12 hours in circles

During my relaxing (and non running time) spent in Tonga swimming with the Humpback Whales, Ben put our training to good use and participated in the Centennial Park Ultra (www.cpultra.com) – 12 hours running the 3.54km loop of Centennial Park! Here is his race report, what a legend!

Well the race has been run, and I’m up early Monday morning writing this because I can’t sleep much, I’m in too much pain, and I also wanted to give you the details of the race while they are still fresh in my mind. 

The movie night went well, I attended the gathering at the 2XU shop in Paddington and met a lot of interesting people with good advice. I didn’t have a ticket for the movie but managed to get myself a seat anyway. The presentation Ellis had planned didn’t work out because the Cinema advised the photos would be too distorted on the screen for anyone to see, but he gave a short speech after the movie and April presented us with a cheque for $2,1000. The movie was all in sub titles so I had no idea what was going on, so I just tried to make up a story in my own mind instead. 

The next morning at 5:45am Ellis and I had an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald in Centennial Park. They made me run up and down the hill to the Bondi Junction gates so that I had a lot of steam coming off me for the photos.

The day before the race I had my cousin’s engagement party to attend in the Blue Mountains and didn’t get home until *:00pm. On the way home I did a radio interview on the bus, the other passengers were so noisy being a Saturday night along Oxford Street. The other radio interview I had was suppose to be at 10:00pm. I slept from *:00 to 10:00, then woke up to my alarm to quickly do this interview before falling back asleep. Unfortunatly the radio announcer didn’t appreciate the fact that I needed my sleep and I was left on hold for more than an hour and a half. I finally got to sleep around midnight. 

Ellis had arranged to pick me up at 5:30am, and told me not to bring a box because he would have one I could put all my stuff in, he also said he would come to my house to collect me. at 5:30am he didn’t show up, and I soon got a phone call from him saying that he was down on Moore Park Road and demanded to know where I was. I had to rush around my house looking for a box to shove all my stuff into and run down the street to meet him. He said he would not have time to put up the tent now and we might miss the start. I guess he is getting old and forgets things, this was not my fault. We managed to register in time and went straight to the starting line with a minute to spare, but not enough time to stretch.Ellis had to run the first few laps with his car keys and phone as he didn’t have time to leave them anywhere. We were both worried when the race started in an anti clockwise direction, going the opposite way to how we had been training, but we soon learned this was an 800 meter run down and back to make up the extra distance of 100km ending at the finishing line.

The following is a break down of the splits as best I can remember them, everything went pretty much to plan. I was hoping for 24 laps with 20 being the minimum.

Lap 1 with Ellis 24 min
Lap 2 with Ellis 24 min

Lapped by race leader

Lap 3 with Ellis 24 min

Saw Trent, the Marathon Man, on his way to the starting line for his 50km race

Lap 4 with Ellis 24 min

Quick toilet break

Lap 5 with Martin 24 min

Have completed 5 laps in 2 hours, very happy as this was one of my goals

Lap 6 with Martin 30 min

Ellis has now set up the Achilles tent, members from Achilles are running and walking around the outside in the opposite direction yelling encouragement to me

Lap 7 with Martin and Michael 30 min

Took Neurophin, I think Michael is the father of the Paralympic swimmer that won medals in London, Michael showed us his watch that beeps at intervals to let you run for 5 minutes and walk for 1 minute and suggested we try this to last the distance, Ellis loved the idea and made sure every guide used this with me for the rest of the race

Lap 8 with Rael 30 min
Lap 9 with Rael and Peter 30 min

Have completed 9 laps in 4 hours, really happy with the time we are making but starting to feel sore and thinking the day will never end, needed some treatment for blisters

Lap 10 with Ellis 30 min
Lap 11 with Ellis 30 min

Have now completed 11 laps in 5 hours, needed a change of clothes, this took some time for Ellis to pin the signs onto the other singlet, but was a welcomed break with a quick toilet stop and standing without a shirt in the breeze to cool down, we probably lost the time of 1 lap at this break

Lap 12 with Zoe 30 min

Have now completed 12 laps in 6 hours, still on target for 24 laps but knew it was unrealistic as laps were getting slower and legs were painful, Ellis had prepared a bowl of boiling hot 2 minute noodles for me, they were very tasty though, but every time I ate he kept me at the start line instead of walking with the food, we probably lost the time of 1 lap here as well

Lap 13 with Zoe 30 min
Lap 14 with Zoe 30 min

Have completed 14 laps in 8 hours, that the 50km mark, I was relieved to get to 50km, anything from here would be a bonus, was feeling terrible and very sore, but noticed I had 6 laps to run in 5 hours if I was to make it to 20 laps, this was a goal, but I knew a little out of my reach, we would be cutting it very fine with the time

Lap 15 with Nicolet 35 min
Was so tempted to walk the remaining 4 hours but decided to go for the 20 lap goal instead

Lap 16 with Nicolet 35 min

Took Neurophin, pushing things very hard now, having to stop for 5 minute breaks at the starting line to take in food and fluids and to rest body as it had taken a huge beating from the uneven surface especially on ankles and knees

Lap 17 with Nicolet 35 min

Have completed 17 laps in 10 hours, only 3 laps to run in 2 hours, possible but going to be very hard, time to grit teeth and push through the pain

Lap 18 with Ellis 30 min

Could barely stand up at the 5 minute break

Lap 19 with Ellis and Collin 25 min

Running as hard as I possibly could, wanted an hour up my sleeve to finish the final lap, was thrilled to learn that my timing was right, we came into the finish with an hour to spare, was hoping this would be my reward lap to just walk the entire way but no Ellis made me run it!

Lap 20 with Ellis and Collin and Shella 40 min

Finished with about 20 minutes to spare, could have gone maybe 1 more painfully if I thought it would get me to 75km but the distance wouldn’t be enough according to our calculations, by this stage my mind had gone to mush and I couldn’t do math so I took their word for it

April awarded me with a medal and prize of a $200 voucher at the Sydney Running Clinic, I wasn’t expecting either of these as I technically should be disqualified for not completing the race, but April was very kind to me. I was really happy to have finished 20 laps, would have been disappointed to finish any less. I was pleased with the amounts I drank and ate at different times, this worked perfectly. The track never really got boring, it just seemed to get longer and longer with each lap. I never thought I would ever be able to run that far, and even though I’m in pain today, I’m pretty happy that I’ve done it, although it would have been more fun running it with you.

If you get a chance it’s worth checking out the Sydney Morning Herald website for the news story on us, you got a mention in it as well. Rael told me after the race that it has been the hottest September day in Sydney ever on record. It was extremely hot out there at times, particularly in the middle of the day with no shade. I don’t know what it is with me and running in extreme heat like the Marathon last year.

I believe that I could finish 24 laps in the future, 26 with 6 months of hard training and the right conditions on the day, and 28 is a slight chance if everything went perfectly, which rarely happens. I doubt on that track I could get the 28 laps in 12 hours, on a flat running track probably, but on that rough ground it really takes a toll on my body. But you need to dream big, and when you set your mind to it, dreams can come true.

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