Heysen 105 2016 Part 1 – the lead-up…

By the time you read this, Heysen 105 2016 will be done and dusted, however I am writing it days before! Spooky!
If you’re just joining the party now, I’ll try to summarise as briefly as possible  (brevity not being one of my strengths!)

Heysen 105 is an ultramarathon run annually in South Australia, taking in part of the 1200km long Heysen Trail, starting at Newland Head (near Victor Harbor) and finishing in a campground in Kuitpo Forest. It is a growing event, with numbers rising steadily each year. It is run by Yumigo, one of the big players in the SA running scene, particularly in trail and ultra races. Last year for the first time there was a 57km option which proved popular and returned again this year as well as a new 35km event for those who may not feel up to an ultra distance.

Why run 100+ km? I asked that very question to some of my fellow Heysen entrants (as well as asking what they hoped to get out of it) and these were a few of their answers:
Michelle: “…because last year’s attempt went pear shaped, with quite a few “obstacles” along the way … This year I am determined to do the whole kahuna. It’s my 3rd attempt at 100km, since March last year.”

Shane: “Best friend is getting married on the same weekend as my normal Endurance long course Triathlon. So needed a new challenge for the year. So signed up for the 57km straight away. After some encouragement by yourself , Anna and Simon. Decided to go the full hog and do THE big one. Utterly scared shitless. But equally excited.”

(What are you hoping to get out of the day?) 
“The achievement of knowing I completed it. No one can take that away. I have found the whole journey from Christmas time to now to be exciting, and the trail running community is very friendly and encouraging”

Sheena: “This is my 3rd Heysen & I will always enter events that I’ve loved & I prefer not to miss a year….bit of a compulsion. I am planning to have a fun day/night out with Tracey & Michelle. Looking forward to seeing all the other crazies & as a side goal would like to finish my year with a pb.”

I did the 105 last year and you can read about it here. I did it last year as a precursor to the Ultra-Trail Australia 100km event in May this year – I wanted to know I could manage a 100k before tackling the Blue Mountains. This year I was hoping for a PB, sub 14 hours, given that I had wasted a fair bit of time getting lost last year. Unfinished business, you might say. Plus, it’s a fantastic day/night out with awesome people!

So, a quick summary of my week. I ran as usual on Tuesday morning and caught up with the regular crew for coffee where I made final plans with my buddy runner Gary. Buddy runners are permitted from Checkpoint 3 (57km), the idea being to have someone fresh to keep you from getting lost in the dark! I had told Gary he could meet me at CP4 or even CP5 as I planned to be well past the last checkpoint before dark, but he wanted to do a longer run so was keen to meet me at CP3. I was very lucky to have Gary as a buddy, he is a fantastic runner, has done buddy running before, and he ran Boston this year so I’d be able to pick his brains! Also he lives very close to me so his wife Christine would be able to drop me home after. So no car fiasco this year! (Fellow Tuesday runner Riesje, doing the 57, had offered to pick me up from home which was so good!)

Wednesday I thought it would be a good idea to go out to Masters Athletics at the track and do a 1000m race. I also entered the 2000 but decided quickly that this would be tempting fate. I ran a pleasing 3:45 for the 1000m (my first time running a 1000m race) and hope to improve on that during the season. 

Thursday morning I did an abbreviated run, an easy 5k with fellow 105-er Marc, his buddy runner Arwen, and 57k runner Louise. I started getting my food prepping done after work that day – so glad I did, this stuff takes AGES! Plus I really should be sponsored by Glad given the number of Zip-Loc bags I used!

Friday I went for a leisurely coffee with my regular running buddies and then drove to Myponga to mark part of the course with Tina (who had marked the same section last year). Fellow 105-er Justin had somewhat unkindly told me to let Tina do the marking and me just carry the gear. Some things never leave you!

Marking was enjoyable and we got to see some beautiful views that we’d never see during the race. Other than a lovely patch of mud (Tina nearly lost a shoe in there while she stopped to take a photo!) the section was pretty OK – no major detours required. At one point I realised I was only carrying one of the two 5km marker signs I was meant to have so I had to quickly dash back  (fortunately only about 100m round trip) to get the other one. On the way back to Tina I managed to slip and fall on my arse – best not be doing that in the race!

Once we’d finished marking I went to the Bakery On O’Connell for two of their amazing vegan chocolate donuts – one each for Gary and me – to go in my finish line drop bag. I told the girl behind the counter what I was doing and I finished by saying “I am REALLY looking forward to eating this!”

Then it was home to finish packing, sort out my outfits and have dinner  (vegan mac and cheese, same as before Yurrebilla, I had frozen the leftovers!).

I decided to tempt fate and try a different skirt that I’d never done a big race in, and 2 tops that had never done more than a 12k run.  Time would tell if that was a bad move!

Alarm set for 3:30am (yikes!) in preparation for my 4:30am pick-up, naturally it was an early night, but not before taping my feet up so you could hardly even recognise them as feet. A very wet course meant either frequent changes of shoes and socks, or potential blisters from wet feet. I opted to tape and hope for the best!

Stay tuned for Part 2 – I think it will be a long one!