Today we welcome Victorian Triathlete Mick Grey to the pages. Mick is deep in training for the 2019 Ultraman Australia, and here he tells us a little bit about his “Why” for signing up to a 515km, multi-day Triathlon! Cheers Mick! – Tegz
Before I tell you my “why”, I should tell you what the race actually is, for those who haven’t heard of it before. Ultraman Australia is a three-day triathlon which consists of: Day 1 – Swim 10km, Ride 145km. Day 2 – Ride 275km. Day 3 – Run 84km. The race is held in Noosa QLD, every May. You can read more about it here, and see the list of athletes that I will be competing with.
I was actually supposed to compete at Ultraman in May this year, but unfortunately, I injured my back in October last year. It was a hard decision to pull out of the event. I probably could have been able to get enough training done, to finish the race. I made the decision because I feel like this is the type of event you go into fully committed. Sure, I could have finished the race, but I wouldn’t have done it justice. I wouldn’t have respected the distance. Plus, I want to be able to enjoy the whole experience. Not worrying if my back was going to play up each day. I wanted to be able to have fun (as much as you can in the event of this magnitude)
Because Ultraman is so long and public roads are not closed, each athlete is required to have a crew to support them throughout the event. With open roads, there are no aid stations, so it is the crews’ job to carry the athletes’ nutrition and hydration. A call went out for volunteers to help an international athlete for this year’s event. I jumped at the chance so that I could see the course and learn more about the race and what is involved. Going there and seeing all of the athletes competing had me with a massive case of FOMO. I planned to enter next years event, and being there just made my desire to be there grow and grow. It is hard to describe but it is such a unique event, and everyone who does this race or crews will tell you what an amazing event it is.
The original reason I wanted to enter Ultraman (which still remains the same today) is that I lost my spark for Triathlon. I had lost my “why”. Losing my “why” meant that it was a struggle to get up for the morning sessions. I lost my drive to suffer through the hard training sessions. And at every race I went to, I was seeing that triathlons were quickly becoming a sport of comparisons. A lot of people I knew in the sport were so focused and training and racing better than their club mates, I could see them losing the enjoyment factor. I was seeing people getting caught up in their results rather than celebrating the fact they had just completed a triathlon. Something that 1 or 2 or 5 years ago, they would have never been able to do. Don’t get me wrong, at each event I compete in, I have a goal time in mind. Even if I didn’t achieve that result, I was still happy that I finished the event. Unfortunately, I was starting to get caught up in the comparisons, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to get the enjoyment back.
Over the past 8 years, triathlon has become part of my identity. It has helped shape the person I am today, and it has given me an avenue to channel my desire to see what I am capable of. It even helped me find my wife. And this was slowly starting to be taken away from me. I didn’t/don’t feel like I want to give up on triathlons just yet, but I wasn’t sure what to do. After a lot of contemplating, I came to the decision that I needed something bigger. I needed something more epic. And this is where Ultraman comes in. I first heard of the event from an old coach of mine, the late Craig Percival. He put this on my radar, but it wasn’t until I saw him take on the challenge of 8 Ironmans in 8 days in the 8 state and territories of Australia. I saw how much it took to physically and mentally for him to do this challenge, it had me wanting to see what I could do. I wanted to challenge myself over a multi-day event. I wanted to see what I was capable of mentally and physically. Ultraman ticks all of the boxes for me. An epic challenge, a massive desire and from what I have seen from this year, a sense of family and camaraderie.
This burning desire in me to compete at Ultraman has been there for nearly 2 years now. And next year it is going to happen. I am really looking forward to it, and I will probably need reminding a few times when I am in the big training blocks next year, tired and grumpy. I know that all I have to be reminded of is visualising the finish line. To imagine myself crossing the line on May 13th next year and it will bring a smile to my face. Until then, I have a bit of training to do.