Sunday, 28 September 2014

Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon 2014

When I last visited Adelaide 12 years ago I left with fond memories of fun times and friendly people along with a desire to return to experience it again. I'd been following the growth of  Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon, a 56km trail run meandering through the Adelaide Hills, from a distance with a longing to one day be part of the event as an excuse to return to Adelaide. Subsequently, when the Yurrebilla race committee asked me to be the event's 2014 race ambassador I was ecstatic.
Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon course profile.
Following my run at Western States back in June I took it pretty easy with my recovery in an attempt to avoid injury. My running had been pretty easy going, just enjoying the trails with friends.

A month out from Yurrebilla race day I was fortunate enough to visit Adelaide for a long weekend of all things Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon. I was billeted out to Emma Barlow and her lovely family. There were a few social meals. There were private group runs. There were open group runs. There was even a girls' run with Adelaide's very own Chicks Who Run, whom were nice enough to teach me some of the finer points of koala spotting, something that I thought was very novel but I'm sure they all thought was an everyday experience. They managed find 10 koalas for me in our short run.
Chicks Who Run training run. Yurrebilla Facebook.

I departed the Yurrebilla training weekend with a feeling of excitement for the event ahead and a resolve to up my training. It's always good to be part of an event, such as Yurrebilla, that has an atmosphere which extends beyond the event day. It sustains the motivation to train and stay focused on the goals ahead.
Being initiated into Chicks Who Run. Chicks Who Run Facebook.
For race weekend I ditched Brian (who was building our new house) for my mum, Joan. Mum has proven herself to be a good travel partner and support crew/spectator. We flew down to Adelaide on the Thursday before race day which allowed use time to participate in the pre-race activities with plenty of time to also play tourist in Adelaide. Coincidentally, Mum and I were joined on our flight with Andy Lee who was also flying to Adelaide for Yurrebilla. Our meeting worked well as we were able to organise a course familiarisation session the following day together.
Course recce with Andrew Lee (calf whisperer) and Howard Norton.
The race start for Yurrebilla is one of self seeding. There are four start waves, all staggered with the intent of having the bulk of runners finishing together, sort of. The slow runners head off first with the faster runners heading off last. It is a similar format to my local running club's (Berowra Bush Runners) 10km road handicap. Having someone faster come from behind helps lift me while running, if only for a short while. It also makes for some very social running and minimises those lonely times in ultra running.

Mum and I stayed pretty close to the start line at Belair. I didn't quit know how close until I was leaving to go to the start line and noticed the first wave of runners running through the trails just a short distance away from our accommodation. Our accommodation was near the 10km mark of the race and I still had over an hour and a half before my wave started, so all the runners I saw all had a good head start on me.

Having gone over the entire course the month prior to the race I was confident on how I would run the course come race day. For courses I haven't been over before I find it difficult to know when to push the pace and when I should back off. This run however I was able to run it with confidence and didn't get concerned if I was being over taken or falling behind. I got into a good rhythm chatting with people around me and just enjoyed the day.

Lucy Bartholomew, Connie Richards, me, Tymeka Warburton. Yurrebilla Facebook.
I arrived at the start a good hour before hand and chatted with some locals and caught up with friends. I watched the B start group (8am) leave, then it wasn't long until my A group left. A quick count down from 10 and we were off to chase B, C and D groups. 
Group A start. Yurrebilla Facebook.

I started off at a nice pace and ran with Lucy Bartholomew for a while. I noticed she wasn't her normal happy self and thought she might have been struggling. Later I found out that she had been quite ill during the run but she showed her strength of character and still manged to finish strong. The first 10km flew by quite quick as it was mostly down hill and went past my accommodation (caravan park). The course climbed a big hill which revealed glorious views over Adelaide which marked the second check point, where I was met by my support crew (mum). I came into that check point equal first with Charmaine Symons. Leaving that check point the trail turned into a lovely green open paddock then single trail with more views overlooking Adelaide. Cleland was the next major check point that followed, where I ran in with Campbell Collins-McBride (son of Barry McBride, Yurrebilla race director). Campbell and I stayed together for quite awhile. It was Campbell's first ultra and he seemed to be pacing himself well. No wonder where he gets his ability from.
Cruising one of the short road sections with Dej Jamieson. Yurrebilla Facebook.

Was great to run with so many people during the race, especially those who I had met the month prior. One such runner was Dej Jamieson who kept see-sawing with me for quite a while. It was also a pleasure to see many of the women form Chicks Who Run throughout the event, both those running and supporting. Their encouragement and kind words were all very motivating. 
Nom nom nom. Yurrebilla Facebook.

The next major check point where I met mum was Norton Sumit, at about the 36km mark. It was good to meet mum again with all my gear, but I still took time to test out most of the food on the check point table. The event volunteers did an amazing job, not just at this checkpoint but all checkpoints, making sure there was plenty of variety with the food the locals often joked that it is the only ultra where runners can put on weight. One last quick drink and I was off to face the last 20km of the course which consisted of open fire trail and long stretches of single trail with more spectacular views of Adelaide.
So happy to see mum at the next check point. If only she had made it in time. Yurrebilla Facebook.
This next leg had a section called Black Hill, which is the biggest and toughest climb of the course. When I got to the base of Black Hill there was a marshal who asked if I wanted to be timed on the ascent. As one who loves a race within a race, I said, "yes of cause, how fun would that be." As it turned out the climb was not as fun as I thought it was going to be. It was a tough climb and the sun was hot on my skin after 50km but I tried to run as much as I could. When I reached the top there was another marshal who was also recording times. I continued on along the trail thinking 'yeah I'm up the top so just down hill now'. I had forgot this section of trail, as it did not go down at all, but it seemed to still be climbing. I ran along the top of the ridge for quite some time, thinking that the end was near, until finally the down hill single trail appeared, then I new I was nearly home.

Nearing the end I did manage to spot a koala beside the trail, however it wasn't too difficult as I'm pretty sure rigor mortis had already set in, or it could have been in a really deep sleep having just fallen from a branch, but I'm pretty sure it was the first. Poor little fellow.
Just before finishing. Yurrebilla Facebook.

Crossing the finish line in 5:53 wasn't a fast time, but I wasn't really looking at a particular finish time, nor splits (the warm windy weather would have made any goal time difficult to attain). During the event I ran in the moment when by myself and with company. It was a good day to share and enjoy the trails. The event to me  didn't feel like a race just a run with friends.
Always happy to finish. Yurrebilla Facebook.

From all accounts it looked like Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon was a huge success. It's growth in participants is testament to it's previous years successes. The course is interesting enough not to intimidate newbies, but has enough variations in terrain and elevation to test seasoned ultra runners. The atmosphere surrounding the event is infectious and positive. Yurrebilla Trail Ultra Marathon is not an event for the bucket list, it's an event worth coming back for.
Yurrebilla Race Ambassador's Plate with No. 1 and No. 2 training partners.

Some take home Yurrebilla ceramic artwork by Jen Greeneklee.

1 comment:

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