“IF MOVEMENT IS A SIGN OF LIFE AND STILLNESS IS DEATH, RUNNING IS AN EXAMPLE OF A LIFE MOST FULLY LIVED”
It’s been more than two weeks since I crossed The North Face 50KM Ultra Marathon finish line and I’m still coming to terms with the fact that I’m a 23 year old ultra marathon runner.
The morning of the event, my spirits were high. I was feeling well rested and optimistic – I couldn’t wait to get out there and get going! Making sure I was in the final wave of runners, at 7:37AM I set off on the race of a life time. Having had a few opportunities to scope the course leading up to the event, I am still in awe of the magnificent landscape that makes up the Blue Mountains, and I made sure I took the time to absorb it all as I moved along. I fell into a comfortable pace among my fellow runners and the first 14KM flew by. A quick water stop at the first check point and I was back out there ready to endure the next leg.
Now becoming well accustomed to the sensation of jelly legs and lactic acid after what felt like several thousand sets of stairs (and probably was), I made it to the 28KM checkpoint. Arriving about 10 minutes behind schedule, I refueled and let family and friends know I was 22KM out from the finish and although a little fatigued, still in high spirits and ready for the last leg of the race. Having spent a little too much time at the check point, I was eager to make up time descending Kedumba Pass. It was here that I started to run (pun intended) into some trouble. About 2KM into my 7KM descent my toes were screaming at me to slow down, and with 15+KM to go, and the hardest part to come, I felt it best to listen to what my body was telling me.
The crossing at Jamison Creek was a welcomed site. The first hill climb, though still painful, was a great relief off the front of my feet. Having had to slow right down during parts of the climb, I was excited when I reached the clearing at the old Katoomba treatment works and knew the finish line was in sight. My heart was ready to charge to the finish line, but unfortunately, my body wasn’t. With less than 7KM to go, my left knee began to throb with every step I took. Biting my tongue, I pushed through Leura Forest and up to Katoomba Falls. Already feeling disheartened knowing I was more than 30 minutes behind schedule, climbing Furber Steps was the most brutal part of the race – both physically and mentally. I could feel the tears starting to form as I finished the last set of stairs and realised I had made it; I finished my first ultra marathon.
The atmosphere running into Scenic World was indescribable. Having traveled so far and feeling incredibly overwhelmed, the amount of support and encouragement from family and spectators was absolutely mind blowing. When the RD announced my name as I crossed the finish line, I was ecstatic (and a blubbering mess!).
I want to thank my family and friends for the incredible support during my training and for being there to cheer me on at the finish line. To all those who I met on the course, I have you to thank for pulling me through those last few arduous kilometers when I wanted to give up. I may not have gotten the time I was hoping for, finishing in 9:31, but it was in those final moments that I was reminded that your greatest runs aren’t measured by your racing success, they are moments in time when running allows you to see how wonderful your life is.
Shout out to The North Face for their ‘Venture Jacket’ – I had some very wet training sessions leading up to race day, and I was always warm and dry with this baby on!