Ultra-Trail Australia 100k Race Report – May 2016

Pre-Race Prep

I’d done Motatapu in early March and after a trip back to Ireland in March, which included the Wicklow Way 51k, my training was 3/4 days a week. Mount Solitary four weeks previous with a good PB. I decided I wanted to try and enjoy the race as much as I could and not put much pressure on myself, I did this last year for this race and it worked out well. My aim was for 13- 14hrs and I carried a printout as a guide of how long it should take to get to each checkpoint based on these finish times, my maths is terrible so I usually need something so that I have an idea of how I’m going without having to do calculations in my head.

Race Day:

Up at 5.30, had muesli & yogurt and headed to the start line. I was in Start Group 2 so it was a start time of 6.25am. Started with 8 Salted Caramel Gu’s in my pack, 1L of water and two empty 600ml bottles at the front. My plan for nutrition was a gel an hour and some food from the CP’s.

Wave 2 Starters - Image thanks to Robyn Bruins
Wave 2 Starters – Image thanks to Robyn Bruins
Chocco pre-race  - Image thanks to Laura Cameron
Chocco pre-race – Image thanks to Laura Cameron

Start to CP1 Narrow Neck (Distance 11.5k – Expected Time – 1:10–1:16) Actual Time 1:16

Rocco & I started out near the front of the group with Geoff leading the way.

On the Geoff Train!
On the Geoff Train! – Image thanks to Robyn Bruins

I was slightly worried when I realised my legs were hurting a little on the road section at the start! I really enjoy the out and back and cheered on everyone that went by. Lots of support along the way from the guys that were on the way back & Andrew Lovett! I made a conscious effort to pass people early so as not to get as frustrated as I had on the Landslide as I did last year – worked well. Worked hard on the Golden Staircase and probably felt that I was pushing a bit hard, oops. Filled up both front bottles – I knew I only needed one but planned to use the other to pour over my head to keep my temperature down when it was getting hot.

CP1 to CP2 Dunphy’s Camp (Distance 20.2k (31.6k Total) – Expected Time – 1:59-2:08) Actual Time 2:00

I was a bit disappointed that I had pushed hard to CP1 and I hadn’t really made up much time but got over it fairly quick. Realised it was now 1:20 and I hadn’t had any fuel so had a gel. The run along Narrow Neck seemed longer, last year I chatted to loads of people along there this year everyone was a bit quieter! Rocco caught up and we noticed an NRG t-shirt not far in front and figured out it was Doug ☹. I decided to go down Tarros Ladders. Geoff, Rocco & Doug were all there at the same time too. After the ladders Rocco took off, Geoff & I ran close together for most of the technical down and lots of the fire trail on the way to Dunphy’s. I caught up to Rocco not long before the turnoff to Dunphy’s and we ran to the checkpoint together. Mick McGrath was at the CP and I quickly filled up my two front bottles and took off. Melissa Robertson was sitting at the CP.

CP2 to CP3 Six Foot (Distance 14.4k (46k Total) – Expected Time – 1:50-1:59) Actual Time 1:42

I’d forgotten about how hard the climb to Ironpot was but the views were lovely. I didn’t really see many people along the section before Ironpot. I met Dani as she was turning down for the descent off Ironpot just as I was heading out towards the out & back and Tim not long after. I love hearing the didgeridoo along the top. When I was on the way back I seen Rocco & Geoff. The descent off Ironpot is so steep, as usual I clung onto trees as I went! Once I came off the private land I had a good idea of what was to come because we had done a training run a few weeks previous. I felt ok on the road section, apart from a weird pain on the inside of my right ankle which I had been ignoring for a while! I always enjoy running into CP3. A quick mandatory gear check (head torch & waterproof jacket) and a massive cheer from NRGer’s ☺. I saw Dani when I was on my way to the drop bag tent. Tthe lady couldn’t find my drop bag (argh! – and she was also moving in a leisurely fashion!) so I ran out and filled the bottles I had with water, while I was doing that the lady had found my bag and brought it out, I grabbed some jelly beans from it and off I went. Time in Checkpoint: 1 minute.

CP3 to CP4 Aquatic Centre (Distance 11.3k (57.3k Total) – Expected Time – 1:32-1:39) Actual Time 1:24

While scoffing down my jelly beans I realised that in the commotion I’d forgotten to take the 2 gels I was supposed to take out of my drop bag, after a moment of blind panic I checked my side pockets and realised I still had two left, phew! I always get excited when I leave this checkpoint because I know I will get to see James at the next stop. The flat section before getting to the trail leading to Nellie’s Glen was a lot longer than I remembered. As I passed the 50k marker I did a self-check and noted that I was feeling good (although still ignoring that ankle thing that was going on). It was getting warm and I was using some of my water to pour over my head every now and again. The trail that leads to Nellie’s Glen stairs was fairly slow going and I opted to power walk instead of running. I dropped some F bombs as I climbed the stairs but told myself to harden up when I passed a girl that was struggling a bit more than me. It’s always a relief to get that done. At the top some lady asked if she could take a photo of me so posed away and headed off. I ran into the CP and was so happy to see James and the supporters. A quick swap of bottles (1 water, 1 powerade) and I was off out the door with Alan Burton (and some watermelon & a honey sandwich). Time in Checkpoint: 1minute.

CP4 to CP5 Queen Vic Hospital (Distance 21.1k (78.4k Total) – Expected Time – 3:10-3:24) Actual Time 2:46

Alan & I ran together through Echo Point (got lots of cheers from tourists here ☺) until the Giant Staircase. Once I hit the staircase I decided to push hard and get down them as quick as I could while clinging to the railings. All was good with the world until I hit a rough patch in Leura Forest (I was kindly reminded by a guy I’d overtaken on the stairs that I’d pushed too hard on the descent – thanks pal!). My head started to feel fussy, I did a self-check and noted that I’d eaten and was drinking enough so perhaps it was the heat or the horrific ups and downs on the stairs, I must have blanked this bit of the course out of my mind. I felt like I couldn’t get any momentum and any time I started running the course would get technical and I’d have to walk. I spent most of the time telling myself that I should run then feeling guilty for walking. I was convincing myself that I could finish and allowing myself to think that if I was still feeling woozy at the water stop that I could have a sit down/find a medic. I got to 66k and the water stop wasn’t there, huh?! I continued on and eventually got to the road. Not far along the road I seen Matt Cherri, I was so happy to see someone I knew that I nearly cried. Seeing Matt really ligted my spirits and by the time I got to the new water stop at the Fairmont I was feeling better. Robyn was there and it was great to see her, I filled up my bottles and jumped under a water hose to cool me down and I skipped off feeling happy out. Just after Conservation Hut I passed Michael Dalgarno. Sam was at the carpark before Wentworth Falls and ran along with me for a few hundred metres, I asked where I was placing and he said 8th (someone had told me this before I seen Sam but I wanted to double check) I was delighted with that and made my way to Wentworth Falls, where I dipped my visor in the water as I went by. I ran along behind two guys until the road and felt ok as I made my way into the checkpoint. I ran in to collect my drop bag and asked if the fleece was required Danny said no. I removed my used gel packets from my race pack and put them in the bag. I brought my bag over to the stand where James and all the other awesome supporters were (except for Chris who told me I was sweaty, don’t worry I told him to f^*~ off ha ha). Before I got into the checkpoint I’d decided I would empty my shoes and socks of the dirt I’d collected along the way. James put my gels in my pack, I swapped my empty bottles for full ones (1 water, 1 powerade) and I grabbed my ipod and I was ready to go with a fruit bun in hand.

CP5 to Finish (Distance 21.6k (100k Total) – Expected Time – 3:16-3:31) Actual Time 3:04

Leaving CP5
Leaving CP5 – Image thanks to Ultra-Trail Australia

I ran along and ate the butter off the fruit bun then chucked it. A quick wee in the bushes and the long descent started. Somewhere along the descent I looked down at my watch and it said 9hrs 36mins, from my little printout I knew it would be about 3hrs 30mins for the last section. That gave me an estimate of just over 13hrs, I remember thinking how awesome it’d be to scrape in under 13hrs. The descent seemed to go on forever but I didn’t really mind the down (it meant less uphill). I started to see some of the 50k’ers and said hi to them all and asked how they were going, this kept my mind occupied. The climbing started from Jamison Creek and I knew I just had to grind away and power walk. I remembered that this time last year I had the head torch on already so I was very happy to do more of the course in daylight. Somewhere along the way Doug went by in a jeep and shouted “Go Chantelle” out the window, this took me by surprise and I shouted “Go Doug”, what a tool I am! Not long after this I hit the 91k aid station, the lovely volunteer grabbed my bottle and filled my water and as I was leaving he told me he thought I was the 4th lady, I said “no way” so he said he’d check on the computer, I told him not to bother and ran off, he shouted after me that I was 4th. WTF, how did that happen! It didn’t change how I ran the rest of the race but it was nice to know ☺ Again I powerwalked the hills (no ipod needed this year) and put on my head torch. It was so surprised to see the sewerage treatment works a lot earlier than I was expecting. Leura Forest is always a difficult section for me, the legs are tired and you’re so close to the end (but yet SO far). The 50k runners were awesome, most gave good wishes as I passed & they all moved aside and let people that were still attempting a run go past. I got a bit confused as to why there were 100k runners running towards me (and had a mini panic that I was going the wrong way), I shouted “why are the 100k runners going that way?”, then I heard “Chantelle, is that you? It’s Alison”, I had a little giggle at the fact that it was someone I knew. She said they were coming through the forest for the first time. There were lots of photos being taken on this section. When I looked up I could see headlights very high up, argh! Eventually I got to the Furber steps and told the volunteer that I was never so happy to see Furber. I motored away up the stairs and ignored the pain in my legs. I started to run once I seen the boardwalk and turned into the finishing chute. The cheers were AMAZING and I loved it. I crossed the line and was so overwhelmed by the time on the clock – 12hrs 18mins. James came over and gave me a hug, I had a little cry (standard for me when I finish a race) and someone threw a big warm blanket over me.

2016 Podium
2016 Podium – Image thanks to Robyn Bruins
After the presentation
After the presentation

Post-Race Thoughts/Lessons Learned

  • Trust in my training!
  • I carried enough water (using the water from my bladder only from the start to CP1 & when it was too difficult to drink out of the bottles meant I didn’t have to refill it – I had a little bit left in my pack at the end).
  • Having 1 powerade at each CP is a welcome change from water.
  • My nutrition was all good and it worked out well that I had the gels at 20 past the hr because it seemed to precede a hill which was handy.
  • It was a good idea to remove the dirt from my shoes and socks at CP5.
  • I need to put more strapping tape on my back – I got chaffing again.
  • My Checkpoints were much better this year. Less is more!