Ultra Trail Australia 100km UTA100 2017

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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!

UTA100 2017 Guest Report- Sarah Connor

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#UTA2017 Race Report.

(Disclaimer – I have still only had 3 hours sleep so pardon the swearing).

It was very fucking hard. The end..

Yeah right – thought you would get away with a short report! Ha! Never.

 

The race had course changes due to the weather this year. I was very Zen about it (very un-like me) as you cant control the weather or decisions that the RD’s and the authorities need to make to keep people safe.

 

It was cold and wet when we started, but eventually it became beautiful and sunny and clear. The night was perfect running weather.

I stuck to my race plan that Andy had sent me – slow in the first half and concentrate on passing others in the second half.

Start to CP 1 – just went with the flow –

The landslide had a conga line, but it was a chance to eat and rest.

CP1 – CP2

Tarros Ladders – there was a 10-15 minute wait just to get down to the ladders. I get vertigo, so opted to go around on the diversion track, which turned out to be the same time. Plus I had warmed up again.

The 50k men’s pointy end of the race tore past us just after Tarros ladders. Holy shit they can move.

The didgeridoo players were just before CP 2 – this was one of the only reasons I wanted to do this race, to hear them play in the race. Chills down my spine hearing them. So cool! Had a headache that was getting worse, but could not get any pain relief until CP 3 so had to suck it up.

CP2 – CP3

Had a really low spot because of said headache, running along Megalong Valley Road. Was hanging for the CP for panadol and my running poles.

CP 3 was a good quick transition.

CP3 – CP4

Left the checkpoint with Jen and Ingrid, which was lovely. (No cows in the field this time). Ingrid and I hiked up to Nellies Glen together. It was hard work, but everyone else was suffering too! Heard some interesting burps…. So decided to rate them – as you do when you need to keep occupied. Some random lady in a blue onesie was handing out choc chip cookies just before CP 4 – oh they were awesome. Going to have those again in a race!

 

CP4 – CP5

Ingrid’s support crew of Bek, Janis and Sharon helping me out with massages and checking that I had what I needed made transition easier. Thank you ladies!

 

Now this is when I knew it would be tough. The course changes affected from CP4 – finish. I was heading towards the longest distance I had ever run, and was not sure how my body would cope. Left the CP very positive and moving in the right direction. Sunset was happening just as I came around Echo Point, so the views were spectacular.

Came into Gordon Falls Reserve and got the best group hug ever from Bek, Janis and Sharon- seriously that was awesome!

Hailey and Roger, said that they would meet me on course – and there they were at Gordon Falls Reserve with liquid black gold – a can of coke. My ITB was beginning to act up, Roger gave me some tips on how to deal with it and off I went into the darkness.

Ran into Tim somewhere out the back of the golf course and he walked up with me back to his car and we had a great chat.

There were runners coming from both directions and I felt obliged to let the faster ones who were returning from the out and back loop, go past first. I think this slowed me up quite a bit having to always get off the track.

Coming out of Wentworth Falls, I had been looking out for Adam (actually looking for his trail gaiters as I was looking at the ground most of the time) and I found him! It was lovely to see him and get a hug.

Then it was the slog down the road to CP5.  It was at this point (apx 72-73k), that I knew I would be reduced to walking the rest of the way, due to my left ITB, so I made sure I was really power hiking and not just walking.

 

I could hear the CP before I got to it and was really looking forward to sitting down! Except when I got there, there was a 3k out and back before you could enter the CP. There were many swear words at this point. That was mentally tough. So I sucked it up and got it done.

The Summit Sister cheer squad were there and it was lovely to hear them! Saw a snake crossing the road. Yes a snake, it was 8C.

Sally met me at the CP and looked after me very well and made sure I was compos mentis. I was very surprised to find that I was 2 hours ahead of schedule. Threw on my warm clothes, my toes were aching, but there was nothing I could do, so gave them a quick massage and walked off into the night.

I spent most of this leg by myself, which suited me just fine.

Then my headlight died with about 8k to go.  I had forgotten to check my back up light batteries, but it was working so I dropped it to low lumens to conserve the batteries and kept moving. I had forgotten to pack spare batteries into my pack at CP 5. I turned my phone to flight mode, to conserve its battery so that I could use the torch I my phone if needed.

The stairs were horrid. I could only go down diagonally with the right foot first and am now sporting a large blister on my left foot.

I have never been so glad to see Leura Forest. It was then 4.8k of just slogging it out. Furber stairs were hard. There were a few tears shed here.

You can hear the finish line before you can see it. It’s torture. Roger was working the microphone at this point, and when my name was announced, he started up a cheer, which I could hear but legs just would not work. Eventually after the last 5 stairs, my brain engaged that it was the finish and people were waiting for me, so I started a jog and eventually crossed the line in 21hours and 6 mins.  It was just after 4am (I had no idea of real time as my watch died at 76k) and I was not looking at my phone. It was so lovely to have people I knew around me.

More tears were shed, Roger has video that is not repeatable here, which basically said I’m never doing it again. Nothing could top that experience.

I felt in the early stages of the race that I could go under 20 hours. Apparently I was on track for that most of the day, but was de-railed once the legs died. I think with a longer training base, it would have been achievable for me, even with the extra stairs.

 

Now for the bit that is most important. I would like to thank (and in no particular order) the people below for helping me to achieve my goal.

 

Andy DuBois of Mile 27 – 10 weeks ago, after Tarawera Ultra, I contacted Andy for coaching and he got me to this race. I can’t thank you enough. The training you set me, made a hell of difference.

Mile27

Garry Luke of Muscle Therapy Australia – best masseuse ever!

Muscle Therapy Australia

Kathy Widjaja of Aequilibrium – all those body movement classes – my glutes thank you!

Dr Adrienne Leahy of Spine and Health Crows Nest – my spine thanks you!

Spine and Health Crows Nest

Paula Shingler of Running Right – last minute physio and scones and jam and cream really helped.

 

Julie – my running partner and therapist.

Cass – Friday mornings have improved out of sight thanks to world peace and coffee.

Summit Sisters community – you all rock!

Bek, Janis, Sharon and Sally – you are the best support crewers ever.

Hailey – for the texts and the liquid black gold AKA Coke.

Roger – the shiatsu massage really unlocked my back – it was the best. Can I have another one please?

AROC Sport – without you guys, this legendary race would never exist. Thanks for the superb organisation, in what would have been one of the hardest situations to work in this year. Your volunteers and staff are the best.

My friends and family who all support from near and far via Facebook .

And finally, my husband Adam and son, Alex. Thanks for putting up with me, early mornings, early nights and a sometimes tired and crabby wife and mother.

 

What I wore

Summit Sisters t-shirt

Moving comfort bra

Fabletics ¾ pants with handy pockets down the sides of the legs.

Zensah calf guards

Feetures socks

Hoka Stinson 3 ATR’s

Patagonia cap

Buff’s of varying different styles

Patagonia R1 fleece jacket

Salmon Bonatti waterproof jacket

Nathan Vapour wrap pack

(Sheesh I’m not very loyal to one brand am I?)

 

What I ate from my pack

Carmen’s muesli bars – mostly the more nutty ones

Chicken in a biscuit

BBQ shapes

Clif bar

Chips

Farex pre-made baby food

 

From CP 2 I had Nuun or Hydralyte in my water.

Panadol osteo at CP3 and after CP 5 – said headache was gone with about 13k to go …

From the checkpoints – Banana, watermelon, soup, bread, cheese and ham scrolls, a lolly, a chocolate chip biscuit, a bit of brownie, pot noodles, a chocolate bar from a random runner at a CP, coke, black coffee with 1 at the Fairmont , chips.

 

Recovery (so far its 24 hours in)

2 magnesium tablets before the race

Soup and chocolate milk at the finish

Blister popped at First Aid so I did not have to deal with it

Shower as soon as possible

Sleep for an hour – gentle rolling with the stick

Trying to move normally rather than the ultra lurch

Car drive home – stayed awake and kept my legs in different positions

Warm Epsom salt bath and then icing the knee

More good food and some chocolate

9 hours sleep – means I’m awake at 3am but hey that’s when all the best race reports are written.

 

Thames Path 100 Miles- Guest Post- Taras Mencinsky

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Thames Path 100 – Race Report by Taras Mencinsky

I’m not much for writing Race Reports, mainly as my races are not worth writing home about. But as this one was part of an international campaign of running and fell walking, I thought I’d bundle it up as a mini running odyssey.

First up was the London Marathon, a race I had unsuccessful entered about a million times. On running the race, I understood (a) why it is so special, and (b) why it’s so hard to get a bog standard entry. The answer to both is the same. It’s that the London Marathon is a charity marathon, where the majority of places is for participants who will probably never do another marathon in their lives, but do this one because they raise money for others. And every supporter lining the route is there to cheer for someone who has raised money for months, is carrying a tumble dryer on their back or dressed as a Mr Men character (I mean full timber frame and canvas skin). So, with all that incredible social spirit, the scene was set for a cruise around London, enjoying the sights and sounds and simply revelling in the moment. It was a great event to compete in, and I will keep trying in the ballot in future, simply because any chance to run this race is worth taking.

In the time between London and Thames Path, I travelled up to the Lakes District to check out some fells. I’m fascinated by the fells and fell running. The history of fell running is something I think any long distance runner can relate to. It’s all about the solitary runner. The terrain, environment, weather and conditions constantly change, making every run unique. And the concentration of fells and valleys in such a small geographical area makes it different to running in the vastness of the Australian bush. There are 214 Wainwrights (fells), 15 lakes and a dozen valleys, all contained in a small, craggy part of northwest England, measuring only 50km wide and 60km top to bottom. It is simply magical. I walked from Keswick in the Northern Fells, and climbed Skiddaw (931m), Lonscale Fell, Little Man and Carl Side. The views from Skiddaw were amazing. You could see the complete Helvellyn ranges in one direction, and Solway Firth and Scotland in the other.

Finally, the day arrived and I made my way to the start of the Thames Path 100. This is a flat 100 mile run from Richmond, London to Oxford along the Thames River footpath. Total elevation was only 400m (amazing how flat it was!), but this presented more than its fair share of challenges. Because it’s flat, it’s hard to find a natural time or occasion to walk and recover energy. You feel compelled to keep going and keep your rhythm. This worked well for the first 30 miles and then ok for the next 30, but once serious nightfall fell (about 10pm – 12 hours after the race started), the night demons descended. From there on it was a slow grind. The checkpoints were evenly spread (about 6-7.5 miles between) so thankfully it wasn’t too bad, but that may be because two weeks after the race, I have conveniently forgotten the worst of it. Thankfully, I had lots of company, if only in my head. To all those who gave me silent, and not so silent encouragement I thank you from the sole of my shoes to tip of my head.

So, for the next 7 hours I walked and micro-slept, and shuffled when the micro sleeps went over 2 -3 seconds. While the terrain wasn’t challenging, the proximity to the river at times was close, so last thing I wanted to do was slip in for a midnight dip in the Thames.

Thankfully, dawn finally arrived, but unlike Australia, where you’re greeted by the dawn chorus of raucous cockatoos, kookaburras, galahs, bellbirds, whip birds and crashes in the bush, dawn in the UK is more subtle and while I didn’t feel as if all my energy returned, certainly enough did to know that the end was achievable, if not in sight. I continued to shuffle slowly through checkpoints and struggled to eat or drink, which is my perennial problem. It seems that when you go as slow as I was, you can keep moving with little external energy consumption and use internal resources. Sorry darling, but that’s why I have no cheek fat. I didn’t stop at the 89 mile checkpoint, thinking it was time to get this over with and ground through to the last checkpoint on course at 95 miles. I sat down, exhausted, and thankfully, as was the case throughout the race, the volunteers were runners and knew what I was going through. They coaxed me gently into having a strong coffee and some watermelon, and once I started moving again I could feel the energy return. I vowed to finish strongly, as you always have to look good at the finish! So I picked up the pace and started to breathe better, and very soon I was hitting 8 minute km’s, then 7 minute km’s and finally I was motoring at 6:30 minute km’s with 5 km’s to go. I maintain this pace and passed several runners who were feeling the hurt but resolutely moving, and by the time I turned left and entered the finish chute I was floating on air. After 25 hours and 23 minutes, I had finally conquered a 100 Mile race. While I missed my Centurion target (finishing under 24 hours), I was ecstatic to have finished and finished strongly.

In summary, the race was a great opportunity to exorcise some demons and give me the belief that maybe, just maybe, I can call myself an ultra-marathoner and be in the same room with so many people I admire. At least stand in a corner of the room quietly and discretely!

If you ever get the chance to run the Thames Path 100 or any other Centurion race in the UK, I would highly recommend it. Great organisation, great volunteers and wonderful courses that are as different from the Oz bush as you can imagine.

Finding New Music- Guest Post- DJ Dan Rowntree

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Note from Adam- this blog was always meant to be a personal collection of stories about life and music. If you read the stuff here you’ll see that running has taken a lot more of my time than music in the last few years. One of the things that is very difficult to do is find good music- there’s so much out there and you could go crazy just searching for stuff that you really like. So I sent a cheeky email to a mate who is completely steeped in music all the time with one question- how do you find the good stuff?
I’m very pleased to present what might be the first blog post about music on a site that should have been partially dedicated to music!

Take it away Dan-

So as a DJ I get asked all the time how I source my new music, new artists, new labels etc etc so I thought I’d write a few quick little paragraphs about this very subject! I’ll use Beatport as an example but this also works across Junodownload and some functionality in iTunes as well.
Step 1: Start with your current favourite track in your library or on Vinyl if you are making the switch to digital. (I’ll use Sonny Fodera as my example).
Put that Producer into Beatport Search and what comes up are not only all the tracks that the Producer has made and is available to buy but also the label that said Producer is on along with his remixes as well!

Labels are usually pretty good at releasing tracks that all have a similar sound, in turn if you like a particular producer/artist it’s more than likely you’ll also dig whats on that label.

In the above image I clicked the defected record label and a whole bunch of tracks and producers has come up. I’m good here now for about 45mins! I’d start with “Purple Disco machine” or “Claptone” from the right hand side column…
Step 2:
It is also good to click on and search producers that remix your favourite artists work or in turn tracks they’ve remixed. This opens up many options and to be honest it naturally turns into a free for fall of new music to access.
In this image I clicked on “Colette” and it takes me to her artist page and then that opens up a whole bunch of new labels, producers she’s worked with and the list goes on…from here I would click on “Lawnchair Generals” or “JT Donaldson” in the right hand column and repeat previous steps, as there literally 100,000 plus house tracks on this site it can soon turn into 3am and have racked up 300 tracks in my cart!
So as you can see, once you get started and just keep exploring you can build a 25,000 track library in about a fortnight if you have the time and budget!
I hope this has helped some of you, I’m happy to chat further anything music related especially if you need some music for your Yoga studio, Hotel, Bar, Salon, Retail Space, Restaurant etc etc…
Have an epic day.
Dj Dan Rowntree
Editors note- in addition to DJ’ing across the world for luxury brands ( I’m not jealous, sob) Dan has played at venues in Sydney like Ivy, Hemmesphere and events like Dinner en Blanc. If your venue could use some seriously cool music, check out his music service Dusk Music.

Race To The Stones- 100km Guest Report- Richard Bettles

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Race Report

100k “Race to the Stones” June 2014

This race was going to be interesting after a 4 week preparation diet of Belgium beer, French wine and goat’s cheese. Essentially Louise and I had been eating our way through Europe and arrived in England 2 days before race to 30 degrees and a forecast of thunderstorms for race day. Probably not the best idea to bolt on a 100k race at the end of a holiday but 2 pts were on offer. They would complete my required tally of 8 to qualify to enter the ballot for the UTMB.

The unique race is a 100km route following the footsteps of Romans, Vikings, farmers and traders along the 5000 y/o Ridgeway path. Passing Iron Age forts, ancient burial chambers, crossing the Thames and the mystical down-lands of Salisbury plain on the way to the finish line at the 3,000- year-old stone circle at Avebury (older than Stonehenge!)

Race day: Having stayed in a country pub we woke to predicted torrential rain at 4am. I wasn’t too concerned as this was due to clear and make way for a 25 degree day with afternoon thunder storms and a typical English Summer day.

6:30am we headed to a field in Chinnor in the Chilterns where 1500 competitors were going about their business of registering and final prep. I found my mate Jonny who had driven from Devon the night before, arriving at midnight to sleep in his bivi bag in a farmer’s field. It had leaked during the 4am downpour but Jonny was in good spirits! Despite being a fully supported race the organisers hadn’t secured a sports nutrition sponsor. So as well as mandatory kit one had to think about carrying gels and sports drink for the whole race (or trust you could get by on flapjacks and coca cola!). For me I didn’t want the gut to shut down so I loaded up with tried and tested gels and a tube of SIS sports drink tablets surprisingly sourced from a small local village.

By the 8am start the rain had cleared and the gun went off. Louise, my #1 support crew waved me through. I thought this would be the last I saw of her until the end due to the checkpoints (Pitstops) being in undisclosed hard to reach National Trust locations, the locations were kept secret so supporters wouldn’t congregate. I’d been advised to make a good start so as not to get caught up on single track for the first few K’s. But this wasn’t a sprint race so casually I eased my way through the field and was in a comfortable place for the tight start.

First 10k came and went in a cautious 50 min

We were through the 1st Pitstop with ease and shortly after greeted with the first significant hill. I shot up it overtaking several runners and losing Jonny for a while; clearly the North face training and some training I did in the French Alps between wine and cheese sessions was paying off. At this stage I felt really strong but then again I was only 17k’s into a 100k race.

This race is renowned for its beauty and stunning trail and we had the first real glimpse as we ran through a valley of White Poppy fields. Ah, the Chilterns, the Opium capital of Europe!

Second Pitstop Jonny caught up to me, I grabbed some bananas and a bag of Jellytots (any English reading this will remember Jellytots, once a child hood staple, now sports nutrition!) Shortly after, Jonny and I led a group of runners up a path which turned out to be a driveway to a farmhouse! The farmer kindly pointed out we shouldn’t be in his garden and we returned to the ambiguous arrow marker and the correct path. That would be the only wrong turn in what turned out to be a very well marked course

Here we entered a few K’s of woodland trail and we cautiously opened our legs up conscious it was early days and we were averaging 5min low k’s. The trees cleared and we ran along Grims Ditch, a long flat excavated pathway dating back to the Iron Age

25k’s in I started to cramp in my right butt and my whole right side was struggling to keep up with the left. A strange feeling and I was really running with discomfort. By 30k I was thinking there was no way I was going to make it and my mind was floating the idea of pulling the pin. I had another 2 salt tablets, kept up the sports drink and hung on to Jonny who I could feel was starting to hit his straps.

We ran through a very pretty village, crossed the Thames and hit the marathon distance in 4.10h. The cramps had receded however the quick pace across trail and muddy bridleways was taking its toll and I was tiring.

We hit 50k in 4:58h, it was 1pm, the sun was fully in the sky and England was turning on a sultry summer’s day in the mid 20’s. The humidity was really kicking in and I sensed this would be a game changer for many competitors…..but this was the point where the hardy soldiered on and a majority of the field called it quits for the day, a rest, a night sleep and completion of the second 50k on the Sunday. I was wishing I could join them and be part of the “2 day” racers. Alas I was in the 100k nonstop and there was no getting out of it.

The support crews at the pitstops were great, taking your water bottles and filling them up whilst we refuelled with butter flapjacks, chocolate cake and for me bananas and half a dozen cups of Coke. It was humid and I was drinking like a camel.

At this stage in a 100k race I find it’s all about the mind because the body is telling you it has had enough. The pace gets slower and I’m aware of every K. Jonny couldn’t eat any solids but despite not much fuel going in, I could sense he was feeling strong and I struggled to keep in touch with him from 60k onwards. The terrain was mixed and tough, rutted bridal ways, long, long sweeping downs and long gradual climbs. The scenery was stunning and I was having to make a conscious effort to take it in.

72k another Pitstop was looming. I knew this because markers were placed before the stops “1km until Pitstop”. It became clear someone’s Garmin wasn’t working or the organisers were getting km’s confused with Miles. By the 3rd 2km trot from marker to Pitstop we realised you could only take the markers as a rough suggestion of the next Pitstop. They were screwing with our minds!

And then I saw some people, in fact I saw a t-shirt I recognised………..it was #1 support crew (wife!) who had just worked out where a checkpoint was and literally just arrived. The planets were aligning! It was great to see her and she ran with me in her Haviannas for a km. Louise had heard I was in somewhere near 25th place. This was all I needed and the competitive spirt was awakened. A few salt tablets, some paracetamol a few more cups of coke washed down with some blackcurrant drink and I was out of the checkpoint with renewed vigour.

At 80k I felt good and started to pass a few runners who had passed me earlier. Jonny had gone and I wasn’t to see him again until the finish. Strewth it was getting hot and the air was thick with humidity. Big black clouds were on the horizon and as I ran atop a sweeping dale torrential rain could be seen in the distance. And then a thunderclap like a bomb going off broke the tension and it absolutely pissed down. I ran along like Fred Astaire lapping up the cooling rain.

Last checkpoint at 91k. Instructions were given to the end – we were told the race didn’t end at Avebury Stones but 2k after at a nearby farm. The Stones were at 98k and we had to double back for

a k and turn left off the track up a hill to a 400m road to the finish. I was briefed, fuelled up and ready for the final push. I was also feeling nauseous!

At 96.5k according to my ever reliable Garmin I had 3.5k to go, that is 1.5k to the Stones and then the home straight. Psychologically I was ready. I passed an English runner (#843) with whom I had exchanged positions for some 15k’s. A sign appeared in the distance; surely it would be the sign that said 3km to go……………..but no, ”5km to the Finish!” it read. The straw had broken this Camels back and like a Tsunami I threw up a mixture of bananas, gels, coke and blackcurrant. Adding insult to injury the English chap seized the opportunity and passed me as I fertilised the pathway without so much as a “are you alright old boy?”. He thought I was broken. I thought I was broken but the surprise vomit relieved the nausea and I now had my sights on the finish and finishing ahead of runner 843. I had passed a 110ft high, 1000 y/o “The White Horse of Uffington” carved in the hillside and not even noticed it. I had white-line fever and new found drive to run down 843. Pass him I did

Finally Avebury Stones were in sight; I was ushered to weave through them and return along the same footpath to the final straight home. I passed 843 again on the way out of the stones and gave a quick nod of respect.

A big inflatable finish arch welcomed me in, #1 support crew and Jonny among the cheerers. I had finished a really incredible race in 36th position in 11:20h

Footnote: Jonny had never run further than a marathon before the event and finished in 27th place and 10:48h!

Footnote 2: recovery = bowl of pasta, 4 pints of beer and a live band down the local pub!

Cradle Mountain Run 2017- Guest Post Leah K

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Cradle Mountain Run, Tasmania 2017

 

I’ve always wanted to do this run for a few years now, I mean c’mon – Australia’s Oldest Ultra Marathon, who wouldn’t wanna do it! Especially since it’s a one day traverse over the infamous Overland Track (who has time to hike it anyway?!)

After being sad that CMR was cancelled in 2016 due to the devastating bush fires that were raging in the North Western parts of Tasmania, I was even more motivated to secure a spot for the 2017 race. Fingers ready on a Sunday night in October, I scored a spot!

Fast forward to February 4th 2017, I was lining up at the crack of dawn (6am) in a small asphalt area outside our Waldheim Cabins in the freezing cold. While Sydney was getting blasted with a 39 degree heat wave, it was about 10 degrees in the Cradle Mountain National Park – PERFECT!

Two roll calls from the Race Directors and a quiet count down, 60 of us runners ventured out over the iconic chicken wired duckboard and off into the untouched Tasmanian wilderness.

And what a wilderness!!! It is a beautiful, prehistoric and really, really untouched wilderness! Photos and descriptions really can’t portray how amazing it is to wind your way past ancient mountains, bluffs, and flora that seems to go on forever.

The only real climb in this course is Marions Lookout. Once you’re up there, the VIEW!

Anyway, long story short, it is a visually spectacular run!

Something incredibly deceiving about this run is that it has a lot of beautiful images depicting

runners cruising along the duckboards. I think these photos I took sum it up perfectly (but it did get much worse than the pic on the right!!!):

This run is a battle. A long, 78km battle along tree roots, rocks, tree roots, rocks, more tree roots, wait is that duckboard?! NOPE! Just more rocks, and an awful lot of time being spent in ankle deep mud. OK, I lie, there’s about 12km of duckboard, but the rest of the 66km route is tree roots, rocks and mud. It’s slow going and by the end of it, the soles of my feet felt like they went through a meat mincer.

Once you’re out of the open plains and into the forests (there’s a lot of that!) you can’t get rhythm either. As soon as you get some sort of pace going, you’re forced to stop and delicately pick your way across super narrow but very broken down duckboard / tree roots / rocks / mud. It’s all ankle breaking stuff!

That said, I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

Here’s the break down of my run:

Start to Pelion Hut: Cruising along duckboard, trying not to freeze, until about 20km in and took a massive stack, majorly bruising my left knee and spraining the front of my left ankle. Nice work Leah. Frog Flats is horrendously technical as was Pine Forest Moor. Slowly slowly!

Pelion Hut – Kia Ora Hut – Du Cane Hut: Able to get some pace along here and enjoy the views. The historical huts are very cool to look at and seem to pop up out of nowhere.

Du Cane Hut – Narcissus: Back to technical trail dancing with my new friend Deb Nicholl for about an hour before she scooted off into the distance. It seems never ending and exhausting. Narcissus popped out of nowhere with the time keepers yelling “Welcome To Narcissus!!!” They had a small amount of fruit and coke (blessed coke!!) This was the only thing that resembled half and aid station and I was so thankful for it! Did I mention this was a fully self supported run? Surprise; it is!

Narcissus – Watersmeet: Good lord the rocks and roots!!!!!!! Turns out, running around the edge of Lake St Clair and into Cynthia Bay is verrrrrrrrrry long and soul destroying. It’s around 16 – 17km to Watersmeet (where all the rivers join up into one giant rapid) and took me around 3 hours to do this final section. The trail kept disappearing too, making it hard to find the clear trail path again. I really had to concentrate once the trail disintegrated and ensure I scanned the entire area to find the trail start back up again usually around 20 – 50 metres ahead.

Watersmeet – Cynthia Bay: Approaching Watersmeet was salvation! I knew I was about 2km away from the finish line. Time to get a wiggle on! Too bad that this still took me around 30 min to quietly shuffle my way to the end…… But the finish line popped up out of nowhere! I saw two timekeepers, Deb, another finisher who offered me a soft drink and no one else around. Nice! While it seemed like an uninspiring finish, it was really cool to have a quiet finish line – it kept it inline with the casual vibe of the run.
The great news was, I finished in a time that allowed me to bus it to the Derwent Bridge Hotel, shower and still have 5 minutes to spare to order dinner and a pint before the kitchen closed – winner!

The Next Day: Breakfast time was a time to huddle in and receive our participation awards and our Huon Pine Coaster (very cool). I may have to run it another 5 times to get a set of 6 coasters.

During the presentations, I think the winner of CMR (Damian Smith) summed this race up really nicely when he accepted his award: “The dickheads seemed to have not discovered this race yet, and I hope it stays that way”. Yup, me too.

 

Overall, pretty happy with my splits:

 

For anyone wanting to do it, a few things to note:

•This thing sells out quicker than 6FT Track, so have your fingers ready at rego time to be one of the 60 lucky runners to score an entry.

•I highly recommend adding in the accommodation and bus tickets during registration, this was an excellent way to meet other scallywags heading to Cradle Mountain for this run.

•Immediately call Derwent Bridge Hotel (or other nearby accommodation) to secure your bed for the finish line. Otherwise you’ll be stuck paying $300-$400 / night when these all sell out.

•For the race itself, I highly recommend only taking two 500ml flasks to fill up at the creeks and rivers during the run. There’s so much water available on course that you don’t need to be worried about carrying too much. I used ‘Aquaprove’ to sanitise the water. It works in 5 min and I had no stomach trouble. (Thanks Dom Gallagher!!!)

•It’s actually 78km, not 82km as stated on the website. It’s also 2400 metres of elevation gain.

•The cut off points: Pelion Hut is at approximately 32km, and Narcissus is at 61.3km.

Tarawera 102km 2017

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I’m still disappointed by the way I let myself slack off during Coast to Kosci in December, so I was hoping that I’d be able to concentrate on pushing hard while tired. let’s see how that went…..

Months ago Sarah said ‘should we do Tarawera? Entries open next week…’

Before I’d had a chance to reply (I’m not a fast thinker) we had flights, accomodation and 2 race entries. I’d been fascinated with the race for a couple of years and this would be my first international race!

The flight over the ditch was uneventful, pity I couldn’t say the same about work. I had a few items lingering on my list that just wouldn’t die, resulting in a fair bit of lost sleep in the few previous days. At Auckland airport we had a nice surprise, Sarah had ordered a small car from Avis and we’d been given a Commodore SV6 with all sorts of bells and whistles. It was pretty bloody quick too, I nicknamed it Vlad, destroyer of continents. Except it was a horrible grey colour. So she then became Brad, destroyer of continence.

Kath and Camille- Winners!

Our first night we stayed in Auckland and had dinner with my sister and her family, they took us to Epolitos Pizza and it was awesome- I managed to annihilate nearly and entire 18 inch pizza and we killed Sarah’s diet that night too (sorry Hailey!). Sarah had booked us into a reasonably priced hotel, it was the hotel Surrey, decorated like an Elizabethan guest house. Got to be honest, despite all of the quirky and interesting bric-a-brac around the place it really didn’t work as a theme. But despite me being horribly bitchy the room was a lot larger than expected, had great facilities and friendly staff. Pity there was only 2 hours free internet…..

I used my 2 free hours to watch a live FaceBook video of Chris Kostman, the race director of the Badwater 135 race, as he was reading out the names of the 100 lucky people who would get to run the race this year. He started by talking about all the talented runners who he’d had to leave off the list and my heart sank. I mean, if he’d left off the talented runners then I had no chance right? Well it turns out that he read my name out, about 90th into the list!. I’m running Badwater baby, yes I am!

We saddled up Brad for a 3 hour drive down to Rotarua the next morning. Nothing much to tell about the drive except that a lot of New Zealand roads seem to merge from 2 lanes into 1 with very little warning and there may have been one or two brown trouser moments before I got fully used to it…..we weren’t really in danger, I was just remembering the Avis rep say ‘ ……and there’s a three thousand dollar excess…..’

Off to the Holiday Inn Rotarua which was race headquarters for the weekend and we had a quick look at the expo, found Jill and made our way to the AirBnB that we had for the weekend. Then back to race HQ to collect race kit and weigh in. Unfortunately I had suggested 4pm for an NRG meetup and team photo and didn’t finish getting weighed in until 4:20 (or perhaps much later?) Anyway, in combination with some work things I completely had the shits and really just wanted to get ready for the race and finish my work. So we headed back to the house and I became a computer hermit while the others made a huge meal of spaghetti bolognese. Leftovers went into the fridge to be reheated after the race.

By the time I’d finished getting ready it was nearly 10pm and I was exhausted, so of course my body decided that staring at the ceiling for a while would be appropriate punishment. I don’t normally have issues sleeping, but when I do it can be properly irritating.

Rising at 4am local time is actually 2am Sydney time and of course it felt like I hadn’t slept much at all. I’m not good with less than 10 hours a night (you read that right!) so after several nights of this I was a bit gaga.

(Look away now if squeamish)

Continuing on with the poo theme, it wasn’t at all surprising that I had no luck ‘dropping the kids off at the pool’ at 2am Sydney time. It’s always a good idea to spend a couple of minutes before a race in quiet contemplation in the smallest room of the house, but this time my body said ‘it’s fucking 2am, fuck off’

(Welcome back squeamish people)

Walking by myself to the race start in the dark I came across an older kiwi gentleman wearing thongs (er, sorry jandals) so I started chatting with him. Turns out he s a former 24 hour track runner who is going to see the start. Choice bro.

Of course it’s a very big race so I hardly saw anyone I knew at the start, but after the gun went off I settled in and found a few mates. Of course having found out about Badwater only 18 hours ago, I was compelled to tell everyone in the entire race about it. This led to a few interesting realisations- firstly, only about 30-40% of people had any idea what I was talking about (they smiled and nodded their heads), but also that the people who did know about the race must have thought I was joking. Yeah, I might have to lose a couple of kg before the race!

And then we were off- I started my Garmin on gun time so I’d have a few seconds up my sleeve if needed, and checked as I crossed the start- 50 seconds had elapsed. I put my head torch away as it was perfectly easy to run with the light from other people. I was loving the gentle uphills and spongy trail, but I knew that wouldn’t last!

I’d printed a pace and elevation chart off the website and filled in the checkpoint times from a couple of runners- one for 14 hours and one for 16 hours. Pity I didn’t have time to check them because they both turned out to be horrible choices, and we’ll see why a bit later.

Most of the first 60km of this course is single track- it varies from very easy, sandy tracks through scrub to gnarly hand over fist climbing. The run has ‘only’ 2500m of climbing but the main difficulty with the run is the many km of little climbs and descents over tree roots. So you can put this down to excuses but I have fairly massive feet, my eyesight isn’t perfect and I’m reasonably tall- these things make it very difficult for me to put my feet down easily and glide over the roots. Or perhaps I just didn’t do enough training on tight, technical terrain. Anyway, it gets VERY tiring having to concentrate, and I really had the shits after about 40km of this. I know it sounds like I had the shits the whole weekend but that isn’t true- I still hadn’t done my morning poo!

I’d actually managed to stick to the 14 hour plan up until the 50km mark- my chosen runner had done the first 60km in 8:55 and had blasted the last 40km in 5 hours. What’s wrong with those numbers? Well, it means that he took it really easy for 60km then worked his arse off for 40km. I was 25 minutes behind his time by the 62km mark and things were not looking good, especially when I looked at my 16 hour guys times. I realised I was only 15 minutes in front of his times, so suddenly I was battling for a 16 hour finish? What I hadn’t realised was that my chosen 16 hour runner had done decently well for much of the race then crashed horribly somewhere around where I was- I should have studied those times better!

I had bonked pretty hard at Coast to Kosci and I was looking for a bit of redemption here- so I was pretty happy to ease into the first 60km and then make it hurt for a while. So when I left the 60km check point I was primed for some running but it looked like there was more single track!

Luckily around the next corner we were greeted with some wide fire trails covered in soft pine needles that looked like they went forever. I was in heaven. But I was also pretty sore and a bit grumpy from the previous 60km, so I got out my headphones, put on some music and did The Robot. This is when I focus on my running form, trying to keep everything nicely upright, using my glutes and doing a very easy, low energy run. It worked, and I started passing heaps of people. Side note- some dickhead told me not to call them fire tails, as they are actually forestry roads. Sorry buddy but whilst you may be technically correct, I don’t care, and I’m too old to change.

It was time to start calculating finish times. As I’ve explained above, this was an exercise in extreme frustration. For a while I had no idea whether I was possibly able to push for sub 14 hours or if I was going to have to fight for sub 17!

Analysing the results above you can see around the 40km mark where I kind of lost interest- I was also worried about going too fast and not having enough energy to finish strong. For me, nailing those next 2 sections would be key to getting a better time. Er, and also losing 5kg would undoubtedly help!

This left me at the 62km mark in 9.5 hours- a sub 14 wasn’t going to happen without a 4.5 hour next 40km. Rested and on the road in good conditions that eminently possible, but even on lovely groomed trail it wasn’t likely after 62km!

Several times over the next few hours I nearly gave up, and several times I decided to keep pushing based on my wish to have a good result at this race. You can see how I was steadily making up places but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Finally deciding that sub 9 minute km’s would get me under 15 hours, I was pretty happy and from there it was all about making sure each slow km was balanced with a faster one. I had to make sure that every 10-20 minutes I pulled out a lolly to keep my energy up, and I started playing mental games to keep moving at the required pace. And then disaster.

I’d stolen a chart off the race website that included stats on checkpoint distances and expected times for leaders and BOP, and I was using this on the run to figure out my pace. Running towards the last checkpoint I noticed a small problem- the checkpoint at 100km showed that the distance to the end was now 0km. Which is a mistake- it’s a 102km race! FAAAAAARK! I still had another 2.4km to go! So I bolted, trusting that I had enough strength to not collapse…..

And so I did- I felt a bit of a bastard passing people towards the finish line but my calculations paid off and the clock was showing 54, 55, 56 seconds as I was rushing though the finish chute, for a final time of 14:44:57. That first 14 is super important to me, a huge result considering my fitness and lack of experience on the course.

I’m really proud of the fact that I kept up the pressure, passed a lot of people in the last few sections and even did one or two sub 6min/km! The secret in this case turned out to be Jack Links soft beef jerky. It was kind of hard to chew and swallow, but I had one strip at 40km and another at 60km. This had the effect of making my legs feel much less trashed- I’d normally like to have an amino acid like Taurine but had forgotten to arrange it.

From 487 starters in the 102km category, there were 455 finishers and thus 32 DNF. And for the curious-  I finally dropped a load off in a nice warm bathroom next to the finish line.

Results thanks to Leigh Reynolds-

62km
Matt Carroll 5:18:52 – 3rd (4th overall)*
Joe Gallaher 7:02:16 – 25th (in his first run longer than 32km!)
Victoria Watson. 8:24:13
Teresa Liu. 10:11:55
Sarah Connor 10:34:43

*Chicked! Ruth Croft had an amazing performance, 1st woman by nearly an hour and 2nd outright, just 6mins behind Majell Backhausen

87km
Allison Davies 15:38:09

102km
Katharine Carty 10:27:57 – 9th (29th overall, in a stacked international field!)
Hugh Mander. 13:31:21
Blas Mex. 14:12:33
Adam Connor. 14:44:57
Leigh Reynolds. 17:12:06
Kenneth Low. 17:12:06
Nadia Ackarie. 18:29:06
Zoe Howard. 19:32:01

 

UTA50 & UTA100 Training Run List 2017

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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
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 20 May
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Coast to Kosci 2016 C2K Guest Post- Adam Kavanagh

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Coast to Kosci 2016 – Adam Kavanagh

How did it come to this?

With GNW just a fresh memory, the application week for C2K had suddenly crept up on me. I knew we couldn’t afford for me to apply and I knew that Kat wouldn’t be happy with me applying. However, I am useless when it comes to peer pressure. With the voices of Lisa, Adrian and Geoff ringing in my ears “It would be a shame to waste the fitness…” I applied at the 11th hour, thinking there would be no way that I would get accepted on my first entry.

So on the 2nd of October, when the email came in at Broke saying you have been accepted – I was a little bit surprised and terrified, especially as I was nursing a bad lower back that had crept up on me after PT on the 30th September.

Training

Well, that is an interesting concept, isn’t it? My lower back was causing me issues sleeping, walking, sitting, and all things in between, so training went right out of the window.

I remember some interesting motivational phone calls from Liz and Adrian telling me what I should be doing. I told them I was doing everything I could based on what the physio was telling me – but more importantly what my back was saying, too.

I know it wasn’t enough. I know I should have done more. Which are two reasons that made me keep putting one foot in front of the other. However, I had done substantially more Km each week in the lead to C2K than I had done in the lead up to GNW, so I know I was in a better state because of that. I know that I wasn’t helped when 2 weeks before the run I stood on broken glass and badly bruised my heel – not the best prep’, there, either!

Race Week

I don’t think I slept properly for the week before the run. Everything had been thrown into disarray by Adrian not being able to crew for me at the last minute. Fortunately for me (not him) Dave was in the right place at the right time and he agreed to help me out.

I think I had an easier time of things on Thursday morning than Lisa did sorting her car out. We could have taken the jeep but we would have been nowhere near as comfortable! I was pretty quiet on the way down to Eden. It was a long way, and I certainly got a bit overawed by roads and views once we got south of Canberra.

The pre-race dinner was great, but I was definitely feeling out of my depth with the talent of the other runners that were there that evening. And the support crews. I felt bad that I hadn’t organised fancy crew shirts. I had barely organised anything – it had all been done on the back of a fag packet by text. My crew weren’t even sure if I’d be running until 2 weeks before! (Nor was I to be fair.)

Race Day

And so the day arrived. Friday 9 December, and we were watching the sun come up on twofold bay. I felt completely out of my depth as everyone seemed so calm and in control, and everyone seemed to be here on their second or third run – I felt like the only newbie.

I thoroughly enjoyed the pictures and the understated atmosphere at the start. I tried to touch the water but there was no way I was getting saltwater on my trainers and wet feet at the start of the run. The fact that we were all going to be going from sea level all the way to the summit of Kosciusko didn’t even enter my head – the numbers were just far too big to comprehend.

All too soon and yet at the same time not soon enough, we were off, through the crowds of cheering crew and onto the firetrail up the hill. I have to wonder if the crews knew exactly what they were in for when they were cheering away at that stage? I don’t think they had any easier time of it than we runners did, with the lack of sleep and food!

I fell in with a group of people pretty early on in the first 24km: Adam Connor, Jane Trumper, Roger Hanney, Pater Caligourili. I had run with Adam before at the inaugural southern highland challenge, and I knew Roger from Hoka. Jane I knew because she had pushed in front of me twice at dinner the night before 😉 Peter was also a newbie with me although I do remember his comment – ‘you can virtually coast from GNW to this on your fitness’ I certainly didn’t believe him, but it made me feel better and slightly less nervous! Roger and Adam surpassed themselves with some seriously un-PC chat which made me laugh a lot. I stayed very silent though – these guys knew each other and I was the newcomer!

We passed Rolland Hassel, and Hailey Maxwell, and then they passed us and that seemed to be the way the morning was panning out, a bit of chat and meeting some new cool people. Jan went passed us on the uphill somewhere and then we caught him back up. Towards the end of the first 24km, we all started to thin out and spread out. Peter and I got into CP1 together – but his crew were nowhere to be seen so he went to the station and I got looked after by the crew. The first of MANY times they would be helping me out.

Everything was going nicely to plan – albeit with only having completed 10% of the race! Although the runners had spread out, it was only by 1-2Km, with several people in that space. It became a really nice feature of the race that I got to see the same crew members time and time again. Rolland Hassel’s crew were great, David (Peter’s crew) was really great as well and he always made sure to say hello and offer a word on the way past – for the whole race. I think a special mention has to go to Roger Hanney’s crew in the Tailwind bus. They were consistently positive and friendly and I saw them loads over the first 30 hours of the race. I didn’t see too much of Jane’s crew until later in the day when I called SJ Lisa because she looked like her from a distance and I thought I was expecting to see them around the next corner!

 

As the day progressed, so did the wind increase – seemingly exponentially. I know that my crew were worried about the fact that I wasn’t running with anybody, but I had seen and chatted to people. It also gave me a way to save energy and just focus on the job in hand. It was quite funny how you could pick the vibe from someone as to whether or not they wanted to chat almost 10m before you got to them, or them to you, too!

One of the moments early in the day had me jumping about 6 foot and moving quicker than I did all weekend. About 8 foot in front of me just baking on the track was a red bellied black snake that was about 2m long. He was just sat there looking at me and although I tried to get my camera out, I was too far away by then, and I had to shout back to Roger Hanney behind me that he should probably cross over because of the snake. Did not want to see any more of them through the day – I expected that with all the traffic on course, they would be long gone.

One of the things that crept into my head was the race report where Adam Connor talked about shaving down but not well enough and it causing him some issues. I thought I had shaved down well, but left enough manscaping so as not to cause issues. Oh no. How very wrong I was. I was causing myself some big issues down there, and no amount of Vaseline seemed to be quelling the burning fire in my crotch. Fire crotch for a whole new reason than normal!

The road into Cathcart was a beast. The wind was absolutely brutal and it was right on the nose, as well. It certainly sapped a great deal of energy going into the wind. It was here that I started to see Kristy Lovegrove in front of me. I had followed her into town, but she was leaving just as I got to the pit stop of noodles and spuds and a chance to wash my hands. It was gold. She then stayed resolutely 500m-1Km or more in front of me for the rest of the afternoon. More on that later.

It was after we turned off the Monaro Freeway that the crew dressed up. I saw Liz’s skull with an irish hat on and thought “that’s very interesting – not very Liz – but very interesting nonetheless.” It then took me several minutes to realise that in the impromptu stop, they had all dressed up. I was glad they had stopped though, I needed more Vaseline and sun screen!

 

Once the wind died as the sun went down it was absolutely beautiful up there. The views were great and it was really really peaceful. Exactly why I wanted to be out there. I certainly didn’t want to be out there amongst the wind and the road kill that littered the verges. That was stinky!

By the time the sun went down at Checkpoint 3, I had somehow managed to pass Kristy – but it wasn’t for long. She just flew down the hill after the CP and I remember thinking – I wish my quads could do that. But it was not to be! “Wind her up and watch her go’ was the response from her crew when I commented on how quick she was down the hill. I caught Graeme Wye going up the hill – he was suffering from indigestion – and you could hear it from a long way off – they were some massive burps!

At about 2100, I finally got someone to run with me and it was great. I told Dave that it didn’t matter if he didn’t want to talk – or that if he did and I didn’t answer I wasn’t being rude I was just conserving energy – I think that is what had done me so well by that stage – saving energy, etc, etc. I told him I’d be quiet and then talked at him all the way up the hill to the wind turbines. Which was a massive problem because I forgot to eat or drink. Until we got to just shy of the top. I was in the wrong clothes, with no energy – big mess up.

This is where I think I started to annoy Lisa – right where she started running with me. Because of my fascination with numbers and planning times and talking things through interminably in my head. I remember one of the things I had been thinking about all day was sleeping at a similar stage to when I did on GNW – 110Km. Lisa let me try a little bit later on than that – but when her and Liz were chatting about people coming – I had to jump up and carry on – annoyed that I’d wasted time. I remember we walked past Nicky Redl at some stage – she wasn’t impressed when I made a comment that we still had more than half the race to go. After what Brick had told me at GNW – I’m now a firm believer that the halfway point is actually about the 60-70% mark on longer runs.

At Dalgetty was where I was told I could have a sleep. I was well within my time frames and everything was going well – so the crew were happy that I could have a sleep. The hall was sooooo loud and soooo hot, though. I ended up lying there hating everyone for being so loud and not actually asleep at all. It made me really angry with myself. When I went to the toilet and realized the car crash that was occurring in my shorts – that compounded my grumpiness. Although I at least managed to use the toilet. Lesson #1 – if you feel like crap – do one – it will probably help a great deal.

So when Liz and I stepped off at about 0330, I was not in a very good place at all. It was tough. Every step hurt my chaffed bits; and it started to get cold. I remember telling Liz “All I want to do is cry.” “Well just fcuking cry then.” Is not quite the response I expected, while at the same time it WAS exactly the response I expected and needed.

As the sun came up, I went through periods where every single part of me was trembling. I certainly considered quitting – many many times. I remember at 0730 thinking – I can be in the car by 0745 and all this pain will be gone by 0800. I also distinctly remember thinking “How on earth can I tell Dave, Lisa, and Liz that I’m quitting because it’s tough? ‘Thanks for giving up 4 days and driving for hours but I’m just a bit tired and broken – we can chill at a café in Jindabyne until we can check into our hotel for the night and then watch everyone who didn’t quit get their akubras.’” I also thought how uncomfortable that 6 hour drive home would be in utter silence. I think I hoped I would have a really bad injury that would then enable me to justify withdrawing when it finally got diagnosed.

Liz just stayed a little bit ahead of me – always out of reach unless I asked for something to eat or drink – which was often. And usually followed by a wee as well. The race doctor had said to drink to thirst – but the dry air and the cough meant that I permanently felt thirsty even when I knew I wasn’t. I have no idea how she had the patience to put up with me.

When the roving doctor pulled up alongside me I don’t think I was quick enough with my thumbs-up. He leant out of the car and told me that I was fine. That I had hours until the cut off at Charlotte’s Pass. That there were people behind me who were also fine and were going to make the cut. That was the final thing I needed. How could I quit 17 hours before the cut off and then look people in the eye when I went home? Time to keep plodding on and see what occurred.

Liz kept me pushing through the remains of the dawn chill and then let me sleep for 10 mins when the sun had come up. Just what I needed. In the driveway of a house. I had to answer the call of nature just across the road. Oh how I wish I had waited a few minutes and round the corner and I would have been in peace and quiet, without getting disturbed… That sleep in the sun worked wonders and seemed to recharge my batteries.

Liz was able to keep me pushing through from there until Jindabyne. Again it was the roving doctor who helped me out. I had sent Dave off 8km to the CP, which was a mistake. Billy the doctor gave us a ginger beer and topped up our water. I also got to use the loo at the lake. Lesson #2 – never pass up a loo. It was at this stage that we went past one of the people who ended up retiring. He was in a bad way and Liz gave him the rest of the ginger beer. His wife asked us about our poles and if they helped our knees to which we said yes. She then turned round to her husband and said “See – I told you so!” Just what I am sure he wanted to hear after 180Km!

The caravan park was another opportunity for a break with a sleep and a feed and calypso ice lollies! By this stage I had found the slather in the car and the Vaseline had been relegated. The slather had tea tree oil in and that was cleaning things up down there far better than Vaseline ever could. Gentle antiseptic worked wonders. I think I would still be chaffed now without it.

I had slowly frittered through my spare time, but it wasn’t too much of a drama. Now Lisa had the job of dragging me up from Jindabyne to the summit through Perisher and Charlotte’s Pass. There was still 50Km to go and it felt like it as all going to be uphill – until we got there and realised there was LOADS of down hill, as well! Lisa had a job on, convincing me not to sit down every single time I wanted to eat or drink. Fortunately there was absolutely no shade anywhere – so I knew that sitting down in the sun was not the most sensible thing for us to be doing.

And then Liz produced the Umbrella! Shade – on a stick! I think it made a world of difference as the sun was merciless. And wearing a reflective vest didn’t help the situation. Oh how I regretted not being able to get a very thin and skinny running one prior to the race…

One of the moments that I did find funny was a slight navigational error by the crew. They added another 5Km onto what we had to do. Which came at exactly the same time that Scottish Michael told us the hills were only undulating from where we at that stage – a complete lie! They felt pretty bad about it – but not as bad as Lisa and I did when we saw the two valleys we had to descend into and then climb out of – wish I could remember the name. I know that Diggers Creek was at the bottom of one of them, with a hotel and a lake at the same place. They were tough hills.

I think I actually slept on my way out of the second one into Smiggins. Lisa was reading things out from Facebook and I said to her – “I have no idea what you’ve been talking about for the past 20 minutes.” I was trying to stay awake but failing miserably. We got a good feed in Perisher, which was awesome. And then it was over to Liz to get me up to Charlotte’s Pass. I felt bad not getting Dave to run – but I knew that Lisa and Liz would bollock me more than him and give me a bit more tough love. He’d be nice to me – which wasn’t what I would be needing!

Just short of Charlotte’s Pass was where it started to get cold as the sun was coming down. I had a plan with what I wanted to wear, but it hadn’t survived contact with the crew. Dave had taken my ron hill tracksters up to the checkpoint – but I needed warm kit where the car was. I argued with Lisa and Liz and told them what I wanted – but couldn’t understand why I couldn’t have them! Liz then proceeded to try and pull my merino thermal pants over the swollen legs and trainers. I remember the unseen look on her face when I told her “I told you that wouldn’t work” the silence and the pause spoke more than anything. But we eventually got the pants on and I trudged up the road with a blanket around my bum, arguing with Liz about not wanting to look like a hobo.

I think that was the worst behaved that I was for the crew over the course of the run. I think by that stage I also knew that we were going to finish. I knew it was going to hurt, though: my quads were cactus, my right knee was sore, as was my right hip and right thigh felt like it had been caulked. When I told Liz during my low spot (4 hours) she told to politely be quiet when I suggested maybe I had fractured my femur in my hip joint like Lisa’s friend had done…

After a bit of too and fro with kit checks and then some questions by the doctor, we were off. Not quite at the breakneck speed that a seemingly crippled Jane Trumper was coming down the hill with a not quite so broken looking Roger Hanney chasing her down. It was a lovely evening on the hill, I was gutted that I hadn’t been able to get the crew up in the day time so we could get some snaps with a view.

Just before we got to the snow crossing, we saw Jo Hedges and Pete Colagiuri again which was great. Jo and I have now been in a few races together – and apart from CP Ultra – he has finished in front of me. It’s great to see people on new runs. Crossing the snow was a little bit worse than it needed to be – certainly for Lisa. I will be honest, there were enough people with Dave and Liz looking after her, so I cracked on. I was really worried she wasn’t going to make it across, but I don’t think there was ANY danger of Liz letting that happen. I remember hearing Lisa say “I’m going to turn back” and Liz’s response was “No, you won’t.” I knew we were all going to make it when I heard that! It wasn’t until the way back that you could see quite how steep the run off from the snow actually was – you would have been sliding a LONG way!

The path after that was circuitous to say the least. A mixture of geo textile filled with rocks, and then smooth slabs. Until finally we got round the corner and there was the Streslecki Monument. The picture says it all – I was exhausted. I couldn’t face trying to get up on top – I would never have made it down again. All I wanted to do was make sure we got off the hill in as good a time as possible – so we got about three photos and that was it. I wanted to get back across the snow before everyone else in case there was someone who freaked out. I needn’t have worried – Lisa and Liz sprinted across and it was me holding things up because stepping down the snow steps was murderous on my right knee. The other two people who had summited with us were then off and past me. It was all I could do to keep Simon Roberts behind me with his bad knee. Although I was on the summit with Adam Connor, he managed to beat me by about 4 minutes. I had actually spent a fair bit of time with everyone who was in the few places ahead of me throughout the previous two days!

Something that Liz told me was that when I get near to a deadline or a hurdle, I switched off. That certainly happened with 1km to finish. I kept falling asleep and it was all that Dave could do to keep me on the straight and narrow and not go crashing into the wall on my right, or off the cliff on my left. I really wanted to try and keep my place – I didn’t want to get caught towards the end so I did try and speed it up. Which must have been laughable for Dave because it probably wasn’t as fast as I thought it was! I kept hoping it was just around the corner, but as with everything in the latter stages of the race, 1km felt like 1.5km and five minutes felt like ten. When I saw the finish line I did try to run. I really wanted to, but it was more of a shuffle into Paul Every’s arms over the finish! They got me a chair and a brew and that was it – I had finished 240Km that I never thought I would attempt, leave alone finish.

As my brew was handed to me I tried to stand up to get into the car but my knees were non-existent and I had to get lifted into the car by Diane and another lady. I do remember making the effort (it felt like I was making an effort!) to thank Billy for his wise words that got me to where I was.

But the race wasn’t over – it was a hell of a drive down to Jindabyne and I felt like I didn’t have the strength to move in the back of the car. Liz and Lisa did a great job driving down and keeping us on the road. It felt like the drive took forever – I thought I was sleeping although Liz assures me they were just micro naps. She must’ve been threaders with my attempts at crap chat to keep her awake. Although the stench coming off me should have been enough to keep anyone awake – I stank like the dead wombats I had seen by the side of the road!

It certainly took a fair bit of effort to get undressed that night. Point to note for when I crew in the future – get your own room so you don’t have to worry about the smell or the snoring or anything else that you do annoying your long-suffering crew. I made some very strange noises through the night when I got up for my old man wee. It took about 5 mins to get 3 metres to the toilet.

Lessons

SO aside from a new hat and some confused memories, what did I get out of the race? A new found appreciation for what is possible when you are working with a great team who are as focused on the outcome as you are. Probably more focused in fact as they had a little bit more rest in order to be rational about things. Some actual lessons:

  1. If you feel like crap – do one – it will probably help.
  2. Never pass up the opportunity to use a loo.
  3. Never use Vaseline again – not down there. Never use bum vas on your lips, either.
  4. Always carry an umbrella in your car
  5. Always be polite to your crew – and everybody else around you. You can’t do anything without them. If your tired plans don’t come to fruition – listen to theirs – it’ll be better.

It has taken me two weeks to write this – I’m sure it will have taken you that long to read, as well. I’m still a bit overawed by what we did together. I take every opportunity to wear my hat now – much to the style chagrin of Kathryn. I have to wonder what is acceptable though, do I wear it everywhere as a crew cap? I said I would never do it again – but I can’t say that now. I would love to go under 40 hours and I think with the knowledge I have now, that I would be able to achieve that. Although I think I would rather crew for someone and give them the opportunity to complete this undertaking.

I need something to train and aim for. I’ve not got the training motivation at the moment. Which is probably good as it will give me a chance to rest. All I have done in the past two weeks is eat drink and sleep. I didn’t have an appreciation for how tired I would be after the race. I nearly got a migraine on the Tuesday at work, which hasn’t happened for 15 years.

 

All that remains if you’ve gotten this far is to say thank you very much for enabling me to say I finished Coast to Kosci in 2016. A Miler and 240Km this year. What next?

 

Coast to Kosci 2016 C2K

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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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!