A BLISTERED lip, a burnt nose and a badly strained Achilles tendon had never felt so good for Gavin Bendall.
Bendall, sitting at Australia's highest point on top of Mount Kosciuszko on Saturday, had just run 240km up Australia's highest mountain as part of the gruelling Coast to Kosciuszko ultra-marathon.
Bendall started at the coastal town of Boydtown Beach in New South Wales, with his support team, which consisted of his wife Raelene, who was crew chief and pacer, his main driver and pacer, Martin Hack, physiotherapist, Chris Pollock, and his main pacer, Michael McGrath.
They battled through snow, wind and wet weather on their way to completing Australia's longest single-stage race in just under 32 hours (31:44.17).
"It was just spectacular up there. You're so far inland, but you could almost see the ocean - where we started from," Bendall said.
"I believe it's the only race in the world where you get to run from sea level to the highest point in the country.
"I guess it is amazing. It's a long way when you look back on it."
Competitors must run the first 15 hours alone, during which they have regular drink, nutrition and medical breaks, but after that time they can utilise a pace runner to help them through the final part of the race.
Bendall, who was sponsored by JM Kelly Group, CQ NRL Bid, HRE Human Race Events, and Moore Eyes Optometrists, said without the support of his sponsor and his team he would not have finished.
"All my crew did an awesome job, and I would not have been able to complete the race without them," he said.
"Over the whole 240km, at all the weigh-ins, I only lost 600 grams in total thanks to Raelene and the crew.
"The race directors, Paul Every and Dianne Weaver, who was from Rockham- pton, gave me great support while running, yelling 'Go Rocky' every time they drove past."
Bendall was one of 49 competitors - one of the 50 registered fell ill on the eve of the race - from around the world who raced.
He finished in ninth place and set a new personal-best time for the 100-mile after completing the first 161km in 18:38 hours on his way to the summit.
The 41-year-old said he would get his Achilles assessed today, but was hopeful to start the new year off on the right foot.
"I would really, really love to run on New Year's Day at the very latest," Bendall said.
"We actually have a New Year's Day Rocky Road Runners run from the university to Yeppoon - about 30km.
"I'm hoping to start my new year off on the right foot, so to speak."