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Blackall100 50k Ultra: Course Analysis and Strategy Breakdown

The Blackall100 50k ultra is just a few weeks away, and with numerous Hungry Runners participating, I wanted to share my course analysis and approach strategy. This analysis is based on the GPS track mostly, I HAVE NOT ran the entire course yet, only sections, hopefully some runners will comment on this post and bring more insights.

Based on the GPS file provided by the organisers, the course measures 52.3km in length with an ascent/descent of 1575m. Keep in mind that these figures might vary slightly on race day due to potential differences in your running devices.

Taking a closer look at the elevation profile, there are two main uphill segments: one at km21.5 and the other at km37.5. The initial climb covers 3.4km and gains 346m in elevation (averaging a 10% gradient), while the second climb spans 2.2km with an elevation gain of 230m (averaging an 11% gradient). Together, these climbs contribute to 36% of the overall elevation. This signifies that the other sections that might appear "flat" on the elevation profile are actually not, as they encompass a total elevation gain of 1000m spread across 30km.

In terms of my personal analysis, the supposedly flat sections labeled A, C, and E will demand considerable stamina. These sections could make it difficult for runners' to establish a consistent rhythm, practising this type of terrain in training will be important!

Delving into the details:

Section A poses a challenge in pacing, 10.6km with varying hills and a gain of 345m and loss of 279m. Runners, likely fueled by nerves and excitement, might be tempted to start off quickly. To manage this stretch, a wise approach involves maintaining a comfortable heart rate during the climbs, avoiding crossing the threshold. Starting too fast in an ultra is rarely beneficial; the enthusiasm and fresh legs often lead to overexertion at later stages of the race.

Section B consists of a lengthy downhill followed by the initial major climb. If you've paced yourself well in the prior section, it's advisable to exercise even more restraint. While the downhill might invite for an acceleration to gain positions, remember that it's still early in the race. Pushing too hard can result in muscular strain and excessive stress on the neuromuscular system. Conserving your legs is crucial to performing strongly in the race's final stages.

Following the long downhill, you'll start the longest climb, growing steeper as you ascend. Monitoring your heart rate to stay below the threshold is recommended. When transitioning from running to walking, embrace power walking and only jogging on flatter terrain if your heart rate is under control.

Section C resembles to Section A. By now, your legs might start feeling fatigued, but you're likely settling into a rhythm. Approach this section with caution, focusing on maintaining a steady pace and avoiding significant fluctuations in intensity.

Section D is the second and final major uphill/downhill segment. Assess your leg freshness to determine your level of risk-taking. With 15km still ahead, a slight increase in intensity is feasible if you're feeling great. This can lead to overtaking runners who began the race too confidently.

Section E is the least demanding on paper, with 12km with a gain of 224m and loss of 287m. Push your body to its limits while maintaining proper hydration and nutrition. Sustaining a solid pace might be challenging due to the fatigue, but this section offers the greatest potential for making a difference.

Key Takeaways:

Exercise pacing in the opening section, resisting the urge to start too fast

Exercise caution during the initial downhill

Maintain patience throughout Section C

Make strategic pacing choices in the final uphill/downhill segment

Give your utmost effort during Section E

Wishing you the best! Have a fantastic race 😊

For more info regarding ultra trail nutrition: HERE

For more info regarding Carb loading: HERE

To learn how to study a race course: HERE

Head Coach of Hungry Runner


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