Monday, May 23, 2016

ULTRA TRAIL AUSTRALIA 100 : The Race Report 2016

The Blue Mountains

Scenic World Walkway Pic by Jade

BorisFit Just before the Run

Ultra Trail Australia 100 is the new name and a second go at trying to finish this race and get a better time.

If there is anything to be learnt about any endurance racing it is patience , have a plan and then have another plan . As in life nothing always goes right and the real adventure is in adaptation and strategies to cope.At the end of this adventure I crossed the line in 19.53 hrs just before the 20 hour cut off for the buckle .18 minutes slower than last year but very thankful to have finished and feeling a lot better than last year . My climb up Furber and the run along Leura were actually better than last year , where I fell down badly was the lack of any ability to walk/hike up the last 7-8kms and possibly trying to have the strength to push harder in the early part to get as much distance in the day .
At NarrowNeck before hitting Tarros Ladders about 15km into the run

The lead up to the race had been absolutely perfect . I had a coach Zach Bitter and a plan for 20 weeks of training to make sure I got through the race and was in the best shape possible .The only worry was the lack of elevation in Perth and being able to train in like conditions but whilst it is ideal particularly for the downhill sections which did in the end slow me down , many runners have trained in the flat lands with great results.

I also changed my diet and dropped nearly 8kgs and more than 10kgs since September last year .

Despite all that , I never once underestimated this run. Having done NorthFace 100 last year I knew it was tough and anything could happen. The plan and training were done .There is a nervous tension when you look out at the Blue Mountains and the valley below.

The 2 days prior the wind was whipping around and it was cold but on the day , the weather was perfect . It was cool enough for me to wear my gloves and buff and as wave six started (the second last wave) , I went out very slow keeping a talking pace and walking any incline.  Four km into the run we start down to the Scenic world walkway and it is slow with the congestion but that suits me. I am careful over the landslide section and there is another queue at the Golden Stairs. Once I am at the top the crowd thins and 11km in we are at CP1 . A quick refill of the bladder and a fruit and bar and I am off . It takes me 1.47 .

Check Pt 2 Dunphy's Camp

Narrow Neck

Tarros Ladders waiting
The run along Narrow neck is spectacular , I got a few pictures and this stretch to Dunphy's is about 21km.
It take me 3 hours with a 15 minute wait at Tarros to go down the ladders . It is at this point I start to feel the heat .More runners are walking and I try to keep running whilst only walking the hill sections. At Dunphy's I get  another bladder refill and fruit and I head off .

Check Point 3

IronPot Ridge

Coming into Check point 3

This  section was a little tougher with Ironpot Ridge and the climb on the Private Property into Check point 3. It was endless . I enjoyed Ironpot ridge and whilst it was hot and dusty I  felt pretty good . The climb after Ironpot ridge with the steep sections were a different story. My ability to hike fast did not exist .Learning to walk up quickly is a necessary skill in Ultra running unfortunately. I recall just wanting to finish this section. I was also beginning to suffer from the chaffing in the thighs and nether regions despite the volumes of Vaseline.

At Checkpoint 3 . Chris and the support crew were there and I got some more vasline , changed my top and another bladder refill , some bars and chocolate and I was off .Possibily spent about 10-15 minutes at the check point. Distance 46 km and the section from Cpeckpoint 2 to 3 was about 14 km ,  done in 2.5 hours.

Check point 4 and chicken soup

Check point 4 Katoomba Aquatic Centre

Was a short section of about 11km but took me about 2 hours . But there was Nellies Glen and I struggled up this climb with a few cramps . Aside from that I was just glad to get to Check point 4 . I noticed that there were less runners about compared to last year as well.

I knew at this point any chance of finishing in a better time were slipping and the target of 17.30 was really going to be impossible with the tougher sections and the darkness ahead. I had a few falls that made me slow down a fair bit.

At the checkpoint I had a soup , changed my top and socks and again more Vaseline but the skin was just red and raw. I left after a 30 minute break and it was still light as I ran towards the lookout and headed into the valley. Again the legs had felt good after the break and food and managed to run a fair bit of the section slowly , There were stages where it was hard going on the single track and I was walking and following a few runners . This section I think was the worse as it went on for quite a bit and took me 4.5 hrs . I ran the road section into Queen Victoria Hospital and had a bit of a break at Checkpoint 5 but found the single track in the dark the toughest . A change of top and a cup of tea , more Vaseline and filling the bladder again. I was at this point getting pretty tired .

The Finish line / Furber Stairs

This last section with the descent down Ketumba and then the climb was always dreaded as my legs were tiring and hurting. I took slow runs down and walked a fair way of this section.I was by myself for most of the time and a hand full of runners passed . The climb was all walk up hill but for me at a much slower pace. I was glad to get to the water refill station and then another 45 minutes or so to the sewerage treatment point with the mud and the start of the single track along the Leura forrest to the base. This whole section took a good 3 hours for me . I then ran most of the forest section passing runners as I knew I needed to get to the base of Furber Stairs before 19.30 . I just made it and then hauled myself up those stairs in 24 minutes to cross the line at 19.53.

Despite the weight loss and the training it was still a hard run. The last 2 sections in the dark probably was the difference but I was just glad to have finished .It was a tougher race than last year with the heat and more stairs . My Garmin showed 5200 m but officially it was 4500m .

Like life many lessons to be learnt . Have a plan and a back up  one . Uncertainties such the chaffing came up despite the experience of last year . I coped . I had enough nutrition nearly 3500 calories of food and tailwind .Did run out of water for the last 5km but managed . If there was anything I could do differently it would be to have run the first section harder to get more kms covered before dark but then there is a fine line of bonking like I did last year.

Sometimes there isn't a simple answer and really who cares . When you look out as the sun sets from the outlook over the 3 sisters I saw the hues of the sky and the light dancing over the valley . The race , my running and the many hundreds  ahead and behind just didn't quite matter much anymore. Maybe the whole point of an ultra is really not the time or winning but knowing how beautiful the world can be and how small we are in it, possibly learning to enjoy the moment for what it is and learning that from all  that suffering , be it self induced , there is much to appreciate.

Timing pointSpeedRankTime of dayRace time
952mScenic World- km/h -Sat. 06:5700:00:00
1023mNarrow Neck6,01 km/h 994Sat. 08:4401:47:09
765mLittle Cedar Gap5,94 km/h 969Sat. 10:3403:37:43
631mDunphys Camp6,67 km/h 975Sat. 11:5304:56:12
756mIronpot Ridge Turnaround- km/h ---
576mSix Foot Track5,50 km/h 904Sat. 14:28 / Sat. 14:3807:31:32
981mKatoomba Aquatic Centre4,19 km/h 887Sat. 17:0610:09:22
921mSublime Point Rd4,33 km/h 796Sat. 19:3112:34:38
836mQueen Victoria Hospital4,88 km/h 767Sat. 21:3414:37:11
609mSewage Treatment Works- km/h ---
802mBase of Furber Steps4,23 km/h 763Sun. 02:2619:29:03
952mScenic World2,62 km/h 761Sun. 02:5019:53:32