Taupo Ultra 74km - a newbie's experience
By Cheryl Kessack on 28th October 2018 Race Reports
I consider myself a newbie to running as I started less than 2 years ago, overweight, unfit but too pig-headed to let something like a challenge get the better of me. My friend Cherie Waterhouse and I were out plodding one day and she asked if I motivated her. Thinking with my mouth I said 'sure', tell you what, I'll do the Taupo Ultra with you (thinking I was going to do 50km, not 74). I had said it so I HAD to do it.
With a discounted entry through Wild Things #paystobeavip and the early bird discount, I was committed.
Training? You have to train? What do you mean I have to learn to eat while running?
For me, running is a mental challenge, forget the physical side - it is 99% mental. I had decided to do this so I was going to do it (somehow).
As always the night before an event, sleep eluded me, napping and waking to check my watch to make sure I didn't oversleep and then wanting to sleep when I got to the start line. Waiting for a 0630 bus while freezing my butt off and then finding ways to keep warm at the start line - the trailer for the drop bags served its purpose - oh, it wasn't actually there for us to stand in? It had another purpose?
0800 and we were off - slowly. To me a trail run is running through trees, on dirt, so the first 1/3 of road and farm were a little bit of a shock - I do not enjoy roads, I do not enjoy farms and really do not like the result of cows eating grass in the form that it was lying around. Not to mention all these damned clumps of grass and smelly mud-ugh! The thought of forest time kept me going.
Did I mention that my right foot had gone numb and then starting hurting like hell? Spent more time favoring the left foot so was a tad 'unbalanced' physically and mentally. Changed my shoes, dry socks, just in time to step in the mud again. (I think it was mud)
The next 1/3 from the airstrip to Kinloch was awesome. Spectacular views and my kind of terrain - hills to use as an excuse to slow down and admire the scenery! The left foot then gave out and I switched to the right foot.
That part of the journey was magic! Planned to be there by 1630 and left about 1715 so on track.
Biggest challenge at Kinloch - the portaloos were on a trailer - with no steps. "%^%*&%*&%^(&*^" I managed to get up to one.
Another shoe change and dry socks - bigger shoes this time. Of course I had to get them muddy right away again (still don't know where I found the mud)
The part that I was dreading because I knew it was going to be my most challenging 24k ever. Intense elevation, unknown, likely in the dark with 50k behind me (which was already more than I had ever done before). Picked up my pacer Sharon Rehu and warned her what I expected to be like. Thankfully she was there to stop me falling every time I stopped moving, to switch my headlamp on, remind me to put one foot in front of the other and above all - to breath.
I cannot begin to explain what was going through my head but I was determined to finish, no matter what. I know I thought I was running but I also know I was hardly moving, I am sure there were some snails outpacing me. Poor Sharon didn't really get a chance to run - all I wanted to do was throw up, then curl up and die...immediately.
Night set in, my watch died, I had no ability to even switch my phone on so had no idea where we were or how far to go....5.5 hours to do 24k!
About 1.8k from the end, someone threw in a deal breaker - a stile to cross a fence. Seriously, that was almost my final straw - lifting my foot 1cm was hard and this was like 15cm. I confess, I shed a few tears.
I made it over the fence and then the gentle uphill to the finish - did I mention that I have no concept of up or down when I am tired? I honestly don't know if I am running up or down a hill - both feel the same.
14.5 hours and I was over the finish - mental battle over and now for the physical to kick on - or give up. Couldn't breath, couldn't stay straight and acted like I had just drunk a few bottle of whiskey - now there is an idea for the next time.
I survived - I am now an ULTRA marathoner.
Would I do it again? Well, now that my body has recovered......if I win an entry, then yes! Waiting for Wild Things to have a competition :)
By the way - I still cannot eat while running - everything I have tried, hits my stomach and either bounces back up (and out) or goes straight through so I am sticking to liquids - water, electrolytes, honey and peanut butter slugs with the occasional solid treat of a chocolate coated coffee bean. Now to learn to train. Maybe I can actually run next time instead of plodding
All pics by Photos4Sale