Race report – Point to Pinnacle 2018

Point to Pinnacle was not really in my plans for 2018 but when I found myself in Hobart for a conference starting the day after this iconic event, I figured, it would be rude not to!

Dubbed as the world’s toughest half marathon, Point to Pinnacle is just like any other half marathon, really. 21.1km of running fun, from Wrest Point Casino to the top of Mount Wellington. Over 1200m of elevation gain in 21.1km. It is practically ALL uphill. Sounds like fun, huh?

This.

According to the report, 2900 people thought it sounded like fun. A further 830 thought it would be more fun to run 10km uphill and finish at a pub.

I’m going to backtrack a little now because I wanted to share a little bit of my trip to Hobart – my first ever trip to the Apple Isle! I decided to extend my trip beyond the conference and the race, and spend just over a week here.

Scroll down to the picture of the frog bride and groom if you want to skip the travel blog!

My room for the first 4 nights at The Pickled Frog backpackers. Unlike the real TARDIS it was actually smaller than it looked on the outside!

I decided to do a tour of Bellerive Oval, and on quite a gloomy Thursday afternoon I Ubered to the oval only to find that I was the only person on the tour! A personalised experience! It was kind of surreal as there was a game starting there a few days later, and the Tasmanian team were training while I was there. We still went into the home dressing room and quite a lot of the players were in there – my tour guide Glenn even showed me the showers (after first checking that there was no-one in there!) – they seem a bit more relaxed here, I can’t imagine being able to access the rooms WHILE THERE ARE PLAYERS IN THERE, at any other ground in Australia! (Consequently you’ll find I didn’t take any photos inside the rooms!)

One of the striking things about this ground is that the beach is literally RIGHT THERE. If you’ve ever watched a game from there on TV you would have seen the scenic shots of the river and the beach but you can’t quite appreciate it until you see it in person!

Bellerive Oval tour (now called Blundstone Arena but it will always be Bellerive to me!) – the evolution of a cricket bat!
One of the big two of Tasmanian cricket. This painting is half real Boon, and the other half is the Boony doll!
Boon sculpture
Ponting sculpture
Banner from Boon’s last game, signed by members of the Aussie team at the time.
The hallowed turf!

On Friday I booked a full day trip to Richmond and Port Arthur.

Richmond is home to the oldest bridge in Australia!
So scenic!
View from under the bridge!
Bridge with lone (very loud!) goose!
The plaque!

From there we made our way to Port Arthur, another very beautiful place!

On the way our guide Matt stopped to let an echidna cross the road, and then stopped to let us get out and see it up close! I was the only Aussie on the bus, and even I had only ever seen one echidna in the wild before!
Port Arthur – the Penitentiary.
Separate Prison. If you messed up in the Penitentiary, you ended up here! If you were really bad you ended up in a cell with no light and no sound. I lasted about 5 seconds in that one…

The very lovely church – which is regularly used for weddings now. You can see why!
The Memorial Garden – memorial of the 1996 massacre. Very creepy to walk around the remains of the Broad Arrow Cafe where a lot of the murders happened.
In the penitentiary checking out the beautiful view!
Port Arthur Lavender – I bought some lavender chocolate here – delicious!

On Saturday I did the obligatory parkrun (Queens Domain, for those playing at home – the closest one to where I was staying) and then hit the famous Salamanca Market – on every Saturday. I spent a good 3 hours here including gin and beer tasting, first and second lunch, and a bit of shopping too!

Enjoying Salamanca Market on a beautiful day with the mountain in the background!
Wine tasting at Gasworks Cellar Door. A great way to taste a range of Tasmanian wines without leaving the city! As I was unlikely to get to any of the wine regions on this trip, $10 got me 12 tastings – money well spent!
Two of the many frogs at The Pickled Frog!

On Saturday night I managed to find a vegan pizza about 100m from where I was staying, and paired it with a Spicy Mule (purchased from the market) – ginger beer, vodka and chilli. Surprisingly very delicious!

This is more of a pre-marathon meal but I figured if a half marathon was ever going to be as tough as a marathon, Point to Pinnacle would be it!

I had been chatting to my 3 roommates on Saturday afternoon about the Point to Pinnacle, so they were all pre-warned that I would be up early in the morning! Fortunately I woke up just before the first of my 3 alarms!

I decided to use my large running vest, with both 500ml bottles filled with Gatorade, and 3 Clif bars. This was based on the assumption that I would be walking a fair bit. There were drink stations along the way of course, but I figured it would be good to have drinks on me the whole time.

The walkers set off at 7am and the runners at 8, with both groups having a cutoff time of 11:40am. 3 hours 40 sounds pretty doable but I didn’t know how much would be runnable and how much I’d be walking. If I had to walk most of it, I might be struggling to make cutoff! I set myself a goal of getting under 3 hours but I didn’t think that was particularly realistic. Anything under cutoff would be fine!

Once I was ready I booked an Uber, with the theory being that if for some reason I couldn’t get an Uber, I would have enough time to walk to Wrest Point (about 2.5km away). That wouldn’t be ideal, but at least I’d get there! Fortunately I managed to get an Uber and while I was waiting, I got chatting to a group of runners from Melbourne and we ended up sharing the Uber. One of the guys had done it before and had done about 2 hours 15. That was fast!

On the way to Wrest Point we passed the walkers just after they’d set off. There were a lot of them (as it turns out, about 1800) and at some stage along the road we’d be passing them!

Love this!
Obligatory start line selfie. Psyched!
A beautiful spot for a Sunday run!

At the start line I saw a girl in a Barossa Marathon top, so I went to chat to her, I hadn’t seen any familiar faces and I didn’t know if there were any South Aussies out there. Turned out she had lived in SA last year and had run the marathon. While chatting to her one of her friends told me that there was a flat/even a bit downhill section at around the 10km mark. Something to look forward to!

The 10km Point to Pub started next – another group we’d eventually be catching up to (well, the slower ones, anyway!)

After a pre-race warmup led by a group of Mo Bros (Movember is the main charity partner of the event) we lined up at the start line and were sent on our way by MC Pat Carroll in a very loud jacket!

I decided to try to run the first few kilometres, because that was supposedly the ‘easy’ bit. It was cool at the start but it didn’t take long to warm up!

Official photo – not sure exactly where this was taken!

I decided to go with my new favourite tactic of not looking at my watch. As long as I kept running I knew I’d make cutoff. And there were course markers every kilometre so I’d know how far I’d come (or, how far I had left to go!)

As it turned out, it was all ‘runnable’. Don’t get me wrong, I could totally have walked a lot of it. But once I started running and set a goal to keep going as long as I could, I just took it ‘one kilometre at a time’ and just kept running!

Splits for the first 10km – note the elevation gain per kilometre! The first km was a walk in the park, as it turned out…

It wasn’t long before we started passing walkers – firstly the Point to Pub walkers – the Point to Pinnacle walkers, with an hour head start on us, would come later.

Someone had put a sign on a post that said (something like) “Good luck runners and walkers” and one of the walkers commented that it was nice for them to mention the walkers! I quickly said, “We’ll all be walkers soon!” – at that stage I was still expecting to walk but hoping to put it off as long as I could!

I passed a couple pushing a pram and I jokingly asked for a lift. Surprisingly I was the first person who’d asked that question! Probably not the last though!

Around the 8km mark there was a bank of portaloos (from memory I think that was the only bank on the course) so I decided to make a quick pit stop. I didn’t time it but it had to have been less than a minute. Not that it really mattered – time was not an issue!

Just before 10km the Point to Pub runners and walkers veered off the main road to their finish line, so it meant we had the road to ourselves just for a little while!

And there was that flat/downhill bit – and then it was gone!

Back to the relentless climbing!

One of the coolest things was when we ran through thick mist. The best thing about that was that you could only see a few metres in front, therefore you couldn’t see what was coming.

Even though you kind of knew what was coming.

MORE F***ING UPHILL!

And then we broke through the mist and could see again.

I used the ‘look down and pretend it’s flat’ tactic a lot but it didn’t really work.

Along the way there were a few vehicles on the course – mostly police motorbikes but the occasional ambulance too. As there were so many walkers out there, I had opted to run on the right hand side of the road, so I wouldn’t have to keep going around walkers. One particular ambulance didn’t seem to like the fact that I was on the right side, even though I was totally off the road, and would not go around me! So I decided in a moment of silliness to try to outsprint the ambulance. That lasted about 5 seconds and then I moved to the left with everyone else and regretted it for a while – that was totally unnecessary!

With 5km to go I had to be ‘that’ person who said “Only a parkrun to go!”

The last 5km were the hardest, I had managed to keep running but it kept getting steeper!

Close to 400m elevation gain in the last 5km, WTF?

Within the last kilometre there was a PA system blasting out AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’. Because how can you not get fired up when you hear that?

And then, a woman ran up from behind me and pushed me into a finish line sprint – I was just plodding along at that point and didn’t realise quite how close I was to the end, so thanks to Susan for giving me a little push over the edge!

At the finish, with Susan. We did it!

My official time was 2:28:34.9 and official time 2:28:08.5. Under 2:30, well beyond expectations! (Also easily my Personal Worst half marathon time, as expected!)

Unfortunately there was no view from the top due to clouds – hopefully I’ll get back up there before leaving Hobart, so I can actually see stuff!

The sun came out – but no view sadly!
I could wear my event top now! I’d bought it on Thursday but superstition dictated that I couldn’t wear it until I’d completed the race. It was a pricey one but it was worth it – a lululemon tee and one I will get a lot of wear out of!
Obligatory photo with the sign – and note the blue sky!

After taking the mandatory photos it was time to board the bus back to the casino. Yeah – we weren’t going to run back down. Although some people did. including the dude in the banana costume. Because that’s totally normal. Imagine running 21km DOWNHILL? Surely tougher than running up?

The after party was great – everyone got a voucher for food (not vegan friendly sadly but I did have spare Clif bars and there was plenty of fruit) and a drink (happily they had cider as well as beer!), there were free massages, and some musical entertainment out on the deck. A great way to spend a few hours on a Sunday arvo!

Rehydrating!
Because it was there.
The honour board! All P2P winners over the years!
The female winner with the giant cheque!
And the male winner (and new course record holder in a ridiculous time of 1:21:50 – only just over an hour ahead of me!)
The outside chill zone!
The outside chill zone!
The outside chill zone!

While in line for a massage, I was chatting to a girl wearing an Ironman jacket, she had done a 70.3 at Busselton and said that Point to Pinnacle was tougher than that! I always knew runners were more hardcore than triathletes!

One last selfie for the road – and by the way the medal is also a bottle opener – they really have thought of everything!

So in summary. Point to Pinnacle is a really unique event. I’m so glad I did it and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a challenge, and plus it’s a great opportunity to visit Tassie (I will be back!) Now I don’t think I’ll be rushing to do this one again, once is enough for me!

Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers for making this event happen – it’s one of the best organised events (and it really is more of an event than just a race) I’ve done! (I don’t think too many of the volunteers looked disappointed to be volunteering and not running!)

And well done to everyone who ran/walked/jogged/crawled/got to the top by any means necessary!

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