Sandra’s Story:

On the 8th of December last year my friend Chrissy did her first 50km Ultra… on the 9th I asked her if she would do RiverRun100 50km event with me  … she didn’t hesitate. 

We planned and chatted for months prior. We trained as we could around our large families and other commitments, and trialed all the different nutrition to see what we felt best with. 

Chrissy uses the Galloway method and that’s not something I’ve done before. So it was a strange and exciting way to use a new way of running. Our overall average pace was quiet comfortable and it was so easy to adapt to. Lots of people thought we were crazy, I knew that we could do it. I wasn’t nervous at any stage and never doubted getting over that finish line. 

I’m an only child and don’t like doing things by myself. I say I’m a social runner, but really I just don’t do it alone. I love company and fun and my moral is Finish lines NOT Finish times!!

The first 25 km went absolutely to plan. A few kilometres were 10-20 sec faster than planned, but nothing too bad. We even ran a few extra ratios on the downhill to make an allowance for extra walk ratios to eat or pee. 

At 25 km I had a tight hamstring and slowed down a little as we had banked some time. Chrissy started getting really cold. She has MS and not being able to regulate her temperature is an issue. We started noticing that even in walking segments she had foot drop. The last thing I wanted was for her to face plant mid run. 

We had our amazing support friend Ali by our side for approx 35km. She made sure we knew that walking was ok, that our race was exactly that, Nobody else’s. I will forever remember her kind green heart. And she ended up doing 50.01km for no bling!!!

So much fun was had in that run. We had to weave around a tree that the decking was built around. Some delinquent had drawn a penis on the deck (that Chrissy jumped over bahaha) I ankle rolled on some exposed roots but didn’t fall!! And I even got hit in the head with a bunch of falling tree nuts!! And that’s just the PG bits lol….I’m sure people thought we were delirious… because, we were 🙂

I had so many friends on course. So many doing their first longer distance. Seeing them each lap and cheering/hugging/crying with them made this event immeasurable to me. The team spirit and support was second to none. 

My friend Leonie couldn’t sleep, so at 3:30 am she drove in and did a half marathon in support running. At 45 km we caught up with my friend Keryn carrying her You=Awesome sign. She came with us all the way to the start of the chute. I ALWAYS sprint the chute. I hear it’s call… and I pulled a top pace of 2:35 in that chute… on bleeding blistered feet!! The adrenaline of the chute is something I can’t explain for me. I feel nothing but pure joy and my finishers pic shows exactly that. 

We did it. 50km as a team, in our custom Ultra girls singlets and Runamok skirts. We looked the team we felt in our hearts. I will always have the memory of my first Ultra with a very dear friend. One who doesn’t allow an autoimmune disease define who she is as an athlete. 

Five minutes after finishing she asked me when’s the next one …. it took me 48 hours to say Absofreakinglutley!!

I am an Ultra Marathoner!

Chrissy’s story:

When Sandra asked me to join her for her first Ultra I had an immediate “Yes” jump out of my mouth. Who doesn’t love supporting friends to reach their goals? I find for me, I manage running using the Galloway Method, it works for me and Sandra was happy to adopt in order for us to complete this challenge together.

We organised training runs around work, kids, illnesses and everything that we do each day as a collective. We arrived at the start line and nerves were a plenty. I had a fear that my legs would give in, you see, I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and my legs are what can often remind me of this.

MS is a snowflake disease, and what one person suffers another may not. I had already completed on Ultra Marathon so I knew mentally I could do it, but running solo is different, you’ve only got yourself to let down.

The start of the event was all hype and off we went, to plan, without any issues. I even managed a half marathon PB on course. At 25km we started to notice that I was getting foot drop, and hamstrings were niggly. We slowed down a little and planned to be kind to our bodies in the hope it would help my feet settle and we could return to the plan.

As with anyone, race days change and plans have to adapt. I told Sandra that she could leave me behind, that I’d understand, but being the amazing person she is, she told me to “Shut Up, not letting anyone down, it’s Finish Lines not Finish Times”.

We continued and as it started to warm up again I was hopeful that my foot drop would ease. You see, I am one of what is believed to be rare in MS sufferers that I react worse to the cold weather rather than heat. I could not regulate my body temperature enough to get back into the rhythm, so we ran when we could and walked the rest. The finish chute was pure adrenaline.

Will I do another one, absolutely. Would I run with friends again, absolutely.

By Sandra Ehlers (RMA Community Ambassador)