What made me decide to tackle this adventure:
On February 3rd 2021 the news came that Delirious W.E.S.T 200 miler was being postponed due to Covid in WA. Irrational S.O.U.T.H another 200 miler I had entered in the previous year 2020 was cancelled due to Covid. Two 200 miler races entered, two cancelled, all that training! I was ill prepared the first time for this kind of disappointment and found myself refusing to run for 5 weeks and eating junk food to comfort myself. This time experience was on my side and it was words from my wise coach, Glen Smetherham, that sparked the idea of the Cape to Cape FKT on February 6th.
I had trouble deciding on the style of FKT I wanted to run, would I go supported, self-supported or unsupported?! I am fairly new to the sport of Ultra Running having been introduced to it in May 2019 as a finalist of Couch to 200 mile a competition run by Ultra Series WA (see here for more details https://www.facebook.com/Couch-to-200-Mile-2023231944648898). This would be my first time attempting something of this nature so I read and re-read all the previous reports and listened to Michelle Hoopers podcast on RMA to help me plan and make decisions. I had so much to learn from those that had completed this adventure before me. The FKT attempt day, the 11th of February, was looming.
Decision to go unsupported...
Final decision to go unsupported was made on the evening of February 8th. I then spent the next two days, whilst my girls were at school, heading out to the course water sources in Hamelin Bay, Conto's campground, Margaret River Mouth, Gracetown and Yallingup respectively. These sections of the course gave me a logical way to chunk the adventure and a way to calculate and prepare the nutrition needed. It also gave me a way to pack my running vest. All the nutrition for the section I was tackling would be at the front of my vest and everything for the latter sections in the back zipper section of the vest in labelled ziplock bags. I compiled my list of things I would need.
- 12L Nathan Vapor Howe Vest
- 5000 calories worth of nutrition (Tailwind, Powerade, lollies, gels and peanut butter slugs) placed into zip lock bags for each section.
- 1.6 L Bladder filled with water
- 2x Salomon Soft flasks filled with Tailwind/Powerade
- Snake Bandage
- Space Blanket
- 4x Bandaids
- Some pre-cut Fixomull
- 4x Panadol
- Eye drop Saline (I wear eye contacts)
- Squirrel Nut Butter (a little bit in snap lock bag)
- Sunscreen (a little bit in snap lock bag)
- 20 Aquatabs
- Spot Tracker
- Mobile Phone with GAIA App for Navigation and the Cape to Cape App
- Phone charging cord
- 2x Powerbanks
- Coros Apex Watch
- Watch cord
- Biolite Head torch
- Biolite cord
- Spare Kathmandu Head torch with new batteries in
- Sun Visor
- Injinj socks
- Spare pair of Injinji socks
- Ultimate Direction waterproof jacket
- Nike Dri Fit shirt
- 2XU bike shorts
- Treasure Gaiters
- Topo Athletic Mountain racer shoes
FKT attempt day arrived:
4:30am Thursday 11th of February I stood at the Cape to Cape sign in Cape Leeuwin head torch on ready to embark on the FKT adventure.
Cape Leeuwin to Hamelin Bay: In the first 10 kilometres I had gone through the webs of countless Golden Orb spiders, seen a feral cat and almost trod on a Tiger snake. I also had kicked many rocks and stumbled on a few tree roots. This section was much tougher than I was expecting and I was beginning to feel quite ill prepared for the adventure ahead! Thankfully I found my feet during the long beach section. The sand was firm, the sound of the waves calming and I began to re-group. I reminded myself not to think too far ahead, to just focus on what I was doing and to keep moving forward. The mantra for this adventure that stuck in my head even before I started was "God has not given me a spirit of fear but of love, power and of a sound mind." These words steadied me throughout the journey when doubt wanted to creep in. These words were also very much needed when I came to the limestone rock with all the holes!! Arriving at Hamelin Bay I stopped at the toilet block to refill and prepare my pack for the next section. The water is non-drinkable and it was my first time using aquatabs. I remember hoping I wouldn't end up with an upset tummy.
Hamelin Bay to Conto's: Along the beach the sand was hard making it a nice section to run. And then into the Boranup Forest for my favourite section! I loved the smells of the forest, hearing the birds and insects and felt like I was moving along smoothly and calmly. Arrived at Conto's campground where I filled up outside a toilet block. The water here is bore and requires treating, so in went the aquatabs.
Conto's to Margaret River Mouth: This section takes you past Bob's Hollow, along Redgate Beach where there was some soft sand and then you drop into Boodjidup Valley. This is such a scenic part of the trail, a little hidden oasis! Then you hit the 'Crazy Steps' a hard climb out of the Valley. The day was heating up so it was a welcome relief when I saw the down hill section to the river mouth. I powered down with a big smile on my face glad to see fresh water taps (no aqautab)! I did find it taking a little longer then previous stops to get my bladder in and out, fill my soft flasks with tailwind/powerade and get my gels/lollies away in the front of my pack. I spent a little time re-grouping ready for the next section...
Margaret River Mouth to Gracetown: This section has some memorable parts I enjoyed coming into Ellensbrook where I passed the Meekadarabee Falls and Meekadarabee Cave and past the Ellensbrook House. There were some lovely ocean views in this section too. A sobering entry into Gracetown as I passed the memorial on Huzza Cliffs. In 1996 five adults and 4 children were killed when this collapsed on top of them. Thus far I had climbed over and under cliffs along the Cape to Cape. Maybe...my Dad being a little bit concerned about this adventure wasn't so silly after all... maybe he was realistically assessing the risk?! Mantra inserted here!! I hit the toilet block to fill up in Gracetown. My fatigue was really showing now as it took a lot longer to get myself sorted. The water at this toilet block is also non-drinkable and getting those tiny aquatabs out of the packet was a real mission! Finding the track from the beach out of Gracetown...also took too long!
Gracetown to Yallingup: I had filled all of my bladder and bottles up ready for this long section, my pack was feeling pretty heavy! This section was my longest mapped out section and it certainly felt it. Keeping my nutrition and hydration up was a lifesaver through this section as I journeyed up steps, cliffs, rocks, across a brook, single track and soft sand. As it got dark I was slowing down to safely navigate the technical sections. Arriving into soft sand on Smith's beach I needed to move my head torch further up on my head as the midgies started hitting me in the face. Came into Yallingup to the toilet block with bladder and soft flasks empty.
Yallingup to Cape Naturaliste: I filled just one of the soft flasks and half of the bladder before I left Yallingup. I underestimated this section. There were difficult technical sections that were not so easy to navigate in the dark and another short beach section and then UP hill to the finish line! I still finished with a smile, both pleased to reach the end and to see my family and friends waiting for me to get a stinky, finish line hug! Thanks to all those that dot watched throughout the day. I was so overwhelmed with gratefulness that you would all do that for me!