Zero to 100
Towards the end of last year Sam Hall ran a qualifying race to secure a slot in the ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) Ultra. This was a once-in-a-lifetime event as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the ANZACs in Gallipoli (WW1). As ex-military, it struck a chord, and his participation was confirmed via a very persuasive family discussion in January.
Congratulations! Well done on completing your first 100miler and also the stellar fifth place overall. In twenty hours of racing you must have felt a world of emotion: can you try to capture some of it for us?
I had prepped my crew (Jenny and my wife Laura) for me being pretty miserable for a long time but surprisingly I didn’t get to that point. I remained pretty cheerful throughout the day/night because i was prepared to suffer to get to the finish line so I wasn’t surprised to feel the way I was. In saying that i spent a very long time in the hurt locker and holding it together while every muscle in my feet through to my back was completely destroyed became increasingly difficult. Pile on top of that a foot that felt like it was getting stabbed and a knee that barely bent for the last 10 hours and youre starting to get an idea of how i felt.
I tried very hard to just stay in the moment and focus on what I was doing. I had the obvious pre race feelings and finishers high, the time in between was a mixture of pain, agony, loneliness, frustration, exhaustion, agony, exhaustion and some agony. Everything you’d expect!
What was your strategy going into the race?
My first and most important plan was to start very slow and build into the run. I wasn’t going to let myself get caught up in the excitement of the event. I wanted to make sure my nutrition plan was followed and that I kept on top of my fluids. I knew i was going to suffer more than i ever had before so I wanted to ensure that i got the small stuff right. I kept to my plan and went the entire event without suffering the effects of hunger or dehydration.
Mentally my strategy was simple; It’s going to hurt, deal with it as it comes. Two things i would never allow myself to dwell on 1- How far i had run, 2- How far i had to go. There was never anything more than the next step. The only time i allowed myself to look back on the day/night was 20mins from the end of the run after i thanked my crew for their help at our last checkpoint. Those last few kilometres were pretty special for me.
Did you have any idea you were doing so well?
None at all. I got told my place after i crossed the finish line. I started the run in last place and chipped away throughout. It was a shock but after running for 20 hours i didn’t care where I came.
What are the key highlights you’re taking away from this experience?
Highlights during the race include running for 5 hours with Tom Denniss who held the World Record (until the day of the race) for running around the world. He averaged 50kms a day for 22 months to own that record and he was completely humble about his achievements. We talked non stop for those 5 hours and i picked his brain as best I could. I got an education while competing.
Outside the race itself, looking back on where I was in July last year compared to now running wise is a personal highlight. As the title says, I was running 0 miles back then.
When can we expect to see you taking on some US courses? (Western States perhaps?)
Baby Steps Katie….
It must have been a long night out in the bush in pitch black with just your headlamp and your thoughts. How did you get through the low times?
The low times were very average but I recognised them and was prepared for them. I knew they would pass and tried to use the opportunity to focus on my food/hydration or look around me and be grateful that I had the opportunity to be doing what I love. Anything really to avoid dwelling on the fact that I was going deeper into the rabbit hole.
What has the recovery been like?
I was a cripple for the first 2-3 days. I couldn’t get out of bed or off the couch unassisted or hold my children for fear of overbalancing and not having the ability to correct myself. After a few days it was more of a limp while my muscles recovered and within 2 weeks I tried running again but the knee pain i mentioned earlier would replicate itself within 30 mins and id be limping home. It was roughly 8 weeks after the race that I found the solution to me knee drama and I am finally back getting some 90 minute plus runs in. Its great to be back clocking up some miles and once im right ill start looking for my next challenge.