31 Jul 2018

As a long-suffering ultra-marathon wife, I have been to many finish lines. Last year, while standing at the UTA100 finish, freezing, I thought ‘I would be warmer if I was running’. And the UTA dream was born. Next thing, personal training started, gear was purchased, playlists compiled, Strava was joined....there was no backing out.
After tips and last minute gear purchasing from Hanny Allston at the Expo, I was pumped. Farewelled my husband in start group 1 and waited 30mins to start group 3.

Giant Stairway: I have never concentrated so much in my life (trying not to picture the carnage if I slipped and created a human landslide). I reached the bottom, feeling great, forgetting the 2 million stairs that awaited me. Oh, a photographer up ahead. I always wanted a nice photo of me running. Smile, breath in, look at the camera.... Crash!!! Other than grazed hands & wounded ego, I was ok.

Rookie error #1 Check point 1: ran like a well-oiled machine thanks to the angels (volunteers). Continued with 2 girls running their first UTA & an older bloke who had run many. We discussed goal finishing times. Ol’ mate told me if I want to make my time, I need to move up the stairs quicker. Brutal.
As I exited onto the road at Wentworth falls, a sign in the distance said ‘RUN FAST MUMMY’. My kids! Ringing their cow bells as loud as their little hands possibly could. Awesome.Checkpoint 2: dreaming of real food (totally sick of bars & gels!). My husband had told me 5000 times ‘DON'T CONSUME ANYTHING DURING THE RACE THAT YOU HAVEN'T TRIED IN TRAINING! So I ate lots of watermelon, (works for Lucy Bartholomew, right?!). Kedumba Vomitfest.

Rookie error #2. Crossed Jamieson Creek: 36km done, I’m almost at the finish.

Rookie error #3 (for those unaware, it’s a LONG way from the finish line). I started the long, steep, long, did I mention steep climb to Leura Forest. Got a glimpse of where we needed to get to. Seemed like another country. The next 2 hours were tough. But I was in good company, everyone around me had checked into Hotel Hurt. Hooray! I spotted the sign to Leura Forest. Tough part over.

Rookie error #4Never ending path to the base of hell (Furber steps): only made slightly entertaining when I spotted a bloke running in the wrong direction. I thought I would show him the correct way, then realised it was Brendan Davies running the UTA100 (who went onto win). Suddenly I heard the crowd at the finish line. Amazing! My pace increased, quad cramp, pace decreased, heard the cow bells, pace increased, another vomit, pace decreased. All the way to Furber. Finally I saw the base of the stairs and I thought ‘I made it’.

Rookie error #5. Decided to count the stairs to distract my brain from the pain. That worked until my fried brain reminded me that there are 951 stairs- save the oxygen! Next thought: Chocolate!! I still had a KitKat in my pack. So out it came, half in each hand (my husband has since reminded me that my hands may have been better used pulling myself up Furber rather than holding KitKats!!).

I pushed myself to the limit going up Furber, slowly climbing thanks to the encouragement of strangers. Had flashbacks of childbirth, thinking ‘Never again.....NEVER AGAIN!!!!!’. Then I heard 6 magical words:.....’these. are. the. last. five. steps’, followed by the legendary commentators announce my name, first time reality hit that I was actually going to do this. Proud as a peacock, I stood tall, with absolutely nothing left in the tank and with my kids on each side of me, I ran over that finish line in 7 hours & 4 mins. And just like childbirth, as brutal as it was, I can’t wait to do it all again.