“ABILITY IS WHAT YOU’RE CAPABLE OF DOING. MOTIVATION DETERMINES WHAT YOU DO. ATTITUDE DETERMINES HOW WELL YOU DO IT.” – LOU HOLTZ
I’ve never considered withdrawing from an event before, but having been bed ridden with the worst virus I’ve had in years just days before the race I was convinced I had no other option.
The months leading up to UTA50 were all positive. I was out on the course every weekend training stairs and building up speed on hills, my knees were coping well with very little discomfort; I was really excited to see how I was going to go on race day.
It was during the week of my taper that I started to feel a little under the weather. As the days drew closer it got progressively worse until I was completely bed ridden for a full 4 days. The thought of withdrawing brought me to tears, so I decided to wait it out.
My dad was running the UTA Pace Athletic 22KM the day before my race, so I went up to Scenic World in Katoomba to cheer him on at the finish line. Being immersed in the crowd and cheering on runners in their final moments had a really positive effect on me. It’s the highlight of every race for any runner and I didn’t want to sacrifice it, so I made the decision to race.
The weather was pretty miserable leading up to the event and it rained hard for the 22KM runners, but I wasn’t expecting the event organisers to announce a complete course change for all 50KM runners the night before race day. On top of that, all start times were pushed out by 2 hours, so not only was I going to be running on a course I hadn’t trained on, I was guaranteed to be finishing at night.
Fortunately, I was already familiar with half of the new course, so I knew I could handle it. I also knew I wasn’t going to perform as well as I’d hoped as I was still not 100% and figured it would eventually impact on my performance. I had wanted do finish in 8.5 hours, but accepted that to finish at all would be reward enough. I wanted to go out there and have fun doing what I love; and that’s exactly what I did.
I slept so well the night before. The delayed start time was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me more time to sleep than I had anticipated. I caught up with a few of the girls I had done training runs with at the start line and then before I knew it we were off!
The course was great! Starting at Scenic World, runners head down Furber Stairs passed the Scenic Railway, across the Landslide, up the Giant Staircase and out along Narrow Neck. I felt confident as I trotted along exchanging words of encouragement with fellow runners. For those unfamiliar, there is a section of this course where runners descend Tarros Ladder. What I wasn’t expecting was to be waiting over an hour to reach it!
Due to the significant number of runners reaching Tarros Ladder at the same time, there was a huge bank up of runners all the way back to Narrow Neck. I sent out a few text messages to friends and family letting them know that I was going to be at least an hour behind schedule due to delays completely outside of my control.
After the ladder, runners head out to Medlow Gap and follow the undulating fire trail out to Dunphy’s Camp and CP2. From here, it’s one nasty climb and then smooth sailings down into CP3. By the time I reached the checkpoint in the Megalong Valley, the sun had started to set and it was time to pop on my head torch and join my fellow glow worms out in the wilderness. It was after CP3 that I had no idea what to expect. I’d only been told that Nellie’s Glen was ‘a killer’, and she was!
Nellie’s Glen was a very slow and arduous climb up a never ending set of uneven, eroded stairs. Reaching the top was a great feeling and I knew then that the worst was over. It was just a little longer and I’d be at the finish line.
Coming into Scenic World I couldn’t believe how good I felt. I was ecstatic! My body, though tired, was in no pain at all. No knee pain, no blisters, no cramping. It was one of my most favourite races I’d ever completed. It just goes to show; the body achieves what the mind believes.