Travelling for an event had been on my radar and UTA has been my dream race for a while. As a dyed-in-the wool road runner I had been building my trail legs over the last 12 months in preparation for taking on the UTA22.
For the last three years I have watched the gorgeous photos and stories of this amazing race and this Brisbane girl just wanted to be part of it!
I trained pretty well – early mornings on Mt Cootha before work and Sunday morning long runs. But as the race got closer I managed to get sick and also rolled my ankle, so the last month was a bit of a test and I felt underdone.
My gorgeous RMA friends Nadia, Lyndall and myself flew into Sydney and road tripped up to the Blue Mountains the day before the race. Flat lays were done and we had a lovely dinner together the night before, praying to the weather Gods that it wouldn’t be too cold for these Sunshine state girls!
Race day dawned and the weather was perfect and we were off at about 10:30am. I knew that I would be on my own towards the back early on – but I loved the first views of the mountains as we headed down the 8kms into the valley. And down, and down and still more downhill – they weren’t kidding!
You do a little skip over the creek at the bottom and you realise that everything you heard was true – it’s all up from here. I will be brutally honest – I wasn’t ready for the constant climbing. There is zero reprieve – you just climb up and up and this is where is started to get a bit hairy for me.
I got about 11kms in and had a gel which automatically didn’t sit right – I felt sick to my stomach but with race brain firmly engaged I just kept going. I felt off – really off. My heart rate went through the roof and I started swaying. I took a moment to crouch and catch my breath before moving on. At about 12kms I met the lovely Kelly Wisdom – Volunteer RMA admin team member. I met her because she caught me when I passed out. Yep – I ended up on my butt on the dirt. I remember whinging that it was 12.8kms on my watch and the checkpoint was meant to be there! Kelly directed me into the middle of the track, concerned that I would fall off the side – which we agreed would make a great photo!
Over the next 30mins or so, Kelly waited, walked and partly carried me to the aid station for help. She was gracious- giving up time in her own race to help me. Unbeknownst to me, she contacted the rest of the RMA admin team who tracked me to the end of the race. I have met a few of them but honestly, most don’t know me from a bar of soap, but all had their eye on me, willing me on and concerned about my welfare.
Much to the concern of the medical staff, I headed off after my required 30mins with them. I’m pretty sure they were 100% certain that I would be back shortly having pulled the pin. Nope – I had flown all the way from Brisbane and knew how many people were tracking me from home and I wasn’t going all that way only to come home with nothing!! I remembered what I often say to my boys about grit. Sometimes you just have to keep working, and grinding and working. Some days it’s not easy but it is always worth it. With my pride a bit damaged and a perfectly timed message from my sister Naomi (also an RMA) that I got while I was sitting at the medical tent I was off with my eyes firmly on the Furber steps.
More climbing and then a gorgeous run – yes I ran again for about 4kms through the forest which was so perfect I expected fairies to pop out – I hit the stairs. Ladies…they aren’t kidding…those 951 stairs are the worst things I have done. You can hear the bells and cheering from the finish line from halfway up, and the sheer agony of wanting to be over pushed me up each one of those stairs. I wanted to call my hubby and kids and tell them I made it and I wanted my Mum to stop texting me and asking if I was finished yet!! My phone started blowing up close to the top of the stairs with my siblings and friends who were tracking me. Two of them who had waved me off at the start were standing at the finish over two hours after they finished!! That finish line was WORTH IT!
It took longer than I expected – I didn’t anticipate fainting but I got to demonstrate to my kids what grit means. I got to tell them the story of selfless women who cared and came to my aid and I got to tell them about friends who put others before themselves and have ice cold coke waiting at the finish line.
The first thing I said when I saw Nadia and Lyndall at the finish line was ‘I am never EVER doing that again!’
It took exactly 4 days for our accomodation to be booked again for next year. Look out for it ladies…I am after a bit of redemption!!
A huge thank you to Kelly and the RMA team who checked in on me! I ran into Kelly the next day and got to thank her in person. She said I smelt A LOT better than last time she saw me!!