Week 46/2023: Point to Pinnacle

The Point to Pinnacle 2023

Week 46/2023: Week of 13 November 2023

The Point

The Point is Wrest Point, home to Australia’s first legal casino (“the Point”). This is the starting point for the Point to Pinnacle, an annual run/walk touted as the world’s toughest half-marathon. It ends at the summit of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, 21.1 km away and 1270 metres above sea level.

A tall, round tower in the morning light, rises above the waterfront, behind a small jetty
Here’s a photo of Wrest Point I prepared earlier

It’s also starting point for the Point to Pub, a ten-kilometre run/walk that ends at the Fern Tree Tavern, not quite half-way along the full course.

I completed this walk in 2018, and entered the event again in 2019 with Kramstable, who, because of his age, was only allowed to enter the Pub event. That year, the weather meant the road to the summit was unsafe, so we took the alternative route, ending at the Rosehaven Pub . . . I mean the Longley International Hotel.

Kramstable had been determined to do the full walk to the summit, but in the next three years, pandemics and school commitments had meant he couldn’t take part. This year, however, we were both free and, despite my ongoing back/nerve injury, I agreed to do it with him. When we signed up in August, I thought that would have all resolved.

It had, apart from residual foot pain.

I knew I was physically fit enough to do the distance within the four hours and forty minutes we had to complete the 21.1 km. It’s an extension of some of my (pre-foot injury) regular Sunday morning walks. It’s just a longer walk up a bigger hill and we do it with 3,000 other people.

Whether my foot would let me do it was another question entirely. I’d been training, but not as much as I’d wanted to, and the longest distance before today I’d competed was 13.5 km. I knew from previous walks my foot was usually good for about six km and would then start to niggle and get sore to walk on. I’d struggled through shorter walks with that pain but today it was going to be likely, if it stayed true to form, I’d have to walk around 15 km with that pain. I also knew that however much it hurt, it would stop once I stopped walking.

So, I decided I was going to do it.

We’re doing it

We arrived at the event about half an hour before the 7.00 start. We were called up to the top car park and given a run down of the event and taken through some basic warm-ups. Kramstable and I make an appearance on the official video if you look closely enough.

A car park filled with people, emergency vehicles and buses. In the background is a cloud covered mountain
View from the top car park – we are about to walk up into that cloud!

Then we joined the throng moving back to the underground car park to wait for the start.

The start

The first part is chaotic. You need to cross under the start line to trigger the timer chip in your bib, then you get swept up in a flood of people making their way out of Wrest Point and on to Sandy Bay Road. It’s a dense mass of humans and it’s hard to make any significant progress from near the back of the pack at this point, especially if you’re walking with someone else, so you just settle in and walk.

A view behind a crowd of people making their way to a large red archway
Before the start

One kilometre is the corner of Princes Street and Sandy Bay Road. Twenty to go.

In the past I’ve said some of the hardest parts of this walk aren’t even on kunanyi. One of these is Byron Street from Sandy Bay Road to Davey Street. It’s deceptively tiring to walk and provides a nice little workout at the start of the event.

A group of people walking on a road. There is a police motorcycle holding up traffic
Turning off Byron Street onto Davey Street

After that, it’s flat for a while. We continued along Davey Street, through the Southern Outlet intersection, wondering how many cars would be banked up there by the time the road re-opened and whether those drivers were unaware this was happening or had forgotten. There was already good queue by the time we got there.

This was the point where I’d started my training walk to Fern Tree three weeks ago, so I knew we’d walked 2.6 km. The weather was a complete contrast to last time, and it began to drizzle. There were no views to be had this time and kunanyi was drenched in cloud.

The next hard bit of the course is around where Davey Street becomes Huon Road and you start to leave the city behind.

a view behind a group of people walking along a tree-lined road
Walking up Huon Road

It’s a far more pleasant walk without the constant traffic flow I had to put up with last time.

Five km

Five km in, we crossed the first timing line, and we’d done it in 57 minutes. That’s the Run the Bridge distance, which I usually do with Kramstable and Lil Sis, though he runs it. The only time I’ve ever walked that five km course in under an hour is when Lil Sis wasn’t with me, so obviously Kramstable walks faster than she does, and I was keeping up with his pace.

A quarter of the way through. It was going well. I’d been here before.

Dense cloud hides the mountain. All we can see are trees in the foreground
kunanyi is somewhere in that cloud

Around the six to seven km mark, my foot started to play up, which I’d been expecting but hoping wouldn’t happen. Since my last long walk, I’d not walked any more than four km, with no pain. I’d been hoping the rest might have helped but it would appear not.

As we approached Fern Tree, where the Point to Pub event ends, I had a choice.

Four years ago in the same event, Kramstable and I had walked this course together and he’d stopped at the Fern Tree Tavern while I continued on with the walk.

Now my choice was whether to stop here and let him go on, or to keep going.

And if I kept going, I was saying yes to eleven more kilometres of a sore foot.

I decided to keep going. I was nearly half-way there. I could do this.

I didn’t tell Kramstable what I was thinking, and we swung onto Pillinger Drive, where the throng had thinned out considerably. Presumably a lot of the crowd had opted for the shorter event.

A group of walkers approaching a turn off to kunanyi/Mt Wellington in the mist
The point of no return approaches . . .

Us and the Mountain

It was a lot quieter.

Kramstable checked his tracker and informed me we’d completed 10 km in under two hours. We were on track! Two hours and forty minutes to complete 11 more km. We could do this.

A walker, walking way from the camera, on a misty tree lined road
On our way up the Mountain

We crossed the half-way point in two hours and two minutes. I told Kramstable a couple of times if he wanted to go on ahead he could. I didn’t want to hold him up but he was happy with my pace and we stayed together until we go to The Springs, which is about four km from where we’d turned off.

There was a bit of a party going on there, and it was another chance to reassess.

Three people playing large orange drums
Taiko drumers at The Springs

I cast a longing gaze the coffee shop but Kramstable said I could get coffee when we finished. He was very focused!

I decided to sit down and change my shoes and socks, something a couple of people had recommended, which had meant carrying a larger bag than I’d wanted, but at least it wasn’t heavy.

Kramstable decided not to wait for me, which I was perfectly fine with. He was doing his own race and we’d walked two-thirds of the course together. It was about here that I’d left my walking partner the first year I did this event, and by this time I knew I was in no danger of breaking the four-hour mark that I’d almost got to last time.

A red sign on the side of a road reading "Knight Frank 7 km"
7 km to go and I’m on my own

I don’t think the shoe change really helped as my foot was hurting for most of the rest of the walk. Kramstable got to the 15 km line in 56 minutes and it took me 63 minutes, but some of that time was taken up by the shoe change, so I wasn’t that much slower . . .

At six km to go, I told myself all I had to do was do the same distance walk I do on Wednesdays and it would be over. At five km, my foot was alternating between the big toe hurting and the ball of my foot hurting, with the occasional scream from my second toe and occasional moments of non pain.

A mountain looms up over a tree-lined road
There’s a long way to go!

I was tempted to drop out and wait with the SES official for the bus.

But five km to go! I knew I’d regret dropping out. The pain would stop as soon as I stopped walking and I’d immediately want to get back to the walk. And I’d wake up tomorrow feeling like I’d blown it. So I kept going.

Up here, the views were wonderful. We kept dropping in and out of fog and mist, with clear skies when the sun burned through. It really is a beautiful place and no, we do not need a cable car.

A view through trees of cloud over the city and the river and hills in the background
Overlooking the city

I had forgotten what a hard slog this part of the course is. I’d remembered the Byron Street and Huon Road parts and vaguely remembered “a bit after the Springs that was hard” but had forgotten how long it actually is. It was even longer with a sore foot.

It’s long

The scenery is beautiful though, and I even saw the amazing Tasmanian Waratahs in flower, which almost made the whole walk worth it. They are the most stunning flowers and I need to come back with the camera. Maybe not on foot.

A pinkish-red flower with long fronds emerging from a bed of long green leaves
A Tasmanian waratah

Three km to go . . . two km. That’s my normal morning walk. I can do this. I am not giving up.

With about a kilometre and a half to go, Kramstable messaged me to say he’d finished. His time, 3:59. He’d done what I couldn’t! And his last six km was the fastest part of his walk, which goes to show how much I must have slowed him down at the start.

If you don’t know the road, there’s a point when you think you’re almost there, and then you swing round the corner and see this long, straight track leading up to the tower at the pinnacle and you think you’re never going to make it.

A road leading up to a distant mountain top
Wait, I have to go all the way up there?!

It looks so far! But it’s only two km, and you just have to take a deep breath and keep going, because you do get there.

With less than a kilometre to go I was almost counting down the metres. I just wanted it to end! I stopped at one point just to wriggle my foot around in my shoe and I think the relief from that was just enough to get me there.

Looking back down over boulders from near the top of the mountain
Nearly there!

Seeing the finish line I was completely overwhelmed with emotion from having made it. Giving up was never an option; I was never not going to do this, but actually having done it.

Wow.

A woman wearing a black cap, a grey jacket and black pants standing in front of rocks and a sign that reads kunanyi/Mount Wellington
I made it

I did it.

We did it.

The Pinnacle

My final time was 4:25 and the last six km took me an hour and 20 minutes. But I got there with 15 minutes to spare. And Kramstable was waiting for me at the end, as I managed to not collapse onto the ground.

We took a few photos to celebrate our achievement and waited for the bus to take us back to where we started.

A young human male and older female with 2023 ribbons around their necks smiling at the camera
We did it

I’ve always felt it so strange to get on a bus after a long walk and go back so quickly the way I’ve walked for hours, undoing all that hard work.

And it was over. Just like that.

Week 46 summary

What was the best thing about this week?

Reaching the Pinnacle

What did I notice this week?

It’s agapanthus season!

A white agapanthus bud
My first agapanthus photo walk of the season

What did I learn this week?

If you don’t turn Runkeeper off when you get to the bus stop, it adds your bus trip into your walk and tells you you’ve done your fastest walk ever.

I also learned, thanks to the ABC, when dinosaurs were alive there were also birds that had teeth teeth. They went extinct when the dinosaurs did, whereas toothless birds did not, surviving to this day. One theory is that the food supply of the birds with teeth (animals that ate plants) disappeared when the plants weren’t able to were grow because of the layers of dust blocking out the sun after the meteor that caused the mass extinctions bit the earth. But the toothless birds could eat nuts and seeds on the ground which were still in plentiful supply and so they survived.

Birds with teeth!

What I’m reading this week

  • What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles
  • Living Drama by Bruce Burton

Walk tracker week 12

  • Monday (2 km): I didn’t walk. I rode my bike (8,853 steps)
  • Tuesday (3 km): 4.04 km
  • Wednesday (5 km): 3.93 km
  • Thursday (2 km): I didn’t walk. I rode my bike (11,886 steps)
  • Friday (2 km): 8.97 km (of course I’m joking. I did my normal 2.37 km walk to the bus stop and forgot to turn Runkeeper off when I got there. So it tracked my bus ride and my 800 metre walk to my Pilates class and told me I had done 8.97 km in 49 minutes. Indeed. I told Kramstable about my amazing statistic and asked how he was going to keep up with me when we’re walking up the Mountain. )
  • Saturday (3 km): 12,289 steps
  • Sunday (21 km): 21.09 km
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