Two of our runners Clare and Linda, recently trained up to run the 22km distance at The Hume & Hovell Ultra in beautiful country NSW Australia. Here’s Clare’s take on the event.
Driving into Tumbarumba we had already guessed how stunning the race views were going to be and also how hilly Hume & Hovell would be!
Henry Angel campground is the base camp of this race. It provided toilets, hot water, BBQs, bins…what more could you want for? It’s a free campsite and many runners set up camp there on the Friday for an early start Saturday morning, as we did.
On event morning, we picked up our bibs and had our gear checked before being bussed to the start line. It seemed like a long drive but was probably only about 15 minutes to the other side of Tumbarumba on the edge of the pine forest. There were a couple of porta-loos there and a lot of runners headed to find a tree for a last minute wee as well. It was a late start of 10.30am for the race.
As we started, we ran 5km along an undulating dirt road. Along there we noticed a lot of runners just stop in one spot and then realised why – the view of snow-capped mountains against the bright blue sky in the distance had everyone in awe! It wasn’t too hot at this stage and the beautiful large green trees and scenery were amazing. At 5km there was also an aid station but we really didn’t need it, so we kept going past Mannus Lake.
After Mannus Lake we started our climb. At first it was just in long green grass and over some styles, then we got up high enough to enter the bush. It was around here that we had 50km runners start to come mounding down the steep hill in front of us. The climb up was via single trail which was rocky in parts. The hill kind of zig-zagged up the mountain. When we commented to 50km runners coming towards us about the climb they said “You should see what we had to just climb up on the other side”.
Now it was getting hot! We passed a guy who was an Ambo from Wagga way, and he was struggling. He made comment that he needed to just take his time and finish and he would be happy. We reached the next aid station and stopped for cold drinks and decided we needed more Tailwind because it was so hot on the hills. The volunteers were lovely and helped us make up the Tailwind for our bottles. The ice cold water was amazing and potato chips never tasted so good!
As we left the aid station we had a short downhill single trail treat. It was there that we felt like Santa Claus telling about 50 people that they were almost at the aid station. They looked so relieved and thanked us.
After that, I felt happy as I thought we had some lovely downhill coming *LOL* however, before the downhill we had more climb! We would see blue sky in the distance and think we were on top of the mountain – NOPE! We just had some short downhill or flat bits that were runnable and then back up we would go. At one point along here, the runner just in front of us yelled “SNAKE”!!! Lucky for us, it went down a hole and he told us when we were clear to run through. We hadn’t thought of snakes before that point. After that, we decided to be loud and make lots of noise to try and scare them away, so we sang all the songs we could think of to get us through, including Somewhere Over the Rainbow because we were on Mount Garland.
The anticipation of the downhill was building as we passed friends doing the 50km event. When we entered a ‘goat track’ on the edge of a cliff and could see it on the side of the next mountain we thought ‘surely this isn’t the 6km of downhills’, but yes it was. It had a nasty camber and nothing to hold onto with lots of rocks underfoot. We had speedy 50km runners pass us along here on their way back down. Letting them past wasn’t much fun as it was so tight. We soon started to hear rushing water but still had a long way to get down on this technical trail. Eventually we made it to fast flowing rapids with a suspension bridge over the top. The bridge moved and was high, but had a stunning view of the raging water which got us across.
After the bridge we were climbing again. We along the single zig-zag track up the next hill longing for an aid station that we thought would appear with more icy cold water!! We were hoping there would be one before 18kms as we were told the last 3km-ish was flat running to the finish line. It was about here that I hit a wall – everything was hurting and my right quad cramped…time for another gel!
The next lot of scenery was not the flat finish we had expected. We lost count of the number of styles we had to climb over *ouch* and it was an undulating riverside oasis. Lucky for us we found an unattended aid station with the best icy water with just about 1.5km until the finish. Looking back now we know they couldn’t have had an aid station before that because there was no access anywhere.
Along this part my son came to bring us home. Over more styles and cute boardwalks we went; past beautiful blossom trees, onto lushes green grass in the shade; winding along the creek and little falls; under the main road and into the campground; finally to the finish line.
It was a stunning event and so worth it – 15 weeks of training, more technical than UTA22 and a great challenge. At the finish there was an impressive spread of never-ending food that we had (once we felt like eating). We watched many others finish – 22km, 50km, 100km and 100miler runners. The bells rang into the night for runners completing the longer races. There were always people at the finish to ring bells, and hand food to tired runners around the fire pits.
Linda and I would definitely recommend this race and will be going back again.
Thank you coach for your research and plan for us; for listening to us and calming my nerves!
Written by Clare Tapp