Buff Epic Trail – Skyrunning World Championships

Being my third “Did-Not-Finish (DNF) post” for the year, this was a difficult blog to write. For 2 years I’ve been able to brush aside any set-backs by keeping them in perspective of preparing for this race. The Skyrunning World Championships were my focus and thus any of the other DNFs could be treated as learning opportunity. And I learnt a lot. During several months of injury in 2014 and 2015, I cross-trained for this race. When an ankle injury flared up again during Ultra Easy this year, I spent the next several months getting it stronger than ever, for this race. When I collapsed (again) at Buffalo Stampede, I talked to many experts and learnt all I could about hydration, electrolytes, nutrition, ect., to ensure I would not suffer the same problems at this race. It all seemed to be coming together when I set a PB at Ultra Trail Australia and followed that race with what was probably the best training-block of my life to get ready for Buff Epic Trail. I thought I was fit and ready for this race.

Ben_Duffus_Tom_Brazier_Sam_McCutheon_Majell_Backhausen_Full_Coure_Trails_Buff_Epic_Trail_Start_Line
Image by Full Course Trails

To an extent, I was right. For the first 25km I was feeling great and was right where I wanted to be. But then the wheels fell off and my race deteriorated as I became dizzy and began to stagger. I had been overconfident in my ability to race hard above 2000m due to my good result two years ago, and simply hadn’t spent enough time up high to adapt. I survived to the 46km checkpoint, at which point I dropped to ground as soon as I reached my support crew (thank you very much for all your help Carla Ryan!).

Ben_Duffus_Space_Blanket_Buff_Epic_Trail_The_Long_Run
Image by The Long Run

Obviously this was a rather disappointing experience. Yet, in another sense it was also somewhat liberating. Never before had I focused on a single task for so long and then failed so epically. I was on the verge of tears in the 10km before pulling out. However, as soon as I did…it was done. It had happened and was now in the past. I was already planning my races for 2017 on the car ride back down to lower ground, and thoroughly enjoyed crewing for my ANZ teammates (and other friends) at the 67km checkpoint just a few hours later.

 

Although I will always set myself big goals and then do everything I can to achieve them, it is the day-to-day process of working towards these goals that I enjoy the most. I’ve loved building up towards these championships for the last 2 years, even if I didn’t get the result I wanted. So although I will continue to always strive to do all that I can to avoid future “failures”, I know that any “successes” or “failures” do not define me.  Any goals of mine are really just a means towards living the sort of lifestyle that I want to live.

 

Thank you to all those who have supported me and who continue to do so. You are part of the process that make it all so enjoyable. Bring on the next challenge 😉

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