What's it like to win the Ultra-Trail Australia 100 on your 21st birthday?
Lucy Bartholomew is one of the world's best young trail runners. She was Junior Skyrunning World Champion in Chamonix a few years ago and she won the YCC (Youth Chamonix Courmayeur) at UTMB last year. and now runs for Team Salomon.
We were introduced to her by pro triathlete Brad Williams, who got chatting to her in an airport one day and thought she might benefit from a personalised approach to hydration. We Sweat Tested Lucy just a few months before her YCC win and have been working on perfecting her hydration strategy ever since. Last weekend Lucy turned 21 and boy did she pick a way to celebrate, winning the epic Ultra-Trail Australia 100 in some style. We caught up with her to hear her thoughts on her best win yet...
So Lucy, not a bad way to celebrate turning 21 hey! You were quite emotional at the finish line, what was going through your mind?
I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate 21 years of life! I had nothing left at the finish line. I have never raced like that, pushing the gas for so long, so when I got to the finish line it was a sense of relief, joy and disbelief that the race was run and won and I was having the day I had dreamed about for so long.
You beat experienced trail runner Hanny Allston to win, is this your best win yet? Talk us through your race.
I would definitely say it is my best race so far. I went in with confidence. I was coached by Majell Backhausen and he did a great job in getting me race fit and I also spent a month on the course before the race, so I knew what I wanted to do out there.
I didn't expect to lead from the gun and for a long time I was waiting for Hanny to catch me; she runs a fast marathon and I knew the first half was flat(ish) so I ran scared and really used a lot of energy where I hadn't planned to. The gap was 8 minutes to start with and then it got down to 3 minutes, I was really fading form the early efforts but I just kept moving and focusing on food and fluids.
At the 80km out and back I saw her and she said “you’ve got this”, but I wasn't convinced so I kept panicking and pushing on the gas pedal! I then didn’t see anyone until the end so I wasn't aware that she had sat down at the last checkpoint and I now had a 15 minute gap. I was still thinking I was being chased so did whatever I could to get back to the finish. It was an intense race, but I wouldn't change it.
The storm predictions forced a closure of some remote sections of the course, meaning organisers had to change the route, including introducing an 'out and back'. How did that change your game plan and how did it impact the race do you think?
I think the course was made slower with more stairs, technical trail and slowing down with people coming in the other direction. At first, the change rattled me but I was assured that it was still just running and that it really didn't change much.
It was hard to see the other women behind me as they could see I was pushing and some of them looked so relaxed! But the way the course doubled back meant that i had people spurring me on, singing me happy birthday and providing me with energy when all I wanted to do was stop. It was a blessing in disguise.
This was a bit of a coming of age race for you. Do you attribute your success to anything in particular? Have you been doing any specific in training that you think has made you a better athlete?
This is the first race in a long time that I set aside a 6 week training block and didn’t race; I just trained and even got onto the course for the most part. I think this was a huge advantage. I worked hard, running, cross training, sleeping, eating and stretching. I did whatever I could and I couldn't have done any of it without the help of Majell Backhausen, who really got me into shape!
What's so great about the Ultra-Trail Australia event?
Ultra Trail Australia is the UTMB of Australia. The course is beautiful, the organisation is amazing and the people are incredible. This race stole my heart when I crewed by Dad here in 2012 and it continues to bring me so much joy each year I return.
What's up next for you this summer?
I fly over to Reunion Island next week for a short (20km) race and then on to Europe where the plans are still being formalised, but I will run the Mont Blanc 80km at the end of June and participate at UTMB in one race or another! I will see how the recovery goes and how my body feels...
What are your longer term goals in the sport?
Honestly, the biggest goal is to do my bit in getting more women out running and more young people outside and exploring the big wide world and showing people that you can dare to dream and that, if you work hard, it can come true... like winning UTA 100km on your 21st birthday!