Vic Super Murray Marathon, 2010

 

by John Hilton
© 2010 John Hilton
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2010 was a dry year. A record dry year. There was next to no run-off into Perth's water reservoirs. The Avon Descent was significantly lower than the lowest on record. I was certainly ready to go in search of whitewater. The Wildwater Nationals were to be on the Nymboida River, northern NSW. The dates were vague- initially October but later confirmed for the first of the new year. I made it clear to the relevant people that I was interested in going. The Slalom juniors from Ascot will take a trailer or a container and I can fly. Darryl and Dave Worthy are likely to go but driving across- not my preference.

At the Bay-to-beach race, late November, Darryl said that he was keen to do the Murray River Marathon on the way to Nymboida. Only two issues stood in the way: driving to Victoria for registration n the 26th and getting to Nymboida for the second of Jan after finishing the Murray on the 31st, a drive of 14 hours. Entry deadline was extended to 7 December, just over a week. I nodded sympathetically and promptly hoped he would realise the folly and forget the idea.

I next spoke to Darryl on Tuesday morning, 7th. Not only had he not forgotten but now he was definite- Nymboida had lower water outflows than previously and would be less challenging. He had never done the Murray and was set on this event. We had to enter immediately. We had no travel plans and no accommodation and no support crews. We would have to fly out on christmas night, red-eye to Melbourne and drive to Yarrawonga. So I said "okay", didn't I?

This race has been around for 40 years. I have been aware of it and that in the past, a number of Waussies have done it, including Pepper, Leo and others on Robyn Khorshid's website. It was run by the Red Cross and required a degree of fundraising in order to enter. It never seemed to loom as a must-do for the serious marathon racing types. The running is now taken over by the YMCA. What is remarkable is the distance: 404km over 5 days. That is the equivalent to three full Avon Descents, each of which would take two days in our way of doing things. That really is a LONG way. We had less than three weeks to prepare, nothing like the preparation we would normally do for the Avon. It was a busy time, pre-christmas and available time was limited. I would get three longer paddles in- 26km to Nicholson Rd @ over 2 hours. This would help me find out if my seat would be okay after several hours in the boat and be my only chance to "toughen up" to paddling multi-hour sessions. I kept my usual program over the other days of the weeks, with sprints, intervals etc.

I decided to take my fastest boat, the skinny Viper sprint/marathon boat. Although I'd never paddled it for more than 2 hours in a race, although it had a hard flat "sprint" seat, although there were likely to be an unknown amount of river flow and eddies that would threaten to tip me out as I got tired, It is still the fastest boat in a straight line and would get me to the end "sooner" if I could manage. All-or-nothing. It would still have to be easier than the ski area at Deepwater Point on the Canning. I would resent pushing my Avon boat, the Arrow, for that distance.

There were still some significant details to sort out. We needed a support crew. Jane would be busy with the new puppy and Rosalie was holidaying elsewhere. I put out a wide call for help and promptly got a reply from Liz in Griffith, NSW. Her son Adrian would be free in the week between christmas and NYE. I could offer food, the possibility of whatever social life followed the race and little else. With all the uncertainty, he accepted happily. We had a support crew. There would be no accommodation in the towns along the way. I tried to find a campervan to hire. There was literally nothing available over that period. Peak going-away season. Default was camping in a tent. I really didn't want to do tent. We could fly the boats to Melbourne for a moderate amount but would need to get a hire car with the ability to fit roof racks. With a week to go, we found out that John Breed, at the Club, was going and that he was driving over. He accepted the offer to take our two boats as well. John's wife Helen would fly over on Boxing Day and she would drive home with him after the event.

Everything was now in place. Only needed to make a good list so that in packing up after christmas dinner I would not miss anything crucial. Lots of race drink powder, anti-inflammatories, fixomul for taping blisters, sun cream, repellent, several sets of paddling clothes, a stack of small "moster" energy drinks. Check on cover at work. The arrival of the puppy on the night of the 23rd added a dimension to the "pre".

Christmas day, Perth, 40 degrees. Airport for 10:20 flight. Maybe a couple of hours sleep on the flight and arrival Melbourne 6am, 14 degrees. Collect hire car and head north, hitting small country roads within 10 minutes of leaving Tullamarine. We break the 3 hour drive for a roadside stop breakfast. We both feel sleepy from the extended day/short night and are grateful to arrive at Yarrawonga. The first person we meet is John. He is at the boat ramp, preparing to have a paddle. We all change and have a 15 minute cruise in the river below the massive weir (dam) that marks the race start. Above the weir, a lake with water skiing that was dry on the GPS maps before the floods.

The east of Australia has been in drought for quite some years. Last year the flooding in central Queensland brought the first water down the Darling river, filling lakes and wetlands along the way. This year it is the repeated flooding, first in the mid north NSW then nearer to Canberra and then in Victoria, filling the catchments of the Murrumbidgee, Murray and the rivers south of the Murray. The Murray is in flood, in the midst of still dry conditions downstream. The river is full, some 3 metres higher than usual, and flowing strongly. This causes some logistical problems. The second day is cancelled because access roads are flooded. We will race each subsequent day's stage a day earlier and repeat day 5. Some checkpoints will be inaccessible to the support crews.

The first Camp-site (yes, we are tenting) is the lush green oval at the caravan Park. We have our boats scrutineered, a less formal process than at the Avon, and receive our competitor packs with bibs, ID cards and Numbers. The numbers have to be attached in number slots with "split pins" to prevent loss. We have to carry PFD's and we must wear hats and shoes. Darryl paddles barefoot and contrives to stow his crocs subtly as he enters the water each day. He buys an event hat, an orange legionnaire wrap-around that is SO not-Darryl. (It does, however, go rather nicely with the red-orange stripe on the boat)

There is a briefing at 6pm. Not much individual useful information, they seem to think most people have done it before. We get more useful information afterwards from talking to more experienced people. There is an auction for the boat numbers 1, 2, 3 and 2010. The highest is about $400, I think. We are also told to stay away from the corners because of submerged fallen trees and strong eddies. The checkpoints are usually shallow sandy beaches where people frolic while waiting for paddlers but are now steep/undercut banks with no bottom and swift currents.

Our Support Crew arrives- Adrian, delivered by family, having driven the 2 _ hours down from Griffith. They are checking out the flooded river and the flooded 'Bidgee also as they go. Adrian is living and working in Adelaide and clocking up travel miles on the holidays. We are so grateful of their help. The sun eventually goes down after 9pm (daylight saving) and the mossies move in. Time for early bed.

Day 1- Yarrawonga to Tocumwal; longest day
Looking forwards to a 94km paddle (not). There is a fresh westerly wind on the nose, to take the edge off any help the current will give us. Sun Cream, GPS, HR strap, some preventive finger taping. Make up drink solutions and bottles. Each 2l drink bladder has half a dozen scoops of Endura powder and a small concentrated Monster energy drink (145mg caffeine) We will do two stops. At each stop we throw out the empty drink bladder and the support throws the new one in. I have worked out the times to each point, guessing at a flow of 3-4km/hr and speeds through the water of 10-12km hour to give earliest and latest expectations. I expect Darryl to be 30-40 minutes faster over this distance and fill Adrian in on the checkpoint duties.

The competitors are sent off in grids, at 15 minute intervals over a couple of hours. Slowest first and the groupings are made up by a combination of boat type and age, like the handicap results are. The first grid is 0700, John departs at 0745 and we are at 0800 with a double touring kayak (TK2) and the rest of the over 40's. 10 minutes prior to the start there is a tedious one-at-a-time call up then we are allowed onto the water. The start is a gun. The grid seems so sparse compared to an Avon start.

Our gun goes off and we sprint away into the vicious headwind. Darryl takes off fast and I am a little behind him but the remainder of our grid is immediately well back. Darryl is looking over his shoulder at the sorry sight and beckons me on. I catch him and mount his wash and we set off as a pair, in synchronised timing. A couple of bends and the field behind is out of sight and the previous grid paddlers are already coming into view. We pick off a few individuals, paddling like Sunday afternoon tourists, and then we pass whole packs, still in grid groupings.

Darryl and I take turns to lead. We are doing 13.5km/hour, even in the wind. The current must be strong. I am cruising fairly well and showing confident strokes in the windy and swirly water. I know, however, that Darryl is going easy to keep the partnership. Having no idea where or what our competition is, he is content to pace himself with me for now. It helps push me along but makes me work harder. I am happy to have the chance to work with a good paddler over a distance that is soon 10, then 20 km. Darryl calls out each km, from "one" onwards. He is also meticulous about the water flow and reads our speed off the GPS and when it falls under 13 we have to head across to where the strongest flow is. This entails hitting the bank of the inside of the next corner with about a quarter distance before the point, riding the jet of water off the point and getting back out to the middle, away from the backwards eddy on the inside after the point. This puts us at odds with the rest of the paddlers who cruise down the middle of the river, avoiding points and sweeping around the outsides of the bends.

My hat is a problem. It tries to lift off in the gusty headwind. If I pull it down harder I lose some peripheral vision and subsequently my balance. After trying repeatedly to fix it, I pull it off and stow it between my legs. We arrive at checkpoint Alpha, 29km, together. It is a km further than expected, having been moved due to the water level. Adrian's first duty is complicated by having the two of us unexpectedly arriving together. The bank is steep and a rope tied to a tree helps him to lean out to refuel us. I had put my hat on a km before the checkpoint and pulled it off after the first corner after Alpha. We are going to skip Bravo and go straight to Charlie- 33km. Soon after Alpha we pass John, going okay in his wider but longer boat. At one point we pass someone who calls out "same time tomorrow?", referring to the fact that each day we will see the same people from the same grids at about the same time.

I comment after the day's stage that after a while every corner looks like every other corner. There is a bend about every 500m. Most have a submerged, fallen tree and we cut every corner as close as possible. Darryl has a trailing (flip up) rudder and I have a tiny underneath rudder. He has pedals to steer and I have a tiller between the feet. I can't turn as fast and risk wiping my rudder off on a submerged log. So far, nothing really bad, though. My bottom starts to hurt. The flat seat and my lack of padding means my left ischium bone is hurting. I start a cycle of pulling forwards to the front edge of the seat, pushing back to the back edge, wriggling, relaxing, tensing. I have hydrated well and soon the after effects begin. I use my newly installed pump to pump it out of the boat. It is still awkward, though. We keep up the 13's through the middle section.

We have cut some distance by cutting corners. Aplha was further than expected but Charlie comes up some 3km early. By Charlie I am actually keen to get out of the boat and restore circulation to my bottom. Darryl is happy with this. Luckily Charlie has water lapping up to a grassy verge after the Cobram bridge. So Adrian gets another surprise, we get out of our boats, for a moment. I exchange my soggy floppy hat for my requested Ascot cap. Brief relief for the bottom , new drink bottle and we head off on the final 26km, where Delta is not accessible to ground crews.

Somewhere late between Charlie and the finish I encourage Darryl to have a go alone- after 80km I am definitely slowing. He works slowly away and at some point I lose sight of him. I am counting down and inside the last 10km it seems that I will soon be there. All of a sudden the finish appears around a bend, much sooner than expected, inside 90km. Darryl has only had time to make a minute on me. We are second and third across the finish line and will turn out to be second and third fastest for the day.

Getting out of the boat, it is difficult to straighten up and I lie on the lawn for a while. It is also a bit cool. My hands are starting to blister already. This is going to be hard. We should stop now.

We wander off, get changed and eat some fish & chips. The flood has killed the F&C man- there are no beaches, the boat ramps are under water and the people are not coming to play in the river. After eating we wander back to the river. Helen is concerned that John hasn't come in yet..but hen he does.

The second campsite is the oval at Tocumwal. The toilet truck and the shower truck are there. The first aid and massage people have arrived. Massage is for a $5 donation and they do a good job. I get my low back loosened up. He finds a lot of tight spots on my upper bottom area. I have half a dozen blisters, in the regular places. We set up our tents then back into town for dinner- Carbonara for me and steaks for D&A. As the sun goes down at the oval, the mossies set in again. We fight them off with Aerogard. The second day jumps to what would have been the third, so it is an hour and a half drive, but the start will be later. Still, we have a 5am alarm so need some sleep.

Day 2- Picnic Point to Echuca. Barmah Lake
Have to get Adrian up and motivated. We made up our bottles the night before. On the drive to the start I get to tape up my fingers- plenty of Fixomul. The last bit of road is flooded slightly. The call up and the start are much like yesterday, except we are on 10-minute grids. Bananas, Powerade and then into the water. We take off strongly again, leaving our grid wallowing. The first section is green and closed in with willows and the campsites of the Picnic Point settlement. We are heading for the lake of Moira Lake (NSW) /Barmah Lake (Vic) which also is known as "the narrows" at usual water levels; the river coursing through the lake, complete with its banks. Today the river is spread out for 5km each side, engulfing a forest of tall timber with only a reasonable impression of where the actual river is.

It is an eerie sight, this watery forest with no banks, no understorey, no horizontal objects of any sort. It worries me, as there would be nothing to climb onto, should I fall out. Five km out, I find I'm sitting on the drink tube of my bottle. I can't pull it through because that would involve some sort of awkward and dangerous manoeuvre. I can only leave it until either I am past the lake and have riverbank again or at the next checkpoint. At 10km, just before the lake, Darryl leaves me to push on. Yesterday he lost 25km to the fastest paddler, a younger guy on a Molokai ski, starting half an hour later than us.

There is now a lot of debris in the river- algae/reeds/weed/wood. I am still passing people. I catch an outrigger canoe, six paddlers (OC6) It is zig-zagging idly and each attempt to overtake it is thwarted by a sudden veer, my having to go through an patch of algae or hitting a piece of floating wood or uncertainty on the wake it is putting out. As I draw alongside, the bridge at Barmah comes into view and the crowds of the support crews at the checkpoint. I enthusiastically pull in and jump up, to get the drink tube out from my bottom and take on a new drink bottle. 28Km and now I have a riverbank. This is Bravo. I didn't even see Alpha, must have been underwater.

I set off, sucking strongly on my drink. After a few corners I can hear the OC6 behind, with their grunts and chants. Since I had passed them, I expect the sounds to go away, but they gradually get closer and louder. Now it seems that they had a crew change and were really going for it. As I passed a small group of kayaks they went past me. I tried to make the best of the wash on their left (outrigger) side but it was hard and as they went in front I found it easier to slip back up the right side and sit onto their wake. They were now doing about 14k. It was quite an easy paddle to sit near their bow-wave. The only issue was their erratic zig-zag weaving. All of a sudden they zigged right and I was too close. My boat veered left on the wake and before I could reshuffle my feet on the tiller I was cruising into their side, knocking me over to the right. I had finally fallen in. I had to go through the business of swimming a submerged kayak, paddle and drink bag into the shore. At least there was a bank and even a little slope to get a footing on, empty out and climb back in. My sore bottom had had a nice rest and the break had freshened me up.

Back in and moving forward, I had to pass several boats for a second time- all those who cruised past while I was submerged. 31 from Bravo to Delta. Charlie was too awkward and unnecessary for Adrian to get to . He did, however, have his work cut out getting to Delta via Echuca and missed Darryl. As I approach Delta, the guy on the ski, Damian, passes me. He asks if the paddler ahead on the river is my mate. I reply with a wicked smile that Darryl left me at 10km; that he is off and pumping today. When I get to Delta I jump out and have to be pulled to the steep bank with Adrian on the other end of my paddle. I am really starting to feel the struggle now for the first time. My right arm is hurting. Only 20 to the finish but every one of those 20 will hurt. I haven't seen John today at all. The closer to Echuca we go, the more houseboats moored on the edges. Occupants sitting about, resting in the shade. I feel my blisters have progressed. Some have burst, some are bigger and some have offspring. Taking my hands off the paddle, like at a checkpoint, only makes me feel them worse when I grip the paddle anew.

Nearing Echuca there are new boats on the river- paddle steamers. The water is choppy and swirly as I pass under the bridge, going though the town and...cross the finish line. Darryl has finished some 32 minutes earlier. He was the first and is to be presented with a "leader" bib, bright yellow and making him a target for tomorrow. He was less than a minute slower than the fast moving Damian on the ski. Maybe, if he had made his last checkpoint top-up..? John came in at 35 minutes longer- I passed him when we were both at Bravo together without seeing him.

Echuca is a reasonably sized town. It has a very long main street and our next campsite is further out along this road. With the later start and a six hour day on the water it is already past mid afteroon. Another nice oval with a good sized clubhouse. We get into the routine of showers and massage before dinner. This time I get work done on the upper back and shoulders. I mention that my concern is my right arm, which has taken the brunt of the irregular balance strokes through the eddies. I had thought it was Tennis Elbow but there is also crepitus (creaking) in the tendons behind the elbow and the bicep is sore. Dinner at the chinese restaurant, set meal for three.

Day 3- Echuca to Torrumbarry. Hump Day
We get a more realistic alarm time, 6am.
Shortest day today: 60 km. Regular start time, 8am. Lots of taping this time with layers of elastoplast and fixomul. I have about 10 blisters on the left, 8 on the right and a couple on the backs of my left foot toes. My right arm is suspiciously sore still and my bottom is sensitive to sit on. I have packed the seat up with strategic layers of bubble wrap in an effort to spread the pressure away from the bones of my bottom, which I can barely sit on now.

The start is at yesterday's finish. 8am start. Setting out from the shore I am disappointed that my right arm is immediately sore still. I won't be any use to Darryl. We set off and the double and a single on our grid make a big effort to take off with us. This doesn't last long and we leave them behind again. What else doesn't last long was my staying with Darryl. After only about 4km he gives me the call, I do a lead for a couple of km then he is off. My last glimpse of him is on a long stretch about 13km into the race, his yellow Leader bib standing out in the distance before disappearing aroud a bend. The grids seem to be spreading out more today; I pass paddlers in their ones and twos. I am paddling slower today but the speed still registers over 13 a lot of the time on the GPS. The river has a few bends but thankfully some long straight stretches where there are fewer eddies. Back into the rhythm of counting off kms. We are doing a one-stopper: about 30km each way. The Alpha checkpoint slips past early. Bravo comes up at 37km and little more than 2 hours and the support stop is a little beach around a sharp corner. Adrian is knee deep in the water here and hands over the drink bag and I mutter something about not doing so well.

I haven't seen John today again. I hope he isn't in front of me still. There are some really big eddies as he river is obviously now carrying a large volume of water. A couple of times I am pushed sideways in the eddies around corners. A couple of times I have anxious saves. There are fewer corners to cut but still a few opportunities to go inside fallen trees. Apparently the team managers are still telling their paddlers to stay well away from the corners.

On the second half of the day, I anxiously wait to see the 10km from Bravo go past and get stuck into the last 20km. At 16 to go I cruise past Delta where Adrian is standing, waving, standing in the water again. Then 15, 14, 12, 12.5...and so on. I look forwards to 8, 5, 3. One lone ski passes me but now I can really feel the finish. Last bend and there it is, into a headwind near some houseboats.

My hands are a mess, my arm is painful to lift. I have a bit of water in the boat because I couldn't be bothered trying to pump. John wash-rode two double kayaks the whole day and was in front of me at the finish, only 10 minutes slower overall for the day. Darryl is 28 minutes faster.

It is only 1pm, we have done hump day in 4 - 4 1/2 hours. It is warm, the sun bites and the camping ground is still and sunny when we get there. The massage is painful. He works on my sore right arm only. It is good (really painful in the right sore spots) and loosens up my arm for tomorrow. Let's hope.

We spend a second night at Echuca. Lots of pies at the bakery and later, Indian restaurant for a banquet. The afternoon is long in the daylight savings heat. The mozzies descend as the sun does and early bed is the only option.

 

Day 4- Murrabit to Swan Hill. Day of pain
Day 4 is the final leg, to be repeated tomorrow on day 5, finishing in swan hill. Another long drive, 1 _ hours to Murrabit. Another 5am alarm. My arm wakes, stiff and sore. On the drive I do the massage thing, pressing firmly on the hard bits then rubbing towards the body. The hand taping is extensive and elaborate. There is little skin not taped now. We arrive in good time and I massage a bit more, then go and pad the seat a bit more, then check the bottles. 75Km and two stops, we will do a long (30) then two shorts (24, 20)

For the start we assemble near the shore then push out into the river for the line up and start. My arm is good. We set off at 14's. I take my share of leads and feel okay. My seat is good. At 12km Darryl cuts a corner but I get the second-best line between two stumps and cop a weedy branch over the deck. By the time I am moving he is looking over his shoulder for me. I get back into it and lead around the next two corners but I have already felt a twinge in the right arm. I head for the next point but Darryl veers across to the bank. I decide he must have a problem and is looking for solid bank to make a repair. I keep going, around the bend and back down the next straight. What I see, though, is Darryl, some 600m in front, coming out of the trees and disappearing around the NEXT bend. As I round this bend, he slips off through another stand of trees and subsequently appears 800m in front at the next section, almost right in front of Alpha checkpoint. A small laugh to myself, the realisation that my am is starting to hurt and I prepare for the rest of the day in the saddle.

By Bravo the pain is real. Drink exchange. Count down to Charlie. I watch the GPS too closely. 42, 42.4, 42.6, 42.8. I try to distract myself- Can I manage another wee in the boat? Maybe. Can I pass that boat before the next corner? Yes. Can I NOT look at the GPS for 3km? Maybe not. Bravo to Charlie is 24km. 4, plus 10, plus only another 10. I am cutting the tips off corners. Sometimes just for fun. I have a few incidents as I do it, because I am not controlling the boat very well. Several times I hit overhanging branches and spider web infested bits break off, landing on my head or in the boat. I once run aground on a submerged log and I look around to see an enormous crayfish sitting on my log. His body is as big as a large boot. Once I catch a twig that flips my cap off and I have to circle slowly around to pick it up. My right bicep is now knotted up and spasming. Charlie appears and I give Adrian an idea about my progress. He asks whether I should go on, but it is only 20 to the finish now and I tell him that if I keep telling myself that I hate Darryl, it will be okay.

That last 20km. The day's heat has now kicked in. The headwind is gusting down the river. I manage to get my arm straight and paddle from the shoulders (like I should) and I think the arm will leave me alone. 20 becomes 15, then 10. I make myself catch another boat before I check the GPS again. This gets me another 2km, so I do it again. 6km. One paddler comments that I am "going like a train". It certainly doesn't feel like it.

5, 4, 3, 2. I hear the PA of the finish line. Maybe around the next bend...no. Maybe the next...no. Maybe...yes, around the island and there is the Swan Hill finish. I drift to the bank, climb out, stumble to a shady tree and sink to my knees and curl up into a ball. This feels better. I am really stuffed this time. Everything hurts but what is this? The biceps of my right arm are red, hard and swollen to twice normal size. I am really in trouble.

We depart Swan Hill after some noodles/pizzas and I buy a big bag of ice and diligently cradle my swollen arm onto it. We head for the new temporary camp at Murrabit, a remote sporting oval. There is a small group of campers here but it is close to tomorrow's start. No massage; that is back at Cohuna. No results. The facilities are those of the sporting club. Carpets of mosquito bodies lay on the pavements and the floors of the showers. The locals have sprung into action, however, and there is a big meal for a magical couple of hundred who appear for the dinner. The clubhouse hall, with its ceiling fans, seems to be the only respite from the insects and the fast building heat. 38 today, tomorrow is forecast 42 and strong northerlies. I am not sure how I am going to get to the start tomorrow if the arm doesn't go down. Tomorrow is a repeat of today, only with harsher conditions.

As we sit in the pleasant surrounds we look up the day's results on the net, using Darryl's HTC phone for a wireless hotspot. The first thing we read on the Murray Marathon website doesn't seem to make sense. Friday is a Non Paddling Day. The Race isn't cancelled but results will be taken from the end of day 4.

Check the date: 30 December 2010. Read it again ­ Non-paddling day. Friday. Tomorrow. No paddling. Ever. Extreme fire danger...safety of ground crew..meeting at 10am Swan Hill.
I can't believe it. Saved. Thankyou thankyou thankyou. I don't have to destroy my arm completely. Beer. Bring beer. The bar is open and we have a couple of beers each before being thrown out of the hall and retire into our tents.

Day 5- non-paddling day
Sleep-in. Drive to Swan hill and breakfast. Listen to the sad exhortations and heartfelts from the organisers, who didn't want to cancel it but had safety first in mind. We go for a swim in the cool waters of the Murray as 40+ winds blew about. We pack the boats on John's acr and he and Helen set off for Perth. More lunch. Set up tents in the sparsest little camp ground of the week then head to the Pioneer Village for 6pm presentations.

Darryl is second fastest by a margin of 45 minutes and he is third on handicap behind a 60yo and a 50yo. I am sixth fastest and seventh on handicap. John is 14th. We have done rather well, really.

After staying up for the New Years Eve fireworks at 8:30, we are in bed by 9 for a 5am alarm. We drop Adrian in town in the morning, to be collected later by his family and make Melbourne by 10:20 for a 12:30 flight home. It is hot. It is hot in Perth when we arrive.

Would I do it again? Maybe not. There isn't the competitive challenge of an Avon, or even the fun of the rapids/ti-trees, or the numbers of people on the river. The atmosphere of this event has faded somewhat.

I should have trained up for a couple of months before but that is impossible with the late decision to enter. I am glad to have done it. Darryl was good to me and I was of some help to him. Adrian did a fabulous job, at short notice, to get into the swing of the whole thing and we appreciated the ability to collapse and be driven around.

It is done




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