Weekend Wrap – The Jar of Cookies

It would be remiss of us to not do a quick wrap of the weekend’s running given we had three of our major ultras taking place on the same day / weekend. By why the title I hear you cry? What have cookies got to do with running?

Well the idea for this analogy struck me as the Surf Coast Century kicked off on Anglesea Beach at 6am on Saturday morning. As you know Ultra168 upped sticks from the confines of our inner-west Sydney hipster cafe (the beards and deck shoes were starting to do my head in), and we mixed it with the kind guys and gals down on the South Coast. While reporting on the 100kms, I thought it was a good opportunity to throw in a cheeky 50kms too and as the ‘literal’ gun went off, man alive, so did everyone else too!

As I ticked along the beach at a conservative 5min km pace, the amount of people shooting past me made me feel like I was stuck on the beach building sand castles and a moat. But this is where it’s so important to make sure you run your own race and to not get caught up in the cookie eating competition.

Imagine you’re at the start line and the race director gives you a pack of ten cookies and they have to last you until the end of the race. Knowing that as the race goes on and on, you’ll need more cookies in the back half of the race than at the start. It pays to work out when you should eat those cookies.

By the looks of things on Saturday, I’d say a few people smashed about four cookies at the start line and before we’d even run back through the start shoot and done our first four kilometers! By the first checkpoint at 21kms, I could see people looking into their drop bags for more cookies, having eaten around six or seven on the beach on the way up. I was thinking to myself, how will these people manage another 79kms on just three or four cookies? It was going to be a long day. I’m sure he won’t mind me mentioning him, but Brendan Davies (joint winner) at 77kms looked like he’d eaten all ten of his cookies and wanted to borrow some more πŸ™‚

Brendan Davies at the Surf Coast Century looking for some more cookies!
Brendan Davies at the Surf Coast Century looking for some more cookies!

So how do you ration your cookies in a race?

Well, if you have ten cookies for a 100km race, it’s not as simple as eating one every 10kms. You see the body has quite a bit in reserve when you first start, so ideally, you’ll want to have no more than 3-4 cookies in your first 50kms i.e. take it easy and if the pace feels right then it’s probably too quick. If the pace feels slow, then you’re going the right pace and eating the right number of cookies.

While the pace might seem insanely easy in those first 20-30kms, it’s meant to be easy for a reason. It it’s not, you’re going to really feel it late on and that cookie jar is going to be fairly empty come 70-80kms.

Indeed, it’s the back half of the race where you really need to start munching on those cookies you saved up in the first half. Those six or seven will all be needed, because if you went out nice and easy in that first 30kms, you’ll be holding your pace far more consistently in those last 30-40kms where it really counts. A good measure is to check out your first and last 10km splits. In an ideal world, they should be pretty even. I bet for most people there were minutes between them.

If you’ve emptied the cookie jar by 60-70kms (when most people do in a 100km race), then it can be a fair old slog back home and you could lose hours on your race time. I guess the moral of the story is, save enough cookies for later on in the race. Fifty kilometres is a long way to go without cookies πŸ™‚

But you know what, we’ve all done it and been there – I know I have on many occasions and there’s no way I’m perfect – far from it, or even some of the leading guys and gals too as we saw from the 50km split from the leaders on Saturday. It’s easy to get excited and carried away – which is part of the fun about learning all this stuff too.

But enough cookie analogy, how did things pan out on Saturday and Sunday for one of the biggest days in our ultra calendar?

Kellie Emmerson celebrates a new course record at the Surf Coast Century
Kellie Emmerson celebrates a new course record at the Surf Coast Century

Starting with the Surf Coast Century, we saw a fantastic new course record from Kellie Emmerson in the ladies 100kms, taking it out in 9:29. Kellie has a lot of potential and is a girl on the rise, it will be interesting to see where she races over the coming twelve months. In an ideal world we’ll start to see the leading ladies in Australia competing head to head at two to three major events over the coming year or so. Why? Well for starters, the increased competition will lead toΒ  helping to drive overall standards in ladies racing here down under. We have some girls with some real potential, let’s nurture that.

In the men’s race, it was a tie for 2nd place πŸ™‚ As Dave Eadie and Brendan Davies held hands over the line. We often joke about joint finishes, but there’s no malice there. To be fair to the guys, they did bash heads for a few kms, before deciding that the race shouldn’t be decided on a soft sand sprint. That’s nice to see and well done both.

Up at Glasshouse, Cameron Munro took out first place in a speedy 17:17, nearly two hours ahead of second place. While Deb Nicholl did the ladies proud finishing in 19:31. Deb lead for a lot of the race before succumbing to throwing up and walking much of the back half. That’s cool, that’s just ultra running. Deb is a complete champion and great runner.

In the 100kms, Glasshouse stalwart Mallani Maloney took out the ladies title with a super time of 11:44, while Ben Sutherland won the overall title in 10:49.

Deb Nicholl took out the ladies race at Glasshouse in the 100 miler. Always with a smile on her face.
Deb Nicholl took out the ladies race at Glasshouse in the 100 miler. Always with a smile on her face.

And back in our homeland at GNW, Clarke McClymont celebrated a big birthday by notching up a cracking win in the 100 miler in a time of 20:56. The ladies title was taken out by Sonia McDermott in an excellent time of 25:39. Meanwhile in the 100kms, Melissa Robertson won the ladies in a cracking new course record of 12:16, while Mark Lee won overall in 11:23.

Congrats to all who ran a race at the weekend. One thing that struck me about writing all the previews was the huge amount of local runners in each event and how they had graduated through the smaller distance races. It was great to see. What I would say though is make sure you go to other parts of the country and see how others do it too. We’re starting to reach a bit of a critical mass here in Australia in terms of numbers of races on our calendar. With such a small population, there’s only a finite number of people to do those races, so I would actively encourage people to travel and race too – the survival of some races will depend upon it and of course you get to meet lots of great people from all over the country too.

Don’t forget there are even more big ultras coming up here in Australia in the coming months with the WTF 100 miler and 100kms over in WA, the Hume and Hovell here in NSW, Great Ocean Walk 100km in Victoria and also the Blackhall100 up in Queensland as well as The Alpine Challenge in Victoria too come end of November.Then finally the big Daddy – Coast2Kosci in December.

Another finish for one of Australia's most celebrated (and understated) ultra runners, Andy Hewat.
Another finish for one of Australia’s most celebrated (and understated) ultra runners, Andy Hewat (right).
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5 thoughts on “Weekend Wrap – The Jar of Cookies

  1. Great article team. Even though i started injured for the GNW 100miler, i still had high expectations. You are correct in pacing – keep your cookies nice and close. I had enough for 100kms, and that was becuase i should have started slower at current fitness (lost running due to injury rehab) and not gone out at 26hr pace. Still may have had injury issues, but with steady pace at start and fuel accuratly i may have made the finish just not goal time – that comes next year.

  2. So the cookie jars Ian gives out at the Glasshouse could be quite useful?! Like the analogy. I rationed my cookies quite well for 100k. Shame it was 100miles race…

  3. Great report and analogy. A question thought. Does anyone know when Coast 2 Kosciusko entries open please. Can’t find any information regarding this years run. Thanks.

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