helicopter h(ell)uva day

the whitsunday great walk ... race! didnt run it, but headed in as part of the ses to help out - placed at bloodwood checkpoint with sue and ben, lovely company
boy oh boy was i petrified at the thought of heading onto the helicopter though. we had to meet at the airport at 6.30am, andrew was picking me up and he was late, two ses carloads went past while i waited out front of my place for him, each stopping, but i said i would wait ... when he got here, he said they cant leave without us :)

at the airport, was a waiting game anyways, as we went through briefing and sorting where everyone was to go etc... there were three lots of us going in on the helicopter to various points, the others either at the race beginning/end etc, me ben and sue, were the second 'helicopter' group.
while i was actually excited to see where i train from the air, it would have been MUCH cooler had i been able to run into it ... all i could keep thinking was its only 8k from the airlie beach end, i would arrive in there before them if i had started when we headed to the airport anyways! :D

when the helicopter took the first group off, my heart - !! woah was it ever beating fast ... i just remember everyone saying to me how cool it was going to be and i would love it - then talking crashes!! ha, and thinking, 'just breathe, just breathe' :)
before there was time to blink, the helicopter was already coming back for us! was told the two main things NOT to do was, stand on the helicopter leg stand thingies that apparently become buoyant ONLY if we dont stand on them, if we crash into water, and, to not slam the door - the pilot would shoot us at dawn were either of those to happen!
so, cautiously, as we ran out to the helicopter, trying to not let my head be taken off by the blades, i fumbled over those 'thingies' and squeezed, myself in the tiny doorway.
before i knew it.... i was strapping in, having bags piled upon me, we were like four sardines squashed in! no problems with not slamming the door, i couldnt even get it to shut properly, and, i could NOT get the door to lock, i kept looking at sue while trying to listen to the pilot (simon) as he was was trying to get us putting on/talking on the headphones, i didnt want a dawn shooting - but was trying to tell her, my door wasnt locked! she had to lean across to do it for me, and i STILL kept pushing against it to make sure it wasnt gonna open again while we were in the air ... then, one big whoooosh and, we were heaven headed. andrew had said to take photos, that would be distracting. there is probably not a more photographed short helicopter flight ever. surprisingly, the helicopter was slower than i imagined, ... we found bloodwood, well, not me, everyone else, sue said it didnt look like bloodwood, but, as we were heading down, simon said we were too heavy and there was not enough wind.

now, apparently, taking off and landing is so reliant on many factors all coming together in the correct percentage - 'weight', the weather, the wind, humidity, - whats fine one day weight wise, may not be the next - EGADS! we were TOO heavy??! so what happens?
well, wasnt i about to find that out!

we had to head back to the airport, to get some fuel taken out. with us still on board and landing, the next group was surprised to see us still there. land. simon says stay on the helicopter and he will leave the air con on. not to be, he didnt. he was siphoning fuel and we were melting as we sat there. i had not wanted to open the door in case it never closed again, but in the end, the claustrophobic heat, was too much too handle. opened the door, praying i could lock it this time. everyone came out to stand around. in the end. i actually hopped completely off and walked around. too confined a space. simon was up to container number two! what if he got rid of too much. got assurance he wasnt :P~~ eventually, once again, we were strapped in, headphones on, communicating, and, off. arrive again at bloodwood. STILL too heavy! damn! back to the airport AGAIN. and he got ben to get off, leaving just me and sue. well. 85kgs lighter. we took off, and BOY, it was like turbo charge, was it ever fast!!! monstrous difference weight makes... plus, able to land this time. of all people, to get three trips to make it in, it had to be me and not someone who loves flying so much!

we had to actually walk uphill to bloodwood camp. couldnt find where the water had been dropped. and couldnt get communications. in the end. i ran up to the lookout further up the hill to try and get phone reception. got hold of andrew and said we could hear them but they werent hearing us. asked him where the water was hidden. his answer *under some bushes about 20 meters from something* - just - he couldnt remember what the 'something' was - haha! yeah. uh huh! that narrows it down, not too many bushes around. got back to where we were setting up, sue had gone back to the helicopter pad to wait for ben. i did some more searching, heard over the second radio andrew conveying all i had said - then headed back down too to join sue and ben in the water hunt ... found! yay. had to then lug heavy containers up to where we were setting up though. nice little workout in boots and uniform!

i was handling the water/endura and chatting to the runners as they came through our spot. ben, cross checking numbers. sue doing times. she positioned herself up wonderfully with her little picnic stash and she just made me laugh, she had so much food! i poured many cups of water/endura in readiness. sooooooooooooooo professional looking in our little rough and rugged territory with log

though we had been held up by so many helicopter trips and things, we still had a long wait till the first runner came through.
steve jackson - of course! (2:16:32 - awesome time) he grabbed both water and endura from me, the humidity affected everyone, so, that was to become the norm. front runners of course grabbing both drinks and continuing on their merry way, but after the first few many were ready to take it easy as they came in ... some WAAAAAAAAAAY more than others. was really great to chat with them and send them on their way with words of encouragement. sue said i was talking great with everyone. i didnt realise that, but was nice to hear for sure for someone like me ... i think it mayhaps surprised her, i arent normally a great chatter - guess, i know how they feel at that point, which must help.

was awesome to see people i knew as they came through. i had many congratulate me on my run last week. funny. ben turned back to me at one point and said, they are the ones racing and they are coming in giving YOU congratulations!! ha!

i was running out of cups - the endura, just made it to the last runner, and we had plenty of water, fortunately - had to end up re-using cups (eeek - DID wash them out properly!), filled bladders and water bottles etc as required. chatted tons. it was all really good fun.

once the last runner slowly headed through and out, we had to wait for him to go through the next cp before the helicopter was to come for us ... so, i lay down, tired, sleepy, hot, hungry :) a wonderful day. the quad bikes went through. they had the one and only runner that had pulled out. so there was no room for an y of us. over an hour later, we make our way back to the helicopter pad, he takes just sue and i first this time, leaving ben, then went back for ben and the others at the watertanks. ...

we headed back to the lagoon for the presentations. andrew makes a little speech and gave me a great gift :) for the 'stress relief' of going up in a helicopter for the first time ... he unveils it and hands it to me - foam squares!!! he made me laugh! how awesome. everyone looked on oddly, sarah said, only andrew and ann will get that. uh huh. storm did too when i explained it to her, she loved it also, and, we played with it together pulling it apart! w00t w00t - to me and my bizarre traits that some people will just never understand!
end result?
i dont know i will ever be comfortable in a helicopter. if, we had to go do a search and rescue, and i had to do it - i think i would be 'ok' with it - in that position, there is no time to think about it. its just DO. and with purpose.
but i certainly, would never 'choose' to go up in one though for fun. i cant see how they are joy ride machines :) if you want to see a place from the air - can always grab a book of photos :D

but. least ive now had the experience.
and. i DID have a blast of a day! loved. today. very much.

photos at great race pics


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