It would appear that my idea of ‘recovery’ after a marathon or ultra, is a little off the mark.
My rule of thumb is, skip the gym Monday, walk Tuesday, and be back running by Thursday. That’s seemed to work pretty well for me up until now.
I did just that, after last Saturday’s ultra. Thursday’s run was frustratingly slow, and punctuated by 2 unexpected showers. (My rain jacket was conveniently in my car). The I second shower was heavier than the first, and I knew that on a ‘good’ day I would have already been back at the bakery having coffee by the time it hit. Oh well – at least I could run!
I sensibly opted to give myself another week off speed training, initially planning on a spin class at the gym but then changing my mind at the last minute and going for a walk with the running group instead.
There was no run on Saturday as I was volunteering at parkrun. Second time ever on the stopwatch – I had sworn ‘never again’ after stuffing it up the previous time, but actually this time it was really easy and kind of fun!
I knew I wanted to run on Sunday, and there were plenty of options. Kate wanted to hit the trails, Leanne and a few of the other girls were also doing an ‘easy’ trail run, and there was a trial run for the new Cleland parkrun as well as a training run for Heysen 105, and James and co were doing a run down West Lakes way (about a 40 minute drive from my place). None of those runs suited me – I wanted to stay on the flat for another week, and James’ run was starting at 0630 which was not exactly compatible with a late Saturday night! There was also a half marathon down at Aldinga – I ruled that one out too because it was too far away and I didn’t think there was any point entering a race when I knew I wouldn’t be competitive!
So, rather than convince myself I could go for a run later in the day on my own, I decided to join the SARRC Sunday run group. There was a range of distances on offer, but I figured I could cut it short at any point. The group is geared towards marathon training (at this point they’re training for the Adelaide Marathon) and I’d run with them a few times in the past, but hadn’t made it a regular thing. Mostly either because the distance I was needing to run was too different from the distance they were doing, or because other commitments necessitated my running at a time other than 0730 on a Sunday! I had seen the group a few times during my training runs for the 12 hour event (the Uni Loop goes right past the clubrooms) – I’m sure most of them thought I was completely insane! Sometimes I’d see them gathered out the front of the clubrooms before starting their run, and then when they came back after their 30km run I’d still be running laps around the loop!
The 6am alarm was a bit unwelcome after not getting to bed until about 12:30am (tearing up the D-floor at a gig by regular running buddy James’ party band) but I got up and made my way to the clubrooms to run probably around 15km. I was surprised and pleased to see Beck pulling up in her car as I walked to the clubrooms – I hadn’t expected to see her there and I thought we could run together, as she is on the comeback trail after injury! She was planning to do 15km so I thought “Perfect!”
The first indication that I may not be doing the right thing was when coach Kent asked me what I was doing there – he would have expected me to be still resting! (I do have City2Surf coming up in 4 weeks – I have no expectations of getting close to the time I ran 2 years ago, but I would like to come in under the 70 minute mark, so I do need to get back into it fairly soon!)
It was a pretty hard run – pace was OK but the legs just felt really heavy especially on the hills! We were doing a lap of the Adelaide Marathon course which brought back memories of 2016 for Beck, Gary and me! In the end I didn’t run much with Beck as she was well ahead!
To get to 15km I would have had to run past the clubrooms and do another 4km loop. In the end, I got to the clubrooms at 11km and decided that was enough. And by then I’d made a decision.
It’s probably not quite enough, but it’s better than nothing. I’m going to take a break from running for the next week and a bit. My next run will be on Tuesday 25 July. The plan is to hit the gym for BodyPump and spin classes, and walk on Tuesday, Thursday and at the Cleland parkrun launch on Saturday. It will be my first ‘parkwalk’ but being reportedly a very challenging trail course, I’m more than happy to skip the run that day! Sunday I’ll be volunteering at a SARRC event, so I wouldn’t be running that day anyway.
Something exciting that happened this weekend was that I got my first road bike! It was the same bike I did a few rides on about 18 months ago – its owner has now grown out of it so I didn’t hesitate to say yes when it was offered to me! So as part of my ‘recovery’ I might get out for a gentle spin or two!
I think social media might have a lot to do with why I possibly don’t allow myself adequate recovery time! On my Strava and Facebook feeds, I’m constantly seeing people run an ultramarathon one day and a ‘recovery run’ the next, and I think to myself, “If they can run the day after an ultra, why can’t I?” or words to that effect!
I have cut back a lot on events this year. My list at the start of the year was quite a bit shorter than my 2016 list, and I’ve already cut a few out (with possibly more to come) so I guess you could say I’m learning… slowly!
Do you have any surefire recovery tips? Do you have a plan you like to follow? How much of a break do you give yourself after a big event?
You know that scene near the end of ‘Wayne’s World’ (repeated several times with the multiple ‘endings’) where Rob Lowe’s character gets out of the car after having been, err, ‘internally searched’ by the local police? Well, that’s kind of how I think I look when I get out of the car at the moment!
Perhaps I should explain myself a bit more here.
The Yumigo Adelaide 6/12/24 hour event has become a fixture in my running calendar over the last 3 years. I have now run the 6 hour twice (see my report from 2016 here) and after having a brief taste of victory last year, within a week of the event I had signed up to do the 6 hour again this year.
Since coming back from the USA this event has been firmly in my sights. With no Gold Coast Marathon this year to give me my distance legs, I have actually had to train for this one. As well as doing a few of my long training runs for Boston at the Uni Loop, since returning I have done 3 x 3 hour runs and 1 x 4 hour run. As stated in previous blog posts I have dropped a few other events to focus on this one.
Then something changed. Firstly I found out that Coralie, super fast marathoner, was doing the 6 hour. I don’t know if she’s ever done an ultra but looking at her marathon times I kind of thought she’d have me covered! Then another fast runner who HAS done ultras, Tracey, was also doing it. The last straw, so to speak, was when Louise, entered in the 12 hour, mentioned that she was thinking of ‘downgrading’ to the 6 hour. Now Louise is a faster runner than me, and has some great recent ultra form, having finished 3rd at the Cleland 50k event only a few weeks ago.
I entered the 6 hour again purely to try to go one better than last year. I actually didn’t expect to get a PB – I couldn’t really see how I could improve on last year distance-wise. And when these fast runners started to pop up – well it looked like winning was becoming more and more unlikely. And even though Louise later told me that she was going to stick with the 12 hour, I had already kind of made up my mind.
So here’s my logic. First, I have run 2 x 100km track races, finishing both in under 11 hours. Looking at the results of the 12 hour from previous years (2010-2016), only once would someone running exactly 100km have missed out on a placing. And given previous results over the distance, you’d think I should be able to get a bit OVER 100km (105 had a nice ring – that would then be my longest run EVER!)
Plus, being my first ever 12 hour event, it would be a guaranteed PB!
And with my 100k track experience, pacing wouldn’t be an issue – I would use exactly the same strategy I used for the last 100km race (link here). From the start, I would run for 25 minutes and walk for 5. And repeat 23 more times. Simples!
And nutrition was going to be the same too – I would take in some nutrition on every walk break – I had 4 white bread sandwiches cut into quarters, 2 with peanut butter and 2 with chocolate spread, plus some nut bars, Clif bars and mashed sweet potato. In training I’d only used nut bars and sandwiches, and in last year’s 6 hour that was all I’d needed, but for 12 hours I needed a bit more variety. I’d put the sweet potato into tiny containers (picture the types of containers you get sauces in when you get takeaway Indian or Chinese food) and brought a spoon along. I’d previously experimented with putting it into reusable flasks and Ziploc bags, which is probably the best way to go on a trail ultra, but on a 2.2k loop event eating it out of a container with a spoon would work fine.
Hydration-wise I went with the same strategy as the 100k in January – 6 x 500ml bottles of Gatorade ready to go. So I literally just had to grab one and keep going. I didn’t want to waste any time on food/drink stops.
Super support crew Simon had kindly offered to bring a gazebo for our unofficial ‘Team Vegan’ and get us chocolate donuts from the nearby Bakery on O’Connell! So I’d have a small table undercover where I could lay out all my stuff for quick access. No using my car as an aid station like I did last year! (That had worked OK last year, but with less than ideal conditions forecast this year, I didn’t really fancy my ability to operate a key in a lock, plus I have a history of losing car keys in ultras! Best keep the key somewhere safe, not to be touched until it was time to go home!) Simon would be joined by Sheena, who had hoped to be running the 24 hour event this year but sadly due to injury it was not to be. Happily for us, she would be supporting instead!
Gear-wise I’d been training with what I planned to use on the day. Starting from the bottom, my trusty Salomon trail shoes, which had served me well last year. My old favourite Nike trail socks (they’re just normal running socks but they’re black, hence they’re the ones I tend to use for ultras). New this year was a pair of gaiters, because on one of my training runs I’d been bothered by rocks in my shoes – the Uni Loop being a gravel track. I’d done my last training run in them, and all had gone well! On the legs I had black calf sleeves (I know, boring, huh?) and then 2XU compression shorts under a plain black lululemon skirt.
I’d gone with 2 Spibelts this year – Karen had kindly given me a spare, so I’d have one for my race bibs and one for my phone. The race bib one could also hold snacks and/or my iPod, should I need to use it.
On the top I went with my favourite lululemon green T-shirt, rainbow armwarmers (see – there was some colour after all!), a zip-up jacket over that, rain jacket, gloves, a buff and a beanie for the start at least. I had a hat and sunnies which I would change into once I got warmed up and the sun came out! I put in a couple of spare tops in case I got drenched like in 2015! And after getting pretty warm last year, I threw in a singlet as well. I had contemplated putting it on under my T-shirt, but in all likelihood I wouldn’t need it, and with the 5 minute walk breaks, I didn’t have to worry too much about wasting time changing!
Because it’s important to know this, my race eve dinner was an old favourite of mine, sweet potato mac and cheese from the awesome vegan website One Green Planet. I had this before this year’s 100k track championships and I’d been super organised and made a big batch last week and frozen it in meal-sized portions. Pre-ultra nutrition for me always consists of lots of carbs – I don’t ‘carb load’ as such but always have a good high-carb meal the night before (or on the day when it comes to overnight ultras) – usually pasta or noodles of some kind!
I taped my feet before I went to bed – rigid sports tape under my arches, and Hypafix around each toe to stop them rubbing. I imagine toe socks (or as I like to call them, ‘foot gloves’) would have done the same job, but having never tried them before, I wasn’t game to try them in this event! I did try to buy a new pair of Nike socks but the socks I have been using are no longer available, and I figured it was best to go with tried and tested (albeit somewhat past it) than something brand new!
With 3 alarms set for 4am, 4:05 and 4:10, I went to bed early, around 9ish. Amazingly, I woke up just before the 4am alarm!
I was already pretty pumped up but to put it beyond any doubt, before I got out of bed, the first order of business was a little motivational music. I went with a recent track from one of my all-time favourite bands (possibly THE all-time favourite, now I think of it!) – “Let’s Go” by Def Leppard, which starts with the line “Do you really really wanna do this now?”. At the time, my response was “Hell yeah!” (Their music was also pretty much the soundtrack to my Uni Loop training runs and one of the few things that made those runs tolerable!)
I had already got everything organised the night before so all I had to do was eat my breakfast, get dressed and put my food and drink in the car. There was one small hiccup when the fastener on one of my gaiters broke as I was putting it on – I figured a half-fastened gaiter was better than no gaiter, so I left it on regardless! Despite this small inconvenience, I managed to get out the door by 4:45 and parked in prime position, near the timing area, just before 5am, plenty of time before the 6am start! It wasn’t especially cold this year – I had my hoodie and track pants on but I was able to remove them well before the start time.
Simon was there around the same time with our gazebo and managed to find a great spot not too far from the timing area, near the portaloos (but not TOO near), in between Team Barry (2016 24 hour winner Barry McBride along with long time wine sponsor and fellow 24 hour runner Paul Rogers along with their amazing support crew Liz) and Team Katie (another 24 hour runner from last year back to do it all again, along with a number of her sisters and cousins tackling the 6 hour for the first time!). I brought out most of my stuff – a chair, a bag of stuff I might need during the race (spare socks, spare tops, rain jackets, sunglasses, iPod and headphones), a bag of clothes for AFTER the race as well as a warm blanket, and my food and drink. Oh and a bottle of red wine and a few glasses, a bottle of vegan Bailey’s I’d bought in San Francisco 2 months ago and amazingly remained unopened, and some shot glasses. (That was for AFTER!) In the car, I left my pillow, sleeping bag and acoustic guitar!
One last minute addition to my kit was a newly purchased ‘Team Vegan Beast Mode’ tech band by Mekong Athletic which Simon had organised (proceeds to animal charities – what’s not to like?) – given that it was dark and I didn’t have a mirror to put it on properly so the logo could be seen, I just put it around my neck for the time being. As it wasn’t super cold at the start, rather than have to worry about keeping my ears warm, I went straight to my old favourite 2XU running hat.
I decided not to go with the tunes to begin with. I thought I probably wouldn’t need to worry about that until after the halfway point when the 6 hour people finished. At the race briefing, Race Director Ben said that the weather looked like it was going to turn in the afternoon. So, I thought that I might not use the iPod at all, as I wouldn’t want it to get water in it.
The first hour or so was fairly quiet, possibly because it was still dark and we were all still half asleep!
A few things were apparent early on.
Firstly, the girls from NRG (Northern Running Group), Mel, Tania, Vicky, Cherie, Karen and Debbie, resplendent in their matching tutus and socks with wings, were a shoo-in for the non-existent ‘best dressed’ award.
Secondly, barring disaster, a girl called Amelia from Melbourne was going to win the 12 hour event – she was already lapping me before the sun came up!
Now, I’m going to stop trying to keep things chronological because it’s really hard to do that over 12 hours!
I want to start by talking about the people I ran with during the course of the day, all of whom had their own reasons for being there and goals they were hoping to achieve. There were quite a few runners out there so naturally I’m not going to be able to mention all of them! The 6 hour had the biggest field, 53 starters. Then there were 19 in the 12 hour. The 24 hour event boasted 27 entrants – they would start 4 hours after the 6 and 12 hour runners.
Early on I ran with well known running identity Sputnik, wanting to test out nutrition and hoping to complete a marathon – he ended up running the full 6 hours and clocking up over 55km!
Also in the 6 hour were a few more familiar faces – Stu who I ran with a couple of times, at one stage he was troubled with cramps but ended up completing 51.7km and a marathon PB along the way! Then there was Scuba who powered to an impressive 58.7km and his better half Chantal smashed out 51km which was her first marathon and first ultra!
My old ‘nemesis’ and the person to blame for getting me involved in all this silliness in the first place, Graham, was back again (he, along with Kym, have completed every 6/12/24 since the event’s inception). Weirdly, the only time I saw him in the 6 hours was at the 3 hour turnaround. (The turnarounds became a huge highlight! Believe me, when you’ve been running around the same loop for 3 hours, turning around and going back the other way almost feels like a change of scenery!) I told him I wasn’t going to chase him to the finish (like he did to me at Mount Gambier) and then he said he might come back and chase ME at the end of 12 hours! Despite the lack of ‘encouragement’ from me, Graham managed 58km. The aforementioned Kym, always one to encourage the newbies in the event, still managed to clock up nearly 44km and probably chatted with every single runner along the way! Another familiar face, Tim, was hoping for 50km but at least a marathon, in the end he was only a few kilometres off achieving the 50!
In the 12 hour event we had Leon, who had originally entered the 24 hour but due to work commitments he had to drop back to the 12 hour. Then there was Ciaran, who I had met last year at one of the Heysen training runs. We ran together on and off for short periods. Notably he had the most amazing support crew in wife Jenny, who was always encouraging to ALL the runners as we went past – either with a different dance for each lap, some singing, and the occasional quiz question! She really added a huge amount of enjoyment to the event, even during the few ‘dark’ hours when I was seriously questioning my sanity!
Other than Amelia who seemed to be a class above everyone else (and I suspect she would have also given the 6 hour event a good shake if the rules which applied in previous years, allowing 12 hour runners to get placings in the 6 hour event, had not been changed this year), there were a few strong looking women in the 12 hour. Firstly there was Michelle, who I knew was a really good runner (and definitely faster than me, although ‘fast’ is not exactly the most important thing in a 12 hour event!) and also Lynda, who I hadn’t met before, but looked strong every time I saw her.
The thing was, while I was hopeful of a podium finish (there were 11 females starting in the race, but I didn’t even know that at the time), I didn’t want to let it mess with my head. All I could do was run my own race. Knowing that I was 1km ahead or behind of someone else wouldn’t necessarily change what I was able to do. So my tactic for the race was to try NOT to look at the live results screen at the timing area. The way it worked was, as you crossed the timing mat, your name and position etc would appear at the top of the screen. At one stage early on, I wanted to see my lap count, because that was really the only reliable way to know how far I’d gone (GPS watches being notoriously inaccurate). At the same time I also saw that I was in 5th position. That was 5th overall, not 5th female, but even so, it was something I really didn’t want to know. After that, I avoided looking at the screen altogether! I asked volunteers near the timing area to tell me what lap I was on a few times, and the rest of the time tried to keep a mental count. The magic number was 45.5 – that would be 100km. That was all I needed to focus on.
Also in the 12 hour was Caitlin who was aiming for 50km which would be her first ultra. Her plan was to complete 50km and then stop. I had a George Foreman grill in my car that I had been meaning to give to her for quite a few months (since well before I went to the USA in April) but our paths had never crossed! Today I was determined to give it to her! As she was walking a fair bit, I passed her a few times so we were able to make the ‘transaction’! Firstly I had to tell her what my car looked like and where the grill was in the boot, then I had to describe where my tent was and where I’d leave my keys so her husband Matt could get the grill out while she was completing her 50k! She later told me that Matt had got the grill and she was almost at her goal distance! So not only did she complete an ultra and get a nice piece of bling, she also got a nice new(ish) kitchen appliance to go along with it!
The first turnaround was around 9am. In the past, when I had done the 6 hour event, that had been the ONLY turnaround. This time, there would be two more!
While I didn’t opt to run with my music, there was a guy in a ute near one of the soccer fields, I’m pretty sure he was associated with the soccer rather than our event, but he was cranking out some classic rock on his car stereo. On one occasion I ran past to the unmistakable sound of Def Leppard’s classic, “Pour Some Sugar On Me” which got me a little excited – I guess that was a sign it was going to be a good day!
Around this time, regular running buddy Kate arrived with my pre-arranged long black. I’d had one at this stage of each of my previous two 6 hour events, and had found they gave me a huge boost! This time I had a tent and a table, so I was able to tell Kate where my ‘base’ was, and she could leave the coffee there, so I could try to time my coffee drinking with my scheduled walk break. Given that it was a 2.2km loop, it would have been pretty lucky if I had passed by just at the right time for a walk break, but given that I was well ahead of schedule at that point, I could afford an extra few minutes walking to get the coffee in – and as it had cooled down a bit by the time I got to it, I was able to drink it relatively quickly!
The timing was perfect too, because just as I finished drinking it, I saw Daryl, there with Karen, not far from the start of the 24 hour event. I handed my empty cup to Daryl and asked him to put it in the bin for me, to save me carrying it around for another lap!
Among the 24 hour runners were two fellow vegans, Kate and Tracey, who were sharing the tent, and the support of Simon and Sheena, with another runner Georgy who was doing the 6 hour, and myself. Other notable entries were Barry, defending his title from last year, and Tia, who you may remember from last year’s event, who ended up winning the 6 hour trophy from the 12 hour event (which triggered the change in the rules this year!)
The first big challenge came at the halfway point, when the horn sounded to signify the end of the 6 hour event. 6 hour runners dropped their personalised rocks as soon as the horn sounded, and made their way back to the timing area, their race done! For the next hour or so, they were hanging around waiting for the presentation while the final distances were added up, meanwhile the 12 and 24 hour runners carried on! That was pretty hard, mentally! In the 100k track event, I had been used to the 50k runners finishing before me, but as that was a distance rather than time based event, they weren’t all finishing at once like they did here. Suddenly, well over half the overall field was gone!
At the halfway point, as well as singing a bit of ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ as I ran past Jenny’s tent (I figured I owed her a bit of ‘entertainment’ after all the entertainment she’d given me so far!) I had an energy drink, the effect of the coffee having long since worn off!
Around the 7 hour mark, the sky started to look ugly. I didn’t want to end up over the other side of the track without a rain jacket if the heavens opened, so I played it safe and put on my rain jacket as I passed my tent. It wasn’t at all hot, so despite the fact that it didn’t actually rain until about 4 hours later, I ran in the jacket for the rest of the 12 hours, quite comfortably.
I’m not sure exactly what point I started having really negative thoughts, but I think it was somewhere just before the 8 hour mark. I remember one of the volunteers at the food tent asking how I was going, to which I responded “Shithouse. SHIT HOUSE”. Hopefully I wasn’t rude – maybe they thought I was just being funny!
This was the point where I was kind of hoping some random would ask me what I was doing. Rather than Ben’s suggested response from the race briefing (“being a total legend”) I was planning to say “Seriously questioning my life choices!”
Up to the 8 hour mark I was able to keep up my ’25 minute run/5 minute walk and eat’ strategy going, but it was becoming more and more of a struggle. I decided to change tactics at 8 hours, and for the next hour I tried ’13 minute run/2 minute walk’ and every second 2 minute walk I would also eat. That lasted for an hour, as I quickly realised 2 minutes walk break was not enough to be of any use.
It was probably around this time that I ran into Karen, at this stage she was walking with Daryl and their dog Feebee. Although I was running and they were walking, it seemed to take me ages to catch up with them. Karen was having a bad day, she had revised her goal and had decided that she would be happy with 100km in the 24 hours. Not too long after this, she informed me that she was too sore and decided to pull the pin after having completed a marathon distance in around 6 hours. Catching up with her a few days later, she was not regretting her decision! She also told me she thought I looked terrible at that stage, possibly even a little on the green side!
(Food-wise I was quite happy with what I’d brought – in the end I only had half a sandwich left out of the 4 that I’d started with, and 2 of my 5 tubs of sweet potato. I think I also had 2 out of my 4 nut bars, and one of the 6 bottles of Gatorade. So that’s pretty perfect! The only thing I ate during the race that I hadn’t supplied myself was a couple of Maurice’s famous vegan brownies!)
So from 9 hours I dropped way back to 10 minute run, 5 minute walk and eat. I was pretty much running at walking pace anyway by this stage!
Not long after this (and another turnaround) Beck arrived with my afternoon coffee! I happened to be walking at the time, so I took it from her and we walked together as I drank it. The conversation went something like this:
Beck: You’re limping.
Beck: What’s hurting?
Beck: Oh, that’s good.
Of course, what she meant was, (and I knew this) you EXPECT everything to hurt when you’ve been running/walking for over 9 hours. What would have been more concerning would have been if one particular area was hurting (like, for example, a troublesome hamstring tendon!)
At that point I told her that I was going to get to 100km and then that would be it, I would stop. I didn’t know how far from the end I would be at that stage, but I didn’t care. 100km was all I cared about by now.
I think maybe that second coffee was the boost I needed to get me through the rest of the 12 hours. It may have also been the fact that there was only 2.5 hours to go. We’ll never know, but the below graph makes interesting viewing. I kept a manual note of my distance (by my watch) at each hour. I then made this into a graph – showing the distance I covered in each of the 12 hours.
I managed to stick with the 10/5 run/walk for the rest of the 12 hours. Except at the end of course – I was hardly going to walk the last 5 minutes of the 12 hour event, unless of course I was unable to run at all! I think this worked really well – 10 minutes was not too long to be running, and 5 minutes was enough time to get a decent amount of food and recovery. And I covered more ground than I would have had I just been walking.
As I got closer to the end, I realised that the hundy was definitely going to happen, and I reached a point where I knew I’d be able to walk it in, but I didn’t want to do that if at all possible. I didn’t know if I was in the top 3, and how close/far away I was from the other competitors, so despite the fact that 100 was at the front of my mind, I knew I had to keep going after that, to get as far as I possibly could.
45.5 laps, as I mentioned earlier, was the magic number. The ‘0.5 lap’ mark was the bollard that signified the 3 hourly turnaround point, so it would be easy to gauge when I’d got there. In fact, 100km was a bit less than 45.5 laps. I realised when I had a couple of laps to go to reach the milestone, that there was actually a yellow marker on the ground next to a bench, that said ‘100km’! To think I had run past it probably 43 times without even noticing it! Probably a good thing. It probably would have messed with my head!
Around this time I saw a familiar face, Brody, another ultramarathoner who I’d met at one of the Heysen training runs, who had come to run some laps with Barry in the evening. He ran about half a lap with me as I got ever closer to the three figures. He was the one who suggested we run on the inside of the loop which, as we were going clockwise at the time, was the right hand side. This felt very unnatural and I was a bit worried about getting hit head on by some of the fast young runners who were out there running in the rain, but it made sense – it was the shortest distance after all! How was I only just learning this now?
Probably with about 20 minutes to go, I reached the magical milestone as I passed that 100km sign for the penultimate time. I raised my arms in the air in a victorious pose (not that there was anyone there to see it!) and kept going – how much further could I go?
When I got back to the timing area to complete my 46th lap, Michelle was there ready to hand me my personalised rock. I loudly and clearly called out “I want my rock now!” so she’d be ready with it by the time I got there, but she was already on top of it! I grabbed my rock (which Michelle very kindly kissed for me before handing it to me!) and set off on what would be my final lap.
It was dark by now, and the watch I was using didn’t have a backlight, so I had to rely on the path lights to see how much time was left. I knew it was only a matter of minutes. I didn’t want to miss hearing the horn!
And then, there it was! 12 hours, done! I dropped my rock and walked back to the timing area. I wasn’t sure of my exact distance (that would need to be manually measured) but I knew I’d done at least 102.2km, as I’d passed the 100km mark one more time and a full lap was 2.2km. But would it be enough to get me a placing? I’d have to wait and see! (Or, I could look at the live results, but I wouldn’t do that!)
As far as I could tell, I was 2nd, 3rd or 4th. I would have been very disappointed if I’d clocked over 100km and not made the top 3! Even so, I couldn’t have done any better, and I was ECSTATIC to have got the 3 figures.
Time to relax! As the volunteers went about the task of doing the final measurements, I got changed into warm clothes (I left my compression shorts and calf sleeves on, partly for recovery and partly because, well, they were too hard to get off!) and hoed into a vegan chocolate donut that Simon had picked up from Bakery on O’Connell – THE BEST!!!!
Michelle, one of the two women (other than Amelia) who I thought might have been ahead of me, came past, and I found out she’d had a few injury issues and got about 98km. So by my calculations that would put me in at least 3rd place.
Then it was time for the presentation when I would find out for sure! As it turned out, Lynda was just behind Michelle in 4th place, and I’d managed to get 2nd! The down side of being 2nd versus 3rd was that I had to climb up onto a slightly higher podium. That was nothing though, compared with how high up Amelia had to get! I was gobsmacked when her distance was announced – just a touch under 130km! If only I’d tried a bit harder and run another 28km, I could have won!
So that was pretty exciting! And for the second year in a row I finished second to a Victorian!
After that it was time to just chill out and support Kate and Tracey and the other 24 hour runners. I got my guitar out at one stage and messed around a little bit with a few chords (Kym, who is a bit of a muso himself, came back to see the end of the 12 hour and we had a bit of a chat about bar chords and other things I don’t know a lot about!) and Simon, legend that he is, went to Crust Pizza to get us some vegan pizza! Fellow member of Team Vegan, Greg also turned up with coffee! Another team member, Dave, was unable to run due to injury but did come and volunteer as well as taking some awesome photos – thanks Dave!
One of the things I had been looking forward to for some time was finally cracking open the bottle of vegan Baileys. Well known trail runner Wendy had happened to drop in at the right time, with dinner for Simon, and was more than happy to sample my wares! The verdict from everyone who tried it was that it was delicious – even the non-vegans! I think devout non-vegan Maurice even enjoyed it a little bit! (Now we just need to get them to sell it in Australia – it’s pretty expensive when you have to fly all the way to the USA to get it!)
Before long I decided I wanted to try to sleep, and Sheena offered to put up the tent that Tracey had brought, so I could sleep in there. I gratefully accepted, and managed to catch a few hours kip in between hearing people shuffle past me, and the general chit chat from Team Vegan and Team Barry next door! I couldn’t really get comfortable, but I don’t think I would have been able to get comfortable in my own bed at this stage either!
Probably around 5:30 I woke up, I could hear Susan, the first aid boss, in the tent next to me, asking people as they went past “Are you eating? Drinking? Weeing?”. I could hear something was going on in Team Vegan, I realised that something wasn’t right with Kate, and before too long I heard Susan calling for an ambulance! That didn’t sound good, but everyone seemed quite calm. Turned out she was having blood pressure issues and while she did go off in the ambulance to hospital, we got a message from her not long after saying that all was good after being put on a drip. She eventually made it back in time for the presentation which was good as she won a voucher for The Running Company in the lucky prize draw (you had to be there to claim a prize!)
I made my way to the food tent. Michelle had offered me a range of vegan slices during my 12 hour run but I said I’d wait till I was finished. Now I was finished so I made a point of sampling all of them. Most of them more than once (I had to be sure) – they were all delicious! And of course, I earned them!
Once the sun was up I decided I couldn’t face the gnarly portaloos anymore, so even thought it involved a fair bit of walking, I made my way to the proper, clean, toilets at the Adelaide Uni clubrooms! I think the walking actually helped relieve some of the stiffness!
I snuck back out to Bakery On O’Connell for a coffee run and a few vegan pasties (breakfast of champions!) for myself and Simon!
One memorable moment from the closing stages of the 24 hour was getting to see Stephan running backwards! I can understand why – you get to use different muscles! Afterwards he estimated he had done about 1km in total backwards!
One of the pluses of staying overnight after finishing the 12 hour was getting to see the 24 hour runners through the middle of the night. Watching them made me decide I NEVER want to run the 24 hour. Although, I do want to do a 100 miler one day and I’m sure a trail miler is not in my future, so I guess I will have to do it eventually. Give me a few years!
First overall in the 24 hour was Tia, first male again was Barry (both of them cracking the 200km barrier), and Tracey ended up getting 3rd behind Anna (it was Anna’s first ever podium finish!)
I then hung around to help pack away (the benefit being I got to take home a container full of leftover vegan brownies!) and got home around 1pm! It was a long, exhausting but seriously rewarding couple of days!
From ‘never again’ I am now pretty much certain I’ll do the 12 hour again next year. Let’s call this year a ‘reconnaissance mission’ and I’ve learned a lot that will hopefully help me make it bigger and better next year!
HUGE thanks to the following people (and massive apologies if I forgot anyone!)
Ben, the seemingly superhuman Race Director, for putting on yet another epic event!
All of the amazing volunteers who helped to make it all happen!
All of the other runners in the 6, 12 and 24 hour events for the chats, company and encouragement along the way!
All the supporters along the course – most of them were there to support one particular runner or group of runners but all of them gave encouragement to all the runners as they passed! Extra special thanks to Ciaran’s wife Jenny – you were the best, with encouragement every time I went past!
My wonderful support crew, Simon and Sheena and the rest of Team Vegan
My caffeine suppliers, Kate and Beck! Lifesavers!
All the people who dropped by to see me – including Mum and Dad, Robyn, Gary (who also ran with me briefly in his dress shoes!), and Voula (who ran with me after having completed her long run!)
Because there are no photos to illustrate this week’s post, I have decided to ‘pretty’ it up with some (mostly nonsensical and completely irrelevant) words of ‘wisdom’ from my favourite new time-waster (and LOL generator) – inspirobot.me! (You’re welcome, by the way!)
You know FOMO, right? Fear Of Missing Out.
Social media has a lot to answer for here. In the past you wouldn’t necessarily know what you were missing out on. But now you can’t even open Facebook or Instagram without seeing a post about somewhere you wish you were, and/or a race you wish you were running!
This time last year, and the year before that, AND the year before that, I was up on the Gold Coast for marathon weekend. Not this year though. I know a lot of people who were there, and had no end of posts popping up on my news feed. The fact that the weather here in Adelaide this weekend has been spectacular (if a little chilly in the mornings) makes it a bit easier to see the pics of people up there in the sunshine!
And you know what? Even if it had been raining all weekend, I think I’d still be OK with not being there! Been there, done that. Having said that, if I ever want to give Boston another crack, that’s where I’ll be going for my BQ!
Then there’s Yurrebilla. The Yurrebilla 56km ultra is the biggest ultra in SA in terms of participation, and one of my all time favourite events. I volunteered in 2014 and then ran it in 2015 and 2016.
This weekend was the first of the 3 traditional training runs for Yurrebilla. Essentially, the course is split into 3 sections, so if you do all 3 runs you’ve seen the whole course. Unless, of course, a freak storm hits Adelaide a week and a half out from the event, rendering parts of the trail inaccessible and forcing a last-minute re-route. As if that would ever happen!
Given the ‘loopy ultra’ (as I like to call it) next weekend, I thought a little ‘time on legs’ was called for, so I had planned to run ‘back and out’ (starting at the finish, running back to the start to meet the main group and running with them back to the finish – about 36km all up). That was, until I realised that I was going out on Saturday night and probably wouldn’t be too keen on starting a run at 5:45, or even 8:00, for the standard distance, so I pulled the pin on that idea.
Then I realised I would also miss the second run as I will be in Sydney. So, given that I find it hard to get motivated to do these kinds of runs on my own, that would leave just the final stage. Last year I was in the same boat and ended up doing stages 2 and 3 together (about 40km – a LONG day out!). I did an OK time in the event but I had been hoping for sub 7 hours (after having run 7:07 in 2015) – the extra hills in the re-route probably didn’t help my cause there!
So I came to the conclusion that I could either run it (with low expectations and minimal training), or I could just take this year off. And I opted for the latter – I’ll go out and volunteer this year, and get my trail legs primed for 2018!
On Sunday morning, having done my long loopy run on Saturday, and waking up at a civilised time with nothing I had to get done (pure luxury!) I decided to head up to the finish of the training run to chat with fellow runners (spending most of my time in close proximity to the very welcome portable heater!). As I drove up the old Mount Barker Road I passed a number of runners (and some walkers) approaching the end of their run. And some who were on their way back down to the start at Belair! No FOMO! I got to the finish line ‘aid station’, kindly provided by super volunteers Mal and Merrilyn every year, and saw all the runners with their smiling faces and still no FOMO! It was a beautiful day for a run, too – but I made the most of it by getting out for a long walk to stretch the old legs after Saturday’s 3 hour training run.
So after this weekend I am confident I’ve made the right decision about Yurrebilla. And now I’ve said it here, it’s official (and the volunteer coordinator has undoubtedly already got me slotted into a role!)
I’m pretty sure I won’t be experiencing any FOMO next Sunday morning either, wishing I’d done the 24 hour event instead of the shorter option. I ran intermittently with 24 hour entrant Tracey on Saturday, and I was complaining about having to get up at 4am for a 6am start, while she would get a nice sleep-in for the very civilised 10am start for the 24 hour. I then fast-forwarded to 4am Sunday, when I would be fast asleep in bed (hopefully) and she would still be going! So 4am on Saturday suddenly didn’t seem so bad!
I describe my recent USA holiday as ‘epic’ but as we know, that word is thrown around waaaay too much. It was amazingly fun, and action-packed, but epic? Probably not. I don’t think the tale of my month in the States will be handed down from generation to generation, somehow!
I do want to do something proper epic though, one day. The idea of running from one city to another has definitely entered my mind (Melbourne to Adelaide maybe? Mount Gambier to Adelaide?) and with the right support, could happen! (Actually with a good group of people it could be a lot of fun!)
One race that I would LOVE to be able to do, but which is WAY beyond me at the moment (never say never, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon!) is Coast2Kosci – about 240km from the coast at Eden to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko, the highest point in Australia. I’m not particularly interested in mega long races (although I do want to tick off a 100 miler one day) but this one appeals to me greatly.
Maybe not so much ‘epic’ but something that would take a lot of work, would be the ‘Not The Adelaide Cup’ human races (as opposed to horse races) – pretty much all the fun of a day at the races but with humans racing instead of horses. That WILL happen one day!
I don’t have to look far to see actual epic adventures. I just have to go down my Facebook news feed and I thought this week I might highlight a few friends who have done (or are in the process of doing) freaking amazing stuff!
First cab off the rank, being freshest in the mind, was David Turnbull’s record-breaking run which ended last Wednesday night – the entire Heysen Trail, just under 1200km of it, from north to south in 13 days 16 hours and 16 minutes – breaking the previous record by a massive 16 hours!
I first met DT after The North Face 100 (now Ultra-Trail Australia 100) 2 years ago. He did brilliantly that day and made a good first impression on me by buying a bottle of wine for fellow ultra running legend Andrew, Andrew’s wife and crew Lara, and myself!
We’ve shared the track a few times since then – I got to watch him smash out 130+ km in the Adelaide 12 hour event in 2015 while I was running around in circles for 6 hours, and we were both winners in the 100km state track championships earlier this year (although he was long gone by the time I eventually finished!).
I was fortunate enough, along with fellow trail runners Tina and Ryley, to be able to join DT for a very short section of the trail (around 4km!) last Monday, and was amazed at how well he was travelling, despite the fact that he was approaching 900km at that stage! On a few occasions he would start running up a hill, and I’d be thinking, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to be able to keep up with a guy who’s run almost 1000km?” but then after a few steps he’d be walking again and Tina and I would be able to catch up!
DT was posting his location on his Facebook page every hour or so, which allowed people to find him and run with him for a bit – if they could keep up! It was a privilege to be able to share a small part of what turned out to be a FKT (Fastest Known Time) and a real eye-opener to see what goes into these audacious (and in this case ultimately successful) attempts! I believe there will be some kind of book about this and I really look forward to reading it!
Still in progress is another massive undertaking, The Million Dollar Run. This is a 3000km run from Adelaide to Brisbane to raise $1m for DEBRA Australia. I first met Andrew in December 2015 at a birthday run for fellow runner Barry, 6 hours around the 2.2km Uni Loop, sounds like fun, right? Well I only did 5 laps that day (my excuses being that it was a stinking hot day and plus I had to go to work!) but Andrew completed his first marathon and as I recall in not too shabby a time! The Million Dollar Run was already on the cards then, but it’s taken a while for it to actually happen! At the time of writing he’s pretty close to Melbourne! Amazing stuff!
Finally for this week we have School of the Road – last year, fellow runner Travis, Fiona and their son Patch, who has autism, embarked on a truly epic adventure, cycling from Washington State to Washington DC, around 5000km, an absolutely amazing and inspiring journey, showing, as they said, that ‘anything is possible’!
So there you have it, 3 inspirational people doing amazing things for very worthy causes! Hopefully I will be able to come even remotely close to such epicness one day!
Here we go again – around and around and around! And around. And how appropriate that this is also my 100th blog post!
Last year I ran in the inaugural Yumigo 100km state championships. You can read all about it here.
I remember distinctly, immediately after the race, when race director Ben announced that it would be run again this year, fellow competitor Karen and I looked at each other and said “Never again!” (I was reminded twice of this in the past few days – by my mum and by friend Maree). And yet, here we were again!
After a 30k long run the previous Saturday which was very evenly paced, I had 2 runs during the week, both slower than usual – perfect preparation for a 100k ultra! I did go out and run a parkrun with Mum on Saturday morning but there was a fair bit of walking.
Nutrition-wise I went with 3 sandwiches (some peanut butter and some coconut spread – it’s always good to have a bit of variety because you never know what you’re going to feel like eating!), some almonds, 3 nut bars and some mashed sweet potato with a little salt. In the process of peeling the sweet potato with my awesome Y-peeler I discovered that the peeler is also very good at peeling human flesh!
Last year I’d made up a big container of Gatorade but I remembered it was a bit of a hassle pouring it into the cup. This year I decided to fill up 6 bottles which I could then pick up and run with.
As per last year, I had lunch for breakfast, dinner for lunch and breakfast for dinner! Breakfast was peanut butter on toast, lunch was sweet potato mac and “cheese” (recipe here) and dinner was a smoothie.
Carbing up like a BOSS!
I had a few hours’ nap in the afternoon as I was going to be running all through the night.
Gear-wise I had my usual Skins shorts with my black lulu skirt over the top. I went with blue calf sleeves, a pair of road shoes (the same ones I normally wear but half a size bigger to minimise blisters) and my Steigen socks (guaranteed blister-proof!). I started with a (newish) Mekong top, it was a Yumigo one which seemed appropriate given it was a Yumigo event! I thought it was pretty safe though, even though I’d only run in it once before – in this kind of event there’s always the opportunity to change tops if it isn’t comfortable.
I packed a few extra singlets, some arm warmers and a long sleeved top in case it got cold during the night – although that didn’t look likely.
We started at 7, an hour earlier than last year, so it was pretty warm when we started. I think someone said it was 29 degrees at the start and still quite sunny. Consequently I started the race with a hat and sunnies, and with sunscreen on, but the good thing was that I would not need to reapply the sunscreen!
Another piece of good news was the change in the toilet arrangements. Last year we had used the toilets in the grandstand. Nothing wrong with that apart from the fact the it involved walking up stairs! This year they were at ground level which cut out all unnecessary elevation! (Although, by the time I kind of needed to go, I was worried I might get lost so I didn’t end up going! It would have broken my momentum anyway)
There were 12 starters in the 100k and I think 15 in the 50k. This year, the 100k and 50k runners were separated – we had lanes 1-3 and they had lanes 4-6. While last year the 50k runners had done 125 laps, this year the number of laps was calculated based on the slightly longer length of lap in lane 4, and consequently they started at a different point on the track (but at the same time) so they would still finish on the finish line. There were only 3 women in the 100k which meant that we only needed to finish to get a podium position!
The 100k starters!
ONLY needed to finish – I probably shouldn’t use the word ‘only’ there. Last year, out of 12 starters, there were only 5 finishers. 2 more runners ran for the full 12 hours but did not manage to complete the 100k, and possibly some of the ones who dropped out, did so because they knew they wouldn’t make the time cutoff. The last official finisher was averaging 7:10 min/km and only JUST made it. Compare that to trail events of the same distance like UTA100 (28 hours) and Heysen 105 (25 hours). Sure, those events are COMPLETELY different, with lots of elevation, but running 100km on a flat track is not necessarily easier!
There were a few things happening to break up the monotony (I use the term ‘monotony’ in the nicest possible way) – every hour or so the whiteboard near the start/finish line was updated to show each runner’s current lap count, and every 3 hours we got to turn around! I did very much look forward to that, although it did feel quite weird running anticlockwise!
One of the hourly updates!
My strategy was simple. Run 30 minutes, walk 5 minutes. It was the same strategy I’d started with last year, but over the course of the night the “run” sections became shorter and shorter, but I never allowed myself to walk for more than 5 minutes at a time. Last year I’d put an alert on my watch to remind me every time it was time to walk (or start running again) but this quickly drained the battery, and I knew that watch wouldn’t last the distance anyway, plus once I’d changed the run/walk intervals, the watch alerts were useless. So I decided to keep track of it in my head!
As there were only 12 runners in the 100k, I got to interact a bit with all of them – either as I passed them, or as they lapped me with monotonous regularity! I was running with one of the 100k runners, Stephan, at (I think) around the 5 hour mark and was surprised when he told me he hadn’t walked at all up to that point! I guess the run/walk strategy isn’t for everyone, but it certainly works for me over this distance. Even the super fast runners were walking at times (eventual 100k winner David T and 2nd placegetter in the 50k Simon).
I managed to keep the 30/5 intervals going until 3½ hours, which seemed like a logical point to change to 25/5 – much easier to keep track! It worked out well with the stadium clock too, because the race had started at 7:05, so the idea was that on the half hour and on the hour (by the clock), I would walk for 5 minutes. During the walk breaks I would take in nutrition and grab one of my drink bottles. Over the course of the night I only had one lot of sweet potato – maybe about ¼ cup or maybe even less than that – and didn’t fancy it after that. I didn’t touch the almonds, I just existed on sandwiches, nut bars, Gatorade and Coke.
When walking, I started walking on the line between Lane 1 and Lane 2. I got the idea from Kaven, one of the 100k runners who was walking a fair bit and eventually pulled out due to injury – it meant that the faster runners could pass on the left, thereby running the shortest possible distance. At walking pace, it wouldn’t make much difference to the distance I would cover. When running, I’d stay as close to the inside of the track as possible – so when I went from ‘walk’ to ‘run’ I’d drift back across to the inside (after checking of course that DT wasn’t about to fly past me – he was a man on a mission!
The singing started early this year, and surprisingly it wasn’t me who started it! And Michelle, who had started it last year, wasn’t running this year. She was volunteering and was there at the start but didn’t stay the whole night. And I wondered why it seemed quiet! This time it was Karen who started the singing – she had her iPod going within the first hour I think! I was saving mine for after the halfway point (after the 6 hour turnaround) – I didn’t want to get too reliant on it, and it would be later in the night, as 50k and some of the faster 100k runners finished, that it would be needed – less people out on the track to chat to, and less spectators!
As there were only 3 women in the 100k race, and Karen had already said she didn’t think she had a hope of reaching the 100k, and Bec wasn’t confident at all either, I expected I would probably be mainly ‘competing’ with myself, although I wouldn’t count Bec out – she had won the 12 hour race in July and had cracked the 100km on that day. I was confident I would make the distance, I wasn’t expecting to beat last year’s time of 10:43:14 but hoped to do something similar. Anything under 11 hours would be good!
I’m not sure exactly what point it was, but I think it was somewhere around 3 hours, I passed Bec and she said she was already up to run 1 lap/walk 1 lap so at that point she knew 100k was not going to happen – but she was determined to keep going for the 12 hours regardless! So effectively that meant that, out of the females, it was only me left!
Probably around the same time, the pizzas arrived – Ben as always had looked after the vegans by ordering a vegan pizza as well as a vegetarian one and one with meat on it. There were a few of us vegans out there, Simon, Sheena and Alan in the 50k and as far as I know just me in the 100k. I’m not going to say that the 50k vegans ate all the pizza, but suffice to say that when I finished there was no vegan pizza left! (Note to self for next time – ask for a slice to be put aside for me – I don’t like eating hot food during a race, and I’m happy to eat it cold afterwards!)
Team Vegan. Who ate all the pizza?
Even though there was a bit of physical separation between us this year, it was still great to have the 50k runners out there! I went back and forth with Graham for a while – he kept commenting on how my laps were shorter (which of course they were) whenever I passed him! Graham was the first person to tell me about running around in circles for a ridiculously long period of time (he was referring to the 24 hour race at the Uni Loop, and I recall telling him that sounded incredibly boring!) so I guess he’s to blame for all of this!
From the 4 hour mark, the 50k runners started approaching the end of their race, the track getting quieter and quieter with each finisher! The first male finisher was Randell in just over 4 hours – absolutely phenomenal! Not far behind him in second place was Simon who had also finished second last year. Brenton was third in under 5 hours.
The female winner in the 50k was Estha, followed by Debbie and Sheena. As each of the runners approached the end of their race, Ben announced over the PA system that they were on their final lap – it was really great to see everyone finishing even though we knew the finish was a LOOONG way off for us! It was a welcome distraction and very motivating!
The male 50k podium – Simon, Randell and Brenton, with Ben
The top 3 women in the 50km – Debbie, Estha and Sheena!
There were many visitors throughout the night – I won’t be able to mention them all, and there are probably some who were there and I didn’t even realise it! I will just mention a few but all the support from everyone was much appreciated!
First there was Liz who was there probably around the 4-5 hour mark and told me to run more upright as I was tending to lean forward (of course I didn’t realise it, but as soon as I corrected my posture it instantly felt better!). As it’s pretty impossible to be thinking about posture constantly for 250 laps, she suggested that I think about it every time I crossed the finish line. And you know what? I think that really helped! Not long after that, Scuba arrived to cheer us on for a while and i do believe he said he’s going to join in the fun next year! Then, probably around midnightish, Tracie popped in on her way home from a night out (oh yeah that’s right. It was Saturday night. That’s what NORMAL people do on a Saturday night!) and stayed for an hour or so? Maybe more? It’s hard to keep track of time! She sat in my chair and got me stuff out of my esky as I asked for it. So this is what it’s like having a support crew! Actually I managed pretty well on my own – it’s the type of event that is quite easy without a crew – but it was nice to have the support for that time!
Not long after Tracie left, the next turnaround marked the halfway point, time-wise anyway. At this stage I was on 58km so a finish within the cutoff time was looking comfortable. Although, I was somewhat slower than last year when I sat on 6 minute kilometre pace until about 65km. This time, by the 4 hour mark I had just fallen off 6 minute pace. Still, it was considerably hotter than last year, and I’d also managed to keep the 25/5 intervals going. And I was only marginally off pace so I wasn’t concerned.
This was also the point where I got the iPod out. I had planned to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” when we turned around (“Turn around…” – seemed appropriate!) but forgot! (Pretty sure that song did eventually come on!) I think from memory the first song was “We Like To Party” by the Vengaboys!
Throughout the rest of the night I had the iPod on and off – the earbuds kept falling out so it was a bit annoying – must get some decent ones for next year (YES I did just say ‘next year’!). I had difficulty hitting the high notes when running (probably not surprisingly!) but I think the highlight for me was when Mariah Carey’s ‘Hero’ came on. That, very conveniently, coincided with a walk break, so I was able to give it a good crack! I thought the lyrics were pretty apt too! Hope everyone enjoyed it!
I tried to limit the loud singing to when I was on the straight in front of the grandstand, where all the spectators and supporters were. I thought they would probably appreciate it more than the other runners, and of course I had to conserve some air for breathing! Also I had to pick my battles – for example, Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies’ is a great song to listen to and dance to but VERY hard to sing especially while running!
The music had added benefits too. My playlist has about 900 songs, for every occasion, so I found myself skipping through the songs until I found one that was appropriate at the time. It either needed to be something I could sing along to, or something that was the right tempo to suit my running. Surprisingly, the song that best fit the bill tempo-wise was “Umbrella” by Rihanna (I wasn’t tempted to sing that one!) and in fact it worked so well that I listened to it twice back to back! (Probably not a good long-term strategy though – I couldn’t imagine listening to one song for 10+ hours straight! Especially not that one!)
At the 7 hour mark I had 2 Voltaren (I know – anti-inflammatories – bad – but I’d done the same last year and it had worked well!) and an energy drink.
From about the 2 hour mark onwards, I was mostly 3 laps behind Toby, who was in 2nd place overall behind DT. At one point I had closed the gap to 2 laps, and at one point it had blown out to 4 laps, but 3 laps seemed to be the order of the night! I thought at one stage I might be able to catch up a lap or two or even get ahead of him, but he just seemed to get stronger as the night went on and although I was running well, I wasn’t able to make up any ground!
Karen and Bec were still going and in good spirits. At one point Bec went FLYING past me and soon after that, was walking again. This would have been at least 8 hours in – she joked that she was doing interval training! She said that was the only way she could run, and she would cover more ground this way than by just walking!
Around 8 hours 42 the first of the 100k runners, DT, finished! I think it was a tough day at the office for him, and as I said he was walking at times, but it was still a phenomenal performance! As I passed other runners, or as they passed me, I’d mostly call out encouragement (if I didn’t it was because I was concentrating on breathing or possibly singing!) but David looked so focused most of the time I stopped calling out to him! Plus he passed me so many times I would have used up all my energy!
Probably around the same time I cracked the 80km barrier (just goes to show how good DT is!) and that meant I had ‘only’ 50 laps left. I didn’t want to count laps and I had consciously avoided thinking in those terms, but I did get caught up in counting for a few laps after this!
These type of events result in notoriously inaccurate GPS recordings. Last year my Garmin showed I’d done over 102km. So, while initially I was going by my watch to work out how far I’d gone, I realised that I could only really rely on the hourly whiteboard updates, and if there was anyone standing by the computer as I went past the start/finish, I could ask them for an up-to-date lap count. I preferred not to know the exact laps though – all that mattered was, I would DEFINITELY know when I was on my last lap! I worked out that my Garmin was about 2km out so I used that as a rough estimate.
Then there was a quiet period, broken up by Cathie finishing her 50k with an unbelievable sprint finish!
At the 10 hour mark I was on 232 laps – still 3 behind Toby! And most pleasingly, while by the end of last year’s event I was down to 7 min/3 min walk/run intervals, I had managed to keep the 25/5 intervals going right from the 3.5 hour mark to the 10 hour mark!
So, with 18 laps to go (7.2km) I decided that by the time I got to my next scheduled walk break, I would be so close to the end I would be best to just keep going – and so I did! No more walk breaks!
That last 45 minutes went pretty quickly! I knew Toby would still be 3 laps ahead of me so I was just hanging out for his last lap to be announced! Then, I would be only just over 1km away from being done!
Still with my iPod in, Adam, who was in charge of the timing, informed me that I had 5 laps to go! I said, “5 laps? That, I can do!” and set to work getting it done! I left my iPod on my chair, and got down to business!
That last 5 laps was a bit of a blur! First, I got to watch Toby finish (I moved onto the line so he could pass on my inside – I’m sure he wouldn’t have wanted to go around me when he was so close to the end!) and then it was nearly time for me!
With 2 laps to go, Ben (maybe joking, maybe serious, who knew?) called for one last song! So as I ran around for my penultimate lap, I racked my brains trying to think of something appropriate, and something I could sing without the iPod! I was going to go with Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’ but I wasn’t confident of hitting the high notes so I ended up going with ‘We Are The Champions’! (And failed to hit the high notes!)
That final lap!
I had a look at my split times for each of the 250 laps and even made a graph of it (OK yes I am a nerd!) and the last lap was around 1:50 (4:33 minutes/km pace) – by far my fastest lap of the night! It’s amazing what you can do when you can see that glorious finish line (even though I’d already seen it 249 times, it was different this time!)
My EXTREMELY nerdy chart showing every one of my 250 lap splits!
I crossed the line in 10:44:51 – just marginally slower than last year (under 2 minutes) but I was in a much better state at the end and I was so pleased with my consistency!
That finishing feeling!
Some well-earned bling right there!
First order of business – shoes OFF! As I walked past Toby who already had his shoes off, he said he’d been thinking about taking them off since the start of the race! I had said to first aider Susan as I ran past her late in the race that I didn’t think I had any blisters (unlike last year) so I wasn’t expecting any nasty surprises! My feet looked surprisingly not terrible for having just done 100km ( I won’t say ‘good’ – as they never look ‘good’!). I went back to the start line to see David B, 3rd placed male and the last of the 100km finishers, complete his race. I didn’t realise he was so close, he was only about as far behind me as I was behind Toby. He told me afterwards that he thought he would catch me!
Then it was time to change into some warmer clothes and eat the rest of my food! As it turned out I only ate 2 sandwiches and 3 nut bars (plus that little bit of sweet potato) throughout the race so that left me a whole sandwich to eat while I waited for the end of the 12 hours. The only 3 runners left were Karen, Bec and Stephan, who didn’t quite make the distance but did keep going for the full 12 hours.
I chatted with 2 of the other 100k runners who had pulled the pin early but were still at the stadium – Quinten and Alan. They had run together the whole way but were thrown by a big inaccuracy in the Garmin – their watches were showing they were on 56km when they were in fact only at 50! And that being at the 6 hour mark, it would have been an uphill battle to finish under cutoff time (I imagine it would be VERY difficult to negative-split a 100km ultra!). I saw them a number of times as we went around, and despite not getting the result they would have wanted, they said that they did enjoy it!
And before too long, the air horn was sounded to signify the end of the event. Karen, Bec and Stephan were all still standing at the end! Bec said “Never again” (or words to that effect) and Karen said “maybe the 50k”. I said nothing!
As is now ‘traditional’, Karen and I then went to her gym for a lovely hot spa, interspersed with a dip in the plunge pool, and finishing (as recommended by first aider Susan) with the cold plunge pool!
Aaand… not so much! But we were both glad we did it!
Sunday night I slept in my compression pants despite it being a pretty hot night, and on Monday my legs felt surprisingly OK!
So, that just about wraps up another fantastic event! But I can’t end without thanking some people.
Firstly to the supporters, it was great to see you out there especially through the night – I gather it was pretty chilly standing around, as many of you were wrapped in blankets! I can imagine it might be a bit boring watching people run and walk around in circles, so thanks for being there!
To my fellow competitors, thanks for all the support and encouragement out there, and for putting up with my singing! Well done to all of you, whether the night went to plan for you or not. Just turning up to run 50k or 100k on a track on a Saturday night is worthy of kudos!
To Adam for the awesome job on the timing, and to Susan and the First In Sport First Aid team who are always there and always appreciated, especially when their services are NOT required!
Now to the volunteers. I know I’m going to forget someone so please don’t be offended – there were so many of you, and probably some through the night that I didn’t even see! First those who were there from start to finish – Kelly, Kim, Tanya and the ever-present, ever-helpful and ever-encouraging Ziad (although I didn’t need any of his help, it was good to know that he was there if I needed anything!). And others who were there at different times – Kate, Michelle, Tracey at the beginning, Katie at some stage during the night, and Anna and Laura at the end (who also had the unenviable job of helping pack everything up at the end, while I sat there with my feet up and watched!)
And last but not least to Ben, who I am convinced must have cloned himself to be able to do all the things he does to put on these fantastic events (either that or he doesn’t require sleep!) Once again, another Yumigo triumph – a very professionally organised and (I can’t believe I’m about to say this) highly enjoyable event! Thanks Ben for all you do and good luck for your next big event!
Well! What a day!
I gave myself an hour to get ready which was ideal – I was ready in about 45 minutes so that gave me a bit of breathing space. Even if it did mean getting up at 3:30am!
Riesje picked me up (along with my 5 drop bags) at 4:30 and we drove to Louise and Jimmy’s place – Jimmy would drive us to the start. On the way I had my usual breakfast shake – it would have been way too early to have it at home!
There was a big crowd already when we arrived just before 6:15 – turned out the 6am start had been delayed and they set off not long after we arrived.
I realised that my hydration bladder was leaking – there was about 1 litre in it when I left home, and by now it was down to about 750mL. I decided that, given the cooler conditions, and the fact that I don’t tend to drink water during runs anyway, I would empty the bladder and carry it empty, just in case. (It was part of the mandatory gear anyway – capacity to carry 2 litres of water – so I had to carry it regardless.) Not only did it mean I wasn’t going to get unnecessarily saturated, it made my pack lighter and more comfortable to carry!
I collected my race bib and bought a new blue Yumigo buff (which matched my calf sleeves and shoes perfectly!) before depositing my drop bags in the appropriate places.
It was COLD! I was dressed to run, but while standing around waiting I think my lips matched my buff! Michelle’s husband Mark kindly lent me his big warm jacket! I soon gave it back and then Tina, on registration, took pity on me and lent me hers for a while!
I hesitate to write this but I think it’s an important part of the story. Before the race I decided that I couldn’t wait for Checkpoint 1 (around 18km, approx 2 hours) for a toilet stop. A few of the girls were venturing into the bushes and I thought bugger it, I want to be comfortable at the start! So off I went, first time successfully pulling off the ‘bush wee’ and was so glad I’d done it! It also gave me confidence that if I needed to, I could go anywhere and not have to rely on going at checkpoints!
That ‘TMI’ moment aside, it was soon time to make our way to the start line. Having been advised on Thursday that our waterproof jackets were NOT required (I didn’t 100% trust the weather so I’d packed a light spray jacket in my pack just in case), as if on cue, it started raining as Ben did the race briefing!
Because of the late start of the 6am wave, the other waves in turn started 15 minutes late. But given the rain, and after the crowd demanded it, Ben agreed to let us start at 7:10 instead of 7:15! This was greeted by rapturous cheering! This was the last of 3 waves, with all the 57k runners as well as roughly half the 105k runners setting off together.
At the start I saw Bronwyn who finished 3rd ahead of me last year, Kazu who finished 2nd at Yurrebilla last year, and Hoa, who is in awesome form. I had had thoughts of maybe going one better than last year and getting a podium finish, but after seeing those three I quickly put it out of my mind!
And we were away! The rain wasn’t so bad once we got moving. Very early on there was an absolutely stunning full rainbow against a grey sky. I was so tempted to take a photo but I didn’t want to waste a nice downhill runnable section. I thought about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In my case, it was a chocolate donut! The presence of the rainbow was very appropriate also, given that the Pride march was taking place on the same day!
Early on I ran with Marc and an interstate runner by the name of George who I’d heard plenty about but had never met. Marc told me his reason for running was to try to better his UTA100 time from this year, because the last time he ran Heysen he was just aiming to finish. This time he was taking it seriously! I didn’t quite get a ‘why’ answer out of George but I think it was along the lines of ‘Because it’s there’.
I also went back and forth with Uli and Justin – Justin would effortlessly power past me going up the hills, and sometimes I would pass him going downhill.
Very early I was passed by Hoa who told me she was volunteering at the finish line. I was gobsmacked until she told me she was ‘only’ doing the 57k! Ah, maybe there was a chance for me after all!
The first section is a relatively easy one, and I reached CP1 pretty much on target (I’d given Gary my CP splits from last year as a guide, and I’d also attached a laminated copy to my backpack). It was a quick stop – sunscreen on, a quick Coke and a handful of pretzels, and I was on my way – my watch showed 1 hour 50 which was 7 minutes slower than last year.
After CP1 came probably the hardest section elevation-wise. There was a lot of uphill in this section. It gave me the opportunity to take a few photos and really appreciate the scenery!
It was around this point that I was reunited with George, and also met up with Kelly who had done the 6 hour with me earlier in the year. I quickly realised by looking at Kelly’s bib number that she was in the 57km event and therefore not competing with me!
George had a lot to say and I really enjoyed chatting with him. He does an ultra about once a fortnight. He’s done quite a few events here in SA which is why I initially thought he was a local! We would end up running together for most of the first half of the race. He, like me, was having his buddy runner, Beck, meet him at CP3. He said that this was all he was focusing on – just get to CP3, that’s the end of one race, and then the race begins again! George hadn’t met Beck before. I hadn’t exactly met her but I’d heard her speak at a Trail Running SA social night about her experiences doing ultras around the world including iconic events like Western States 100 and Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc. I told George he’d be in excellent hands!
After the road climb there was a challenging trail climbing section including a lot of stairs before I reached CP2. This was also the finish of the 35k event. Tina had finished 2nd and Annie 3rd, apparently there was a race to the finish between Annie and Flic for 3rd place! I also saw Kate and James, who had both started at 6 and reported things were going well! I refilled my Gatorade, raided my drop bag for snacks, had a Coke and replaced my sunscreen – the next section was 22k and would take a good few hours. The time as I left CP2 was around 4:15 – about 20 minutes slower than last year (although I didn’t know that at the time!)
I was with George early in the next section and I announced to him that this was the 10k I’d marked so if there were any problems he knew who to blame! I must say Tina and I did a brilliant job – one or two of our red and white ribbons had come down overnight, and we possibly could have more clearly marked the direction where the tractor and the bed was, but other than that it was a flawless 10k. I told George, who is a devotee of the ‘runfie’ and also the ‘cowfie’, as we were doing one of the climbs in Yulti Conservation Park, to look back and see the view. He did, was suitably impressed, and then asked me to take a photo of him with the view in the background. I crouched down to get a good pic and immediately regretted my decision! Fortunately I managed to get up without too much trouble!
Our section was quite overgrown in places – I could have done with a scythe to get through, I did feel a bit Indiana Jones-ish at times!
A funny moment came just after the 40k mark. We had to go over or under a fence that appeared to be just a rope. I opted to go over – and in the process discovered that it was an electric fence! I’d never been zapped by an electric fence before! George didn’t want to take my word for it, he had to touch it himself! And then decided that this was a perfect opportunity to get some free ‘electrotherapy’ for his injuries! I warned the people behind that it was an electric fence and we kept moving.
By the time we hit 45k and the end of Tina’s and my section, Kelly was back with us again. “Only City-Bay to go” I told her. The next 12k had been very ably marked by 2 course marking newbies Kate and James.
My top was starting to chafe under my arms a bit by now, but George came to the rescue with his trusty 3B cream! (I returned the favour by giving him one of my chocolate sandwiches when he was looking for something to eat!)
The sandy sections through here were made much easier by the recent wild weather – wet sand is much easier to negotiate than dry! There was a lot of mud and water throughout the 105km and once my feet were wet and muddy I didn’t really care about trying to avoid it! There was also a lot of debris on the course which may have contributed to me being a bit slower than last year – I was extra cautious to avoid falling like I had last year (and the day before!) in this section.
Somewhere along here we were met by 2 runners coming the other way. I immediately thought, we’ve taken a wrong turn! But not to worry, it was just Maurice and Hayley who were demarking and sweeping! Phew!
I had taken my caffeine supplement at CP2 and at around the 49k mark it kicked in and I took off from George and Kelly. Partly I think I just needed a short burst of ‘alone time’ knowing that I was going to be meeting Gary at the next checkpoint and would be with him for the rest of the race. Also I was conscious that I was behind time so wanted to try to make up a bit of time.
I’m not sure why but somehow I’d got the idea in my head that I was about to reach 55km. When I saw the next 5km marker and it said 50km, not 55km, I was a bit deflated but kept pushing on.
At this point I became aware that not only did I have a few rocks in my shoes, but I could feel some rubbing on both my pinky toes – I hadn’t done a very good job with my taping! I was thinking about stopping at CP3 to get the first aider to look at my feet and re-tape if needed, but I didn’t have any clean socks on me and did not fancy putting my wet, muddy socks back on! I had thoughts about telling Gary the goalposts had shifted and we were no longer looking at a PB, just a finish!
Eventually after a long road section I reached CP3 where Gary was waiting for me.
I took my shoes off to get rid of the rocks, but left the socks on. Here, as well as refuelling with Gatorade and snacks, I went for a quick wardrobe change, a fresh singlet and arm warmers.
And off we went! This was the section where everything had gone horribly wrong last year! It was great to have Gary with me here as he had run this section 2 years ago as a buddy and remembered it well.
Heysen involves climbing over a lot of stiles to go through cow paddocks. One such stile, early on in this section, happened to be over another electric fence! I found this out the hard way, giving myself an electric shock – it was quite a powerful zap compared to the last one! Best not be doing that again!
We navigated ‘that’ field with no problems – there is a new marker in the middle of the field which is really hard to miss. Especially with the Yumigo arrow attached to it, helpfully captioned ‘This way Jane!’
After crossing that field without incident, I was again thankful for Gary’s navigational skills. After last year’s incident, I had finally found my way out of the field by following Brenton. Consequently I hadn’t really paid attention to what came next, so I did not recognise the next few kilometres. Thankfully Gary did!
Soon I was back on familiar ground, a nice, comfortable runnable section through ferns. I knew we were back on track – we had to have gained about half an hour right there.
Gary had updated me on what was happening in the race. In the men’s, Howard was leading and looking strong. He wasn’t sure exactly where I was in the women’s race – Bronwyn was a runaway leader followed by Kazu. There were 2 other women who he didn’t know, and then me. He wasn’t sure if one of the two other women was an early starter (this would not only mean they were an hour behind me, but also that they would be ineligible for a podium finish). He said the last woman was 25 minutes ahead of me.
CP3 – CP4 was a longer section than last year – about 18-19k. The checkpoint had been moved about 4km further along the route, and off the road. It meant it was a bit of a hard slog to get to CP4, but it meant that after CP4 we would be only 8km from CP5 and 26km from the finish!
We had been warned that there was a river crossing in this section. I’m talking, calf deep water. No getting around it! When we reached it Gary was looking for a way around but I knew there wasn’t one so through we went! It was actually quite refreshing! We held hands going through because the current was quite strong and we didn’t want to get swept down the Finniss River! (I initially went a little deeper than required before Gary found a safer path!)
I later found out that other people had taken off their shoes and socks to go through – but then again, I only had my wet, muddy socks to put back on so I think it was for the best not to take them off!
Approaching CP4 we were greeted by Paul running the other way. He was on his way to meet Simon, who he was buddy runner for. Simon had been at CP3 getting his feet attended to when Gary and I had left, but had presumably recovered well as he was on his way. Paul told us we were only about 3k from CP4.
Gary insisted that we run into each checkpoint. It was a good psychological boost – if any of my ‘rivals’ saw me, they would know I was still going strong! And so we finally reached CP4 and duly ran in! We were told here that the previous female, Rebecca, had only gone through 8 minutes ago. We were catching up! (Earlier in the section we had passed another female runner – Gary sussed out that she was a 6am starter so again not a likely threat to me.)
Quickly I did what I had to do. I grabbed my hi-viz vest and head torch which would be needed later, topped up my bottles and snacks (I was going to have HEAPS of food left – I had predictably over-catered!), sprayed myself with insect repellent and got my energy drink. Still drinking it, we headed off. I had an inkling that I knew who this Rebecca was, and if I guessed correctly, she was a 6am starter! But I didn’t say this to Gary.
The 8km section went quite quickly and before we reached CP5 we caught up with, and eventually passed, Rebecca. It was the Rebecca I thought it was – a 6am starter! She was stoked with how she was going – she said I’d passed her at CP3 last year so she was happy to have nearly got to CP5 before being overtaken! I knew she’d marked CP3-4 so I asked her if she’d put the message to me on the sign which she first denied but then admitted she had!
So what this meant was, it looked like I was in 3rd place! With no idea how far behind me 4th was, we had to keep going for it! (I knew 2nd was out of reach so 3rd was all I had to shoot for!)
Before we knew it, after another river crossing, we were at CP5 where we donned our hi-viz vests, got our head torches out and had a quick snack before starting the final stage. I didn’t need to top up any of my drinks or food as I hadn’t consumed much in the short last section. The volunteers at CP5 confirmed that I was indeed in 3rd place!
Gary told me that he had had a conversation with 2015 Heysen winner Andrew, buddying for David, at CP3 while waiting for me. Andrew had asked him why he was buddying and not running the event himself. Gary’s reply? “To get Jane a podium finish”.
We left CP5 in broad daylight, 11 hours in. Bec and another guy Ryan who we’d met in the last section, were just coming in as we left. Last year I left CP5 with 11:35 on the clock so we were 35 minutes ahead. After being 30 minutes behind at CP3, I’d really made up some ground thanks to Gary’s constant encouragement, pushing me to run when I may otherwise have walked, and of course the added bonus of not getting lost! Given that last year we did the last section in exactly 2.5 hours, sub 14 looked to be a no-brainer so we were now aiming for 13.5. I would have been happy with sub 14 (especially considering I didn’t think it was possible after my slower first half) and a podium finish, well that was just a bonus!
The last section was beautiful – much of it through forest, with not another human in sight! The roos were starting to become active – I didn’t see as many as last year, because we were in daylight for much of this section. In fact we nearly missed a turn-off because we were looking directly into the sun!
Gary was constantly calculating how fast we needed to be going. He had set 8 minute kilometres as the goal from here to the finish. Many kilometres were faster. It didn’t really matter what I said, Gary was determined to get me in under 13.5 hours!
Complicating matters was the fact that this part of the course was the muddiest and wettest of all. It meant we had to be more cautious in sections where we otherwise might have been able to fang it (as much as ‘fanging’ is possible after 90km!). We were glad to be doing most of this section in daylight. One of the hardest bits was right near the end when it had just got dark and we struggled to find a path through the mud!
We made it to about 96km (of an estimated 102km) before we put the headlights on. By now, we would be only about 45-50 minutes from the end. So close!
Probably around the 100k mark, with 13.5 hours looking good, Gary (who had all along been looking behind to see if any potential rivals were gaining on us) informed me that there were 2 people rapidly approaching. I told him I had no capacity to increase the pace! As devastating as it would be to be passed so close to the finish, if someone passed me now, there was no way I was going to be able to chase them down. Whoever it was, was FLYING!
They passed us… I was excited to see that it was my old mate George and his buddy Beck! They were both looking SO strong for this late in the race!
Gary got a bit dejected, thinking Beck was overtaking me into 3rd place, before I quickly told him no, it’s all good, she’s a buddy, she’s not in the race! All was good again! Beck estimated there was only a couple of kilometres to go!
As we approached the finish I made sure Gary was on my left as we were going to cross the line hand in hand and my right hand was my ‘snot hand’ – the one I had been using to wipe my nose all day! (That was because I wear my watch on my left hand and am always paranoid I’ll accidentally stop my watch while wiping my nose!)
Eventually Gary announced that we were nearly there! What a rush, crossing that finish line in 13:26:46 – almost 40 minutes better than last year! Ben put the finisher medal around my neck and handed me the prized 3rd place trophy! AMAZING!
Gary’s wife Christine was there to capture the moment and help me get my shoes and socks off (we gave up trying to get my calf sleeves off – they were there to stay) and get my drop bag to put some warmer clothes on. Gary and I enjoyed our donuts – I doubt I’ve ever had a better tasting donut in my life, despite it being a day old!
We had a chat to other runners – Leon had done well, and Marc’s buddy Arwen had told me Marc had had a great run too. Then it was time to go before we got too cold! Gary’s car was also at the finish line – Maurice had asked him if he could borrow it earlier in the day so he didn’t have to get his wife to pick him up, which worked out really well as we didn’t have to go back to CP3, we could go straight home! I got a lift with Christine and was home by 10! Took me a while to get my calf sleeves and tape off, shower and eat everything in sight! Possibly the biggest miracle of the day though was the fact that I managed to get my compression tights on!
Once again, SUCH a great day. Incredibly challenging but so rewarding! An extremely well supported event and very achievable if you’re thinking about tackling 100k for the first time. And there’s always 57 and 35 if you don’t fancy ‘the big one’ (those two options are looking mighty appealing to me now!)
I’d like to finish by thanking some of the people who played a big part in my day. Apologies if I forgot anyone, there were just so many!
To Ben Hockings for putting on yet another brilliant event. So many hours of work went into this. I don’t think he sleeps. Ever! And his hard work has paid off with numbers growing steadily by the year!
To Gary, my amazing buddy runner. He was everything a buddy runner should be. Encouraging, competitive and entertaining! I could not have done this without him!
To Christine, for letting me borrow your husband, for helping me get my shoes and socks off at the finish line, and for driving me home!
To Riesje for picking me up so I could leave my car (and importantly car KEY) at home! And to Louise and Jimmy for driving us to the start.
To Kelly and George for the company in the first half of the race (and in George’s case, right near the end too!
To all the course markers – having marked part of the course myself I have a new appreciation for what an important (and at times challenging) job it is! Having run the course I think I got an easy section to mark and I can only imagine how challenging that last section would have been to mark!
And of course to all the wonderful, wonderful volunteers along the way. Always willing to help out with getting drop bags, filling up bottles and generally doing anything that was needed. Events like this just could not happen without them!
Reckon I might have a few quiet weeks now! I’ve already told my Tuesday running buddies to slap me if I turn up to run on Tuesday!
By the time you read this, Heysen 105 2016 will be done and dusted, however I am writing it days before! Spooky!
If you’re just joining the party now, I’ll try to summarise as briefly as possible (brevity not being one of my strengths!)
Heysen 105 is an ultramarathon run annually in South Australia, taking in part of the 1200km long Heysen Trail, starting at Newland Head (near Victor Harbor) and finishing in a campground in Kuitpo Forest. It is a growing event, with numbers rising steadily each year. It is run by Yumigo, one of the big players in the SA running scene, particularly in trail and ultra races. Last year for the first time there was a 57km option which proved popular and returned again this year as well as a new 35km event for those who may not feel up to an ultra distance.
Why run 100+ km? I asked that very question to some of my fellow Heysen entrants (as well as asking what they hoped to get out of it) and these were a few of their answers:
Michelle: “…because last year’s attempt went pear shaped, with quite a few “obstacles” along the way … This year I am determined to do the whole kahuna. It’s my 3rd attempt at 100km, since March last year.”
Shane: “Best friend is getting married on the same weekend as my normal Endurance long course Triathlon. So needed a new challenge for the year. So signed up for the 57km straight away. After some encouragement by yourself , Anna and Simon. Decided to go the full hog and do THE big one. Utterly scared shitless. But equally excited.”
(What are you hoping to get out of the day?)
“The achievement of knowing I completed it. No one can take that away. I have found the whole journey from Christmas time to now to be exciting, and the trail running community is very friendly and encouraging”
Sheena: “This is my 3rd Heysen & I will always enter events that I’ve loved & I prefer not to miss a year….bit of a compulsion. I am planning to have a fun day/night out with Tracey & Michelle. Looking forward to seeing all the other crazies & as a side goal would like to finish my year with a pb.”
I did the 105 last year and you can read about it here. I did it last year as a precursor to the Ultra-Trail Australia 100km event in May this year – I wanted to know I could manage a 100k before tackling the Blue Mountains. This year I was hoping for a PB, sub 14 hours, given that I had wasted a fair bit of time getting lost last year. Unfinished business, you might say. Plus, it’s a fantastic day/night out with awesome people!
So, a quick summary of my week. I ran as usual on Tuesday morning and caught up with the regular crew for coffee where I made final plans with my buddy runner Gary. Buddy runners are permitted from Checkpoint 3 (57km), the idea being to have someone fresh to keep you from getting lost in the dark! I had told Gary he could meet me at CP4 or even CP5 as I planned to be well past the last checkpoint before dark, but he wanted to do a longer run so was keen to meet me at CP3. I was very lucky to have Gary as a buddy, he is a fantastic runner, has done buddy running before, and he ran Boston this year so I’d be able to pick his brains! Also he lives very close to me so his wife Christine would be able to drop me home after. So no car fiasco this year! (Fellow Tuesday runner Riesje, doing the 57, had offered to pick me up from home which was so good!)
Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to go out to Masters Athletics at the track and do a 1000m race. I also entered the 2000 but decided quickly that this would be tempting fate. I ran a pleasing 3:45 for the 1000m (my first time running a 1000m race) and hope to improve on that during the season.
Thursday morning I did an abbreviated run, an easy 5k with fellow 105-er Marc, his buddy runner Arwen, and 57k runner Louise. I started getting my food prepping done after work that day – so glad I did, this stuff takes AGES! Plus I really should be sponsored by Glad given the number of Zip-Loc bags I used!
Friday I went for a leisurely coffee with my regular running buddies and then drove to Myponga to mark part of the course with Tina (who had marked the same section last year). Fellow 105-er Justin had somewhat unkindly told me to let Tina do the marking and me just carry the gear. Some things never leave you!
Marking was enjoyable and we got to see some beautiful views that we’d never see during the race. Other than a lovely patch of mud (Tina nearly lost a shoe in there while she stopped to take a photo!) the section was pretty OK – no major detours required. At one point I realised I was only carrying one of the two 5km marker signs I was meant to have so I had to quickly dash back (fortunately only about 100m round trip) to get the other one. On the way back to Tina I managed to slip and fall on my arse – best not be doing that in the race!
Once we’d finished marking I went to the Bakery On O’Connell for two of their amazing vegan chocolate donuts – one each for Gary and me – to go in my finish line drop bag. I told the girl behind the counter what I was doing and I finished by saying “I am REALLY looking forward to eating this!”
Then it was home to finish packing, sort out my outfits and have dinner (vegan mac and cheese, same as before Yurrebilla, I had frozen the leftovers!).
I decided to tempt fate and try a different skirt that I’d never done a big race in, and 2 tops that had never done more than a 12k run. Time would tell if that was a bad move!
Alarm set for 3:30am (yikes!) in preparation for my 4:30am pick-up, naturally it was an early night, but not before taping my feet up so you could hardly even recognise them as feet. A very wet course meant either frequent changes of shoes and socks, or potential blisters from wet feet. I opted to tape and hope for the best!
Stay tuned for Part 2 – I think it will be a long one!