Doing things that challenge you

1234764_10202065217615871_360840302_nI am a strong believer in the saying ‘you will regret the things you do not do in life more than the things that you do’. So when my friend Kieran asked me to complete the ‘Point to Pinnacle’ up Tasmania’s Mt Wellington last November I signed up straight away. Unsure really what the ‘Point to Pinnacle’ was, I decided to google it. Straight away the words ‘world’s toughest half marathon’ appeared on my web page. I soon learnt that the race started at Wrest Point Casino in Hobart and finished at the top of Mt Wellington, 1270 metres above sea level, 21.4 kilometres in distance. I had never visited Tasmania before so this really didn’t mean anything to me. Reviews of the run all expressed how difficult it was. Having completed a few half marathons previously I wasn’t overly worried. I made sure I was training for the event by putting a few more running sessions into my weekly routine. I joined a Saturday running group in Buninyong, believing that the hills out there would help prepare me for what was  awaiting me in Tasmania. Little did I know!

Flying into Hobart the day prior to the race, I realised that the terrain was far more mountainous compared to Victoria. Before heading over I visited my physiotherapist who expressed this to me but it didn’t hit home until this point. I began to get nervous. After landing we went to get our hire car. Through general conversation I told the lady behind the desk that I was completing the Point to Pinnacle. She began telling me how her friend described the race as ‘like child birth’. “Everyone says that they will never do it again, but they always do”. It wasn’t long before we spotted Mt Wellington on our way to our hotel. If you have ever been to Tasmania before you would be aware that it is a monster.  Photos of it really do not bring it any justice. It is huge! At this point I felt a bit sick.

Race day I felt a mix of emotions. Yes I was nervous, but I was extremely excited for what the morning had in store. The starting line was a happening place. People were so keen and full of enthusiasm. Competitors were offering encouraging words to one another, starting chants for all to be involved in. For the first 10 kilometres there was a gradual uphill climb. Many people stood on the side of the road with signs and shouted out encouragement to the competitors. Even the competitors were extremely encouraging of one another. I made the mistake of wearing a singlet with ‘Rach’ written on the back. For the first 5 kilometres I wondered how everyone knew my name!

The second 10 kilometres was a completely different story. The track got a lot steeper at this point and was almost in a zigzag formation. As I ran uphill to a corner, there was another long uphill haul straight after it. This didn’t end! Drink stations were set up along the entire track, with the biggest being at the 16km mark. At this point there were numerous tents playing music. Volunteers were offering water, Gatorade and lollies to keep us runners going. Hitting these drink stations offered so much encouragement and motivation. It really kept me going! At the 17km mark every part of my body was hurting. The balls of my feet, calves and back were killing me! My body was screaming at me to stop but my mind was stronger and kept me going. I broke the last four kilometres down into four quarters, focusing on completing one quarter and then worrying about the next when the time came. I’ll never forget when I reached the 20 kilometre mark and I was running alongside a man. He simply turned to me and said ‘never again’. I agreed and neither of us laughed. We couldn’t have been more serious.

Finishing the race made me forget about all my aches and pains. Seeing Kieran and my other friends at the finish line really made me push and finish strong. I was so proud of what I had accomplished by pushing through the physical and mental challenges I faced whilst climbing Mt Wellington to finish the race. To this day, completing the Point to Pinnacle has been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t feel like words can describe the experience. It really is something you need to do or witness for yourself to fully understand. I vowed I would never do it again, but as the saying goes, I will most likely be pulling on the runners at the bottom of Mt Wellington again in the future.

– Rachel