“Mount Feathertop?” he says. “That doesn’t sound very scary. Be downright embarrassing to die there. It’s like what a mountain would be called on The Wiggles.”
I fight back the laughter, and try to tell him how scary this feather-topped mountain is going to be. How I have to be able to navigate my way back by an “alternative route” if necessary. How the map reveals how many times this particular landscape has been burnt up by bushfires. Watching out for snakes. Running for ten kilometres above the tree line on a narrow rocky ridge.
When I’ve scared myself enough, I shut up, and reflect on the fact that he’s right: the name Mount Feathertop is actually quite funny.
I remind myself that I’ve trained the 22km distance for the last three weeks, twice up the flanks of Mount Dandenong to get elevation gain right, and once along the Bayside Coastal Track to make sure I’ve got some speed in my legs.
Just before Christmas,there was something going around from Runner’s World Magazine, asking runners to reflect on what they’d enjoyed the previous year, to help set goals for 2017. For me, the outstanding moments were the night trail runs I’d done. They were new, challenging in a novel way, and their distance was perfect for the fast running I’d been enjoying. In selecting my goals for 2017, I tried to keep this in mind. I skipped both Two Bays and the Roller Coaster Run, two of my favourites, to have the form to try out some new terrain.
After perusing lots of options, and figuring out where exactly places like Mount Baw Baw and Mount Buffalo were, I came across the Razorback Run. I quickly dismissed it as too terrifying. Twenty kilometres along a narrow ridge; navigating; scary-scaries in the race description. Then Sally messaged me and asked me, just after New Year’s, if I was up for a new adventure.
Of course I said yes. Slowly. Contemplating and planning for two weeks, and then finally finding the guts.
Now I’m eight days away from testing out these guts! And the nerves are starting to kick in. I’ve got the gear, the waterproof trousers and jacket, the beanie, the gloves. I’ve found my head-torch and changed the dead batteries. Ordered a portable phone charger to keep in my pack for emergencies. I’m geared up and trained up and getting scared half to death studying the contour map and trying to plan for emergencies like bushfires and snake bites.
But underneath it all, I have the sense that I can do this. I will do this. The next adventure is waiting for me on the razor’s edge of Mount Feathertop. I respect this mountain – it is the biggest one I’ve climbed to date, and I hope it will be kind to me on the day.