Here is my race report from the 100 Miler at Glasshouse in Queensland Australia on 15 / 16 September. As many of you will know, the end result for me was a DNF at 132km, after 23.5 hours.
Still trying to come to terms with what went wrong, and it’s easy to come up with about 20 excuses, but in the end that’s all they are. On the day, I didn’t have it to get the160km done.
One thing that effected the outcome was that I had underestimated the toughness of the course, and while I had tried to find the more difficult training areas to run in near home in Perth like Walyunga and Eagle View they were nothing like the race course. I remember getting through a really difficult 10k section or so at the 50km mark and thinking that I had already done really well getting through that far, and still feeling strong. The only way I can describe Glasshouse is to think of the 6 Inch course for those that know it, multiply the distance by 3.5, but take that 200 metre down hill rutted section we all love, make it steeper and gnarlier, and then repeat it about 30 to 40 times throughout the race distance.
There were some parts of the race where things got a bit tough both physically and mentally, especially during a very technical stage between CP 6 and 5 at around 10pm at night at 90km in where at yet another super rutted hilly section it took me 25 minutes to pick my way through just one kilometer of distance.
When I got through that though, I had a really strong section from 96 to 108km where I felt really great…on more well manicured trails, without too much elevation change.
The day before the race at “Powerlines” with fellow West Australian Scott Hawker who won the 100km event in record time, and Chen from China. The clearing going up the hill looks a little benign in this photo, it turned out to be anything but.
In my mind I kept thinking of my coach’s advice to treat the first 108km back to the start / finish as a prelude for the real challenge which would come after that…and I knew the course was going to be flatter for that last 52km. Unfortunately I think I equated “flatter” with “easier”, and for the first part of the second half, it was indeed easier…though the legs were really starting to protest, especially the quads which obviously weren’t that happy with all the down hills I had thrown at them. I had taken some ibuprofen for the pain, but at the 120km mark a 700 metre climb up a steep hill called Wildhorse and then a turnaround at the top, to come down again, soon set them off again.
I was still mentally ok at this stage, however the next two sections threw something at me I just wasn’t expecting, and that was kilometers of soft sand. That certainly trashed the legs even more, and I started to do some calculations on the pace I needed to do to to make the cutoff, and I came to the conclusion, I probably wouldn’t make it. Looking back now in the calm light of day I think that if I had pushed on, just maybe I could have finished after all. But that is really easy to say now, and at 5am in the morning after 23.5 hours, I came to the conclusion that it would be better to pull out.
While I am obviously disappointed, there were a lot of positives out of the event as well. For one, I was really happy with how things went to 120km. I remember on the section after 100km thinking that I shouldn’t be feeling that good after what I had just been through. So the training program was certainly not the problem…maybe just where I trained.
Nutrition wise all was mostly good also until after the 108km mark, when I did start to get some nausea, but I think that just comes with the territory in ultras. I managed 30g of carbs very half hour right on the dot, and an s cap every hour.
Anyway this one didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to. Already my mind is thinking about the next one and redemption…but I think a lot of that is the post race mentality, and I have decided to not make any decisions on whether I have another crack at a 100 miler until the end of the year.
I have a road marathon at Rottnest in 5 weeks, a fatass recreation of the 1962 Empire Games Marathon in late November, and a trail 46km at 6 Inch just before Christmas, and am looking forward to these which from now on I will regard as “more comfortable” events…this last weekend I discovered what tough really is.
There are a heap of people I need to thank. They say ultra running is a solitary sport, but for me it certainly isn’t…there is no way I could have done this by myself. Firstly Sue my wife who not only agreed to spend a week of our holidays going to another race, but was awake for nearly 30 hours crewing for me, sitting out in the dark and cold at the various aid stations…that was an ultra effort in itself. Secondly to all my mates at NSRG, the world’s best running group; especially Rob Rob and Nigel who did so many of my training runs with me, and also Rob Fowler who now lives in Queensland and was at the start and on the course to cheer me on. I also need to thank Karen Hagen who joined me on a number of training runs including the night time one at Eagle View, definitely beyond the call of duty (have a great one at Centenial Park Karen!). Lastly thanks to all those who provided much needed messages of support before the race, and during the event on Facebook…it was a great help.