Aussie Grit team member, Lee Stoermer, ran his first Ultra Marathon recently. We asked him to tell us about his experience.
What a rollercoaster and steep learning curve it was participating in my first Ultra – The Guzzler Glass Half Full 50K, in its inaugural year, hosted by Aussie Grit Apparel retail partner The Trail Co!
I kitted myself out in the Icon Shorts and flint Men’s Trail T-Shirt which were tried and tested throughout training, with no chafing and 100% comfortable for the entire journey! The additional pockets on the new Icon shorts meant I was able to keep my phone within easy reach in one thigh pocket, gels in the other, and car key in the rear zip pocket.
New to running and with 9 months of training under my belt, I was optimistic of my chances of finishing within cut off, even with some injuries to manage and periods of low mileage in the lead up.
If only I knew what was to come…
I reached the 18k checkpoint just shy of 2.5 hours, with managing legs and cardio being my biggest focus, and all systems were going great. I pulled out my poles to begin the Mt Nebo climb only to discover one was broken and unusable (it was perfectly fine the night before). So that was ‘fun’, knowing there was around 1,500 metres of vertical climb to go with a single pole.
That was nothing compared to what I was to experience next…
All through training I’ve used Tailwind and gels and never had any gut issues; well, I was in for a rude surprise. I’d had four gels and some of a sandwich with the Tailwind and slowly had an onset of a stomach cramp that quickly proceeded to feeling like a physical brick on my sides, slamming every internal organ. If you could imagine trying to walk, but in the foetal position, that would be a good way of visualising it.
This was my first introduction to the dreaded ‘gut bomb’ that I have since read so much about!
I stopped in at the next checkpoint and spent about 10min there trying to fix the other trekking pole to no avail, and ended up hiking, in significant pain, through until 37K. Frustratingly, it was very runnable for the most part, but when I tried to pick up the pace the pain in the gut would literally cripple me and my breathing. My guts were rock hard like cement – and they definitely aren’t abs!
I had Coca Cola for the first time at the 37K Checkpoint (and quickly discovered it is the nectar of the gods)! I was able to catch up on some slow intermittent jogging for the next 7K. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I hadn’t eaten a thing (or Tailwind) since the 30K mark, and beginning the savage Kokoda climb I started losing vision and feeling incredibly faint. At one point, a convenient tree halted a tumble backwards down the hill. More new experiences to learn from on race day.
I had to push on with only 2k to go, but the vision issues and cusp of passing out forced me to stop three more times up the sheer, scrambling, rock climb of a hill. That 2k overall uphill section cost me 45 mins and being passed by around 10 people, many of which kindly offered assistance, which was so great to see. I dug deep and got to the top and begun the homeward stretch to the finish, 90 mins within cut off.
I have some unfinished business with this race and with some lessons learnt, I’ll be back next year to aim for a sub 8-hour!
Entries for The Guzzler Ultra Marathon 2020 open on October 31st.