"I'm basically going to run a lot."

This was the answer I gave a work colleague last Friday when she asked what I was doing on the weekend. "I'm basically going to run a lot."

As I heard the words come out of my mouth, I wondered whether I should be admired for being so committed to my goals, or whether my plans to basically devote my whole weekend to running 67ks made me the most boring person in the world.

I'm still not sure. Maybe it's a bit of both.

Wildhorse at Night

I got up on Saturday and did a few chores, before getting myself ready for the Wildhorse at Night, a 25k trail run starting at 6pm.

I packed up my gear, and drove up to the event, arriving in plenty of time to register and wait for the start. Before long though, I was off.

The first 5ks out to the Checkpoint was over mostly fire trails, with a few muddy holes to pick our way around. There were other runners around me and this got me running at a decent clip - I had to keep reminding myself to take it a bit easier and watch where I was putting my feet.

I didn't stop at the Checkpoint, just got my number ticked off, confirmed the direction I was to run and got going. As the Checkpoint was the turnaround for the 10k event, I now found myself alone in the dark, and it would prove to be this way for the rest of the race.

This first loop started out on flat, well packed fire trail so I got into a bit of a rhythm here. The track turned to head almost parallel to the Bruce Highway, and before long I started getting nervous about whether I'd missed a right turn. I stopped, checked my (very approximate) directions, was fairly certain I hadn't, but the highway loomed ever closer, and the race directions said very clearly, if you get to the highway you've gone too far. Eventually I saw other headlights bobbing up and down over to my right, so figured they must be runners on the dogleg of the course so kept moving and looked for the red LED light that would point out the correct turn.

This dogleg proved challenging. In the race info this section was referred to as the "Tunnel of Love" but I wasn't loving the soft sand and difficult terrain. But - putting safety first - I didn't worry about needing to walk sections of this.

I got the distinct impression I was the lantern rouge through this section of the race. There were people following me but they slowed when I slowed and at one point I heard a voice say "yeah, she's just up ahead, she's OK" or something to that effect.


I knew I was well within the five hour cutoff so I put this out of my mind. Back to the Checkpoint, where a couple of front runners were checking in for the third time to my second. Again, I didn't let this worry me, just made sure someone knew I was there and I was heading out for the final loop.

By now I'd gotten more accustomed to finding my way. I was better at checking for the orange tape tied to trees along the way and found comfort when I could see a red flashing light ahead, as these signaled the directional arrows we were to follow.

I second guessed my directions again here through this final loop. I was looking for a left turn when I got to a flashing light showing a right arrow. I stood there, overwhelmed with indecision, before figuring that I wasn't first - surely if they had it wrong they'd have fixed it by now!

It turned out to be the right decision, and before long I came across the next arrow, to the left, and headed back into the forest for the final stretch.

A tree across the track just after a fork had me scratching my head for a moment but I climbed under it, spotted the trusty orange tape ahead, and kept on my way. There was a bit more soft sand and difficult terrain through this section, but before long I was back at the Checkpoint, and turning for the final 5ks home.  25ks done in race conditions at night. Success.

The hangover marathon

I woke up the next morning, with 42ks ahead of me, absolutely starving. It'd been a late night, and even though I'd gone to Maccas for a burger and large mocha before driving home from the Coast the night before, I think I proved that even though Grill'd burgers might be twice the price, they are more than twice as satisfying.

I decided that because I was so hungry, and I was going to be running through the middle of the day, there was never going to be a better time to try out some more solid type foods. So I cooked up some rice, mixed half with some tinned tomatoes, and mixed the other half with some yoghurt. Not the most appetising of snacks, but I hoped it would serve a purpose.

I left these with KKB who had agreed to meet me at the 20k, 28k and 35k marks with drinks, food, and no doubt some touching words of support.

At about the 10k mark I ran past the sideshow alley at the Ekka and spotted a ride called The Hangover.

Hold on, I thought to myself. Is that what's happening here... a hangover marathon? My feet were already stinging from last night's blood blisters... my legs were already shot.... and, did I mention I was hungry?

So as I stood for a moment and marveled at the very concept of a "hangover marathon", this wonder of ultramarathon training, I realised I was indeed was still hungry, so I ate something, then put my phone away and started running again. And then I ate some more, and kept on running.

And then I saw KKB, and he made me eat, and then made me start running again.

At the first stop I felt OK. I ate some rice and I swapped my empty bottle of coconut water for a fresh one.

At the second stop I said to KKB, "I don't think there's any skin left on my feet!".  He just looked at me and said something about blisters, and made me eat some more rice and made me keep running.

At the third stop KKB HAD COKE so I downed this and took a small bottle of with me for the last 7ks home.

I made it.

I still had skin on my feet, I was still able to run, and I was still hungry.

I had different thoughts while I was running about whether doing 67ks in a weekend is ridiculous, heroic, or just something you do when you're training for an ultramarathon.

I'm still not sure. But I think maybe it's a bit of each.

1 comment:

  1. Ok so you ran 25km at night, then did a marathon the next day??? I would describe that as committed, with a sprinkle of crazy!