Tag Archive for: ultra

Coastal Ultra 71k

Sat 10th April 

Report by Dawn Tuffery
Some races prompt a quick decision. Last year I saw this inaugural event was happening down in the Catlins and thought, yep, sounds good. I’m also an ambassador for the Ultra NZ team and had been disappointed to see the Ultra 24 event in Nelson get scuppered by Covid not once but TWICE so I was keen to actually get to one of their events. Happily this one was good to go, and as a bonus, club stalwarts Fiona and Ross were checking it out as well.

Despite the quick entry, I didn’t really know what to expect from the course and this unknown aspect was part of the charm. Having room for one pair of shoes, I chose Inov8s, and carefully crammed everything for the weekend into my carry-on baggage, including the compulsory gear, slightly regretting my frugal booking decision. (And forgot there was a pocket knife in there at the bottom, so security took it alllll back out again.)

A fellow UltraNZ runner Simon offered a ride from Invercargill to the race, and Ross and Fiona kindly shared their extra room – I felt very fortunate all round! I helped check in some runners in the afternoon, ate an extremely large helping of gf pasta at the Curio Bay cafe, and generally marvelled at the cool wild surroundings. At the briefing we got warned about a raft of dangers, including barbed wire, angry sea lions, ladders over electric fences, and cliffs (don’t fall off them).

We caught the bus at 5.45am and I entertained myself by trying to french plait for the first time (on Katie Wright, not Ross) with moderate success. The sun rose and around 7am we set off from a beach, straight into a thigh-deep stream crossing. The first part of the course was moderately runnable, but started to introduce the ubiquitous grassy hills and then a truly impressive stretch of mud wading heading towards knee height at times. Hooray for the Inov8s. 

Overall I felt a little flat in terms of energy, but had expected that might be the case given the 6-hour track run was only 3 weeks ago and I hadn’t really trained since the Tarawera hundred miler in Feb. Recover, taper, 6-hour, recover, taper? No problem if you’re there mainly to enjoy it though. The views were as nice as expected, idyllic sea studded with rugged bluffs and curves. The track kept us guessing, sometimes looping sadistically around a hill when you could see the aid station ‘just ahead’. The surface was a range of farm tracks, lumpy paddocks, less lumpy paddocks, and occasional lovely beach, with markings that required just enough attention to keep you on the ball. 

Organisers had said prizegiving would be happening at the 8 hour mark, which seemed doable for 71k? It became obvious this wouldn’t be happening for me – the repeated straight-up grass hills were testing my wimpy track legs, not to mention the rest of the system. It’s hard to explain why the event felt quite brutal given the farm-based terrain and no single climbs exceeding 200 metres, but the lack of running flow and steepness added up to quite a solid challenge. It also got very windy and rainy. Around 55 or 60k I got unusually dizzy and relinquished the leading woman position I’d accidentally acquired. The dizziness was fixed when I finally found an aid station and sculled some coke (not before trying to wander off course up an extra hill). Able to run again, I came across one last deep muddy section and had to laugh. The final 3k in Curio Bay was a chance to relax, although I did go one second over 9 hours which implies a bit long spent admiring the different types of seaweed on that last stretch. In the end I did make the prizegiving, because they had to wait for three placegetters to make a podium. Ha! Ross had a great run for 8 hours 36, doing the training mahi and getting the result. Will we see him again on the ultra circuit? Fingers crossed. 

I may not be selling it well, but I actually really enjoyed the event. It was different from other recent runs, beautiful, tough, and a unique opportunity to see the southernmost coast from private land. It’d be a cool one to do with friends and take lots of pictures. It’s also a great excuse to see a cool part of the country. Two thumbs up. 

Ultra Trail Australia 100k – race report

Report by Marcus Daws

I’ve always enjoyed reading everyone’s race reports but have always been terrible at actually contributing to the pool. However, after my last race I figured it was about time to put finger to keyboard. 

In recent years, kids and business have been my excuse for consistently ‘average’ running. Turning up under-prepared and bluffing my way through races has been fine but with a significant birthday coming up I was looking for a bit of a challenge and stumbled across the Ultra-trail Australia. I suddenly found the butterflies flapping in my stomach, there would be no way to bluff this one, with 4,400 metres elevation and over 10,000 stairs to tackle this was meant to be a seriously gruelling 100km ordeal, perfect! I signed up and actually did some proper training. the fire was lit!

Fast forward… on the start line and what a buzz, the UTA is a monster of an event and the atmosphere was pumping. So naturally I went out too fast on the first few k’s along the road before getting into the race proper. Once off the road you drop down the Ferber steps. 951 steps to drop you down into the Blue Mountains knowing that I’d be coming back up them at the very end of the run, something to look forward to all day. We navigated through some very technical terrain (lots more stairs) until we finally got to some good runnable trails, so I settled in and found my rhythm and started ticking off some k’s.

This race has a big dropout rate (18% this year was a record low) and I was chatting with a fella around the 30k mark who was on his third attempt, one year he pulled out with heat stroke and last year it was a knee issue. Almost as soon as we discussed it my knee started to complain as my ITB flared up. I did my best to ignore it and trundled on but struggled more and more with anything downhill. Heading uphill was fine and I stormed up Nellie’s Glen and into the 57k checkpoint where there was a Physio who gave it a quick loosen up and some strapping. I also got accosted by the kids who did their support crew role well, pinching my food and hiding my shoes but they certainly made my day. So after a leisurely 25 minute stop it was time to get out and get this done, just a little marathon left to go.

The next stage was very up and down through the Leura Forest, stunningly beautiful with waterfalls and views of the sunset over the mountains but as the headlight went on it was time just to get down to business and get this done, my knee was screaming and I went past two people who had pulled out with the exact same thing, those damn stairs. Anything downhill was becoming impossible and I knew coming up I had the Kedumba pass, 8k straight downhill to the valley floor before the final 12, straight back up to the finish. Forced to a walk by this stage I just had to suck it up. Off in the distance I could see the lights from the finish line illuminating the 3 sisters, a famous rocky outcrop that was lit light a beacon calling me home. I switched off my headlight and did most of this section with just the full moon lighting my way, just magical!

So to finish it off, it was back up the Ferber steps which to be fair were a piece of cake, they’ve got nothing on the Haks and I was running high on adrenaline as you can hear the finish line 2k out (Kerry Suter on the microphone). I managed my unofficial goal of finishing before midnight and came in at 16hrs49 for the bronze belt buckle. 

It wasn’t pretty but I definitely found the challenge I was searching for. The Blue Mountains are really quite magical and the views around every corner take your breath. The event itself is amazing and the atmosphere and support around the course it second to none. If you’re looking for a big challenge, stick this one on your bucket list.

Tarawera Race 2017 Report – Cecilia’s Run

Report by Daniel Philpott

This is the second year I have crewed for someone at Tarawera Ultra after supporting Chris Townley all night and some of the day on his Tarawera Triple attempt last year.  I had offered to crew Cecilia and had the privilege of following the sharp end of the field around the trails for the day.

The reorientation of the start line was great.  There was a lot more room for spectators and you got a really good view of everyone racing down the start chute.  Onwards to the water tanks to see a flying Jim Walmsley, followed closely by the other runners.  Cecilia was running comfortably in 5th as she flung her headlamp at me.

A little further down the road well into the morning and by the time the runners arrived at blue lake Cecilia was in 4th position running fast and looking comfortable.  At the blue lake aid station I gave her replacement water bottles and had her previously beloved ‘power balls’ thrust at me to the comment of “I can’t eat these they are disgusting”.  I guess it’s a good thing we packed a lot of GU gels…

With no crew access to Millar road aid station I had enough time to get a takeaway coffee in Rotorua before moving on to the Okataina Boat ramp.  Here I nervously waited chatting with a few other people crewing for other runners and the leaders made their way through until Cecilia suddenly arrived in 3rd place and within striking distance of 2nd!!  Some confusion as to what we were doing and a quick pack swap and she was off to the falls.

It is a fair drive around the road to get there so it was a hurried affair to pick up a pacer number and get gels and bottles ready for her.  Jim came flying through now well ahead of the lead pack and I would not see him again over the last 40km as he was able to run it faster than I could drive to the aid stations!! Crazy!!  The lead woman came through followed by second around 8 mins later and Cecilia 12 mins after that.

Cecilia was in a solid position to challenge for 2nd and with Kevin pacing her closed the gap to 6 minutes at Titoki aid station.  I took over pacing duties at Fisherman’s Bridge for the final 10k.  Cecilia was now right on 2nd places heels and ran her guts out trying to make ground.

Unfortunately 10k wasn’t quite far enough to get ahead, we had made some progress but with 5k to go 2nd place put on her afterburners and despite running sub 5 minute kms for most of the last 10kms Cecilia would finish less than 2 minutes behind her and only 20 mins behind first place who broke the women’s course record.

It was amazing to see how much Cecilia could push herself against Olympic quality competition but I think we still haven’t seen the full potential of Cecilia’s ability as an ultra runner.

NZ 100k Championships 2016 Race Report

By Dawn Tuffery

I decided recently to give the 100k champs a go this year, and flew down to ChCh for 50 laps of Hagley Park. Training had been considerably less than ideal but there’s something about this event that draws me back. It’s an intriguing body-mind challenge. I’m in the middle of a rambling blog report which I’ll link to next week, but here’s a (slightly) summarised version. Photos from the Sri Chinmoy site and my ph.

After all the wondering and waiting and travelling, it was a relief to stand on the startline and set off. It’s a modest field, spread over 50k, 50 mile, 100k, and 100k relay events. You get to know people along the way while passing and getting passed. It was fun to see the speedy Phil Costley taking on his first NZ 100k (he holds 32 or so other NZ titles from 1500m up). Every 10k he’d lap me and chat for a moment, and I’d have a go at emulating his running form for a few hundred metres.

   

The first 40k or so of 100k is pretty fun, by necessity. You’re running within yourself and enjoying the environment. My aim was to stick around 5 minute ks for basically as long as possible, which worked well. You can explore the numbers here if thus inclined, but essentially I held a consistent 4.50 – 5 minute p/k pace until 60k, and then drifted between 5 and 6 until the end.

I don’t go into an ultra to race – it’s more about pacing your own run alongside others. I knew Shannon-Leigh and I would be well matched for the women’s title though, and also that we have different styles of running. She led for some time before slowing for a while in the middle. Around 50k I caught and later lapped her. From there, I just got on with my own focus as the ks became harder and my legs protested. I noticed I hadn’t seen Phil for 20k, meaning he was facing his own challenges. He ended up finishing (and winning) in 7.31.

At 88k, I got a surprise as Shannon whizzed past in an impressive comeback. I knew I had a lap on her, but her pace seemed like it could be 5 minutes per k to my 6, which would see me caught before the end. However, I didn’t have the energy to do much about it except keep up my trudging. As it happened, I crossed the line in 8.47, relieved, and she came in just 6 minutes later. Close, and exciting for the spectators who were carefully timing the splits. Thankfully it wasn’t a 110k.

Against the ‘rules’ I’d tried a couple of new things out. Tailwind was my nutrition for the day (a drink mix) which kept energy even until 75k or so, when I was probably beyond help anyway. I wore fivefingers for the whole thing which also went pretty well for all toes except one. My achilles had no problems on the hard repetitive surface which I was very happy about. Also, I got a tune-up during the week before from Daws Osteopathy and massage from Mary Rogerson (Hukanui Body Therapies) – always good.

   

The Sri Chinmoy team do an awesome job of putting this race on, and support you all day. They then feed you and give you trophies and flowers. Yay. I’d highly recommend this event, if you’re interested in trying a different kind of challenge.

Results and report