Category: Trail Events
Well, I made the start line! A little undercooked but I made it! I was told 20% of entrants don't make the start and then another 20% that start don't make the finish. The odds weren't in my favour but I didn't care. I just wanted to run and see how far I could go.
Standing on the start line was the most surreal experience do date. It was like lining up for my first marathon, many years ago. The fear of the unknown but the sheer excitement of the challenge ahead were all consuming. Weirdly, when the gun fired the only thought going through my head was "I've got this, I've totally got this".
Through the start chute I settled into an easy pace and started chatting with runners around me. The first few kilometres were all on road and since I started in Group B I could see the elites of Group A already on their way back from the first section and man were they moving. How anyone can hold that pace for 100km is beyond me!
About 5km in I hit the first descent down Furber Steps. All I could think about was I'm going to climb these again at 99km. Bloody hell!!! Next up was a beautiful single trail along the mid part of a cliff. There was a bit of congestion through there but it did make for a good photo opportunity before the climb up the Golden Stairs to CP1 at Narrow Neck.
From CP1/11.4km it was mostly an open fire trail along the ridge which opened up some spectacular views. This was an absolute feast for the eyes. Around the 22km mark I hit the Tarros Ladders, which was awesome. Legs were feeling great at this point so I thought I might pick up the pace a little once I climb down the ladders.
The next section was mostly fire trail and easy single trail. I picked up the pace until 31.6km CP2 at Dunphy's Camp. I needed a quick stop to clear some pesky pebbles out of my shoes before pressing on.
Leaving CP2/31.6km was mostly open fire trail again which was a little boring but that changed with the climb up Iron Pot mountain. The climb was steep but incredibly beautiful. At the top was a couple Aboriginals playing native music on a didgeridoo which was awesome. At the bottom of the mountain it was back onto fire trail for a good stretch before hitting CP3 at Six Foot Track.
CP3/46km was the first time I saw my support crew (a.k.a. dad & mum) and they were both so excited to see me. This was officially the furthest distance I had run and I was still feeling really good. Mum walked me over to where they were set up and helped me with supplies for the next stretch. I sat down for a few minutes to catch my breath and scoff a packet of chips before heading off again.
Heading for CP4 we made our way along Megalong Valley and up the Six Foot Track past the 50km sign. This was mostly fire trail until it veered off onto the stairs at Nellies Glen. Holy feakin hell these stairs broke me! They just kept climbing and climbing. A couple times I had to stop and hold a tree and just rest. I was literally trashed but thankfully it brought on a bout of delirious giggling which helped me push on. I was so thankful to finally see the top of those damn stairs and the 400m of vert I just climbed. It was now roughly 4km from CP4 so I kept up as much pace as I could to reach it.
Arriving at CP4/57.3km I was absolutely trashed and my face told the story. Dad and Mum had a bit of a giggle to themselves and quickly passed me some pretzels, which really helped. I was so happy to stop for a minute and regroup. I glanced to my left and saw a jug of Coke and a gatekeeper in front demanding you had your own cup, which was a race requirement. Fortunately, I spotted some cups hiding behind a random bench so I quickly grabbed one and headed back to get some Coke. I normally don't drink Coke but damn was it good. I think my body must have been screaming for the sugar. After downing the Coke I was on my way to CP5.
The first 5km after leaving CP4 was pretty easy and nice to tick the legs over before hitting the Giant Stairway. Oh man descending the stairs was so hard on my quads. I was hard enough climbing the stairs at Nellies Glen let alone descending these stairs! After dodging a few sightseers I made it down the stairs and into Leura Forest. But as the old saying goes, "what goes up, must come down", was true in the reverse sense as I was climbing again. After another vertical climb of 200m I was up on top of Leura Cascades and the scenery here was just incredible. The sun was setting as I passed through Wentworth Falls with about 5km to go until CP5. Now that it was getting dark I popped out onto a stretch of road and had to put my hi-vis vest on. Trying to get moving again was a little tough as I was bloody exhausted. As much as I was having the time of my life I was still looking forward to a brief rest at CP5.
I could see the lights of CP5 so I knew I had made it. Running up the chute I heard my dad cheer and caught a glimpse of a few close friends. I couldn't believe they all came out at the last minute just to surprise me! In my delirious state I was overcome by joy and even shed a little tear. I was now at the final checkpoint CP5/78.4km so it was time to grab some more gear, top up the water and get moving.
Exiting CP5 I knew I had an 8km descent but I had no idea if there was stairs or what. Thankfully there were no stairs but the steep descent was so tough on my quads and ITBs. Both were equally trashed so it was stints of run/walk until the bottom. At the bottom I knew there was going to be a long climb out so I just got my hike on and kept moving. Everything hurt and I had nothing left but there was only one way to the finish.
Now at the emergency aid station at 91.2km I grabbed a few chips and some lollies. It was now the real climb began. Hiking along all I could see was headlamps marching up the hill - a very long way up the hill - and they just seemed to keep going up. I decided it was best not to look up and just keep hiking.
With the final big climb done I was back on single trail for about 5km until the bottom of Furber Steps. This was it, the final climb of roughly a thousand stairs. I grabbed the handrails wherever possible and dragged myself up. Far out I was so, so trashed. This was a whole new level of exhaustion but despite that I was still having the time of my life. The struggle was real but so damn good.
At the top of Furber Stairs I could hear the commentator and crowd cheering people over the finish line. I was so close now, only 300m to go. Making the final turn I could see the finish chute and it was mesmerising. The number of people cheering in support was incredible. On my final few steps before the finish, my man Caleb handed me a big cold can of VB. It couldn't have been a more perfect way to finish.
After crossing the line I hobbled over to see some other very dear friends who were cheering others over the line and had a quick chat before my legs decided it was time to sit down and enjoy this beer. I made my way around and found my family and friends and had a good celebration. I was so happy, emotional, delirious, and completely exhausted but it was all totally worth it. My debut 100km ultra was a success and I was so blessed to share it with people I love.
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