From alpine meadows to snow gum forests, golden pastures to lakeside trails, crystal clear creeks and the ultimate mountain summit – the KosciMiler course was designed as the ultimate Ultra-Trail experience.
The event began on Thursday 15th December 2022, with participants having 36 hours to complete the course, and if successful, would’ve run a total of 160km.
One of Schlam’s very own, John, decided to take on this challenge and test his running skills that he’s been developing since 2020. Not only that, but the event also coincided with a milestone birthday - his 60th which he celebrated one day early on the track.
“When my son told me about the run in the Snowy Mountains, the day before my milestone birthday, I jumped at the idea! The high elevations in the summer should mean blue skies and warm crisp weather. Running to the top of Australia’s highest peak would be a memorable event!” John said.
In the lead up to the event, the weather was becoming unpredictable and proving to be more of an obstacle than the run itself.
“One month out and they still couldn’t mark out the course because the snow was too thick! The day before there was no improvement, so the organisers had to change the course as the snow and ice would’ve made the original track impassable and dangerous,” John said.
Whilst this was the first time the Ultra Trail Kosciuszko event was run, there have been many other distance events in Australia since the early 2010’s, including 200-mile (350km) events that are now gaining mainstream popularity. The Ultra Trail Kosciuszko course included 4 tracks, each suiting different levels of fitness – 160km, 100km, 50km and 27km. The tracks were set on the trails of the Snowy Mountains in NSW.
Of the 216 people that started the course, 179 people made it to the finish line within the allotted 36 hours. With such a long distance to cover, the training and preparation for each participant would’ve been immense.
“Training for these events is a long-term build-up. I know some people spent many hours each week on trails and tracks, logging up to 150km per week. Whilst I wasn’t as good with my training, I did put together a detailed plan on what food, salt, electrolytes etc. I should consume every hour,” John said.
Training and preparation aside, the tiredness and fatigue would take over eventually, so finding ways to look after your body whilst on the track, is crucial to ensure you not only finish the course within the timeframe, but you make it to the end in one piece.
“I got very tired at a number of places, in the afternoon and at midnight. Initially I was able to take caffeine gels that made a difference, but after 20 hours of running I just had to take a nap. I learnt the trick of how to take a power nap while sitting on the side of the track, and it made a difference!” John recalled.
Due to the undesirable cooler weather, parts of the track were covered in ice, which led to some slips and falls for some of the runners. The highest peak experienced temperatures between -10 and -15 degrees Celsius, alongside strong winds and deep snow.
As the first day wore on, runners were able to enjoy a beautiful alpine valley with smatterings of snow across the countryside, and by the end of the run the next day, it was blue skies and warm temperatures. Completing the course would be euphoric – the months of planning, preparing, considering all contingencies, with everything finally coming to fruition.
When John was asked about his highlight, he instantly replied with “finishing!”, an understandable response after the intense 36 hours he endured. However, after thinking back on his time along the track, he realised it was hard to pick only one.
“Honestly, everything was a highlight! The scenery, the people, and the stories you would hear them tell. Even the run itself and the discussions to follow at the finish line, talking about the hard parts, the injuries and all the pain we endured to get to the end,” John said.
In addition to completing the course, participants received “running stones” which are used as raffle tickets to win a place in the World Championships at Ultra Trail Mont Blanc Switzerland, which will be held in September 2023.
“My son Robert gave it a try and managed to get into the CCC – which is the 100km event. I will go over and ‘crew’ for him and I am sure I will be ‘bitten by the bug’ of euphoria during the week of the events!” John said.
Congratulations John for an amazing triumph!