Dear UTA Runner…

Dear UTA Runner,

First of all congratulations, you’ve entered yourself into a beautiful, fun, well-organised and challenging race.

Each of the Ultra-trail Australia races having something unique to offer:
-The long sustained downhill of Kedumba for the 22 (and 50 and 100) with views up to the 3 Sisters.
-The half-marathon of stairs for the 50 (and the 100) which offers numerous waterfalls and vistas.
And, last but not least!
-The rocky excitement, and history of Tarros and Iron Pot for the 100km runners.

We had the pleasure of heading up on Iron Pot one rosy afternoon, with Tom and Abhinandan, and the Aboriginal grinding grooves and water pots were a special feature. I imagined what it must have been like there many years before, and felt thankful to the Gundungurra people for sharing their land with us.
Our good friend David King welcomes the runners at the start of the race and the welcome is something primal and touching, it always brings a tear to my eye.
When you are up on Iron Pot take a breath and have a look around. It really is a magical place.
Whichever race you have chosen each offers stunning scenery in a World Heritage Site, you are in for a special and challenging day.

I have a few words of advice for you. Do not underestimate this race.
Getting to the start line is a win, and getting to the finish line is an even bigger win.
Around a quarter of people don’t make the start line and just under a quarter don’t make the finish of the 100. It is tough. That’s why you chose it though right?!

One big boo-boo people make when it comes to UTA is thinking ‘I’ll start training next year’. They forget that Summer is a hard time to start training, and that UTA (being in May) only gives them 5 months to train for their ultramarathon. Don’t be that person.
I hand on heart think that, when training for an ultra, the best time to start training is now.
People worry about ‘peaking too soon’ but in ultra training it is really about getting the body conditioned to running and hiking over a period of time, the longer you have to prepare for it the better.
Many people start too late and get injured by trying to ramp up the mileage, and do too much too soon, ending up with overuse injuries which could have been avoided if they’d had a longer and slower build. Give yourself time to prepare for it.
I’m a big fan of analogies. If you are going to build a house would you do it by lifting a brick at a time, or would you try and lift a whole pallet? Which option do you think would be better for you?

Another common error is thinking you can train for UTA by following a marathon plan or a generic ‘Train to 50km’ plan off the internet. It might go ok for you but keep in mind that you’d be better off with terrain specific training designed for you and UTA. There’s thousands of stairs in the 50 and 100km and you’d be doing yourself a huge disservice by not training for these. I’m not saying go out and only run stairs but please put them into your training so that your calf muscles aren’t hating you on race day.

If you’re newer to the sport make sure that you have a pack which has the capacity to carry all that you need in training and on race day. Train with the gear on your long runs so that you are used to carrying it (and it’s a good safety measure too). There are plenty of excellent stores around who can help you and offer great advice about gear.

Most of all I hope that you enjoy your training, use this as an excuse to get out on the trails with mates, to go to new places, have adventures and see stuff that makes you appreciate being alive. After all, that’s what we are really here for, to be fit, challenge our comfort zone, and to have fun.  So get out there and make the most where your legs will take you.

Enjoy the training! We hope to see you on race day and cheer you across that finish line!