For a long time, I considered the challenge of running/racing a regular marathon (42.2kms) the ultimate physical challenge. But in recent years I have discovered the world of ultra-distance events, where you are forced go beyond the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary. In this post, I will briefly review my participation in the 2022 UTMB Ultra-Trail Kosciusko 100km race and the challenges it presented.
In running terms, an ultra-distance event is any race/event that exceeds the standard marathon distance of 42.2kms. Besides the unique distance covered, ultra-events/races also span across unique terrains, including mountains, trails, deserts, and even snow-covered landscapes. The sheer endurance required to complete such races makes them both physically and mentally demanding,
which is what I find so appealing! Such events force you to explore your own human limits and challenge you to go beyond what is considered comfortable or attainable. For me, ultra-marathons epitomise the human desire to push boundaries and seek extraordinary experiences.
In December 2022 I prepared for and completed the UTMB Ultra-Trail Kosciusko 100km race…finishing in 27th position in 11hrs.
In preparing for this event, I regularly hit the trails around home at 4am to complete 4+hr runs. The training and preparation alone took me to limits I never thought possible…let alone the race! Given the time of day of most of my training runs (4am), the first 1-2hrs was always pitch black; which gave me great opportunities to test the Maxtoch E3 headlamp. The E3 headlamp was an absolute beast and would light up the trails like a Christmas tree. Although not designed for ultra- running, I found the E3 reasonably light weight and comfortable to wear during a 4hr run. The E3 headlamp was also part of my mandatory race gear.
The race itself exceeded all expectations. To start with, it was unseasonably cold with significant snow fall before and during the race. Being December, most competitors were preparing for the warm summer conditions.Due to the amount of snow, parts of the course had become too treacherous, and organisers were forced to make some course changes to ensure the safety of competitors.
Given it was my first competitive ultra, I was petrified about (a) the unknown; (b) the distance; (c) the terrain; and (d) the conditions that were ahead of me. My first goal was to survive; and if that happened, my second goal was to break 12hrs.
Come race day we started at Charlottes Pass and gradually made our way up towards Mt Kosciusko before heading back down to the valley floor. The amount of snow that covered the course was significant in the first 30kms, which gradually became less as we descended. All was going well until I got to 80kms…and then the wheels starting to fall off. My inexperience of competing at this distance
led to poor decisions regarding my calorie intake during the race, which to put simply, was inadequate. This unfortunately started to impact my performance and I was simply running out of gas in the back half of the race. Things got so bad I was thinking of pulling out at the 98km mark (only 2kms to go!). My inadequate calorie intake was obviously affecting my ability to think clearly and make sound decisions. Fortunately, with 2kms to go, I heard the race announcers voice over the loud speaker at the finish line and knew I was close to home…so I simply focussed on putting one foot in front of the other…and I made it!
Words cannot explain the sense of relief I felt when I crossed the finish line. I literally collapsed into the arms of my support crew and loved ones. While the journey was long and arduous, the reward and satisfaction I gained from completing this event are immeasurable. For those willing to step outside their comfort zones and embrace the unknown, the world of ultra marathons offers a life-changing experience that will forever redefine their limits.
In closing, I need to stress 2 important points. Firstly, to complete such a challenge, you must have the right gear. I was fortunate to have access to the Maxtoch E3 headlamp which was my constant companion during my 4+hr training runs. Secondly, I cannot stress enough the importance of pre-race and race-day nutrition. I made good use the Radix Nutrtition Recovery Smoothies for my post
training run recovery meals. I just wish I made full use of them during the actual event and thus ensure adequate calorie intake during the race…I will know better for next time!