So this weekend was the annual trip down to the Blue Mountains in NSW for Ultra-Trail Australia 100k (formerly The North Face 100k). This is my absolute favourite race of the year here in Australia – it was my first ever 100k and I have done it every year since so this was my 7th attempt. Out of 6 TNF’s I have 3 bronze buckles (sub 20 finish) and only one DNF. But because the race has changed names this year I didn’t have a UTA buckle, so this was my goal.
You might think given I have done it 3 times before that it would be relatively easy for me to do it again – not so. Unfortunately due to a recurring adductor issue and a few minor health issues I was massively undertrained. Forget 80-100k training weeks, I think I only ran about 100k in the last month leading into the event.
I knew that in order to go under 20 hours I would have to run a very strategic race and really go out very conservatively. The first 5k is on road – no way I could even attempt to run this as road will tighten up my adductor straight away, so it was very frustrating to have to walk this section and see everyone else flying past me. In fact the whole of the first section once onto the trail through a lot of single track I walked as I knew I needed to save myself for the runnable stuff. I am sure a lot of people were annoyed trying to pass me on the really tight sections but I couldn’t risk throwing my race at that early stage.
Once we got onto the fire trail I jogged a few bits but still really power walking until around the 25k mark where I was able to open up and run for some sections. Getting into CP2 I was an hour behind last years time but still I was sticking to the plan.
Getting into CP4 in over 10 hours was a little worrying as usually it is a pretty even split for me to here and then to the finish, I knew I would have to run a negative split to get under the 20 hours. The next section is the toughest with so many stairs and at one point I bonked badly because I had been forgetting to eat regularly. Also I was coughing a lot due to the dusty dry track and my chest was getting tight so I was thankful I had remembered to pack my inhaler.
Into the last CP and just less than 5 hours to do 21k, starting off with a long downhill section of around 8k. Usually by this point my legs are so sore that I cannot take advantage and run down but this year they felt awesome and I was really able to pull back some time on this section – pretty much what saved me. Unfortunately in the last 5k I had some ITB issues which slowed me considerably and stopped me running. Coming back up Furber Stairs (all 951 of them) in the last km took me over 20 minutes but I was so happy to finish in a time of 19:48:33 for my first UTA buckle 🙂
I have to say that what got me through this year was pretty much sheer determination and perfect nutrition. I have been training with AMPED products for a few months and this was the first time I was able to test them out in a race situation, and I have to say that they certainly came through for me, especially the Fuel Gels. I can’t stomach normal gels, they give me gastro issues, but when you are out there for 20 hours there is only so much solid food you can stomach, so these were awesome, as were all the other AMPED athlete products. Can’t wait to see what I can do in my next race in a month’s time with a bit more training!