Sandy Suckling

 

Australia

Sandy first began running ultramarathons in 2010 when she took the big step from running road marathons to entering in a 250km stage race across the Sahara Desert in Egypt. Her love for pushing her limits and going outside of her comfort zone had her hooked and, as they say, the rest, is history.

Sandy crossing the finish line of the Sahara Race in Petra, Jordan

Sandy crossing the finish line of the Sahara Race in Petra, Jordan

HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN THE SPORT?
I had been running road marathons and was looking at something different. Someone asked if I would be interested in doing a 250km stage race. I was at first shocked as I couldn’t imagine I could ever complete such an event. I started to research the event and the thought of not being able to complete such an event drew me in even more so I signed up and there it all started. My love for pushing the limits of what my body knew and going way outside my comfort zone had me signing up for many races to follow.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE RACE SO FAR?
I think UTMB as the atmosphere is simply incredible. At the start line I had goosebumps with the amount of people, the music, the cheering of the crowd-lined streets. It was amazing to be able to run through three different countries all in one race with breathtaking scenery and then come down out of the mountains to the finish line of streets crowded with people cheering you on. It is really hard to put into words but I feel very privileged that I was able to participate and complete such a race.

WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS FROM A RACE?
Oh there has been so many mmmm let me think. When I crossed the finish line in Petra, Jordan in February after a 250km self-supported stage race in Jordan and my husband surprised me and flew over specially to see me cross the finish line and put the medal around my neck. I was in tears of joy (and exhaustion), as he was not able to get the time off work and come with me so I was shocked to see him. The bonus was I had a great race and was first female and tenth overall. I shocked not only myself but many others as well especially as I am 54 years old.

WHAT DO YOU FEEL HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ULTRAMARATHON ACHIEVEMENT SO FAR?
When I complete the 250km self-supported stage race in the Sahara desert in Egypt. This was the first ultra I did and the heat was so intense I didn’t think I was going to make it past the first 20km. I couldn’t get my nutrition and electrolytes right, my husband was cramping so much he was nearly pulled out of the race. We pushed through all that on the first day and told ourselves we were just going to go from checkpoint to checkpoint and not think about how far we still had to go. I broke down during the night of the long stage (97km). I sat on the ground and said, “I can’t do this I am in so much pain”, then something came over me and I got up and finished the race. I can still remember that feeling when I crossed the finish line. My feet were a mess, toe nails blackened, blisters everywhere and my body was in so much pain but the moment that finishers medal was put around my neck the feeling of accomplishment was way beyond anything I had ever done before. It took two days and I was ready to sign up for another one.

WHAT IS ON YOUR RACING BUCKETLIST?
Brazil 135miler
Badwater 135miler
G2G (Grand Canyon 250k stage race)
C2K 240k
Hong Kong 100k
Tor des Geants 200 miler (330km)
Spartathlon 245.3km
UTMF 100 miler
Hardrock 100 miler
And many in Australia that I am still ticking off my list.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM ULTRAMARATHONS? WHAT HAVE THEY TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE AND YOURSELF?
Dream big and anything is possible … there is no limit to what you can do you just have to really want to do it … and age is certainly no barrier.
To treasure the simple pleasures of life and have self belief.
When things are stressful and busy in my life I just break it down into achievable small goals and know that will get me through to the bigger picture (I compare it to a race and tell myself just get to the next check point one foot in front of the other).

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF TRAINING?
Exploring new bush trails and conquering an intimidation hill in my run.

HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE BENEFITED FROM TRAINING WITH MILE 27?
Without a doubt I am a stronger and more confident runner both physically and mentally. Andy’s positive nature and belief in me has pushed me in my training to reach a different level of fitness. I was always getting injuries so have worked on strength and conditioning as well with Andy. This has been invaluable for me in keeping me out running and not side lined all the time with yet another injury. The weekly programs really suit me and keep me very focused on just the training for that week.

WHAT IS THE ONE TIP YOU WOULD GIVE A FELLOW ATHLETE TO HELP THEM ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE OF RUNNING AN ULTRA MORE?
To be prepared mentally that there will be low moments but it makes the highs feel even better and if you keep moving they are just around the corner. Smile and enjoy your surroundings.

WHAT IS YOUR NEXT RACE?
Hoping to get into either Anzac Ultra 435km stage race or UTMF or Brazil 135 and then work other races in and around those.