What a cracker of an Ultra Trail event, I had such a great time doing the 50km at the inaugural event in 2014 that I just had to come back, tried to get back in 2015 but it didn’t work out, so I am pleased I got to do the 100km this year.
A few weeks out and I still wasn’t sure if I was going to make it, my training was going well but I ended up with a virus and really crook from a tick about 2 – 3 weeks out from the event. (If I keep getting ticks I’m seriously considering taking Bravecto with my Kelpies.)
Thankfully my little sister Jody said she would drive up with me and help crew. Found out that my name was mentioned in a pre-race review written by 2015 winner Troy Lethlean on the Ultra168 page , then it struck me….. when on earth did I go from a middle of a pack runner to a front runner and where had he heard my name ?? geez no pressure ! Lol
We had a great drive up and got there with plenty of time to spare on the Friday so thought it best to go find the checkpoints. Finding the road to checkpoint 3 Gheerulla the road was terribly sketchy very steep with loose gravel, we find the checkpoint and the area was ablaze again from the recent fires that had started back up. I said to my sister that I wasn’t real confident and hoped the organisers had another plan.
Found the next 2 checkpoints and thought we would take a short cut back to Mapleton, never a good idea, but it was fun, Lol
Got to the QCCC to pick up my pack, said a quick hello to Kathryn Austin who was volunteering and grabbed the key for our room. Love that they have accommodation (with meals included) at the venue, makes it so much easier and less stressful. Mentioned to the guys there about the fires and they had just got word from the QPWS that the area would be closed.
How the organisers handled a situation like this is an absolute testament to them, the stress, pressure and logistics must have been immense but they did such an amazing job to keep the event going. I was pretty stoked to hear we would end up with a few extra km’s and was getting more for my money, Lol.
Managed a quick chat with my favourite Ultra Runner and my Coach Shona Stephenson at the briefing, she is such a beautiful person, always bubbly and willing to help with advice. Thankfully I was discussing the new checkpoint changes with her and realised there was no way my sister was going to make it back and forth to checkpoint 4 in time and decided a drop bag for that one would be best.
The morning was perfect, loved the Kondalilla Falls section beautiful forest area it got hot pretty quick, the smoke in the air gave me an instant headache and I’d hoped that I wouldn’t be running with it all day. Came across the bridge Troll and the Gate Keepers, such a great touch to the event but I really felt for the Gate Keepers in those costumes.
Made it to checkpoint 2 at QCCC ahead of time and started to feel the heat, had a good run through to checkpoint 4, really made sure I paid attention to my hydration. Having Hyperhidrosis I dehydrate easily and quickly so I always get anxious about getting my hydration right.
Heading to checkpoint 5, wow parts of this section were so hard under foot and damn steep. I like to bomb down the descents but this was so steep and rocky, kicked my toe and with the shot of pain knew I was going to loose a toe nail, I had to back off and take it easy. The ascend was one step forward slide two steps back, geez it made you work, the heat and humidity made the going even tougher. Finally got to meet a Audrey and Francis Harvey, they were doing the 50km, I had chatted to Audrey heaps of time on Facebook but had never met, so I really enjoyed our quick meeting and conversation.
Was day dreaming a bit and completely forgot I was actually in a race, felt like I was on my Sunday long run when I met Jessica Schluter. Found out that she also like to run with her Kelpie.
Loved seeing my little sister Jody and my cousin Trudy at checkpoint 5, for two chicks that didn’t have a clue about running let alone Ultra running, Tailwind, checkpoints, Inov8 or hydration vest they did such an awesome job in making sure I was taken care of. As I took off I thought for sure there was no way they would ever volunteer in doing this again, such a thankless long day, hadn’t even occurred to me at this point that they didn’t even have any food for themselves. They have since assured me they had a great time and would definitely do it again.
Around the Cooloolabin Dam, thank you to the shirtless cowboy hosing down your horses, that was a nice distraction, the horses were so funny I actually thought they were statues. Back around to checkpoint 5, then 4 then 5, 5 second time around this loop felt heaps quicker, mentioned to Jody and Trudy that I thought it would be 5:30 by the time I had got to them again and it was only 4 o’clock. Met some amazing people along the way Steve Pemberton looked like he was going well and kept strong throughout the day. Past the 80km sign and my watch said I had already done 86km. Back to 4 were I saw my niece and nephew on the track, what a nice surprise, had no idea my sister Donna and her husband Trog (Bruce) were there waiting for me.
Absolutely stoked it was still daylight but the blackest clouds were brewing and I really wanted to get back before it started raining. Back through the forest section again and headed toward the finish, it was getting dark quickly, couldn’t believe I was going to finish ahead of my goal.
Crossed the finish line in a time of 12:23:53 and boy did I rang the shit out of that bell, pretty sure everyone across the border would have heard me !!
What was my goal ? Well a few months back in the hope I would make this event, I had written on it 12hs 30min. Then a couple of days before I found out that Shona won it the year before in just under 12 hours and I thought oh crap, I’d better adjust the time to a more realistic one, cause there is no way I would finish that close to her. To say I am stoked is an understatement.
This is such an amazing event I can highly recommend it. Meals are tasty and accommodation is great and as a package is reasonably priced. The checkpoints are well stocked, you could have an absolute feast out there if that is your style, the volunteers really made the event, I wish every checkpoint was like the crew at checkpoint 4, you guys absolutely rock !!
Do not underestimate this course, I know a lot of people enter because it has a generous cut off time, but this course is an incredible challenge. I would consider it to be equal to if not harder than UTA (elevation this time around was about the same, but the heat and humidity do add to the challenge for us south of the border) the steep sections are deceiving in this event and more acute, I really did notice my quads copping a pounding on this one where as they didn’t on the UTA. The nice thing about this one is that it does have a nice cruise in to the finish line.
Well done to the organisers you really are on a winner with this event, LOVE IT.
Everyone needs to add this event into their calendar !
One last word
There is something to be said about training with Kelpies, Shona in first place runs with her Kelpie “Bubbles” Jessica in 3rd place runs with her Kelpie “Sidney” and the chick in 5th place (me) runs with her 2 kelpies “Cadence and Pace”
So if you want to improve your training I can highly recommend adopting a kelpie as your training partner.