UTA 100 - 2018
A vague recollection of events and portrayal of the Ultra Trail 100km 2018 run through the beautiful Blue Mountains.
“I’d lost my running mojo, but think I found it in the bottom of the valley that dark cold night”
‘Take a literary hallucinatory ride with UP Coaching’s Steven Gibson as he details his UTA100 race’
Steve Gibson is a Coached Athlete and has completed the UTA100 5 Times. He was supported by his lovely Wife Liesl.
THE FOLLOWING IS A TRUE RECOLLECTION OF AN ULTRA RACE, ALTHOUGH CHARACTERS AND NAMES HAVE LIKELY BEEN CHANGED AS I WAS LIKELY HALLUCINATING
Well, as my head coach Brendan was leading the UTA100, I was learning the reason I shouldn’t have missed training over the last few months and barely run at all since the Mt Solitary Ultra the month before. It was my 4th turnout at UTA for the 100km event. Easy, right? Done this before. I normally like to get a good start to get a clearish run down Furber, my favourite part, running downhills, but I found myself lagging at the back of wave 3, and so the long day begun. I must admit, I did make it past CP1 feeling ok, but speed wasn’t with me today. The lack of training reflecting in my fitness. Geez, I need to loose some weight. It seemed everyone I knew had come out to cheer me along narrowneck, oh wait, they were actually running the race as they flew past. Knew I should’ve been going to bloody training. There goes wave 4.
By Dunphys at 32kms, I was what’s called in the ultra world, “struggling”. Wave 5 had left me as I was consumed by wave 6. Bethany, an old Can Too mate past me. I think I gave her the look of struggle. Just after Dunphys she skirted up Iron Pot like it was flat. Skinny thing she is, geez I need to really loose some weight. Oh, and maybe train like Bethany. Did I tell you how I was feeling good after Dunphys. Well, yeah I was because Kate Tuckey had injured herself, so she and Paul were pulling out. See, that’s how things roll in an ultra. Well, maybe not, it was actually them pushing me on and telling me I had it in me to do this. 1st time I heard this today, wouldn’t be the last, and boy, did I need it. Kate, I hope you’re all ok.
You know you’re doing “well” in a 100km race when you sit down on a rock at around 40kms on a downhill section, my favourite part of running and are questioning why you even started, wanting to cry. Okay, so maybe men don’t cry (or there were just too many ultra runners going past checking on me). Of course “I’m good”. It was to be my auto response for the day. It was at this point at the back of nowhere and just over the hill from somewhere that Melaine can flying down the hill in fine form. A few words, she leaves me, but now I am inspired. Up I get you pitiful little man. You’ve got this. It’s amazing how many reasons you can make up whilst running as to why or why not you should continue on. Im not sure of the inspiration the bloke I ended up walking with for a while in CP3 gave to me. (ok, you got me, so I might have walked just a bit). This was his 5th time, he was pulling out at 6ft CP. He’d only finished once, trained no more than 7km long runs. Happy as a pig in mud. Was that an excuse to pull out or a reason I had this? Didn’t matter.
CP3, my crew arrives, Zoe, with Liesl who was meant to be volunteering in tow. I’d normally be at Katoomba by now, surely that was enough of a reason to pull out. Maybe not. No offer of a lift. Only 11kms to next CP anyway. Oh, and some little stairs called Nellies in between. It was about this time I started crossing over with some Japanese girls. For 1/2 the night they’d pass me, only for me to pass them back as they sat on the side of the track checking their phones. We all do it differently I suppose. Katoomba, I’m that late I actually need to take my fleece as mandatory gear. Never before. Surely this is a reason to quit. Zoe’s there, Brad shows up as good cop. Damn I wished I could’ve written all those reasons to quit down. I can’t remember any, but can’t really speak coherently by now anyway. I also an equally as long list of why to go on. They keep playing on auto play. Random play is selected. I’m done, but somehow they get me to say I can only continue if I put my thermals on. They get my thermals out. I also get the best foot massage by the medic ever. Zoe puts her arm over my shoulder and shows me the door. Feeling great. You’ve got this. Get to CP4.5. Fairmont water stop. Looking for another reason, first time ever I stop at medic to get blisters seen to. They’re huge. Take socks off. OK, maybe they aren’t. Medics cute and chatty, I could just sit here all night. I tell her my crew keep pushing me out. Shit, need to back out of this quick. Zoe will kill me if I get pulled because I dobbed on her. Zoe’s not here anyway? Is she? Medic keeps me warm, gets me going. Stop for water, meet Cam, partner of old school friend Ally, who has decided to volly at last minute due to urgent call out from UTA whilst partner sleeps off her 50km success. It’s bloody freezing, almost midnight and here he is bright and cheerful.
The ultra community? And I don’t think he even trail runs. True champ. Zoe makes sure I leave checkpoint. CP?? what comes next. QVH to me or QVB in my delirious state. Normally finished by now. Rest at CPs has become mandatory to regain some sanity. Costing me time but gave that up long ago. Do I go, or call it a day? Night?? Bloody long day? 78kms pretty good for some old fart who hasn’t trained enough. There is not really a discussion, I know once I’m out that tent, down the hill there is no turning back. Margaret told me if you go down Kedumba you need to be able to run it. Well, that worked. At least to half way down and the body packed it in. Bloody long hike from there. Sunrise comes, the golden glow lights up the 3 sisters. I’m close. When does skyrail open? As I cross the line I hear my name being called by the fabulous Jo Brishetto, who greets me and Liesl puts a medal over my head. Liesl’d been there since 5pm the night before, give or take, handing out medals. Not that I was around. But I really wanted one of these medals, I always thought they looked so nice. Think I’ll stick to the buckles from now on. Zoe, my faithful crew is beaming. She did it. She got me over the line. Still not finished, I’m ushered to gear check to see what piece of mandatory gear I wasn’t wearing. Didn’t meet any snakes to wrap them up and keep them warm, so lucky I pass muster. Russell is there. He confirms how shit I feel. I tell the girl with him several times “that was shit”. Sorry, I meant me and my time. I’m 6hrs late on my “A” race I had planned for. As always I love this race and the community it brings. So much support from runners, spectators and vollies kept me going….all day…and all night….and part if the day again. As painful as it was, I trully loved the challenge. It was tough, mentally and physically, but it was actually great to push through and loose a little bit of pride along the way about a poor time. It tested my character in a number of ways this year.
Life doesn’t always let you prepare for your “A” race, but being out there and giving it a go is what it is about. I’d lost my running mojo, but think I found it in the bottom of the valley that dark cold night. Now to train and loose some weight. A very special thankyou to Zoe for getting me through and toughening up this little princess. If there is one final thing I could say and that is to train like Brendan. Be like Brendan. Don’t train like Steve. Brendan went on to win UTA100 2018. Happy trails!!!