So it all began in January when I saw a post on the RMA facebook page for this event in Margaret River. I thought to myself I want to do this event but I need to convince a few more people to join me in the team.
I immediately started recruiting. I gathered the troops and I convinced them all “it would be fun” Fun they said looking rather perplexed!!
Margaret River is a 3 1/2 hr drive from Perth. We had to book accommodation and put a support team together. We ended up with 8 mothers going on a girls weekend with a bit of running thrown in there.
The time came for us to leave. All 8 of us got our houses in order. Children kissed and farewelled. Husbands were elected Chief schedulers for the weekend and we were off.
Friday night there was nervous anticipation in the house. I was like a duck, calm on the exterior crapping myself inside. I got all our gear sorted. Mandatory gear and required gear. I told the girls I would sort it all. I had the maps of each check point printed and in an old fashion file. 3 of these girls had never participated in any running event before let alone an ultra. I had done plenty of road events but this was my first ultra. I wanted this to be an amazing experience for everyone and so I wanted it to run smoothly.
5am Saturday morning – race day. I didn’t sleep well I woke every hour as I was scared I would sleep through my alarm. We were all up early and we all were very quiet with nervous anticipation.
We left the house at 6am to get to the start line for 7am. We got there with about 5 minutes to spare and I was again like a duck, calm on the outside frantic on the inside.
Our first rumma took off. She looked strong and she ran strong.
We headed off to the 2nd check point to get our second runner ready to go. We were driving for what seemed like ages and I knew something was wrong. Then I realised we were heading to check point 2 which was the 28km mark not checkpoint 1 which was the 11km mark.
We turned around and headed back to the correct spot. I was actually panicking this time as I was worried our first rumma would finish and we would not be there to cheer her over the line. None of us care much about our time, only to finish and enjoy the accomplishment.
We got to the changeover and waited for rumma 1. She came charging in with a huge grin on her face, her sense of achievement was written all over her face. I was so bloody proud at that moment things were falling into place. We swapped out the gear and quick photograph and rumma 2 was off on her leg. I had absolute confidence in her abilities – she is an amazing runner but she had never run 18kms before. She left with a smile and looked so strong heading out.
We headed to check point 2 where I would start my run. I was in full duck mode. Calm on the exterior freaking out myself on the interior. Leg 3 was all that people were talking about. Sand, elevations, rocks, it was deemed the hardest leg of the race and I actually nominated to do that leg!
Solo runners were coming in and we were cheering them on. They had 30kms on me so I thought I would be ok. Rumma 2 arrived quicker than I thought. She finished strong and the sense of pride and achievement was written all over her smile. I got so much confidence seeing her come in so strong. We had a quick photo and off I went. I went out strong. My head was telling me this is going to be just fine ‘you’ve got this’.
I headed out onto the tracks. Legs felt good, it was cool and not too windy. About 1km in I saw a solo runner coming into the checkpoint fall over right in front of me. I instinctively rushed over to her. I could see she had hurt herself but she wasn’t talking to any of us. After a couple of minutes I put my mum voice on and said to her “do you want our help or not?” She said she was fine but she wasn’t getting up. I then saw another friend running in and she told me to go and she would carry this woman to the checkpoint. Off I went. The hills were relentless early in the run and I had no comprehension of what I was undertaking.
After lots of red dirt tracks we went through some vegetation near the beach. I could smell the ocean and the sound of the waves was getting louder. I didn’t know if we were hitting the beach soon or not. I understood the beach running was at the end of the leg so I kept going. It was very sudden that we popped out of the bushes and had the most spectacular view right in front of us. I could see runners ahead of me running over massive rock formations and the waves were crashing behind it creating a spectacular picture that also had an element of danger that made me realise I need to have my wits about me over these rocks. I kept following the pink markers that were on the tracks. They became my focus, each one I spotted meant I was closer to the finish line.
I was beginning to fatigue in my legs and at the 10km mark I got a gel down and it was really quick to kick in. I started feeling good again but then it started. The sand. I knew I had a bit to cover, and I had trained on sand but it was game on at this stage. The first stretch of sand I ran the whole way. I was light in the sand and I felt great. I got up off the beach and thought that can’t be it, that was about 1km of sand. I got through more bush trails then I saw it – the sand part. It was so long I could not see the ending. I saw that everyone on the beach was walking and some of the solo runners were sitting in the dunes getting their heads sorted and their legs rested. I started running in the sand but I felt much heavier and slow in this sand. It was soft and dry. About half way though this section the rain came. It came hard and fast and the wind was terrible. I was stressing about the 4th rumma as she had a 20km leg and it was pouring with rain and the wind was horrendous. I had to dig deep at this point as the sand was never ending. It just kept going and going. I kept thinking why I am doing this? and it all came back to my children. I thought about each of my children’s qualities and what they would say to me if they were right there. That kept me going. I was struggling at this point but knowing I had the rest of my team waiting for me at the check point and my children’s words of encouragement in my head – I just kept going. The thing I realised right there and then is even if I gave up you couldn’t quit you had to keep going – no one was coming to get you.
The last part of the leg seemed to go on and on. I was getting annoyed as I thought I was close to finishing to only have another leg of sand then more bush trails. I was about to run past a solo runner but I slowed and spoke with him. He was starting to have self-doubt creep in and so I gave him some encouraging words and told him that he is not giving up, I’ll l see you at the finish line. He became very determined to get to the checkpoint and keep going.
Finally I could hear the crowd at the check point I could smell the finish line for my leg. I popped out on a concrete path and I could really feel it in my feet. I saw my support crew and they were cheering me so loudly I was so humbled by that experience. I still had a short run to do and yes I had more sand to run on but I felt like I had won the lotto – it was the best feeling seeing rumma 4 primed and ready to go. Quick photo and then off she went. It was still windy but no rain, so I prayed it would stay dry for her.
We had to have our own cups at the check point and I needed some tailwind so the only cup we could find in our bag was a wine glass, so I celebrated my leg with a glass of tailwind (or 2 ) as I had finished! I had completed what I set out to do. We went to the 4th checkpoint and our final rumma was ready to go. Rumma 4 came in so strong and full of life it was awesome to see such a strong finish. Finally our last rumma set off and she looked focused and ready.
We went to the finish line at Cheeky Monkey’s Brewery and team 50 Shades of Trained crossed the finish line in 10hrs and 1 minute. When we started we were a team of rummas only now we knew ‘we had this’.