Training Tips: 100km Ultra Trail Australia course
I had the chance to run twice the Ultra Trail Australia 100km course, I would like to share how I approached the race. Running in the Blue Mountains is beautiful, the trails are amazingly well maintained and the views and sceneries take your mind away from the effort. I particularly enjoyed running through the eucalyptus forests and down the stairways hanging off the cliffs.
This course is very runnable and easy on the feet as the ground is mostly soft dirt. But do not get fooled, it is very important to plan your effort ahead and to be patient, 100km is a long way. During the race you will find a lot of different terrain, a few kms of road, a lot of stairs (metal and wood), undulating trails, single tracks, endless fire trails, steep hills and easy hills...
-Start to km5: The first 5km of the race are on bitumen, 2.5km uphill + 2.5km downhill, most people are very excited and tend to go hard. Follow your pace on the uphill even if you fall at the back of your starting group, you will be surprised to see how much the pace drops after 2km. Then use the downhill to place yourself better, without going excessively fast.
-km5 (Furber steps) to km11 (Narrow neck): You will be going down the long Furber steps in a single line with no possibility to overtake (pay attention as you will be going up those same stairs at the end of the race). Even if you face traffic jams, relax and let your heart rate and stress levels drop, everybody is in the same situation! Once you reach the bottom of the stairs you will have some nice single tracks, until another stairway leading to narrow neck. I found this set of stairs very rough, ease the pace on this section otherwise you might blow up your legs.
-km11 to km22 (Tarros Ladder): I remember this part as the easiest of the full race. It goes fast and it is beautiful. However be careful not to go too hard on the short hills, you will probably have some people going hard at that point, you will catch them later. On the Tarros Ladder I highly recommend you go down using the ladder (even if you are offered to take the alternative route), it is worth loosing 2minutes as the ladders are so fun!
-km22 to km46: The downhill following the Tarros ladder is quite steep and will work on your legs, then the terrain gets easier until km46.
-km46 to km57: By km46 you will start to feel the enormity of the effort and you are about to face a difficulty. A few easy kms will bring you to a very long stairway that demands a long effort, keep a steady pace and focus on the present moment! Once at the top you have a few flat kms to the aquatic center and it's confortable aid station.
-km57 to km78km: This section offers amazing views that keep your mind busy. But be warned, this parts isn't easy, the rhythm is always changing and is much slower than the first half of the race. You will it difficult to set a right pace, so use your heart rate and your feelings to keep going. The last kms to the aid station are quite easy, but running even on flat becomes quite painful.
-km 78 to km 91: A long downhill on a very hard surface (dirt and concrete), not smooth as you picture it! It is very rough on the legs and you will feel every sore muscle of your body, try to breath and relax! Then from Jamison creek you will have some very undulating dirt roads that are relentless. At the aid station, prepare your headlamp if you are not yet in the dark.
-km91 to Finish line: I find this uphill not so difficult, the main hurdle is that your pace will slow down a lot and kms will feel endless. After one steep part the trail become runnable until the Furber steps. The Furber steps are hard, but you know the arrival is so close, one step at a time you will reach the finish line!
My 2015 race times:
You can view my race on Strava: Here