Ultra Trail Australia UTA100 Tips 2018

 

Probably the thing I get asked most in person is ‘what tips do you have for me?’. Now truthfully I’m not a better runner than you. Anything I’ve got to share I’ve stolen from others or gained through studying the electrons on the internet. Terror will do that to you. Some of these things might work for you, some probably won’t. Be very careful about changing your race plan because of anything I write here- you need to be comfortable with your choices, and remember ‘nothing new on race day’!

Papa’s got a brand new bag 
You should buy a bunch of blue cool bags from a supermarket- or even better get some that look different from everyone else’s . You’ll need 3- one each for checkpoint 3, 4, and 5. Each will need to be labelled clearly with your race number so the race crews can put them in order (so you can find your bag when you hit the CP). You should also try to make it look a bit DIFFERENT from all the other blue bags- tie something on to the handle, like a piece of ribbon or even another plastic bag- but MAKE THEM ALL THE SAME SORT OF DIFFERENT so you can recognise them. Inside the lid of each CP bag have a list of stuff you need to do. If you have crew, MAKE SURE they go through the list before you leave the checkpoint- in 2012 I forgot to fill my bladder before leaving CP4, meaning I ran out of water on the longest leg of the race. This was because my wife was there to help me and I hadn’t planned on her being there, so I forgot to ask her to check the list. Completely my fault and it could have been a disaster. My bag notes look something like this

Adam CP4 Bag

All that suff including the instruction sheet, goes inside the bag

The text is large so I can read in low light. I also have treats in each bag, so I’ll have a quick look inside to see if anything takes my fancy- WARNING- this did not work very well in 2013, I spent too much time looking at treats- just have one or 2 things in the bag that you would consider a treat and don’t buy the entire contents of Coles. Some of these items on the list are just guides rather than instructions- for instance there is no way I could have eaten fruit going out of CP3, but at least I got to consider it because it was on the list. Also dumping your rubbish in your drop bag will save you having to find a bin. Not a big deal, but could save you some time when you’ve completely lost your mind later in the race.

Bag Raiders
Pack a FINISH line bag. It should contain some food, warm clothes (your old trakky daks are FINE), a towel in case you get to have a shower, baby wipes in case you can’t stand the smell of your own body, deodorant, thongs or thick socks so you can take those vile shoes off, maybe some sparkling mineral water because you’re sick of soft drink, sports drink and water. Chocolate milk, first aid kit and a sick bag have all been suggested too….. Also include a couple of plastic bags to put your stinky crap in, if you’re really chatty a mobile charger or external battery so you can wake up your folks at 3am and tell them how you did. You may be too wired to sleep- hang around at Scenic World and chat to strangers like me. Don’t include anything valuable- I’ve never heard of anyone stealing stuff at this event, but it could happen one day. Stick 20 bucks in the bottom of your running pack so you can buy something at the end if you want.

Keep Warm
I thought I’d be really smart and use cycling style arm warmers for the early part of the race when it is often very cold. It’s a great theory, but didn’t work in practice because the arm warmers have some rubber at the top to keep them from slipping off, and this rubbed my arms raw. UPDATE- I used them again in 2013, and simply turned the rubber bit at the top inside out. This worked quite well and I am likely to do this again in 2014- actually this is part of my strategy every year now. Also the 2 bits of clothing you want to have in large sizes are your reflective vest, and your rain jacket. You don’t really want to have to take your pack off to put either of these on, and indeed the reflective vest MUST be visible over your pack, so make sure you haven’t got a midget version. I’m most comfortable running in a singlet, and can do this at temps down to about 10 degrees, but in 2011 the temp never got above 6 degrees even though the sun was shining. Have a plan, decide what you are going to do if it is cold and wet. My big problem is I hate having sweaty underarms, which means T- shirts are not ideal. Maybe I can wear a second singlet under my NRG top- I could use the 2010 Six Foot one, it’s about the size of a postage stamp! UPDATE- wearing 2 singlets did work well to keep my core warm. Test your clothing, you only need a tiny problem to make your clothes dig a hole into your flesh over 100km. Trust me, that’s not fun. For instance- I now know that the seam on my compression shorts will take bits of flesh out of my back after a 100km run, so I have to tuck my singlet into my shorts. It’s not a fashion parade……

I will likely wear 2 race singlets to keep my core warm and the arm warmers if it’s under 10 degrees at the start. I can pull them off and tie them to my pack easily and dump them at CP3.

2016 update- this works well and I discovered last year at the Hardcore 100 that being a little warmers does seem to help my performance. But wearing 2 singlets will depend very much on starting temperature and weather forecast.

 

Energy 52
Eat early and often. Don’t let your energy levels drop. On a normal run I’ll probably have my first gel at 8-12km. Race day I will be eating at 5km and about every half hour after that. But don’t eat too much- in 2012 I ate quite a bit of macaroni and cheese at CP3, then couldn’t run some of the easiest bits up towards Nellie’s Glen- that mistake cost me up to 30 minutes. In 2013 I ate the same food, but less of it and still had problems. Will try boiled eggs in 2014, they’ve been good in other races like GNW. Nope- I’ve given up on boiled eggs- not practical to carry, but I’m leaving the tips to give you ideas

2016 update– I’ve been training in a sugar depleted state quite a lot. It still isn’t easy but I’ll be eating more real food this year. Hammer Perpetuem and cheap arse muesli bars will do nicely.

Silence
Later in the race you’ll probably spend a bit of time on your own. There’s always plenty of people around, but perhaps all the people going up the stairs are too slow for you. I will have my headphones around my neck and connected at the start of the race so I don’t have to fiddle around in the dark if I want some tunes. I’ll be listening to a few trance podcasts by John ‘OO’ Fleming. These can be downloaded for free from iTunes or choose something else that you might like more. One of the reasons to choose this style of music is because it has the right cadence to keep your legs moving a bit faster than normal. Warning- the RD has instituted rules around the use of iPods, make sure you read them and comply. No iPods at all in Leg 1, See point 4 in the event rules.

Fade to Grey
If you’re feeling like crap (and you will!) you need to have the presence of mind to recognise it and take action. This is the difference between a finish and a DNF. In my limited experience you need 4 things. Look at your fingers and repeat after me ‘sugar, water, salt, caffeine’. Attach those words to your fingers in your mind. Do not forget them. When you feel bad, look at your fingers and repeat ‘sugar, water, salt, caffeine’. You need at least one of these things. Have it and you WILL feel better. Usually for me it is sugar…….at a recent run I had a coke at the halfway mark and immediately felt better and went on to finish a run that I didn’t think I could. Think about it- Coca Cola has 3 out of the 4 essential ingredients!

Relax
Spend as much time as you need in checkpoints, but no more. In 2011 I got into CP4 and told my wife I was quitting. She told me not to quit straight away. After spending nearly an hour in that CP, I felt better, got up and went out and finished. The key thing here is that I would not have finished if I’d gone straight over to the desk and quit. I wasn’t really injured, and taking that time allowed me to get back some energy. But the biggest tip I can give is GET OUT OF CP4. That’s right- if you can get out of the aquatic centre you’ve just committed to the longest unsupported leg of the race (CP5-Finish is longer but has water), once you get down the Giant Staircase there is no turning back until you get to CP5, Queen Victoria Hospital. And of course once you get to CP5 you’ve only got 22km to go… this is going to be mentally challenging but go on, do it!

Welcome to the Pleasure Dome
When you get back to Scenic World, get some warm clothes on and EAT SOMETHING. I forgot in 2012 and my wife woke up to me looking for food in my drop bags in the dark. Congratulations, you’ve just completed the Ultra Trail Australia 100, you awesome person you!

The actual running bit
(this extra stuff is from a second post last year, but it really belongs here…..)

All organised? Me too, sort of. However I’ve stolen a few more bits of running lore to share, and here they are-

I can run faster than Jane Trumper (sometimes), but why does she beat me in Ultras? Because she never stops! One thing I’ve learned very clearly is this- you can change your clothes, get food out, apply sunscreen, eat and vomit all while moving. Plenty of times I’ve been surveying all the great food at a checkpoint and Jane’s already gone. If you need an aspirin, get it out before you hit the CP, undo your pack as you cruise in, run through your mental checklist- but BE READY.

Once again- MAKE A PLAN BEFORE YOU HIT THE CHECKPOINT!

Clues you are about to hit a Check Point
CP1- at the top of the Golden Staircase you run up Narrowneck for about 1.5km into the CP
CP2- There’s a gate across the fire trail a few hundred metres before the cruel descent into CP2
CP3- You climb over a stile off Megalong Valley Rd and run through a field for a bit before hitting CP3
CP4- You exit trail and run along the road (civilisation!) before hitting CP4 (apx 2km?)
CP5- You’ll probably hit this at night, you’ll see it and hear it. You’ll be running down Kings Tableland Rd for several km and you’ll see light and a hive of activity

If you feel like stopping, run through your finger checklist- water, sugar, salt, caffeine. Usually having one or more of these will help you. Don’t slow down and feel sorry for yourself, take action!

Walk the hills- you need to run/ walk at well below your threshold. If you’re gunning for a sub 14 hour time I can’t help you because I’ve never done it!

Concentrate on your speed while walking. Jane Trumper walked up Kedumba with me in 2011 Mt Solitary race. Or I should say we started at Jamison Creek together. She walked with a purpose, I walked while feeling sorry for myself. She beat me to the top by 22 minutes over 8.5km- this can make a HUGE difference to your race.

Talk to someone. If you can push each other along, there’s no reason not to have a chat- ultra runners are very friendly people. But the moment you think you can go a bit faster, make a move- stopping to chat is now costing you time. As Nick Weinholt puts it- ‘I came here to race, not to chat!’

Dead Eyes Opened – Another Nick tip is not to look into the eyes of those who have failed for too long for fear you will be brought into their world. You can’t help the people in Medical, leave them to the experts.

Conversely, if someone needs help on the course, give it! In 2011 a guy asked me for electrical tape coming up Kedumba. What he actually wanted was blister patches, and I had heaps. It was like the best Christmas ever…….. Oh, and if you need something, ask! I ran out of water up Kedumba in 2013 and another runner donated a whole flask of sports drink. I’ll be forever grateful, and I still have no idea who that person was.

Are you injured? No? Keep going. ‘But I feel like shit’. Figure out what you need, have it and keep going. ‘My legs hurt’ Yes, well stopping now won’t make them hurt less, and they WILL carry you to the end if you ignore the pain. ‘But I still feel like shit’
Here’s a teaspoon of cement princess, now HTFU. Bernadette Benson, female winner of the 2013 Coast to Kosciuzko Ultra (yes 240km) said the thing that annoyed her the most was the medic kept coming up to her to ask how she felt ‘It’s irrelevant how I FEEL’ she said. (I’ll never be that tough!)

Repeat your mantra. You’ll see this one all over the internet, but the one I use is ‘relentless forward progress’. Just 3 words to keep you going. Repeat them, explore them, make them resonate, feel the power, keep going!

You need to run upright to make your breathing more efficient, so put your headlamp a bit further down your forehead so you don’t hunch over while running to watch the ground.

When you’re tired, concentrate on your running form. Work those arms back to front (not in front of you!) breathe a little deeper, head up, get your rhythm back.

I’ve talked a lot about how to go faster, but the key goal here is finishing. If you need to, take a break. You’ve got 28 hours to finish. Don’t stress about the time. If it will get you to the end, spend an hour or more in the checkpoint. Do what you need to do to finish. Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish Finish

That wasn’t a drop bear, you’re just hallucinating.

If you have any questions, please post them on the FaceBook page and we’ll get them answered!

Ultra Trail Australia UTA100 Non Mandatory gear 2018

Again, this is just a rehash of my 2014 list with a few updates, I hope you enjoy!

Here’s a list of a few things I’ll be carrying in the 2018 version of Ultra Trail Australia, formerly known as  The North Face 100 Australia. They’re not on the mandatory gear list, but don’t make life hard for yourself- if it will make your race easier, take it! There is a bit of a balance between going super light and risking being uncomfortable and taking extra stuff and being weighed down. There is a lot of comfort to be had by taking extra gear, but you decide. I’ll be missing my 8th crack at this race this year, but my first time I took loads of extras and it made things easier. Horses for (100km) courses!

Sunglasses- I’ll be wearing Serfas Portal sunnies, thanks to the local importer VeloVita for getting them in on time! Why wear sunglasses all day? Lots of reasons- you won’t get a headache from the sun, if you get hit in the face with a branch on the single track you won’t get an eye injury, and if you get photo chromatic lenses they’ll adjust to the available light.

Tip- I also have a second pair of these in a checkpoint bag for use at night- with clear lenses inserted. You look like a bit of a dickhead but in really cold weather it stops your eyes from streaming, and when going through bushy sections allows you to go a bit faster without needing to worry about getting hit in the face by branches. Your lizard brain wants to protect your eyes and will slow you down, you can overcome this by wearing sunglasses at night…..

2018- my wife made me go to Specsavers and I now have sunnies with prescription lenses. I wonder if this will help me to run faster? (Apparently not because I’m not running this year. Sad face)

 

Garmin Fenix 3

Garmin Fenix 3– how else will I know how slowly I’m running? Yes I know the Fenix 5 is out now, but right now eating takes precedence over new toys. Lots of people using Suunto each year which is also a good option.

Nipple tape– You may not need it, I do. I use 3M Micropore medical tape because it doesn’t rip my nipples off when I remove it.

Spibelt– I’ll most likely have my 2 pieces of mandatory emergency food in the pocket, and hang my race number on the front using the optional elastic toggle thingys. You can put your race number on to your shirt, but if you put a jumper on, you’ll need to move it. The race number belt is great because you can have as many costume changes as you like and not have to deal with pins……

Injinji Trail 2.0

Socks- I’ll be wearing Injinji socks. The higher versions because I’ll put anti leech stuff under the socks so the little blighters can’t get inside- this really works. Yes the Trail 2.0 are nice and comfy….. I might be wearing Teko socks if I can find a new pair. Update- I love the Teko socks, but they were seriously uninterested in sending any to Australia for me. Sad face

original_CW

Before a bush run I always apply a wide area of this from below the sock line to halfway up my calves. Since starting this I have not had an uninvited guest suck my blood, but they could be just biding their time for a mass attack.
Update 2018– I no longer need this because I will be wearing the BSc calf guards below

BSc calf guards

Skins- Depends on the weather. I wear long compression tights when it’s really cold or if I’ll be running through a lot of single track- it’s a small amount of protection. I’m not really an athlete that can tell the difference in performance from compression. Most likely I’ll wear cheap compression tights from Target or Kmart (I forget which) under my running shorts, and BodyScience calf guards tucked into my socks to prevent leech entry. There is no science behind these choices, these were just the cheapest version of these things available when I needed to buy them. The compression shorts are good for preventing chaffing when my fat legs rub together.

Shorts with a pocket- my new favourite is the Kathmandu driMotion Men’s Active Shorts or the Zeolite Men’s Active Shorts. These have a built in liner and actual pockets- which is rare in running shorts. I wore the Zeolite’s during Badwater…. and love them.

I have found it really difficult to buy running shorts with enough storage for long runs, but I’ve been recommended to try these, not tried them yet but have a look at Race Ready as well

 

Lifeproof iPhone case

Lifeproof iPhone case

Music- I’ll use my iPhone 7 Plus which is theoretically waterproof but I may need to find some more protection. Anybody who knows me understands that my first priority is chatting to other runners, but almost every year when leaving checkpoint 4 I have been alone and loved putting on some choons as I descended the Giant Staircase.

 

 

2018 update- I have some really big bluetooth headphones that have 50 hour battery life. Very comfortable to wear and I’ll probably stash them in my cp3 or cp4 drop bag, they are from a Chinese website and branded Bluedio. Warning- these are not even close to being waterproof and they will die when exposed to rain.

Bodyglide– it’s not fun to put lube where the sun doesn’t shine- but if you don’t, it’s going to hurt bad. Insert prison joke here.

 

 

Salt Stick capsules– this is very much a personal ‘feel’ thing. In a road marathon I’d have one at 20km and one at 30km to stave off cramps. During TNF I’ll probably have a couple more- 1-2 every 10km or so. I always take a few extra, because I ALWAYS see someone on the course who needs them. You should consider what you’ll be taking for cramps! By the way- the super huge ‘this will last me for 10 years’ bottle was only slightly more expensive than the ‘3 marathon’ bottle. Colin Jeftha- ex Six Foot Track Race Director, says ‘there is no proven link between salts (electrolytes) and cramping. He’s right, but in my experience if I have salt capsules they do relieve the cramps. This is also Super Coach Andy DuBois‘ favourite thing to argue about on FaceBook. He’s right too- you don’t need salt, but I usually carry some….

Aspirin- I’m a simple bloke so a simple solution for headaches seems in order. Might be some Panadol in the first aid kit too but I’m mostly looking to follow Jane Trumpers advice and steer clear of drugs. SAY NO TO NSAIDS- they can ruin you- forever!
Unless someone lights a joint up for the Kedumba descent, then I’ll try to warm my hands on it.

Compeeds– These things are like magic on blisters and hot spots. If you get a hot spot, stop immediately and slap one of these super sticky things on, the pain will go away and you can carry on- an absolute must in your kit. DON’T buy the ‘Band Aid’ branded copies- they do not work as well. I gave one to a guy on Kedumba in 2011 and I think he would’ve named his children after me. Poor kids.

Vlad the Inhaler

Vlad the Inhaler

 

Ventolin inhaler – I would never have survived childhood if it wasn’t for Ventolin, and while I’ve only had one asthma attack in recent memory, cold weather can cause EIA- Exercise Induced Asthma. I’d be silly not to carry it. I forgot my Ventolin in the 2014 race and had to ask medical at CP2 for a couple of puffs. This meant they had to fill out a little form, which cost a couple of minutes. Not really a big deal but in total this would have cost me some decent time for a silly mistake. 2018 update- I have a new anti asthma drug and Ventolin no longer does anything for me- I just saved 30g!

 

Ultra Trail Australia UTA100 Mandatory Gear 2018

*Big change this year is I have decided to also include gear from Kathmandu. This is for a number of reasons- they sent me some free stuff to try out, they are actively trying to support the trail running and fastpacking communities, and there are stores all over the place so people outside of Sydney can buy stuff. They also have pretty reasonable prices on a lot of stuff and are almost always on sale….

I do occasionally get free stuff from various suppliers and I will always try to be open and honest about this. I’d like to say that freebies don’t get better reviews but who knows? I think the best way to deal with that is to let you know, and let you decide if I’ve been bought off by evil corporations.

I really recommend you speak to one of the local shops like Pace Athletic, The Frontier, Fast Gear or one of the camping stores (mostly around Kent St in Sydney. As you know they are big supporters of ultra running in general. Go and see them or one of the other local shops for your gear and keep that essential local knowledge available!

Check out the Facebook groups- official, and come to our  training runs each Saturday between Six Foot Track and UTA100.

I’ve seen a lot of discussion on various sites about the mandatory gear for UTA100, so I thought I’d share a few insights I gained over the last 7 years of doing this race in the hope that it will help some other competitors. Following is a list of the gear taken directly from the event website with my own explanations and links etc. It will be updated if the gear list changes, or if someone provides an interesting view that we should share here. Description of the mandatory item from the official document in Bold italics, my explanation below that-

 

1 x long sleeve thermal top (polypropylene, wool). Cotton, Coolmax and lycra garments are NOT suitable. Compression garments and thermal compression garments are NOT suitable. Compression garments may still be used in the race but they are in addition to your mandatory thermal top and do not replace it. Refer to ‘Thermal Garment Requirements’ link for more information. Refer to this link for an explanation.

Kathmandu have a long sleeve top in their ‘Ultracore’ range, or Patagonia do a Capilene Midweight top if you’re feeling rich!
I’ll be using a Patagonia one that I’ve had for ages, it’s worn really well and still looks good. Which is important when racing…..
Weight 220g

1 x long leg thermal pants (polypropylene, wool). Cotton, Coolmax and lycra garments are NOT suitable. Compression garments and thermal compression garments are NOT suitable. Compression garments may still be used in the race but they are in addition to your mandatory thermal pants and do not replace it. Refer to this link for an explanation.

I used a pair of polypropylene thermals I had purchased for a trip to NZ. Fairly lightweight, these were purchased from Kathmandu– they are from the Ultracore range- link
Weight: 173g

Salomon Bonatti WP

Salomon Bonatti WP

1 x Waterproof and Breathable Jacket with Fully Taped (Not Critically Taped) Waterproof Seams and Hood. The breathability must be provided by the material itself and not exclusively by mesh panels. Minimal underarm vents are allowed if the jacket material itself is technical and breathable. Large mesh panels, even if covered by flaps are NOT permitted. A premium jacket would have a waterproof rating of over 15,000mm hydrostatic head and a breathability MVTR rating of 20,000g/m²/25hrs however much lower ratings are completely acceptable. Any non-membrane jacket must still be in very good condition with waterproof coating intact. The jacket must fit you. Plastic rain ponchos, wind jackets, water resistant jackets are NOT suitable.

This is probably the item that causes the most discussion. You should get a good one, as there is a lot of weight to be saved here. My Mont jacket weighs 450g, the Salomon Sense Flyweight is apx 120g. Race Director Tom Landon Smith has flagged that in future he wants to enforce a stricter international standard for ‘waterproofness’, this is not currently being enforced, but you can see from the above description that he is serious and you should pay attention to those specs, they may save your life. It must have a hood AND actually fit you. Yes, people have tried to get through check in with child sized items to save weight. Don’t do it. I can confirm that the lightest jacket that ever met the spec is the Salomon Sense Flyweight Jacket at 120g. These are now discontinued and they were a limited release- I’ll probably delete this reference next year as you can’t buy them any more. I recommend going up to the Montane Minimus 777 which weighs 140g or the Salomon Bonatti at 190g. Why? Because the Minimus contains Pertex fabric which is much more breathable- and this will likely be the absolute minimum spec sometime in the future. I’m sure the Minimus will probably last longer too! In 2011 I used a Mont jacket (not Montane- different brand) which weighs about 450g, so you can save a lot of weight here. Kathmandu have a great option in the Zeolite jacket which is also Pertex and substantially cheaper than the Salomon and Montane, and only weighs 150g.
Just remember that some of these jackets like the Kathmandu Volans can’t be worn with a pack on top as the pack rubbing will destroy the fabric and make your $400 jacket into 20c worth of plastic. If you think you might need to wear it, consider buying one that will go over the pack- although you’ll probably be swimming in it!

homer-hats-beanies-red

1 x beanie, balaclava or buff. Beanie, Balaclava or Head Sock (Buff)

at Trailwalker 2010 I was given a buff about the halfway point, and it was the most glorious feeling to be putting on something so warm- it has a drawstring so it can be made into a beanie, and I’m going to use that instead of the achingly expensive snow beanie pictured above. Remember you lose a lot of heat out of your head, and it’s going to be bloody cold. If it’s reasonably warm like 2012-14 you might get away with a light fabric buff, but in 2011 it was soooo cold- beautifully sunny but < 6 degrees centigrade. Yes, that cold.
Weight: 46g

Icebreaker Merino Gloves

1 x full-fingered lightweight thermal gloves (polypropylene, wool)

I have some Icebreaker gloves for this purpose, in case it gets really cold! These gloves stayed in their packet, as I have a personal preference for non sweaty hands, and covering them up makes me very sweaty. The best compromise I have found here is some old leather weightlifting gloves that have an open mesh back (cheap from eBay)- they are not full fingered so I have to carry the mandatory gloves as well. Lots of protection for your hands if you fall, but not too sweaty. Remember fairly early in the race you will be going down some stairs with nasty rusted iron hand holds. But the Icebreaker gloves are glorious, and Kathmandu have a similar design which is cheaper- I have those too and they are good.
Weight: 34g

Safety vests

1 x High-Visibility Safety Vest that complies with Australian Standard AS/NZS 4602:1999 – D/N Class for Day and Night Time Wear. It must be made of a combination of retroreflective and fluorescent materials. This is not a running vest but a workwear vest. The vest must have either AS/NZS 4602:1999 or AS/NZS 4602:2010 or AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 as well as Class “D/N” on the tag. The vest must be clearly visible from both the front and back, even when wearing your backpack so you must have an oversized vest that covers your whole torso AND your backpack (your race number must still be visible on your front and over the top of your vest). Vests can be purchased at hardware stores, workwear stores, the UTA shop or Race Check-In. Refer to ‘Suitable Vest’ link for images. UTA100 runners must carry the vest at ALL times whether they need to wear it or not. The item is weather dependent for UTA50. For specific details of when you are required to wear your vest, refer to the Competitor Briefing document which is available one month prior to the event.

I borrowed one of these from my wife’s work. You might have contacts who can loan you one of these, or you can buy them from Bunnings/ Masters Hardware etc. Not expensive, but make sure it meets the specs- and it needs to go OVER your pack so you can be seen from behind at night- get a large size. If you buy a running vest with reflective steps it probably won’t comply- remember this item must comply with the Australian Standard…… Remember it’s the reflective stripes that allow the night rating. No stripes= doesn’t comply.
READ THE RULES– UTA100 runners must carry this the whole race- I had a mate penalised 2 hours because of this last year.
Weight: 155g

Petzl Nao Headlamp

1 x headlamp- Test your headlamp on bush tracks at night prior to the event to make sure it provides enough light to both see the track and the course markings. Make sure batteries are new or fully charged and you have enough battery capacity / spare batteries. Note that waistlamps are not permitted as they will obscure your race number.

* My main light here is the Petzl Nao. The new version released in 2017 now outputs up to 700 lumens and has lots of options, the big bonus being it has regulated output- this means that as your batteries wear out it will keep a constant light output- your light doesn’t get dimmer over time.  People who prefer the Ayups because the have a waist mounted battery can buy a waist belt for the NAO battery too, but i’ve never found it too heavy. And it can sense how much light is available and dim itself, saving juice.Both of my Nao batteries are programmed to last around 14 hours, which means I could run for days without running out of juice, but you may prefer to blind people instead. Nevertheless, I will be carrying a spare battery in case of emergency. The Nao will be in my drop bag at CP4 in a fast year, if you are a 16.5+ hour runner you will want to have your headlamp in your CP3 bag.

WARNING-
1. If you use these Petzl lights, be aware that they are NOT fully charged when all the lights are on- you should either use Petzl OS to check or leave them on charge for a while AFTER it looks like they are full……
2. MOST of the complaints I see about these lights can be fixed by reading the damn manual. I have literally lost count of the number of people who have told me the batteries don’t last long, the battery cable hits their ear, the AA backup source isn’t good, they don’t know how to switch from Constant to Reactive, etc. I find myself having the same conversations with people who are happy to spend $200 on the headlamp but won’t spend 30 minutes learning how to use it properly- trust me- you’ll love this thing if you do!

The tiny Kathmandu torches I have carried during the day for the last few years are no longer available, so I’ll carry some little torches randomly found in drawers around the house for the daytime sections

 

*I have spoken to the Race Director (in around 2014 or even perhaps earlier) about whether a hand held torch is ok rather than a headlamp, and he agreed it was ok. He couldn’t see why you would want to use a hand held torch if a headlamp as available (me too) however it will pass. Weight: 30g  (light until CP4).
Weight: 187g (Petzl Nao with battery)

*Remember- waist lights are now specifically banned, see above.

1 x small backup light- Sufficiently bright to see course markings while walking in case of headlamp failure. Petzl Tikkina is perfect.

* I will use a Petzl Actik Core for my backup light. it is perfectly ok for an event like the North Face 100 as your main light as it has 350 lumens (and a 7 hour burn time at 100 lumens), but I’m lucky that my wife works for the local distributor so these things breed like rabbits in our house. Weight: 10g (light until CP3).
Weight: 82g (Petzl Actik Core including battery)

1 x Mobile Phone in Working Order with Fully Charged Battery Mobile phone coverage over the course varies from excellent at most escarpment / cliff top locations to non-existent when in deep valleys or when directly below cliffs. Generally you can get reception on hills and ridges across the whole course especially when you have views directly to Katoomba. We strongly recommend you have a Telstra phone. If you need to buy a new phone or a pre-paid SIM card or borrow a phone, Telstra is preferable as it works on approximately 90% of the course. Optus works on approximately 50% of the course. Vodaphone works on less than 30% of the course. For specific details of phone coverage on the course, refer to the Competitor Briefing document which is available one month prior to the event.

*Yes Telstra aren’t my favourite people either, but my phone is with them and the network is pretty good. I will be carrying an iPhone 7 Plus which luckily no longer needs the  Lifeproof waterproof case but I should think about some drop protection…..
Weight: 188g

1 x Compass- Used only in the very unlikely event that you get lost. While we recommend a good quality compass such as the Silva Field 7, you can bring any compass as long as the magnetic needle will settle quickly and will point to magnetic North. A waterproof watch compass is allowed as long as you can calibrate it and know how to use it. An iPhone compass is not acceptable as it is not waterproof and the batteries may be needed for making emergency calls.

Smallest compass I have been able to find is these at 12 for < $2 , being totally honest, some of them don’t point North as quickly as you might like. Buy a set, save the ones that work properly, chuck out any that don’t meet the spec, give a few away.
Weight: <10g

1 x whistle

*most Salomon packs seem to have a whistle built in, so I have 3. You should either borrow one from someone who owns a Salomon pack, or buy one from a toy or sports store- Rebel Sport will have these, or order something like this which has whistle, compass and backup light all in one, or this which is locally available and has the compass and whistle…..
Weight: included with pack

 

1 x emergency space blanket, light bivvy sack or equivalent

* Salomon Advanced Skin 12 v3 packs have these inside, or I bought one from Kathmandu. Hint- Khatmandu seems to always be on sale……
I also had to buy a ‘Space bag’ this year to meet the mandatory gear requirements for Tarawera. Yes, I do own at least one of everything……

Weight: 55g (or included with pack)

bandage

This image lifted straight from the UTA100 Mandatory Gear List…..

Compression Bandage (Minimum Dimensions 7.5cm Wide x 2.3m Long Unstretched) The wrapping should list ‘heavy weight cotton crepe bandage’ or ‘heavy cotton elastic bandage’ or ‘heavy weight elastic support bandage’. This item is used for the treatment of sprains or snake bite. Generally the pink coloured bandages are suitable and the white bandages not. There will be compression bandages available for purchase at Race Check-In (mostly as a service for international runners). Refer to ‘Suitable Bandages’ link for images.

I asked, but never got to the bottom of what makes a suitable compression bandage- common sense says that it’s the elastic in the bandage that will provide the compression. Supplied by my wife from our medical box, but you can buy these from Chemists. At Tarawera they require one of these that is self adhesive, so now I have one of those too… Although I haven’t asked, I would suspect that in future years they will want you to have the self adhesive version as it doesn’t require any fancy action to get it tight…..
Weight: 45g

1 x lightweight Dry Sack This is to keep the compulsory clothing dry (multiple NEW Ziplock plastic bags work well for compressing your clothing and being able to see the item through the plastic; useful for random gear checks). Sea to Summit Ultrasil dry sacks are also a good option (refer to the ‘Ultrasil Dry Sack’ link)

You don’t need to buy a Dry Sack if you put everything in individual zip lock sandwich bags. I also wrote on the outside of each bag what the contents were, and found that I never had to look far for anything. This is important and could save time when you are cold and mentally shattered.
In 2017 I used a Sous Vide sealing and suction machine to individually pack each item. This worked really well- you need to label each item- and it had the added benefit of enabling you to use a smaller pack than you would otherwise, and centres the weight closer to your body
Weight: 3g each, you’ll need about 10 of these

Capacity to carry 2 litres of water (water bladder or water bottles)

I no longer use a bladder for this race because I know that I can get through each section with only 1.2l of water if I drink enough at the checkpoints. I will be carrying 2x 600ml Powerade bottle and 2x 500ml Salomon soft flasks. The soft flasks will be folded up and wrapped with a rubber band, stored in an obscure pocket. That gives me 2.2l of fluid capacity and only 122g weight. Nice
*Warning- your needs will be different- figure out what you need to do so you don’t run out, because that is horrible.
Weight: 122g

Breakfast of Champions

Breakfast of Champions

2 x bars / food portions. You need to start each leg with 2 food portions and can eat these during the leg.

* When you pull everything out of your pack after the event, you probably won’t remember why you have 2 squished muesli bars at the bottom. These were your emergency food items. Equally important- if you get into trouble, don’t forget they are there!
2014 update- this is probably the only rule loophole that isn’t yet closed. You could theoretically take no extra food portions and claim you had an emergency and ate them. You most likely would not get in trouble for this, but don’t be an idiot- take extra food! I often finish an ultra with enough food to take me another 50km. Ahem.
Weight: 39g (muesli bar) Weight: 33g (packet of Gu chomps)

1 x Ziploc bag for personal rubbish

*Oh no! You’ve just added 3g to your running weight! Don’t worry, you’ll sweat it out.

1 x set of maps and course descriptions (provided by organisers). At registration, you will be provided with one set of maps and course notes.  You will need to protect these from getting wet (using item below)

* provided on A3/ sometimes A4 paper, you will put these in a safe place and forget they are there. It’s unlikely you will refer to the maps- the course is very clearly marked. You won’t get lost- but don’t forget where your maps are- there was a gear check mid race in 2012 and we had to show them to scrutineers. Weight: 62g (I weighed another competitors handout from 2010)

Sea_to_Summit_TPU_Map_Case__jpg_508x300_q85

1 x waterproof map case or any other way to keep your maps protected such as map contact

*The best of these I’ve seen is by Sea to Summit, but it isn’t quite a full A4 size. I have a Sealine one that is big and bulky. The Sea To Summit should be available from most of the camping stores around Kent St in Sydney, Weight: 128g (Sealine from 2011).
Weight: 53g (Sea to Summit 2012)

Note– as suggested by Andy Hewat, you can put your maps into an A4 sized ziplock bag. This will pass a gear check, and weighs a lot less than a map case. Honestly, you won’t need to use your maps during the race.

Salomon Bonatti WP pants

Salomon Bonatti WP pants

1 x long leg waterproof pants Must be waterproof but does NOT require the same specs as the waterproof jacket, i.e. does not need taped seams, does not need to be breathable but does need to be durable.

* I bought mine from Rebel Sport for about $40,  they are Team brand. You can get some for about $20, but they were non breathable plastic and looked easy to rip, and very heavy. The Rolls Royce here is the Salomon pants pictured but they are about the same weight as the cheap Team branded ones, but will probably last longer! You may not have to carry this for the whole race, see the explanation below.
Weight: 191g

North Face Fleece

North Face Fleece

1 x 100-Weight (Minimum) Long Sleeve Synthetic Fleece Top 100-weight fleece is equivalent to 214gsm Polartec Fleece. Must not be made of wool as you will mostly need this item if it is wet and just above zero. If it were guaranteed to be dry weather for the race, a woollen fleece would actually be preferable. The fibres of a synthetic fleece will not absorb water whereas the fibres of a woollen fleece will hold water and make you feel colder and clammier. Also once a woollen fleece is wet, it will never dry out for the rest of the race. Refer to ‘Sample 100 weight fleece‘ link for a suitable example.

 100 weight polar fleece is not very heavy. You may not have to carry this for the whole race, see the explanation below. An example of a 100 weight fleece top here, but I actually ordered this 200 weight one here because it was lighter and cheaper. Remember- if you buy a fleece top without a full length zipper it will be more difficult to get on when you are cold and tired. Get a full length zipper version.
Weight: 346g

1x Course Map & Course Descriptions PROVIDED BY ORGANISERS IN YOUR RACE PACK. You must protect these from getting wet using your waterproof map case. The course map is A3 and in colour (double-sided for UTA100, single-sided for UTA50)
No extra info needed for this- make sure it is in a waterproof package and chuck it in your pack- you won’t need it EXCEPT if you’re asked for it as part of a gear check, so know where it is. Yes this has happened. More than once.

1 x A5 Participant Emergency Instructions card on waterproof paper PROVIDED BY ORGANISERS IN YOUR RACE PACK. The card is A5 on waterproof paper

self explanatory. Don’t need to memorise it, just know where it is if you get in trouble. Weight: 6g (pretty sure this info is on the back of your race number, so I weighed one from another race). Yes that probably makes me a bit nuts.

 

1 x full box of waterproof & windproof safety matches AVAILABLE FOR COLLECTION AT RACE CHECK-IN. 

1 x firelighter block for emergency use only (Jiffy Firelighter provided by organisers).  You will need to provide your own zip lock bag or container.

*pretty self explanatory- there will be a table at check-in with these items on it. Grab a small amount and stash them in a zip lock sandwich bag that you have brought along. You’ll need a couple of extras for this and following items. Weight: no idea, say 30g

1 x Race Number PROVIDED BY ORGANISERS IN YOUR RACE PACK. Must be worn on your front, over your belly or chest and be visible at all times over the top of your outermost layer of clothing such as waterproof jacket, high-visibility vest or other garment (safety pins are also provided in your race pack). The race number must NOT be worn on your pants or leg. The race number has a single disposable timing tag already stuck to it’s rear side. Do not fold, bend, cut or pierce the race number as you may damage the timing tag. It must be worn as is, unfolded. A recommended method of securing your race number is to use a race belt which allows you to easily have your number visible over the top of your outermost item of clothing. You will need to provide your own race belt if you choose to do this.

*remember if you aren’t near the front of the pack you will most likely experience a few weather changes during your event, and you’ll probably want to change clothes. If the extra fleece and waterproof pants are declared mandatory during he race you could be changing both your bottom and top clothing, meaning that the best way of having your race number visible at all times is to have it on a race belt or a SPI-Belt. Don’t buy the Spi-Belt with the little things to hold gels on the side. These will wobble themselves out and you’ll not only run out of food, you could be disqualified for littering. Seriously, these are a dumb idea, but you can keep salt tabs or a gel or two inside the Spi-Belt pockets.
Weight: 60g (SpiBelt with 2 pockets)

1x Timing Tag for Backpack (Bag Tag) PROVIDED BY ORGANISERS IN YOUR RACE PACK. This is a disposable timing tag which needs to be secured to the back of your running backpack (a cable tie is also provided in your race pack). Due to the bag tag, it is preferable not to swap backpacks during the event but if you plan to do so you will need to have your own side-cutters or scissors to cut the bag tag cable tie off the first backpack and your own spare cable tie / zip tie to attach the bag tag to your second backpack. Refer to ‘How to attach your bag timing tag‘ for images.

Here is the explanation of these items- the waterproof pants and the fleece taken directly from the mandatory gear list here

You will only be required to carry the waterproof pants if weather conditions are wet. A decision on whether you need to carry the pants from the start or if they need to be left with your support crew or placed into a specified drop bag for use during the event will be made at 4pm the day before the race and publicised at the 4:30pm Friday Race Check-In, at the Race Briefing and via the event app and event Facebook Page

There will be two different scenarios, based upon the weather, for what you will need to do with your 100-weight long sleeve synthetic fleece top. A decision on whether you need to follow Scenario 1 or Scenario 2 will be made at 4pm the day before the race and publicised at the 4:30pm Friday Race Check-In, at the Race Briefing and via the event app and event Facebook Page

SCENARIO 1. The fleece top may be compulsory from the start if weather conditions are expected to be bad.

SCENARIO 2. If not made compulsory from the start, the fleece top will be compulsory to carry from CP4 from 4:30pm and compulsory to carry from CP5 from 7:30pm. Depending on your speed, you will need to have your fleece available at either CP4 or CP5. Please read the following recommendations and decide which option will guarantee you have the fleece top in the right location for when it becomes compulsory:

a) You will definitely be departing CP4 well before 4:30pm so you should put your fleece into your CP5 drop bag. Note that 75% of runners who made it through CP4 in the 2016 event departed CP4 before 4:30pm.

b) You will definitely be departing CP4 after 4:30pm so you should put your fleece into your CP4 drop bag.

c) You will be departing CP4 around 4:30pm or are not actually sure what time you will departing CP4; either put the items into your CP4 drop bag and carry them from CP4 regardless of the time OR have two fleeces with one in your CP4 drop bag and one in your CP5 drop bag. If you have a support crew, it will be easier for you as they can have your fleece available at CP4 and at CP5

Other things to remember- If there is any discrepancy between my explanations and the official line, the officials win. No arguments.

There will be at least one random gear check- usually two. Don’t try to skimp on any of the mandatory gear, it could ruin your race if you have to wait for a crew member to drive one to you- which is the best case scenario.

All of the outdoor shops seem to be on sale right now (Kathmandu permanently!) and I saw some of the mandatory gear at great prices where they all cluster around Kent St Sydney.

Don't forget the Bodyglide!

Don’t forget the Bodyglide!

Recommended items via UTA website:

  • Vaseline, Body Glide or other body lubricant
  • Sunscreen
  • Cap or sun hat
  • Spare socks
  • Spare headlight batteries
  • Additional warmer clothing at supported checkpoints
  • A spare headlamp in case your main light stops working.
  • More substantial first aid kit (sterile dressings, roll of strapping tape, blister care such as blister block patches, Compeed or Fixamol, antiseptic wipes, painkillers, and any relevant personal medications).
  • External battery charger for your phone

Going to the Toilet on the Course

An issue of great concern is toilet paper and human faeces being left visibly on the track. There are toilets at Scenic World, the start at Queen Victoria Hospital and one toilet at the emergency aid station. If you have tricky bowels we suggest you buy a Go Anywhere Toilet Kit (“Wag Bag”) from an outdoor retailer. We encourage you to purchase one of these kits as we simply cannot have people leaving faeces and toilet paper in this pristine environment. Remember Leave No Trace!

The Go Anywhere Toilet Kit is a portable, waste collection system that turns solid and liquid waste into a hygienic, odourless, biodegradable substance. The waste collection bags are pre-loaded with non-toxic Poo Powder which treats up to 900g of liquid and solid waste allowing for multiple uses. The Poo Powder contains a decay catalyst that controls odours and breaks down solid waste into a spill proof, bin friendly substance.

After using the kit, carry it with you to the next checkpoint where there will be a waste bin for disposal.

GPS Trackers

For the purposes of live tracking of the top runners, the expected top 15 male and top 10 female runners in the field will be asked to carry a GPS tracking unit. The GPS unit is slightly bigger than matchbox and weighs 72 grams. The units will be handed out at the race start line.

I’ll do another post soon about the non mandatory items you should consider……….

The Road to Badwater Part 1

You were meant to be reading this about 9 weeks ago, but don’t worry- it’s not you, it’s me.
I messaged Kirrily Dear and asked her if I could raise some money for Run Against Violence, and part of that was writing a couple of blog posts in the lead up to the race. She was pretty keen- I mean who doesn’t like free money- especially a charity? But I failed in that commitment- every week I had more things to do pulling me away from doing the things I had promised. I’m also late on 2 shoe reviews. Those may take a few years as I learn to use phrases like mid sole rocker stability and upper flange gasket peak pressure normalisation. I’m sure you’re gagging for me to make up 500 words about shoes. For now I’m writing this on a plane to LA…….

But anyhoo- let me talk about Kirrily’s thing for a sec. Kirrily has quite literally put her body on the line for this charity- she has run over 800km across NSW to raise awareness (and possibly a bit of cash). I hope you’ve seen the documentary about the run, it’s hard, emotional and brilliant story. This year she’s going even further, planning to run over 1300km to raise awareness of family violence, focussing on kids stories. And this time there will be a way for everyone to participate, as there is a ‘Virtual Challenge’ that you can sign up and run yourself.

So go to the website and hit the ‘Donate’ button. I’ll wait

https://www.runagainstviolence.com

That first run was brutally hot and I’ve had to lean on Kirrily’s crew for advice on how to deal with the heat of Death Valley. Brad Smithers and Sally Dean (as well as Kirrily herself) have given me some invaluable advice about running in extreme heat. See the segue? Brilliant hey?

So how did I get into this race? It’s one of those races you hear about even as a non runner- and laugh at the utter stupidity of running not only across a flaming hot desert, but from the bottom to the top of a whole continent.

I’d never even considered something like this but after dedicating a fair amount of time running, I discovered 2 things-

1. I’ll never be fast
2. I can go slowly for a long time

Number 2 is a consequence of hanging around with the right (or perhaps wrong) crowd. As I grew more and more amazed at the humility and capability of these incredible athletes, I began entering some of the same races and learning their craft. It’s simple and complex all at once- an eating competition with a bit of running sure, but tiny mistakes can take you out brutally.

Fast forward to last year and I’d done a couple of long and tough runs (still hadn’t finished the ‘long course’ at Coast to Kosci) and we went on holiday in the USA. We’d designed the trip around meeting some of Sarah’s friends and a few natural wonders along the way. It was a 10th wedding anniversary trip that started with renewing our vows in front of Elvis in Las Vegas, and went through Death Valley and Tahoe amongst other places. While in Vegas a friend announced on FaceBook that he had been accepted into Badwater. Maybe 30 seconds later (ok it could have been less) I asked Sarah if I could crew for him.

Understandably she wasn’t keen as we had blown our travel budget but I must have had that slightly pursed lip look of determination and she got that slightly pursed pissed off look, and we had a deal. I emailed Cpt Nemo and he accepted. Later in that trip I got to fulfil a lifelong dream of running in Death Valley. It was horrible. I’d brought some running gear and we had planned to let me out and have me run to the next town or whatever but it got to late-ish afternoon and so I jumped out of the car with my water bottle and took off. I only made it 6km as we were pressed for time, but honestly I was very happy to get back in the car. I’d taken a black water bottle. The outside temp was ‘only’ 32 degrees but within minutes my water was like drinking warm tea and the reflected heat from the tarmac was worse than from overhead.

Actually going back to Death Valley a few months to crew was fantastic. I had Gavin and Bec Markey as well as Matthew Holland to keep me company while Nemo suffered outside the car. But yeah, it was totally a recce run for me- to see if normal people could do this race. And maybe to see if me in particular could do the race. I wasn’t sure even a few months after crewing.

After being a bit aimless in my running for months I finally started to regain some fitness, Great North Walk was tremendously painful but I got it done. And while it was a real battle for me to finish Coast to Kosci, I was heartened by the fact that a lot of things went right. I’d had a plan to get to Dalgety at 148km and executed that perfectly. It’s a great shame I hadn’t considered what to do for the last 90km……

Anyway it came time to apply for Badwater in early February, and I had decent qualifiers- 2x C2K and a stint as Crew Chief for Badwater, I felt I had a pretty decent chance of getting in. We were actually in New Zealand for the Tarawera Ultra when Race Director Chris Kostman was doing a FaceBook Live stream of reading out the names. I was eating breakfast while Sarah packed the car and screaming at the laptop because Chris was taking so long to get the names read out- he adjusted his Gumby, showed the latest branded Badwater gear, talked about the sponsors- it was making me nuts because we only had 2 hours of free WiFi at the hotel!

He finally started reading the list, and I got chills just hearing the names of all these legendary runners participating, but as he went deeper and deeper I realised that I am totally outclassed by these people. I mean not even in the same stratosphere- and I started getting depressed. Sarah wanted to pack up and go, and as the list got towards the end I wondered if I should even listen to the rest, but we did and all of a sudden we heard ‘and all the way from Greenwich Australia, Adam Connor’

I jumped and screamed- I’d gone from confident to destroyed to elated in the space of a few minutes! my name was somewhere around 94th to 97th. Sorry I can’t remember exactly as my head nearly exploded from excitement. I reckon I can do a bit better than that in the race, gulp.

So I’m doing this race hoping to benefit Run Against Violence.
(And on a completely different topic)
But I’m also running this race in honour of my sister. She’s much stronger than she knows. Don’t bother asking me any more about this, it really is as simple as that statement. She’s great company, very smart, caring and wants the world to be a better place. I just want the best for her too.

Next post will be about the training, and the last one about the race itself

Ultra Trail Australia 100km UTA100 2017

So my race prep was easy, training went well and everything was perfect for race day…..

Pigs arse!
It actually went more like this-
Had a cold 3 weeks ago- still trained but didn’t really make progress
Started strength training 2 weeks ago, made great progress but missed a box jump a week ago and my ribs hurt like a bastard.
Because of the ribs I hadn’t really tapered as much as just stopped running.
Focussing on Badwater meant that I had done ZERO stair training and had run mostly on road, except when I ignored Coach’s plan and snuck out.
An ultrasound on Monday before the race seemed to show I was missing a kidney. WTF?
And on the morning of the race I locked the house keys in the house, meaning we may not have anywhere to sleep after ~20 hours of running.

All good then.

 

The morning of the race came, and the weather was expected to be ‘challenging’. in fact it pissed down when we left the rented house in the dark and my mood was nearly as black. Then a funny thing happened when we got to Scenic World- the weather lifted. Pity my mood didn’t!

The gun went off and we settled in for the first few km of road. I should have been happy and fast here, but everyone in start group 3 seemed to be running up the hills and determined to kill themselves before we hit the bush. I ran with Jen and Martyn and had a great chat, it was a bit like old times! Good to see them both coming back from injury. Not much to report until we hit the landslide- there was a huge conga line. I reckon to go sub 14 hours you really need to be in group 2 or 1 to have a good chance at hitting your goals on section 1.

I had no particular goal except not to hurt myself, so I was happy to let people go- as soon as we hit single track gain people were pushing past quite aggressively. I’ve complained about this before, but we really need some documentation about trail etiquette- it’s very simple people- if you want to go past yell ‘passing left’ ‘passing right’ or ‘passing when safe’ and the person in front can decide which side to let you go. Although this might be difficult- there were a lot of international runners and they seem to have a different system- they simply wait for the person in front to indicate a side to pass, nothing is said.

Going up Golden Stairs was a bit of revelation- it’s the FIRST TIME IN 7 YEARS that I haven’t needed to stop at least once (and usually multiple times) to let people past. I cannot emphasise how important this is- it’s massive for me. I don’t know how much each thing has contributed but a combination of weight, my new asthma drug and strength training has definitely brought this result. I was still puffed, and still hitting quite a high heart rate, but often in this race I will lose 30-60 places just going up these stairs……

The fart jokes started early this year, one guy wondering who as ‘cropdusting’ going up the concrete climb just after Golden Stairs. I wouldn’t say the name, but his initials are Martyn Dawson….. later there was much regretsy about biological functions, but I digress.

Anyway I got to CP1 in about 1:42 I think, meaning I was looking at a 19 hour finish time- ouch! Can’t worry too much about that so early on, so I filled up my bottles and headed out on to Narrowneck. Again, I should have been fairly fast along here but I just felt really out of sorts- not sick, just a bit of general malaise. This isn’t uncommon for me in races, I can ignore it and risk going to those dark places again, or I can try to ride it out. It was going to be a loooong day. Thankfully I had hooked up with Damon Roberts and Neil Webb- 2 of my Badwater crew, and it was fantastic to run with them. Also a tiny bit stressful- I am aware that it’s possible to tell too many poo jokes- what if I turned them off coming to the USA?

Thanks to Hailey for this pic

There was another long-ish queue for Tarro’s Ladder, but I was happy to have a break and not worry about time. I heard someone call out ‘Leah!’ around there and wondered if it was my friend having a great run bitch was going to beat me again.

Going up Mount Debert I thought about Michael Milton- he was doing the 50km race- with one leg! The last minute course changes meant that he was going to be coming this way without preparing for it. It’s rough country, hard enough with 2 legs that (mostly) work. Doing it with crutches was going to suck and blow. Massive props to you Michael, what a bloody legend.

We hit CP2 with no major issues and I got out of there hoping that the rumours were true- no Ironpot Ridge this year! We headed out in the same direction and as we got closer and closer I was afraid the rumours weren’t true- but then we hit the spot where you would normally start climbing and there was tape across the course. I was quite relieved even though I could have compared my ascent with previous years to see if my performance really had improved as much as it seemed up the stairs. But of course this now meant that we were several km short, and suddenly we didn’t really know where we were vs expectations.

Coach Andy DuBois had sent out an email communication the night before asking us not to worry or even use pace charts etc. But I really can’t help it, I love information. I decided that we were about 4km short and that this was about 1 hour. Made it easy. Wrong? Probably, but I wasn’t really racing either…….

The ascent up Megalong Valley Rd wasn’t pleasant, but again I didn’t lose as many spots as I might have in other years. My mind still wasn’t happy and when we got to the flat I felt I should have been able to push harder, but I didn’t really want to answer that question- would I feel better, or feel worse? If I felt better, that might commit me to racing the rest of the course, and I was specifically NOT supposed to do that. If I felt worse, well, there’s no benefit in that is there!?

I ran with Damon again and occasionally Neil would appear out of the bushes pulling his pants up. Not sure what was so interesting in there but he was pretty keen on the experience. Or so it seemed. We arrived at CP3, did a gear check and all went our seperate ways. I put some music on and shimmied up towards Six Foot Track in a good mood- I was finally feeling mentally better, but still no explanation of why.

Several km up Six foot Track I felt a disturbance in the Force. I could hear one runner behind me but the ones up front were too far away, so I ripped off a baby killing fart of planet busting proportions. I hadn’t looked around to see who was behind, because well- what are the chances of it being someone I knew?

‘Hi DJ ADAM!’
And yes it was Kath Carty on her way to an amazing result in the 50km race. Kath, I apologise for the attempted murder.

Going up Nellie’s Glen I was able to impress/ disgust a few runners with my knowledge. ‘How many more of these f@cking stairs are there?’ Someone exclaimed in frustration. ‘Only 350 more!’ I was able to reply confidently. Lucky there were no sharp knives around.

Getting to CP4 is always great, and even better with 4km less in your legs and (perhaps) an hour earlier in the day. I’d forgotten to bring my charge cable for my Fenix 3, and I knew it would run out of battery within the next few hours- luckily Damon had one and was prepared to lend it to me while we ran together until he needed it. So I was happy to take a few minutes extra and rest until his wife had gone through his CP checklist. I got to go to a real toilet, and it’s the last time you can do stuff while it’s light, and it’s warm and inside- bliss!

Somewhere in section 4 I ran a bit with Dr Alex, a lovely bloke I’d first met last year during GNW. He’s a GP from Tamworth (er, possibly?) and we had such a good time chatting at GNW that we happily went off piste quite substantially. Anyway I promised I wouldn’t ask him any more medical questions but I did mention the kidney issue and his first response was ‘no NSAIDS for you!’ (These are frowned upon in races anyway so I won’t have any trouble avoiding them…….

Thanks to Akiko Akashi for this pic

Heading out of CP4 we didn’t have to cross the swamp this year, and course changes meant it wasn’t straight down the Giant Staircase. I don’t really know how much vert was taken out of this section, but it’s still pretty soul destroying to head down the valley so many times- Gordon Falls, Wentworth Falls, etc. It’s also kind of difficult to get any running rhythm going. We’d left CP4 at almost exactly 3pm and knew that if we could get to CP5 and out by 7pm we wouldn’t have to carry our fleeces. It doesn’t really matter, but it was a goal to focus on. Pace chart said a 14 hour runner could do it in 3.5 hours and a 19 hour runner in 4.5 hours, so we had a chance…..

Oh, no we didn’t! Remember the bit we missed at Ironpot Ridge? The Race Directors decided to make us run past CP5, down to the Water Board Gate and back again, making that section 3km longer. We ran past CP5 at 7:03pm so it didn’t really matter anyway, but some people found this bit utter torture. I felt it was pretty fair- there were plenty of other places the could have made us go that were much more horrible.

I’d developed a rough plan to run the rest of the way with Damon (and hadn’t told him) but I was ready to leave the CP pretty quickly and in order to not annoy him I went over to the other tent- there are tents on either side of the CP, one for runners and their support crew and another for unsupported runners.

We were in good spirits heading out of CP5 and back down on Rocket Point track I got to see Sarah! After a quick hug and a kiss we shuffled off and Damon said ‘you could have been more concerned about her’ (paraphrasing, can’t remember exactly) and I said ‘Pfft, she’s tougher than me’ then a lady in front replied ‘I was just about to suggest that….’ and thus started the Legend of the Kellys. It turns out that both ladies in front are from Newcastle and called Kelly. We passed a fun few hours running through the bush and talking, they were exactly the pace I needed to go- just gently running the flats and making good time up the stairs. Of course my mind was getting a bit loose by then and I was terrified of saying something truly offensive, but I think I managed to pretend to be relatively normal for long enough. One of the surprising things was my ability to go up stairs- I managed to keep my place without getting puffed out and at one stage even led a group up from Wentworth Falls without much difficulty. Somewhere around there we lost Damon- I called out to him and didn’t get a reply. I was a bit gutted but it would be dumb to wait for him and I knew that if I started to falter he would catch up without problems.

At the Fairmont I started explaining to the Kellys that the race used to finish there, and I could just see myself walking into the bar with the tall glass windows and having a cocktail while watching runners come in. But it was all fantasy- we still had a few hours to go! The Kellys stopped to top up and I went on. Getting back on the road was good for me- I got more upright, swung my arms and improved my cadence and passed heaps of people- a few were looking pretty despondent!

Throughout the whole day my mind hadn’t been cooperating but my body had been ok. Later my mind came to the party and things started to click, but at about the 91km mark my mind fucked off again and my body started to feel the effects of the day. I truly felt like if I’d stopped at 80-90km I would have been able to run again the next day. It was like all of the damage was in the last bit! I suppose it always is….

Vacuum packing gear worked well

I started to hope that the course was a few km short, but things just don’t work that way. With 4km to go I gave up and started walking, counting the people getting past me. I’d had a good day, slowly passing plenty of people but now 4-5 people got past. At 2km to go I heard a familiar voice and turned around to see Rob Mattingly- it was terrific to see him, and almost gave me back some fighting spirit. Almost!

Finally getting to Furber (Fubar!) Stairs I started to count my way up, but my new found energy for getting up vertical had gone. I lost another 6-8 places in the 20 minute climb. I count the stairs down- there’s 935 stairs if you only count the ‘up’ ones. Near the top I heard another familiar voice and I abandoned counting at step number 865 because it was Damon! He’d caught me and we decided to finish together. I found out later that the Kellys had gone past me on the stairs too, but fair play to them, they looked strong the whole time. Rob had beaten me by nearly 10 minutes in the last 2km- nice one Rob!

I’ve never been able to walk so well at the finish of this race- I wouldn’t say I was unaffected but a combination of strength training and the low/ easy effort meant my body was in better shape than most times I’d finished.

I looked at the UTA app and found that Sarah had passed the Fairmont at exactly the same time I finished, meaning she was only 13km away. So I relaxed, had a couple of shandies and talked rubbish to anyone who would listen. Roger Hanney came past holding his phone out, so Annabel and I decided to do a race report filled with expletives- he went a bit quiet (unusual I know) and said ‘this is being live streamed!’ so I guess I owe apologies to anyone watching that too….

Unfortunately the last 13km took Sarah about 4 hours, so by 4:10am things were getting a bit loose. Someone had come across the line and their runner profile said ‘one day I want to run a marathon naked’. Apparently the person who did their entry thought it would be a bit of fun, and that started a downhill slide of bum jokes and requests for the RD’s to draw dicks in the wet windows of the organising shed.

Luckily Roger was distracted by Sarah reaching the Furber Stairs, and when she reached the top there was a huge reaction as you can see here-

A very emotional and well deserved finish. Congratulations honey!

Nutrition
This is a pic of all of the solid food I ate during the race-

No beer?

Not a lot is it? However it was enough- I never felt hungry, and my energy levels were fine until the last 4km. There is one thing missing- I had an SIS liquid protein gel like thing at CP3. I’d been sent 2 of these as sample, tried one, liked it and tried to order more. SIS said they weren’t bringing them in anymore as by the time they arrive their use-by date was too close. I remembered that when I was squeezing the tube into my mouth and it was all lumpy. Oh well, I figured that I wouldn’t get sick during the race so it would be ok……

Race Analysis
Not much to report here except- try to get into Wave 2 if you want a sub 14 hour time. Slowdowns at the Landslide and Tarro’s Ladders weren’t a problem for me, but would seriously impact your pace early on if that’s your goal. This year I didn’t spit the dummy like last year at the Fairmont, which is lucky because I didn’t have Jane to yell at me (is that lucky?)
I felt like I had someone standing on the left side of my chest all day from the bruised ribs, so that may have had a small impact on pace, but overall I’m very happy to have completed a difficult race without specific training in a halfway decent time. if you can read the pic below, you can see that I improved my place from 849 at the 3km mark to 439 at CP1 (update- it seems that the CP1 timing was not working for either Wave 1, Wave 2 or both- that would explain the weird numbers). Then most of those people got past me again before Little Cedar Gap where I was placed 787. This reflects a couple of things- I suspect that the holdup at Tarro’s meant that a lot of people went around when I was happy to have a break, and I also think that many people who were held up tried to make up a lot of places on Narrowneck. I was pretty slow and not feeling good there so they did, but you can also see that some went out too fast there- as I made back 200 of the 400 places I’d lost by the end……(ok maybe I didn’t based on the above)

Health
You may have noticed above I mentioned the possibility I have only one kidney- how did that come about? My Doctor insists on a blood test every year. I hate blood tests so I put it off as long as I can….anyway I’ve had 3 tests in a row with elevated liver enzymes. In medical terms that’s chronic. I am absolutely convinced that it’s due to my endurance running, but Dr isn’t happy and wants answers, so he sends me off for an ultrasound. They would be looking for signs of liver damage, fatty liver disease, lumps etc.

While they didn’t find any problems with my liver, the ultrasound tech could not find my left kidney. So the Dr called me up and asked me to have another test- a CT scan with dye. I’m not keen on needles but they injected me with some Iodine based dye and took pictures of my guts on the Monday after the race. Anyway, apparently I was born with only one kidney. This is somewhat of a surprise to find out when I’m nearly 50 years old……

I had another shock a few weeks back too- an online test said I am highly autistic. I haven’t fully absorbed what that might mean, but in a lot of ways I don’t care. I could use it as an excuse for being brusque or a bit in your face. But I never want to do that- I’d prefer if you just thought I was a bit of a dickhead, that’s fine. On one hand this could give me more freedom to express myself, but I’ve already grabbed that- I am happy to be judged in the same way as everyone else- and also happy if you point out that I’ve crossed a line.

So if I’ve ever beaten you in a race, you’ve been overtaken by a previously fat, old autistic man with tiny lungs, asthma and one kidney- how does that feel?

Actually it’s hilarious, I’ll try not to mention it again but to finish on a positive note- how good could we all be if we ignored our limitations?

 

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Andy DuBois from Mile27 for Coaching
And Dominic Cadden from WTFitness for Strength Training
Thank you!

UTA50 & UTA100 Training Run List 2017

Here is the full program with notes, enjoy!
Each link will take you to the FaceBook Event page.
If you are unsure about coming, you can still add these events to your calendar by selecting ‘export event’ then ‘save to calendar’ like this-

 

14 March
Launch Night UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
Come and have a drink to meet your fellow victims and scare the new people with stories of epic suffering
 Week 1
18 March
HahnMich Manoeuvre UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
This run has 2 loops so you can do 17km, 14km or the full 32km
Week 2
25 March
26 March
Buffalo Stampede UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
This is an alternative to the run on the day before- various distances, all hard.
Week 3
1 April
Greater Nosh 32.5km UTA50 Runners
I’m a little uncomfortable about using this run as it is an NRG run. Does anyone have an alternative suggestion?
2 April
Mt Solitary 45km UTA100 Runners
Week 4
8 April
Jabulani Challenge 45km UTA50 & UTA100
45km for the 100km runners, shorter distances available for the 50km runners
April 8-9
Alternative to Jabulani- distances from 21km to 50km
Week 5
15 April
Fatass Hellgate Gorge– UTA100 Runners
We love and hate this run in just about equal quantities. This is Easter weekend- one option is can stay at Katoomba YMCA on Friday to make the morning drive a little easier. What do you think?
 Week 6
April 22
Beyond the Black Stump 35km UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
 Week 7
29 April
UTA100 Start to Finish Via Jamison Valley 44km UTA100 Runners
Week 8
6 May
Brooklyn to Hornsby 43km UTA100 Runners
This one is viciously difficult! Bail out points….
Brooklyn to Cowan Return 26km UTA50 Runners
Galston Gut Buster 21km UTA50 Runners (option)
 Week 9
Friday 12 May
Manly Dam + Beer UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
Note this is on a Friday so you can spend the whole weekend with your family!
Remember them?
Race Day!
 20 May
Ultra Trail Australia UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
27 May
Post Race Celebration UTA50 & UTA100 Runners
Note this is on Friday so you can hobble straight from work

Coast to Kosci 2016 C2K

img_3827C2K weekend is basically a hippie love fest for self flagellators and their mates.

There, I’ve said it. Now that I’ve said it, I’ll also state that I never want to be anywhere else on that weekend in December.

This story started in September last year when I found out I had missed out on a spot in the race. It was a harsh but fair decision and I decided to redouble my efforts to get into the race. Luckily five of my other friends from NRG had earned a spot but unluckily only three of them made to the start line- but all three did exceptionally well and the bug was working it’s way round in the minds of other NRG’ers!

This year when the invitations came around another five NRG’ers were picked and luckily I was one of them. The bad part was there was suddenly scramble for crew members. But my secret weapon was Piera Kohout who had been asking me for race dates since before the race date was even announced. I also managed to get on board Tanya Carroll who is very calm, a great organiser and a great runner. The final member of the team was Tex Whitney who is a mate from a long time back, and I knew he would fit in with no problems. All three of them are very well organised, experts in their field, calm under pressure and exactly what I needed in team.

As none of my crew had crewed before for this race, I tried to make sets of instruction so that everything would be easy for them. In fact I probably make things more complicated than they need to be, and didn’t spend enough time training them on the use of all the bits and pieces. Apparently I sent them into meltdown when I asked for an espresso- I’d provided a machine that works in the car but the instructions aren’t all that clear……

 

The trip down was uneventful and quite fun through Berry and had some fresh doughnuts. Dinner with Jane Trumper and Hailey Maxwell and their respective crews was fun, although sitting in a pub and drinking soda water was an experience I could probably improve upon.

Thursday we started packing the car and organising things and suddenly it was time to mark the course for Cossie To Coast, the 7km fun run for the teams. Went down for a nap and asked to be woken up at 4:30pm for a 4:45pm race start, but didn’t realise until we got there that about 60-70 runners had assembled. True to form there were some appalling costumes, but since you can’t have fashion without victims I will state for the record that Lucy Bartholemew looks better in that dress, sorry George…..

After some stern words about running over Billy Pearce’s C2K race markings I sent them off in a colourful and chaotic cloud of dust.

garth-being-shy

Sorry no names for this one!

But you came here for a different race, didn’t you? OK after the crew race we went to the Eden Fishermans Club where the pre race event was held upstairs for the first time- I think this worked really well because we didn’t wait too long to get fed and the food didn’t appear to run out before being replenished! Well done to the organisers, I’m not sure why a move from downstairs to upstairs made a difference but it did appear to work.

Home to our cabin for an early night but of course I couldn’t sleep. And then I dreamed about not sleeping- to the point that at 4:15am when my alarm went off I was actually dreaming about being on a bus and late to the race. At least I knew I had been asleep because I vividly remember the dream, but I didn’t feel rested. We headed down to Boydtown Beach, Got our prerace photos and at 5:30 AM after a quiet countdown by race director Paul Every we were off.

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My planning 2014 have been very simple. I knew that if I ran the first 100 km in under 14 hours, that I could walk the rest of the race without being too close to the cut-offs. This time I had a very sternly worded email from my coach (that included a few swear words so I knew he was serious) that said ‘don’t allow yourself to think that you can simply walk from the 100km mark’ Great advice. The new plan was to do the first 100km in about 14 hours and push on a bit harder during the night where is there are some very boring bits. But I had kind of forgotten about the death march up from Thredbo River…..

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And that’s the way we did it. A very easy first 100 km came up in 13 hours and 50 minutes- just about perfect. I was very pleased about the way we pushed on during the night time sections where I would typically have walked. And we made it to Dalgety (148km) in good time in good condition. Whilst I wasn’t overall any faster in this first 100 miles (to the bottom of Beloka Range), my body had held up much better than in 2014. I did getting very tired towards the end of the night I’m told my crew that I wanted 30 minutes rest in the car before it got light. They weren’t happy about this but I jumped in the car, had a short rest, and got up again feeling great in only 15 minutes. I had agreed to have some noodles going up Beloka range which was a mistake in the first place however what made it even worse was the water the noodles were made with was merely warm and not hot. Poor Tanya had to deal with me saying ‘this is possibly the worst most disgusting thing I had ever in my life’. But we got a laugh out of it and perhaps some poor hungry piece of wildlife has a better opinion of half crunchy noodles than I do. At the top of Beloka there is only about 17km into Jindabyne but it does seem to take forever, we went from brisk early-morning sunlight to full on daytime while still approaching Jindabyne.

Jane always says the race starts at Jindabyne. We got refreshed, had a couple of coffees and set off for Thredbo River. I had refused the offer of deodorant from my crew- which was a bad mistake I was to later learn. Probably a bad mistake for them to accept my refusal! Through the river I had a little mental collapse, I was just unprepared for the next 10 hours of climbing, however I decided to break it up into smaller chunks and that did make it mentally manageable. 5 km to the park entrance, 20 km to perisher, 9 km (ish) from there to Charlotte pass.

img_3989

The grinders start grinding, all the way to the grim peak…..

Not much to say about this except it became grim and grimmer during the day- and we really needed our fly nets. Tex stayed with me for a good part of this and we manage to communicate communicate via grunts for hours on end. We had a few bright moments when Rebecca, Gavin, Jess, and the Tailwind bus came past and decided to try to cheer it up. It didn’t really work but there were a few moments of hilarity in amongst the terrible grind. Of course Rogers team getting past meant that Roger got past as well, luckily by that point his brain was only going about five times the speed of mine because I didn’t have the strength to murder him for his terrible jokes.

It was fantastic to finally get to Perisher, Because from there it is only around 10 km to Charlotte pass. Unfortunately around here I lost any ability I had to run and it must have been pretty horrible watching me grind out those last few kilometres. I think I still have a lot to learn about keeping up the pressure later on in these long races. Poor Piera and Tanya had the job of keeping me company in these sections and it must have been horrible. Piera was entertaining and trying to get me moving faster, Tanya was quietly encouraging. I’m not sure either method worked because I was being a stubborn old man but thank goodness they were there to stave off the mental buzzards that were circling above.
At Charlotte pass my crew sat me down for 5 minutes, got me changed had mandatory gear ready and went about things like Formula One pitstop. It was fantastic to watch. Joe Hedges spotted me sitting down and blew through like a man on a mission. He been in all sorts of trouble overnight and was now looking like coming good. I knew he would, but there also went my chance of not being the last NRG person….

img_4003

What rhymes with ‘truck’?

We left Charlotte pass at exactly 7 PM. We slipped down from an approximately 39 hour finish to around a 40 hour finish. And then it all went Pete Tong. Only a couple of hundred metres from Charlotte pass I found that I couldn’t lift my left leg any more. We had to send somebody back to get my poles because I hadn’t thought I would need them. When I got them all I could do was rest on the polls and use my hips to swing my left leg forward. I was going as fast as I could but kept on looking down my watch and seeing 24 to 26 minutes per kilometre. I can see my crew in front having quiet conversations with each other urgently discussing what to do. I have to admit I’m not very flexible and some of these situations every time they came up to me and said ‘you’ll have to go faster if you want to finish’ I’d reply ‘you just want me to go faster so you can be off the mountain quicker’

Sometimes I’m not one of the worlds fastest brains hey…..

At one point I was only travelling at 1.2km/h and it was starting to look like becoming a very long night. I never thought I wouldn’t make it, but later calculations showed just how close we were.

Piera had decided I needed drugs, but in the rush to make sure we had all of the mandatory gear, nobody had thought to pack any. So they were desperately asking other runners coming off the mountain if they had any. Wayne ‘Blue Dog’ Gregory once again became my saviour when he admitted he had Panadol Osteo. I think Piera may have ripped them out of his hands while demanding I take 2 immediately. Now I don’t typically take headache tablets or anti inflams etc. so I didn’t really expect these to do much. I stand (walk) corrected- Tex says that within 7 minutes I was walking better and within 20 minutes had almost regained full motion. It’s a miracle!

So we pushed on to the summit and met a few more runners on the way. It was like Pitt St trying to get across the ice and line up to take our summit shots.

img_4011

on the way down I actually handed my poles to Tanya and could almost run! We had summited at exactly 11pm, meaning it had taken us 4 hours to ascend. If it had taken 4 hours to get back to Charlotte Pass we would have finished at 1am, only 30 minutes before the cutoff. While I NEVER thought I would not finish, doing those sums on the way down was very sobering. The injury had come out of the blue, but it was real- it took a few days before I was able to fully engage my hip flexor again.
Garth Mcinerny suggested that I may have caused it by engaging my glutes up the big hill and some weakness pushed my toes out to the side causing the flexor issue (I think). This does make sense because in some video you can see my left toes flick out- I’ll have to watch that in future.

Doesn’t look comfortable hey? Check left foot flicking out…..

On the way up I was having some minor hallucinations- the ice underfoot was moving (interesting rather than dangerous) but on the way down those carefully constructed walls in my psyche were crumbling down at an increasing rate. I had issued a number of crew commandments in my guide, one of them being ‘don’t lie to me about time or distance- if it’s 5km of 50km, just give it to me straight’.
But we had one person join us for the final ascent who hadn’t read the notes! I was very grateful that John had come along but I’d been trying to hold in my lingering madness and despair. Unfortunately after about 50 ‘nearly there’ ‘not much longer’ and ‘not far now’ some of them escaped and I whimpered ‘I NEED to be asleep. I can no longer be conscious’ and in the last 4km the trees started to turn into faces etc. The bonus being some quite interesting art installations that apparently were put there specifically for me. Anyway, the worst was when we got to the finish line- I turned my headlamp off so Tex could get nicer finish shot, and of course the lack of light suddenly meant that my mind could make up whatever the fuck it liked, and so it did.
There was a bit of Keystone Cops with ‘Adam, the finish line is over here’ then me heading off in the opposite direction, I thought we had it all worked out when I did finally spot the finish line, but of course I then had to try to climb over the invisible barriers. Someone on the finish line very helpfully showed me that they weren’t there and I shuffled across the finish line at 1:08am Sunday, 2 days after starting. Four hours up the mountain, 2:08 down. A quick hug from Paul and Diane (yes those hugs make it all worthwhile!) and we made the long drive down the mountain to a well deserved sleep.

I need to point this out- Was never in danger from the hallucinations, the bad ones were merely a product of me turning off my light and I had a team of people around me to prevent problems. I’m relating the story because it is funny, not dangerous.

The next morning was filled with people telling me how terrible I looked and how worried they were that I wasn’t going to make it- just as well I didn’t have them as crew!

Anything I can say about my team will be inadequate but I will try anyway- they dealt with every situation with grace and equanimity. I basically promised them a sub 40 hour finish and when it all went to poo, they went above and beyond in trying to keep me moving. I suspect Piera probably suffered from my bloody mindedness the most. She obviously took my health very seriously and I knew that if I did as she said I would be ok. But she also tried to make me go faster when my lizard brain was saying no, and no matter what logical explanations I had for slacking off she’s probably seen it so many times in her job- I should have tried a little harder!

I finished in about the right place- if I had pushed a little more, not had a hip flexor issue or any number of other excuses I could have finished with Damon, Jane, Roger, Matt, Joe or others. As it happened, I needed to suck up my pride, admit that sub 40 was just a dream, and get it done. I’m proud to have done that but I’d be absolutely nowhere without that crew- you were wonderfull and I thank you!

Here is my splits, I’ll try to update when I track down my 2014 times-

40 Adam Connor M NSW Finished 06:37:00 09:20:00 14:53:00 21:45:00 29:00:00 35:08:00 43:38:28

Could I do it better? Yes absolutely. Getting a bit of mongrel back in those later stages, not making so many rookie mistakes and I think I could take a few HOURS off that time of 43:38. I just need to get permission from my wife…….

Photo Credits- Thank you so much to Tex Whitney, Billy Bridle and Rebekah Markey for the pics!

Not all Change is Good

I ran for the first time since Coast to Kosci yesterday, and for the first time I knew I wouldn’t see Ann Preston on the bike path. She was killed Sunday morning while cycling with a bunch of other friends from NRG.
I’m guessing no one else knows this but I used to see her regularly on the bike path and would always stop for a chat. I’m sure this became annoying to her but I just couldn’t pass up the chance to be in her company. I know you’ll think that is a bit creepy (and I don’t care), but I do deliberately cultivate friendships with smart and interesting people, and Ann was all that! And there was just something that made me want to stop and chat.

It’s common for us to think of those who’ve died as more than a bit saintly, but I didn’t know Ann that well so the effect is even greater with me. I never saw her get upset or angry, never saw her lose her temper, always with that thoughtful and caring look on her face. Definitely a saint, and one who had decided to have a career in public health to care for people. Perhaps we can make her a double or triple saint?

The terrible tragedy for those of us who are left is that we don’t feel worthy when someone so talented has been taken. I’ve done some truly shitty things in my life and have not contributed back to society half as much in my (cough) 50% longer life as Ann did. It just isn’t fair.

To try to make sense if a tragedy like this I’m very tempted to plead for people to grab life by the balls, live in the moment, don’t wait, do it now etc. But we all know that tomorrow I’m going to wake up and be the same sarcastic arsehole as ever. What I will do however is try to treasure those simple moments a bit more, try to be a bit better as a human and honour the memory of someone very special who has gone.

It is kind of embarrassing to write all of this about someone who I hardly knew at all. But I can’t help the feelings that her death has caused and I needed to do something to make sense of this truly shitty event. Normally I would treat my FaceBook friends to a blasting but I did violate a request to keep quiet about it on FaceBook and got a whole heap of people giving me sympathy- which I don’t want. I deleted the post.

And she was a beautiful person. Again, you can take that however you like but it’s the pure unvarnished truth. Beauty can take many forms but you rarely get someone who is beautiful on the outside who doesn’t have some sort of weirdness or evil within. Yes I’ll admit that I wasn’t that close (again), but if there was a serial killer inside it was well hidden. I’m completely gutted that I’ll no longer have the chance to stop her for a chat- but now I’m glad I did.

Thank you Ann

Drugs in Sport v2

If you haven’t read my original ‘Drugs in Sport‘ please have a quick look, here’s what happened in the last 2 years.

Nothing.

Well, not exactly nothing- on the recommendation of one runner i did get a referral from my Doctor to a respiratory specialist. Who just happens to be 400m from my front door. That referral stayed on my desk until it expired, so I got another one.

Then before this one expired, I thought I should take some action. In the last article I had decided that because a local GP said I didn’t qualify for any further treatment I would be satisfied with that. In reality, not knowing was gnawing at me. I didn’t necessarily need drugs but I needed to know.

So last Tuesday morning ( 1st November, Melbourne Cup Day!) I duly turned up to see Dr David Joffe. He has a bunch of Vietnam War memorabilia which was a bit intimidating, I wondered if he was going to tell me to HTFU!

But he turned out to be absolutely fascinating to talk to and of course very knowledgeable. After asking a whole bunch of questions about my current treatment, past and a whole bunch of lifestyle questions, he suggested that I probably have a low grade persistent asthma. Which does match my symptoms……unfortunately.

He has prescribed a newer version of Seretide called Breo Ellipta, and I’ve now been taking it for 6 days.

So, what has happened? I no longer have to make sure there is no blankets near my mouth so I can breath at night. Several times a day I inhale and wonder that it isn’t a struggle. I was even a bit light headed on occasion!

I CAN BREATHE!

But what about running? I’m not any faster, in fact I think I’m a bit slower! However I don’t seem to have the same issue with lactic acid that I used to. This kind of makes sense- my theory is that my ‘cruising speed’ was too close to my ‘fuck I’m dying speed’ and over the period of a long race I would just get worse and worse lactic acid buildup. You’ve seen the video of me the day after Coast To Kosci in 2014 right? I haven’t been able to do a full session of hills for a long time….. now it seems that I can run up a hill (slowly) without absolutely killing my lungs. Will I be able to run like a normal person? Too early to tell, I did feel a bit shit last week but hoping to be able to perform a bit better soon. Does this mean that I will finally be able to run so hard up a hill that I vomit? Oh, what joy!

Now that there is a bit more ‘breathing space’ (see what I did there?) between my cruising speed and my racing speed, I hope to suffer less during races. But I still don’t have any driving need to win. I’m still happy to be cannon fodder in these races……

So, what if I choose not to take the drugs? Well, as the good Doctor explained ‘when your bronchial tubes are constricted and you’re trying to push a lot of air through them, you’re probably desiccating your lungs. If you don’t have this medicine you could be screwed when you are 60 years old’. In fairness he seemed to indicate that this would be a problem for a non exerciser too.

And yes, the drug is on the WADA list of banned substances, as a beta-2-agonist. But then again so is Ventolin- so I guess the landscape hasn’t changed that much. So there you have it, this new treatment may allow me to run with less pain and with less damage to my body. Two thumbs up.

A couple of notes from online conversations I’ve had on FaceBook-
1. If you currently have or have previously had asthma, you should get regular updates with a specialist. I didn’t think this was needed but it seems I’ve been kidding myself.
2. I’ve never been drug tested for a race and don’t really expect to be- tests are expensive and a race will generally only test the top positions. If I failed a test I would be able to produce my medical exemption- have a look at this article– about 1% of tests are positive, of these 64% result in sanctions, 26% are not followed up and 10% get a Dr’s note. I need to read up about the right way to deal with this.
3. Honestly I’m quite pleased that the decision was made for me ‘take this or suffer later’ because the thoughts around taking a drug that could make me faster was weighing heavily on my mind. On the other hand, hundreds of people have known what it’s like to run with me while I’m hacking up a lung, I’m not making it up!
*just don’t read the drug information insert

 

Your Race Report {insert here}

A lot of people don’t know how to set up their own blog, don’t have time or the inclination. I would love to publish it here for you!
If you would like to see a few, click here

Make it easy-

  1. Send in the plain text file, Microsoft Word doc, or any text based format that can be copied. PDF is not so good because we can’t retain the formatting.
  2. Don’t embed your pics in the doc- they will look terrible when extracted
  3. Send your pics in the email with the text, and name them- with your name! Name them in the order you want them to appear in the blog post, ie. John Smith 1, John Smith 2 etc. But it’s even BETTER if you add some description of what’s in the photo- you get extra Google points for this
  4. Get permission to use the pics that you send, and tell me who took them so I can thank them in your post!
  5. How many pics? You should supply about 1 pic for every 3-5 paragraphs. It breaks up the wall of text into readable chunks
  6. I can also put a link to your Strava activity if you provide it. Go to the activity, select the weird symbol to the left of the Kudos button, select ’embed on blog’ and send me the embed code that pops up.

 

How to write your race report-

  1. Write down what happened, very basic, in time order i.e.. when it happened
  2. Turn those facts into a story that someone might like to read- you don’t have to do much, people will still read a bad race report- but you’ll get heaps of praise if they like it!
  3. Include details about your gear, food, who you talked to, what worked, what didn’t, how you fought out of a bonk, how you triumphed or how you got totally smacked in the head by the race. Remember- people read these reports because they want to know what it’s like to run that race, and they are looking for tips to make it easier, or at least not make the mistakes you did. Be honest about your mistakes so you can read the report next year and not make them again! Running is not glamorous- stories about poo, wee, blood & snot are ok.
  4. Go back and include links for anything important- the race website, gear website, blog of someone you mention, link to results etc.
  5. Don’t forget to thank- your sponsors, your partner, your crew, the vollies, the race director, and the lady at Gelato Messina who will give you an extra scoop because you look hungry…

 

Alternatives
– Some races publish race reports on their website
– You can set up your own blog on WordPress.com
– Your running club may publish it in their newsletter. NRG does this!
– You can submit to the AURA Ultramag or magazines like Trail Run Mag
– Other runners with blogs- Chantelle and Robyn for example