The Anzac Day Challenge race recap – 100km lap ultra – by Emma Munro

The journey began 6 months ago, travelling with friends to an event in the ACT we were chatting like school girls about our bucket list of running events, the 3 of us had a more than 1 event in common on our lists, the biggest and craziest for us was The Anzac Day Challenge, 100km of trail running in 24 hours!

By the time the 3 of us finished our various events that day, chatted some more in the car on the way home, we had our goal… The Trail Trio was born, Anzac Day Challenge was on!
Due to injury before we even began our training as a team 3 had become 2, this was never going to deter us, week after week we arranged a super early trail running training session, increasing our distance each week. 2 wasn’t to become 3 again so event organisers changed our entry to 2 solo runners.

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Dreadful weather conditions in Sydney the week before the event and the early days of the week of Anzac Day saw event organisers ‘change’ the format of the event on the Wednesday leading into Saturdays event. We were now going to run 155 laps of St Ives show ground. While I was hugely disappointed, I took this as an adaptation to the challenge, this was not going to stop me either.

I was running this event to Honour my beloved Poppy. He would have been 100 himself on April 10 2015, a sign the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day was meant to be a challenge I undertook.

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Up at 3am had become fairly normal, so Anzac Day was no different. We set off for St Ives show ground with butterflies in my tummy (nothing unusual) and a swollen heart, this was to become the biggest single race day for me to date.
We picked up race bibs and pre purchased apparel and set about readying ourselves for the start of what was to be an epic adventure. I had no idea how my mind or my body would respond to what was in front of me. I knew it was going to be a good day when Commando Steve remembered me when we had the obligatory photo with him ( celebrity event promoter).

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We toed the line butterflies still along for the ride, no idea what was to unfold, but ready and willing to put one foot in front of the other for an indefinite period of time (24 hours maximum).

My race bib was counting laps as we crossed the start/finish line. At first the goal was to hit 50km, the furthest I had run prior to today was 45km!. Salt tablets were being chased with plenty of water as Mother Nature showed her happy face, 30 degrees at lunch time. The competitors tent had plenty of fruit, biscuits, sausage sizzle and warm drinks for us to refuel along the way too.

My second aim was 100 laps… then I knew I had turned the corner to towards the end. I chatted to lots of other runners as the laps ticked over, watching some of the other amazing individuals chasing down their 155 laps. The weather turned sour late afternoon. I had a wonderful friend turn up to cheer me on, she wound up running with me for a while, which gave me a lift to keep pushing for the last 40ish laps. The rain fell, the thunder rumbled, and the lightning clapped, but I finished!

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12 hours after I began with tears streaming down my face, I placed my hand over the red Poppy I wore the entire day raised my face to the rain and told my beloved Poppy I loved him. The pride I felt will never leave me. I am an ultra marathoner, albeit in a very different way to the one I was hoping for!

I walked away from the finish line injury free, grinning like a cheshire cat. My hard earned medal hanging proudly around my neck and I waited for my friend to finish, and cried with her too. The event organisers gave us a Poppy to place into a make shift wall of remembrance. It ha been an epic day, and a brilliant conclusion to a 6 month journey.

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