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Warning concepts portrayed in this story may not be comprehensible to some readers.

"Running through paradise, hurting like hell and having the time of my life". Is how I would describe the TNF 100 in the Blue Mountains.

But let's start at the beginning. We, that is my wife, my two kids (9 and 11) and I arrived in Katoomba on Friday morning from Brisbane. We stayed in a cabin at the Katoomba Falls caravan park, which is perfectly located right beside check point 4.

To loosen up, I did a couple of short walks with the family, before we registered for the race at the Fairmont Resort.

The combination of the race anticipation and the spectacular country that we would run through had me chomping at the bit. I opted for a large spaghetti dinner with my awesome support crew, rather than the carb loading at the resort.

On race day I had a double portion of oats for breakfast and we headed off to the start. The race briefing was good, especially the "Welcome to Country" from the local aborigine.

I planned to start from the back and let the main crowd race off and try to settle into my steady rhythm (although all I felt like doing is run). This seemed to work well until we hit the first single track and there was a bit of a wait. This is how it was going to be for quite some time. Every time we hit some steps we would all stop. I couldn't settle into a good pace and started to get a bit frustrated. If I would have known what laid ahead, I wouldn't have worried and just relaxed.

By the time I got to checkpoint one I was about 20 minutes behind my anticipated time and I had my first taste of the thousands of steps to come. I now realised that my training was way off the mark and I was well under trained. Ah well, the mind would just have to take over to get me there. Because I am doing this as part of the Queensland Cancer Council Cancer Free Challenge (in memory of a friend that passed away due to cancer) and I was sponsored by a lot of people I was determined to finish this race even if I had to crawl (I didn't realise then how close to that I would come).

The checkpoints throughout the whole event were perfect, with lots of food, drinks and superb volunteers. I drank about 4 cups of Endura, grabbed two large muesli cookies and was off again, eating on the way.

The scenery was just awesome and running through it was uplifting, I literally felt like being in a higher place.

I got to the ladder, which was a perfect set up and I only had to wait for three minutes (perfect time to eat some more). I started to feel the constant incline and decline but was still going strong by the time I got to check point two. I had some more Endura, wolfed down a coffee and grabbed a gel and muesli cookie. I once again was about 20 minutes slower than anticipated.

In hindsight I think this is where I started my biggest mistake of not forcing enough food down.
At about 40 km I the cramps began and used my Cramp Stop spray for the first time, which worked wonders (to start off with anyway).

By now I was well aware that I under estimated the course that is referred to as the hardest 100 km trail run in the world.

In a matter of 30 minutes I managed to get three rocks (on separate occasions) in my shoes. It was getting extremely difficult to clean out my shoes due to cramps and the Cramp Stop was starting to lose its effect.

With my rock problems behind me, I settled into a nice pace and got to check point three, where my support crew took care of me. The kids had made up banners and all three fussed about me. It was a real moral booster. I ate some chips (for the salt), coffee (for my addiction), lots of Endura, a banana and a fruit bun. But in hindsight not enough.

By now it was well and truly dark and I was gaining some speed towards check point four, where I knew my super crew was waiting.

At check point four I plonked down in my chair and started munching away on some pasta (provided by my totally cool wife). I tried to drink as much Endura as possible, but my stomach didn't want anything. My super kids kept me warm with blankets and wiped my face down with a cold face washer. Life came back into the old bones and I was ready to move on as soon as I would change my wet shirt and jumper. As I took off my gear I went into convulsions (probably a combination between exhaustion and the cold). I managed to get my dry cloths on and only my teeth were left chattering. I was still in good spirit as I knew that my sub 20 hour goal was still achievable.

A little further I was wondering why my sunglasses were fogging up, only to remember that it was, first of all night time and secondly, I didn't were sunglasses during the whole event. I was glad that this was sorted out, and had to smile because the guy yelling at the hill was not the only one going bonkers.

After 18 hours and 42 minutes the feeling of achievement was overwhelming and although I was nearly broken, I never felt better in my life than crossing that finish line.

My family managed to get me back into the warmth of the resort, where I nearly was sick again but after a little while I managed to eat a couple of sausages.

I consider this run (stumble) one of the greatest events. All the competitors were the most supportive and sportsman like that is rare now days. The best example is of the two winners and the group of last people crossing the finish line together. There were no losers that day, only winners. Even the people that had to pull out had the guts to attempt something special.

The organisers and volunteers are just amazing. Thank you to all the sponsors as well, as they make events like this possible.

But most of all I want to say thanks to my family that supported me through all the months of training and at the event. Your concerned looks about me made me realise how much we mean to each other.
I believe that the support crews are the unsung heroes of these events, they never have the satisfaction of finishing, they have to put up with us sweaty, smelly and somewhat incoherent competitors and they always smile and encourage us. So have a drink on all the support crews and as ACDC would say “We salute you!”.

Overall the TNF 100 gave me a sense of achievement that I haven't felt in a long time and has left me a changed person. It has opened up my mind to things that were always there but I never saw. Things in life that I considered problems suddenly seem trivial.
For anyone who ever thought about it. Just do it!!!

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