Molly’s 24 hour run to raise money against People Trafficking reminded me of how I was in to endurance events in my younger years. One of the toughest, which I competed back in 1994, was the JLW Challenge from the top of Mt Buller to Melbourne City. A gruelling 245km’s of running, riding and kayaking over 2 days – Saturday, 3rd December to Sunday, 4th December 1994.
The first day was a 6am start with a 32 km run from the top peak of Mt Buller down to Lake Eildon. The run was one of the toughest I had ever done heading cross country down the Mt Buller mountain side. It was steep up and down trails and I remember one section where there was at least a kilometre of blackberries and having to lift the legs up high while fighting exhaustion. The 30 km kayaking across Lake Eildon was choppy but luckily the last leg, the 55 km cycle on the first day, was fairly moderate climbs and descents to Marysville.
We stayed overnight in Marysville. Dad was my crew and he handled the gear while I got some sleep.
Getting up the second day was tough and it took some time to get back into stride with the run. The 20 km run was no where near as bad as the first day but was still a long run through the forests. The 62 km cycle was extreme starting at the top of the Black Spur – my speedometer registered over 80 km’s an hour in some of the downhill sections. On the cycle I remember going through a lot of water but what I did not know at the time is that it had hit 38 Degrees Celsius that day – very hot.
Disaster hit about 5 km’s from the end of the cycle when I blew a tyre. As it was close to the cycle end, dad had already gone on ahead in my support vehicle and so it was some time before he realised something had happened and came back with another bike. This cost me over an hour and so entering into the final 45 km kayak down the Yarra River I was struggling to stay ahead of cut off times.
Eventually time caught up with me and the organisers stopped myself and a few others just 2km’s short of the 245 km finish – they did not have insurance for the dark.
It was shame not to finish after battling so much and getting so close but I was still glad to be able to test myself in something this extreme.
The JLW (also known as the JLL Challenge) was revolutionary at the time when multisport events were in their infancy. 1994 was its first year, they shortened it by about 10km the following years.