Turning ‘if only’ into reality

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.

At the start

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!

Posing on the bridge where Pauly famously received the title of Troll on the first Quackers Trip to Bruny. We can’t say why.

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.

There were 101 solo runners and 110 teams with all up 690 runners. Only the solo runners had bibs. It was rather damp during the ultra but the days leading up had been in the mid 30s so we were grateful for the cooler damp day.

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 🙂

We did it – Bruny Island Ultra

Celebrating with bubbles.

Grant and Pauly were an organised, energetic and thoughtful support crew. We will hire them out. Ask for a quote. They were simply wonderful!

Daisy and Louie ❤❤ both four hour marathoners. They ran with me every step of the way.   Thank you Sole Sisters x

More later.

Happy running ☺

See you on the other side

The lucky Tiki has a big job to do.  In less than four sleeps he will have to do his thing.  The Maori Tikis that Pauly bought for the three little Duckies were washed and packed away.  Tonight I got mine out and have sewn him into my running shorts.

Inside my favourite Lorna Jane shorts is also a heart bead.  The people who sew for Lorna Jane randomly add hearts.  They can be anywhere in the garment but not all garments have them.

My shorts have a lucky Tiki to keep away that bad spirit of self doubt and a heart bead that is a symbol of love.  And I’m wearing my INKnBURN Healing Mandala running top.  Luck, Love and Healing.  I think I have the bases covered.

I don’t feel ready to run Bruny Island Ultra in four sleeps, but I am prepared.  Next stop Bruny Island.  See you on the other side!

Happy running 🙂

Trust your training

I’ve run eight marathons.  None have them have been easy.  All of them frightened me.  The Marathon is a distance I humbly respect with the expectation that I will try my best and hopefully go from start line to finish line.

I’ve been so close to withdrawing from Bruny Island UltraHave I committed to something bigger than I can do?  The question has hung in my mind for weeks and weeks.  Auckland Marathon seems such a long long time ago.  It seems like ages since I laced up my shoes and ran a really long run.  But actually it isn’t.  It was only four weeks ago.  Training since then hasn’t been that good but I’ve got it done.

Trust your training.  A friend said this to me just before Point to Pinnacle 2013, that Holy Grail of running events that I honestly thought I’d never be able to do.  I trusted my training and I got to the top of that mountain.  I’ve trusted my training and got to the finish line of eight marathons.

I’m going to trust my training again and be at the start line of Bruny Island Ultra this coming Saturday at 4:30am.  I’ll be lining up beside Louise and Janette.  Grant and Pauly will be support crew.  There will be laughing, there will be music, there will be determination and hopefully we will climb that last hill to the lighthouse all together by 2:30pm.

I have no doubts that Louie and Daisy can get to the finish, Louie completed the event last year.  I have more doubts that I can say that I will get there.  So I have decided to stop thinking about those doubts.  I’m not thinking of those 64kms.  I’m thinking of three half marathons or six lots of 10 with a little 4km finish.  I’m thinking of Pauly and Grant saying funny things at each pit stop.  I’m thinking of Louie’s amazing singing and Daisy’s awesome encouragement.  I’m thinking about all the people along the way who will boost us up with cheers.  I’m thinking of the fun and of being with two women who I care about more than I can say.  I’m going to do what I do when I line up for a marathon.  I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and hopefully, eventually I’ll get to that lighthouse and I’ll be able to say that I finished an ultra marathon.  I will trust my training and do my best.

All good happy vibes from near and far gratefully accepted.

Thank you Louie and Daisy for being at the start line with me ❤ hopefully we will get to the finish line together too.

Happy running 🙂

PS it’s been Birthday Week in our home.  Pauly turned 60 on Tuesday and had a celebration last night.

Cake made and decorated by Blondie Daughter #1

Salad preparation

10kgs of potato salad

Australian Man Ferns spray painted to look like New Zealand Silver Ferns with Pauys new medal rail in the background.

And while Blondie Daughter #1 was home we went wedding dress shopping ❤




How are you feeling about the Ultra in less than two weeks?  

Ultra?  Oh yes, that.  Umm….well…first I’ve got ummm stuff to do…then I’ll let you know.

The Unsporty Woman is feeling distracted.  Distracted by people coming and going.  Distracted by hiccups, irrigation dramas and happenings on the farm.  Distracted by changes at work.  But mostly distracted by the up coming 60th Birthday Party for Pauly.

Pauly’s 60th is being well and truly celebrated!  He’s had his early birthday gift of a Polar M430 a few months ago.  He’s had an early Kiwi Family and Friends dinner in Auckland.  He will have his real 60th Birthday on Tuesday.  AND Finally he’ll have his birthday celebration on Saturday.  Birthdays that end in 0 should be celebrated for as long as possible.

All these distractions mean I’ve been run off my feet but not by running.  The training is being done and hopefully will get me across the finish line of the Bruny Island Ultra; I’ve ticked off long runs, short runs, medium runs and cross fit, all according to the plan.  And so have Janette and Louie.  We have 10 hours to run 64 hilly kms.  Am I convinced I can do it?  Am I sure I won’t want to hop in the car and wave Louie and Janette on?  Fortunately right now I’m way too distracted with catering lists, spray painting Australian Man Fern fronds to look like New Zealand Silver Ferns and generally doing exciting things like counting knives and forks, wondering how many kgs of bread crumbs I need to put into 10kgs of mince for hamburgers and well things like that.

I was even too distracted to remember that Louie and I had to run a virtual half marathon for the Indigenous Marathon Project.  We slogged it out on Friday.  This virtual run raises funds to send Indigenous runners to the New York Marathon.  It’s the third year that Louie and I have participated.  It’s a great cause and it’s a lovely medal.

Happy running 🙂

Here are some happy snaps of some of the distractions this week…

A cheeky Kookaburra on the gate showing no signs of fear.   I was running late for work but who can resist saying hello to Kookaburra?  I can’t!

Pauly had a horrible day yesterday digging up 100s of metres of irrigation pipe.  My washing machine and I had a tough time as a result with several changes of clothes left on the front door step for us to deal with.  Please note if coming to visit during irrigation and you see clothes on the door step it might mean a naked farmer somewhere close by.

I finally put all of Pauly’s medals on his own rail.

Calves keep escaping into the farmhouse yard. I am going to turn them into veal sausages if they don’t behave… only joking.  These little girls will join the milking herd when they are older.

Louie and I on Friday doing our hot and humid 21.1kms for the Indigenous Marathon Project Virtual Half Marathon.

Three crazy duckies last Sunday doing the 19km Triple Top Event. Well done you three!

I was waiting at the end. The participants had just literally come down the face of the mountain. I so want to do this next year!


M I A: Tamaki Maori Village

There were so many options for things to do and see while we were in New Zealand.  We looked at tours, experiences and adventures.  A must was a trip to Tamaki Maori Village.

Missing in Aotearoa:  Tamaki Maori Village

This is a unique and authentic look at life for the Maori people, their culture, their traditions and their history.  Janette had done something similar on a trip to NZ nearly 20 years ago and Pauly and I visited a few years ago.  I wrote about our trip on the blog back in April 2015:  Fulfilling the dream of a little girl.  I loved it the first time and I loved it the second time.

The Tamaki Maori Village is run by the Tamaki family.  Yet again, another experience in NZ where we felt like invited guests to a special family event rather than paying tourists.  It was so much fun to experience this with our friends.  They were as keen as we were and at the end of the trip everyone said how much they loved it.

The best part of the trip was that Grant was elected Chief of our Tribe.  We travelled to the village in our waka (our bus became a Maori canoe called a waka).  Some noisy Australians nominated Grant. I don’t know who (innocent look).

Grant and our Waka driver Wallace doing the traditional Maori greeting known as the Hongi. The Hongi is the pressing of nose and forehead twice and is all about the mixing of breath.

Chief Grant out front and centre for the traditional greeting.

Apologies for the dodgy videoing.  Grant and Pauly along with all the men of our tribe learning to do the Haka.

The Tamaki Maori Village was all about the traditional Maori way of life.  We learnt about things like their poi dance, the Haka, facial tattooing,  the making of traditional weapons and games.  Then it was off for a communal meal.  I forgot to take photos of the Hangi!  It was so yummy!  This is a traditional meal cooked in the ground using hot volcanic rocks.  How many potatoes do you think one little duck ate?  And how much Maori bread?  We had just run a marathon so we can call it refuelling the Maori way.  Oh my goodness the kumera (white sweet potato) was delicious!

We had the best of evenings.  This experience was voted five stars by all the Quackers!

This is my last M I A post.  Normal blogging with commence shortly… as normal as it can be seeing as though there are only a few more weeks until Bruny Island Ultra.  I hope those lucky Tikis are up for the job!

I hope you haven’t minded a little clogging up of your email and WordPress Reader by the Unsporty Woman this week 🙂  thanks for reading along x

Happy running 🙂

Here are just a few more happy snaps of our trip…

Louie and Janette at a stop over in the gum boot capital of NZ, Taihape. The Quackers got to see the hills that are the course for The Great PukeokaHu Man v Horse race. I don’t think they were inspired though!

We all loved our brief stop in Napier and the Art Deco buildings.

The beach at Napier – volcanic sand and pebbles.

A reminder about courage.

M I A: Lake Taupo parkrun and the lucky Tikis

Lake Taupo is stunning. Unfortunately on the Saturday we were there, the weather decided to be wet and foggy so we didn’t get the usual views of a lake so vast and wide that you’d swear it was the ocean.  Skin is waterproof and you can only get wet through once so off we went to run Lake Taupo parkrun.

This is a new parkrun that’s building numbers.  Of the 20 people who participated it felt like more than half were visitors.  The volunteers were wonderfully friendly and sunny and more than made up for the soggy run.


All done. This was Louie’s first parkrun and her ‘Run Brave’ run. This is the second year she has participated in a virtual run to raises awareness about mental health and the mental health benefits of running.

After parkrun and another soak in the hot pools we went for a walk to Huka Falls.  The colour of the water is so beautiful.

New Zealand is known for its green stone.  According to Pauly green stone must be given as a gift.  With the Bruny Island Ultra just around the corner he bought Louie, Janette and I a lucky Tiki each.  It’s tradition to wash them in a stream before wearing them.

Just as we finished washing our Tikis a duck swam close.  I’m taking this as an extra special bit of good luck!

Happy running 🙂