Willy2Billy 35k bush run

The short version: Hardest. Run. EVER!

The long version: Before we came to Australia, I looked around online to see what potential races or runs I might do while here. I came upon the Bilpin Bush Run 35k and sent some emails off to the organizers to see exactly how technical it might be. I’m not a trail runner, and on the rare occasion that I am off-road, I’m incredibly timid with my footing (read: slow). The race organizer assured me that it wasn’t too technical, but to keep in mind that the last 7k was all an ascent. Well, I should have kept in mind that I was speaking to an Australian, to whom “not technical” is very technical to me.

 Willy2Billy 35k bush run
High-fiving the kids as I finished

We drove out to the race, which was in the Blue Mountains at about 3,000 ft. elevation. It was freezing up there–I could see my breath. But, I knew it was going to be a hard run, so I forced myself down to shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

I had no intention of racing this–I needed to do a 20-miler for my marathon training, so this 21-miler fit nicely into the schedule. No tapering was involved–in fact I did hill repeats two days earlier (dumb mistake I learned!). We got started and within 1k I knew that for me, this run was going to be about survival. I checked competitive Amanda at the door. The first 15k was, to me, technical. It was also all up and down; no flat to be found. A pattern began to emerge–on the ascents, I ran, while everyone else walked. On the descents, they all passed me back. This worried me–did they know something I didn’t?

I decided that I would stop at all aid stations to give my body a break, something I never do when racing at home. My low point came quite early, around 12k into the event. I was feeling lonely, missing my running friends, and also a bit scared about what lay ahead. Everyone kept talking about how hard that last 7k was going to be. Could it possibly be tougher than the front part?

At 20k, finally, we got off the single track and hit a small stretch of road. Then began the 8k descent on fire roads. While it was really hard to descend  for so long, I was happy to be off the really technical stuff. We then headed up for the final 7k. Again, tough on the legs, but easier mentally on my wimpy trail running self.

I finally hit the last aid station and knew that I only had 1k to go. Let’s put my time in perspective here–it took me 3:30 to run 35k. My last marathon, which is of course 42k-plus, took me 3:32. Yeah, this was hard. My legs feel like they DID run a marathon!

 Willy2Billy 35k bush run
Relaxing with Barbie post-run

When I finished, I had the treat of hooking up with Barbie from Trying a Tri, and her lovely family. They drove over to meet us from their home more than an hour away. We spent the rest of the afternoon with them, which was so pleasant–the kids hit it off from the start and my husband and I really enjoyed getting to know Barbie and her husband. They once again showed us that Australians are some of the nicest people around. I really hope that we can return the hospitality to them if they ever come our way.

Tomorrow–time to concentrate on recovery. These old legs are hurting!

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    Congrats! Sounds super challenging but I bet it was incredibly memorable. Hope you are enjoying your trip!

  2. Congrats! You captured the Aussie "bad ass" attitude to push to the end. Now, take it easy on your body and enjoy your vacation.

  3. Petraruns says:

    Wow! What a race! I sort of know that experience – I ran an off-road 30K road race last year which nearly broke me as I kept trying to do on-road type of speeds. I too had to suck it up. It's good when it's done though and it will make you stronger!

  4. The Green Girl says:

    Wow, you go, girl! What a memorable way to spend a vacation! ::grins::

  5. GREAT job! Sounds like a really tough race!

  6. La Historiadora de Moda says:

    Amazing! I've never done a trail race, and know what you mean about being timid with your footing. I'm super impressed with how you've embraced the Aussie bad-assness you wrote about earlier and just went out there and conquered a really tough race!

  7. SOunds like a 'fun' race! It is so cool that you were able to connect with Barbie, the virtual world of blogging becomes real from time to time! I am still jealous of you and your family and such an awesome trip!(not jealous of that run)

  8. Wow, I think you get to call yourself an honorary Aussie now after a tough race like that! You rock!!
    And lucky you, getting to meet Barbie!

  9. Sounds like a really tough race! Well done for finishing it :-)

    p.s. so cool that you saw a load of boxers out the other day hehe

  10. ShutUpandRun says:

    Wow, I think that is an amazing time for such a tough run. Good for your for breaking through some of those tough mental and physical barriers. If you werent' a trail runner before, you sure are now!

  11. Teamarcia says:

    Challenging but what a great experience! Glad you got to meet Barbie!

  12. 35K? Wow! Well done on the run, although it was hard it must have been fun to run a race in a different country.

    Cool that you were able to meet another blogger.

  13. Running and living says:

    congrats! this run will pay dividends during your marathon!

  14. Black Knight says:

    Congrats on the tough race. Do you have to change schedule now (you wrote that your legs feel like you ran a marathon)? However the races abroad are always a surprise!

  15. Great job on a tough race! You are so brave, but I bet it will be a story worth telling for a long time! Cheers!

  16. Are you hooked on trails now? I bet you are.
    Congrats on sticking with it. Glad to see you are strong and healthy again.

  17. Good job on the race! How fun to hook up with a blogger in another country!

  18. Quinton J says:


  19. flipping awesome girl!!!! What an amazing experience that must have been!!! I do the same thing when we travel, I am on google calling all the local running clubs. Something about running with complete strangers and knowing that the common bond of running is strong is just awesome.

    Great job. We did our first hill workout this year… I cam empathize with you right now… dead serious I am dead haha.

  20. Angie Bishop says:

    that seems like a great time to me!! Trails are so hard :)
    I love that you ran a race in another country and how cool to have a bloggie meet up!

  21. Sounds like a tough 21 miler…but you did it! I'm pretty sure you weren't last :) :)

  22. You did absolutely awesome and it was such a treat to meet up with you and your family. Look forward to catching up again when we head your way.

  23. I think it's so cool to do something "out of the ordinary" sometimes; helps break up the monotony of pounding the pavement. Congrats on finishing a very tough run! Yahooooo!

  24. Congratulations! You did an amazing job!

  25. Cynthia O'H says:

    Amazing! I'd say that you definitely got your miles in for the marathon training – and an experience that you will always remember. Congrats!

  26. Happy Feet 26.2 says:

    Great run! This will be a race that you remember forever. I would have been walking most of it, it sounds like. I will have crawled up the hills, and then "tippy-toed" down the hill because I'm very afraid of downhills on trails and bikes.

  27. ModernMom says:

    Oh that did sound like a tough one. I so admire you!!

  28. Congratulations!! I probably would have cried once I saw what I was in for. How cool that you got to do a race in Australia!

  29. Wow! What an adventure! I bet you will remember that race for a very long time. I admire you for seeking out such a challenge and doing a great job. Congrats!

  30. Holy cow! That looks like such a challenging race! Congrats to you…you did awesome:)

  31. AM-GoalsfortheWeek says:

    COOL! love seeing a race on the other side of the world! thanks for sharing;-) and great experience for you for sure

  32. wow. that sounds brutal!! way to go!

  33. Patrick Mahoney says:

    Great job on the race and as I mentioned over at Barbie's post today I think it's awesome you guys got to meet. Fantastic. Have a safe trip home..

  34. soo cool! racing in australia :) had to laugh that they claim it's "not too technical". those aussies are definitely way more hardcore than americans. i would probably call this a mountain race! :)

  35. Great run, Nice you are doing good. Looking forward for you more great run!!!

    keen sandals

  36. Glad you are feeling better…congrats on the run!

  37. What a great race to have under your belt, nice job!!

  38. That worked out well! Race training and race all in one! I'm glad to hear it went well! It was also great that you were able to meet up with Barbie and her family.

  39. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) says:

    Wow…what an exciting race! Congrats on your race! You did awesome!

  40. Sounds like one crazy hard race! Good for you pushing through. Once you recover, you'll be stronger for it!

  41. Pretty awesome you can say you ran a race in Australia!

  42. Wise Woman says:

    Congratulations! What a fabulous adventure. And, you look gorgeous in this picture!


  1. [...] Running has taken me so many places I never imagined when I began–from a 35k bush run in Australia to running with Joan Benoit, from blogger meet-ups in other states to the upcoming Runner’s [...]

  2. [...] time and try my hand at a trail race. Well, a real attempt at racing a trail race–I did the Willy to Billy Bush Race in Australia almost three years ago. It was a 35k crazy run in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney [...]

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