So this is not as much a race report as notes to myself on what I did right and wrong to hit my target, so it’s going to be an epic! The big aim was sub 30, same as last year, the miracle time was 28:30 (always got to have a miracle time) and I beat them both! You can’t blag a miler; months of quality training beforehand are needed to hit your goal time. So with that in mind I tweaked my training program from last year’s disappointment. My training is worked around my family life and work responsibilities, to find a balance is tricky and it requires a very understanding partner, so massive props to Nicky for this.
Monday – Run to and from work (14k)
Tuesday – Hills + run to and from work (27k)
Wednesday – Cycle to and from work (14k) + Intervals (10k)
Thursday – Run to and from work (14k)
Friday – Cycle to and from work (14k)
Saturday – Long trail run somewhere between 30 and 50k
Sunday – Family day
My changes from last year were intervals instead of stairs and doing all my training at a higher intensity. Run’s to and from work where turned into tempo efforts rather than cruising, and my Saturday runs were long and not so slow (mainly due to the quality of my training partners rather than actual choice!). This obviously had the desired effect, so I think I will stick to this plan in future.
Training had gone really well, a few niggles, but no major injuries, my commute running was a couple of minutes quicker than in the past and my long runs were substantially quicker. I did the CP ultra 100 last year which was a mistake, leaving me tired and injured. This year I did the 50, hit a great time which included a 3:44 marathon, a 10 minute pb, and so gave me great confidence coming into the race.
After a pre-race pizza with Joe, Mike McG and Kath, I retired to my hotel room. Last year I wore ankle supports, which was a big mistake, as they tore apart the tops of my ankles which hurt like hell in the last 75 and really inhibited my climbing. No such mistake this year, I did some cautionary taping of them to help protect from rolling and then crashed out at about 9:30 getting pretty decent nights sleep until being awoken by my 3:45 alarm clock. Onwards to Teralba for cp bag drops, rego and weigh in (80.3kgs) and then it was just a matter of waiting till the race started at 6. Hugs all round to my fellow running friends, who I knew would all go well (and would probably be the last I see of them) and to the start line.
Joe and I had decided we run better together than apart so planned to stick it out until one of us wasn’t going to make sub 30. Last year I was looking for no quicker than 6 minute ks on the flats, this year 5.45s, plus however fast comfortable felt on the downhills. The first section has road and a bit of bush and some more road till you hit the servo station near Heaton’s gap about 15ks in.
We got here feeling good, but unsure of how we were going as hadn’t noted any benchmark from last year. The climb seemed pretty comfortable and we we’re running well within ourselves. There’s a tricky section that follows the climb through a rainforest. Easy to get lost, roll an ankle and is pretty slow. We’d discussed technical sections before and decided that we’d take them very easy as we knew there was plenty more runnable sections in the race which we could get the time back in, so we stuck to this plan. Here we met Kathryn Austin, she’s had some great podium results and was a name in the possible winners so were worried we’d gone out way too fast, but she assured us she wasn’t running to a fast time due to other races she’d done. Safely through the rainforest I’d totally forgotten about the brutal climb out, but we charged through and ran on to hit CP1 in 3:56, 10 minutes quicker than last year and 4 minutes ahead of schedule, pretty much perfect, a 2 minute refuel and we were off again.
Section 2 is probably the easiest section in the race, a bit of tricky trail, a bit of good trail and a load of road. We caught up with Jess Siegle on the trails, she told us she was looking for 31 or so hours, so we went past her and looked to kick on at the road. Usually the road into Congewai is a hot messy slug fest, this year it was a windy messy slugfest. I walked more of this than I expected as the wind was so strong in parts I felt I was wasting energy. Joe, an eminently better road runner than me headed off a couple of minutes in front. This was also a conscious move as I’m a bit stronger on the big climbs and we knew there was one coming up after this checkpoint. We made it to CP2 in 2:49, 13 mins quicker than last year and 11 mins ahead of schedule. 7 mins to do a gear check, weigh in and refuel then back out again.
Section 3 is probably the toughest section in the race, hottest part of the day, 2 tough climbs and plenty of smaller ones. Last year when I left here I was all over the show, unable to run I walked to the start of the communication tower climb. This year I was much better able to run the runnable parts and power up the climb. I met up with Joe at the top and we kicked on to the second climb. We death marched up the second climb and kicked on again knowing that we were heading towards the basin in daylight, which was a massive boost. At this point I cramped. I was running with something called hotshot, a drink of chilli and spices created by a noble winning neuroscientist to cure cramps, smashed it down, cramps went and then kicked on. The run into the basin is technical and again we’d decided to power walk in and out of here, knowing that there’s some good running later on. Here we saw Adrian and Tim heading back out, which was a welcome boost, and they were both looking great. We got to CP3 in 4:32, 30 mins quicker than last year and 28 mins ahead of schedule. 4 mins to refuel and have a quick chat with Dr Anne, and we were off again.
Section 4 kicks off with technical trail out of the basin, followed by a big climb up, once done there’s some good trail running to be had, followed by a long road section which climbs gradually for about 11k. I was running a bit slower than I thought I should be, I was worried we’d gone too hard in the first hundred, my legs were really feeling it and I was wishing I’d only entered the 100k. We got to CP4 in 3:24, 20 mins quicker than last year and 11 mins ahead of schedule. CP 4 was a hive of activity, with Nicky, Bex, Doug, Lou and countless others buzzing around. Matt and Ruth grabbed our bags and took them off for the gear check, filled up bottles, etc. I had decided to change shoes and socks here. I did the first hundred in Hokas and although being very comfortable and cushioned the toe box is a bit of a crush and my right little toe was looking pretty horrible with a massive blister on top. I lanced wiped and applied a compeed, put some anti-blister powder on my feet, fresh socks on and the new version of Altra Olympus with decent grip. The wide toe box was a blessed relief so leaves me wondering whether I should have worn them for the whole race. 15 minutes later we were out of there with Matt and Ruth leading the way.
After a few k’s into section 5 we got lost! Missed a discrete left hand turn and headed 1.5k down a massive hill. We hit a field and swiftly realised this was wrong so trudged back up to where we should have gone. 25 mins wasted, but not the end of the world, from now on Matt and Ruth would check the directions! Further on I realised a couple of things. 1 I’d forgotten to ask anyone to top up my bladder, and 2 more importantly I’d forgotten to reapply my sports slick. Fortunately I had a tiny glide on me, so I let the others go ahead and liberally applied to any sore areas. The section proved fairly uneventful we headed across dead horse creek without any problems, run the bits we could, walked the technical bits and arrived at CP5 5:30, 18mins quicker than last year, but 15 mins behind our target. I wasn’t worried as I knew without the misdirection we would have been ahead of target and I still felt like I had some running left in me. 7 minutes here and we were off.
Joe left cp5 a couple of minutes before me as Matt was faffing around, but there’s a good couple of k of road before you hit the bush again and we quickly caught Joe. I was feeling good and ran off ahead with Matt, waiting for Joe and Ruth at the trailhead. It was at this point that Joe said he was struggling and suggested I go off ahead without him. I gave it a bit of thought, and said I’d rather finish sub 30 with you than 30 mins quicker without. Plus there was plenty of time left to up the pace if it looked like sub 30 was slipping away. The technical descent that has caused me so much pain in previous years wasn’t too bad, I was able to move my legs at a reasonable cadence, and the big drops weren’t hurting too much. We reached the mooney mooney creek crossing and after a couple of minutes working out how to cross without getting wet, we hit the trail towards the next checkpoint. My little toe was starting to cause me issues again, and I knew I would need a few minutes treating it, so upped the pace to put a couple of minutes between me and Joe. Joe’s not one to get left behind if he can avoid it though and came belting back towards us. We hit CP6 in 2:47, 26 mins quicker than last year and 2 mins behind our target. I feel a quicker time in this section is definitely possible, but Joe was struggling so we didn’t push too hard on the technical trail. I spent 12 mins at this checkpoint, longer than I would normally, but I drained, dried and cleaned my little toe, reapplying compeed and a plaster on top for a bit more cushioning.
Joe had set out 5 mins earlier as he knew I was feeling stronger than him, and after leaving the checkpoint I faffed around with my bag putting things away (it was now daylight) and getting things out, so wasted a further 5 mins. It took a while to get my legs going again and it was fairly slow getting to the suspension bridge. I was still feeling strong for the climbs though, and we headed up towards the peaks, that are scattered along this section. This really is a beautiful section and the views are stunning, I made sure to look up occasionally and appreciate it. I was surprised that it took us almost an hour to catch up with Joe, but he told us that Ruth had been cracking the whip to get him running. I still had a surprising amount of running left in my legs and so we all worked together on keeping Joe going as quickly as he could. He really was very impressive, you could see the pain etched on his face for the last few hours, but he was pushing himself to the limit to keep up. We finally neared Patonga road, and got a big lift from Rossco cheering us on. Over the road, bit of trail then up to the trig and we were charging along. Over the trig we went and at the end of the single track down to the beach Matt did the Haka for us, which really gets the adrenalin going even if you’re not a kiwi. I was feeling strong and was determined to drag Joe with me so we kicked on over the beach. To the sound of ringing bells we grabbed the wives and kids and ran on to kiss the post marking the end of a fantastic journey. Last section done in 4:34 1 hour 36 mins quicker than last year and 41 mins quicker than our target, bringing us in at 28:23, BOOM!.