Monday, August 15, 2016

Ultraman Australia 2017 - What the .... Have I Done?!

It was an email that St Pete and I had been waiting for, and here it was.  My official invitation to join 49 other like-minded crazy athletes taking on Ultraman Australia in May next year.  I had submitted my application with the same gulp moment that accompanied my first ironman entry 6 years ago, but this morning's confirmation brought nothing but excitement.  

Excitement at the opportunity to test myself.

Excitement at the opportunity to achieve what most people can't even comprehend.

Excitement at the opportunity to show that with a bit of passion, dedication and a lot of hard work it is possible to achieve the extraordinary.

Excitement at the opportunity to inspire others the way others have inspired me.

For the uninitiated, Ultraman is a 3 day stage race, kind of a double ironman over three days.  Day 1 is a 10km swim then a 140km bike, Day 2 a 280km bike and then Day 3 a double marathon.  Yep, 84km.  Each day has a 12 hour time limit (6hrs for each leg on Day 1) and, unlike ironman, in Ultraman the support crew play a critical role in the success of the athlete.  The crew accompany the athlete all through the bike and run, feeding them, fixing any problems on the bike and pacing them on the run. They pass on messages of support, speak for the athlete, make decisions and, most importantly, don't get upset when the athlete gets grumpy.  Because the athlete will get grumpy!  

The first Ultraman Triathlon was held in Hawaii in 1983, with the goal of staging an event which focused on the guiding principles of Hawaiian culture: “aloha” (love), “ohana” (family), and “kokua” (help).  And it is these principles that also make the event unique with support crews helping each other out and being there for all the athletes, not just their own.

It's an event I've been fascinated with since its introduction to Australia in 2015. I had heard of the Hawaii edition only vaguely and of course it seemed completely out of reach, but I sat up and took notice when a Kiwi friend Debi and her partner John took it on in 2015. 2015 also marked the year pro triathlete Kate Bevilaqua won outright the Canadian version of the event.  That's right - the outright winner!  Girls can do anything :). And then this year another friend Mel successfully completed it, her second Ultraman after doing Canada a couple of years ago.

So I suddenly had all of these "normal" people around me that were taking it on and it wasn't long before I was starting to weigh up the possibilities.  I can do a 10km swim in less than 6 hours - I did the 100 x 100s last year.  The bike wouldn't be a problem and the run?  Well, there's got to be part of it that scares you!  But when my head started telling me that each day would be shorter than my typical ironman day I knew I was in trouble.  I couldn't go past that "perfect" logic and so St Pete soon had Irongirl talking about her next big goal.

So the planning began and until now it's been all about the coach.  And this is where my new coach comes in. Despite the logic that's reassured me I'm not completely crazy applying in the first place I know this event is going to be a big ask.  As far as extending myself it's another ironman-like leap into the unknown and I came to the conclusion early on that I needed to have a coach that knows the event inside out - who I can trust completely to know that I'm on the right track during the low point(s) of my training.  And with Craig Percival of No Limits Endurance I've got that - his record of Ultraman finishers is about as good as it comes and he's a two time Ultraman finisher himself.  As he said - he knows how it feels 70km into the run.

So there we have it - my next big adventure.  Noosa, 13-15 May 2017.  This is going to be one hell of a journey!

But first, an Ironman to tick off with the bionic knee.  Next up remains Ironman Western Australia in December.