Bruny Island Ultra 64km – 2010

Yesterday was my 3rd Bruny Island Ultra. They really don’t get any easier! Bruny Island is a small island not far from Hobart. It has a pub, a cheese factory, some shacks, lots of sheep and that’s about it! There is a new cafe at Dennes Point that looks really nice so even though I didn’t eat there, I do recommend checking it out if you’re down that way.

The trick about this race is you can start at any time you like, but you have to time it so you finish between 12:30 and 2:30pm. Then you have time to drive back to the pub for presentations at 3pm.

This year we decided to stay close to the start line at Dennes Point to maximise sleep time and minimise the early morning shock to the system. We were about 100m from the start line so after a good night’s sleep, I got up around 5am, had an avocado for breaky and walked to the start line for my nominated 5:30am start.

It was pretty warm, maybe around 20 degrees and muggy, with fog rolling in along the water.

There seemed to be quite a few of us suckers regulars who keep showing up each year. Davo and Chris were already there, but I was starting by myself at 5:30 while they were a bit after me.

The first 2km are steep uphill, but since I still haven’t wisened up to good ultra running technique I ran it since I had the energy. Once I got to the top I was greeted with a perfect sunrise over the water. This first part of the race is my favourite. It consists of lovely rolling hills and views of the water at sunrise. It’s very quiet at that time as not many other runners have started and the relay teams are a long way off starting. It’s just like going on a beautiful long run in the country with just yourself and the sheep. Every now and then a car would drive past and the driver would wave or offer words of encouragement.

Dad and J were meeting me every 8km for the first few bits and I was a bit ahead of schedule, which made a good change from my usual slow plod. Their mobile kitchen had my oranges, strawberries and dad’s homemade boysenberry cordial.

About 20kms into the race the road flattens out, you lose the scenery and I find it a real mental struggle to keep going. It was getting pretty warm, my lumbar spine was tiring from carrying my camelbak and I was questioning my sanity. What was I doing running ultras when I only run once or twice a week in training and don’t do any long runs?

From about here on Dad and J stopped more often. I didn’t need anything – I was just looking for an excuse to stop. In hindsight I was really stopping too often as it did slow me down, but I have always found this middle flat section draining. I was also eating too much and was having difficulty digesting it all on the run. I told myself at the first hill I got to, I could take a walk break. This was at the 32km mark, which is half way. This was great as it signaled the start of more undulating terrain, which I am much better at. The scenery also improved and I could see the rolling hills, horsies and sheepies.

There is a nice downhill section into Alonnah to the pub and I knew from here things could only get better. More runners were out and about now. The relay teams were out and spurring me on. And some more solo runners were out and passing me.

I was really getting hot and could feel I was getting sunburnt. Whenever I met up with dad and J I took the opportunity to pour water on my head to cool down. I was also really craving an icy pole.

At about the 40km mark there are more uphills. Previously I had found these difficult as my legs got sore and tired but this time, due to my weight training, my legs were feeling great. A couple of weeks ago a hit a 100kg deadlift and this strength was making running so much easier. All I have to do in future is run more to get some speed back. My achilles wasn’t even giving me much grief. When it did, I concentrated on relaxing my feet on landing (as I tell my clients, but this is the first time I’ve taken my own advice) and then the pain would disappear! Magic!

Although I was walking up a fair chunk of the hills from here on, my legs really were feeling fine. The soles of my feet were a little sore and fatigued from wearing flats (Adizero PRO, which are ripped but I keep forgetting to duct tape up), but generally I was feeling pretty good. I knew that if I just kept my heart rate low I could keep going forever.

Once I realised there were only 18km left I regained some energy and started to feel good about the run again. The weather was starting to cool down and the wind picked up. Most people would probably not like this but it was such a relief to me as I much prefer to run in the cold than the heat.

At the 14km-to-go mark I left my cambelbak in the car and took sips of water every 2km when dad and J stopped for me. Dad said if I ran fast enough I’d beat the wind and the rain. That was enough for me! The relay teams were cheering, cars were tooting their horns and I could feel the finish. It was mostly uphill from here but it seemed much easier than my previous two times here. I was able to really give it a good go on the downhill bits and I even managed to pass a couple of other slower solo runners.

Someone gave me a boost at the end by pacing me to the bottom of the final steep hill. Thanks so much for that! It was such a boost and it gave me the confidence to run the whole way up the steep hill and steps to the top of the lighthouse. I yelled at people “RUNNER ON THE RIGHT!!” so I didn’t have to stop and made it to the top of the lighthouse before feeling the need to puke. Fortunately I checked myself before I made a mess of things! I made it just under 8 hours 30 mins. Not sure exactly as my watch wasn’t exact and official results aren’t up yet.

Up until here my legs were feeling great but once the run was over my legs knew time was up and I could only manage a hobble back down the hill to the car.

I made dad stop off at a shop for an icy pole on the way to the pub. Presentations at the pub were great, with lots of fantastic free food on offer. I think this was the largest field yet with around 60 teams and 28 solo runners. All us solo runners got a $20 gift voucher for The Running Edge so I’ve left that in Hobart and will give dad a few ideas to spend it for me.

This is such a great friendly run. I think I will need to be back as I’ve got the leg strength, but I need to work on my pace to see how much faster I can do it.

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