Two Oceans Ultra Part 2: Race Review

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It’s a week since running the Two Oceans Ultra and it still feels like a life-defining moment. I’m already looking forward to next year’s marathon, although my foot is still protesting. I figured I’d offer a few concise lines about particular aspects of the race:

Signing up:

For me, the process went so smoothly. I thought the interface was user-friendly and easy; but I do know that some people had big problems with signing up. The entries do fly, so for future reference, waiting is probably not the best idea. Especially if you’d rather enter for the half-marathon – those entries fly like hot-cakes!

Marketing:

The marketing team did such a great job of hyping everyone up and keeping one up to date. The OMTOM Magazine was superb and the social media pages well-maintained. The biggest flaw was a lack of interaction on social media with people who had complaints.

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Expo:

MASSIVE AND A LITTLE DAUNTING. The volunteers here were great and the stalls were also good. I felt that the refreshments on offer lacked some versatility. Also, I always giggle a little at the pseudo-science some of the stall reps spout. In general the expo was fantastic and great fun.

 T-shirt and goodie bag:

The T-shirt is gorgeous and good quality! It comes standard with all Ultra entries, and I got the right size – if only because I arrived early. I know of people who did not get a shirt at all, which I think is unacceptable: the ultra is PRE-ENTRIES only, and as such the organisers have more than enough time to make sure that the right amount of T-shirts is produced, along with the correct sizes.

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I thought the goodie bags were fairly decent. I mean, the entry fee was not that hefty so I did not expect an Oscars-type goodie bag. A few magazines, some body and food samples – I guess it could be better but for me, it was adequate.

Getting there on race day:

We left super early and still got stuck in traffic! At one point I seriously considered getting out and walking but it was cold and rainy so comfort won out. Anyways, we still got there on time. I was seeded E, so being there super-early was never going to benefit me anyway.

Starting point:

Water points with coke and powerade, and some anti-chafe cream as well. There was definitely a lack of clearly marked volunteers though; and some 21km entrants got lost and ended up with the ultra-entrants. The vibe was fantastic, though. So much fun!

Refreshment stations:

I’ve never been at a race with so many refreshment stations! The rule of “drink when you’re thirsty” really applies here, because if you drink at every watering point you’ll probably get sick. Some refreshment stations had potatoes and bananas and they went down really well.

Supporters:

I honestly don’t know how I could have survived this race without the supporters. I had three supporters on the sideline, but it felt like I had thousands – everyone was so enthusiastic and supportive and WONDERFUL. I may have finished the race nearly beaten to a pulp, but my heart was full.

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Racetec:

For results, this racing chip seemed to work well. But for tracking by supporters? It was pretty lame. I’ll write about what my family uses to track me a little later.

The route:

Incredible! Beautiful! REALLY REALLY HARD. Those hills, oh my goodness. Now that I’ve run it once, I’m not sure if knowing what lies ahead is going to make it easier or harder the next time. The first 28 km really is quite flat, and the experts aren’t joking when they say not to overdo it… because the last 28 km is so hard. I’m starting hill training as soon as my foot is better…

The end:

I don’t know if I can reliably comment on this as I was not officially considered a “finisher”. It was a little disheartening that volunteers were not particularly interested in directing people who had missed cut-off. We still ran the entire 56 km, so it really should not have been so hard to direct us to the medical tents, etc. This was probably my biggest gripe about an otherwise fantastic experience.

Some tiny suggestions:

  1. Different medals for the half- and ultra finishers: I didn’t medal, but it still seems silly to have the same medal for both categories. At the very least, if they have the same face, they could have differing ribbons.
  2. The tog-bag system was a disaster and I was so glad that I did not drop my tog bag off. It needs work. I don’t know how, but it does.
  3. An indication of a person’s race number of which race they are doing. We had a few lost souls who entered for the half and accidentally started running with the ultra-entries… something that could have been avoided.

That’s it! I don’t regret doing OMTOM at all. Join me there next year!

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