UTA 100 Race Report by Anna-Lena Werner

Posted by on May 31, 2017 in Running | 0 comments

UTA 100, what an experience!

Although I am still recovering, I am grateful for the experience and proud to say that I finished. 

The preparation for the event was often challenging and required absolute dedication but I loved every minute of it. The journey is what really made this experience so special, all the long Saturday runs in the mountains with the Manly Beach running club, the 5.00 am weekday starts and endless runs in the rain, the wonderful people I met along the way and their inspiring stories as well as the social sacrifice– I don’t even see this as a sacrifice anymore as it only made me stronger and happier.

I’ll admit that there was a time when I doubted myself and thought I wasn’t going to be able to run. About 6 weeks leading up to the event I was diagnosed with a stress fracture on my lower fibula and was devastated but decided not to give up. The support from Coach Joe from Manly Beach running club and physio Kieran from inBalance Physio was exceptional. After two weeks in a boot, a lot of cross training (not so fun), good nutrition and visits to Kieran as well as support from friends and family helped me in getting ready to feel confident at the start line.  

Coach Joe and I started the race in wave 6 at 6.57 am on Saturday Morning and I seriously couldn’t stop smiling for the first few hours of the race. I broke the run into sections, between each checkpoint and water point. Mentally this is so much easier than one long run. I went down Furber with joy and even the golden stairs were fun with fresh legs. The views along Narrowneck were absolutely breathtaking and the great conversations with Joe just made it feel so much easier. We arrived at CP2 feeling fresh and only quickly pausing for water and also CP3 didn’t seem too far away. I expected the pain to hit me about now but it really only started kicking in after Nellies Glen. We then arrived at CP4 ahead of time at around 3.15pm where we met my support Crew Craig Arnold from Core 9 Fitness – it was so good to see him there.  It is interesting how the little things such as a clean shirt, a hug or a certain kind of food keep you motivated between checkpoints. We didn’t waste much time and headed back out quickly. 

The next section I found so uplifting and the views were remarkable with the sun starting to set. It was a joy to run this part but little did I know the beast that was waiting to greet me on the return leg (SO many stairs). The run into Fairmont for a drink stop helped a little but Craig and Jo had to push me to keep moving.  My knees were starting to really hurt on my way to CP5 and Joe did a great job distracting my mind from the pain. We started dedicating each kilometer to a special person in my life, which really helped. I also started to be a bit more emotional and vulnerable but I guess that’s pretty normal. I felt quite relieved when we made it to CP5 and Craig was well prepared as he cooked up pancakes and helped release my ITB by massaging my legs. This was a point where I didn’t know how I was going to get back up and down all the stairs that we had just climbed on the last leg. I remember when Craig said to me that I will learn more about myself in the next 20Km than in the last year combined. It was not until later that I understood what he really meant. Joe motivated me to get going and it was a good feeling to head back towards the finish line. As much as I wanted to run, my knees were hurting so much that it was a combination of shuffling, walking and running. It was like a battle with myself as my body just wanted to give up but I had to tell myself that I can still keep going. Joes support was second to none. 

When we arrived at Fairmont resort, I knew that we only had 10km to go but they were the longest 10km of my life. More stairs, those bloody stairs!!! I started feeling very ill during the last 10 km from stomach cramps to muscle cramps and legs that were just giving up. Every step up or down the stairs felt like a million needles moving inside my knees combined with little electric shocks. Even though my body went into survival mode, I can say that I never felt so alive at the same time. My mind wandered to a place where worries melted away and where the beauty of the present moment was in sharp focus. There were a lot of positive images on my mind that I think rechanneled into forward motion. There were several times where I just wanted to stop and take a break but Joe helped me move forward. During the last km on Furber steps I started talking to a fellow runner who was in front of me – we struggled together. He explained that he had never run 40K let alone 100K but he was there on the day pushing himself beyond limits to support a cause that supports parents who lost a child, so did he. This was truly inspirational and helped me cross that finish line together with Joe after midnight. We completed the race in 18hours and 14 min. The race left me physically and mentally drained but very satisfied and very happy. 

Ultra-Trail Australia UTA50 UTA100 2017

What did I learn? 

I honestly don’t know where to start as this was all about the journey that has taught me so much. I gained a lot of inspiration from fellow trail runners. It was not an easy task with plenty of obstacles along the way including injury, doubt and sacrifice of common every day activities. Determination, dedication and perseverance resulted in valuable life lessons and a new outlook on what is truly important in life. Supporting the Charity “Righteous Pups’ motivated me on the days where I felt tired or struggled to keep up with training but it also helped me to finish the race because I knew I would be making a difference and help a family to a happier life. I also learnt not to accept no as an answer, bad things happen but it is what we do to learn from our failures and tough times. We are all in control of our destiny if we just apply ourselves. I hesitated when it came to believing that I could run a 100km trail race, but I am so glad I signed up.  Running is my passion but I believe that anyone’s passion can be used to change people’s lives. Everyone can achieve whatever they set their minds to, regardless of how impossible it seems at the start. 

Thanks to everyone who supported be during the journey and on race day. It means so much.

Anna AKA “Aqua Anna”

Ultra-Trail Australia UTA50 UTA100 2017

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