By Shane Hutton - March 2014
Where do I start?? This was by far the biggest idea I have ever had. It also proved to be the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. It went above and beyond my expectations in all aspects. So I guess I start from the start. On Wednesday March 26th I had decided to run from the northern most tip of Tasmania to the southernmost tip somewhere between 600 and 700km. A combination of a personal challenge, and an aim of raising funds and awareness to find a cure for Parkinson's disease by supporting the Shake It Up Foundation, after a close friend of mine Vaughan was diagnosed with this terrible disease at age 32.
The plan was to utilise as many of the Tassie walking trails as possible, including the following:
- Penguin to Cradle trail
- The Overland Track
- The Adamsfield and Sawback Tracks
- Port Davey Track
- South Coast Track
Then to link them all together I used a spiderweb of linking forestry trails, backwater tracks, private land (with permission!) and some bush bashing!
It was to take around 2 weeks, with the end to co-incide with World Parkinsons Day in Hobart.
It was to be fully supported by car with my partner Richelle (R) when the trails were accessible, but where they weren't I was going to be on my own, with my trusty tent, and sleeping gear on my back. R also got to fly into Melaleuca with supplies for me just before I started the South Coast Track.
After months of planning, it was time to start my adventure!
We drove from our accommodation in Smithton. A cute B & B called Ye Olde Post Office that had kindly been donated to us, up to Woolnorth the starting point.
It was a beautiful morning when we set off, amazing sunrise. I got the first 2km under the belt and all of a sudden there was a Tasmanian devil running toward me. Holy crap, what do I do... We both stopped dead it was looking at me and I was looking at it. I was unsure what to do except stop and stare... How cool I had just started and there was a devil. Then it turned and ran back into the bush. Soo cool I was so lucky I never thought I would get to see one.
I ran along the private road for the first 5km to the end of the last Van Diemans land. I signed the book on the way out and just like that it was time to hit the road... I ran along the gravel road for a while then bitumen. This was it, time to relax and just cruise along.
I ran 30km before we met up with the Mercury newspaper, based out of Burnie. We stopped and did some photos and a short story about what we were doing and off again. I was running along the road to a small town call Smithton. You can read the Mercury article here.
I hit the 40km mark and my legs had started to get very sore and I was having some walk breaks. I had been lucky the weather was amazing sun shining I was very pleased to be on the road but starting to wonder if I could keep this up as my legs were already tired.
All the thoughts start coming into my mind: Can I do this?? Why are my legs tired already?? Did I do enough training??? I figured that the first 3 days would be tough, trying to adjust to the load and just running back to back to back.
I sat down at 45km and had some lunch with Richelle. Walked and ran to 50km. Richelle rode her bike to meet me then we finished the last 2km together. Richelle ran me a bath and I ate a lot of food hahaha. I had a long soak in the bath & put my feet up. Did some stretching ate more food & went to bed around 9.30. Great the first day was done.
Check out my video blog for Day 1.
I woke up nice and early to the sound of rain on the second day. No surprises there we are in Tasmania. I got dressed had my breakfast put on my rain jacket and off I went. Next stop Boat Harbour.
I ran the first couple of km`s feeling really good. What a surprise my legs had recovered from day 1 nicely. I was running past the local hospital and there was a person waving to me. It was Nicole from twitter :) Nicole had seen what we were doing on twitter and had got in touch. Nicole is a local Doctor in Smithton and an ultra-athlete. With a quick chat and picture done it was time to keep going.
The rain was pouring but I didn`t care this is why I was here. After 20km along the Bass highway and a radio interview I had hit the old railway track. There is an old track that runs from Smithton to Burnie. How nice, I was finally off the road.
The track was good a little difficult at times and a lot of fences to climb over as it runs through farm paddocks, but way better than being on the road. It also had the advantage of taking the flatter way of things :) I ran along for different lengths and met Richelle wherever she could get in to give me food and hydration.
Again after around 43km the legs decided they had had enough. So it was back to walk and run. It had not stopped raining all day and I had been running for 7.5 hours. We realised I was not going to make Boat Harbour so I stopped after 8.5 hours on the trail.
We had decided early on that if it was possible and I had not made my destination I would try not to run for over 8 hours a day. This would allow me enough time to recover properly for the next day.
I jumped in the car dried off and warmed up. I was a bit disappointed I had not made my destination. It was also a risk stopping after 52km not knowing exactly how far it was until Penguin the next day.
We drove into Boat Harbour where we had kindly been donated accom by Gerd at Azzure Beach Houses. Wow what a place. Beautiful beach & the accom was amazing big windows looking out to the water. Perfect place for recovery. I ate all my food and had all my recovery fuel. Then before we knew it, it was time for bed.
Check out my video blog for day 2
Look at that the sun was shining again and my legs felt good. Weird. I was getting a little confident with how my recovery was going. We jumped in the car and drove back to where I had finished the day before.
I was really starting to enjoy this train line. It was peaceful and away from traffic. The sunrise was another postcard moment from Tassie. I ran the first 20km in 2hours 20 and was feeling good. I spoke to R and was told the beach was only 5km away then we would have some lunch. I had been hungry for a while but I thought this was a good idea.
Then BANG a hugeeeee wall. My first really big wall. I had not been expecting it as I was cruising along nicely up until this point. Well apart from my shoulder - my shoulder had begun to hurt halfway through the first day and by this point it was killing me. I could not lift my arm or anything I even resorted to a couple of pain killers….a random injury that came from nowhere, and continued to plague my first few days.
I ended up walking and jogging the next 5km. Brutal. All the usual questions were being asked. I finally got to R at the 25km mark. Thank god she had the chair out and was in a picturesque spot. The beach was amazing and it had warmed up to around 21 degrees. I sat ate some food had some painkillers and was off again. This time the train line wound it`s way along the coast running along the water side of the highway.
The water was so inviting. This was what I needed something else to think about. I ran out of train line when I got to Burnie. I ran through Burnie and was met on the other side of town by a couple of people. 1 was Vlastik Skvairl. He is a 74year old amazing ultra runner. He has run for 56hours straight, he has run from Cockle Creek to Cape town and a huge number of other awesome things. He joined me for the next 3km as he was on his way to Hobart to run back to Burnie in a kangaroo suit! Google him, he is amazing!
I ran and talked to him for the next 20 min before he turned around. He is a legend and all round nice guy. The next person to join me was Gerard. Gerard was providing us with accom at his amazing B&B, in Penguin our next stop. He joined me for the last 9km of the day. It was fantastic to have some company along this last stretch of road.
It had been a bit of a suffer fest early on in the day. The sun had been out all day and I felt cooked. Finally we hit Penguin. A 58km day J It was great to finish by the water. I had a little soak in the ocean before we headed to our accom.
Another amazing place supplied to us called High on Penguin. It was high on the hill and had amazing views of the whole Township and ocean. R cooked us dinner, salmon stirfry, yum, whilst I stretched and did my usual recovery stuff.
After dinner we met with a couple of Gerards running friends that were keen to hear all about the traverse and the trails I had in mind. After a lengthy discussion it was time for bed.
Check out my video blog for Day 3.
Shane is an adventure ultra runner. Hes running from the northernmost tip of Tassie to the southernmost tip...over 600km of epic trails. All to raise money and awareness for Shake It Up, to find a cure for Parkinsons.