This is Sundried ambassador Vanessa Cullen's race report from her first marathon and ultramarathon at the Great Ocean Walk Trail Run in Victoria, Australia where her and teammate Rohini finished as first female team overall.
My First Ultramarathon
My longest run to date had been 38km (23 miles) so I had plenty of questions in my mind whilst waiting for my relay team mate Rohini to finish her 55km (34-mile) leg before I could commence my 45km (28 miles) in the Great Ocean Walk Trail Run 100km event (100km is roughly 62 miles). It was hard to know when to eat, not knowing when Rohini would come through the exchange checkpoint, but I got lucky with a gel, a piece of banana and a lolly snake timed to perfection just before she appeared.
Once I was off and running alone, in the quiet of my mind, all the questions and niggles evaporated. After the initial 5km climb I really settled emotionally and physically. After 10km I felt gloriously happy, in command and confident I would complete the race. The course was very testing with 'shark's tooth' elevation changes, sand, mud and stairs but it was also incredibly beautiful. There were so many breathtaking moments at the crests of hills and as we emerged from single trail onto coastal headlands and lush green paddock clearings.
I loved every single moment, even the most gruelling, and did pause a few seconds to savour the world renowned views quite a few times! I was very happy to see our crew at the 25km mark but was feeling strong and was in and out of the checkpoint in barely a minute. At 37km I felt nauseous but settled it with food, recognising the sensation as just hunger. The iconic Twelve Apostles stone formations came into view and I exclaimed out loud "Wow!". No one was there to hear but that didn't matter.
My watch hit 40km (25 miles) exactly as I clambered over a fence stile. I had a brief moment of personal cheerleading at the excitement of seeing those digits for the first time! 2.2km later I was beaming and celebrating again at having cracked my first marathon. The remainder of the distance to the finish line seemed to drag on because I was so excited to have nailed the race and wanting so bad to see my relay buddy, crew and friends. The final finish was a brilliant celebration as I accomplished our aim of beating nightfall and Rohini ran down the finish chute with me, hand in hand. My partner and crew were all there and it was a moment that I will cherish for the rest of my life.
But what really stood out for me, in this race, was:
- The pure fun of the training process in preparing for the race.
- The incredible peace, joy and sense of being 'at home' I flowed in over the course.
- Confirming that I can run so far beyond physical pain when my soul is in control.
I can’t wait to take on my next trail ultramarathon experience now. I’m hooked!