Home > Running > Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon

Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon

In brief: 2nd place in 3:45:05 – I won a gazebo!

Headed up to the mountains on Friday for the inaugural Mountain Sports Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon. We stayed in Hartley and took a trip down the Wolgan Valley to Newnes on the Saturday so Amanda could do the 6km fun run and the kids could do the treasure hunt. Amanda was second overall and very amused to be announced the female course record holder. The kids had a great time and filled their pockets with chocolate coins. The Wolgan Valley is stunning and I’ll definitely be going back to Newnes. It used to be a shale-mining town, population 3000 back in the 1930s, but now it’s all ruins except for the hotel (operating as a kiosk for campers), a campsite and a few cabins.

Race-day itself was not as cold as I expected and the rain held off for most of the day. After the start I tucked in behind Mick Donges and Brendan Davies. Brendan & Mick had obviously not got the same message I had about compulsory gear so I was (annoyingly) carrying extra weight for the first half. Anyway, it was a very pleasant first half with soft winding single-track, fallen trees, creek crossings, a few hundred metres through the tunnel (hundreds of glow worms) and then a long fast downhill firetrail to rejoin the single track. The course returns to the start (CP1) at halfway, by which point I was in third with Mick a minute ahead and Brendan a further minute in the lead. The fun really started in the second half…

A couple of kilometres into the second half the course crossed a creek and I scrambled up the other side to find three indistinct paths into thick bracken and no tape. I headed down the middle path which got more and more overgrown so I turned around and tried another – same result. By this stage I was panicking and had lost a minute or so. The third option looked more like a wombat track than a trail. Shit. Eventually I went back down the first path and kept crashing through until I fell out on the other side of all that bracken onto the trail proper. By this time I’d lost a couple of minutes and completely lost touch with the two guys in front.

Soon the trail headed up the “pipeline track” – something to do with the old shale mining works. There are still a few rusting tanks and pipes lying around the bush here. The rough track winds steadily upwards before climbing very steeply up a narrow gully with cliffs towering over each side. For a long while running was impossible. I was blowing hard with hands on knees or grasping at rocks and tree roots to haul myself up the slippery slope. After cresting the top the track descends only slightly less steeply on the other side. I found it impossible to pick up speed without tripping or bouncing off the trees. So the running was aerobically easy but hard work on the quads and ankles.

Finally, the trail emerged into residential streets and CP2 at the turnaround. As I approached the checkpoint Mick came out of the turnaround 6 minutes ahead and Brendan 5 minutes in front but I was feeling fresh when I started the climb back out. Not far into the final leg I was surprised to come across Brendan walking up the hill. I crawled past him running with the shortest of strides and kept working hard in the hope that Mick might fade similarly. Runners coming the other way gave me encouraging updates: “about 4 minutes ahead” then “about 3 minutes ahead” on the climb to the summit but I think Mick was a lot quicker than me on the final descent – perhaps I’ve lost my nerve. I never caught sight of him and in the end he finished 5 minutes ahead.

Amanda ran the half-marathon and finished 7th female in 2:16:34. Apparently she’s going to bake me a cake, even though I’m a “big fat loser” (her words). All in all, a great weekend away. I don’t feel too sore considering it was a tough course, so fingers crossed I can find some speed in time for Gold Coast Half in a few weeks.

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  1. Tom
    2012-06-06 at 7:46 pm

    Where’s the pic of the gazebo? Did they just give you one of those blue ones after they’d packed up?

    • 2012-06-06 at 10:23 pm

      It is the same as the ones at the finish – but brand new. I didn’t have to hang around for them to pull down the finish area!

  2. Paul
    2012-06-10 at 7:58 pm

    Congrats on the 2nd place Tony. Finally you started a race!

  1. 2013-01-01 at 12:43 am
  2. 2013-01-15 at 10:10 pm

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