Tales from the UTA50 Trails…
A brave bunch of OzSquadders recently took on 50km at the Ultra Trail Australia – not just an ultra-marathon, but an ultra-marathon in the Blue Mountains. Or rather, up and down the Blue Mountains. It was a first for all of the OzSquad crew and most had never attempted running anything remotely as far, or previously thought that an ultra was in the realms of their running capabilities.
It takes a while to digest such a big accomplishment but here are some of their initial thoughts, learnings and the top tips they picked up during the journey….
Toni – battled through with knee pain from 10km to finish, still smiling. What a trouper!
Most memorable moment? The start line, the mix of excitement and nervousness is a feeling I won’t forget.
Training tips? Go check out the course. Having previously never been to the Blue Mountains, the OzSquad practice run we did there is my highlight from the last few months of training. It was certainly one way to see the mountains! It also really helped me mentally get through the last 7k of the race knowing that we had all done it before.
Tips? I broke the UTA50 down into two and mentally tackled it as two separate races. And if like me, the race doesn’t go as planned… look for things to get you through. I was going at a snail’s pace coming down Kedumba but I was able to march the hills pretty quickly so I looked for people to catch up and overtake on the hills. It gave me some kind of weird satisfaction J And it really is about Nutrition Nutrition Nutrition.
Mali – super mum who just kept on going and going despite a previous injury, two kids and a hectic job. And raised $2,795 for the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation in the process!
Most memorable bits? I LOVED the vibes at the expo the night before, the start line atmosphere, seeing the other OzSquadders cross the line and watching the last UTA100-ers finish. Plus it was an amazing weekend away with new friendships to boot.
Worst bits? Running up to the hospital check-point at the 28km mark – the heat and the never-ending hill really got to me. Also, when people were saying “you’re nearly there” on the Furber Steps, I felt like punching them. Running solo was also tough, although there were some very beautiful moments that I would have missed if I was chatting away.
Key things I learnt? As a mum the focus shifts to the kids and their busy lives so personal challenges are few and far between – so for me I guess I learned that it’s bloody awesome having my own major goal to work towards and one that has hopefully made my kids proud 🙂
Tips? Practice training with a buddy AND on your own – you never know if you’ll have company on race day (or if randoms will want to partake in small talk while climbing uphill for 10kms!). Pack music and headphones for those dark mental moments. Don’t spend more than 5 mins at check point 28km and then just go. Walking is an option so don’t necessarily pull out if you can’t run anymore, I’m so glad that I didn’t now. Most people walk up that last 10kms anyway!
Kat – taped up but determined to see that finish line. Big tick!
Best bit? Standing at the UTA50 start line with the guys you’ve trained with is just awesome.
Key things I learnt? Practice, practice, practice. Practice with your kit, practice on trails, practice hills and stairs, and practice nutrition. It gives you confidence on the day. I also learnt that it’s ok to walk – it really is true that there is no point wasting energy trying to shuffle up the hill when you can walk it. Chances are you won’t go any faster and you’ll save energy for when you reach the top.
Race-day tips? Enjoy it. Stop and take in the scenery. It will hurt like hell in some parts but running buddies and supporters will get you through and it will feel like the best achievement to cross that finish line.
Was it worth it? Without a doubt, yes.
Kate – from ‘I can’t run’ to ‘like hell I can’t!’. Another notch on Kate’s fab running journey.
Can you tell I like talking about the race from how much I’ve written?!!
Race-day tips? Enjoy it – my attitude was that we’d semi-changed our lives to get to the start line of a race like this so race day’s the time to make sure you enjoy getting to the finish line. Smile and thank the marshalls and you’ll get so much more back. Love your supporters – if you’re lucky enough to have people who want to come and yell and cheer, look forward to seeing them and wave. Be amazed at yourself, savour the experience and you’ll love it. It doesn’t feel like it but the experience will be over before you know it so enjoy it whenever you can! Be prepared that on the day each person’s race is their own – you might have found your home ground while a friend hates it or (like me) you think you’ll run it with people and that doesn’t happen. I let that get in my head and I wouldn’t next time. Even if you’ve trained with someone, you need to be super honest with them and yourself how race day could go. Saying that I still haven’t made my peace with it.
What would I do differently? Be selfish in taper. Don’t agree to meet someone at the mall and then traipse around hurting your feet 24 hours before the race. I hopefully also wouldn’t stuff up at the checkpoints ever again. I didn’t refill at 41kms as I thought I had enough water and was getting weary of the weight on my back but really it was just that my brain had stopped working after all those km’s, Not filling nearly wrecked my race were it not for a lovely person sharing her water with me. It all worked out fine in the end but I know that really slowed me in the last 8 km’s as I couldn’t eat and that feels frustrating and daft.
Best bits? The post race glow is amazing. I just can’t believe I’ve done it. I think this race more than anything has given my confidence a massive boost – I ran 50kms, with steps and hills included. Anyone doing it should know that if you get through you have such a reason to be proud of yourself. Brings a tear to my eye thinking about it, I just can’t believe I’ve done it. And I think that’s a massive incentive for anyone considering a race like this. You learn you are strong.
Katherine – no flies on this girl’s ass. A focused but relaxed determination saw that she nailed it!
Training tips? If you miss one training session (ahem, impromptu Friday night drinks) don’t be too hard on yourself, just don’t do it again – only one miss allowed and you will feel so guilty you won’t do it again anyway!
Race-day tips? Ollie from Pace Athletic’s words rang through me and kept me calm – ‘you’ve got a job to do, go do it’. And my physio told me – don’t worry about being a weirdo on the track, sing out loud…. I was a weirdo the whole way round ……
What did I learn? I can’t handle blueberry and yoghurt muesli bars at 28km which came out in vom form 15 mins later!
Cookie – put the demons of pulling up 1km shy of a marathon finish line totally to rest with this speedy Gonzales pitch perfect performance.
Race day tips? Write a nutrition plan and stick to it where possible. March up hills and run everything that’s not uphill, even if it is just a few steps of flat in between. Just enjoy it!
Learnings? Doing long runs after 2 hours sleep and 16 gin and tonics is doable but not advisable.
Best bit? Getting just over the 40km mark and asking Jen if I was still alive. (I was.)
Manuela – kids, busy job, husband away from home, still made it look easy!
Training tips? Do lots of stairs and hills – thank you OzSquad for pushing this – that really helped!
Taper tips? Don’t panic if you get sick! Because I was sick the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday prior to the race I didn’t move much. I’m sure this actually helped me be completely rested on the day.
Race-day tips? Enjoy the challenge. Don’t worry about time and others but just focus on yourself and the surrounding. The UTA trails are really beautiful and there is lots to see and hear. I really noticed this. Have fun and a chat with fellow runners along the way. Listen to your body as well. Even though I had a rough nutrition plan I needed to adapt it along the way. I didn’t force myself to eat as I just couldn’t stomach any more food but kept drinking instead – water and tailwind.