Jumbo-Holdsworth Trail Race – marshalling at Holdsworth trig

29-30 January

The weeks before and after, including the event itself flew by in a blur. As a result I do not have notes of any kind about the outing and only a single photo from Powell Hut to remind me of the adventure.

What I do remember is that we collected the emergency equipment from the Holdsworth campsite warden at around 2pm, and saw Chris S in the carpark who was on the mountain the previous night when the southerly came though dusting Mt Holdsworth with snow. He mentioned it was freezing up at the tops. We starting walking at about 2:30pm.

One thing that struck me on the way up, was a very unhappy sounding ruru on the Gentle Annie track. I was surprised to hear it being so vocal in the middle of the day. Beyond that the walk was fairly uneventful and we reached Powell Hut at about 6pm. It was rather cold, but luckily the fire was already going and the hut was nice and warm. I have to admit that I was somewhat concerned that the race might be cancelled due to the cold, fairly strong wind, and drizzle. The trifecta of rain, wind and cold never bodes well up in the mountains.

There were only a few other people in the hut. We took along some jaffles for dinner which we heated on the fireplace. Washed it down with coffee, and went to bed at a reasonable time.

Early in the morning we had another cup before heading up to the trig. The drizzle got more persistent and coupled with the wind it was freezing. Halfway to our spot we stopped to put on rain jackets, but by then we were already quite wet. Unfortunately, our pants, shoes and socks were soaked and the wind chill had me shaking like a stick by the time we reached our spot. We changed into long-johns, rain pants, a few thermal layers, fleece, thick down jackets, rain jackets, two beanies (in my case), two buffs and thick thermal gloves, and pitched a small tent to keep some things out of the rain. I took my gloves off briefly to be less clumsy while pitching the tent, but within a few seconds my fingers were red and numb. The wind was quite strong and it was only after a couple of hours that we had a chance to fire up the camp stove for some warm coffee.

With the clag, visibility was only a few metres at times. While Gerry was out in the wet, cold and wind on the route with a cow bell, getting bib numbers from runners, I was about six metres away under the shelter jotting them down. With everything being wet and windy it would have been an impossible task without the shelter. A compulsory donning of rain jackets at both Powell and Jumbo huts were put in place as a safety precaution for the runners. This, together with the heat generated from moving probably meant they weren’t too cold, but standing or sitting still in one place and being exposed to the conditions, however, was extremely cold.

The last runners came through shortly after 12pm, so we could quickly pack up and start making our way down the mountain. Luckily there were no serious incidents, only a couple of minor mishaps (falls and the like) that could be dealt with quickly by the event medics.

Back at the hut, I swopped my long-johns and million layers of clothing for my original pants, T-shirt and fleece. It was a quicker descent than the previous year, so we were able to make it back home in time to feed the animals. Another interesting outing and I’m already looking forward to see what next year brings at the same spot.

2 thoughts on “Jumbo-Holdsworth Trail Race – marshalling at Holdsworth trig

  1. That is just what this summer has been like – a lovely few days followed by a few freezing ones! Holdsworth can be very exposed where you were. I have had quite a breeze on the top and there has been scarcely anything at the bottom. Once you are cold, it is hard to warm up! We have a big swimming competition outdoors next weekend and the forecast is not at all encouraging!

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