Running my first ultra marathon

On Sunday 7 June, I woke to my alarm going off at 2am. It was dark and cold, but I was excited to get out of bed.

About two weeks earlier, Janine and I decided to enter the 50km run at the Gold Coast Super Marathon. We wanted to support the amazing Liz, who had been training for the 80km, and we thought if we were going down for the event, we might as well do our weekly long run at the same time. We considered entering the 25km event, but were already past that distance in our marathon training, so we thought we would have a crack at the 50.

Here is a little photo journey of the day.

*********Warning! Photos of super-sexy naked feet below.

Feet prep #1

Feet prep #1 – band aids, toe sausages and strapping tape

Feet prep #2

Feet prep #2 – injinji toe socks!

Feet prep #3

Feet prep #3 – Altra Intuition 1.5

My Altra Intuition running shoes are pretty much brand new. Before the run on Sunday, I had only done 5km in them. After running the 50km, I can’t sing their praises enough. All Altra shoes are zero drop, and this is my second pair. I got them online at Injinji Performance Products. I have to give the guys there a plug – their service is excellent, they have free delivery, and they often dispatch on the same day that you place an order.

New shoes on, bags packed, we made it down to the Gold Coast with plenty of time to spare. We cheered the 100km runners off as they started at 6.20am, and Liz was next off at 6.30am. Janine and I watched her until she disappeared from view, then we quickly made our way back to the heater to wait for our event to be called at 7am.

Before we knew it, we were at the starting line, and then we were off. We had a plan of running very slowly so that we could keep going for as much of the 50km as possible. We were strong and confident for the first 25km, but there were a few challenges after that. Without going into too much detail, long distance runnning can do unpleasant things to your body. Luckily, as we were running at the beach, there were plenty of toilets along the way. It wasn’t all bad, though. Because it was a looped course, we got to know the drink station people quite well. They were so friendly and supportive, and really added to our enjoyment on the day. One of the women was knitting a pillow case, and we were amazed to see the progress she made between our sweaty visits.

Just under 7 hours later, we made it over the finish line. The man who won the 100km event had crossed the line a few seconds before us (that’s right – he had finished his 100 in the time it took us to run our 50) , and he was in the middle of his winner’s interview when we came in. I think we must have been a bit delirious because we gatecrashed his interview to congratulate him, but he was wonderful, and told his interviewer that the support you get from other runners is one of the best things about long distance events.

Approaching the finish line

Approaching the finish line

Gatecrashing the winner's interview

Gatecrashing the winner’s interview

Nice and sweaty at the finish line

Nice and sweaty at the finish line

For the next two hours, Janine and I waited for Liz to finish her 80km. We cheered all the runners as they came through, but two amazing women from China deserve special mention. Running together in the 50km event, one of the women was blind, and the other was acting as her guide. It was just incredible to see them come over the line together. Truly inspirational women.

Amazing women running together

Amazing women running together

Just after the 9 hour mark, we caught a glimpse of Liz coming towards the finish. She had picked up the pace and crossed the line looking as strong as she did at the start. She was the first woman to finish the 80km event. I can’t say enough about her strength, determination and focus. Mostly because it makes me teary. Just wow!

The three of us when Liz finished

The three of us when Liz finished

One last thing………………………..

Since I started running and participating in organised events, I have come to understand two very important things.

  1. The official event photos will, without exception, be awful.
  2. The shirt or singlet you get for finishing the event will easily rate as the ugliest, most ill-fitting item of clothing you own.
Behold the Gold Coast Super Marathon shirt!

Behold the Gold Coast Super Marathon shirt! The cut! The colour! The puff paint-like finish of the design! It’s a keeper.

A big thank you to Erica from Running Divas for the amazing work she does to empower women so they can achieve their running goals.

Half marathon

When we first came to Hoi An, it was my running goal to enter the Danang Marathon on 31 August. What I didn’t consider was that the three months of relentless energy-sapping heat that began in the middle of May would make long runs impossible. There is no way I could have run 30+ km in preparation for the marathon in that kind of heat.

A few weeks ago when the temperature dropped ever so slightly, I was finally able to run more than 5km. I got to thinking that maybe the half marathon could be possible. Then we booked a trip to Malaysia leaving on the 31 August, so running in the Danang event was no longer an option. There was only one thing for it – run my own half marathon! I put it off a few times; once because I was lazy, and once because a storm was coming, but last night I did the run. I felt great the whole way, and there was a cool ocean breeze on the beach portion of the run. Thank you Mandy and Peter for cheering me on at 18.9km, thank you Jason for heckling me at 19.6km, and thank you Jeremy for riding along with me most of the way. Thank you Mica and Colin for the drinks and cards afterwards. Here is the map from my Garmin:


In other news, Jeremy and I have started planning lots of travel for the next six months. It’s very exciting!

I haven’t posted much here lately, but I’ve been busy over on my flickr, so please visit to see heaps of new photos. Just click the link below.

Claire Backhouse's photostream on flickr

Claire’s photos on flickr