Race of Death – Go As You Please

Mountains inspire the explorer in people.  Tasmania has the most spectacular peaks, what they lack in altitude they more than make up for in remoteness, ruggedness and beauty. Mt Wellington may have Tasmania’s capital city of Hobart creeping up its foothills now, but in the early days it was just as rugged and inaccessible as the hundreds of other peaks on this island state.

An early postcard of the pinnacle (www.linc.tas.gov.au)
An early postcard of the pinnacle

The Point to Pinnacle intrigues me in more ways than just running.  Who dreamed this event up?  When did it start?  Why is the world’s toughest half marathon right here on my doorstep?  What is inspiring me to run in this event?  Questions, I have many.

The P2P website doesn’t have a history page and the recorded results only go back to 1998.  A tiny bit of research has revealed some interesting facts.  But not too much.

An early postcard of the Mt Wellington foothills (www.linc.tas.gov.au)
An early postcard of the Mt Wellington foothills

The first known race up Mt Wellington was in 1903.  There were no roads as we know them today!  No nice light weight running gear.  Just the bush and a hard slog in heavy, woollen, rough clothing.  It was organised by the Hobart Amateur Athletics Club and the prize was a shotgun.  It was called the Go As You Please Race – the course to the top didn’t matter, racers just had to get there. It was held in September, spring time.  It’s spring right now and last night there was snowfall down to the 300m mark (it’s freezing again!).  On that day back in 1903 there were similar freezing, snowy conditions.  Two men died making their way back down and the race became known as the Race of Death.  (source:  http://passingparade-2009.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/race-of-death.html)

100 years later in 2003 the weather was again really bad.  To ensure the safety of runners the course was altered to be an up and back (Point to half-way-up to Point???).  I’m a proud Tasmanian and have climbed many of the peaks on this beautiful island.  I respect the changeability of the weather and know that in the mountains, even at the height of summer that a blizzard can come from nowhere.  I respect the race organisers decision to change the route or even to cancel (I just hope it doesn’t happen this year!).

The course map

Charles Darwin has even been for a walk up Mt Wellington in 1836.  The mountain inspires people from everywhere to take a look and explore.

This year the Tasmanian state government brought in a dual naming policy for significant places on our island.  This means that the Aboriginal names for some places will be included in signage and on maps.  Mt Wellington will also be known as Kunanyi.  Tasmania’s early settlers and the Aboriginal people did not always see eye to eye. We have a sad history of terrible treatment for the native people.  I might not have been alive at the time but I am certainly very sad about this dark park of history.  The Aboriginal names show some respect to these people who were here first.

A view from Hobart's Salamanca Market up to Mt Wellington
A view from Hobart’s Salamanca Market up to Mt Wellington

Race of Death?  Perhaps not today.  World’s Toughest Half Marathon?  Maybe.  It’s going to be a tough 21.4kms of all up hill running.  Tough but doable.  Knowing a little bit more about the history has increased my respect for this Holy Grail of running events.  Not all my questions have been answered by this little bit of research, I don’t know when the modern-day version of the P2P started or any details… there is more fact-finding to do.  AND I’m still no where in understanding what has drawn me for over two years to have this event on my wish list – it’s a mountain, it’s there, just a look screams out come on Annie, come and run up Mt Wellington, it’ll be fun!

I am feeling privileged to be one of the 2000 runners currently training for the 2013 run. 
This quote sums up how I’m feeling right now about running up Kunanyi in less than 10 weeks.

Mt Wellington

Happy Running 🙂

PS Several more of The Running Group have decided to enter the P2P – I am so thrilled to be sharing this event with people I know.  The joy of running with others has certainly been unlocked through my participation at parkrun, joining The Running Group and the Launceston Athletic Club, I still love to run on my own but running and sharing with others is proving to be a wonderful thing to do.

PPS Westbury Fun Run on Sunday was great!  Somehow we were misdirected and only did 7kms of the 8km course – I was on track to take at least 2 minutes off my time from last year.  I’ll just have to do it again next year 🙂  It was still a fantastic event organised totally by volunteers.

Husband and I at the Westbury Fun Run.  It was great to have my Mum and Dad there so I had to ham up the photo a bit, running can't always be serious!
Husband and I at the Westbury Fun Run. It was great to have my Mum and Dad there so I had to ham up the photo a bit, running can’t always be serious!

8 thoughts on “Race of Death – Go As You Please

    1. Thanks 🙂 I’m looking forward to some flat running after this one… maybe… I’ve just seen a trail run through a gorge and another one called the Triple Top… I think I must like mountains! Thanks for your encouragement, I appreciate it very much.

  1. Your mountain run is going to be beautiful. May you have fine weather, easy fitting gear, good supply, and a steady cadence as you gain the summit and friendship of Mt. Wellington. BTW, you guys look great in the picture and I know you inspire others.

  2. Wow. That course map and elevation gain? Insane! I am very impressed–and can also see why you want to do it. You’ve come a long way! Very inspiring, and can’t wait to hear about the race in November.

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