How to run Oscars Hut2Hut
One cannot help but be excited when knowing she is heading for the mountains to run an ultra-endurance event. Oscars Hut2Hut isn’t a race; it’s an education in hardship, perseverance and living with autism.
This event embraces kind, compassionate souls; people who are willing to step outside of themselves to raise awareness and much needed funds for others. This event has an atmosphere that ignites the soul and has you digging deep inside yourself and coming out the other end a better person.
We need more of these events on the racing calendar.
I’ve lost count the number of times I have run this event; the draw card is not only the mountains in which you get to adventure on but the event organisers and crew that make you feel all warm and fuzzy right from the get-go. This group of individuals are bloody good people. Good people indeed.
After the last couple of years, the borders were well and truly open and I was happy to pack up the car and drive the 9 hours to Mt Buller but this trip was being done solo and was going to be a bit of a slog. I split the travel over two days both ways for safety – as much as I like driving and endurance, it’s a big ask to hit the open road and concentrate for over 9 hours and still manage keep alert 100% of the way.
On the way over I stopped off in Bendigo; wow what a town. Super impressed with the offering of this town…clean, tidy, and friendly even the bogans that yelled at me from their car as I was walking to get take away in the evening!
As I was driving to Bendigo and then onto Mt Buller the next day; I had an excited buzz in my belly – I was singing out loud 80’s hits that I was even surprised when I happened to know every single word (how?).
The return journey post 100km run and social catch ups was a little less enthusiastic; I was weary and although still singing to 80’s tunes, the energy was a little flat. I was fatigued and I was tired. Lucky, I had a pit stop in Bordertown to help revive before heading back to the Adelaide Hills the next day.
Mt Buller always treats me well. These mountains suit me although this event was a mixture of pleasure and pain and exposed a weakness that continually needs to be addressed and worked on – frustration.
Come event day, I was ready – I had started the day with a mindful meditation and yoga stretch so the body and mind were somewhat balanced. I was able to fuel well hours before the starters gun and felt energetic and ready for whatever the day had in store for me. As one of my favourites saying goes “the night knows what the morning doesn’t”.
The plan was to be back in my bed within 24 hours; I didn’t plan to have to stay over at Kings Hut, one of the last check points before the finish line. This race is always a bit tight for me, as much as I love the mountains the technical aspect of some of this course favours my weakness, so I knew I had to ‘be on’ all day to make the cut offs.
Best laid plans
I was running well for most of the day, everything was going to plan until it wasn’t. One of my main goals when running this event is to descend Muesli Spur in the day light. Tick, this happened, and I couldn’t be happier. As I was making my way down into the Kings Hut aid station, I distinctly remember getting the fright of my life by seeing big black cows roaming freely along the edge of the gravel road. Running with a slight hesitation, I made my way past the few I was concerned about only to see quite a few more and after that, I was desensitised, they were just part of the trail adventure. Nothing to fear here.
The vollies and crew at Kings Hut were so supportive and a friend Sam who was there with my drop bag to ensure I was well fuelled, warm, and ready to tackle the last part of the course. As I went to leave, I was asked to buddy up with another runner who was hesitant to run the course at night….I had company.
Not one to run with people, I reluctantly accepted to have company. This ended up contributing to the downfall of my race.
All in your head
As a qualified meditation teacher and daily meditator, I am constantly practicing the art of quieting the mind and clearing space between thoughts but for some reason, I couldn’t get out of myself enough to find space and I had an irritating chatter in my mind about my performance, my pace and the fact that I had to talk to someone on the trails (the issue wasn’t her, it was me, all me). I was all consumed with negative thoughts and this stemmed from somewhere – under fuelling.
Negative Fuelling = Negative Outcome
On reflection of this event, the turning point to disaster started the minute I initiated negative self-talk. From being all consumed with frustration, I lost my sense of being able to see clearly and when I left Craigs Hut; the race was all but over.
After leaving my companion behind (she decided to call it quits at this stage) I set off in a self-inflicted mood and found myself very quickly off course. Knowing exactly what I had to do – just turn back on myself, the simplest of tasks seemed too much effort so for half an hour I just went around in circles eventually being called up by Andy, the Race Director telling me what I already knew – I was fucking off course.
I called it. We called it. The race was over. As any good friend would do, Sam got in her car and drove 2 hours to come and pick me up.
When I was moving, I didn’t so much feel the cold. But when I stopped, I felt every bit of that clear sky, and this is when I was grateful for ALL my mandatory gear; even the waterproof pants that you never usually need to put on.
I am not sure if it was the lack of fuelling or embarrassment, but I found it hard to utter any words; and if you know me, this is very unlike me.
We made it back to the headquarters and there was an array of familiar faces that sympathised with my predicament but also those who questioned how I could carry out such a ‘rookie error’. So it had me thinking; is it the trait of an amateur to DNF a race?
Too many contributing factors
There were many contributing factors that led to this wrongful judgement that ultimately had me experience a brain fad 90km into a 100km event;
- Fatigue from driving 850+km solo
- Fatigue from being on my feet 16+ hours
- Under fuelling calories/carbohydrates
- Lack of practice of endurance racing
- Mental attitude and thoughts
Everything has an opposite; here are mine below:
- Altitude seems to suit me
- Powering up 8-mile
- Not getting whipped by bushes ascending Mt Buggery
- Being able to run a comfortable pace from Mt Speculation to Muesli Spur
- Making it down Muesli Spur in the daylight
- Watch didn’t run out of battery
- Correct shoe choice (Salomon Ultra 3)
- Delay in getting spot checker started (started 10 minutes late, last person)
- Falling backwards in river at the bottom of four mile
- Hitting my head four times on low hanging branches with the last thinking I had broken my front three teeth
- Being disorientated after leaving Craig’s Hut
- Consuming too much caffeine (felt very nauseas)
No endurance event or race is without its hiccups, very rarely do races go to plan and for me, this can only be a good thing. When you show up to a start line and hopefully cross the finish line you want to have learnt something; for the good and the bad. We are all amateurs in this sport no matter how experienced you are.
You just must keep training, keep consistent and keep showing up.