UltraHumps: How Ultraman Went

Hi blog followers

Welcome to a final blog to wrap up the ‘1’ being Ultraman Australia of the 3+2+1=Charity.  Apologies for the delay in publication, I wanted to get the amazing photos from Barry Alsop from Eyes Wide Open Imagery, being the Official Photographer of Ultraman Australia.

Wow what an amazing event, to finish of the 3 Half Ironman events over 3 consecutive weekends in December, followed by 2 full Iron distance events over 2 weeks in February/March to become the 1 over 1 long weekend in May.  A total of 1306 kms of swimming, cycling and running from the 6 events.  The other Half Ironman and Iron distance events have been previously written about, so this article is to sum up how the Ultraman Australia event went.

Ultraman Noosa
Cycling as Dawn Breaks on Day 2 and keeping the days distance of 280+ km’s out of my mind

Once I was accepted I had plenty of time for planning, however time caught up with me as I focused on training, work and family time.

I managed to obtain an apartment to hire for 8 nights through AirBnB.  Last years apartment was unavailable, however this one had a lift, which turned out to be a lifesaver, particularly after the run of 84 kms on Day 3.

My Support Crew also had to be changed due to unexpected unavailability through no fault of their own.  Such are the demands of military life, but it all came together with the magical guidance from Coach Ray, not just to me as the athlete, but to the Support Crew as and when required on a 24/7 drop of a hat if necessary.  Ray’s phone was probably going non stop towards the latter part of Day 3 when I was in the hurt locker and my legs were more shuffling as if full of concrete rather than running.

The plan was to arrive on the Tuesday before the event, which gave us time to complete the International travel and drive to my sponsor Anodyne Services Australia (ASA) who met us at Brisbane Airport.  We then sorted the two vehicles taking one with us, with the other travelling up on the Friday.  Once loaded we headed to Noosa and dropped my bike off for reassembly and inspection to meet the requirements of Ultraman Australia.  We uplifted our apartment keys, stocked the fridge after making the supermarket happy, and sorted my gear out. While the crew went for a walk along the beach I went for a 30 minute run that Coach Ray had planned.  Sarah McMillan hit the kitchen and made us a healthy pasta style meal which went down a treat, then I Skyped with Coach Ray at our scheduled time.

Wednesday wasn’t scheduled for any Ultraman activity so we took this day to do a recce of the 280 km cycle course (Day 2 of the event) then uplifted my bike and certification, which involved a 30 minute cycle that Coach Ray had scheduled followed by Skype contact again with Coach Ray that evening.

Thursday was Registration Day.  We got there early, however everyone else had the same idea?  This involved check-in, course briefings, sponsorship gift products, merchandise purchases (can’t help myself), medical checks and interviews with the media and then Steve King the Race Commentator.  After this we conducted a recce of the Day 1 cycle leg (140 kms).

Friday was the Event Welcome Breakfast with briefings from Race Officials and athletes introducing themselves after which the rest of my Support Crew arrived from NZ and Brisbane and a recce was conducted of the Double Marathon course.

Ultraman Oz
Team UltraHumps paddler: Lily

Saturday was game on where the wonderful Lily went into action and did a great job at keeping me on course, particularly during the kilometres of choppy water near the headlands (Coach Ray reviewed my Garmin later and was really happy with the tracking).

Once out of the water it was onto the bike for 140 kms.  The course looked familiar and the recces proved worth their weight in gold, plus I recognised many features from the year before.  We were spoiled as it was overcast and a light drizzle kept the sun at bay for about half an hour.

Sunday was to be a long day of 280+ kms on the bike.  I had been having problems with a tendon or ligament strain in my right ankle and trialed an insert that the Podiatrist gave me, but we weren’t sure how it would effect my foot over such a long distance.  It worked a treat for the ankle but I found my foot was cramping and given me grief, as such, a couple of stops for a few minutes to relieve the foot helped.  Once again it was overcast so we were spoilt once again.

Challenge
a congratulatory hug from Tony Horton the Ultraman Australia Race Director at the end of the 84+ Km Double Marathon and the end of the 515 km Ultraman event…the strain on my face says it all

Monday, 84 kms of running a Double Marathon, after already covering 10 kms of swimming and 420 kms of cycling in the previous two days, and the sun came out and said ‘my turn‘ and hit us and hit us bad.  The mercury was climbing and my support crew had their work cut out for them.  The first 10 kms went well.

The first marathon to the turn around point I was happy with, I recognised that the heat had got to me by the 63 km or marathon and half point.  My Garmin died which hindered when to run/W\walk at a rate of 9 min/1 min which also controlled when to eat and drink.  My pace runners from my Support Crew weren’t wearing a watch and the vehicle was not in location due to where we were.  We switched to walk up hills and eat and drink then as walking was faster on the hills.  Running become a shuffle on the flats and with no Garmin we couldn’t judge how far to go versus what time of day it was.  I kept telling myself “there is only one way this is going to finish and that’s at the finish line”.  I made it with 40+ mins to spare which included dry-retching and a bleeding nose, but the smile was not going to be removed even though I was not in a good way.

Challenge Wanaka
my Support Crew who did a wonderful job with a husband and wife combination of Simon and Debs Pohatu from Anodyne Services Australia (ASA) and a father and daughter combination of Derrick and Sarah McMillan, you simply can’t do it without a Support Crew

The event was over except for the Awards Function the next day.  It took a few hours the next morning, but once up and about my legs started freeing up from their stiffness.  Last year I decided within 24 hours of winning the Emergency Services and Military Award that I would be back to defend my title.  A fireman won it this time and I was the first to congratulate him.  It took a week to think about what Ultraman does to me or means to me; who is involved from a point of view of family, Support Crew, hundreds of hours of training, having a supportive Coach that sees my highs and lows, my work colleagues who think I’m nuts (probably right), and then with everyones support I decided and know I haven’t finished with Ultraman.  See ya next time!  The jury is still out on when, but I’m in discussions with Coach Ray and my partner Mel.

Ironman New Zealand
all athletes at the finish line after Day 3, note I was carried over in a chair and then returned to the massage table still in the chair!

Photo’s provided by Barry Alsop from Eyes Wide Open Imagery, Official Photographer for Ultraman Australia.  Lily my 13 year old safety paddler for 2016 and 2017; Cycling as dawn breaks on Day 2 and keeping the days distance of 280+ kms out of my mind; a congratulatory hug from Tony Horton the Ultraman Australia Race Director at the end of the 84+ km double marathon and the end of the 515 km Ultraman event.

The strain on my face says it all.  My Support Crew who did a wonderful job were husband and wife combination, Simon and Debs Pohatu from Anodyne Services Australia (ASA), and a father and daughter combination, Derrick and Sarah McMillan.  You simply can’t do it without a Support Crew. The final photo is of all athletes at the finish line after Day 3.  Note I was carried over in a chair and then returned to the massage table still in the chair!

If you wish to donate to my chosen charity of the Children of the Fallen Heroes, which is what the 3+2+1=Charity is all about, then please use the enclosed link.  100% of the funds raised goes to the cause.

https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ultrahumps

Regards John Humphries (Aka UltraHumps, Aka Humps)!

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