You know how it goes…you get a few races under your belt…a bit of mileage behind you….and you think, “Meh…42km?…no worries, mate.” Guilty as charged. My training was ok, it was just my state of mind leading into the race which, now looking back, was probably directly responsible for a somewhat incomplete preparation. The week leading into the 100km Surf Coast Century trail ultra-marathon featured nearly six hours of pure mobility work and a regimen of magnesium loading…both absent for the week prior to the Ultra Beast. The result? An entertaining (for those who witnessed it) array of cramps firing off in various patterns and combinations. You douche-bag.
I know one of my favourite catch-phrase spin-offs is Prior Preparation and Planning Makes for a Very Dull Day, but I might have been better off sticking to the original release of Prior Prepartation and Planing Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Not that I think my overall result was necessarily piss poor, but I know that in the absence of my muscular mutiny I would have pulled a much better placing. Such is life. Lesson learnt.
The event took place in Picton, New South Wales and even as we drove into our camping site the night before the race I shot a text out to a mate that read “F^ck me. The hills around here look NASTY.” With the 42km race accumulating more than 3,500m in elevation gain you just became numb to the hills and developed an excellent 1,000 yard stare as you sucked hot dust, scaled high walls, climbed ropes and carried heavy stuff up and down and back up again…and down again….and so on.
My favourite “pseudo” obstacle?….the water crossings. They just made you feel too good to be called obstacles….and god, they were SO good. My favourite “true” obstacles?….the heavy lifters…a 25kg+ (felt like 30kg) sandbag up a savage goat track and back, a 28kg kettlebell hoist (thanks to highly inefficient pulley points, these felt like 40kg) and the 55kg deadball carry. They were hard, gritty and demanded moments of internal reflection. I love that shit.
The worst obstacle?…..all together everyone…1, 2, 3…”that f^cking wire crawl”. Yes, it was a unanimous vote. At a distance of around 150m+ over rocky ground, this sucked the big one. The fastest way through was undoubtedly rolling, but this had serious side-effects of nausea and dizziness. Another problem for me was that it gave my legs time to hold an emergency meeting and stage a violent protest…expressed in the form of the simultaneous cramping of both groins, one hip flexor and one calf. When I came out the other end it is safe to say had everyone’s undivided attention as I stood frozen to the spot, teeth clenched while making a disturbing guttural growl. A couple of minutes later the protest subsided and I shuffled off, gradually lengthening my stride as much as I could before resuming full control. This protest kicked off again briefly about 2km from the finish line.
An interesting stat from my Suunto Ambit2 was that only 6% of the race was spent on flat terrain. That’s comforting to know, as I would describe my capacity to walk for the next couple of days was “limited”. After 6:38.44, with an average heart rate of 151, I crossed the line 5th in my 40-49 category and in 24th place overall out of about 100 that took on Spartan Australia’s very first Ultra Beast event. Definitely some benchmarks to crush next year.
No matter the race what remains constant is the people. Whether hardened competitors, weekend warriors, staff or volunteers….the people are good. As always, it was awesome to see familiar faces and meet new ones.
Before signing off, my hat tips to everyone heading to the US for this weekend’s World’s Toughest Mudder. To say I wish I was there with you is an understatement beyond description. Tap into last year’s hurt….apply this year’s wisdom….and kick the shit out of that course. I’ll be watching you on-line.
Good luck to every one of you. Race well, travel safe.