By ioMerino Outsider Jess.

So, there I was standing at the start line for my first ever ultra-marathon. I had woken up earlier that morning and as predicted it was a full-on storm. Gale force winds, sideways rain and on the way down to the event even a hint of hail. Irrespective of the weather I was fully prepared for whatever this run was going to throw at me. I had packed every piece of ioMerino clothing that I owned and was ready to wear it all. Two days prior to the run, I saw the forecast and I called upon my friend Jon to find me a waterproof jacket. I was pretty confident that while my race kit wasn’t perfect, it was sufficient to get me through the race.

My Gear:

Gear for 5 Peaks

For this particular run I wore a sentimental favourite ioMerino Altitude tee. At the time, they hadn’t released their Newton arm warmers, so a tee was still a better option for me than a long sleeve top. This green tee was the first ioMerino top that I bought and I seem to always pull it out when doing something new. Other than the tee, my running kit contained the following extras including Clif blocks and bars.

The Run:

Jon and I arrived at Foxfield Oval and were milling around chatting with a number of familiar faces before the start. I bumped into an old mate from school that was there cheering on his wife and before too long, we were waiting at the start chute ready to go. There was a nice break in the rain, so the rain jacket was packed snuggly into my vest and after a slow count down, we were off and running. The first 20km from Athlestone to Norton Summit was a real test. Having run training session, I knew that it was really important not to go out too hard, because in this first leg there was a huge amount of climbing. I was playing it safe and running along with Jon, probably a bit quicker than our training run, but still nothing ridiculous.

After re-fuelling at Mt. Lofty, I started pushing on towards Brown Hill and it was here that I hit the next hurdle. Just coming down from the Summit, I felt the little foam thingy that sits under your foot (technical name I think). Well whatever it is called, it was starting to slide forward and bunch up under my foot. I wriggled my toes a bit and continued to push on, but decided to stop and try to fix it up. I thought there would be nothing worse for me than running another 20kms with a messed up shoe. After a quick fix, I was back on the road for about another minute or so until it happened again. I fixed it and did this two or three more times, before pulling the bloody thing out, stuffing it in my vest and running without it. Again, the doubt of a novice runner was creeping in. I was wondering how long I might be able to carry on without the little foam thingy that sits under my foot. Turns out that this didn’t seem to be a massive issue.

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From here on in it was all fairly smooth sailing. I really enjoyed the descent down the old freeway and over Brown Hill. For anyone else that ran across the top of Brown Hill, it was ridiculously windy. At one stage I stopped and walked across the top, not because I couldn’t run, but just because the headwind was so strong that I was pretty much going at walking pace anyway. I dropped down off of Brown Hill and made my way into Belair National Park. Just as I was really starting to fatigue, I bumped into a dude with a massively long beard (I now know was Ryley) and the bonus was, we were both struggling about the same. We had a bit of a chat and then he took off a bit further. At the time I thought he had a massive burst of energy, but what I later found out, all he was trying to do was burn me off a bit so he could quickly do an Instagram story without me in the background.

So, I made my way down into the park, went through Echo Tunnel and gave my wife a quick call just to let her know that I’d be at the finish line in a few minutes. As it turned out she was a little lost (this only happens to her a few times a day) and unfortunately she was still navigating the carpark when I got there. Regardless, I heard the cowbells in the distance and picked up the pace a little bit as I knew I was getting close. As this was my first ever ultramarathon and coincidentally my first actual marathon, the feeling of relief and elation when crossing the finish line was something I hadn’t felt before in a sporting sense. I was met at the finish line by some family and a few friends and actually felt in pretty reasonable shape.

So there I was, I had gone from a couch dweller to an ultra-marathoner in a little over twelve months (thirteen to be exact, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it). So what have I learnt…

  1. Preparation and training is everything (massive thanks to Jon for all of the advice and training runs).
  2. The right gear is a must (once my geographically challenged wife found the finish line she commented that “you don’t smell as bad as I thought you would.” – Credit to ioMerino for their brilliant running gear).
  3. If you’re in South Australia, you really need to try Trail Running SA events (the vollies are just the best).
  4. Don’t doubt yourself. Set a goal and bloody do it.
  5. The little foam thingy that sits under your foot is actually called an inner sole.
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