Contributed by Simone Hayes, AURA Treasurer

IAU 100km World Championships, Berlin (GER), 27 September 2022

I was very honoured to be given the privilege of attending these championships as Team Manager on behalf of AURA. Being a 24hour runner I hadn’t met most of the team so we started to get to know each other with a few in-country Zoom meetings to bring us all together and get to see some faces.

Over the course of the next 5 weeks there was a lot of admin getting entry forms in, dealing with the LOC, sorting out flight details, having meetings with captains and the committee regarding team expectations. Then we sorted out nutrition plans with the team members and discussed the crew and logistics. A lot goes on before you even leave the country.

Once in Berlin we all caught up and met in the flesh on Wednesday and straight away you could see the team building a comradery that would develop into a really tight team bond by race day. I’m sure many lifetime friendships have been made over these 5 days, which is one of the wonderful aspects of ultra running – the running community that embraces each other.

Thursday before race day we all met for our first breakfast together and I handed out their team uniforms along with a goodie bag of koalas and a flag. This was an exciting moment for the newcomers to the team.

We then attempted to make the trip to Bernau to visit the race venue by public transport however the train gods were not on our side, we just missed one train and after waiting 50mins for the next it turned up but we were told it was broken – so much for German precision! So we abandoned the race inspection and instead headed to Brandenburg Gate and had a run through the Grober Teirgarten which was beautiful. The speedsters dropped their manager after about 2km so I had a lovely trot around the park taking photos!

We headed home for lunch and then a team meeting, followed by dinner and then and early night. The next two days were going to be long ones.

Friday a few of us had a quick run around another nice park, Volkspark Friedrichs-hain. Berlin is a very green city with parks everywhere.  You could easily clock up a big run here and still remain in the parks.

I then left the guys to shower and start my official duties. First stop was the media conference at the hotel and uniform inspection as well as the introduction and interview of the elite athletes. Then it was onto the buses to the race venue to view the course and to attend the technical meeting and IAU lunch. At lunch the skies went black and a thunderstorm hit and the rain fell – hopefully it wouldn’t last but was predicted to go on all night and early Saturday morning.

After lunch we were bused to meet the teams for the flag march and opening ceremony. The flag march is always a highlight at the champs. Luckily the rain stopped for this even though the skies were black.

We marched through a beautiful cobblestone pathway that wove through homes lined with people on the streets and also calling out from their balconies above as they cheered on the countries and took photos. The team handed out lots of Aussie koala souvenirs and threw a few to the balconies!

Once we arrived at the opening ceremony venue we were greeted by a brass band and then moved into the town hall for the ceremony which in opening ceremony-terms was very short and sweet, but special nonetheless. Then it was back on the buses for the return to the hotel. On the bus we had a team meeting to go over what I had learned in the technical meeting, this saved us having to meet again after dinner so they call all retire early.

Dinner was quick and everyone headed off to bed around 7.30pm, I stayed and chatted to a few of the other managers and IAU team over a beer then it was my bedtime too. The alarms were set for 3am.


We had planned to meet for breakfast from 3.30am and then be out the front at 4.30am to line up for the buses so we would arrive nice and early in Bernau to check in. Unfortunately 10 buses were ordered and only 7 turned up and we were left standing on the street in a bit of a panic (not as much as the LOC were panicked!). Eventually they called a heap of taxis so we got there in the end. We arrived at the race venue in the dark and was a bit chaotic as they weren’t completely set up but we managed to get everyone together as the taxis arrived and make it to check in on time while the crew started sorting out the tent.

Then 15mins later the gun went and the runners were off! It was a super-fast start! The runners did an initial 2.5km loop and then 13x 7.5km loops. The weather was very overcast which we thought would be great but was extremely humid and warmed up quickly – you could tell by the first 10km that they were really feeling the humidity and they were all drenched and taking in more of their nutrition than planned and needing extra fluids as the aid station on the turnaround had run out of water. After 3 more laps we could see it was going to be a tough day for them.

During the day a few niggles that runners had started with reared their heads, a few new niggles appeared. Some got better and some got worse. The crew managed each runner so well to keep them going but ultimately is was the runners that continued to dig deep and forge on. We witnessed some gusty efforts out there given how many of them felt – the laps were long and you could see it taking its toll and I was amazed at their tenacity. It was actually hard to watch some of them leave on their last lap – they seemed almost broken but were so courageous as they headed off and started running again – I shed many tears over the day – it was quite emotional.

One by one they crossed the line. We gave them all a small Aussie flag to run with on their final lap, which happened to be an extra 800m due to an error on course measuring that was discovered after the first two laps – definitely not what you want in a World Champs and it gave the IAU and LOC some very stressful hours! We had the job of telling them that they weren’t quite finished yet…but there wasn’t one complaint – they just did it.

There were a few wobbly legs on the finish line and the grass just behind was where they all landed and remained for a bit – again, so emotional for them as they had completely emptied their tanks.

At 8hr59mins we had all runners in bar one, Anna had an injury that prevented her from running the last 45 or so kilometres, but she was determined to finish and she did – and the whole team was there to cheer her over the line after such a gutsy finish in 11hrs22min. The team showed great comradery  and made sure they stuck together as after all, it’s a team event and you’re not done until everyone is done.

I could not hve been more proud of this team in the way they behaved, supported each other and performed out there. They were respectful to each other, the crew and their fellow runners. Not everyone had the day they had planned but that’s ultra-running – they all gave it 100% and you can’t ask for more than that. I’m sure this talented team will go on to more championships as they have created a fantastic bond which will take them a long way. I wish them all well in the future and can’t wait to see what they do next. Thank you for running for your Country and AURA.

Enjoy the recovery.

Men Overall

Dion Finocchiaro – 21st, 6:48:14
Grant Schmidlechner – 30th, 6:53:45
Andy McConnell – 39th, 7:05:37
Clay Dawson – 64th, 7:40:52

Women Overall

Michelle McAdam – 33rd, 8:09:08
Jacqueline Kelly – 46th, 8:28:14
Greta Truscott – 59th, 8:52:51
Clare Palmer – 63rd, 8:59:23
Corrina Black 67th, 9:03:48
Anna Pillinger – 88th, 11:22:48 (injured and walked last 45 km to ensure a finish)

Men’s Team

7th Place
Dion, Grant and Andy

Women’s Team

11th Place
Michelle, Jackie and Greta

World Masters Athletics Championships

M40 – Grant – 1st place
W55 – Tia Jones – 1st Place