Last weekend the inaugural Halloween Dusk 2 Dawn Trail Run was held in Port Macquarie, NSW. With distances of 7km, half marathon, marathon and a 12 hour event across the night, there certainly was something for everyone. One of our runners Linda Holgate, recaps her experience with what turned out to be a fun event!
When you arrive at a running event only to have the emergency bush fire helicopter above your head with its’ sirens on, its’ bucket full of water and you can see the new smoke close to you, you can either run away or trust the event organisers! Thankfully I knew that Kerry Williams (Race Director) and her team had been in contact with the Rural Fire Service leading up to the event and in our run briefing it was discussed what would happen in the event if the fire jumped the river and moved closer to us (not something you want your family to stress out about), so we stayed!
After the initial shock of potential bush fires, what I noticed straight away was what fun this event was going to be! Camping is available for free at the start/finish line and there are toilets and a change room with showers for all to use. Plus, being held on the last weekend of October there was a Halloween theme, so there were plenty of cool decorations about and a few people dressed up.
On our arrival, my lovely friend Clare and I set up the swag. Clare had came along to be my support crew/cheer squad/to drive me home and to see me achieve my goal of the longest distance I had ever run and my first ever night run (I had chosen the 12 hour event starting at 6pm and running through the night until 6am).
I had 3 goals for this race –
At 6pm both the 7km and the 12 hour events started. This was the inaugural event and across all the distances there were about 40 runners. The course was approximately a 7.3km loop made up of a majority of winding single mountain bike trails with many loose sticks, roots and boardwalk, with only one hill and a total of under 50 metres elevation per loop.
I knew my first loop would be the only loop in full daylight giving me a chance to examine the track, which was great as I had no idea what it would be like in the night time, plus the first 6 hours would be run in one direction and at midnight we would change direction. I didn’t have any idea how the direction change would play with my mind and make me take a few wrong turns later on in the night.
At the completion of each lap you had to get your bib hole-punched with a different shape each time, have your name and number marked off and you also received some welcome friendly banter and encouragement for your achievement which helped keep you going. At this point, I would also peruse the abundance of food and drink options, make my selections and then be sent on my way back out.
Here’s my lap-by-lap run down of how the event panned out for me…
Lap 1 – I noticed the fantastic effort that had gone into course decorations.
Lap 2 – The dark. I don’t think I realised how dark the bush could be. I struggled with my head torch as my lighting, thinking there was no way it was bright enough and this turned out to be my slowest lap. With the help from the event organisers I was able to get not one, but two bright lights to get me back out there for the next lap – thank you so much!
Lap 3 – Going great guns and ticking off the kilometres, I decided to text Clare with a list of requests upon my arrival – a cup of tea, wet face washer, change of shirt – this would be the first of many times I changed my wet shirt. A special shout out to the tent near the lap entry/exit to the bush for their outstanding entertainment and cheering, but we need to have chat about how you stopped at 1:30am and went to bed – all nighter means all nighter – ha ha!!
Lap 4 – Let me just tell you that it was bloody hot and humid out there on course and I did mention that to everyone every time I finished a lap and saw Clare rugged up as it was cold at the race HQ. I would say this was the hardest lap as I was feeling sick and had a couple of little vomits out on course. You would think with the distance and amount of runners I would have seen many people out there but we were very spread out. Upon arriving back to race HQ I mentioned that I’d been sick to race organisers and Clare came up with a great solution, fixed me up and sent me on my way.
Next up was my turn to run in the opposite direction and we discussed me doing one more lap alone and then having company for the remaining laps. This made me feel grateful that Clare and Kerry we’re going to give up their sleeping/resting time to see me reach my goal and use the tough words if need be to keep me going (which didn’t need to be used at all). Early on in the evening, we found rhythm in knowing that each lap would take me about 1 hour 30 minutes, so that way Clare was ready when I came in after each lap to see if I needed anything.
Lap 5 – Even though the race organisers had gone out and changed things around for us in the new direction, with the change came confusion and I had a few wanders off in the wrong direction. Luckily, I quickly realised what I had done, so turning around I made my way on the correct path and got back to HQ safely.
Lap 6 – Kerry decided to join me, to check I was on the right track and so I wouldn’t make any wrong turns again. We had a great chit-chat, talked about many a thing and had a joyful saunter to return and collect Clare for the next lap – she had set her watch for an hour nap to rest up before heading out with me.
Lap 7 – Before heading back out Kerry searched for Clare, discovered her sleeping soundly through her alarm, gave her the words to get up and get out there for the 4am last lap with me. Clare had on a jumper and jacket which she was quickly told to take off as she wouldn’t need them out there in the bush ‘sauna’, get her mandatory gear and get me out there to finish it off.
Not only did Clare join in to see me complete the last lap, Kerry decided she too was coming to join in the fun – if that’s what you want to call it! It’s fair to say that for the first half of the lap Clare was still asleep – haha – and she soon discovered how hot it was out there running in her full length tights. As my watch ticked over 50km we did a happy dance and got the race finished.
As I’m writing this, I’ve now been awake for 36 hours and I’m almost home. I am hoping my legs will stop wanting to move and that I can get a solid 12 hours sleep tonight, plus I need to eat ALL the food!
As I sign off I’d like to thank Rachel my Coach who always has the tough words to say when I need to hear them, believed in and encouraged me to give this event a crack. Thank you to my family and friends for the roles you have played in helping me achieve my goal. Well done Kerry, Suzanne and team on an inaugural event. I would encourage anyone to look into regional events as they are terrific and a great get away for the whole family or just some friends to take part in an event – the cheaper price is always a great bonus too!
The Halloween Dusk 2 Dawn Trail Run will return in 2020, and I think there will be lots of TeamRR keen to head to this one.
More info can be found here – https://www.facebook.com/events/456512214976965/