Please note this is largely an unmarked course. But it is pretty straightforward to follow.
This is a serious Ultramarathon with significant risks and runner safety is paramount. While some sections are close to significant roads, there are large sections with poor access for emergency vehicles. Despite relatively mild weather for this time of year, exposure is still a potential hazard for a tired, depleted and (especially) injured runner. Such conditions can be dangerous if you have inadequate gear to keep warm. The weather can change dramatically in a short space of time in the Alps. White-out conditions are possible even in January. In white-out you may only be able to see a couple of metres in front of you. Alternatively, extreme heat can cause dehydration and sunstroke are also significant risks and runners should drink and dress appropriately. Remember if you injure yourself, it may be many hours before assistance can reach you, so you need to be prepared.
With this in mind, a fairly basic list of mandatory gear is required to be carried, which will be tailored to the prevailing conditions on the day. While we do not wish to be the “trail police”, we may do spot checks in the interests of runner safety and fairness. Any suggestion of bad weather and the full kit will need to be carried. Mandatory gear will be checked at registration:
INADEQUATE GEAR = NO START.
There are several streams / rivers along the route and a significant amount of water will be brought in to points along the course for the run. Runners are advised to carry a litre of water when leaving each checkpoint. While extra water can be obtained from natural water courses it is advised to treat before drinking. Care should be taken crossing Big River.
Runners must follow directions from race officials. Checkpoint officials will have the authority to withdraw a runner if they deem the runner unfit to continue or if the runner is outside the cut off time.
Course map on your phone
You can now download the course directly onto your phone and see where you are on the course. Or if you get off course you can see where you are relative to the course. Follow instructions here:
Although some safety measures have been put in place as described above, this is by and large a self-supported event, and you are ultimately responsible for your own well-being on the trail. Please read these notes carefully.
If you need to leave the trail
Upon check in, you will be supplied with a coloured ribbon with your race number on it. Please tie this to the outside of your pack. If you have to temporarily leave the trail for any reason, please leave your pack on the trail where it can be seen, so that sweepers who may be following the field do not unknowingly get ahead of you.
If you get lost
If you believe at any time that you may not be on the correct trail, do not attempt to find your way across country. If you are sure of your route, backtrack to where you are confident of your position. If you are unable to find your way, wait where you are, as wandering randomly may take you farther from the trail and reduce your chances of being found. Blow 3 sharp blasts on your whistle, and repeat periodically. You should use a PLB (if you have one) ONLY in absolute emergency.
If you become injured, exhausted or ill
Stay on the trail where you will be found. Staying on the trail is vital. If you feel dizzy, disorientated or confused, do not risk falling. Sit or lie down on the trail until you recover or are found. An unconscious runner even a few feet off the trail could be impossible to find until it is too late.
If you want to withdraw from the run
If you want to withdraw from the event, you must notify the nearest checkpoint. Runners leaving the race without notifying a race official will be responsible for search costs incurred. Be sure to hand back your tracker.
Hydration, nutrition, electrolytes and painkillers
Primary rule is drink to thirst.
Maintaining proper fluid and calorie intake and electrolyte balance is a personal responsibility, and runners should already be competent in this area. A wealth of information on these subjects can be found on the web but the articles attached at the bottom of this page are recommended reading. Despite your desire to travel light, make sure that you carry sufficient water with you. Don’t rely on water that has to be carried in to check points unless specified as having water at the briefing. Tanks at huts can sometimes be unreliable, especially in drought years. A full update on available water will be provided at the pre race briefing.
All runners should be aware of the dangers of EAH-Exercise Associated Hyponatremia. Probably the best explanation on this whole subject is available on the Western States website http://ws100.com/pguide
The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (eg ibuprofen, nurofen) during endurance events has been proven to be dangerous. It is requested that runners do not take NSAIDs during B2H.
If you encounter another runner who is sick or injured you are required to render assistance.
Sweepers will run behind the field. If you leave the track for any reason be sure to leave your pack in view so the sweep does not pass you.
A radio network will be in operation along the entire course. These locations are highlighed in the Course Sections information. This will enable complete communication along the course with the Race Director (stationed initially at Mountain Creek, Langford Gap and then Mt Hotham). These volunteers, from the Albury Wodonga Amateur Radio Club, are essential in ensuring the safety of runners and rapid response to any incidents.
You must announce your arrival (race number and name) upon arrival at all checkpoints. This is essential to ensure your location is known by the race director at all times.
I strongly recommend having ambulance subscription. The ambulance is not a free service in Victoria, and is also not covered by the run's insurance. If not a subscriber it is important to check with your health insurer or consider travel insurance to ensure you have coverage. Something as simple as a broken ankle could cost thousands of dollars for a helicopter ride out of there.
Digital (GSM) mobile services are virtually non-existent over much of the course. You are still required to carry a phone as this is always a primary source for contact. Telstra Next G services may work on the higher peaks. Emergency numbers will be printed on the reverse side of your race bib.
This is a largely UNMARKED course. Course notes are included on this site and every effort will be made to have sufficient marshals on the course. However if you don't know the course and have trouble navigating, DO NOT ENTER.
Entrants should note that public liability insurance exists for this event, however this does NOT cover participant’s medical or rescue costs which are the responsibility of each individual. Participants are particularly advised to ensure that they have adequate cover.
More information on Hydration-Dehydration and Hyponatremia
Some of the more serious injuries that occur in runners are directly related to fluid imbalance
and an individual’s hydration status. For many years runners were encouraged to drink as much
fluid as possible to ward off the effects of dehydration. Dehydration occurs when athletes do not
replenish lost fluids (mostly through sweating). Dehydration can hinder maximal performance
and increase the likelihood of developing heat associated illness i.e. hypothermia and
hyperthermia. Hyperthermia includes a continuum of problems that includes heat cramps, heat
exhaustion and the more serious and potentially fatal heat stroke. The basic signs and
symptoms of dehydration and heat illness range from irritability and discomfort, to weakness,
dizziness, cramps, chills, nausea, vomiting and headache. Unfortunately these symptoms are
similar to Exercise Associated Hyponatremia which has very different treatment.
Over the past decade it has become evident that drinking too much fluid can be as serious as or
even more problematic than drinking too little. Drinking excessive amounts of fluid during
prolonged exercise can lead to a condition known as Exercise Associated Hyponatremia (EAH).
EAH occurs when sodium levels in the blood drop to dangerously low levels. The greatest risk of
developing EAH appears to be due to drinking large volumes of fluid without adequate sodium
intake during exercise lasting 4 hours or longer in which large amounts of sweat and salt is lost.
If mild, EAH may cause no symptoms but as sodium levels continue to drop; a progressively
worsening headache, bloating, puffiness with swelling of the hands and feet, nausea and
vomiting may occur. Later stages may lead to brain swelling (cerebral oedema) and if untreated
severe EAH can be fatal. Unfortunately the signs and symptoms of EAH and dehydration with
heat illness are very similar and it may be a challenge to distinguish one from the other.
Therefore it is also a challenge to strike the right balance between preventing dehydration and
exercise-associated hyponatremia. The best prevention against EAH is accomplished by
avoiding excess fluid intake before, during and after exercise. According to experts this can be
accomplished in two major ways: drinking only when thirsty or by an individual calculating
their hourly sweat losses during exercise and avoiding drinking in excess of this amount. Urine
colour can also be used as a guide (but only a very rough guide) to hydration status and should
be pale yellow rather than dark like apple juice (dehydration) or clear and copious like water
(overhydration). (Very dark urine like coffee is a sign of another serious condition called
Rhabdomyolisis-if present runner should stop and be removed from the course and seek
medical aid.) Drinking an electrolyte fortified sports drink will not prevent the development of
hyponatremia but is still a better choice than water.
Risks factors for the development of EAH:
• Low body weight
• Female (definitely not exclusive)
• 4 or more hours exercise duration
• Slow pace
• Inexperienced participant
• Excessive drinking behaviour
• High availability of fluids
• Altered kidney function (including from painkillers like nurofen, ibuprofen or aspirin- ie
• Extremely hot or cold environments
The only definitive way to establish the difference is with a blood test. So be cautious when
encountering a runner who exhibits any of the described symptoms and take a good history
before offering any treatment.
If you spot smoke in the field:
• If it is safe, stop, observe the smoke and assess the following:
• In what direction is the fire moving? (What direction is the smoke blowing?)
• Can you tell how fast the fire is moving?
• Contact an appropriate local authority such as the CFA or Parks Vic (and/or the Race Officials) and report any smoke or fire you can see from your position. Seek further information and advice from that authority to help inform your actions
• Agree on a regular time to communicate with an external contact for up-to-date information.
• If necessary, take immediate evasive action. Evacuate, move to a safer location or move towards the pre determined evacuation point
• Once at the safer location, inform the external contact of your new position and what assistance, if any, you require
If in imminent threat by bushfire the following hints have been proven to assist:
• Beware of radiant heat and smoke (Rock is a good protector from radiant heat)
• Do not wear any synthetic material and cover all exposed skin
• Make and communicate a clear plan that everyone understands and stick to it
• Avoid wandering or driving around
• Find an open area or an area with low fuel, e.g. already burnt ground
• Move out of the path of the front of the bushfire. The safest location may be towards the rear of the fire
• Move downhill as fire and smoke move very fast uphill
• If you need to move faster, consider leaving backpacks and other loads, and carry only life essentials including communications, first aid kit and water
• Trying to out-run the fire
• Going through flames, even low flames
• Above ground water tanks (they boil)
If you cannot avoid the fire, protect yourself from radiant heat by lying face down under an embankment, rock, loose earth, or in a hollow, or if possible get into a pond, dam or stream.
If threatened by a bushfire while driving:
• Do not drive in or near bushfires
• If caught in one, do not drive through flames or smoke
• Stop at a clearing or by the roadside in a low vegetation area
• Turn off ignition, turn on hazard lights and headlights
• Stay inside unless near safe shelter. Keep vents, windows and doors closed. Lie down below window level, under a woolen blanket (if available), until the fire passes
Articles on looking after your kidneys in ultras attached below for downloading: