Now this information is unofficial, unreliable, speculative and possibly wrong. If the article causes any fuss I’ll probably just delete it. Why? Because Coast to Kosci, the environment and all of the people involved are so special that I don’t want anything to change. And I want to protect it all as much as possible. BUT- this question comes up so much it’s worth exploring……. and I know that every person who has been involved as crew, runner or vollie gets asked the same question- a lot.
* I’ve used real names as examples here, if anyone wants their name removed please let me know
By now you would have read the basic entry requirements– a 100 mile race on trails under cutoff, or 180km on road or track within 24 hours. And a 100km race, but that’s not a real challenge, is it? Remember, that’s the minimum expected of you. We’ll break that down more later.
So, there’s only 50 spots- how do I grab one? I am not a fast or talented runner, so I had to work the system. I had DNF’d the Great North Walk 100 miler in 2013, so I pretty much had to go back and finish it in 2014. But I needed an edge, something extra that would make my application stand out. So I did the Sri Chimnoy 24 hour race in Rooty Hill and made 180km in 24 hours. I wanted to see what it was like to do 450 laps of a running track. Let me reassure you, that was bloody hard work.
So, about those 50 places? As far as I can tell (yes, pretty much pure guesswork) it gets split up like this-
A very small amount of places reserved for elite runners
A very small number of places reserved for international runners
A larger amount of places for new runners
A fairly large amount of places for returning runners
One of the things that I love so much about the race is that they will accept people like me. It’s a very egalitarian race, you get to rub shoulders with superstars of the sport- even if it isn’t for very long! So, assuming you aren’t a superstar…..
…..and assuming you aren’t an international runner- I met a couple of internationals in 2012- Frank Fumich and Alex Nemet. These guys are absolutely tough as nails.
So, new runners- you know the minimum requirements, what is going to get you that spot? Basically, doing more than the minimum…….. I needed one qualifier, and I had two. If you only have one qualifier, make it a hard one.
The Great North Walk 100 miler.
It is the gold standard of qualifiers, it’s an unreasonably vicious race with a fairly tight cutoff. Last year 5 of my fellow NRG runners got into C2K, and all had finished GNW. Does that grab your attention? The reverse could also be true- in 2015 I didn’t get in to C2K- and I hadn’t done GNW in 2015…… yes, GNW is important.
Rule number 1- Finish GNW100M
– corollary to rule 1- it doesn’t really matter what time you do, GNW is hard enough that a finish is as good as a win. I did 34:57 which is only an hour under the cutoff. Not a special time in any way, but I did take it easy because I needed that finish. I could definitely take a few hours off that time, but I played it safe. Or you could choose your races carefully…..
Rule number 2- Do something extra.
Another 100 miler can’t hurt. You could run 860km through NSW like Kirrily Dear. You could do the entire 250-275km Great North Walk 3 times for fun like Joe Ward. You could get a world record at running the 2200km Pilgrim Trail like Jane Trumper.
Rule number 3- Don’t be soft.
You already know that each runner is hand picked, don’t you? This means that the RD’s will know your racing history or will look it up when you apply. It’s perfectly fine to have a little vomit or a cry during a race, but if that causes you to give up, the RD will know about that DNF. If your racing history is littered with DNFs, you are less likely to get a start.
– corollary to rule 3- if you get offered a spot, it means the RDs think you are capable of finishing the race. THAT my friends is like being anointed by the Pope. Don’t fuck it up.
Rule number 4- an ‘easy’ qualifier isn’t going to cut it.
One day I will get to do Glasshouse, WTF100, maybe Hume & Hovell 100 miler, but right now these races are a bit further down the list as qualifiers. I’m not saying they’re easy (maybe I did above!) – no 100 mile race is easy, but you simply aren’t going to get the push you need by sailing through those runs, unless you do a good time. Want proof? I did the Hardcore 100 in the You Yangs in 2015 thinking that it would be a good qualifier. I never thought in a million years I would be able to do a trail 100 miler in under 24 hours- but I just made it. That was like winning the Olympics for me, but it wasn’t enough. If you are completely nuts, do the Alpine Challenge, but the timing isn’t good to do both in one year.
Rule number 5- be a crew or vollie
In past years I was told ‘if you ever want to run the race, you should be there as crew or volunteer’. And that was good advice, I have crewed 3 times for the amazing Jane Trumper and the experience has been superb. I imagine that a previous crewing or vollie experience will help you, but I don’t think it is as important as it was a few years back. BUT- remember if there are 2 applications from runners with similar race history, I would assume that the one who has seen the race would have an advantage. If you’ve previously applied and been knocked back, try to be there anyway- sitting in a corner licking your wounds doesn’t get you closer to your goal, being there and helping out IS!
I don’t know what will guarantee a start, but you should just run your arse off.
Now, here’s a funny thing- it’s actually harder to get in as a returning runner than a first timer. I’m not just saying that because I didn’t get in for 2015. Think about it- in 2014 I was competing for a spot with people like Kurt Topper, George Mihalakellis, Annabel Hepworth etc. These people are great runners, I’m very privileged to know them but I can call them contemporaries- they’re not so totally out of my league that I can’t run with them. Except maybe Annabel, she’s super crazy. They’re normal (or relatively normal).
But the moment you are competing for a spot as a returning runner, you’re competing with people like Kevin Heaton (Brick) a 9 time finisher, Jane Trumper (6 time finisher) and Wayne ‘Blue Dog’ Gregory (Winner in 2008). I honestly can’t see any sane person saying ‘Sorry Blue Dog, I’m giving your spot to Adam Connor’ and that’s ok. Totally the way it should be. These people have earned their places over and over again. And again.
So now you see the central issue inherent in the race. With so few entries available it HAS to be a personal choice by the Race Directors. It’s perfect as things stand now. We don’t need any more transparency into the system, we simply need to make the best possible application that we can.
I was so privileged to be chosen in 2014, and finishing (the sprint edition) is one of the proudest moments of my life. It made a pretty ordinary runner feel special, because it is such a special event.
I would totally encourage you to give it a crack- but don’t think anything about it will be easy. Except all of the friends you’ll make.