Bruny Island Ultra

So last Saturday was the Bruny Island Ultra. A and I flew down to Hobart on Wednesday, did some walking around, relaxing, sauna-ing, lunch with mum where I actually met someone (Mick) who trained with Percy Cerutty and Herb Elliot et al.

On Thursday we went shopping and bought heaps of food. It’s hard to know what you want to eat on the run but I knew I wanted watermelon and juice and water. We also got chocolates (mostly for the crew), muesli bars, and I also got some chocolate coated coffee beans for after to stop the headache later on from lack of caffeine.

I realised I left my running cap in Melbourne. Normally I don’t like caps, but they are good to keep the rain out of your eyes, so I had to buy a cap in Hobart. It is a really good Brooks cap, best I’ve got, 1st I’ve paid for, $40 so it should be good.

We all went down to Bruny on Friday morning and stayed at the Finish shack. There is really nothing at Bruny. A small pub and a general store, a cheese shop that we stopped at, there is a winery or 2 and a chocolate fudge factory. There are lots of sheep, fish farms, penguins and we even saw a sea eagle and a hawk of some sort. There were hundreds of sea anenomes at the beach. I haven’t seen any of those since I was a kid!

We drove from the start of the run at Dennes Point to where we were staying in Lunawanna, which was about 3/4s of the way through the run. After some lunch, we rested for a while then took a walk up Mount Bruny. We weren’t exactly sure where we were going but we walked up the “mountain” (hill) which was through lovely rainforest. We tasted some leaves of the sassafras plant thinking it might be used in sarsparella?? It made your tongue a bit numb. After heading up for a while, and not being sure where the trail was going, we turned around and went back for a sauna, which turned out to be uncomfortable and not very clean. We went to the pub for dinner and I had a side salad, side of steamed vege and some chips. It was sooooo good.

I had originally decided on a 5:30am starting time but wasn’t sure if 5 would be better. So we just aimed to get there around 5:15am. This meant dad and I were up at 4am (J and A could sleep in), quick put on clothes, down a Gastrolyte, take a piece of bread with vegemite and water in the car. There were lots of paddymelons and even a spotted quoll running across the road. We saw what looked like a baby mutton bird sitting in the middle of the road so we shooed him over to the side so he wouldn’t get run over. As we got closer to the start we saw one guy, Dick Crotty, had already started his race. He was walking the event (and DNF’d). In the car we decided dad would meet me at 18k, 36k, 46k + 56k.

When we got to the Dennes Point jetty no one was there! So my thoughts of starting even 10 mins earlier weren’t going to happen. Soon enough Paul, the race director, arrived and a couple of other 5:30 starters arrived too. Of course, I forgot my new cap, it was sitting back in Hobart, so Paul kindly lent me his. Fortunately the weather held up and was an overcast 12 degrees, but the cap was a good one like my new Brooks so it wasn’t too hot and surprisingly comfortable and a perfect fit unlike all my other caps. Davo and John were also starting at 5:30 so we set off together. The first 2k are quite steep uphill and they were both smart ultra runners walking the steep bit while I took off running, expecting them to catch up to me at around 30k when I would start to tire and slow down.

Here is a map of the course. You can click on elevation to view the profile:

Bruny Island Ultra (2008)
Find more Runs in Tasmania, Australia

Davo’s crew member, Paul, was meeting him every 2k and I knew he was not far behind me because Paul was passing me frequently and offered me warm clothes, drink and encouragement. Of course, I didn’t need any of this, but this is just the typical generosity of ultra folk. John’s crew/wife, Olga, seemed to be stopping less frequently and took photos of me for my dad (who forgot to take the camera to the start line) and encouraged me all the way. As usual, I was blown away by the support of these people. Another crew member who I caught up to me later on even asked if I had a crew! I really wouldn’t want to be stopping and starting every 2k, drinking and eating so often etc especially since I quite happily complete a 3.5hr training run with nothing but a 600ml bottle of water.

The scenery was really nice. There were lots of sheep farms at the start. Most of the sheep stared at me like they had never seen a girl in a bright blue singlet running past them at that hour. One paddock of sheep started baa-ing and ran away from me!

Dad met me at 18k and I filled my bottle, but it was too full and my arms got sore carrying it. I tipped 1/2 of it out since we would be meeting soon enough anyway. There was continuous support from other runners’ crews if I ever needed anything desperately anyway.

Dad met me again sooner than planned and I had a V8 juice. It was good but I was quite full and didn’t drink much after that. After around 20k I started to tire. I think it was because the road had flattened out and I really struggle on the flat. I never reached the point of not caring or being in a mental black hole because there were just so many friendly runners and crew offering support it is just impossible to be anything other than happy.

At the next meeting spot dad had collected Jackie and Anth and their cameras. They were having so much fun they ended up meeting me more often than planned. Toward the end, they were stopping ever 4k.

A couple of runners ran past me suggesting I get a camelbak instead of using a handheld bottle. RB caught up to me at one point. He had just done the 6hr track at Moe and 80/100k of the GNW. He wasn’t feeling too fit at this point in time but still hoping to do the C2K 2 weeks later! It is quite comical when you hear ultra runners saying “I’m not fit, I’m just treating this as a 64k training run”… and then “I hope to run 246k in 2 weeks” hehe but I understand.

At various points I had some more juice, but mostly watermelon. The watermelon was sooo good. Best ultra food ever I’d say. Perfect mix of simple sugars and water. So refreshing. Easy to digest. At one point I even had 3 slices in a row and was still fine to run! I wanted to pass the marathon distance before I took a walk break since I still have never run a marathon. So I took my first walk break at 43k. Really from about 35k onwards the terrain was more undulating so it was good to take a walk break up a hill. I was able to keep a reasonable walking pace which means I have gotten more fit since the Tan Ultra where I just stumbled around.

My legs were tired of course, but there was no “injury” pain as such. I did feel a little achillies strain at the beginning of the hills but I warmed up soon enough and although there was some muscle fatigue, it wasn’t that bad at all. I wore the Nike Frees and had absolutely no foot pain or blisters or anything with my feet! My feet were very happy! I was able to keep up a good run/walk throughout the rest of the race. Toward the end the hills got much steeper and I had to walk slower up them. They were quite tiring. Later as the day went on all the relay teams were out, cheering their own members and us solo people! Towards the end I got a great view of the lighthouse right on the top of a hill. It was steep! I was able to run the last little bit to the top and touch the lighthouse door to finish in 7hrs 37mins! It was a really great run! The winner was there and she (yes, SHE) did it in 5hrs 24mins! Amazing! And a girl! Won outright!

I had an apple and walked down to the bottom of the hill. The car was parked about 200m away and my body wasn’t going to make it. I had finished, my body knew it, and it wasn’t going to move any more! So dad got the car and picked me up. It was pretty hard moving the rest of the day! We went back to the pub for the presentations. I had some pumpkin soup and a beer, won a spot prize (a Boags cap!), returned Paul’s cap, stood around for photos and received my Bruny Island Ultra patch. I don’t know where I would sew it.

It was such an unbelievably good day, I was feeling great and ready to do the next ultra! When we got home we were all exhausted and opted for pizza for dinner. A was asleep by 7:30pm, I went to bed at 8 and dad and J shortly after! We were all so tired after a long day.

Davo is organising the Launceston 6hr in Feb and I would really like to do it, but it is just a week after Maroondah Dam, which I would also like to do, and clearly I am not fit enough yet to run many ultras, although I will probably only do the 30k and Maroondah. We’ll have to see closer to the date.

I felt like I pulled up really well this time and have enforced a week off running. As of 2 days ago my metatarsals have felt sore and bruised and today my right foot looks a little swollen 😦 I have been limping a bit today. I have been walking most mornings in the Five Fingers, but maybe even walking is too much. I cut my walk short today. I did actually add a couple of short runs (50m or so) and they felt good, but the walking didn’t. The plan was to be able to run again tomorrow but now I’m not so sure. The Sri Chinmoy Williamstown is on next weekend and I really wanted to do the 10k and meet Melbourne’s other 2 FF wearers. I guess I will still be there because I want to meet them, and may have to do the 5k.

Bruny pics/results etc are up at Of course my name is spelt wrong again. Maybe my goal next year should be to have my name spelt correctly in ultra results!


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