22 Jul 2018

2018 PACE UTA 22 Race Report by Andrew Crouch (Bib 2606)

Proud to share with you finishing the biggest and toughest 22km trail run event I’ve ever competed in, the PACE UTA 22.

In September 2017 I registered us for the event, booked our holiday, accommodation and then our UTA journey began.
My wife Chandalin and I drove the 1,300 km road trip from our hometown of Mount Gambier (in South Australia) to Katoomba and along the way got to see some beautiful places of this amazing country. We are lucky enough to be able to train at home around the trails of the Blue Lake, Valley Lake craters and up to the iconic Centenary Tower (190m elevation). Worth a look if you’re ever down our way.

We had an amazing 5 night stay at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains and I was in awe of the world class runners that we were staying there with us. Race day at the start line, and it was great to be in amongst the buzz and excitement of thousands of runners, I really fed off that positive energy. I joined in the vocal countdown to race start and then we were running. The Kedumba Pass downhill part of the course I ran at 5 minute pace for 8km and really enjoyed taking it all in.

Part of my race challenge was to hold back my pace on the downhill sections of the course, to save more energy for the challenging uphill stages. This is something I haven’t been disciplined enough to do in the past, but definitely felt I had better control of in this race. It was a nice change of pace after reaching Jamison Creek and a good chance to assess mind and body, just as the long elevation began. I’ll always remember running with fellow team mates Harry, Camron and Prue for the first 15kms of the course. We were all feeling pretty good at this stage of the race and all in sight of each other up to that point. Leura Forest was simply magic. I am both humbled by how tough the course was to get here but also in awe of how beautiful this part of the Blue Mountains is. Amazing. Getting up the Furber Steps was the final challenge after 21kms and it didn’t disappoint! I knew leg cramping could be a problem for me at this stage of the race but I was very aware of the symptoms to look out for. I had monitored my gel intake closely and kept my hydration intake up thankfully to the correct levels for my body. This was another personal challenge that had not gone to plan in the past and I wanted to get it right for this event.

There was no better feeling than reaching the top of the steps to hear bells ringing and the crowd cheering close by. I remember that really pumped me up and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face as I entered the final turn, every muscle aching but determined to cross the finish line! Hugs, tears and smiles with our team mates after the race, those are the moments I will cherish forever.I really felt the whole UTA package; everything from race check-in, the event expo, the race briefing, the shuttle bus rides, running in the PACE UTA 22 event, crewing the next day, the late night visits to checkpoints and cheering on other runners was all one big epic adventure that I’ll never forget.

Thank you to the UTA organising team, all the runners, sponsors and volunteers for putting on such an unforgettable event. It was a privilege to run in a world class event in the beautiful trails of the Blue Mountains. You’ve definitely made this trail runner a very happy man.

Two thumbs up, cheers Crouchy