UltraHumps: Day 3 Ultraman – 84km Double Marathon
Hi Blog Followers and welcome to Day 3’s blog.
I could simply write one word and sign off. Those that watched the online downloads from my Support Crew going live through Coach Ray would say, yep got it. That word would be “BRUTAL”. So here goes:
As per usual it was an early wake up of 0400 hrs then off to check-in at 0500 hrs for a 0530 double marathon start. Prior to the start the athletes were asked to form a circle and hold hands for a prayer and Ultraman words of encouragement. The support crews were asked to form an outer circle around the Athletes inner circle. You could hear a pin drop.
We then lined up. For me it was Garmin on, headlamp on and zone out time for the task ahead. We were off and running in the dark. Pacers were allowed to join the runners from just below the surf club on the main road. Coach Ray and the team had suggested further down the road about the 5 km mark as I would be running with the other athletes and my support crew as pacers needed to save themselves. Around the 5km mark the field had started to spread out with the pro’s going for it. I ran at a slower pace than normal to save myself for the 84 kms ahead.
We hit the first half marathon at about 2:17 which I was happy with as it was slower than my training and I was running/walking for 9 mins of running / 1 min of walking thoughout the day. This is a formula Coach Ray came up with during training as I was constantly getting calf strains at one stage. I realised I was having a problem with my left foot about this point, so at about the 25 km point I advised my support crew that I wanted to change into my other runners we had in the vehicle at the next 1 min walk.
Derrick McMillan jumped out with a fold-out chair and runners and started running beside me. I told him I had 5+ mins to go until my next walk. It must have looked pretty funny watching this guy running beside me and my pacer at that stage (Debs Pohatu) with a chair. The change of shoes and the relief in my left foot was instant.
I hit the full marathon at about 4 hours 42 I think was called out. Excellent I thought. Double the half marathon time plus a few minutes which compensated for some of the brutal hills. At the turn around the sun was hitting us, as if to say I have given you two previous days of overcast weather, now you’re going to pay. My support crew had been ensuring I was drinking every 10 mins and eating every 30 mins. This consisted of anything from boiled eggs, honey and peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, sausage rolls and the occasional gels. As the heat started to get to me, my pace slowed down. My legs were becoming increasingly heavy and my calves were sore. Coach Ray would have said “pass him a straw to suck it up lol”.
When I got to the 63 km mark which was 3/4 through the run event (a marathon and a half) my Gramin died. All the alerts meant it had chewed the battery up faster. Simon Pohatu was my pacer followed by Sarah McMillan, neither of whom were wearing a watch. Hmmm, I had no idea when to do the 9/1 run/walk ratio or when to eat, so we had to wing it.
When Derrick McMillan and Debs Pohatu took over they had watches so guessed when to start. By this time I had been running through an area that support vehicles couldn’t get to so hadn’t realised what was happening. I asked Derrick to increase my food intake to every 20 mins. I was heavily fatigued and the heat was still climbing. The towel around my neck was constantly being soaked with cold water and I wasn’t talking very much. We still had no idea how far to go without a Garmin. I found myself at the brick wall and they noticed I had gone quiet. I kept telling myself there is only one way this is going to finish and that’s me getting to the finish line. I just wanted to make the time cut off of 12 hours.
The crew guessed we had about 10 kms to go so I requested we switch to flat coke and I ditched my Camelback with my pacer carrying the bottles of flat coke. Derrick said “okay I’m going to feed you every 10 mins”. The top of a hill I felt light headed and asked the pacer to stop as I was getting nauseous. I managed to contain my stomach with a feeble attempt at dry-wreching. Dave Carroll one of Coach Ray’s other clients ran past and said “your doing well, this year it’s taken me all day to catch you”. He looked well. I was having a bad day in the office.
We guessed we had about 5 kms to go when we bumped into Lily’s dad coming out of a school. He had stayed on shore during the 10 km swim when Lily was my safety paddler. He gave us great words of support. My crew said “we’ll get this but run at our pace”.
By now they were fast walking with me running to try and keep up. My calves were giving me grief (suck it up princess). A former Army Warrant Officer ‘Blair Gawler’ was on holiday in Noosa from Hamilton and saw on Facebook I was out there so he walked out and met us with about 4 kms to go and walked it in with us while I ran.
I saw the bridge and the relief was a very brief smile. I knew this meant the left turn at the hotel, down some stairs, through the car park and onto the beach for the run in. There were 6 stairs and Derrick and Debs had to hold my arms as my legs were in a bad way. The last thing I needed was to topple over. We got to the beach and the tide was out. Excellent. A shuffle across the soft sand then unlike last year we had hard sand to play with.
Spectators who probably had no idea what was going on were clapping and cheering while they were enjoying the surf. My nose started bleeding and I though great, just what I needed for the finishers photo, but I didn’t care by this stage. I tuned right and struggled across the soft sand again towards the voice of Steve King the Race Commentator at the finishers strip. This was followed with a hug with Tony Horton who placed the medal around my neck then some photos were taken.
The Doc was waiting for me and shuffled me to the medical area. All in all he was pleased when the colour started returning to my face and he did his compulsory tests.
The athletes photo saw me getting carried back to the finish line as my calves hurt like hell, but I knew something was wrong. Once on the massage table the masseuse indicated I had torn my right calf and she taped it up, suggesting I see a physio on my return to NZ.
All in all, my support crew were amazing as were the messages getting read out to me as I struggled through the hardest day I think I have had at an event. My time was 11 hours 17 mins I believe. Just over 40 mins to spare, but in reality that’s not much fudge time over 84 kms.
Thank you everyone.
Regards John Humphries (aka Humps, aka UltraHumps).
Here is last years Day 3: