The Ox Ultra, 24th May 2015

Well this turned out to be the toughest ultra I’ve done so far. The course wasn’t hard, it’s probably on par with Country to Capital and on a good day I would definitely have been able to run a fast 50km…unfortunately it was not such a good day!

First of all the race was billed as 35(ish) miles and actually turned out to be 37.2! This isn’t so bad you’re feeling fine physically but, alas, I couldn’t keep any gels or Shot Bloks down at all! I had my first Shot Blok and salt pill at 45 minutes and that was fine but somewhere around the two hour mark when I opened a gel it all went very wrong. I had to slow down a fair bit and discard the gel before I’d even taken a quarter of it – a wave of nausea hit me straight away and then a short while later I retched and then, for the first time ever, I hurled during an ultra and only at 26km or thereabouts…it was going to be a much longer and tougher day than I’d anticipated!

From 28 klicks until the 47 klick check point I was in a very, very dark place. I did manage some strong sections and my last 10km wasn’t too bad at all – I certainly cannot complain about taking 4 people with about 200m to go and a fair few in the preceding miles but having to do an ultra on will power, water, a few salted crisps, jelly babies and tangerines was a real test of strength and character! After my initial vomiting episode I hurled again just after 42 klicks and then once more at 51 klicks. I was feeling pretty depleted of energy and the salt build up on my shirt and face suggested I was becoming more dehydrated than usual!

My original goal was to lower my 50k PR under 5 hours (it still stands at 5:12) and to make a push for a top 10 spot. Neither of these things happened but I did manage a pretty respectable 5:18 50k so I’m not too disheartened at all. I eventually finished in 51st place, just under a minute behind 50th in 6:35:21. To have made the top 10 I’d have had to run a 5:34 or better…

Sometimes it’s good to suffer and to be made to deal with the unexpected – it’s character building and I’m really proud that I kept on keeping on and finished. There were many times I considered dropping but every time I was approaching an aid station I began to run if I wasn’t already and I made sure I didn’t hang around for anything close to sympathy or the a chance to sit down! The only thing that is playing on my mind is the fact that this race marks the first time I didn’t actually have the wherewithal to race at all – I was overtaken by a lot of people from about 30km onwards and it was very demoralising not being able to muster my usual racing spirit. But, with that said, I managed to catch up with and overtake a fair few of those that went by during my dark phase!

All in all, I can’t grumble! I gutted it out, I enjoyed the scenery and I learned that when the going gets really tough I can still muster a fast hike to keep me somewhat in the game. I also learned:

  1. Tangerines are my ‘go to’.
  2. Jelly Babies may not be as calorie dense as a gel but they get the job done.
  3. When salt pills won’t stay down – ready salted crisps will do!
  4. “If you run you’ll finish faster” is a pretty effective mantra.
  5. If the scenery is beautiful the pain and suffering is worth it.

Aside from my race, Gabs ran her first ever half marathon on the same course this weekend and did amazingly well with a 2:22:52 on what turned out to be a 14 mile course with 510m of elevation – 17th woman from 111 and 87th overall from 252 finishers! There was even some talk of still feeling strong after 14 miles and what this might mean for marathon aspirations…

So, that’s it for this race report! A pretty short one this time around but I’m going to leave you with a picture gallery of the weekend:

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