Having a few pre-race jitters already? Thinking about how am I going to manage 56km within the required time or at my target pace? How can I improve from last years’ time? Have I really trained enough?
These are a few questions that will be running through more than just one individual’s mind that will be running the Two Oceans Ultra. So yes, you are not alone.
Whether it is a 100 Miler Trail attempt or a 56km Road Ultra attempt there are a few key things I like to keep in mind. I hope that these will come in handy and thus create a memorable experience for your Two Oceans Ultra. Let’s look at a few steps to achieving this.
Step 1: Things you can control.
Finalize things you can control pre-race.
Here I’m referring to registration, on the day transport, arranging seconds, gear check.
Being in Cape Town I would suggest going on Wednesday, or the first day of registration, to collect your race number and Racetec chip. If it’s not your first time, remember to take your old chip with and get them to check it is in good working order.
DO NOT linger around wasting time at registration especially if you are unable to go on the first day. You do not need to add extra time on legs for any reason. If you happen to be going with a group of people that do want to spend time at the expo then arrange to meet them at a coffee shop after.
That being said to make sure that you leave the expo with all the required items you will need for race day such as, race numbers and Racetec chip.
Transportation to the race
Here I would strongly suggest using the Bus provided by the club. It is going to be an absolute nightmare to get to the start in your own transport. It will also be very difficult for anyone to drop you off close to the start. There is simply no need to add-on extra stress or kilometers for the day.
This year however there is no transportation back from the event, therefore organise with someone to collect you, however, I do recommend factoring in some time to enjoy the post-race West Coast Vibe.
For those doing Puffer, this is also a great opportunity to put on your trail shoes and go for a trail run after. This will allow you to get a feeling for what awaits in August, hitting the mountain on tired legs is not something to shrug off.
The race is rather well organised and West Coast does have the traditional marathon mark support section. There really shouldn’t be a need for a second in this race. However, if it will make you comfortable having seconds along the route then keep in mind it will be hard for them to move from point to point. I would suggest for multiple seconding points to arrange with different people for each point.
Make sure that you have all your required gear to complete the race prepped and ready two days before. It is not a pleasant experience realising that you don’t have your kit clean or that you left your favorite running cap at a friend’s place the night before. Not to mention that you forgot to get your needed race supplements.
Use what you know works for you.
Seriously that’s it, don’t try new things on race day it just will end up making you anxious unnecessarily as you will not know how your system reacts to it.
Don’t get into a shitty situation
Try to go to the loo the night before or in the morning at home before getting on the bus.
Grab a newspaper, magazine, tablet or your phone then sit down and wait for your system to empty itself. There is nothing worse than needing to go unnecessarily on race day.
That being said, run with a few wet wipes in a bank bag or a small ziplock bag just for the off chance nature calls during the race. You do not want to get to a porter loo only to find no toilet paper.
Anti-Chafe Cream and Sunscreen
If you know you chafe then make sure you put on the anti-chafe where needed. Apply liberally as it is going to be a long day out. The same goes for sunscreen. You really do not want to be finding yourself getting roasted. I would recommend applying this at home before heading out to the bus pickup point.
Make sure everything you can control pre-race day is sorted out.
This will help relieve most of the tension.
Step 2: Plan but respect the race.
Understand the race you are about to run, you should know the race profile to the point where you can recite at which kilometer the profile changes and the type of change.
Oceans, for those that haven’t meticulously studied the profile, is a very misleading race the first +-30km. It’s rather flat for the first half and overcooking it from the gun is a huge temptation.
If you are feeling strong then slowdown is my advice for the first 20km. Use the first 20km as a means to get your body warmed up and comfortable. You can always increase your pace later on if needed. Going out too fast will cost you in this race as the climbs are at the end.
I would also strongly suggest joining the clubs long run that recce’s the last part of the route.
When planning your expected pacing take into account that there is going to be traffic at the start.
A big mistake here would be to try running on the pavement and weave in and out amongst runners. It’s risky in terms of falling and wastes large amounts of energy unnecessarily. The field will thin out as the race goes along. REMEMBER TO WATCH OUT FOR CATEYES!
As with any ultra, whether trail or road, it is highly suggested to have a plan A, B, C, D. Things just happen to go wrong the longer the race is. Setup your desired pacing accordingly and know what you will do if something was to go wrong like an upset stomach, blisters, unexpected chafing, etc.
This way you won’t be caught off guard and will also not feel overwhelmed if things don’t go 100% on the day. Also, take note of the weather forecast for the day.
This is what we refer to when we say respect the race, making provisions and acknowledging that no ultra is easy. Knowing the race profile really does help, another thing not to brush off.
Step 3: Race etiquette.
Unfortunately, we have to touch on this subject. There are just a few small things to remember to make it an enjoyable race, not only for you but for others too.
Firstly and foremost is litter. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE not to put the empty water sachets in the bin or to carry them with you to the next bin. I personally will make anyone’s life a living hell for the duration of the race if I see them doing this. The reason being is that the plastic becomes crazy slippery when there are a few of them piled on the tar, making it an accident scene waiting to happen. Obviously, the environmental impact is also something to keep in mind. So please don’t be that person that doesn’t have basic manners and acts like their parents didn’t teach them the right way on race day.
Secondly, have fun. It really is a beautiful race. The views are spectacular and the atmosphere is contagious on the day. It really is a special race that will leave its mark on you.
Thirdly, smile and remember to great your fellow club mates along the route. It really does mean a lot to people when you say hi to them as they know it takes a bit of extra energy to do so.
Lastly, obey the race marshals and remember that your safety is their first priority. They are not there to make your life difficult. Giving them the thumbs up or thanking them also goes a long way.
Step 4: Listen to your body and ignore the mind.
Your mind is going to pull the usual stunts on race day. It normally starts around the 30km mark. I have no idea why but most runners can concur with this. In two oceans however the profile also starts to change at this point. Here is where the training and knowing your strengths come into play. Some people are great uphill runners and others can allow their quads to take a beating on the downs. Remember what worked for you during training and listen to your body. If it needs to take a walk then take a walk. If you have overcooked it and feel like pulling out the race, take 15 min on the side of the road and relax. If it still is unbearable then take another 5 min before you exit the race. In this time try to get some electrolytes into your system. Most runners that have pulled out of a race say that while they sit in the bailers’ bus they start to feel better shortly after getting in.
Stick to your strategy and remember we all have to run our own race.
Remember these steps and you should have a great race experience!!
Curious as to what I will be taking or using on race day then you can read lower down.
My Two Oceans Preparations
Last year I ran the long trail the day before and the following day the 56km.
This year I will be doing it the other way around, the 56km followed by an additional 44km trail ultra.
My goal is to try and run 100km in sub 15h. Which sounds like a lot of time however a trail ultra is never a quick exercise.
I will need to have a few logistical and other plans in place.
Firstly, I will definitely be making use of the bus to the event.
Secondly, I will be trying to figure out if I can get my trail gear to the finish of the 56km.
That being said, I will have to make sure that during the 56km that I am very well hydrated and my electrolytes are topped up every 15km. Otherwise, the trail section is going to eat me alive and make for a very very long day out.
Thirdly, provided we start on time, I may have to consider that there is a chance I will be running at night. This is going to mean packing in a headlamp and some warm clothes.
Fourthly, food for the trail. There won’t be aid stations so packing light but high-calorie food is also going to be a challenge of note.
The weather is going to determine if I do attempt the extra 44km on the day. As it is not an official race and I will be on my solo in the mountain and am not prepared to risk life and limb if the weather is unfavorable.
So let’s hope for great weather on the day.
Happy running, until next time!!!