5 things I learnt at the North Face 50

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5 things I learnt at the North Face 50

The North Face 50 is the Little Sister of the North Face 100. Both are bad-ass ultra trail marathons  through (or rather up and down) the Blue Mountains covering you guessed it, 50km and 100km.

This was my first ultra event, but it certainly won’t be the last. Here is what I discovered out on the trail about myself and the event that left me gasping for more….

Running is my meditation

Can I meditate? If you know me, you know the answer is ‘like hell I can’. I struggle to sit still for longer than 10 minutes (unless X-Factor is on the telly) and even when I am sitting, I am still thinking about this week’s to do list. My mind is rarely quiet.

I was already aware that running went a long way to help me unwind and de-stress but at one point in the North Face 50, I suddenly realised that I had been running for probably close to 15km and not one tangible thought had crossed my mind. Not one, nothing. Finally, some peace and quiet from myself  – Hallelujah!

All good things come to an end though and if you are having a bad race, I am probably the last person that you want to run 50km with

Because I will push you up the stairs and yell ‘encouragement’ in your ear. I think (in about 10 years) my friend Matt will thank me for getting him round the race quicker than he might have otherwise made it. Right now though, I’m not so sure!

I cry at airports AND event finishing lines

I don’t cry much for a girl – unless I’m in an airport arrivals lounge (or watching the airport montage in the movie ‘Love Actually’). However, I have now firmly added event finish lines to the brief list of places where I am likely to become a blubbering wreck.

I challenge anyone to watch someone stagger across a finish line having been on their feet for 24 hours, covering 100km through the cold, dark night and remain dry eyed as they thank you (you, who has done nothing more than get out of an electric blanket warmed bed, an act not really worthy of a thank you after what they have been through whilst you were having an 8 hour kip) for clapping and cheering them in across the finish line. I applaud – and cry – for every single one of you, you are amazing!

Ultra-distance runners are all a little bit nuts

And friendly and awesome and create the best race atmosphere ever!

The North Face 50 and 100 entrants were without exception, encouraging to others, gave way to faster runners (no elbows out or walking four abreast City2Surf style here), truly appreciate the amazing surroundings and I think it is safe to say, are a little bit crazy with it. Let’s face it, something has to be wired a little incorrectly in those of us that think running this far is fun.

But no matter how crazy you are, there will always be someone crazier

From my other team-mate James, who entered last minute and ran the whole thing seemingly untroubled (and un-chaffed!) in board shorts (he is being sent directly to the nearest lululemon store this weekend), from the guy who ran 50km in leather sandals and skipped across the finish line, from the insanely strong lady who came 5th in the 100km event having fractured her knee cap at km 5, to the guy who was allegedly running the 100km before hotfooting it back to Sydney to complete the Sydney half marathon the next day, there will always be someone doing something further, faster, harder, crazier than you.

It is those people that inspire the rest of us to dream up and tackle the next challenge.  Without them, the world would be a poorer, more boring place.

They inspired me to open the door to the crazy world of ultra-endurance-events….

… I think I like it.




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