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Dead Cow Gully - CurraNZ athletes dominate Queensland Backyard Ultra

on June 07, 2024
CurraNZ athletes took top honours at Dead Cow Gully Backyard Ultra in Queensland, Australia, last month.
New Zealand National Champion Sam Harvey was the last man standing after 462km and Jane McAlpine the last woman, with a new female record, 39 laps/261km
Last year, Sam equalled the (then) record with 101 loops (677km) and hoped to set a new world record (currently held by Harvey Lewis), but in his own words, "it didn't quite go to plan". Incredibly, because he finished 300km+ short of his target, Sam raced Ultra Trail Australia, just nine days later. 
As is the case in these Backyard Ultra events, Sam relied on his competitors to complete each lap, in order to be declared the 'last man standing'. Three days in, sleep deprivation forced the withdrawal of his only fellow runner left in the race, Ryan Crawford, bringing down the curtain on the race for Sam. 
The globetrotting ultrarunner says "It honestly didn't test me that much, but it was a good trial run going into the 3+ day zone, which is important to make sure my systems and processes are working.
"I was dealing with achilles problems from only 50 km into the 465 km total. This was the only real challenge and meant that I had to rotate shoes and also set dad and his mate to work, creating foam inserts for my heels to relieve pressure off the achilles.
"I feel so much more confident in winning the next world championship." 
"In the late hours of Monday night and early hours of Tuesday morning, I tried to run with Ryan for a bit, to keep him in the fight a little longer.
"It became apparent quite quickly that he hadn't slept in three days and was fighting a losing battle. With a shot at a world record seeming unlikely, my killer instinct kicked in, and I began to run hot laps. It didn't take long before this totally disoriented my competitor and he became lost and was unable to complete the 69th loop. A rescue vehicle was sent out to get him once the clock had run out, and he was found staring at the ground in a paddock on the farm.
"It was a good win, but 335 km shorter than my target, so I went to Ultra Trail Australia to race the 100 km event only nine days later. I knew there was a chance of the wheels falling off, even though I had bounced back quite well.
"I jumped into a lot of stretching, massage, protein-dense foods, and pumping in the CurraNZ.
"I led the race for most of the first 20 km and felt great. Once we jumped from fire road to technical trail, my legs started to fall off a little bit. I took every opportunity to encourage and cheer on every one of the 100+ runners who managed to pass me by the end of it all to finish 22nd.
"It was a pretty successful couple of weeks, enough to earn me a little rest I think.'
Jane achieved her second record at Dead Cow Gully, having previously become the woman to complete the gritty Blue Lake 24hr challenge in 2022. 
She says: "In a backyard there are some things that are non-negotiable for me and popping a Curranz every 6 hours is one of those things!  They're a really important part of my nutrition in training, racing and recovery. 
"I felt physically strong the entire 39 laps at Dead Cow Gully, but unfortunately my mind let me down which saw the end of my race. It's all good learning, and with a very good recovery, I look forward to improving next time round. 
"Whilst that was a great achievement it was never my goal. I wanted to earn a spot on the NZ Satellite Champs team.
"I've just managed that but with two 'Backyards' still to go in NZ before the qualifying period ends, I definitely do not feel safe! So we will head to Krayzie Mid Winter backyard in Christchurch at the end of June to secure that spot."