I’m just a Mum” is what I said to the other runners who were asking me if I was on a Sponsored Shoe Label Team when I was running The North Face 100km event on Saturday.
Solomon, a trail running shoe brand sent out an entire Team of about 15 Trail Runners to steal the lime light off The North Face, a rival adventure brand. The competition was going to be tough this year, and records were going to be broken. The times that won the event in the past, were not going to be good enough, so for me to try and be top 10 I had to run as fast as the top three girls did last year. This was my challenge in my first ever 100km Solo Event.
The Solomon Team were the people to beat, to check out, and to admire for their strength, skill and speed. They were in the crowd, they stood out dressed in their Red Solomon uniform and they were the ones to stick close too. They were the ones being paid to be at the event and to win it. It was in my best interest to be as near to them as possible. Spain, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and Australia were all represented in their Team, and even one of my role models was in their Team , and on The North Face Team was Ultra Endurance Runner Lisa Tamati. I was looking out for her in the crowd.
So at the start line, I made the bold decision to start right beside them, not to be a scared of them, to run out with them and hope that I could hold on for as long as possible. I know I am a great starter, and a fantastic descender, so I needed to be up at the front so I could run at my speed and not have anyone slow me down.
I always chat to people at the start line, I spoke to the lady next to me, she was freezing, she was from Singapore, and she was on the Solomon Team. She then asked me what team I was on I said “I’m Just a Mum”, “no I’m not a sponsored runner from a shoe company! And no I have not run this event before, and this was my first Solo 100km”. This was the first time I was asked this...Too funny!
The gun went, and we were off, I ran straight up a hill with no warm up, through the streets of Leura, I ran next to a Solomon Runner, I wished her good luck, she was an Aussie, and she wished me luck also. She was just as nervous as me, and hated being on the road, I was having a ball running next to all these professional runner and at this stage, and I was not doing so bad, they did not sprint off into the distance, they were running at the same pace as me. A hill came, and I moved ahead off her, I found the next Solomon Runner, from the back she looked like she could be Lisa Tamati, from behind, long dark brown hair, a more solid build. I caught her, and said a few words to her, wished her good luck, but she said nothing in return. I ran next to her again, said a few more words, then she said “Non English”, I then worked out she was the Spanish girl to beat.
We hit the bush for the first time and the view was amazing, we had a beautiful clear day, and I could see all the amazing rock formations of the Blue Mountains canyon, I love it, I was finally running in this world Famous event next to some of the best athletes in the world and having a ball. I was following Nerea Martinez, a Spanish Runner, she was setting the pace, and it was slower than I like at this stage, I knew that I wanted it a bit faster, but there was no where to pass, I had no idea who was out in front of me, how many females, and she was slower than I would like on the stairs, so when we came back out on the road again, I felt good, another hill came and I just rolled down and passed her. A few more climbs, a few more hills and then the 30 minutes came and I eat, I tried to eat a “Ride Bar” but it was too big and bulky, my noes was running like a tap because i still had that cold I have had for a few weeks now, so I could not breathe if I was eating, so I slowed a bit and Nerea passed me again.
We hit the bush, and she slowed down again. I did not mind this as it was along race and I felt really relaxed, so I allowed her to lead for a few kms, but it was getting to the stage that I thought she was slowing me down on purpose...She was too slow on the stairs climbing, so I said the the guy in front of me who was called Scott, he was in the Navy, “We have to over take her, she is too slow for me and I feel good now, I have to run my own race, she can catch me on a climb later”, so on the next set of stairs I used my “fast feet” technique and flew past her with Scott following me close behind.
Scott had a cold too, we were both sniffing as we ran, I think most of the people from Sydney running the race that day were sick with that awful head cold. We ran together chatting, for a while, he too had a child, but she was 20 and and in her Third year of Uni! I soon became quite as the climbs became more challenging along the Federal Pass, we ran up behind another runner, and he was setting a nice pace, we rested for a while behind him and we were in a team of 3 for a while, we slowed slightly and let him set the pace, the pace was quick, but manageable. So we started chatting, calling out to each other if we saw danger, looking after each other.
I was talking to the guy in front of me when I forgot to tell Scott to “duck”, and poor Scott, who was a foot taller than me got an all mighty head hit from a low hanging tree branch. I checked to see if he was okay. He was cool, but a bit shaken. We lost him off the back for a while, he was hurt, he slowed slightly, but he was okay, with in the next kilometre or so he was back on our little train again. We came to the “Land Slide”, and slowed, we had to take it easy and we scampered, crawled, jumped and climbed over this scaring the earth, when we passed, we hit our rhythm again over the rolling hills of the Federal pass until we hit the “Golden Stair Case”.
This was the first real set of Stairs that we had to climb for the day. I started swearing at them, cursing them, I got angry with them. It was a way that I did it. It made me feel better about the situation, and brought a few laughs from my fellow runners and the few spectators who braved the cold and windy conditions. The burn in my legs was insane, I knew that eventually the burn will stop, I think my brain knows that there is no point telling me that it hurts, because I am not going to stop, so it stops sending the messages to my legs!
I got to the top of the stairs and Nerea passed me again. I knew she had more to give, and she was resting and trying to slow me down. She was a professional and she was doing her job, she was in a team and I had know idea who was out in front of me. We hit the check point 1, The Fair Mont reserve to Narrow Neck at the 18km mark and I was dead on schedule for my spits, 2 hours and 5 minutes. Ahead by 1 minute.