Ben vs Buffalo

Everyone remembers the scene in ‘Crocodile Dundee’ when Mick Dundee (Paul Hogan) mocks a mugger with the line, ‘That’s not a knife…’

It may be what getback Wauchope Physiotherapist Ben Crowe was thinking about when he decided to take on the 100km ‘Ultra’ marathon at the Buffalo Stampede in Bright, Victoria. 

‘That’s not a marathon… THAT’S a marathon!’

In the same movie Mick Dundee also hpynotises a buffalo, so perhaps we’re onto something…

Ben certainly fits the mould of the modest, laconic action man:

‘So I did 100km which was just this hilly 100km from Bright out to Mount Buffalo, up Mount Buffalo then back again,’ he tells me over the phone.

Ben tackles one of the gruelling ascents on Mount Buffalo

Sounds easy, right?

In reality, the 100km Ultra at the Buffalo Stampede running festival is known as one of the most gruelling ultramarathons in the world.

Billed as a ‘challenge for the mind and body’, the event includes 5,000 metres of uphill terrain and 5,000 metres of descent. 

Starting at 6am on 1 April (no alarm bells there?), Ben says he thought the 100km would take around 17 hours to complete. In the end, it took nearly 21 hours. 

‘We pretty much just ran and walked and climbed all the way, until just before 3am the next morning.’ 

And while Ben loved the experience of running along mountain ridges in alpine Victoria, there were moments when he didn’t know if he could keep going.

‘Around the 75 to 85km mark it was night-time and it got pitch black,’ he recalls.

‘When you look at the elevation map you see Mount Buffalo in the middle, where you do the big climb.

‘Then before and after it, there’s other mountains which compared to Buffalo, don’t look that bad.

‘But late in the run you have to climb these other couple of mountains. One of them was around ten kms, and it had five false summits.

Map of the Ultra course, with Mount Buffalo surrounded by smaller peaks

‘You get to the top and look over and see the torches of people going down the other side, and after five times you’re like, “Far out. When is it this going to end?”’

Pitch black, tired, cold, steep and rugged terrain – sounds like a nightmare. There must have been some sleep breaks?

‘No, you don’t sleep,’ Ben confirms. ‘There are checkpoints like aid stations every 10 or 15 km.

‘You top up your water and your electrolyte drinks and there heaps of different foods.

‘You just stop for a couple of minutes and sit down in a chair, if you have one.’

Of the 200 or so hardy souls who started, around 140 completed the race, including Ben and his older brother, Mitch.

And rather than Mick Dundee, it was Mitch who actually inspired Ben to run up and down Mount Buffalo. 

‘Mitch did a 100km ultramarathon last year and I was his support crew for that,’ Ben explains.

‘I was right next to him watching him do it and thinking “Actually, I really want to do that too.”’

Ben (right) and Mitch after completing the 100km Ultra

‘The best part of the experience for me was the amazing places you get to run, and the feeling of completing something like that with my brother.’

As a fit young sportsperson, Ben has recovered fairly well, considering – with sore knees and one lost toenail. His training as a Physiotherapist and knowledge around injury recovery probably helped, too.

Ben grew up in Bairnsdale, Victoria, but completed his Bachelor of Physiotherapy (Honours) at the University of Newcastle. He has a passion for working in rural areas and was able to complete his final year of study in Port Macquarie.

Ben enjoys helping his clients at getback Wauchope recover from injuries and achieve their goals with an evidence-based approach.

He hadn’t treated patients with getback’s device-based exercise program before he started at Wauchope.

‘(Wauchope Director) Nath showed me around the devices and I thought, “It makes sense”’. 

‘Then you actually get patients in that have back problems. They do a program and they’re so much better afterwards.

‘Now I’ll see someone with a chronic back issue and I suggest straight away that they do an assessment with the getback devices to check their strength and mobility.’

‘Because these devices haven’t failed anyone yet, that I’ve seen.’

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