BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA 2022: PERSONAL CHRONICLE BY MARCOS PASCUAL-SILVER MEDAL BTU60
BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA 2022: PERSONAL CHRONICLE BY MARCOS PASCUAL-SILVER MEDAL BTU60 @SoyMarcis bring us today in our TRAIL RUNNING AUSTRALIA section his personal experience in the Australian race that has been the main event in the capital of Queensland. Its 6 distances have filled the environment of runners and trail environment. It was part of the Spartan Trail World Championship circuit. and today I come to tell you how I lived this experience from which I got much more than an unexpected second position.
I wasn’t the only Spaniard running in Australia, apart from our buddy Sabugo who ran 100 miles, Sara Alonso and Antonio Martinez took the BTU30. Let’s start with the previous interview (in Spanish) we did with them:
BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA 2022: PERSONAL CHRONICLE BY MARCOS PASCUAL
WE ARE GOING TO AUSTRALIA
The opportunity to live this incredible experience came in the spring and I did not think it twice. Twelve years ago I spent an entire summer studying in Australia and since then I had always dreamed of going back, I can’t imagine a better way than to do it to run and tell the experience.
The BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA offers a variety of distances to choose from depending on your level and your desire to spend hours on the trail, of course.
In my case, I chose the BTU60 for several reasons: first of all, it seemed like a too long trip to run a shorter distance, in my head the only objective was of enjoying and living the experience, so the challenge of increasing the distance on a less competitive way seemed like a good idea.
On the other hand, in October I am going to run the TP60 and it seemed quite logical to do a preliminary foray into the distance to be able to adapt the training sessions for an appointment that I am really looking forward to, running at home is always an incentive.
Lastly, the profile of the race seemed the most appropriate to me since the distance of 30 with 800m+ seemed little and the others were out of my hands, so I decided: we are going to BTU60.
If you want to know how I prepared myself, I leave you the ARTICLE here.
THE TRIP AND THE PREVIOUS DAYS
Going to the other side of the world is not a matter of a few hours, rather days. In this case, it was necessary to travel with time to be able to acclimatize and avoid the dreaded jetlag. Also, since we are going to the antipodes, it is best to take advantage of the days to get to know a different culture. Not everything is going to be running.
As popular runners that we are, running must always be the excuse that leads us to live a lot of experiences, to discover new places and to venture to destinations that, otherwise, perhaps we would never have considered. Running can be the necessary push to take the step.
WE ARE IN BRISBANE
Brisbane is a vibrant city, full of atmosphere and movement everywhere. It gives the feeling that it is constantly being renovated, you can see cranes and huge construction sites everywhere. In every corner there is something about to be inaugurated or recently inaugurated.
The city is crossed by the winding Brisbane River and has many bridges to cross it. On both riverbanks there is a promenade where a large number of athletes gather, either running, cycling and even climbing the walls of Kangaroo Cliffs (a place close to the finish line).
In addition to a center full of skyscrapers and large avenues, it has hundreds, if not thousands, of places to eat. After all, the houses of the Australians are on the outskirts and in this area there are only hotels and apartments for tourists. This makes all workers and visitors get together in the abundant food places, full of people in suits and foreigners like us who come to enjoy the wide gastronomic offer that this country has.
First things first, we went to pick up our number well in advance at the K2BaseCamp store, right there they reviewed the extensive list of mandatory material for the race. Including the famous “in case a snake bites you” bandage. A nice touch is having a place to go days before and thus avoid crowds at the start of the race.
We take advantage of the wonderful river walk to jog and loosen our legs or do the training sessions prior to the big event on the weekend. And how could it be otherwise, we went to see first-hand the local fauna in Lone Pine Sanctuary. Kangaroos, koalas, emus, snakes, Tasmanian devils, wombats and even some cute platypuses that are very difficult to see.
As good mountain runners, not everything is going to be running, it is important to rest and eat. This becomes quite easy when you have such a wide gastronomic offer just a stone’s throw from the hotel. Oh, speaking of the hotel and the recovery… the heated pool with Jacuzzi and gym helped a lot to relax the body before the battle.
WE HAVE COMO TO RUN
And finally the expected day arrived. At 5am my alarm clock rang in South Bank and I jumped to my feet, the truth is that I didn’t sleep much because of the nerves and I was anxious to get out of there and put on my first international bib. In addition, the nerves were more because I was going to run my first ultra. A day of first times as it seems.
Powerful breakfast, in principle it was going to be 65kms and about 4000+/- but… later we will see it was more. Review of all the material and taxi to the start, which in this case was in a different place from the finish line (which was only 2km from the hotel).
At 6.30am I stand at Corra Mulling Park in The Gap with a wonderful 8ºC. Over there, everything is set up and runners begin to arrive, cornering themselves around the little stalls with stoves. We pick up our GPS trackers that will help the organization to know where we are at all times, a nice detail that made me feel very safe.
I change and start warming up when there are less than 30 minutes left before the start. Nervous, I try to let go, I want to enjoy myself but I can’t help but feel those nerves that push me to give everything and compete to the fullest. I know I’m going to enjoy it, but I know I’m going to suffer too, I don’t know how to wear a bib number without giving it my all.
7:59 am and already placed on the starting line next to the almost 200 runners of the BTU60, good luck messages “good luck mate”, some comment to the Spanish flag on my bib and the starting gun.
BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA 2022: PERSONAL CHRONICLE BY MARCOS PASCUAL
We take the exit in a compact group that goes around the park to enter a small path of rocks following the course of a stream. At the beginning I go with everyone’s rhythm, comfortably even chatting, it’s an ultra and I want to go out calmly but… they go too calm for the nerves that I have inside, so I put one more wither and take advantage of my skill in technical terrain to jump by the stones and taking distance without much effort.
In less than 2km we hit the forest tracks and I realize that I’m practically alone, so I adopt a happy but comfortable pace, I don’t want to over-rev and pay for it at the end. Until km 13 everything goes great, that’s when the first mess comes. The route is full of loops and marks for each distance, without realizing it I make a mistake and come out onto a road where I run about 200m before realizing that I have left the track. Nothing happens, I climb up a hill and making an unnecessary effort I recover from my loss, I calm down and continue, let’s concentrate more.
I arrive at the first aid station at approx km 16 and calmly recover to continue at my own pace. Until km 30-31 everything flows wonderfully, the pace is higher than I imagined but the difference in altitude is too… According to my track it has been 1200m+ in 30k and we have almost 1200 more left, but hey, these things always happen and I find myself ok so i’m enjoying it. Even looking at the trees where I see cockatoos and other exotic birds, even a bush turkey crosses my path (there are many everywhere).
CHECK POINT 2 AND IM LOST
As I said before, there were many loops and points where you crossed several times. The second aid station is located at km 30-31 in the same place where we took the exit hours before. You had to go in and out the same way. I’m a bit cramped because the temperature has risen a lot and I’ve lost some salt tablets along the way, that’s how clumsy I am, but nothing happens because now I can catch some at the check point.
The people who attended me there were the same or more nervous than I was and it was a bit of a mess, slow when refilling, they couldn’t find the salts, they dumped the bottles on me and I had to refill them… well, these are things that happen but now I come out a bit out of my own head…
The worst comes when, without recovering from my mental turmoil, I come across the 2nd and 3rd who are coming from the front and I calculate that I can’t get more than 800m from them. I have to recover and push but my demons take over my head and between one thing and another I get lost and do not take the turn to the left that took me along the track and I go out again as if it were the first kilometers of the race.
At that moment I panic, I turn around, I don’t know where I have to go, I ask and nobody can tell me, they are as lost as I am. I swear in English and Spanish, but I go into survival mode and calm down, think and end up going back until I find my marks.
SWING AND A MISS
When I get back on the road I am tired from the mental and physical effort that my mistake has caused. I have wasted unnecessary time and energy and try to recover but looking back I see the second stuck to me … I sink completely. When he hunts me down I ask him how many kms he has: he has more than 1km less than me. From that moment I can only think that I would have to be 5 or 6 minutes ahead of him and that I am useless, that I have lost the lead due to being clumsy and that there are still more than 30km left, I could even lose the podium, who knows.
I endure with him until km 37, 38 for me, but in the end the previous effort takes its toll and I have to be smart and let go of his rhythm. Finally I arrive at the 44 km aid station and I take it easy to get out of there well loaded and face the last half marathon.
RISING LIKE THE PHOENIX
I leave the km 44 and I am facing the third man going in, I take advantage of the fact that it is downhill to push a little but I have small cramps and I do not dare to go very fast, besides I have just passed 46kms… I had never run beyond that distance , I am conservative and I limit myself to keeping a constant rhythm.
I go ahead all the time but at times I see him, it seems that he is going to hunt me on the uphills but downhill I go stronger. With the passing of the kms I find sensations again, within the fatigue that I have of course. I even stand in a fountain to pour water over myself since the heat pushes up to almost 20ºC.
At km 53-54 we go back to the city, the last 13 km of road await us until we reach the finish line, what an ordeal.
CRAWLING THROUGH THE CITY
Streets of chalets at the beginning that give way to busier avenues where people look at us in astonishment. What looks we must have after more than 5 hours swarming around.
At km 62 we reach the river and the last provisioning station awaits us where I stop to refill water, letting the 3rd pass me. I’m already very tired and I don’t care, I need water and I’m not going to kill myself for a position that I didn’t even imagine I could get.
I leave there to face those last kms with the Brisbane River at my side. The fact is that I watch the other athlete very closely and I try to maintain a conservative pace but without letting him get away, my strategy is to wait until there are less than 2km left and attack to see if I can pass him.
We cross the last bridge and the sign appears: 2kms to the finish line.
THE FINAL SURPRISE
I don’t know when I lost sight of him, but the fact is that I don’t see him, so I look back to see if someone is chasing me and I don’t see anyone with a bib either. There are a lot of people so I don’t trust myself, I’m so tired that it’s hard to see if they are runners in the race or people who have gone out to exercise.
I finally reach the Kangaroo Point stairs, it’s 25m+ in 50m of stairs and I’m 300m from the finish line. I climb as best as I can and try to maintain my posture to enter the finish line in a dignified way, there are cameras and people watching.
They congratulate me, they give me the medal, luckily… I thought I wouldn’t make it. I look at the clock: 67.3k 2360+ 6h19′ pace 5’39”/km, almost 70kms, what madness. I congratulate the first and he shows me his watch “you would have beaten me”, I see on his screen 66.2k 6h15’… well at least I’m third, or am I?
I turn around and see the one who overtook me? I ask him how the hell he got in behind me and he tells me “you passed me in the end”. Stunned, I ask the organization if I have entered second and they confirm it. about 40s before the third and 4min after the first. What a crazy race.
ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE
What a whirlwind of emotions I have in my body. On the one hand, I made it to the podium taking unexpected silver when I thought I was third and… let’s be honest, no one gave a dime on me doing something better than a TOP10 here, not even myself.
But on the other hand I could have won if I hadn’t been so clumsy to lose myself. But hey, I’m a pretty optimistic and patient person, today it couldn’t be but I know I have it inside me, so it will be another day, I just have to keep working and improving
BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA 2022: CONCLUSION
The experience of traveling to Australia to run the BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA has been something unique and unrepeatable. These are opportunities that you rarely have and you have to make the most of them.
If you like to travel and run, get to know different cultures and live in a unique environment, I encourage you to get to know this great race with an organization that is so close and concerned. Take advantage of the trip with family, friends or whoever you want because you will not regret it in your whole life.
I am sure that BTU will continue to grow and grow internationally because, not only is it part of the Spartan Trail World Championship circuit, but it is made with a lot of love and dedication by people like you and me, runners who know what is to live the trail.
Thank you Shona, Cora, Mora and the rest of the BTU family, you have given us an incomparable story to live and tell.
Enough chit chat for today.
IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU READ,
CLICK THIS BUTTON TO SUPPORT US IN PATREON.COM/MAYAYO