Jason messages me and delivers the news. “I think I’m gunna do Ultraman”.
I mean he must think it's dumb too because he moves straight in to justify the decision.
“It will be good, you know it will be great for the exposure you know and it's something different not just another Ironman…. “totally” I agree as I wonder about what chemical imbalance in the brain has brought this on.
Obviously the next thing I do is start looking closer at the event, having not long moved to Noosa and through the joy of the Instagram I was aware generally of the event and basically assumed that it was just like those crazies that run around the forest for far too long carrying far too much stuff for me to be able to consider what they were doing was a race. A long distance slog that resembled a death march. And why do they all seem so happy to be out in the middle of nowhere for hours and hours?
Three days, something like 24-30 hrs total race time and 84km of running on the third day? and then the requirement for a crew and support car - really? It just seems like an exercise in organisation and logistics - if i wanted to do that I might as well just join the army!
So as the months tick over and more and more training is done, we go on a few rides together and I watch as his training peaks calendar starts to resemble the massage tent at the finish of an Ironman (packed).
The usual ups and downs of endurance event training are all present and to be honest from the outside it felt like any other of his Ironman builds I’d had been around for except for Friday before the race.
The pre race introductions and breakfast (Im always up for breakfast) is where I started to feel some responsibility for this whole crew thing - well to be honest Sharon (Jason’s very understanding partner) was taking the lead here and basically I figured unless the bike broke and I was pressed into mechanical repair duties I’d pretty much just be hanging around and maybe do a little run with him on the Monday - I had worked that into my own training,
And the whole athlete introduction thing was just a little much for me to be honest, all this talk about changing lives and how hard it was, don’t think for a second I wasn’t about to jump up and enter I’m not delusional I know the whole thing is a massive achievement and in my mind there simply isn't a doughnut sufficient in proportions to offset that much work, with that in mind,why do it?
So when the race starts in earnest for the crew - once the bikes are rolling it's pretty obvious to me that I may have underestimated how much pressure we were going to be under - trying to stay in front of your rider while being respectful to the traffic laws and keeping the nutrition stocks set and ready to go really kept our hands full. At the end of the first day things looked a little different for me the swim and the bike really looked a lot like what I got into the sport for, an individual event - an athlete against themselves first. But let’s not get excited I thought, after all they all start on the bike together tomorrow how legit could that be? won't they all just ride in a pack? Well I can tell you by the end of the day all I could say was proper legit. What I didn’t understand before this event is with the distance - both the length of each day as well as the space you can find on the course, there really isn't anywhere for competitors to hide. If your not up to the task you’ll get exposed.
And after the run day and the circus we as a crew went through (really wasn’t that bad we were paddling pretty hard against the tide there for a while) the race felt like a race - a long, legit, genuine race.
At the start of the weekend I felt like these guys were missing something, that the crew system was a bloated, self indulgent setup and the whole thing seemed less like a race than an ultra marathon. At the end of the weekend ? well I didn’t think that anymore, I see rolling bike packs at Iron distance races and I don’t get angry anymore, I know there is a place I can long course race and not worry about that. I just go and enter another ultra-trail race and dream Ultraman Dreams - dumb Ultraman Dreams.