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Reptilian encounters

Eastern Tiger snake
The warmer weather in the last month has encouraged the emergence of reptiles in the Australian bush, and there have been a number of sightings by runners along the local trails.  I have never heard of a runner being bitten by a snake, but no doubt the risk exists.

In the 1980s, my then wife and I owned a weekend shack at a place called Labertouche in the foothills of the mountains about an hour's drive east of Melbourne.  The shack could sleep a dozen people or more, in somewhat rustic conditions, and proved to be a great place for serious running training along the nearby fire-trails for us and our friends.  For some reason, in the earlier years of our ownership, there seemed to be a boom in the local snake population and almost every run of an hour or more involved at least one snake encounter, with the most common type being the Tiger snake, known for its aggressive nature.  The snake-spotting instincts I developed have stayed with me and I still analyse all sticks on the trail in front of me for the tell-tale signature of a snake in repose.  For those snake-abundant years, even at the height of summer when I would usually run topless, I always wore very thick long socks to just below my knees to reduce the chances of a successful envenomation, and carried a compressive "snake" bandage in case the worst happened.

Australian goanna
Despite encountering many snakes while running over the years, I have only once been close to a bite and that was when a small group of us, distracted by conversation, ran over a Tiger snake sunning itself on a fire-trail.  The first couple of runners frightened the snake which then reared up and lashed out in different directions as it sought to protect itself and find an escape route.  There were panicked runners leaping and yelling in all directions until the snake made good it's escape into the nearby undergrowth.

Another reptile frequently encountered in the Australian bush which can be scary, but not particularly dangerous, is the goanna.  It can grow up to two metres in length, possesses a nasty looking mouth and claws, and has the unnerving habit of crashing through the undergrowth and rapidly ascending trees when alarmed.  On one occasion, also when running from Labertouche, the fright we received when a startled large goanna raced up a tree was compounded when it lost its grip and crashed the ground just in front of us.  More leaping and yelling runners.

No training for me today; not even a walk.  My knee was quite sore all night and still painful this morning, though not as bad as yesterday.  The tell-tale test for recovery will be the ability to kneel down and then sit back on my haunches.  With this injury, the pain behind the right knee makes sitting back impossible at present.  If I'm lucky, the pain will abate sufficiently in the next few days to allow me to resume jogging.  Unfortunately, I may have to remove the heel raises protecting the sore right Achilles to give the knee more stability.  Everything's connected to everything else.