As I packed our things for our four day stay on Bruny Island, I checked the list. One essential item was Pauly’s Quacker Supporter cap that Louie had made for us last year. He had never worn his before. I looked at his and I looked at mine hanging on the same hook in our wardrobe; I reached for his and took mine as well. I might turn from supported into supporter during those 64kms was my unspoken thought. I put the caps on the dashboard of our car because I knew that unless it was there Pauly would forget to put his own. I sat mine just under his in case I needed it.
My supporters cap stayed on the dash for the whole entire 64kms of the Ultra. I didn’t need it. Here is the story of how the Unsporty Woman turned into an Ultra Marathoner.
We (that’s me) elected to start at the earliest time slot of 4:30am. Solo runners and teams must finish by 2:30pm. We had 10 hours.
The plan was to run the flats and the downs and to power walk the ups. There is an enormous winding up that goes for over 1km right at the start line. It was dark! At each 2km mark there is a sign declaring how many kms done and how many to go. Those 2kms seemed to whizz by.
Bruny Island Ultra Elevation
We had a great time Louise, Janette (Daisy) and I. Louie and Daisy are much faster runners than I am but they went at my pace. Sometimes they would get ahead and I’d just keep plodding at my pace until the next support stop; they waited for me at each stop or walked slowly until I caught them again. It worked perfectly and at no time did I feel pressure to change my pace. Louie and Daisy were kind and beautiful-hearted sole-sisters the entire way.
Grant and Pauly drove along with us and were so good at supporting. They were organised, enthusiastic and thoughtful. There were a few people who wondered (myself included) how Pauly would go as support. He does like a chat. He likes to chat a lot. This might come from spending most of his time with cows. Cows don’t tend to be good conservationists so when he gets to be with people he likes to natter away. He reigned in his chatting and stayed on task the whole time. Grant of course was awesome, he has done this before three years in a row and knew exactly what he was doing. The play list was wonderful and the cheers and encouragement from both our supporters were exceptional!
The kms ticked away. I was feeling awesome except that I didn’t feel like eating. The team picked up on this and each 2km I managed to eat simply because they insisted. Eating frequently in the early parts of a marathon are important because often when that 32km point comes food is the last thing a runner is interested in. I knew that this would be even more important for an Ultra so I ate away at my chews and gels and sipped on my electrolyte drinks. Bananas and a swig of coffee turned out to be what I really felt like so that’s what I had.
In training I’ve found it incredibly difficult to keep running after 32kms. I was still running at 32kms on the Ultra, still running at 40kms and at 42kms which we clicked over in 5:16:00. At this point I knew that I would make it to the finish so of course a few tears leaked out at this unbelievable realisation.
After 50kms my knees were shot. The road has a terrible camber almost all the way. My left knee and inside quad were on fire. I kept running with a few steps of walk. By the time we entered the national park I was pleased to see a great big hill. Louie had said that in the last third of the race that I would be looking forward to the hills and she was right.
Finally the last sign came into view. 62km mark, 2kms to go. And there were Grant and Paul, the car was parked and they were ready to go up that last huge hill to the lighthouse and the finish line. I ran as much as I could. Louie and Daisy were so gracious and made me go first. We got to the lighthouse. We got to the finish.
This run was over two years in the making for me. After hurting my right knee in our calf shed 15 months before and having to shelve my dream for a year, finally I got to be at the start line. I was thrilled to be there. I had my supporters cap ready but I didn’t need it. But honestly just to be at the start line made me feel like a winner.
Our little tribe of Quackers grouped together to get their weakest team member over the finish line of an event that had become as important as my first Holy Grail Running Event, The Point to Pinnacle. At times I felt like they wanted me to achieve this dream more than I did. They cared enough to make this run all about me. I am humbled beyond words by their love, care and support. Daisy was running her very first ultra too and yet they went at my pace.
It was a day when what if‘ became real. Where dreams became history. Where goals were authenticated by action.
To those who cheered from both near and far thank you so much. To my tribe, The Quackers, thank you will never be enough.
If I can become an Ultra Runner anyone can. No matter what goal you are chasing please keep chasing it. If you want it you can make it happen.
From letter box to mountain via a mountain and onto an ultra.
Happy running 🙂