Catalina Avalon 50miler

With a dodgy stomach and little training, what better way to kick off your year than to jump head first into an ultra!! 50miles of tough terrain over Catalina island which is off the shore of So Cal.

My little family came to support me and I was proud to have my biggest, little fan with me to catch the ferry. Racegoers loved watching her waddle around the harbour with my hydration vest on looking ready to take on the race.

 

Richard Bray and Daughter

 

Once on the island, I queued for registration and started talking to the guy next to me. Unbeknownst to me, he was one of the ultra legends and was well connected in the sport. Danny Westergaard is a 50 year old veteran of the sport and famous for his 6 time crossing of Badwater basin in 2010. That’s 6 times 135 miles non stop!! He’s an official animal.

After registering, we headed back to the hotel room to prepare, eat and sleep. My stomach was still not 100% and I was heading into the race thinking I would just do what I could and not worry about the finish or time.

Morning came and at 5am I was down on the beach ready for the start. It was pitch black and everyone was milling around the end of the street. In typical Ultra fashion, around 6am, someone let off the fog horn and we started running in the direction of the hill. I love the informal nature of Ultras and this was set to be one of the best.

I set off at an even pace and got chatting to racers who running at my pace. As we crested the first hill, the sun started to come up and the picture opportunity was ideal. See below. This is what living is all about.

Catalina Island

 

Richard Bray during the Avalon 50mile

Richard Bray during the Avalon 50mile

 

I carried on trudging through and keeping an eye on my stomach. It was ok so I pushed on. On to a point where there was no way I could turn back. I was in it – I was committed. Time to get the head down and start pushing forward. I picked up the pace, kept my head high and eyes on the view and let myself be overwhelmed with the joy of natural, raw beauty.

I hit the halfway point feeling good but the lack of training started to catch up to me. It also started to rain. Not just rain – Pour!! The only day in So Cal I wanted it to be sunny and it was one of the only days it rained!! I pushed on and caught up with Danny Westergaard. We got chatting and we got running. That was us, we settled in for the rest of the race.

 

Potato dipped in Salt. So Good

Potato dipped in Salt. So Good

A few of Danny’s mates joined us and they were of similar calibre. Racing legends with so much history. Friends with Marshall Ulrich and they have chalked up many race buckles. we all ran together, a group of 4, headed towards Avalon and the finish line. It was pouring with rain, cold and I loved it.

The final 2 miles of the 50miles was downhill and it played havoc on our legs. We let us ourselves go and drifted (plodded in pain) down the hill towards the small town and the finish crowd. I can’t describe the emotion, elation, appreciation you feel when you get to this point. No money can buy it and no one can take it away from you.

I ran to the finish shoot and my girls were waiting for me. Maela in Emma’s arms and ready to link up with me and run the final few meters to the finish.

Race over!!

 

Richard Bray finishing Avalon 50mile

Richard Bray finishing Avalon 50mile

 

Truly one of the greatest races. Amazing scenery, challenging course, great people that turned into friends and a sense of accomplishment that would last a long time.

This race should be on everyone’s bucket list.

 

My race stats below.

80km,  9:27hrs, 8,200 calories, unforgettable memories!!

 

Strava file of Avalon 50mile race

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