Time: 5:15 – 5th female.
I was a relatively late entry into the Ultra-Trail Australia 50km (UTA50), picking up a ‘second hand’ race entry at Easter time from someone who had lost their battle with injury. I’d been fighting sciatica nerve pain since January, but finally at Easter, I felt like I was winning. However, this meant my build up was not ideal, but I had a solid base from the 100km at Tarawera in February.
The forecast for race weekend showed rain, rain and more rain. So it was no surprise as I headed to the Mountains on Friday for the race, ‘Rainmageddon’ had hit.
Before the race briefing we were entertained with stories and a traditional ‘Welcome to Country’ by Gundungurra Aboriginal elder David King.
At the race briefing we found out that the course for the 50km and 100km race had been changed. Due to the wet conditions and the heavy rain expected overnight, we’d be running the first half of the 50km race. We’d also be starting over 2 hours later than the original race schedule to separate the two races on the course.
As race day rolled around I felt a bit nervous and underprepared. I reminded myself that it wasn’t uncommon to feel that way. I was going to treat it as a long training run and a fun day out.
It was nice to have a bit of time before the race to catch up with some old running friends. I was Matt and Andrius and we trotted off for a warm up. After all the rain overnight, the weather was perfect.
We packed into the start line and in no time were off. I tried to remember to take it easy and relax. This was hard with all the fast runners around.
I was feeling good and tried to relax and run steadily without pushing. The first 10km ticked b y in a conga line of runners across the single track from Fuber steps, across the landslide and up the Golden Stairs.
As things opened up onto Narrow Neck I was chatting away with Chontell and trying to relax. My pace crept up on the runnable terrain and I passed a few people. The Michelle McAdam came motoring past – no surprise there.
I got to Tarrows Ladder and there was a lot of congestion around from the 100km runners. I ran around Duncan’s Pass to bypass the bottle neck at Tarros ladders. It was a bit muddy and slippery but the ropes put up for the race provided a hold were needed. The trail was busy at this point and the 100km runner were lovely and let us pass by. I saw Rocco and Sally Smit here – they’re crazy running 100km just 2 weeks after completing an Ironman!
It was pretty close in this section. I passed Michelle, then Chantal passed me and Fiona Hayvice was on my tail.
The next section to check point two (CP2) at Dunphy’s Campground, Chantal and I were leapfrogging each other in different parts of the trail. At CP2, I left Chantal behind and was feeling good as I filled up my soft flasks and rolled through the CP.
I ran through open fields and farming land and up the scenic Megalong Valley. Ticking off the kms but not really familiar with how this part of the course looped around. At some stage Michelle came past me. I watched her disappear slowly (ok, not that slowly) into the distance. The kms markings and my watch were way out, given we were doing the 50km on a 100km course with a few variations – I found this quite difficult to tell where we were and when the CP was coming up.
Suddenly I was at CP3, my bottles were still quite full (in hindsight a bad thing as I hadn’t drunk enough fluids, I think!) so feeling good and with around 12km (at a guess) to go, I motored through the CP feeling really good.
I felt like I was on the home stretch now. We started climbing out of the valley and I could see the cliff walls way up high…then came the climb out of the valley and Nellies Glen. I’d run this 2 weeks earlier in a training run so was feeling pretty good about it. Long slow steady climb up out of the valley, then the stairs. Today, it didn’t feel quite so good. By the time I hit the stairs I was walking. I pushed myself up the stairs with effort. Someone started vomiting loudly not that far behind me. Suddenly I felt a big headache and not great. I was out of water in my bladder and had limited fluids in my flask. I sucked down a gel. Still not good. I wanted to sit down. No, not an option. I didn’t feel great but I pushed on.
After what felt like an eternity, I made it up Nellies Glen. Then shuffled off down the other side. After a few hundred meters my leg hamstring cramped. All those 100km runners I’d managed to overtake coming up the valley and Nellies Glen were now going past me! One of them offered me a salt tablet. I gratefully accepted. I sucked it down with almost my last fluids.
Chantal came past me at this point. Bugger!
I had about 3-4kms to go so I did my best pained running and shuffled off towards the finish line. It felt like a long way and every slight uphill was a challenge. Not the strong finish I had hoped for but with a guy on my tail, I managed to keep running and not let him last me.
I finished 5th female in 5:19. A good result and happy with how my body held up to the test, even if it wasn’t quite the strong race finish I had planned. Lesson learnt.
Now to recover and prepare for my next challenge, the Mozart 100, 105km and 4700m elevation of pure trail bliss in Salzburg, Austria on 17 June.