Iron Legs is the race that started it all. Years ago I volunteered at this race and the ultra seed was planted. I was helping out at an aid station 15km from the finish line on a hot day. I saw the front runners come through, and I saw the people who were battling to beat the cut offs. I saw the camaraderie among the athletes and I admired the “never quit” attitude. I saw them and I thought, I want to do this! If they can do it, why can’t I?
The next year I came back, this time as a competitor. The first 40km went well, but then I hit a road block. I had sharp pain on the outside of my knee and my feet were covered in blisters. My feet were in such pain that I actually took my shoes off and just walked in my socks. When I reached the 56km mark I dropped out.
Another year passed and I signed up again. This time I was determined to be tougher and smarter. When I passed the 56km mark I knew that I was going to finish, and at kilometre 80, when I came around the final bend towards the finish line my eyes welled up with tears. A dream two years in the making had finally become reality!
In 2013 the race course was flooded out and a significant portion of the route was destroyed. The race was cancelled, so Jamie (the race director) organized a trail building day instead. It wasn’t an ultra, but it was a very rewarding day just the same.
Because of the destruction from the 2013 flood Jamie had to come up with a new course for the following year. The new course is 6km longer with a couple thousand more feet of climbing. In a word, it’s relentless.
I raced again in 2014 and I was having a decent day until Matt and I had an unfortunate mishap at the 50km aid station. Basically what happened was that I wound up drinking pure, undiluted coconut water. I started puking and my stomach tied up in knots. Still, I was determined not to quit, and somehow I made my way to the finish line. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to race faster, but proud of myself that I had persevered.
Last year I took a break from Iron Legs to race Fat Dog 120, but this year I am back. I am excited to race the course as hard as I possibly can, and hopefully I can put together a perfect race. These are the trails I train on year round and I know the course inside-out. The start line is only a 30 minute drive from my house. I know I don’t have any sort of ownership of this race or the trails, but at the same time I feel like it’s “my” race.