Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Race Week . Week20 Race Report UTA 2017




Sometimes races go as planned; more often than not, however, the unexpected happens.


- Laz, Founder of the Barkely Marathons.




Are we there yet...is now we are most definitely at the pointy end of the 5 month Plan of training.It all culminates in just what happens on 20 May 2017.Like all things it is partly in the hands of the Gods and mostly down to the preparation especially for possible wet weather and running in such conditions .

Just getting the head in the right space to tackle all the eventualities and making sure I practice all the contingencies I have worked out.Other than that it is getting the gear ready and all the small items needed to make the run as comfortable as I can.

Unfortunately I did not finish the race . At 54 km I pulled out. My first DNF in 10 years . What went wrong simply a few near slips on the run and a muscle near the inside of the left thigh started to spasm and cramp and that continued several times .In the end the last 4 km took an hour and I knew I would be struggling in the back half of the course and it wasn't worth it in the end.

The week leading to the race was uneventful and I did absolutely nothing .I felt rested and quietly confident other than a very healthy respect for this race and that the weather was going to be a major factor . As it turns out there was rain through the night before the race and it was a factor. The trails were pretty muddy but the weather cleared in the morning.

I was in wave six and went off at 6.57 . I got there with ten minutes to spare and started carefully and not too fast walking any steep hills. In 30 minutes we were heading down the valley and the scenic centre's walkways at the bottom and then heading to the first bottle neck the landslide where everyone carefully walked round the rocks . I had a few slips and felt the leg stretched but no discomfort . Heading up the golden stairs a 1-5km climb was slow and hard as always but before long I got to checkpoint 1 11.5 km into the race .The Garmin wasn't accurate as I was losing satellite transmission at the  bottom .so I was never absolutely sure how much mileage I had done. A quick toilet stop and refill of the bladder and a banana and I was off.I was sipping on my tailwind but as the weather was still cool I wasn't taking as much. I took off mu jacket and  had a thermal and eventually took that off as well as it got warmer. The run to Tarros ladders was uneventful with the valley covered in clouds and the scenes we were running surreal . No chance to whip out the phone to take a few pictures . At the ladders it was a long wait over 45 minutes to get down and a lot longer than last year . The initial 2 kms till the fire trails were hard and it was here that the 50 km elite runners passed me jumping from rock to rock without a worry as I gingerly tried to avoid slipping . It was here that I started getting twitches of cramps just at the muscle near the back of the knee and thigh. This continued despite taking in salt .

At about  checkpoint 2 Dumphy's camp I had been in the race for just over 5 hours. I managed  to get the bladder filled and again use the toilet and have some chips and move on. Probably had 7-8 minutes . Then started the major 12 km with a fair bit uphill and I used my sticks for the first time climbing up the hill in the paddock before a slow run down to checkpoint 3 at six foot Track Again the left leg was playing up with major cramps at the effected muscle and it seems I may have stretched it as it was sore and tight. Got to CH3 had a sit down and a coffee and some chips and a change of my top. I was looking far from my best and the time was beginning to slow although I was on about the same pace as last year despite a much longer wait at Tarros but this year we missed out on climbing ands going to Iron pot ridge .The didgeridoo players were camped out just before Dumphy's this year.

I arrived at CH point 3 in 7.28 hr and left just before 7.45 with the aim of trying to get to checkpoint 4 in 1.75 hours . Unfortunately at Nellie's Glen ,which was around  6 km from the checkpoint I started cramping very badly on the climb and the last 4 kms to checkpoint 4 took an hour. By then the leg was sore and hurting and running was not possible. I made the decision to pull out as I did not see myself finishing especially in the dark .I possibly could have walked the whole way but mentally I just did not want to do that .In the end I suspect the cold weather and the weaken leg combined to bring about the cramping of the left leg .

Timing point

SpeedRankTime of the dayRace time
956mScenic World- km/h -Sat. 06:5700:00:00
971m1km8,72 km/h 865Sat. 07:0400:07:26
970m3km (UTA100) / 5km (UTA50)8,17 km/h 999Sat. 07:1800:21:36
1022mNarrow Neck5,63 km/h 675Sat. 08:5001:53:06
757mLittle Cedar Gap7,93 km/h 1008Sat. 10:1203:15:32
637mDunphys Camp4,22 km/h 1046Sat. 12:1605:19:40
584mSix Foot Track5,49 km/h 1058Sat. 14:25 / Sat. 14:4307:28:05
981mKatoomba Aquatic Centre4,35 km/h 1094Sat. 17:0510:08:58
889mFairmont Resort Water Point- km/h ---
839mQueen Victoria Hospital- km/h ---
842mQueen Victoria Hospital Return- km/h ---
894mFairmont Resort Water Point return- km/h ---
739mBase of Furber Steps- km/h ---
956mScenic World- km/h --


This is the first DNF in ten years and possibly only my second in my life , the first being my first marathon as a 17 year old with no training in 1982 .Was probably the first marathon in Singapore and I pulled out at 30kms . Since last Saturday , the wisdom of the decision does get questioned but ultimately I think there was more danger of injuring myself more especially if I had a severe cramp in the dark and on a climb. I have also looked at how others have dealt with it and come across 2 great articles and advice  from someone who has done lots of ultras and had a few DNF's  Lessons Learnt from DNFs 
and Your Ultra-Training Bag Of Tricks: Handling The Dreaded DNF