2016 Blue Mountains
After watching friends complete in the Northface over the past couple of years, this was a race I had to do. I love trails, running through the Australian bush always makes me feel so free. When I saw that the newly named Ultratrail Australia was taking entries late 2015, I was in. training began at Crackenback along the trails to Thredbo and I was loving every minute of the dirt.
Six weeks out from UTA, I tore my left calf and was told to stop all activities, it was painful not being able to run but if I hadn’t listened to both my physio and my body, last Saturday would have been just a dream. Running again was slow and getting out the door for a 2km run was so different to what I was used to but it paid off. My longest training run was 30km in January so I was doubtful that the race would be anything close to easy.
The week before the race my husband prepared me with an amazing workout schedule, that was perfect. Lots of step ups, bike, our very bizarre looking treadmill sessions and some easy trail runs near our home. I couldn’t have asked for better support in that last week and am so thankful for his assistance. There was so much self doubt during that time I needed to really stop questioning what was about to happen and enjoy the journey.
The Blue Mountains were everything and more, AROC are incredible in there structure for the race, it couldn’t have been a better setup. It was spectacular, the crowds at the start line were buzzing so the atmosphere was electric. We were in wave 5, the very last and most congested start group but with having the thought of going out to enjoy rather than race, it was perfect for us. We went out with the crowd along the road to start for around 5kms before hitting the trails and they didn’t disappoint. What an amazing location to take your mind off any niggles that your body has. The views were breathtaking and the trails were challenging, when we reached the first flight of stairs, thankfully we went down these, it was very congested and slow moving but we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. Running through waterfalls and over river crossings really made me realise that I have truly found my favourite type of running. I am so blessed to have been able to do this.
At the Fairmount resort I declared to my niece who I encouraged to do the run with me, that I couldn’t wait until next year, to do all this again. we weren’t even at the 20km mark by that stage.
After the 28km water and fuel stop, we hit fire road, it was steep and relentless. This to me was by far the most difficult part of the entire race. It was hard on our bodies and if I was going it alone, I might have tried to pull out there. We kept encouraging each other and made it through, then the first men in the 100km event came streaking past us. This was so inspirational, we could conquer anything after seeing these athletes.
This fed into my favourite part, beautiful tree covered trail that was smooth and flowy, I could run there all day. It was like there was no one around you, you felt free and like a child. Pure bliss.
With less than 2km to go we reached the Furber Steps. They are 951 steep steps of glute burning goodness. The last hurrah in an amazing event. This section took us 20 minutes before hitting the boardwalk to the finish line.
In all we crossed the finish in 8hours32 minutes on the clock and I would do it all again tomorrow. Realistically I don’t think I’ll be able to run again tomorrow but as soon as I can, I’m back out on the trails, while training for GCAM and Coastal Classic. Will be doing the UTA 50 again next May and you never know, I might have a 100km in me eventually too.