The unstoppable Cecilia Flori gives us a run down of her interesting start and race win at the Ultra Trail Australia 50km (UTA50)-
Race day started with a short 2.5km walk to the start line. It was pretty cold so it was nice to shake out the legs. The race had a strong female field so I was very excited but nervous about the race. These nerves showed at the start of the race: I pretty much made a mess of it. In the excitement I had forgotten to tighten my bottle pouch, so when the gun went off and I started running my bottle fell out. The bottle was round and we were running up hill, so it rolled backwards. I could have just let it go, but it was my nutrition so I turned around and tried running against the herd. Oh boy, I really recommend you never do this! I got pushed and shoved around, I "punched" a few people and got "punched" in return. I was actually surprised I didn't get knocked down. Just imagine: high adrenaline, everyone running fast at the start and some idiot trying to go the other way. It felt like going against a running herd of buffalo!
When I finally managed to get to that damned bottle I was at the back of the pack. At this point I really felt like covering the "Altra elite" slogan on my singlet, it should have read "Muppet"!! Anyhow, after securing my bottle, I finally started running in the right direction. Luckily, the race started with a bit of road so it was easy to get back in the front, "Phew, back on track". After the open road the course went on to single track and then STAIRS!! Oh my God, what a lot of stairs! I knew there were some, but everyone only talked about the last 900+ to the finish line, nobody mentioned the millions of stairs prior to that! (yes, yes ,I should have done my homework). But, as the Italian saying goes: "you wanted the bike, now you pedal", so I did pedal up and down the stairs. For the first 30km I was right behind 1st place (Stephanie Auston). We were both going at a good pace trying to push each other, however around kilometer 30 there was a long (I think 6km) down hill. I am not a good down hill runner so the gap got bigger and I eventually lost sight of Stephanie. I have to admit I wasn’t too bothered. I would have been happy with the second place so I just did my own thing and ran at my own pace. Luckily though, the last 12km or so were up hill. At 8.8km to go I saw a runner from a distance. Didn't think much of him/her until I realised there was a lot of pink going on.."uhm...it..must be a girl!" I thought "Oh my!! it IS a girl, it's Stephanie!". That was it! I immediately realized I still had a chance to win, so I went for it. I overtook her at 8km to go and ran, as best I could, until the finish managing to win 4 minutes ahead. I was so happy and proud to cross that finish line, with a kiwi flag too! It was a magic moment for me! I think it made up for my not so great start.
Cecilia taking first place in 5:00:22 (center), with Steph Auston (right) second and Victoria Beck Third (left).