Once bit­ten, now ready

Multisport Mecca - - Front Page - Grant Ed­wards Grant.Ed­[email protected]

TRAVERS­ING 172km of moun­tain­ous ter­rain, and climb­ing the equiv­a­lent height of Mt Ever­est in the process, is the road of re­demp­tion for Dy­lan Cole-Jones.

While he fin­ished the trail run­ning’s holy grail race last year, there is un­fin­ished busi­ness at Ul­traTrail Mont Blanc (UTMB).

“It was not the ex­pe­ri­ence I was hop­ing for... once you are in that pain cave it is dif­fi­cult to move on,” he said.

“There were a lot of dark mo­ments where I was cold, wet and I couldn’t eat. I drank a lot of Coke just to get through.”

While the thought of run­ning on tow­er­ing, rocky trails that pass through France, Switzer­land and Italy is too much to con­tem­plate for many, Cole-Jones feels like he has won the lot­tery. Twice.

Ama­teur ath­letes must qual­ify through a se­ries of races. Even then they have to go through a bal­lot sys­tem.

The streets of French town Cha­monix are a kalei­do­scope of colour and en­ergy for the week-long fes­ti­val, of which UTMB is the cen­tre­piece. Yet the vil­lage ex­cite­ment masks the bat­tles which face run­ners who con­verge on the vil­lage from all cor­ners of the world.

Each year there are 2300 com­peti­tors. The 2017 race saw only 1500 fin­ish due partly to bru­tally cold weather con­di­tions.

Armed with the knowl­edge of last year, which saw him fin­ish in about 43 hours, the 46-year-old is de­ter­mined to im­prove.

“I trained re­ally well and felt re­ally good. About seven or eight hours into the race I stopped eat­ing and like any en­durance event if you are not eat­ing you are in trou­ble,” Cole-Jones said.

“I don’t know if it was a mix­ture of el­e­va­tion or al­ti­tude, be­cause at the early point of the race we go around 2600 above sea level. I’m not used to that...the other mis­take I made was I got up early. In this coun­try most races start at 4am, UTMB starts at 6pm so I had all day where I was up.

“Things just un­rav­elled and we had bad weather. I was fall­ing asleep. There was a lot of hik­ing and I used light­weight poles.

“It wasn’t the day I was hop­ing to have. I was still de­ter­mined to fin­ish.”

Orig­i­nally from North Wales, Cole-Jones moved to Bud­erim about five years ago.

A keen run­ner dur­ing his school years, univer­sity stud­ies for the now IT project man­ager and life saw the sport put on the back­burner.

One con­ver­sa­tion with friends about rekin­dling his ca­reer about 15 years ago sparked his re­turn.

Mov­ing to the Coast fu­elled his de­sire and he reg­u­larly hits lo­cal bush­land with mem­bers of the Noosa Ul­tra Trail Run­ners (NUTRs).

“There are some re­ally great run­ners along the Coast who are down-to-earth peo­ple who have a laugh and there is noth­ing too se­ri­ous,” he said.

“We have a bit of ban­ter. We do put our game faces on when we are train­ing for a par­tic­u­lar race. If we don’t have fun do­ing it what’s the point?

“We have some great char­ac­ters.”

Cole-Jones com­pleted 100km races Alpine Chal­lenge in Vic­to­ria and Ul­tra Trail Aus­tralia as part of his qual­i­fi­ca­tion, and train­ing also in­cluded last month’s 100km Ele­phant Trail Race at Port Mac­quarie where he fin­ished fourth over­all in a time of 13:48:06.

An in­tense train­ing pro­gram has in­cluded a gru­elling sched­ule of climbs. He’s been log­ging about 4500-5000m of climb­ing each week and cov­er­ing more than 110km at Park­lands and other nearby trails. One re­cent week­end he ran laps of Mount Warn­ing for nine hours.

“Liv­ing in Bud­erim I do a lot of re­peats. A few weeks ago I did a marathon on Ballinger just go­ing up and down,” he said.

“Mon­day nights I dread be­cause I do a lot of speed work getting VO2 max in top con­di­tion. It in­cludes a 20-minute warm-up on Dixon, Ballinger or Coghill, and I sprint as fast as I can for six min­utes and then sprint down with no re­cov­ery three times. Then it’s a two minute re­cov­ery and I do it again three times.”

Cole-Jones also joined the Univer­sity of Sun­shine Coast gym where he has un­der­taken a strength and con­di­tion­ing course by Aaron Turner.

“This has made a huge dif­fer­ence in my run­ning – I would rec­om­mend this to any­one who wants to im­prove as a run­ner,” he said.

Con­sid­er­able work has also been done on his nu­tri­tion plan.

Yet lit­tle can pre­pare him for the men­tal bat­tle ahead.

“If I’m in a dark spot I start count­ing. You get into that rhythm and all of a sud­den you are out of that dark place,” Cole-Jones said.

“One of the big climbs last year I was al­ready in a bad place, and I’ll never for­get, and I saw a lot of French guys turn­ing around say­ing ‘too cold’. It spurred me on. I thought it might be too cold for the French but I’m Welsh and I’m go­ing to get to the top of that moun­tain.

“I don’t want to come back and say I failed.

“I’m lucky I can go to these events. It is a lot of hard work and a lot of sac­ri­fice.

“I want to test my­self. I’m not go­ing to be at the front of the field. Win­ning this race is fin­ish­ing it. A lot of peo­ple have tried this race mul­ti­ple times and failed for what­ever rea­son.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

HIGH COUN­TRY: Dy­lan Cole-Jones dur­ing the Sho­tover Moun­tain Marathon.

PHOTO: JOHN MCCUTCHEON

Dy­lan Cole-Jones and Phoebe Nance.

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