From the moment I heard of this event, Oscars Hut 2 Hut, I knew it was on the ‘must do’ list. The setting for this event was an area that I have heard my Dad tell many tales about growing up and I knew I wanted to experience it first hand. Having a few Oxfam Trailwalkers under my belt over the years (seven if we are counting), and having converted to ‘slow but sure’ trail running over the past five years, I knew that I could get through the distance, but the terrain? The elevation? What about all that? It was a journey that only time would tell.
But firstly, a little about the Oscars Hut 2 Hut story – Oscars 100 is an organisation committed to improving the lives of children living with autism. Oscars 100 commenced in 2013 by Andy and Shell following their son’s diagnosis of autism. Oscars 100 raises funds for Irabina and Mansfield Austism Statewide Services to supply state of the art technology to deliver early intervention programs. The Oscars Hut 2 Hut event in 2019 raised $88,670 for Oscars 100 – exceeding the event fundraising goal by over $28,000.
The event got personal for me. I registered for the 2019 event in July 2018 following my nephew’s diagnosis of autism – it has been an incredible privilege to a small part of such an event.
PTR were well represented in the 2019 event and shaping to have an even bigger presence in 2020. Here’s a snapshot of the PTR Oscars adventures in 2019 from Vanessa, Macca, Cristie, Anni and Manna.
Why did you enter Oscars Hut2Hut:
Quite simply, if someone comes to you and says…. ‘I’ve got a brilliant idea…’ unless you are equally insane, just walk away. Thankfully it is criteria in joining PTR to be at least somewhat insane, which is why Manna and Anni have both joined PTR post-Oscars. It is also why Macca joined Cristie to conquer her biggest adventure yet. Safe to say that collectively these Oscars competitors have big hearts and wanted to be out there making a difference for kids with autism and tackling the high country. It was a great way to experience the highs and lows of the trails.
What were you thinking/feeling on the drive to Mount Buller on the Thursday:
On the drive up to Mount Buller on Thursday, knowing that ahead of us was 10 ascents, 8 iconic huts and 5600m of elevation in some inaccessible (in parts) high country there were many mixed emotions. For me, when driving in from Mansfield, catching that first glimpse of Buller – there were tears, would I be enough? There had not been enough training, and not enough elevation in the training – it was quite an overwhelming experience.
For Macca – this was a pivotal moment, for the next three days there would be no access to cigarettes, and all he wanted on the drive up was a smoke. Now, over two months post event, Macca is no longer a smoker! Amazing achievement, what a way to take a step (so many of them) to better health!
Cristie was terrified, wondering what she had gotten herself in to.
Manna had seen the course, both as a volunteer in 2017 and competitor in 2018 – she knew what was coming. After injury had meant a non-completion in 2018, Manna was determined and anxious. Getting past the point on day two where she needed to withdraw in 2018 was a momentous occasion.
What did you think would be the hardest and what did you find the hardest during the event?
Muesli Spur and Eight Mile have earned their reputation for a reason. Eight Mile is a relentless push up, with false summit after false summit! Downhill is not better! Macca even had a point when going down Muesli where he began to think he might prefer going up hills rather than down hills.
I had a pretty rough day out on day two, with some pretty bad blistering on the feet – Mt Speculation has earned my wrath. One day I’ll go back and make peace with Spec following some improvements in footwear and care!
Anni and I came through Muesli at the back of the pack on day two. It was absolutely trash, with no traction or stable footing - mostly just slide and hope for the best, skiing without the snow! I may have been seen throwing poles on several occasions on the decent down Muesli. Anni sighted the river, only to realise it wasn’t the river on more than a couple of occasions – it seemed a never-ending descent.
The climb from King Valley to Craig’s Hut was an example of what can be polar opposite – Macca surprised himself by thoroughly enjoying the sunrise climb from King to Craig’s, whereas Manna reached Craig’s experiencing an anxiety attack and found herself to be teary throughout day three, concerned that she would not be able to make the cut-off.
Cristie entered the event worried about The Bluff, but actually found this section quite straight forward – with Eight Mile and Muesli being her biggest challenges.
We all earned our Oscar! Apart from that, it’s safe to say that the views across Cross Cut and from Mt Speculation have rave reviews – especially from Macca and Cristie who were able to witness the tail end of the Mt Speculation wedding on Day Two. The sunrise from Mount Magdala was a sight to behold and the untouched 360-degree panoramas seen firsthand were a touch of heaven on earth.
A special mention to the view from the Ganter Hut toilet – it truly is exceptional and is rated a ‘must visit’ for those who tackle this event in the future.
Anni was able to connect with her special place, Mount Buggery, even though it is quite a bugger to get to. The jousting along Cross Cut – Macca calls it a draw, but I think the winning vote rests with Cristie as the jousting champion in 2019. One of the benefits of poles during a long event!!
Safe to say, that this PTR bunch knew it would be a tough one. How tough? Well you just don’t know until you get out on course. The course is designed to take you to the highest of highs and also to experience some tough lows – forcing you to dig deep and remember why you are doing it and the difference you are making in kids’ lives. It gives you just a little insight as to what it might be like to live with autism We all had moments of joy and elation, there were also tears, many of us had doubts in our capacity to complete the course at various times and we all needed to find our own way to rise above and get to that finish line. And we did!
Some will be back on course next year; some will be back volunteering. Any regrets in doing it? That is a unanimous “No!”
To quote ‘Jessica’ from “The Man from Snowy River” movie, “It changes so suddenly. One moment it’s paradise, the next it’s trying to kill you.”
Wishing all our PTR Oscars competitors strong and injury-free training and an amazing 2020 event! See you on course in 2020.