening spent in rain. Cured the fly problem. Tick bite reactions and numbing, stabbing pain in bottoms of feet allowed me 1 hr sleep that night.

Day 4: The running zombie after 10 hrs sleep in 4 days. Included a 45k solo stretch singing children's songs to keep myself awake and moving in rhythm. Saw no one, which was probably a good thing.

Day 5-6: Mates come out to pace with me around Collie/Balingup area. Left foot flares up badly, barely able to walk. Switch to sandals to try to deal with swelling and offer a gait change to legs. Pacers leave at end of weekend, looking like sad puppy dogs - their faces give away the sense of demise for the record attempt.

Day 7: Reach halfway point according to Bibbulmun Foundation - Donnelly River Village. Have small meltdown at having made it this far. Sun gives way to torrential rain again, which continues all night.

Day 8: Very hilly day. Right VMO now toast, as it is doing extra duty on the descents that the left shin cannot manage. Still powering uphills. A shot of frustrated anger at my slow pace in the late afternoon sees me power through a few hours, only to have shin flare up again at dark.

Day 9: Frustration that the track towns are often the hardest to negotiate through, due to a lack of waugals (markers) - this starts with negotiating Pemberton first thing (no locals on the street had any idea where the Bib track went, other than vague references toward the Gloucester Tree). Day ends with me navigating through Northcliffe, running around a picnic area, searching vainly for waugals. South of town, the track puts you into the ditch along the road, to stumble through overgrown, foot-grabbing weeds for 3 kms.

Day 10: Begin "seasonally inundated" section. Sitting on the ground in the late arvo, forcing myself to eat a Snickers bar. All food has become disgusting and must be negotiated down the gullet purely for the energy benefits. Staring at my shin and ankle, wondering if it's a stress fracture. Two kms ahead, find my second, larger pack hanging on a post. Note from Rolf, "Car and trailer bogged 2 kms back. Gone for help." I have my sleeping bag now and will camp at Mt Chance shelter without a mattress pad (read: 2 hrs sleep).

Day 11: Try various taping techniques on foot. More bogs. Wading with tadpoles over 500 mtr sections in knee deep water. Foot/ankle/shin pain disappears in the afternoon/evening and I wonder if I have solved the problem.

Day 12: Intermittent rain is enough to keep things annoying - jacket on/jacket off. Humid whenever the sun comes out. Shin gives out mid afternoon at nearly the exact moment that our jeep's starter motor gives out. Rolf left parking on hills in order to bump start vehicle. Drove into Denmark 40 mins away for the night, to recuperate in a motel and search vainly for mechanic and starter motor on a weekend in rural WA.

Day 13: Rose at 4.15 AM as usual. Got ready, but a test walk around car park quickly revealed a very angry shin. Day spent in Denmark and Albany hospitals for xrays and scans. Parking on hills. No stress fracture. Compartment syndrome. I need a break, but with "only" 175 k to go, I can try with anti-inflams. No long term damage expected if I choose to continue, so I make the call to try. Walk 11k that evening.

Day 14: Decent day, but make the call to stop just before summitting Mt. Hallowell, as I know it's a bouldery, technical climb that will be just that much slower in the dark when fatigued.

Day 15: Attempt to make final push to Albany. Nearly 100k, but Rolf and I willing and determined to take all night if need be. Frustratingly, I miss a hut in the morning and lose a few hours backtracking, as it is a hilly area. Shin suddenly blows up just before Shelley's Beach Rd. Cannot move at all for several minutes. Dusk, a chill sets in, space blanket comes out. Takes nearly 3 hrs to travel 5k off the hill.

Day 16: Coincidentally, a marathon in distance to get to the Southern Terminus. Able to jog in the arvo, but pay for it with shin flaring up in last km. In town, but unable to move, we pull out the chair and ice my shin, whilst media ring Rolf to ask where I am. Last km takes over 50 minutes.


  1. Congratulations Bernadette on the Fastest Known Time - an awesome achievement and an inspiration to all of us. Have not forgotten one of the reasons you did this - to support Inclusion WA - have donated via your link.

  2. Fantastic effort. Was great to be able to catch up at the start of your journey. Although I might have been able to keep up better later in the piece! Rest and recuperate and bask in your success.

  3. Congratulations Bernadette, what amazing persistence, endurance and willpower you drew on and you never gave up despite your injuries and obstacles that you faced. You are inspirational to all of us runners. Thank you for sharing your journey. I hope you are recovering well.

  4. Congratulations Bernadette and Rolf what an amazing epic journey and a world record too! Inspirational! We enjoyed following your journey, your strugglewith adversity and eventually your win over it all. May many people out their be included due to your efforts. Hope you can enjoy the memories and take the best insights and strengths from this truly pioneering,epic, and incredible achievement! Like the early explorers you have conquered and dealt with many many obstacles for weeks and triumphed with a new record. Thanks for sharing the experience with us all. We salute your efforts!!!!!!!