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UTA100 Contender Profile - Sally McRae

21 Apr 2017

Sally McRae AKA The Yellow Runner has been setting a standard for all trail runners to follow since getting involved in the sport. She is a multiple finisher of the Western States 100 and has a list of super impressive results. But Sally, is far more then just a fast trail runner, she embodies the traits of a true trail runner with a laugh that can be heard from Sydney to The Blue Mountains, an authentic approach and a LOT of consistent, positive energy. Here we take a moment to speak with one of UTA100’s brightest contenders for 2017.

Did running become a part of your life because of its benefits for physical health, mental sanity or other reasons?
Running became a part of my life because I simply loved it! I started racing when I was 7 years, but was also playing soccer at the time. I liked the idea of running after a ball much better than just running, so I pursued my dream of becoming a professional soccer player at a young age. I then approached running as a way to stay in shape and to be a better competitor in soccer. In secondary school, I played soccer and track and field. I was a sprinter and always felt anything longer than a 200M event was pure torture...funny to think I'm now a pro ultra runner with 100 miles being my favourite distance! 

What is it about UTA that attracted you to come and be a part of the event?
The chance to explore Australia's mountains and the very obvious awesome local trail running crews! 

What personal values are important to you?
Is this a trick question or maybe a Dating App question? Ha Ha. Personal values: Love, Faith, and Courage. 

What do you do to reward yourself after training well?
My reward after training well, is that I then get to train harder. =) 

How do you improve your mental toughness for ultra running?
Each week, I choose a few workouts where I will train in an uncomfortable state- I use sauna suits, 20lb weight vests, 3-4 layers of clothing, particularly gruelling courses, or intense heavy lifting & plyometrics between Mile Repeats. During the workout I practice staying positive and pushing myself to still work hard regardless of how I feel. To stay motivated during the workout, I envision the race I'm training for and pushing my body to be "unstoppable". They're not my favourite workouts, but they have helped tremendously over the years to finish strong in races where I had very challenging physical and mental obstacles. I also feel, my journey in life, from the time I was a child, has helped prepare my heart and mind for the many challenges I face in training and racing. I grew up quickly as a child; started working young, and learned how to troubleshoot any situation that came my way. Nothing has ever been handed to me and I've worked very hard for everything in my life. I still believe I have very little athletic talent, but I do know how to outwork most people and my mental toughness has led me to many triumphant situations. 

What are your top tips for descending with minimal falling?
Descending is one of my strongest traits in trail running and I feel like a complete kid when I'm running downhill; I love it! I'm asked this question quite often and I always encourage people to simply "let go" on the downhills. If you run like a child, fearlessly, then you will fall less. As far as the technical side goes, engage your core, throw your arms out to your sides and as much as possible get your feet under your body and not reaching out front (the is where people hurt the ITBand...overstriding) Move your feet quickly and lightly and every now and then let out a loud,  "Wooooooooooo-Hoooooooooo!"

What motivates you to be a top tier athlete and put in the extra work?

For as long as I remember, I've loved competing and I like pushing myself to be the best in everything I do. I'm a strong believer in working whole-heartedly in whatever you're passionate about and so it goes with trail running. If I've been given the chance to run professionally, then I'm going to do it the best I possibly can and I will commit to whatever it takes to better myself every season. I feel this is a responsibility we all have- to be our best. Being a top tier athlete is fun! I love competition, but I also love the opportunities it's allowed me; I've traveled the world; met thousands of incredible people; and experienced things I may have never experienced. I love it and I am very grateful for everything that comes with it.

What is a hobby you have a real passion for?
Writing. I have stacks of journals and I have been working on a book for a very long time. I am working toward finishing it hopefully one day soon!

When you really need a mental pick up in a race, what do you do?

Pray. All my strength and all my joy comes from the One who created me; so who better to talk to, than God who knows me inside and out. He's not a genie, so I wouldn't say, I'm instantly reenergised and suddenly running at top speed, but I always find peace and re-focus. I remember who I am; what I'm doing and why and because of that, I'm able to keep pushing.

Do you have any race day superstitions or rituals?

No superstitions, but I do have a fairly structured pre-race routine which really just helps me calm my nerves. I'm always nervous before a race and having a good warm-up, good music, and hugs from friends is just what I need! 

Ahead of UTA when will your final major training session be scheduled and what will it be?
For a 100k, my last grueling, longer session will be 10-12 days out from race day. I like to do a long day in the mountains with massive amounts of climbing- my happy place. 

On the morning of UTA what will be your pre race warm up?
Fairly basic dynamic stretches, strides, and about 19 trips to the bathroom. Ha ha! 

What will you use for nutrition and hydration during UTA?
Spring Energy! It's all natural food in small packets; I also use their electrolyte. It's incredible; real food; real fuel. 

What would your dream result be, if everything went perfectly?

First Place. 

What is the most useful piece of racing advice you have been given?
Eat more pie. 

For people finding UTA tough and considering pulling out, what advice do you have, to help convince them to continue?
Don't make pulling out an option. It's not an option; if you signed up for it; then expect it to be hard, merciless, and insanely challenging. You CAN complete the race...don't give up. (obviously if you got a massive injury or require medical attention then please take care of yourself, but otherwise- be courageous...You Got This!

What would be worst? Getting beaten by someone dressed in a sumo suit, DNFing, or being attacked by a drop bear on race day?
Depends on WHO is wearing the Sumo Suit, DNFing is not an option, and what the heck is a Drop Bear? LOL! 

The night after UTA will you sleep with any midnight snacks next to your bed? such as a pizza, block of chocolate, baked potato?
I'm laughing at this question. Do YOU sleep with a baked potato? Ha ha ha! Actually who is even conscious enough to get up for a midnight snack after UTA? ha ha ha ha!! 

If someone sees you during the race, what is the best thing they can shout out to spur you on?
Hmmm...a few things will motivate me, "C'mon Sally, I'll buy you pie at the Finish line!" or  simply "You Got This Sally!!" he he!