When John Humphries, AKA UltraHumps ,told me he was competing in UltraMan Australia I wondered just what he was doing and why. Back to back Ironman length events over three days. Why do that? Then Derek mentioned he was going as part of the support team and from there it didn’t take me long to volunteer.
My initial, thought was, how hard can this be? A week in Noosa, it’ll be warm. It’s not like I was participating in the event. It’ll be easy! Boy was I wrong. I quickly discovered that Ultraman is a week long event,. Three days of hard work for the athletes and a busy schedule for the support crew with a strong emphasis on a shared responsibility to the well-being of the athlete.
The Ultraman Australia field is limited to forty athletes, each with their own support element. The actual event was three eleven hour days of exercise for Humps. Important to an athlete’s success is a well drilled support team. The athlete is your focus and his success and well-being become your main effort.
For the support crew it was all about preparation. While Humps was swimming and cycling on Day One, we were busy refining our procedures. Initially this meant rehearsing the swim to cycle transition, getting Humps from his wet suit to cycling rig, on his bike and away. It also meant organising the support vehicle, making sure water refills, food and ice were within easy reach, rehearsing hand-offs from stationery position to a moving bike. The first phase is preparation. This involved a review of the course. For Humps this meant a swim with Coach Ray to get a feel for swimming in Noosa and in warmer water than New Zealand. Phase two, a collective recon of the cycle and run route and final equipment checks. Lastly, a final race brief before Derek and Ray delivered Humps to the Noosa Surf Club for Day One.
The support team works in the background, facilitating smooth transitions, feeding the athlete, and making sure they are ready to start each day of the event as well prepared as they can possibly be. A daily list of tasks includes, meal prep, laundry, vehicle prep, route prep, and transition prep. All fairly simple tasks but good sequencing and slick execution were critical to a smooth race day. A typical day during the event would start between 04:30 – 05:00 with feeding Humps, double checking his gear and getting him to the start line. Once he was under way it was our job to monitor his progress, food intake and performance. Quite simply finding places to stop, check what he needed, leap frog ahead and deliver. This ranged from water refills to donuts and all matter of food types in between. Once Humps had crossed the finish line we set about refuelling him and getting set for the next leg.
The 22 press up for 22 suicide campaign was in full flight and our team linked our participation to key check-ins during the event. From the cycle store and mechanics to the surf life savers filming us on the beach. The challenge culminated in members of each team competing 22 press ups at the prize giving. This was a great opportunity to broaden awareness to the plight of veterans the world over.
It has been one year since UltraMan and I want to take the opportunity to wish Humps and his team all the best for UltraMan Australia 2017. I’m sorry I can’t be there to support you this year. I’ll be with you in spirit.
If you wish to donate to UltraHumps 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. UltraHumps is paying all other expenses himself. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/ultrahumps