Ultimate Bear Fight: UTMB 2016 part 2, the UTMBening

Heading out of Courmayeur, the feelings I had were a turbulent mix of elation and despair. On the one hand, I was still in the game. I just had to keep getting to the next checkpoint, the next summit, the next valley, but on the other hand there was still 90km to go and the first 80 had been a pretty intense way to warm up. A quick shot of white wine from the town crier and an extended plunge in the oversized and chilly watering trough outside one of the town’s hotels were final highlights before getting back into The Zone and climbing our way out of town and still seemingly ever closer to the Sun.

Every climb now, people were turning around and heading back. I wasn’t feeling their despair, though. I was starting to begin like we were vaulting the fallen – just barely, just enough.

The conversations internally pushing me on now were these:

There’s no pizza for a DNF. (seriously)

Nobody enjoys a fail story, unless it’s utterly spectacular – and I’m talking bones going through other bones, or a start line blood sugar so low it leads to immediate coma.

We’re not doing this again – meaning that to fail now would mean having to come back and suck it all up again.

And of course the obvious consideration of my support team – family, friends, and HOKA ONE ONE AUSTRALIA, as well as Ultra-Trail Australia – who had all tucked in behind me and made sacrifices of their own in addition to just putting up with my training-addled time management and my general demandingness to get here, to this point where I now felt failure was still in hot, though slow, pursuit.

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Saturday mornings should look something like this all the time…

Speaking of heat – how good was the first river crossing before the climb to the refuges? Still in the full sun and heat of the day, most runners had stopped to fill up water but some of us also lay in cold melt waters to cool off. This was a vital 3 or 4 minutes well spent. Cooling the head and torso was like taking an engine out of the red zone just before the gaskets crack or the radiator explodes. Being able to lie in cool running water 4 or 5 inches deep, I could actually feel my deeper tissues regain some kind of normality. Continue reading

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Ultimate Bear Fight: UTMB 2016 Part 1

The bucket list is an overused way to describe things that people really want to do but just aren’t going to get their shit together to do any time soon. So it’s appropriate to say that UTMB was a bucket list race for me. I’d seen the videos of Scott Jurek and Anton Krupicka and Marco Olmo all being handed their asses in various ways by this course, seen Krissy Moehl’s TED talk – essential viewing by the way – have a load of friends who have taken it on with varying degrees of success, and had the very special opportunity last year to go on the Ultra-Trail World Tour’s VIP tour of the course as the race was in progress, thanks to being support staff attached to Ultra-Trail Australia.

So when the unexpected opportunity to enter the world’s biggest 100-miler came along, and all I needed to do was bag the final eligibility points needed for qualification, the renovation of the comfort zone – an almost neverending pet project – stepped up a level.

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Yes, this is not a trade show, this is actually a start line.

Part of the appeal of any race is its assurance of difficulty. With a typical completion rate of barely 60%, even with around 2,500 starters, UTMB had already met the necessary probability of struggle. The circus at the starting line would not usually be something I’d seek out, but it’s a special and overwhelming feeling of being one highly charged molecule buzzing and oscillating within a zapping and electrified global forcefield of trailrunners. As the drones and helicopters hover overhead, the emotions are raw and almost overpowering, and I’d expect that the starting line of Kona and the opening ceremony at any Olympics feel very similar.

The start is counted down and for all of the non-elites bunched behind the animal speedsters there’s a walk out across the line while the town and visitors and friends and runners from the other races during the week all line the street, 6-10 deep. For a moment we get to a jog then back to a walk, but for most of us it’s a happy and excited walk. Some runners, most especially the Aldi Antons (not quite the real Antons – beards too scrappy, brands not matched, shirts on, probably not world class athletes either) are impatient to go and push through the bottle neck, but this is an experience to soak up – cheers, applause, whoops of joy, trembling anticipation, kids with hands out for high 5s on a day that will surely be a formative memory as they go on to not turn into couch potatoes.

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a random meeting with a Jean-Charles Vauthier, a French type 1 ultra runner on the first road out of town. Nice packs hey?😀

Having seen the start last year, I knew how crowded the spectators and runners were around the famous arch, but I’d had no idea how long the cheering crowds went on. Maybe half a kilometre along I got a cheer from the French HOKA boys, almost 800 metres along, Paul Charteris, Tarawera Race Director, towered above the crowd with his massive grin and happy voice, even further along, Kaburaki from Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji for another quick high five, and still the streets were packed, with runners up the middle and supporters on the side. It’s just not what you’re used to from trailrunning or ultra.

I’m also not used to running a flat 8km start feeling like we’re already 40km in. This first section was easy, with a late climb and quick descent to the 21km checkpoint and first cutoff (4 hours) of St. Gervais. Even on the relatively flat first part of the climb, my walking heartrate was 170. I partially bought into the data panic, while at the same time telling myself that it was wrong, and that even if it wasn’t wrong it didn’t matter because there was nothing to do about it.

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the superb sunset view back up the valley from the first busted oversweating loser sit-down point halfway up the first tiny climb.

St Gervais was smooth enough. Got in about 20 minutes before cutoff and had a quick chat with the compere.

“So, you’re from Australia? It must be winter there right now?”

“Yep, so we’re having 30 degree days just like you guys.”

Smartass.

Would have got out a lot quicker if my newly bought Hydrapak bladder wasn’t an evil piece of crap. Seriously, it’s a plastic sack that water goes in, with a bit that slides to close the top. For some reason, though, somebody thought it would be a good idea to make one that barely slides shut and then refuses to slide open. Even a burly volunteer couldn’t work it. Whatever. Soup, cola, head out with cup and bowl to mouth.

Last year we’d headed out of town chasing the leaders in the pre-dusk flare of daylight to crowds swinging racks of cowbells. I was winding up the hill between the satisfied pavement crowds of diners deciding between coffee and cocktails. But here was a quick highlight – a little tri-colour bull terrier was wedged in amongst the feet of friends and owners. A quick hello, a pat, and the hilariously rowdy British owner suggested I pick him up for a photo, even as his partner told him to leave the runner alone. So of course I picked him up. If you don’t have the energy to cuddle a bull terrier, you’re probably not going to do much better trying to run another 150km.

“Bon appétit” echoed the diners’ possibly sarcastic but definitely friendly calls as we headed away from town, through the French HOKA team and their improvised shoe count, and up into the trails again.

 

Next stop was Contamine. Here’s a special thing about language – when you grab water from a checkpoint in a town that has a slightly toilety smell and it tastes frickin weird, you begin to think about how Contamine is really close to ‘contaminated’, and add that to the list of things you’re dealing with. That is, at least, until way later when you try the on-course sports hydration and realise it tastes exactly the same as that strange water you stopped drinking…

The first proper climb was a nice long one, topping out near 2500m and spreading 1500m of climb over about 15km. As we wound our way through the 40km mark and toward Croix du Bonhomme, I was still just thinking about the next cutoff.

The plan had simplified radically. It had started out something along the lines of “Get to Courmayeur by 10am Saturday, sort my shit out, feel good, start to make up ground”. In the preceding 6 hours that had been replaced by “Get to the next checkpoint, don’t think about Courmayeur too much just yet, don’t miss the next cutoff, how high does this one go, what time is cutoff, get to the next checkpoint before cutoff”.

Things had got decidedly small picture, but in that way they were actually quite big picture – blow this stage, fail the whole race, feel life suck.

And this is where we should probably talk about the bear.

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The bear is real, man. #metaphor

While the months of training leading up to this year’s race had some pretty patchy moments, all the big boxes got ticked. Increasing mileage, training on tired legs, countdown clock being updated weekly, multiple reps of steep things, accumulation of hurty downhills, rarely disappointing coach Andy with a dotball week, and a final loading session in the Victorian Alps putting away about 120km with 7200m over 4 days that left me feeling not just confident of completion a month out, but even beginning to have those finish time fantasies runners can allow themselves when they’ve really decided to not just leave things to luck. I’d even totally nailed down which combination of jocks and shorts would cause zero chafing, rain or shine.

So it was a very harsh crashing to earth when 4 days of being coughed and sneezed on by contagious Sydney at the City2Surf Expo left me with what felt like Ebola but based on a friend’s diagnosis was more like Swine Flu, now called Influenza A to avoid offending bacon farmers. On the flight over, I felt like Patient Zero. While friends back home wrote of their jealousy at my being in Annecy, the summer capital of French holidaying, I was flat on my back in the final throes of a fever and nearly choking to death on phlegmballs the size of a baby possum. Sunday afternoon, 5 days out, I was staring at a ceiling, feeling as fresh and lively as a used condom, and thinking that this wasn’t even going to be a DNF, but a DNS.

The whole time I was smashing Zinc, ridiculous amounts of vitamin C, spirulina, Berocca, women’s Ulti-Vite, pretty much anything I could get my hands on that might turn the fight around. Some French pharmaceutical MucoMyst with the added bonus of triggering a particular endurance hormone seemed to be the game changer. But I went to the starting line on Friday feeling depleted, and that this 170km run around the base of Europe’s highest summit was going to be a more uphill battle than the 10,000m of ascent could quantify.

So yes, there was going to be a bear fight. UTMB is a challenging route that can’t be disrespected, moreso than most other 100-milers. But a few very close friends and family knew how ragged I was on approach, and that was the bear that I expected to put up a bigger and uglier play for supremacy over the weekend.

 

What little sense of inevitability I had about Courmayeur, the 78km mark and notional halfway mark of the race, it was already attached to a thought of failure, and thought of failure was rationalised by excuse, and the excuse was that I felt like total crap because of circumstances beyond my control.

No matter how I thought about things or bitesized the challenge I was already getting deeper into, the future felt like doom. So I changed the script. Tramping through the middle of dusty nowhere in a conga line of lycra zombies, I took ownership of my process.

the revenant dicaprio quote

I’ve only just noticed that Hugh Glass is kind of close to Hugh Jass, but this quote still worked for me the whole way through the race.

And this is the beauty of the bear. If you have to fight a bear, it is unlikely that it will be by choice. It might be under deeply unfavourable circumstances. The bear might be a lot bigger than you’d possibly expected. And you sure as hell won’t be able to put off fighting the bear until a day when you’re fully ramped up for a bear fight. When it’s you versus bear, you can fight or fail. There is no other option and all other detail is irrelevant. There was a reason I’d watched The Revenant for the 3rd time on the flight over.

“I don’t know if I’m gonna get through this but who could expect me to, knowing how sick I’ve been and what it’s done to me.”

That unhelpful rationalisation had to go. The alternative?

“Seriously, anyone can do a 100-miler when they’re feeling good. Who cares? But doing a 100-miler when you’re a total trainwreck? That’s solid! This’ll be awesome.”

Sounds perky, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like a half-assed bid at survival.

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It was enough, though, to begin a change of mind. Climbing gradually in open higher country through the black tar of night, what seemed like thousands of headtorches zigged and zagged in front of me, a continuous line maybe 3 km long of human-borne incandescence. It looked like a giant shimmering electric snake. It made me think of the Rainbow Serpent, a quintessentially pre-Australian native. Below all of those bright torches, I knew there were hundreds of runners in multi-coloured lycra, which further supported a metaphor that could probably do nothing other than irritate indigenous friends if I suggested it.

Big open air aid station, fresh water, mineral water, Coke, onward and upward. There’s a rhythm to mountain races which a friend clarified to me prior to Tor Des Geants last year.

“The climb will start and it will get steep. Then it will get even steeper. Then it will get really very steep, and then you are at the top.”

As long as you know this is what to expect, you won’t be faced by too many surprises on your way to ultra glory.

Sitting is also permitted. By this point I was breaking every climb with a trailside breather. Ass planted firmly in a rock garden, staring back kilometres toward the aid station with my back to the climb still remaining, I was almost immediately joined by someone worse off than me. An Asian runner spread himself on the ground on all fours and threw up loudly before looking around bewildered, as if wondering how he’d come to be in Hell. In significantly less crowded races, the next runner would have stopped, checked if he was ok or needed help, and then maybe sent for someone. But here, there was no point. There was an endless stream of people going past like a dirt escalator, and what was he going to answer to the question, “Are you ok?”.

“No. No, not ok.”

“Well what’s wrong?”

“Hot, dehydrated, feel awful, 40km down, 130km to go, still got to get over this hill, it’s my playtime.”

Throwing up a lung or a kidney – now THAT would be an emergency warranting greater attention. This was just someone loosing their biscuits before we’d even made it to marathon distance, and there was going to be a lot more of that before this was over.

I got up and rejoined the zombie horde.

 

The next descent turned back upward at Les Chapieux, 49km so a nice psychological line in the sand. 1554m above sea level and the gateway to another climb to 2500m, it was a place to begin the next helpful pattern of thinking. This was just a Kedumba, our sustained hill of choice back in Sydney’s Blue Mountains. Strictly speaking, Kedumba is a 1,000m climb over 10km, topping out at about 1,100m. So this wasn’t exactly a Kedumba, but that wasn’t really the point. The body had to get this done, and it was going to be a lot harder with unhappy passengers complaining about the likely effects of altitude.

The 30km to Courmayeur was also still too long to think about, but now there were two mountain tops each within a 15km stretch to simply get through. Bonus points go to the reader who can remember what glacial valley I was in when I threw up just after sunrise. Everything was very sound of music, green, lush, or made entirely of wood. Heading across a suspended valley toward an ice crossing, a coughing fit escalated until it took all my fluids from the last hour with it. Leaning on my poles, dry heaving, it was actually comforting that nobody stopped to ask anything. As previously discussed, what is there to say? 110km to go.

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Mountains are awesome. Deal with it.

At least the next climb would lead to the Courmayeur descent. This was going to potentially be a great relief. While 800m within 4km is a brutal gradient, at least it was downhill, so the thinking went. Of course the adventure wasn’t all regurgitation, dust and pain. Clouds boiling off the valley around summits below us made for a spectacular sunrise. Descending into Lac Combal with razor jagged and impossibly steep ridgelines in every direction was invigorating. The sense that we were like some deranged but happy mass pilgrimage was real and reassuring. But by the time I began the sharp rolldown to Courmayeur, I just could not give a shit for all this beauty, because my world was crumbling.

This was going to be the one place that I would connect with my dropbag, the major halfway point where I’d figured I’d be coming in 2-3 hours under cutoff and therefore have some time to rest if it felt needed. But with my guts now feeling like heavily malleted hamburger meat, I was descending at about the same pace as I would hike flat ground, and there was nothing to do about picking up the pace. Any ugly attempt at a trot or jog was immediately punished with a kick to the stomach. As what felt like every other runner either overtook me or sat on my shoulder until I pulled even further to one side so they could go past, I just felt time turning to cement.

Andy was echoing in my head, “If you can’t run the downhills, it’s going to be a long day.” Thanks Obi Wan, loud and clear bro.

Ek2qc

Instead of getting into Courmayeur with an hour and a half or even half an hour to spare, I arrived at the sports centre at ten minutes to one, 25 minutes to doom and still not fully halfway through. The weight of what was going on really hit me. I had had the idea that getting to Courmayeur would be some kind of achievement, that I could fail here with some dignity still intact if it came to that, but there’s no shine to a DNF at all. Even if you break bones on a run, getting to the finish line is always going to be a more joyous outcome if it’s on feet rather than in a friend’s car.

Friends, family, work, my own expectations – massive disappointment was brewing. There was nothing salvageable at this point. Everything turned to shit and there was no sprinkling gold dust on it. Shit is shit is shit.

As we were funnelled into the alleyway where the dropbags hung in multiple rows, volunteers called out our numbers so that other helpers down the line could pull them out and have them ready for us. I had my sunglasses on, visor pulled down, and stared hard at the ground with one foot barely in front of the other. This felt like death. My bag felt like cruel weight. Rounding the corner toward the front entrance of the checkpoint I completely choked, I couldn’t inhale, I just made mouth motions like a fish thrown on land. The furthest each breath could travel was perhaps halfway down my neck and nowhere near my chest.

You could almost see the kids still lining the entry chute decide not to offer high 5s. This was the walking dead. Cheers for a corpse are a waste of effort.

Getting into the front entrance there was a mass of bodies in every direction. A volunteer asked if I had support. No. Solo runners needed to go upstairs she told me. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I felt like I was about to fold completely. And then she had a conversation with someone else for what felt like forever. I turned away to go find these awesome stairs. Such a great idea, stairs. And so glad that people were coming downstairs on the side that I was trying to go up. That’s cool though, I’ll just lean against the wall here like a stain.

Getting into the main hall wasn’t much more clarifying. The cluster on the far side around the food prep area looked like a nightmare, so I just headed for an empty seat at one of the dozens of large round tables that filled the room and collapsed into it. Clearly the death was visible because a volunteer intercepted me along the way and asked if I needed any help. I probably spoke in babelfish but she sent someone else over and together we decided I should have tomato pasta and Coke. The only other person sitting at the table looked at me quizzically, as if wondering what I was doing, now with less than 15 minutes to cutoff. I just spooned pasta and sipped Coke and rummaged aimlessly in my dropbag.

I didn’t grab the spare torch batteries for another night. I didn’t put on the sunscreen for reduced damage on the battlefield. I didn’t grab clean dry socks. I almost didn’t even grab extra soft flasks of Tailwind. But I did grab a snaplok bag of spirulina and vitamins because I figured there might be some point I could think about putting it down without throwing up.

The huge room was mostly emptying. Some runners looked shellshocked, as though they knew this was it for them. But one guy in particular grabbed my attention. A little Italian runner had clearly decided to pull. With his socks and shoes off, he sat happily smashing his second bowl of pasta, oblivious to the dismay around him. He was happy, his pain was ended. So I latched on to that, and I viewed it as cowardly, and I rejected it. A very helpful volunteer came over to my shoulder again to see if I needed anything and to remind me that cutoff was less than ten minutes away.

“What do you think you will do?” she asked in English that was still a lot smoother than most of my French.

“I’m not going to kill myself here, you guys are going to have to come kill me out there.”

She smiled and said, “This is good idea you have, I like your idea.”

Feeling slightly less devastated than barely 20 minutes before I headed out of the hall with my dropbag, wondering what to do with it. I passed the table where runners were officially quitting, their race bibs being taken off and the chips being cut from their bags. Devastation. I handed mine on to the guy outside who was handling things for continuing runners and went down the ramp and back into battle. This life seemed almost over but at least I wasn’t quitting.

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The Ultra Easy 100km and its gleeful crushing of the ignorant: a race report

You’ve done a 200km mountain run in September, you’ve knocked out a 240km road run in December, there’s a 100km mountain run in New Zealand this weekend and it’s almost February already – what could possibly go wrong? Let’s just call the previous seven weeks of not running a committed recovery phase.

Seriously, it was Wednesday. I needed 3 more points to lock in a place for UTMB. March 19 for Northburn wasn’t looking good with two other reasons to be in Australia that weekend. The next and final option would be the Ultra-Trail Australia weekend in May, also problematic for work and travel reasons. Nice first world problems to have, but they meant that if I was going to do this I’d better do it ASAP. Only finding out that there was a 3-point opportunity in New Zealand with 3 days to go, at least training wouldn’t be the problem.

Grant Guise had temporarily hijacked The Ultra Easy’s facebook page – I didn’t mention that this was possibly the most cunningly named mountain race ever? How did that slip my mind? The sales pitch was equally deft: ‘Pick you up from the airport then?’

Continue reading

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Tor Des Géants 2015 – part 2 of 3 by Roger Hanney

continued from Part 1 of 3

The room emptied in a quick if not fully sober fashion into the side alley and once again we were on the run, or hike. With an acute awareness that this might take another 100+ hours to get done, nobody was springing out of the blocks hard on cold legs. Even just a few minutes from where we’d spent the uncertain early hours of morning, we could look back and see the white-dusted mountains we had climbed and descended through the night before. In the first light of a blue-sky day, their calm beauty spoke little of the chaos and jeopardy just hours before.

The pass that nearly ate us.

The pass that nearly ate us.

Heading uphill once again it was time to stop and readjust layers, in the usual cycle of too cold to move – get moving – heat up too much – stop to shed layers – feel cold again – stuff it all in pack – get moving again. And of course the other cycle of stop another 80 metres up the track – dig around in bag – find lube – apply to chafed bits – stuff it back in bag – readjust to the left – get moving again.

Even at this early stage, a couple of entrants could be seen coming back down the track, looking like they’d forgotten something. Making eye contact to query what was up, their reply was just a shrug without slowing as they headed back to the checkpoint. To see people pulling out this early at the simple thought of a hill, or perhaps at the memory of rockfalls the night before, was a mixed moment. Yes, this is only going to get harder. There’s more of who-knows-what to come, and it’s a shame you’re not going to be there for it. But, then again, I’ve outlasted you. And even that gutless little coward of a voice, ‘do you wanna pull out?’. The reply was still pretty easy, ‘don’t be a dick, let’s go.’

As we came into a mountain-ringed valley there was some quick photo-taking. This was a stunningly beautiful morning. There was snow behind us, snow and two big climbs ahead of us, but we were here laughing in the sun after a night that exceeded expectations of ferocity, and it felt great.

Only once we hit this valley and turned left would we see what was ahead of us.

Only once we hit this valley and turned left would we see what was ahead of us.

We were a conga line, runners stretched ahead and behind as the power hike revved its engine. Moving up a gentle slope contrary to the flow of the crystal river beside us, we tended left as the next valley revealed the joys it had in store for the morning. Col du Entrelor, a 3030m barrel of laughs we as yet had little idea about rose up in front of us, as similarly stunning snow-covered ridges moved behind us. Trudging a series of switchbacks, the day felt cold again as the wind steadily picked up and grey clouds moved in over the range behind us, soon to block the sun. Continue reading

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Tor Des Géants 2015 – part 1 of 3 by Roger Hanney

Tor Des Géants is a single-stage mountain run easily reduced to numbers – 330km, 24,000m D+, 200 miles, 80,000 feet, 850 starters, 6 life bases, time – but that is not the story of the Tor at all. It is a beautiful adventure, composed of a number of steep climbs, high passes, and sharp descents that will all quite happily break you if you’re not in The Zone.

With a field that at some points must have been spread across 150km, everyone’s experience must be sharply different, however much there may also be in common. With finishers being spread from 200km right to the finish line when this year’s race was ultimately shut down on the morning of the 4th day because of weather hazards, a 2015 ‘finish’ will mean different things for different people. For me, the 205km mark was not deep enough in at all, and I hope to return in 2016 for the full 200 miles.

Even with the premature closure of the race, it was still my longest time on feet and at 15,000m D+ it was also the greatest amount of climbing and descending I have yet done. But I wish we’d been able to finish what we started. Most of us were utterly psyched for it.

This is where it all started, the weekend in Utah in 2011 when I met Beat and he ruined my illusions that you could become a total badass by running just 100 miles, by telling me about the 200-miler he’d just done. Damn it.

I first heard about the TDG in 2011 when I met Swiss-American Beat Jegerlehner (pronounced ‘Dingle Manhammer’). A mutual friend put us together on a hire car booking from Salt Lake City to the Slick Rock Ultra a few hours away in the Moab Desert, as we were hitting the same airport just 5 minutes apart. Back then, as I prepared for my first 100-miler, the idea that people were running 200-milers filled me with awe and some envy. With such a focus on the distance I didn’t even tune into the elevation gain – a whopping 24,000 metres for an average gradient of 14% across the entire course – until finally entering the run of a lifetime earlier this year.

now THAT's an elevation profile.

now THAT’s an elevation profile.

Since then, it has meant training based entirely in the pursuit of increasingly longer steep bits, repeated.  Continue reading

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A Great Weekend in California

I’ve been thinking about getting this blogging thing going again. On the one hand, friends who write well inspire you to get back into the practise. On the other, when they’re doing it so well, it’s good enough reason to share theirs instead🙂

To be fair, on top of being a great host and a good friend (who I’ve now actually hung out with – yay!) Jill’s a published author whose books Be Brave, Be Strong, Ghost Trails, and 8,000 Miles Across Alaska are all quality reads for fans of adventure and extreme endurance.

So here’s Jill’s latest post from Jill Outside. She sums our weekend up nicely – except for the unsatisfied bit. To run again with my friend Beat, to finally meet Jill off the internet, to get sweaty biking then sweaty running, even with the race being cancelled on the Sunday with short notice – I had a blast. Thanks guys!

Jill tells it better here.

Fun was had

Fun was had

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Coast2Kosci 2014 Race Report, by Roger Hanney

Writing race reports after properly long runs easily turns into an exercise in self-indulgence. Let’s face it, there’s a reason the whole world’s eyes turn to watch Usain Bolt run for 9.5 seconds but generally glaze over when runners talk about feeling a second or third wind at the second rising of the sun.

So, Coast2Kosci 2014, short version – ran smooth, hobbled a bit, got wet, how fun was that?!

Coast2Kosci 2014, longer version.

It would be fun to one time read a race report where somebody really complained about their crew. Something along the lines of, “these guys couldn’t tell a sports drink from a ginger biscuit. I called them Team Guantanamo because they frequently blasted loud noise at me and wouldn’t pass the water, choosing instead to leave me in uncomfortable positions when all I wanted to do was go to the toilet.” This is not that report.

Where else would you be at 5:30am on a Friday?

Where else would you be at 5:30am on a Friday?

If you’re going to run 240km alongside 49 of the most committed endurance runners in Australia on the first weekend in December, it’s helpful to have at least one person on the crew who knows what that distance feels like. It’s even better if they’ve done the same race themselves. To have 3 such runners on your crew, and for each of them to be a great mate (or girlfriend… or course recordholder) is ridiculously fortunate.

Dave Clear, Rob Mason, Jess Baker – you legends, thank you.

Starting line, Boydtown Beach 5:30am Friday 5/12/14

Like a joke that’s only funny to a handful of people, you just had to be there. It’s like a family reunion for ultrarunners, in the middle of almost nowhere and before the sun has even had a coffee. Random.

Continue reading

Posted in Badwater, Bondi 4, C2K, Challenger ATR, Extreme, Hoka OneOne Australia, road running, trail running, ultra, Ultrabalaton | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment