Trail Running the Great North Walk; Newcastle to Sydney ~250Kms
Day 0 - Newcastle to Wakefield ~35K
The Great North Walk is a 250Km walking track which runs from Sydney to Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. My wife and I’s current house in Macquarie Park literally backs onto the Lane Cove National Park which the GNW (Great North Walk) passes through.
I have walked and run many sections of this great trail and owed it the respect it deserves to traverse the whole thing. With some inspiration from The Backyard Adventurer and no plans for the June long weekend, I decided it was finally time to attempt it – in just 3 days (+ an afternoon).
I went up to Newcastle very early Friday Morning to work from and old mate (Rolly’s) house before setting on a sneaky ~35K ‘warm up’ run.
Day 1 - Wakefield to Cedar Brush Creek ~75K
This was a real tough day. Trail markings went missing when I needed them most, elevation was double what I had expected, only 11 hours of light. But that’s what adventure is – overcoming the unexpected. Originally I had planned for Yarramalong but decided to pack it it 10K’s early and tidy those up the next morning after a solid dinner with the Wife at Angel Sussurri’s.
Day 2 - Cedar Brush Creek to Patonga ~80K
A frosty morning made it difficult to start but I started with a bang – finishing off the previous night’s leftovers I ran back to town at ~5:30min/km pace and felt awesome. Tucked into some breakfast and set off again.
There were some tough trails between Yarramalong and Summersby but it was nice, away from cars and I was lost with the spirit of adventure. Met up with Kelli for some a quick look in at the Harvest Festival events in town but had to quickly jet off as I knew I had a big day ahead.
Landed in Mooney Mooney bridge where my number 1 was going to bring me lunch…. but she wasn’t there. Turned out the 5am morning starts were a bit much and she needed a much needed nap… oh well, onwards! I saw a snake, got a horrible bleeding nose but soldiered on until kilometre 63 where my knee decided to breakdown. I marched on and took some nurofen to finish off the day but knew the final day of adventure would have to be postponed with my knew unable to carry me. “True strength is knowing when to call it” – The Fish.
Day 3 - Brooklyn to Sydney ~80K
Exactly 1 week later, a deep tissue massage and a rare visit to the physio – I had mentally told myself that I was ready to take on the final segment: Brooklyn to Sydney Cove. The Sign said 77kms but we all know how they lie. I knew it was going to be a tough day out so I set off on the very first train to Hawkesbury River station on the 5:20am from Epping and arrived to start just before 6am, then disaster struck.
On the train I realised I had forgotten my carefully prepared breakfast and coffee! I ate through most of my snacks before even starting but knowing that I could get a replenishment it would be okay. I also made an emergency pit stop at the local Cafe in Cowan to grab a quick bite and a brew and I was back on track.
I had to mentally push myself after leaving Cowan with some small niggles in the same knee that gave out the week before, telling myself it would be okay and keeping my mind on the job at hand helped get me through. As well as Joe Abercrombe’s book – The Blade Itself. I made good progress and sped up just as I was arriving in Thornleigh to meet Kelli who had already ordered a giant dish of sweet and sour pork. Fuel of champions.
I set off on my most local trails for which I’m probably the local legend on 50% or more of them and met up with my good mate Leighlan who had agreed to pace me the final 20Ks – legend. It really started to hit home as we were running past the Woolwich pub that I’d just (about) finished a 270K run from Newcastle to Sydney, nothing could stop me now! We smashed through the final few kms, finishing just before full darkness – arriving at Woolwich Ferry Wharf at around 6pm. A ferry ride into Circular Quay to meet Kelli and the final destination!
|Ascent Metres (m)