Day one saw a 6:30am arrival at the WACA Ground saw us pack the vans and be on the road just after 7am to embark on our journey south. The first stop was earlier than anticipated, just 40 minutes in, courtesy of captain Mitchell Marsh and his child like bladder. After the early hiccup it was a smooth ride down to the Bibbulmun track where we were dumped with our backpacks and Simon Mackin’s miniature Fremantle footy which ended up becoming a pure hassle to carry rather than a source of enjoyment. We started our route to the designated accommodation for the night, an open hut on the track 20km from where we started. Cameron Bancroft, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Mackin set an early pace that most professional race walkers would have envied, creating a fair gap from the peloton. Snack stops were taken every hour with ‘Biltong’ being the snack of choice for most of us. I tried to walk one leg of the journey with Will Bosisto and David Moody but could only bare 10 minutes of their insipid conversations before having to walk elsewhere. Four hours transpired and after 20km we had reached the hut just as light started to fade. Our stay there would be best summarised by crunchy pasta, two-minutes noodles and our head physio Nick Jones’ prolific snoring. I spent the night willing the next day’s walking to begin as the crippling insomnia began to kick in.
Day two started with a 6:30am wakeup, a quick breakfast and back on the track by 7:30am. That morning session we were welcomed with drizzling rain for the most part which led to more of a silent approach to the walk with a few spirits dampened. Tim David and I attempted to keep ourselves distracted by playing a ‘guess the lyrics’ type game, however, that was abandoned as my suspicions about Tim’s questionable choice of music was quickly affirmed. It took us four hours to reach the next hut which was our lunch stop, and after a quick refuel we were back at it. The afternoon session was very quiet, as the group of sore, strained bodies trudged along the track there was little energy available for witty banter and intellectual conversations. Eventually, after eight hours walking and a total of 55kms over the day and a half we had reached the vans. Then we drove to Windy Harbour where upon exiting the vehicle I had never felt or seen a group of elite athletes move so poorly, largely from the highest concentration of blisters in the South West at the time. Thankfully we were greeted at the beach shacks with a warm fire and a feast prepared by Geoff Marsh.
Day three started after a much better night’s sleep, we had a recovery swim at the beach where Windy Harbour lived up to its name. But the recovery period was short lived, as we rallied our weary bodies to embark on… yes, more running! A 21km run and walk through a 4WD beach track saw not a single word pass spoken from me for a 30-minute period, a feat the group collectively agreed was a first. That evening we headed off on a 6km cliff hike to Tookalup, carrying two heavy ropes between us. After reaching the top, we dropped the gear and ran back to our campsite. Bosisto and Bancroft set an unbelievable pace in the darkening country roads and we all managed to make it back in one piece and with a grin on our faces.
After two and a half days and a total off 88 kilometers that left a group of very sore and sorry men, fair to say pre-season camp did its job.