Ultra-trail Australia Debrief – The SQUADRUN perspective

Ultra trail Australia debrief.

I’d really love to get a little bit of personal intel from those willing to share.

What worked?
What didn’t?
How did your nutrition go?
What would you do again?
What wouldn’t you do again?
What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for?
Open forum, no wrong answers. Ali and I, as well as our cast of hundreds will learn from your experience last Saturday.
A couple of paragraphs appreciated.

Brett Sammut The downhill hazing sessions really worked. I ran down Kedumba with high cadence and no quad soreness.

Chell Hocking Hike the uphills, run the downhills and the flats, I used sandbag strength training with my pt as well and all the hill Reps and stairs paid off cause I actually overtook people going up Nellies Glen, my calves were sore but my quads haven’t been.

Nick Clarke Nutrition and hydration needs a review. Want to figure out how to get enough in to continue extending distance. 2 gels per hour plus Tailwind, was close but not quite enough.

Hill and stair training worked a treat.

How to proceed once cramps start to threaten. Stop? Stretch? Push on? I mostly pushed on but slower, recovered on Nellie’s (weirdly)

Best advice: CONCENTRATE. Makes it way more enjoyable if you’re actually present ?

Vader Vonvaderham Kerry Suter in answer to your questions…….
1. Your program. No doubt. I am disappointed with my time but took 40mins off last year’s time over a tougher course (for me). Last year’s av hr 153, this year 139. Gear – nailed – altra superiors, hilly socks, 2xu Lycra shorts, Solomon 15l vest, Squadrun shirt. Drop bags – the way to go.
2. Lack of sleep (international travel / shit accom), stairs again.
3. Last year f….ing disaster! This year – nailed it. Tailwind / staminade juice combo + 2 shotz gels per hour. Nil solids (I have iron guts).
4. Your program! As above but need to work on stairs!
5. Not enough stairs, not enough sleep. Maybe too much beer – jury’s out.
6. Your entire program – biggest thing for me was fatigue management – apparently you can! Those f…..ing stairs!

Alan Douglas The use of poles a recent acquisition worked. I don’t know that I was much quicker using them but it assisted in saving calves soreness. I would definitely use them again.
I was terrible with nutrition. I had it in my backpack and carried most of it back to the finish. I really need to learn how to eat during a big run. I’m sure that Nellies wouldn’t have been the obstacle it was if I had been smarter with food.
The training leading up to the run had me stronger and quicker than I have ever been. I was very confident that distance was not an issue. Even though the furthest I had run previously was 28k.

Adrian Cobb Calf advice was the best. I’m a believer now its a combination of things and all must be conquered. Hydration/Strength/Technique/Mind

Jen Hague ITB / Knee pain at 35-40k again! Exact same as Tarawera but came on later. Have been seriously rehabbing it and strengthening and running pain free in training so was pissed off to have it back. Seems to be a more common girl thing with 3 of the girls in our house having the same pain. Keen to know what I can focus on to stop it coming on… Obviously I’ll be off to the physio but keen from an ultra runners perspective about what brings it on at that stage in the race and what I can do to ease it mid race…

The varied training plan though really helped for the change of course. Whilst I wanted the more technical trail I kept telling myself that 2/3rds of my training had been on the road and that I was a road runner as much as a trail runner. This helped on the long runnable sections and I found myself running a lot more than I had thought I’d be able to.

Greg Kelso I really enjoyed UTA. I kept a positive mindset throughout my training and on the day. Training started back in October and I felt a lot stronger in my running this year. I did a lot of hill reps this year in training and discovered that my body could always produce more energy when it was needed especially when positive. All training was done with the nutrition that I would use on race day. Nutrition worked perfectly on tailwind, Shotz electrolytes, fruit, chicken wraps, chocolate and ginger ale. I could feel my body using the calories up and knew exactly when to take in more. I had an amazing and supportive crew. I would like to get stronger in my upper body and core and train for faster downhills. I knew I could improve my time and I loved doing it in the bad and good times out there. I just felt strong and positive all day.

Andrea Comastri For the 50k it’s sort of hard to say as lots of things were different from planned due to the change of course. 1. I wish I had the poles with me as there were 2 big climbs (plus maybe even Nellies…) where I could have used them. 2. Between Furber and beginning of narrowneck I found myself in a nice fastish, smooth “train” of about a dozen guys and loved running with them and because it was early I stuck with them but that may have burned a bit more energy than I should have. I didn’t realise straight away but I think I paid for it on the six foot track section where fatigue started playing with my mind (until my guardian angel Jen Hague magically appeared…) 3. Nellies Glen hurt my calves. Even though we did quite a bit of stairs training, I don’t think there was enough in the program and next time i would like to don more. 4. Nutrition is tricky…after 5 hours I can stomach tailwind anymore so I need to find something else to eat/drink for longer runs. 6. The power of the mind: on megalong I thought I was cooked and got soooo teary…but communicating with my wife by text first and being joined by Jen later really reset my mind. When there were 2 of us, all of a sudden I had a task and a responsibility of making sure I could help Jen to the finish on one hand and not disappointing her as she was helping me at the the same time. I was not going to let Nellies beat me! 6. I will need to run at a few seconds per km slower than I want and can in the first 15-20km in future, especially if I am to take on the ? next year. 7. Don’t fall off my bike and break the other shoulder ligaments 3 months before the race next year! P.s: once again, LOVED the weekend!!

Glenn Jones Nailed nutrition this year. Pretty sure I’m good for mostly liquid (EFS Pro)mixed with a few baby foods. Plus a final softie of coke kept my mind sort of ok. Hardest thing for me personally, was how to train to run the last 12ish kms. Couldn’t find the consistency and managed a pretty ordinary shuffle. UD FKT pack has great accessible pockets and in general was impeccable. Travelled lighter than last year and only had minimal simple choices in drop bags. Which meant quicker stops. Only carried max 1L at all times.

Jeremy Pelvin What worked – The training plan has been amazing for my speed over short distances. Endurance is a work in progress. Our one on one chat before the race was invaluable. Setting a heart rate goal for the first half stopped me going out too hard like I usually do. It was great to be able to run hard in the last quarter of the race
What didn’t – I had some real mental lapses along the course and needed to kick myself in the ass a couple of times. Nutrition was hit and miss, better then all my other races but so much room for improvement. Still too many gaps in my training due to work but doing what I can when I can. Probably need to run more with a full pack on as shoulders were killing me by the end of it, in training it was only ever half full.
Overall happy with how it went but there is always room to improve!

Kate Fitzgerald I really enjoyed the structure of the program because it was manageable with the rest of life’s commitments. The speed work was where I saw the most improvement in my general fitness and where I achieved things I didn’t think I could! I’d like more help with nutrition and earlier on in the program how to get leaner without losing energy which is a problem with the fasting I did to lose weight. I was mentally unprepared for the course change and also the length of time on my feet. I’d like the program to have some preparation for (in my case) 5+ hours. Not sure if this is possible without fatigue. Overall so impressed by the program and experience. The community spirit and learnings from others made the journey so much more enjoyable. The one to one support from you both even from across the ditch was really appreciated.

Sarah Strain I had a really good run which was my main objective for this race. I had a shocker when completing my first road marathon which really ruined the experience and did not want that for my first ultra.

I focused on staying present and reminding myself that it was my choice to do this. I have never really ran with a mantra before and I found this really helped. I had also prepared myself mentally for rough weather conditions so when the weather turned out to be stunning it was a big win.

I did not have a bad day nutrition wise but it was not what I planned. I did not take on enough real food. I tried but think I left it to late and when I tried it just made me feel sick. The long gap between the first aid station and the second also tripped me up as I was completly out of fluid by the time i reached CP2.

I really think I was pretty much prepared for everything. You provided me with all the tools I needed with regards to training it was up to me to execute it and I am happy with what I achieved pre event.

If I nit picked I could have maybe ran a bit harder from the beginning to do a bit better overall but then again this could have caused me to burn out later on which I did not. So all in all I am pretty bloody happy. For me it was a dream first ultra 🙂

Craig Deakin 1. I really liked the variety of training and did sessions I would never have thought of before. Advice at camp about gear etc helped massively.
2. Had a bad day overall. Felt great through landslide (super cool section) and started getting tight chest going up golden. Got to the top and really struggling to breathe, so walked to relax and took it easy along narrowneck to think I’d recover but never did. I do have an inhaler I should carry but usually only need it in spring around peak Hayfever time.
3. still unsure of what works for me so need to work on nutrition. I Took a revvies strip and a gel just before golden and about 2kms along narrowneck I was sick and had stomach cramps, and then just felt so weak. I think I overthought pre loading of food in the build up too. Ate way more than I usually do. Was sick again in between taros and the aid station and then marched to the next aid station after that. Only gel that stayed down was after nellies and I felt okay to the finish then!
4. I’d use Vaseline again! First time I’ve never chafed!!! ?
5. I would eat differently in the build up. And I wouldn’t make changes to my gear last minute as I could have done with my poles when I was struggling!!
6. Best advice was all the program as I basically knew nothing about running prior to joining. Every session was a learning experience. Id also start training for the race earlier. (Originally signed up for 22, then changed it end of feb to the 50). Happy to finish and excited to do more 🙂

David Moloney I think we all know that I think the program works wonders. But outside of that the 2 main things that struck a cord with me pre race was from Kerry‘s post. 1. Reward for effort
2. Have a negative split, not in time but in effort.
Oh. And 3. Every time I tripped up I yelled “concentrate”!! I didn’t even have that as a race plan, it just happened. A lot

Matt Dunne What worked?
The program, my current fitness, stamina & running efficiency is beyond anything I ever imagined – I ran into cp 5 after the 3k out & back (78km ) in just under 12.5 hours.

What didn’t?
DNF- was a personal choice based on a combination of above, & the thought of how slow the final 20k was going to be. I got it in my head that it was probably gonna take over 4 hours for the final 20k, with runners going both directions on those trails & stairs & decided to call it day. I took the easy out & withdrew, fully proud of my run to that point.

How did your nutrition go?
Brilliant, no issues:- tailwind, belveta biscuits, glucose tabs with lollies, watermelon & banana at cps

What would you do again?
Go around the ladder queue, saves plenty of time

What wouldn’t you do again?
Support crew, drop bags are quicker

What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for?
Working on cadence during the last 6 months has helped with massive improvement in speed & efficiency. And the “concentration”advise, its so crucial to stay in the moment & not let the mind wander

Matt Bowyer What worked
# nutrition from 50km. Switched to tailwind only. Ditched the gels. Made me feel sick.

# Carried only 2 x 500ml soft flasks between checkpoints – had 500ml sitting in bladder as backup, which I didn’t use – but was good to know was there.

# Having a race and check point/ drop bag plan really helped for mental prep

# Starting slow – deliberately held back in first 20km.

# Mentally – was in a really great space going in. I knew I was a bit underdone and that the mental side was going to be the difference for me
Sounds corney, but read one of the articles that was doing the rounds a few days out, it quoted someone’s UTA experience where they said ‘I’m going to finish this no matter what’ which resonated with me. I kept telling myself that over the days leading in and during the event. Put me in a great headspace

Susie Barratt The old ITB/knee got me too Jen. Between CP3 and CP4 it hit, I was doing the 100 so I was barely half way through.
I got sharp stabbing hurty pains going down steps and even slight declines, if I wanted to continue it was going to be painfully slow and laborious.
So it came down to the mental side of things. So many highs and lows but I had Kerrie and Ali constantly in my head(and a few other things) : Concentrate, don’t trip, Objective 1-finish, more steps are you f$&!!ing kidding me, you just have to make it to the end, I’m shit scared that my knee will give out and I’ll end up at the bottom of this cliff, just make it to the end, Kerrie and Ali will be at the end and they’d better to give me that hug, omg is that a car in the middle of the path, oh look another volunteer in a sleeping bag, don’t let Kerrie and Ali down. Concentrate, just get to the end. Oh look it’s Ali and Kerrie, yay got that hug, keep it together and don’t cry too hard!
The training program was perfect, could fault it, fitness did not let me down, I even overtook heaps of people on the ups as my knee didnt hurt, if it wasn’t for that pesky knee!

Aida Escall What worked? Structured and appropriate training plan got me to a level of running fitness to finish the race. The aim was to finish and never to race it. I stuck to completing P1-4 most weeks. I also purchased an extra one on one session which helped address my shin splints and plantar fasciitis. The YouTube resources on good running form was very helpful.
What didn’t? I think there is a gap in the training program around technique for technical trail and rock scrambling. I addressed this with sessions with a personal trainer who worked on my balance, flexibility and plyometric exercises. My PT also developed a hotel warm up routine for me on the day.
How did your nutrition go? 12 weeks ago I started working with a sports nutritionist on a LCHF approach. I’m not yet fully fat adapted but for the strategy of mainly running the 50km in an aerobic intensity I took a sip of Hammer Perpetuem every 15 min which approx. 100cal/hr. I did this for 8 hrs and occasionally supplemented it with a small bite of a Hammer bar or small handful French stick chips and beef jerky. For the last 2-3 hrs I had about 2 serves of Hammer express gel. My stomach felt queasy during last quarter of Run so I mainly sipped water. I only had 2.5-3l water which was nowhere near the planned 500ml/hr. I also took 2x electrolyte tabs every hour if I remembered to. With this fuelling strategy I felt no highs or lows.
What would I do again? My pacing strategy of keeping it easy and my heart rate low for first 75% of race. I pretty much tried to run the runnables and walked the uphills. This gave me enough strength to tackle Nellies Glen!
What wouldn’t I do again? I realised I hated bladders and will switch to soft flasks.
Bit of advice? My mantra which I kept repeating was Concentrate, Pace, Finish! I noticed that each time my mind wandered I was more likely to stumble or trip on something!
On balance though the training program and support was more than enough for me to achieve my first marathon and my first ultra distance all in one day! Stoked! THANK YOU!

Chris Bowyer I had a great day out Saturday in the 50, finished stronger then last year took 47min out of time to new PB of 7.20. Feeling good in recovery this week, better that last year, only thing sore/tight is calves ..will be fine by tomorrow I expect.

What worked?
>start group 3 vs 6 in prior year. That alone was half my time gain for sure.
>4Ps / week consistent since November. Missed only 2 wks in March (shin) which was peak load was only time of the plan.
>La Sportiva Akaska newbies ~2 months ago has helped me run the downhills; found I was overtaking people in first half on the declines and motoring.
>temp was so good I left my arms sleeves at start did not carry and extra buff. Figured would not need and less weight.
>extra level of buzz this year knowing so many more peeps before/after — that’s super cool.
>spending time on finish line once warm seeing folks in and listening to the ad-lib from our coaches cracked me up essential part of the fun.

What didn’t?
>I did not cramp, although later on felt like hamstring could have and I downed the chips, real food, more electrolytes at aide station. Did not cramp which was big improvement vs last marathon…although just felt close…
>my pace slowed a fair bit in last 10km, some of this backups on stairs but I also slowed pushing it downhills, would have liked more speed here..

How did your nutrition go?
>good. A mixture of tailwind and gels all day. Top up fruit at aide stations, chips. Although felt good, maybe I need to ramp up the tailwind consumption.

What would you do again?
>all effort for best start group. Same Consistency in training. More tailwind, try to push more up hills vs hike.

What wouldn’t you do again?
>take as many gels – I probably carried 7 from start didn’t need. Can rely more on stations if you know what/when they have.
>I don’t want to have the 2 weeks out again due to shin so will work with my Physio to try to diagnose more on gait over next few months as was a repeat injury different leg etc .

What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for?
—-Concentrate. Enjoy! Finish !!
—-I think was prepared for everything ! Change in course was a fun twist in the tail but no biggie.

Chanelle Rodeka I did the 22 and was not expecting it to be so easy or as congested at the start! I should not have gone near the back of the last start wave, and walkers should not be at the front! Was so hard and frustrsating to get around them all.
I regret going so easy down Kedumba but was saving my quads as had no idea what I was in for and had been warned to not race down. Major stitch going down Kedumba- I only ever get stitch going downhills, need to sort out my breathing I guess…
I kept waiting for the course to get really hard at some point- but it didn’t, was over taking so many people walking up the hills. Even going up Furber wasn’t hard! I suppose the bottlenecks helped for rests/photo stops 🙂
Me and my partner both thought the Wellington Xterra courses of 17-18km were SOO much harder!!

Louise Cairns Ultra trail Australia debrief.

I’d really love to get a little bit of personal intel from those willing to share.

What worked? Stairs/steps were fine. I had been doing the exercises suggested by the body mechanic since squadcamp in april and i could feel my glutes activating. Yay! I also think the ankle exercises helped me stay on my feet when i (scarily) went bounding down the rock slope after taros.
What didn’t? Still thinking about this one. There wasnt too much, mostly pacing issues because i didn’t know the course.
How did your nutrition go? Fluids – great. After major cramping in my legs last year, this year i only drank electrolytes (FIZZ) for the most part (some plain water early on). No cramping (also not as much downhill, so not as much stress on my legs?). Food – in training i ate cliff bars chopped into bite size pieces, while waiting at taros i got some out and couldnt eat it, lol. I survived on gels (i think 10 all up, but maybe more), fruit and lollies at the aid stations, and a sticky bun at cp2.
What would you do again? All of it? The hill and stair training. Anyone who hadn’t done stair training was kidding themselves.
What wouldn’t you do again? Not take my poles (i should have taken them. I had trained with them. I can only assume the people who said they would not help on this course had never used poles or were a lot fitter than me!). I also wouldnt wait for the ladders, i would take the diversion,
What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for? Don’t worry about a PB in the wet (and that was before the course changed). This was my fourth UTA 50 so i think i was prepared for just about anything, except perhaps the course change! It was good to have the squadrun facebook community asking questions and sharing advice when we got that news, i personally would have liked to have had a squaddie face to face get together at the briefing (even if it hadnt been wet/the course hadn’t changed), but understand that may be a bit overwhelming for you and Ali, you were both very busy.

Julie Cutbush Calder What worked? Deliberately kept heart rate low early after going too hard in last ultra. Whole run was at an easy long run pace. Walked all ups and felt really strong from 25km to home. Passed heaps of people second half. Still felt good at end maybe could have gone a bit harder earlier especially as had to walk from 2km as soon as got to forest due to congestion. Was lovely passing people for whole second half though. Very little DOMs.

Due to achillies issues only did about 6 hill sessions in prior 3 months and no stairs but consistently doing 3-4 ps must have worked. Was strongest I’ve ever been on hillls. Challenge level of program and variety perfect. Love all coaching notes. Like to hear more about why it is you can get away with not really doing that much hill training and still run up hills – just cos the program makes you fit?

Nutrition tailwind 1.8l in bladder plus water at checkpoints and 3 gus later on. My winning dinner is dominos (thanks squadrun camp for letting me know that).

Next time- I want to get it start group 3 🙂 might have to do a half marathon for that. Looking forward to having another year of training under my belt. I feel the best is yet to come. Next time like to race it a little more instead of just jog it…..maybe just 5-10% more effort. Pacing is a tricky one.

For training camp maybe some trail technique training in addition to all the other great info.

To continue – kick-arse supportive community ?

Di Carroll Worked – mindset of stubbornness, having my mum there as crew and sister on text. Staying close by, taking all Friday off work. Training plan had me solidly fit and as fast as I’ve been.
Didn’t – feet – my feet were so so sore. Some blisters (ripper ones on the inside of my heels) but just in general too. Early rigid taping to spread the load helped a lot. Next time more running in chosen race shoes (got Akashas a month or so before and I don’t think I got enough time in them).
Knees were very sore from the first pass through Fairmont. Having a single pole from QVH meant I could hang onto something for the down steps, but golly, it still hurt.
I suspect knees and feet soreness came from my running inexperience, but maybe some more hard/speed work would help (don’t put any more in the plan, Kerry, I just need to make sure to do more of those sessions with a little more gumption).
Nutrition – vaguely queasy for a lot of it, but kept enough tailwind and cliff bars going to maintain energy. Did have more than usual probioticy things (Greek yoghurt, kefir as snacks) the week before, might have helped, might have been placebo. A gastro stop at CP3 and was glad of it. Do wish I had different flavour-sets of food to pick from (I was dreaming of some sort of maple-ginger biscuit). Even naked tailwind tasted vaguely sweet and gross at 80km.
Next time I would try to get under 20hrs, I was semi on track for that during the first half of the race (before feet hurt). I’d want to try to get into start group 6 (or 5, just not the party wave). Would also go past everyone waiting at Tarros, yelling out that i’m taking the bypass.

Forgot something I would do again – tailwind powder mixed super strong in a little (50ml?) gel flask in drop bags (also one on me for first bit of race with long time between drop bags) = easy squeezing into flasks then top up with water.

Go Ishigame “What I would do again”
Concentrate: One of the best pre-race advice from Kerry & Ali. I didn’t think about the kilos left until probably 95k. I was in a bubble.
Nutrition: Have a bigger lunch & a smaller dinner the day before. Take a gel or half an energy bar every 30min during race.
Pacing: Maintain high cadence (175-180bpm), keep low HR till CP4 (under 155bpm), repeat Coaches advice in my head “spend it wisely” & “orange light”.
Poles: They made it easy to maintain high cadence & good posture on steep hills. Also, I noticed my HR was approx 5-10bpm lower when I was using them.
Training (if I have to pick): Back-to-back, long hill reps and Locker Room’s strength exercise. Take it easy when I have niggles (NO INJURIES).
“What I wouldn’t do again”
Not having sufficient CP contingency plans in place. E.g., I lost the caps of my soft flasks between CP1 & CP2 and had to wait till CP5 to get a spare one, ended up running without water for 8km before CP5.
This may be asking too much but it would be great if Organizer install a timing mat at around 95k point. My partner and daughter missed my finish because they were in the car waiting for “Furber Steps” to show up on the app. It took about 20min after I passed the base of the steps to show up by the time I had already crossed the finish line.

Ferruccio Orlando What work the pace set for me was ideal hi 6 low 7 . Overall happy . What didn’t work I need more endurance behind me more strengthening work at gym. Nutrition wyse got sick of tailwind after i changed to hammer I want use cliff bars anymore after two it was too much overall a positive day more good stuff the only negative to much waiting

Gin Palace WHAT WORKED Quad hazing; strength/core training and long runs with a full pack – my pack weighed about 4kg but I barely noticed it once on; training on techy trails; cross-training – before I started running, all the footwork I did on rollerskates helped immensely = “fast feet” very similar/same to some of the Body Mechanic moves WHAT DIDN’T WORK I can’t fault anything. There was nothing that didn’t work as far as my coaching and preparation goes. I know that if I didn’t do the speed and hill work in training though that I would have struggled big time to complete the course. NUTRITION I consumed less than 1700 calories on course. The lower consumption is relatively suitable for me currently as a ‘back of pack’ runner though I was out there for nearly 11 hours! So I must have carb loaded well! Nutrition was Infinit, some raw chocolate with ginger, a white bread chip sandwich, half a banana and a bounce ball. I capitalised on the two plus hours I was waiting at bottlenecks by eating some of the solid food. Next time I would have another flavour of Infinit because after 5 hours of one flavour it starts to taste gross. Also magnesium loading plus extra electrolytes pre-race was good – I had no cramping at all. WHAT WOULD I DO AGAIN I would do it all again with Squadrun! Look out! I would do everything again similarly. I would also carry my inhaler again even though I didn’t need it on the day. WHAT WOULDN’T I DO AGAIN I wouldn’t use flasks with the narrower opening. What a pain in the bum trying to get powders into them. Also I wouldn’t carry as much nutrition ‘just in case.’ I returned with 1200+ calories in my pack. BEST BIT OF ADVICE/SUPPORT Concentrate first and foremost. Adapt. Have fun. The attentive support from you both, Kerry and Ali and from everyone online is invaluable. Squadcamp also made it really social and more fun. WHAT DID WE NOT PREPARE YOU FOR We’re all familiar I think with post-race/post-holiday/post-fun-anything blues, totally normal response to get a bit down upon return to ‘real life’ for awhile. After a long build-up during training and being in dopamine overdrive all day during the race, I wasn’t prepared for the huge crash I’ve had since getting over the initial exhaustion. I have had clinical depression for a very long time so I’d say for anyone with similar issues the post-race crash is a critical time to look after yourself and make sure you have support and time out as needed. I don’t expect support in this regard from coaches or runners and that would be tricky to advise on anyway unless qualified I suppose. Our Squad community is so supportive and I believe for many of us that being part of it is beneficial in ways above and beyond the program, for ourselves and each other. I intend to continue taking part in ultras for as long as my body allows so coping with the emotional/mental aftermath is a longer-term project too. PS I’m doing ok. Stopped crying like a baby?hehheh good grief… Cooking, time off work, getting outdoors, more rest and planning the next races all help.

Nearly forgot… POLES. Poles poles poles. Poles rule. Great especially on first climb up the road out of Dunphy’s and of course up Nellie’s.

Kylie Rose What worked: muscle wise I felt good, mentally was good most of the way too. What didn’t: did not recover well, got a cup of tea and hot chips and went to bed rather than fuelling properly (me being lazy!). My knee does not like going down stairs, I think it is an IT band issue, it is never an issue when going up or down hills or running generally so need to do some more strength work. Nutrition was fine. Do it again? At 25km if you asked me I would have said no bloody way! But now…thinking of the 100 next year 🙂 What was in my head most of the way: Kerry saying ‘finish at all cost’. I would love to get faster but I think that is just time and training! Was prepared for everything except the course change but I did not study the first course well so it does not matter. Loved: meeting so many awesome people out there!

Sarah Coombes I only joined the Squadrun family 4 weeks before doing the 22, and I have had a lot of firsts. First big run, longest distance ever. In that short time I took in a lot of advice that worked. Last start wave with a lot of walkers that took a while to get through. Down hill section was great, thought about cadence and form, and was much easier than I expected. I had done some hill work, reps of the Thousand Steps near Melbourne and quad work running down, and this seemed to pay off on the hills. Carried poles but didn’t use them (??) – need to work that out! The Leura Foresty section was beautiful but a bit slow behind people, nervous about asking to pass. Need to be braver! Found the Furber steps pretty hard but did go past people. First time really using the gel block things – wow, rocket fuel! Ate fruit at the checkpoint and drank I lt hammer fizz and 1 lt water overall, seemed to work. Running to the finish line terribly exciting, need to have someone at the end, was a bit of a let down with no one to jump around with!! Definitely been bitten by the bug, 50 next year!!

John Thirlwell I found my nutrition really good this year. 2 scoops of tailwind in 500mL soft flasks – went through 1.5-2 per leg. Consumed 1 gel before Nellies, and another at some point between Fairmont and QVH. Half a paleo bar at CP3 and 4. Pickle juice at CP3 and 4. Endurolyte Extreme Capsule one per hour until CP4, then didn’t feel I needed them.
Not wearing my HR monitor meant no chafing at all.
Getting any sort of consistent training in before 5 weeks out would have helped enormously, especially back to back long runs.
I taped my feet with fixomull and got no blisters at all.
CONCENTRATE worked well – mainly thinking about form and cadence when running tired.
I found poles quite useful from CP5 on the changed course – partly from a new knee injury I acquired, but also helped with most of the stairs (not the metal ones obviously).
Potentially going sans support crew would be a good idea as there’s no reason to hang around the checkpoints.

Mel Simpson Training worked. As I got to the end. Not sure how to do the mental training though (probably more time on feet in general).
Nutrition was my big downfall. I built glycogen stores pre race but still didn’t consume enough during. Hindsight I maybe should have spent more time at checkpoints consuming food.
Consumed pickle juice and never cramped.
Sprayed my feet with non chaffing stuff and no blisters – also kept spray with me and had the volunteers help me with targeting spots on my back.

Scott Heckmann I was generally very happy with my race. I ran at the pace I wanted to and followed the nutrition plan but might need to look at different foods and eating earlier. Hydration vest might need changing. “Trust the training” was running through my head when things got tough and knowing there is high 5’s and hugs at the end is so helpful.

Simon Tibbs What worked – Pushing hard to the Golden Stairs to have a clear run (yeah right) up them
What didn’t – I didn’t adapt well enough to the change, left too much in the tank for Nellies but the legs were shot by that time anyway so should have put some time in reserve on Narrowneck
Nutrition – worked well until between Megalong and the end. 1 or 2 bottles of Tailwind between each CP, had two from Megalong but ran out towards the top of Nellies, should have had a bladder with 1/2 ltr in for emergencies
What would I do again – run hard to the first stair descent to get ahead of a lot of queuing
What wouldn’t I do again – not have back-up water in a bladder
Advice/support that worked – all of the positivity that came from you both and the rest of the Squaddies
Preparation for next time – need to have stairs/hills on fatigued legs in the training plan. So hills, steps at the end of a P1 long run, double days with hills/steps predominately on the second run – same with back-to-back P1/P2s.
Poles – should have taken them. I ditched them when the course changed and was wishing I had them between CP2 and Nellies

Tanya Shaw What worked – I finished this year!!!Difference from last year – SQUADRUN (not just the training program but also the advice and support from the Facebook page) and poles!!!!! Happy days…

Kirsten Rodeka Best advice was to “concentrate”. This was my first race where I did not fall over!! What worked was Being in the moment and not thinking ahead of myself. Having my nutrition separate to my electrolyte worked well too. What didn’t work was fat Friday. I’m pretty sure I over did it and woke with the worst headache ever and was lethargic and sleepy and I wished I’d taken the panadols and nurofens before the race instead of at 35k. Once they kicked in I was suddenly back in the race and excited for what was to come. What I would love to work on is technique over technical stuff…. I can’t come to training camp in oz but would love to come to one closer to home if it’s covering the technical stuff, or even one on one session if you’re offering those for locals?

Jonathan Moulds Mostly positive feelings about the race. I really enjoyed the run, but didn’t get the time I wanted or should have got from the training. Finished feeling pretty comfortable which is probably testament to not pushing hard enough. To be honest I was probably 45mins off a par run but was running with a mate and was super pleased to finish with him and had such an awesome day so was hard to have too many complaints.
Nutrition went really well, leppin gels and a nuun electrolyte about every hour and a pot noodle at QV5, no stomach issues so pleased with that. Went with poles from the beginning and probably pulled them out a little too early and will need to work on pushing harder with them, as they definitely slowed me down. Overall really happy with how my training went and loved the race and event, with obviously the Squadrun support a highlight as usual.
Will probably be looking to push some of my training runs a bit harder in the future as I still go too conservative and need to push myself a little harder.

Joan Tulett Given I was very distracted in the final 2 weeks leading up to UTA, I was extremely happy with my run – possibly should have taken the diversion at Tarros but couldn’t resist the opportunity to go down the ladders. Nutrition (Tailwind and Hi-5 Isogels) worked well for me on this run – but I still struggled to eat after finishing until the next day. Found the amended later start time hard … it is always difficult to sleep the night before and so the extra wait before starting meant I was constantly checking my gear and wondering what to do to fill in the time! Poles have become one of my new best friends – I used them from CP1 and overtook a lot of people on the uphills – and they were useful on some of the technical downs. The change of course didn’t bother me … in fact I quite like not knowing what is coming up (except I had previously done Nellies before and it was as bad as I remember it to be!). Pity about the bottlenecks going down Furber, across Landslide and Tarros – according to Garmin I lost about an hour with these! Looking forward to returning in 2018 and doing the ‘actual’ course!

…arm warmers … they are AWESOME! Easy to take off while moving and I tied them onto my race number belt without having to stop where they stayed for the rest of the run.

Mardi Boardman Yeung I was thrilled with how my run went. Poles were a dream – I got them out early and used them often. I kept repeating to myself “If your arms aren’t hurting, you’re just tapping the ground”. Nutrition wise, everything felt great. I usually train fasted, but stuck to my plan of eating every two hours and taking a salt tablet or two in between. I picked up a couple of lollies at each of the checkpoints (paying particular attention to my favourites, the teeth and strawberry creams ?). My only disappointment was the time spent stuck in congestion at Furber, Landslide, Golden Stairs and Tarros. I had a goal time of between 9-9hr 30 and conservatively estimate I spent about two hours stuck behind big groups (including an hour and a half waiting at Tarros alone). Ideally I’d like to get up into a faster and smaller group, but don’t see that happening while I keep getting stuck in the crowds.

Jodi Coppin I am still unsure how I feel about Saturday…happy that I finished – and no falling over!!!! But very disappointed with the time…at least an hr off my target. But what worked – the advice! I kept hearing ‘concentrate’ in my head, and Ali‘s advice to ‘stay upright and keep moving’ worked. Nutrition was good – probably didn’t have enough in the second half of the race. What didn’t work – my head! I put way too much pressure on myself and struggled mentally. I tried calling my husband at 20kms to tell him I was pulling out – luckily he didn’t answer ?. Oh and the shirt worked – lots of fellow squaddies chatted to me on the way – helped keep me going so thanks to all xx

Derren Shaw I’ve done the 100k 3 years on the run now so I’m able to do a pretty good comparison with my result. 2015 & 2016 times were within 12 minutes of each other and 2017 I took an hour and quarter off and felt like I raced it rather than just survived it.
I had exactly the same nutrition plan, all my gear was the same and I was in the same start group.
I joined Squadron after having a pretty ordinary Six Foot Track race in March and wanting something new to try so had a couple of months on the program.

So what was different that felt like it helped:
1. Stopping any really long runs much further out. Last couple of years I’ve done a 6 hour+ run a month out
2. Sharpening phase. I’ve always avoided anything fast when ultra training. Always fearful I like would get injured. In the end I felt fresher than ever with no niggles at all. I felt like I was able to keep good leg turnover speed right up to the finish
3. Pacing. I didn’t look at my garmin until Nellies. I went totally off feel and focussed maintaining an even effort

What would I like to improve:
1. Downhills. I still think I have a lot to learn in technique running downhill. Always feels awkward
2. Blister management. Probably a gear issue rather than a training issue. I never get blisters in training but around the 80K mark they start.

Emily Wilcock Loved the training camp!! Advice re concentrate – no stacks! Advice re pacing was great – what Kerry said about not running a hill at start you can’t run at finish got me to finish line! Def keen for camp next year!!

Stephen Owens Do more stairs. Full stop, underline, circle in red, highlight in yellow. And then, start slow and go slower

Shannon Schuster How do I sum up the love in a couple of paras?! ?

What worked- running based on effort not pace, the base built up over the past 10 mths churning out rhythm runs and back to back running on tired legs. I thanked the program while I was running along narrowneck and maintaining a good pace… and then along megalong valley when my legs were tired… I said to myself ‘that’s okay.. you know you can run on tired legs!’. I also loved having a structured program as it meant one less thing I had to organise. And the online community is amazing ❤️

What didn’t work- I kept up 2 bootcamp sessions each week which I would continue for overall strength. This meant (with work and life) I could run 2-3 times a week max. So often this meant that I missed a hill/stair session that was a later P. My calves are feeling the pain so next time I’d made sure to do more stair work.

Nutrition- a combo of tailwind, bit of sandwich, bananas and coke. I’ve not done this well in the past so was happy to have nailed this on the weekend.

What would I do again- the program of course! Although it would be nice to know a few more squaddies before my next run. That’s on me though.. I should have organised a local run a couple of times. And got a tshirt!

Best advice… have fun and finish. I followed this and had the best day… felt great (even when it hurt) and was smiling most of the time. I wasn’t prepared for the course change… but I did want to do the 100 next year and now I’ve run it all. Seems like it was meant to be!

Paulandberns Near-Camden I had a really good UTA50 that far exceeded my expectations even thought the alternate 50 was more runnable than the usual course. Finished with a 90 minute PB compared to be previous best. This would not have been possible without the program.

WHAT WORKED – Calling out “on your right, when you’re ready” Got me passed quite a few people, where in previous runs I would have sat behind them and got frustrated about them not stepping aside. Also, Skin Slick. Second UTA I have used it and second time for no blisters or chafe. Lastly the program. The variety of runs at different paces gave me a much better idea of how to pace the 50.
WHAT DIDN’T – Leaving my poles behind. Looking at the elevation profile is no substitute for real knowledge/experience of the course. Wish I had taken them.
NUTRITION – pretty good compared with previous efforts. Tailwind, some shot blocks, plus watermelon and mandarins at checkpoints. Also a snap lock bag with a couple of handfuls of chips for between checkpoints to offset sweet things. But still room for improvement.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO AGAIN – Concentrate. And keep an eye on my early pace. Looking back, I went out too fast too early in previous efforts. This year I was much more restrained and slowed down much less in the back half of the race.
WHAT WOULDN’T YOU DO AGAIN – Carry so much spare electrolyte powder. Had too much. Wear my La Sportiva Bushidos – they were too harsh for a run with so much bitumen and fire trail. Need a new pair of trail shoes with more cushioning. But they were great going around the ladders. No slipping at all while those in front and behind had an exciting time.
WHAT WAS THE BIT OF ADVICE/SUPPORT – The “concentrate” message really resonated with me, especially the bit about form/efficiency being how you spend you fitness. I repeated this to myself most of the way from Medlow Gap to the top of Nellies. Had a big impact on keeping my form good when I was getting fatigued.
WHAT DID WE NOT PREPARE YOU FOR – I didn’t think there were enough stairs or big hill sessions in the program. I am lucky to live at the base of the Blue Mts, so went up regularly to do a run that had lots of stairs anyway as I knew that was a real weakness of mine. But if I did what was in the program in this respect, I would have been underdone.

One last thought, any chance of more than one Squad camp? Or perhaps having the camp a bit earlier in the year?
Cheers, Paul.

Jeff Whalan What worked?
The training plan had all the sessions that were needed. It built up my pace, and I was able to run a 20 min PB in the marathon 6 weeks after starting.

What didn’t?
Only joining the program 12 weeks out and focusing on the road marathon did help with my trail legs on hills, stairs and non-smooth terrain. I had a fall when I returned to trail running that caused an injury. I had blister issues from the shoes I had planned to race in (so I couldn’t risk using them in the race and it messed with my training).

I was thinking that it would be beneficial to have separate ranges of paces for the trail runs e.g. if the terrain is mostly even without too many hills your range is XX:XXmin/km – XX:XXmin/km; but if the terrain is uneven and hilly your range is XX:XXmin/km – XX:XXmin/km?

I was also thinking that it would great to have a database for courses where the training could be completed outside of the Blue Mountains, for those that can’t get there on the regular e.g. 20 minute downhill run, 3 up 1 down, flat areas that aren’t on a track for some of the speed sessions, stairs (either in parks or in suburbia etc.. So that we can train more efficiently/on program, without quite as much travel. As I felt I couldn’t get the full benefit of some of the sessions on the terrain I had available to me.

How did your nutrition go?
I ate too much (and the wrong types of food) in the last two weeks before the race, but especially the night before. During the race I ate nothing (due to stomach upset) and only drank about 700ml of plain water. I did eat a couple of electrolyte tablets that you would normally dissolve in 500mI-750ml of water (to try and hold back cramps). I was a bit worried about the fluids, since I have lost 9kg on a less than 4 hour training run before But the race directors were right because I didn’t die.

What would you do again?
Attempt to get down as close as possible to racing weight ~10% body fat. All the speed work in the lead up. Run at a constant heart rate (not pace), so not to burn through my energy too quickly (this race was 154 average, but if I was feeling better would aim for about 160). I would run the hills as intervals again.

What wouldn’t you do again?
Stuff up my pre-race nutrition. Start training so close to the event. Do hardly any trail runs in the lead up. Do hardly any hill or stair training in the lead up. Train for a goal marathon road race within 2 months of the event. Wear a pair of shoes with worn down grip because I didn’t wear in my new shoes early enough. Not do enough runs wearing the pack loaded up.

What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for?
I think that your confidence that I would be able to complete event, even when I didn’t, helped get me to the finish as it formed part of my racing mantra (when it was mostly mental). You and the rest of the Squadrun community being available to answer my questions or give feedback was very helpful.

In the end I am happy and proud to have completed the race as this was my goal and my main reason for signing up 🙂

I know that I made a lot of mistakes (most I could have avoided), so that if I complete it again I will have a performance goal in mind.

Lesly Kathleen The squadrun program worked a treat. I love plans and each week I would write out my plan in my exercise book. The plan was like opening a present!,
The squadrun camp was a treat on many levels and helped me feel more connected to the group of squaddies. The camaraderie was great and it was such fun.
My ud women’s pack from blue mountains running company was terrific. So snug and fitted lots of stuff.My wildhorse Nike shoes as recommended by Kerry were terrific..no blisters and only one stack.loved running in the squadrun singlet and 3/4,pants under my skirt. So much better than my full length yoga pants that I wore in the 22 last year.!

Wearing my full pack for all training kept me safe from deluding myself about my pace
Drinking lots of matcha tea for months before the race.doing
core exercise s every night for 5_ 10 mins for a couple of months before the race and doing yoga .

The biggest challenge for me was feeling nauseous for the majority of the race. Only had green tea tailwind in bottles and bladder. Sipped on this til Dunphys camp when I tipped it out in disgust. Filled my receptacles up with water and drank a half cup of coke. Had a bite of watermelon and earlier ate a salada biscuit and a bite of a goji bar. The coke helped me vomit it all up at the top of Nellie’s . I wish I had done this earlier as I felt heaps better.
Couldn’t eat for 48 hours after the race .

I will do it all again !! With more vigour and speed and a better feeling stomach. I loved the squadrun program.

I would carry water as well as tailwind ( NOT green tea flavour!eurgh) next time .
Best advice was ” trust the training” ” concentrate ” and ” be in the moment and choose to love it”.

The consistent support .positivity kindness humour and sage advice from you two was precious.

More stair sessions in training program or I naturally try and avoid them !!,I still find stairs difficult to love.

Thankyou again xxx.

Nicolle Watson I know I didn’t do nearly enough long distance work and it’s only thanks to my excellent Squadrun trained base from the last 15 months that got me through. I will pull my finger out earlier or have a proper break between events in future.
I have my nutrition down pat for events up to about 5-6 hours. However I need more practise for longer events and have no idea how to train for that other than doing it. Coaches suggestions welcome!
The last 5ish km of the 50 was pretty horrible (I think Nellies Glen wiped me out) as I had reached the point before the last CP of not wanting to ‘eat’ anything, but still wanting to drink. Thinking might be time to experiment with Tailwind (or equiv). I was dead on legs and a complete space cadet at the end in the recovery area, and so sore that I was crying … wasn’t pretty until I ate something and started recovery properly.
Stupidly wore my 2XU 3/4 pants thinking it would be cold (and it was to finish) but the cord required to keep them from heading south also dug into the stomach which added to the gastric upset. Should have worn my favourite shorts instead. Compression pants are now a ‘never again’ for long events.
Wore arm warmers this year and glad I did. Would do it again. Fantastic piece of kit.
The only thing I think I would have liked to know in advance was a bit more of a race plan idea from coach. Knowing what was ahead with Nellies would have helped mentally I think. There were a few posts from elsewhere that were shared but I didn’t remember reading any real description of Nellies which I will forever now consider a staircase spawned from hell. Probably could have found the info about the 100 course in the UTA literature but didn’t have or think to make the time.
Oh and on recovery … this year I made a point to make sure I had some soup & other of the available supplies in the recovery area and didn’t leave until I was feeling normal again. Made the mistake last year of not and wasn’t going to repeat that again!

Bronwyn Pressland What worked – the program. I felt reasonably confident i could finish the course in goal time and felt body and mind could cope with terrain at a mod pace. I had a great run and loved it!
What didnt work – leaving poles behind – seriously the biggest mistake i made. Insufficient training on stairs like nellies. Managing adrenalin rush at start. It continued to top of golden stairs and i think totally wiped out my energy stores! Chaffing despite bathing in glide. Next time i will carry it with me. Not using a 2nd watch to beep every 30mins for food intake. Prob would have saved me in final 1.5hrs.
Nutrition- used shotz gels tailwind and nuun hydrate. Jury still out on tailwind. I still have to take in a lot of hydrate even with tailwind. Started with 500ml tailwind and 1.25L hydrate. Ran out 30mins before CP 2 Also nutrition fell apart after 5hrs. Watch beeper could have helped.
In hindsight i should have written down my nutrition learnings from manly dam races and anzac.
Do again – the program!
Not do again – 4Ps a week. It needs to be 5Ps min with no avoidance of hills…..may need to move to another part of Syd!. Also arriving at BMs at 6.15pm friday night. Traffic and weather didn’t help. Next yr thurs night or fri morn. Staying at a hotel – SC accom would be better for timing and choice of meal the night before. Tailwind??
Advice – ‘concentrate’ first race i haven’t stacked it in! Listen to your body and dont run hills at start that you wouldnt run at the end! Online community and wealth of advice.
Could have done with more advice around nutrition for longer events and also regular reinforcement of need to tick off stairs like nellies! Wish i could have done training camp. Next year…..

I should add re program – nailing the 5km TT 1 week out from UTA was a huge mental boost. Not sure how i would have felt if PB had alluded me then…..even though dist was incomparable to UTA.

Thank you

Janet Noel Deakin What worked: the training plan. Admittedly I avoided some speed work and rhythm runs( which I hate with a passion!), but I was never going to break any land speed records! I felt it was more important for me to build strength in my legs for hills and stairs. Not having a time goal took the pressure off as my main goal was to finish and enjoy the experience. Which I did.
Nutrition: I knew this was going to be important as I was going to be out there a long time(24hours). Variety is the key as I know everyone gets flavour fatigue. Vegemite sandwiches with crusts cut off, roast sweet potato coated in oil and salt( pretty messy but tastes good), bars, gu chews. From aid stations – bananas and fruit buns, later on half a container of hot noodles. I made a point of eating a little but often- every 30-40 minutes. I also had small cans of ginger beer in my drop bags which went down well. Coke in my bottle for the last leg instead of tailwind.Even in the early hours of Sunday morning when I really didn’t feel like getting food out of my pack, I forced myself to as I didn’t want to bonk that close to the end.
Having a positive attitude and being prepared for the bad weather with extra clothing in my drop bags.
Carrying my poles from the start- the original plan was to leave them at CP5, but then after reading others experiences I decided to carry them the whole way. I got them out after CP2 and they were a lifesaver
Best piece of advice: concentrate
Negatives: none. My only complaint was sore feet and fatigue. But that’s to be expected in 100k!
Thanks to Kerry and Ali for preparing me well

Sam McCready What worked?
-The plan and the P1-7 system. Outstanding.
—especially the quad hazing and the stair work.
-Positive mantras: “CONCENTRATE” (very very effective), “Finishing is the only option”.
-Handheld torch, super-bright LED worked like a treat, especially in the fog near CP5.
-Tried and tested gear, clothes and shoes, no new stuff!

What didn’t?
-Forgot to make a last minute checklist – left some snacks in the fridge (no drama).
-Changed to new batteries in head-torch which may have been old stock; not that bright, didn’t adequately check.
-Really sore calves after Nellies Glenn; going up was ok but going down was painful.
—Quads were really prepared right through to Furber, but calves suffered after NG, never had that before.

How did your nutrition go?
-Really Good. I am a LCHF supporter* (*80% of the time*).
—Mainstay was Almonds, trail mix and cashews.
—Every hour on the hour from 1:40hr (CP1) fuelled up for Future-Sam.
-Treats: I had cheese slices (from drop bag) at CP4 & CP5 plus soup from the CPs (hot soup was awesome); Gold.
-Coconut water and water, real simple.

What would you do again?
-Squadrun! Plus Same kit, same configuration.

What wouldn’t you do again ?
-I would not forget to write down last minute stuff; a full brain can be forgetful.

What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we not prepare you for ?
-General advice on running and scientific/mathematical background.
—Its is amazing how by osmosis you absorb that and it helps with the mental prep.

Tasia Hutama The final advice is GOLD! That was my mantra the whole day “concentrate..concentrate..concentrate”
Nutrition I pretty much followed Find your feet podcast which I think was recorded during one of Squadrun previous camp.
What I like about the plan is there’s no super long run, instead back to back run or doubles which works for me. Thanks Kerry & Ali for getting me over the line. ?

David Moloney Just been rethinking the run and the things that worked for me.
(I read above somewhere that someone wouldn’t have a crew again)
1. This year I made things a lot easier for my crew by having a list of what I definitely would need at each CP and things to ask me that I may need/want. I had my flasks pre filled when possible.
2. I had CP bags with gels I needed for refill and everything else I thought I may have liked.
3. I had approx times of arrival plus a tracker for them.
4. Poles from CP 3 to 4 and from CP 6 to the bottom of Furber! (Yes I ditched them on the side of stairs?)
5. I used my own Electrolyte mix as the coarse one isn’t as strong as I train with and cramped last year but not this year.
6. Spare shoes and socks with crew at each CP that was a huge bonus given the conditions as I changed them at Aquatic and felt soooo good.
7. Carried a lighter headlamp till QV CP and swapped it for the Ayup.

Dan Derry Overall I have to say that this was the best prep that I have had for a race. The length and intensity of the program worked for me. I initially wanted to just give up because it was tough but when I thought about it the race is tough so I just kept going and the results started about 6weeks after the commencement of the program. The initial pace expectations I felt was to much but as I started to become more disciplined I found myself just wanting to push myself into the ‘enjoyable’ pain zone. I really should of started the training in maybe July so that the hardening aspects including the technical running could have been developed more.
I don’t think that I got my nutrition together well. First 40kms I felt like I was floating through the race really hammering, enjoying the view and those racing around me. I think that I forgot to 1. Eat on time 2. Eat enough calories. Then I really struggled from CP4 onwards. When I got to CP5 those noodles even though it was difficult to eat was just heaven and the salty brew just felt like my body went ahhhh! I will be using Tailwind in the future with an SIS Caffeine boost where necessary. I gave myself a little Turkish Delight treat at each CP which I learned here at Squadrun (treat that is) and that boosted my spirits. Coke, I Iove coke but useless energy but made me feel great for 20min

I will do way more vert long repeats after long interval runs. I think the ache of being on my feet can be worked out with further extended time on my feet. Improvements for me could have been to include HR Zone running especially on the really long runs. I averaged 128bpm (Z1-Z2) across UTA so I’ll use this as a baseline in any further long distance training. I did find conversely that the longer I ran using zones instead of pace the faster I became seems odd but true not busting my guts on every run enabled me to recover quicker. Training Peaks kept telling me every 4weeks or so that my LTHR had changed and that I should change my data to reflect this. I can only put it down to the type of training because it never did this so frequently before.

Recovery was awesome. Sore for the Sunday but kept moving and by Monday went for a little jog/run. I have to put this down to the training

I really thought about my gear and did a late hydration pack change to a Ultimate Direction PB Adventure Vest 3.0 best change. This pack rocks and just fits me so well. I was also concerned at lighting up the night as I ran without my glasses and just wanted to be safe and see clearly what was coming up. I use a Led Lenser H14R.2 Rechargeable (it isn’t the most powerful that they have but its light output is phenom) and have done so on my long runs for over two years it is the best most reliable piece of kit I’ve got and has never let me down. It has intuitive light controls and can be used easily with gloves on. Its crazy but you can use three different types of batteries and I can use it on max Lumens (1000) for close to 4 hours. Only down side is the weight but if it is too much you can slip the battery pack off your head and with the extension cord slip it into your pack. I was going out for a recovery run last night and was not paying attention and dropped my lamp onto the path. I was pretty upset as I broke the battery pack shield and although it still worked I had to use some tape to put it back together. Was thinking that I’d go Ay Ups or Petzl Nao + because I couldn’t find a spare part on Ebay or Led Lenser site and the light is I think 2 or 3 years old now and I can get those other lights cheaper. Anyway I contacted Led Lenser Support let them know that I dropped my light and they got back to me within 6hours to let me know that they are sending out the part free. This just topped off my week . Just like the training I received from Squadrun Quality Gear = Quality Support. You guys and our coaches have been really generous in support and encouragement – thank you.

I am going to run this race again and I’ll put it out there that I want to go sub 15.

Brady Bunch Haskins What worked?
Training plan!! I was as ready as I was ever going to be on the day & I finished!!
What didn’t?
Mmmm my elevated HR was a bit concerning, the first 10k I was struggling to keep it under 188bpm, thought it may have been just nerves… so I played it safe and it started to eventually level off at around 25k (more power walking than running though) I now know why, since Monday I have been floored with the flu
How did your nutrition go?
Could have done with some improvement on the day, ended up only eating a cliff bar and a 100 pieces of watermelon… my tummy gets a bit icky when under stress. I absolutely craved Coke by the end!!! Also didn’t help that at the 28k checkpoint I realised that my water bladder hose had not been plugged in properly… was wondering why I was so thirsty (derr!) enter 100 pieces of watermelon
What would you do again?
Squadrun training!
What wouldn’t you do again?
Ditch strength training…. That’s one thing I learned big time, MORE STRENGTH training required.
What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped – Keep on moving – concentrate – forward – progress.
and what did we NOT prepare you for…. I ended up out on the course longer than I anticipated and the longest run/adventure I had done before that was 4hrs… maybe a 5-6 hour on legs a couple of months out would have been of benefit??? Then again, I’m no expert 😉
All in all, very happy with my experience xx

Haslinda Hassan I finally able to settle down my thoughts and physical being to write down a debrief. Honestly it has been an emotional wreck after the race (talking about the post race blues!).

What worked? The program worked well up until race day despite taking a step back for being injured. Ali was kind to alter the programme to fit my needs during the rehab phase.

What didn’t? Up until the 10km and from the golden stairs onwards, nothing was ‘golden’ to me. I was a wreck, too fatigue, legs refused to help with the ascents. I kept on taking a break on the stairs and there squaddies who asked if I was okay (I was not in a squadrun shirt hence nobody would recognize me, sorry guys!). I even though of not finishing but after talking it out with some runners, I managed to stick it and eventually finish. Regretted not bringing the poles! I was crappy throughout the run.

Nutrition? Thankfully I managed to take in fluids and gummy bears but still was feeling fatigue.

What would I do again? The long hours on stairs and on the trails. (definitely need to do more!)

What wouldn’t you do again? Relying on the leg powers to bring me up the ascents. Ain’t gonna work now, I need those poles!

The bit of advice? It was actually from a fellow squaddie by the name of Kylie who accompanied me most of the time after CP3 which eventually I couldn’t keep up with her strong power ups on the ascents! She quoted Kerry saying something like, “whatever happens, get to the finish line”. From then on, I didn’t think of the cut off times, I just want to finish the run, taking a step at a time. Thank you Kylie! You’re one of the few people that brought me to the finish line!

I eventually finish in 12hrs 40mins for the 50km. Not a fantastic time, but lots of improvements to be made. I would be very interested in the 1:1 coaching once I settled down my other commitments. I really thank those who encouraged me whom I crossed path with! <3

珮凌 Having a structured program made a world of difference (thank you). Fitness increased and I could go faster for longer . Would do more strength based training for legs , more stairs, and more runs with pack . I need to do more hills too. Nutrition was good: Tailwind and EnduraGels and Clif bars work for me. Having run the uta22 route at Squad camp gave me a lot of confidence because I knew how to pace myself and when I would need to push.

Squadcamp rocked!!!

I arrived on Friday with one of the strongest mindset I’ve had racewise. I was nervous but I had a game plan and I went out firing. The pb between April and May (1.5 hrs) at 3.05 hrs speaks volumes ?? i want to come back next year even stronger and break the 3 hr mark.

Hayley Bradnick What worked?
Definitely the training plan. I struggle with consistency so having some structure but option of selecting what P to do when worked. I enjoyed the sessions like the 30/20, fast finish, deeks, final countdown and hill sprints. Strideouts are cool too.
Soft flask, no bladder. This makes my pack far more comfy. I make sure to leave each aid station with one with water and one with fresh batch of electrolytes. I carried 2 others, one empty and one with water only up until after the longest aid station gap of 20k.
I loved the last minute change to the course. I hadn’t done any training on the first half of the 50K course so I was happy the majority of us were made equal.
All the tips and tricks and support on the page was super helpful.
Sorry Kerry Suter and Ali Pottinger, but I’ve realised that I need to take a step back from the plan every 3-4 weeks to gather myself mentally.
Running assessment with the Body Mechanic but I know I can still improve.
Working on power hiking, I was always passing someone on the uphills.
I somehow managed to run pretty fast after the last checkpoint as well.
What didn’t?
Tapering stressed and tired me out big time. My body and mind started telling itself it was time to relax and I ended up with some type of “almost flu” the week before the race and with a tight chest. I left it until the Friday to decide. I made a strategy to run very consciously and re-assessed at ever aid station with trust in my own intuition and not being afraid to approach the race medics if necessary.
But with all this I think I should have bet that beer to move up a start group Kerry Suter as I came 40 mins under your maths 🙂
I definitely know my mind and legs could have pushed harder but I couldn’t risk a health issue. I had some pains in my legs and knees but no real cramps.
I need to work on my strength and flexibility training. I think I need to write it in as a P myself so I actually do it.
I need to do more night runs, even though I didn’t need it on the day, plus it’s fun.
I need to learn to push myself more on the technical stuff and not be afraid of falling.
How did your nutrition go?
Used Shotz gels. Shots and NUUN tablets. 1 x vegemite sandwich, banana’s and watermelon at aid stations. I hate gels but these seem to work for now, I don’t think I could go more than 50k with them though (yuk). I honestly believe having being vegetarian for years and now close to full plant based improves my race performance and recovery.
What would you do again?
Squadrun training. Soft flasks.
What wouldn’t you do again?
Stress about the weather or not having had much on course training.
What was the bit of advice/support that you used that helped and what did we NOT prepare you for?
Be as fast at possible aid stations.
Concentrate and reminding myself to correct my posture. To have fun.

Dan Derry What worked? My kids secretly recorded messages for the check points ranging from small made up songs about running to words of affirmation and strength and strangely what sounded like a pterodactyl screeching through the forest! When my wife met me at CP5 and went to play the first message she had her phone on full volume and the pterodactyl came on causing all around me to just burst out in laughter. It was the most hilarious moment as I listened and tried not to choke on some watermelon. My son tells me that the pterodactyl was supposed to scare me to run faster and ultimately away from the beast at high speed.

Kylie Henry My belated comments …
What worked – taking it easy and enjoying the experience. Nothing like having only one task to complete and a whole day and night to do it in! Luxury!
What didn’t work – staying ahead of the queues because of above! It’s a trade off.
Nutrition – I probably consumed less on this race than I have in others – tailwind in the bladder which I topped up at 28kms, scratch and water in the softies, scratch chews and a couple of bites of a cliff bar. Half a banana at 28kms and 36kms. Tailwind is the gear!
What wouldn’t I do again – take it as easy as I did. Bludging once was ok to check I could do this and yes I can! That means pumping up next time. I would also increase my weekly training runs.
Advice that helped – wearing bike gloves. They were great for rock scrambling, muddy ladders and ropes and wiping sweat. Pacing and Kerry’s advice to concentrate! Remembering to stand up straight when climbing stairs made such a difference. Each time I did that I felt so good.
What wasn’t I prepared for – Still not meeting Kerry Suter! Are you avoiding me? I could hear your voice across the valley as I came home but then you were no where to be seen ?. Lucky I had the lovely AAli Pottingercalling me home. Thanks Ali.

Rachel Antonio What worked: Having a squadrun program and bootcamp for upper body and core strength. I dont struggle with endurance, but not a fan of speed stuff ?! so doing the Tassie trail Fest backed up with carrying 20kg on The overland track was a good tester for the endurance. I followed Hanny’s nutition advice (gel, gel, Bar, gel, gel, gel….so on and 500ml electrolytes when thirsty or each 1hr) this works well with all the water melon at the aid stations and vegiemite sanga’s. More of Hanny’s advise…. I tape up the problem toes with fixamoll and it works perfectly, the toes do not show a single sign of having run 100km. Wool sox are best too. What didnt work The knees failed me yet again in the 2nd half???? The stairs down hurt! super frustrating when you could have gravity on your side!!! will need to do more to strengthen the legs and knees on down hill’s and stairs. I think I felt stronger in previous years when I had more time incorporating weekly Mountain bike rides?

Matt Goodwin Hey guys, quick summary of my race. Goal time was 16 hours (last years time 18:20). Overall I was extremely happy with how my race panned out especially considering I was in Start Group 5. Note to self for next year to remember to not miss deadline to sort out a better start group! Nutrition was Perpetuum, Shotz electrolytes, Clif bars, magnesium tabs, salt tabs and fruit from the CP’s. I also dabbled in some Coke and lollies in the later stages. My stratergy was to pace off 70-75% max heart rate (approx 144-149bpm give or take) for at least until CP4 and then I’d reassess. It’s worth noting this goes against any racing strategy that I have deployed in the past which is essentially ‘go until you blow’ and then survive the rest. Got the typical delays going down Furber, landslide and heading up Golden Stairs however, instead of being annoyed at this I was viewing it in a positive light as energy in the bank for later on and it certainly did come in handy. As Narrowneck was the first real runnable section of the race it was extremely hard for me to watch people pass me by and it took a lot of will power not to just revert back to the old stratergy, I kept having to remind myself to trust in the process. I took the Tarros ladder short cut as I had been there and done that last year and just wanted to keep the legs ticking over. It was whilst standing in the Tarros line that it was interesting listening to some runners talking about cramping and struggling so early on in the race. I could honestly see myself in that same position last year and again this reinforced my pacing strategy. From here until Dunphy’s Camp I was in relative cruise mode constantly checking in with my heart rate which fluctuated quite a bit with the undulating terrain. In order to maintain it I had to walk any major ascents and if it was still elevated I focused in on my breathing especially breathing in through the nose which seemed to bring my heart rate down really quickly. It’s worth noting that I completely disregarded my heart rate on any downhill sections, because I specifically trained for Kedumba which was no longer a part of the race so I made it my mission to fully commit on any downhill sections that I could find. On the way to DC I was continually trading places with a gentlemen who appeared to have adopted an even pace strategy which was interesting to observe, he would break away from me on the ascents but I would catch back up to him on the flats. I eventually left him behind at DC as I made a point to get in and out of there really quickly. From DC until CP3 I maintained consistency and a relatively even pace, it was on the downhill on Megalong Valley Rd (I think) that several people smoked past me, it took me several minutes to realise that these were the leaders of the 50km and not eager back of the pack 100k’s, this had me worried for a while that I really was taking it a bit too easy until I figured that out. At CP3 last year I had the onset of cramps and was coming to the realisation that I still half over half the race to go and was going to be in a world of hurt. Fast forward a year and I rocked up feeling great, had a smile on my face and keen to get in and out as quickly as possible. Pacing stratergy continued all the way to Nellies where I was passed by some women 50km leaders, it was very motivating to see people pushing their limits and I made sure to remember that for later on the day. My stratergy for Nellies was to keep a constant pace and not stop. It’s pretty hard to keep a low heart rate going up ginormous stairs but I made a point to try and hover around 160pm and not go much higher. At the top of Nellies I was greeted by a dry reacher which I felt sorry for but again this reinforced my stratergy. It was at this point I was beginning to realise that I was regularly passing people and still maintaining a cruisy effort so to speak. At CP4 I got to see my mate who had some words of encouragement and mentioned how good I look and sound compared to last year. The wheels fell off for me at CP4 last year and it was from there that I survived until the finish line, not this time. Onwards to Fairmont! I actually really enjoyed this section as I still had great running form. I was still checking in with my heart rate momentarily but was beginning to put a little more effort in on the flats and ascents. A big spike in motivation came when I began sharing some track with the 100km leaders who even though were at the pointy end of the race were still yelling out words of encouragement to everyone. A little bit further down but not by much I came past Lucy Bartholomew who was tearing up some stairs and again yelling words of encouragement at me which I gave straight back at her. It was at this point that I was really feeling that runners high. I was just really enjoying the day and enjoying being out on the trail. Dodging golf balls I made it to Fairmont during the day which was a huge goal for me as last year it was in pitch darkness. I also took the opportunity to use the top of the range bathroom facilities there which was a first for me during a race. I remember sitting on the toilet saying out loud to myself how good is this? I’m running a 100km trail race and I’m sitting in 5 star bathroom, it’s a shame I didn’t get share that joke with anyone because I found it extremely funny at the time lol. I left Fairmont after plugging the iPod in for the first time in preparation for the approaching darkness. I was still feeling good at this point and had completely thrown heart rate pacing away and was focusing on controlled efforts. Last I was checking heart rate it was consistently below 140bpm so was beginning to lose its usefulness. Darkness fell just as I was coming out of the bush at Wentworth Falls and onto Little Switzerland Road so it was a scrambling run/bag juggle to get the headlamp and high vis vest out. Pulling into the dance party at CP5 I was feeling ok but upon being told I had to do a 1.5km out and back and leave the party momentarily I started to feel fatigue coming on. Once back at the party and checking in I was still positive but had some worrying signs of an upset stomach. Leaving CP5 I had put myself in the zone in preparation for likely tough times ahead. Luckily I was still holding out on the tough times passing back through Fairmont. I managed to hold on until 6kms to go when stomach pains started to take hold. I had to stop all nutrition and reduce water intake to virtually nothing to try and stave off the pain. It’s fair to say my pace dropped off a fair bit from here to the finish and likely cost me a sub 15hr time but I kept pushing on even though I was starting to feel delirious. For what was the longest 5.5kms of my life I was glad to see the base of Furber because I knew it was almost over. It was a long slow climb out of Furber but I got that last burst of motivation upon hearing the cheering of the finish line crossing in 15:17:13 my current 100km PB. Extremely proud of myself.
However, I can still see room for improvement and would like to push sub 14 hours next year. For me I need to put more time into building an aerobic base. I jumped into the training program in early Feb after taking some time off after a busy racing/training year in 2016. I was heavily reliant on the aerobic base I had built up until early December which would have diminished somewhat. Next year I want to spend time building that before commencing the Squadrun program in the hope I can push for a better time in the first 50km at a similar heart rate. I also need to review nutrition, it worked for me 90% of this years race but the last 10% let me down. Massive thanks to Ali and Kerry for your guidance and everyone else on here for sharing your runs, thoughts and progress throughout the year ?