On April 24th 2013 at around 7am, a group of extraordinary runners will be setting off on a 4 day sight seeing extravaganza through some of the Australia's most popular trails, all the while soaking up each others company and sharing the triumphs and challenges along the way.
With a newly found love for trails and my sights set on bigger and better challenges for the future, I've been searching the net for what's out there in terms of Ultra's. WOW, there's soooo much variety in the Ultra field. 50km, 100km, 100mile, 12hr, 24hr, and even 48hr; but what stood out to me the most was MULTI DAY! There are events that are staged across multiple days............... Interesting..........
The thought of running an ultra marathon one day, then meeting up with the group that night knowing you're going out to do it all again the next day; and the next. Now this has my attention.
After extensive searches it became clear that there were plenty of these across the USA and Europe, but very little in Australia. Not in a position to travel a great deal right now but too impatient to wait a few years; what was I going to do?
A few days of brainstorming the seed for the Flinders 240km Ultra was planted. I love the Flinders Ranges. Located a few hours north of Adelaide, South Australia it is one of my favourite camping regions with the family. When you add that it also hosts the the top portion of South Australia's most famous trails, the Heysen Trail it was clear this is the place I have to run.
After weeks of research and mapping, along with long chats with volunteers who manage and maintain the trails up there, the basic layout of what will be a big new adventure was on paper. A 240km, 4 day run from Pichi Richi Park to the Parachilna Gorge Trail head. Staged in such a way that only one night is spent at a main campsite, while the other nights happen to land right on main towns making facilities easily accessible. My wife on board to help along the way by car, I'm set!!!! IT"S ON!!!!
Now to find some others to share my journey. With only a simple promo to the local trail community, I have a comfortable handful wanting to join me, and another also offering help in coordinating the details. AWESOME!!!! This not so long ago pipe dream is quickly becoming a reality.
I had to make it clear to the community and those interested that this is by no means a formal event (yet!) and as such it is to be treated no different to that of a casual weekend run among friends. It will be limited in it's support and is a trial run to what will hopefully become South Australia's first multi day 240km Ultra. All who showed interest remained keen. What an amazing group of runners we have here!
It astounds me how eager and committed the trail running community is. So selfless and supportive. At just a hint of help needed, people flock to your aid as if it's nothing. I love that about this group of people. They may be crazy, but they're awesome!
What excites me the most about this formation is getting to the end of each stage; sitting around a camp fire as a group discussing the days travels, how everyone's feeling, what they experienced, and all being conscious of the fact that we're about to do it all again the following morning. No single day run can ever give you this moment. This coming together and group bond.
Whoever decides to come with me that week, will by no doubt become life long friends. There's no way you could endure such a task without forming some level of connection with the participants. I'm sure everyone's high's and low's will be exposed many times during these 4 days; some giggles, some tears; and we'll all be there to support each other. What an experience this will be.
I still have some planning to do and a few short trips up there prior to meet with a few land owners where the trail cuts through private property, but it is all coming together better than expected.
Now for training. I'm beginning to work out how to prepare for large single day Ultra's such as 100km, but I've never had to back it up the following day, let alone 4 in a row.! How do you do that? Do you learn by doing back-to-back training runs? Do you learn by doing longer, harder single days so that a shorter softer session has a lighter impact? Is it both? Who knows. But now that the date is set and people are committed, I'd better get on to working out what'll work for me.
240km's...................... 4 days..................... who's in?