Thursday, April 10, 2014

Buffalo Stampede - Athletes' Forum and the Ultra

The banner which greeted us when we drove into Bright.

Friday, 4th April 2014.

We arrived in Bright on Friday afternoon and headed to the Senior Citizens' Hall to pick up our race packs. In our packs, there was a vest, a cow bell souvenir (red for the marathoners, black for the ultra), a Hammer gel (banana flavour, yuck) and some pamphlets regarding touristic spots to visit, etc.

The elevation profile never fails to send shivers down my spine. Brrrr!

YB took the opportunity to hand over his drop bags, and soon after, we joined some of the gang (and their families) for an early dinner.

It was so early that I remained hungry after the athletes' forum!

Our loyal supporters and cheerleaders. :)

Ready for the weekend!

After dinner, we returned to the hall for the athletes' forum which started around 6.30pm. Sean, the race director, greeted everyone and handed the mic over to Marcus from to kick off the forum.

Spot the elites back there!

At the start, there were several awkward pauses when Marcus asked the crowd whether we had any questions for Anna Frost, Reese Ruland, Dakota Jones, Beth Cardelli, Grant Guise and Brendan Davies.

Or we could have been too star struck.

In my humble opinion, I would have preferred the race briefing to be given before the forum so that we would have an idea of what to ask.

But that's just me!

(In my head, all I could think was was asking Frosty whether she liked chocolate chip cookies and if so, does she feel guilty every time she bit into one.)

L - R: Anna Frost, Reese Ruland, Dakota Jones, Beth Cardelli, Grant Guise and Brendan Davies.

Marcus got the runners to share with the crowd their thoughts about the course and their race strategies (or ideas) to adopt. 

To hear them say that the course was going to be a tough one and it would be good to have poles with you, gave me the shivers. Surely they were just jesting? If they found it tough, how would we mere mortals runners find it?

We were advised to take the opportunity to regroup our composure and fuel up during the flatter sections of the course every now and then. With all the climbing required (especially during Mystic Hill and Clearspot), we would not have much of a chance to do so.

We were also repeatedly advised to lower our heart rates whenever we can. 


After returning to our motel room, we (mainly YB) spent about two hours preparing our gear for the race the next day. Had a bit of a giggle with the vest, which we were requested to wear them at the start of the race. 

Preferably throughout the entire race.

Buffaloes on a rampage!

Having a good laugh was a great way to shake off the nerves and shivers, if any, before a good night's sleep.

You know who to hang out with should you be in need of a good chuckle! :)

Saturday, 5th April 2014.

We arrived at the party start line at Howitt's Park to a very chirpy crowd. There was a coffee van parked strategically near the start line, too!

We managed to get a SCTR group picture minus a few people before the race director briefed the runners.

There were more than 120 runners for the ultra category and they were flagged off at about 6.30am.

Alexa and I were ready to return to our beds so we could grab a few more hours of sleep before heading towards Eurobin Creek aid station to meet Gregor and YB.

It was a good sleep, but it cost us a bit of a kerfuffle as we weren't sure if we were heading the right direction, had to stop at the nearest supermarket to buy some stuff, there was an ongoing cycling event, etc.

We arrived at Eurobin Creek only to be told that we had missed YB by a mere seconds.

Hmm, I was pretty sure he wasn't going to kick up a fuss that I had missed his grand entrance. He had his drop bag there, anyway, so he wasn't dependent on me. Phew!

Unlike a runner whose drop bag we brought over from the start line - thank goodness we didn't miss him otherwise ...

Dion and Claire, the managers of SCTR. :D

We waited for Gregor and Jon to arrive before we packed up and headed to the chalet. Alexa and I detoured to the Dingo Deli for coffee and sandwiches and thankfully, we managed to see more of our friends at this particular aid station.

Siqi, coming in after tackling the Big Walk.

Alexa and I had to make sure that we sat down as much as possible to rest our legs for our race the next day, though it was difficult to find an available rock to sit on. :) We did look rather anti-social at times, sitting away from the group but rest assured that it was because the available rock was so far away!

I was really worried about not hydrating and eating enough. Gosh, this crewing business was hard work!
Jacinta all smiles as she headed back down the Big Walk.

The runners were fantastic and definitely needed a cheer every now and then. A jangle of the cow bell would do, too, though I'm sure some of them were too exhausted to appreciate the jangle of encourangement!

The chalet was a very busy aid station / stop with runners having to come in from the Big Walk and head off to Chalwells Galleries (a 7km loop), before heading back down the Big Walk to Eurobin Creek.

When YB returned from the loop, he contemplated calling it quits. He had a tummy upset before tackling the Big Walk and did not manage to keep some of the nutrition down.

Medic attention, just for a blister. :D

We cajoled him to continue on, at least to Eurobin Creek as descending the Big Walk was probably easier than climbing up.

We told him that if he was feeling much better, he should at least descend the Big Walk and once at Eurobin Creek, reassess himself again whether to continue or call it quits. After 10 minutes, he decided to continue on.

(That's right, soldier!)

There were a few runners who stopped after the Big Walk (35KM thereabouts) or even after the loop (42KM) as they were uncomfortable to continue on or were out of time. The runners were required to complete the marathon distance in 9 hours before returning to where they came from (towards Bright).

One of the runners who called it quits needed a lift back to Bright, but we were not able to offer him one as our car was full and we had to stop by Eurobin Creek anyway. Hopefully a kind Samaritan gave him a lift.

A runner gets a cool shower before continuing on.

The crew was getting tired, including myself but we continued to wait for YB to come in. When he eventually did, he told us that he was going to stop right here. Jon and I tried to cajole him into move on ("You have enough time to make the cut off!") but he refused. 

You'll read his race report on his blog.

Vibrant colours make awesome photos. :)

Many thanks to Sharon who gave us a lift back to Bright. We stumbled back to our motel room feeling exhausted and hungry.

A bit of rest and dinner thereafter, we headed back to the finish line to wait for some friends.

As it began to pour, we got worried, hoping that more runners would return quickly. Imagine climbing those crazy hills in the rain and in the dark!!!

Taking shelter while waiting for runners to cross the finish line.

You could see bobbing headlamps making their way to the finish line but it was too dark to make out who it was until they crossed the finish line. The race director stood in the rain, putting medals over their necks and congratulated them for their massive efforts.

As I was still hungry, I stole took a cup of hot soup, which turned out to be really good!

Unfortunately, we couldn't wait any longer for our friends to return as I was about to crash.  I could barely keep my eyes open and a slight headache was developing.

It was my turn to skyrun the next day.

And boy, did I have nightmares that night.

A huge congratulations to everyone who ran that day. :)

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