Last weekend was the Yurrebilla Ultra Marathon (commonly known as YUM)
I had run the 56km previously in 2015 and 2016 after having volunteered at the finish line in 2014 and deciding, “I need to get involved in this!” 2015 was my first trail ultra, and 2016 I had had a bit more experience but the last minute course modification made for a pretty hard day at the office (especially the last 12km!)
In 2017 and 2018 I MC’d the event, and it was pretty awesome to get to see every single runner start and almost all of them finish, without having to do any of the hard work myself!
In 2019 I think I was considering doing the 28k (newly introduced in 2018) but stress fractures put an end to that plan. 2020 of course was cancelled due to the plague.
Which brings us to 2021. It wasn’t part of my plan for this year. The only event definitely on the plan was the City-Bay half marathon, as I have some serious unfinished business with that event. City-Bay was scheduled 1 week before YUM, so I thought it would be a bit ambitious to do both. On 13 August the announcement was made to reschedule City-Bay to November, which got me thinking about potentially entering the 28k at YUM, using it as a training run for the Heysen 50k in October. I had been doing trails on the weekends pretty much every week since the Adelaide 6 hour event in July, and it’s nice to mix it up with an actual event. Plus, when doing an event rather than a solo run, I can’t plan on running 28km and decide 20km will do! I eventually entered the 28km on 24 August.
Having not planned to do it, I had missed all the training runs, and figured my weekly trail runs (plus I’d started back with my Friday hills group for the first time in 2 years) would be enough. I’d also done a couple of Heysen training runs. I figured that would be good enough.
The weekend before, I’d done a Saturday afternoon Heysen training run, there was a lot of walking with one especially big climb, and I’d managed the 23km (700+ metres elevation gain) in about 2 hours 45. YUM 28k had an elevation gain over 900m so probably overall similar, or so I thought!
In the week leading up to the event I was driving around Athelstone for work, caught a glimpse of Black Hill, and for a moment I thought “What the actual F was I thinking?” (That thought would recur throughout the race!)
Saturday I fuelled up like a champion – a winery lunch with a few glasses of wine, then watching the AFL Grand Final at a friend’s place with curry and a couple of ciders (everyone knows curry is the best pre-race fuel, the spicier the better!) The 11am start on Sunday was good, I’d been used to having to get up at arse o’clock on Sunday for YUM so it was nice to be able to go out and not having to worry about getting up early!
It was chilly in the morning – I was glad not to be doing the 56km – even at 11am when we started, my toes were still numb! It was going to be a warmish day, with no chance of rain, but to start with it was hard to believe! My kit was similar to what I wore the last time I ran YUM 5 years ago – green T-shirt, black skirt, rainbow arm warmers. I also wore my fingerless cycling gloves for hand protection. Food-wise I had 2 Clif bars and some Tom and Luke’s salted caramel balls, I wasn’t expecting to need any more food than that. I had 2 bottles of Gatorade, and because it was going to be warm, about 1 litre of water in the bladder. I also took a tin of mints in case I wanted to get rid of the Gatorade aftertaste (and as it turned out, annoy everyone around me with the constant noise of mints on tin!)
I got to the finish line in plenty of time for the bus back to the start at Ashton. The bus ride almost put me to sleep! It was an interesting ride up Greenhill Road, anyone that has driven up there on a weekend, especially on a nice day, would know it’s a favourite place for cyclists so we had to avoid a few of those, and it’s quite a narrow road so overtaking is problematic. We had to stop twice for a convoy of motorbikes – I wondered if we’d ever get there! Just as I was about to doze off, the bus PA system started playing the acoustic version of ‘Hotel California’ from the ‘Hell Freezes Over’ album which woke me up instantly – such a great song! And if that wasn’t enough, for some reason we got to hear it twice in a row (not that I was complaining) and it was the song I had stuck in my head for the first little bit of the race (you could definitely do worse – those around me should be grateful I didn’t start singing!)
Having never done the 28k before, and having not run on the course for 5 years, I didn’t really know what to expect, people asked me about my time goal, I didn’t really have one, other than to finish under 4 hours so I didn’t have to reapply my sunscreen (I figured that was realistic – I’d run the 56k before twice under 7.5 hours, and the second half is the hardest, but you never know, having not done it for so long! I had a little bottle of sunscreen in my pack just in case.
It started with a nice little downhill section into Horsnell Gully and then the first of 3 big climbs to get back out again. Very early on the run I was going back and forth with Riesje and Zorica, two very fast runners who I have at times been able to keep up with. Zorica had been planning to do the 56 before having a stack on a trail run the previous weekend. In typical runner fashion, the ‘not running’ option was not even on the cards, instead ‘upgrading’ to the 28k. Zorica had kindly worn a fluoro singlet so I could easily spot her and attempt to keep her in sight!
I didn’t know too many other people in the 28km, other than Nick who I’d met the previous week on the Heysen training run and we’d run together for most of that run, so I figured we would probably see each other! We crossed paths a few times but he ended up finishing a good 10 minutes ahead of me!
I instantly regretted the mints. Firstly, the rattling would annoy the hell out of me for the next 28km, but secondly, IF I happened to be in a position to overtake someone near the end, I could hardly do it in ninja fashion – they’d hear me coming from a mile away! I figured if that situation arose I could always tip out the mints! So, my apologies to all those who were running near me on Sunday!
From around the 12km to the 14km, running through Morialta which is quite technical, I seemed to be tripping and/or almost rolling an ankle every 30 seconds or so. It became very annoying! Around the 14km mark I nearly fully rolled my left ankle and had thoughts about potentially DNFing at the next drink station but nothing came of it and I’d forgotten all about it by the time I got there. Sometime just after 14km (past the Bon Jovi moment – this time there was no singing) I properly tripped and went down (thank you cycling gloves, I landed on my hands and only ended up with minor grazing on my left arm and thigh), and somehow that seemed to sort me out altogether, there were no further incidents after that!
I didn’t stop at any of the drink stations other than the last one when I really felt like some Coke. The volunteer there offered to fill my bottle but with only a few kilometres to go, and the promise of icy cold, fizzy Coke at the finish line, I figured half a bottle would do! (Note to self, Coke has bubbles in it so if you put the lid on too tight, the result can be explosive!)
There were 3 big climbs, the last and the biggest being the notorious Orchard Track which was part of the course when I last ran it 5 years ago. I’d forgotten what a b*tch it was! Lucky for me I had managed to pick up a sturdy branch earlier in the course (I’d been looking for a suitable one for a while) but by the time we hit f***ing Orchard Track, it didn’t quite cut it. So I offered the guy in front of me $20 for his hiking poles. In hindsight I should have offered more (He did say he’d let them go for $200 but I only had $20 on me) but I think he was doing the 56km and probably needed them more than me.
Can I just give a quick shout out to the volunteers, one of the great parts of this event. It seemed that I knew almost all of them (along with a lot of the runners) which is one of the things that makes this event so awesome. I’ve been on that side before and it can be a long day but very very rewarding and enjoyable. (Almost certainly more enjoyable than crawling up f***ing Orchard Track!)
After Orchard we finally got to some downhill, I may have got a bit excited at the prospect of actually getting to run, I could feel my quads screaming at me but I didn’t care too much, it was so nice to be making some forward progress!
I decided to get rid of my branch with about 1.5km to go, surely there couldn’t be any more uphill?
WRONG! (There may or may not have been some more swearing at this point)
And then we approached the finish line, this was the first time I’d experienced the new finish line, it was quite nice, plenty of cheering going on (being a lovely day to be out on the oval!) and the unmistakable sound of cowbells!
And there was Zorica again, I hadn’t seen her for some time, and in the finishing chute I decided to give it a crack, she must have heard me coming with my rattling mints, but afterwards she said she didn’t have anything left by the end. It is a rare occasion when I get to finish in front of her (and it takes her being injured for me to do it) so I have to take it when I can!
Official time was 3:23:52, so I was pretty happy with that. And I LOVE the cowbell medals!
There was carnage out on the trail – heaps of people with blood dripping off their legs, dressings all over their arms and even bandages on their heads – I definitely got off lightly! Morialta was a popular place for falling, as was Horsnell Gully.
I first got myself a Coke, then some Vegemite sandwiches from the lovely RMA ladies, and finally a special vegan pizza. I was a tad disappointed that there wasn’t a bar there this year, but I had probably had enough drinks the previous day that I didn’t need any more on this occasion!
Congratulations to all the participants in the 28km and 56km and thanks again to the volunteers and also the weather gods for turning on a cracker. It was a fantastic day!
Next time (and there will be a next time) I will do the training runs. It is always worthwhile, if possible, to train on the actual course. Nothing I had done in my training could have prepared me for Orchard Track. Also, I will make sure I take some photos, because all words and no photos makes Jane a dull blogger!
Other than that, I think things went as well as could be expected, and you can expect to see me lining up for the 56km next year!