The turn around of me doing my race recap after an event is usually pretty quick. However, the circumstances leading up to this event meant that it took me a lot longer to process, and thus meant a delay in my review.
I will be honest, even now I still have no idea how I feel about this event. It could be weeks or months until I have been able to fully process this accomplishment, and not be shrouded in the mental load of the events leading up prior.
Either way, this is my race recap, so enjoy.
Event: Trails+ You Yangs
Distance: 5km, 15km, Half Marathon, 30km, Marathon, 50km, 100km, 100mi
Where: You Yangs, Victoria
Start & Finish: Turntable, You Yangs
Event Partners / Supporters: Garmin, Altra, Running Company
The You Yangs is a regional park located between Werribee & Geelong. It’s a park frequently visited by day hikers, dog walkers (dogs are allowed in this park), runners, and MTB riders.
If you are looking to be introduced into trail running, then the You Yangs is a great place to visit to pop your trail running cherry.
For an urbanite, you’ll be truly delighted in the offerings of this park. But this old duck is from the country and has the Grampians as a playground, so while I didn’t find it particularly pretty from a viewpoint status, I enjoyed it all the same.
In the lead up to my first ultra, this event was the first milestone on my journey to running 50km later this year.
Choosing the 30km distance, the goal was to run sub 4 hours to qualify for Wonderland later on in the month.
Either way, I was treating this event as a training run rather than a race.
Upon arrival, I did my normal pre-race routine of checking my gear & visit the loo. Then it was time to make my way to the event hub. It was a 500m walk uphill, I treated that was my warm-up, followed by some dynamic stretches.
The race director greeted us and talked us through the course, and the other boring mandatory stuff.
We all then made our way into the starters shute. Having never run 30km before I made the decision to hang out the back.
Whenever I run an event, I always make note of certain people around me throughout the run. Not knowing their names, I’ll give them random labels like “pink socks”, “ponytail”, “curly hair”. Some of these people I will never catch up to, others I will pass.
The 30km is a 2 loop course, with the halfway point being back at event central. Having run the first half the course before I knew what to expect. I told myself “don’t be a hero”, walk the hills, run when you can.
Passing through the first aid station I passed my first 100km runner. I have real respect for anyone doing this distance, and I told him sold. He replied back with “wanna swap”. Yeah, that will be a no, but I told him good luck and that he was doing great either way.
Running along the fence line I fell into a rhythm of counting. As strange as it sounds, counting helps take off the mental load. I’ll do it until I lose count and start again.
Around the 1 hour mark, I took in a Goulburn Valley fruit pouch. Runners around me were dropping back, obviously going out too hard.
When I reached an access road it was a long a slow steady climb. Without anyone I could visually mark I was bored, so I put on a RockMyRun mix and fell into a beat.
11.5km I hit Saddleback track. It’s not technical (would be a different story if it was raining), but it’s all elevation, and it’s long. 1km long.
Once reaching the top and passing the aid station, I sent a message to Tom, so he could see me back at event central.
Crossing the timing mat, my first 15km was done in 1h51, which I was happy about.
Now it was time to climb the “Saddle”. Which surprising, the number of times I have been to the You Yangs, I have never done before.
This track was still open to the public, so not only did I have to navigate other runners coming down the saddle, but I also concentrate on the members of the public and their dogs. Some were courteous, others not so much.
With wide steps and switchback after switchback, it was hard to fall into a rhythm.
Along the way I encountered other milers, you could clearly see they were spent, moving at snail pace and simply focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. How could you not give them encouragement? You simply HAVE to recognise that what they doing is something epic and that they are doing amazing.
Reaching the top I had a sense of accomplishment. I had to take some photo’s & selfie’s of course, before heading back down. At least I only had to do it once, sparing a thought for the 50km/100km/100mi who had to do it a few times.
On the way down I consumed a Huck Tropical Fruits gel. Wow, this flavour is the best. I totally loved it. Made a mental note to get more of that flavour for future runs.
Arriving back at event central, we made a u-turn to bypass the finishes shute, before heading back out for the 2nd loop. Encountering a lot more day visitors, I realised I would have to come back with the kids as there are many parts of this park I haven’t explored and the kids will totally enjoy. Miles loves to rock hop.
Clocking 20k’s by now, I was starting to tire. With a long gradual descent and entering the MTB side of the park, the landscape changes. You are in amoung plantation tree’s, but there is no undergrowth so it feels quite barren.
One thing is for sure, I noticed runners ahead of me slowing down. ‘Wonderland Man’, ‘Blue Shorts’, and ‘2bays pink top’, were my pick to pass.
Grabbing some jerky from my pack, I ate that while edging closer to the runners ahead.
This particular brand of jerky I had never had before. While I love jerky and I will buy this brand again, I just won’t use it for trail running. I found it a little too tough for my liking. Switching to a Kez’s kitchen bar, I realised I didn’t want that either.
Then I saw it, and aid station. All I could see was lollies and fruit, but I didn’t want any of that. Instead, I asked, “do you have anything savoury or salty”. I was in heaven when I was handed a plate of chips. Taking a handful I ate those and went on my merry way.
Slowly but surely I passed ‘wonderland man’, yes he is going to run there in a few weeks, so I shall see him again. Not long after that, I passed blue shorts.
Passing these runners simply told me that my pacing was on point.
I grabbed another gel, cola. Normally I’m not a fan of cola, but now I understand why elite & ultra athletes like to have it. It hit spot. It was salty and sweet but not sickly and with that caffeine hit it got me moving.
I understand that certain tracks need to have switchback, but 25km, we were what they call “junction track”. This MTB track is all switchbacks and let’s just say they are arseholes. Especially when you can see the access road to your left.
And yes, we had to giveaway to the riders that were heading down the switchback. Luckily I only passed 2, on the track. While 2 more had stopped to repair a puncture.
By this stage my legs were heavy and I was tired. Climbing the last of the ‘big hills’, I sent a message to Tom to let him know I wasn’t far off.
Reaching the aid station I took in more chips, an orange wedge, and an electrolyte drink.
Talking to one of the volunteers he asked me what he thought of the event, and how it compared to UTA. I told him, that the saddle reminded me of the Furber steps, just a different kind of difficult.
So if you are reading this and you are thinking of doing UTA, and live out near the You Yangs, then my recommendation is to practice going up and down that saddle.
Coming into event central I was tired, but not completely spent.
Hearing my message tone, I see Tom had sent a text “6 minutes to finish at 3:50”. I knew I was close, I just had one short sharp hill to conquer before descending into the finishers chute.
I crossed the line in a time of 3h47m20s. Sure my watch says 29.52km, but I don’t care. I finished. I took my medal from my friend Maggie and then went and ate some pizza.
Things I learned
- I like sweet at the start, savoury at the end.
- Pack more savoury options in your pack.
- Drink more water
- I need to invest in a broad rim legionnaire’s hat
- I need better active undies
Bottoms: Dharma Bums
Bra: Sport Skirts
Shoes: New Balance Hierro 2
Fuel: Water, Jerky, Goulburn Valley & Huck Nutrition
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