Race Report: Thorndon Park 6 Day Race, Adelaide
Distance Run: 408.54kms
Date: 29th September - 5th October 2019
What an amazing event to be a part of. To be able to turn up at a venue with your personal clothing requirements and a sleeping bag with everything else taken care of is simply the best start to any event and takes such a huge load off your support crew who can then just focus on making sure you eat, drink, sleep, and run in the right proportions.
Starting at 10am on the Sunday, day one was about trying to find a sustainable pace that I felt I could handle for the next couple of days, getting familiar with the other runners in the race and sampling the food choice as I passed through the start/finish area every 1425.5m and just ticking off the laps into the night and the turnaround at 10pm.
Here you discover a whole new perspective and you start to go through some down moments when you think that maybe you did go out a little fast in the first 12hrs and you still have 132hrs to go so I then reviewed how I was feeling had some food slept and was back out in the early hours to get some laps in before daylight and pushing through to the 24hrs and 10 am turn.
Robert and Kris
Day 2 was feeling a bit tough at times partly created by the mental process of checking other runners progress and the constant pounding on concrete so I found I was walking a lot more to try and save my feet, taking short rest breaks while I ate and slept in the afternoon, then carried on into the night. Whereas the previous night it got very cold with a very strong wind so I needed a lot more clothing to keep going and even taking a sleep break in the night with all my clothes on I still woke up cold, so I was looking forward to daylight and the first rays of sunlight.
As we all moved through the morning towards the 10 am turn I was feeling tired and I guess others were also as John Timms who was in my age group was approaching the turn when he tripped and fell on his face breaking his glasses and being taken off in an ambulance to the hospital.
Aid and Food Station Run by Amazing Volunteers
Day 3 and 4 were just a blur as for most runners this is the low point where you have come so far but still have a long way to go.
I was starting to feel pain in the ankles and lower legs so this became a mental challenge as doubt comes in and I battle with the fear that because of the inability to train properly over the last 12weeks since the bypass operation for an aneurysm behind my left knee which pinged a clot and blocked the blood supply to my foot, I may not get through to the end.
With much self-evaluation I decided that regardless of distance or speed I was here for the long haul, so just had to focus on moving forward at whatever pace I could manage at any time, this allowed me to relax a little and enjoy the interaction with the other runners and the wildlife out at night such as the foxes out hunting and the koala ambling across the path.
Having altered my mindset I found I was prepared to take sleep breaks when I needed them rather than pushing on and this had a positive outcome in that I started to move more freely.
The Over 70s Runners
One of the highlights of the beginning of another day was the 10 am turnaround marking the start of day five, and the start of the 48hr runners to the loop so there were even more high fives and laughter giving everyone a mental lift.
As I moved through the very hot day trying to hug the shade where I could, I started to get what I described to Bernice as that finish line feeling when you know you are going to be there at the end and your confidence grows so you can push a little harder. After an early evening sleep, I was able to run consistently for around three hours, then taking another short sleep break I could come out and run another three hours plus. Though it hurt like hell it was a definite confidence booster and took me into the dawn looking forward to that final day.
Another aspect that had improved morale was that the last few nights had become much warmer so most runners could get out and run in light gear but without the heat of the sun.
That final day was all about resilience, about having a goal of maybe 500k and feeling I might not make it to 400, of feeling so stuffed that the coach Bernice makes me go and take a nap on a stretcher in the shade. Then it's about getting back out there and being inspired by the performances of my friends from Queensland, Ant, Stephen, and Kris and being encouraged by them as they pass. Its also about doing whatever I can to encourage others out there to help them get through. Then as night falls and the temperature drops a little, I start to feel that 400 is within reach with 12hrs still to go so I decided to take a sleep break and crash for around 3hrs.
The Motley Crew-Antony, Steven, Robert, Kris
Back out on the path, I am determined to make the most of the time left so after a lap to get the body to work again I try doing some running but just don’t have the stamina to maintain it, so settle for walking as fast as I can and running the odd downhill section.
As dawn approaches, emotion is having an effect on many out there as I come across one with tears streaming down her face and I find I am also feeling highs and lows about those I have met and will be leaving by the end of this day and how they have encouraged me to keep moving forward. Through the morning it's about holding my body together to reach that 400k then with around an hour left it passes and I make the decision to throw everything at it so I start running as best I can through to the end.
Mission accomplished survived 6days covered 408.539km made it to first in 75-79 age group, met some of the most amazing people both runners, volunteers, and organizers and had such a great time I might just have to go back next year. Thank you SA ultra runners.
Thanks also to our Sponsors Pogo Physio and Brad Beer and Nike Sports Robina.