As the final 99km ticked down, the finish line was finally within our grasp. The Colac Bay Tavern however, where our hopes and dreams had been idled for the last 48 hours, lay between us and that sweet yellow sign post at Stirling Point. Predicting our arrival time to be around lunch, chatter seemed to purely revolve around menu and beverage choices. After one last muddy, shin bleeding half marathon we would be entirely deserving of the chips and beer we were drooling over. In spite of my accelerated forward momentum, a message from my parents quickly halted progress. Their request to phone home meant something was up. My grandfather (Nanda) of 96 had died, only a week after his beautiful partner Anne (99) had passed also. So homeward bound yes, but I suddenly felt incredibly far from home at the same time.
The boys passed me one by one, not quite sure what to do when unexpectedly finding their tough (I like to think I am) girl friend sat on the forest floor crying down the phone. But they did what they could do best in a situation like this; messaged to say they were keeping a seat warm for me at the pub. With eyes wiped dry, I raised a glass to Nanda & Anne’s wonderful life together, known as the ‘the kids on the hill’ in their little Welsh cottage.
After that my last 90km became bitter sweet. Knowing their lives should be celebrated, yet allowing reality to settle in, and disheartened by the thought that I’d never be able to relay my trail stories in person to them.