Amy Bush tackles Ultraman Canada
Editor’s note: This article was originally published August 13, 2014
A mere marathon hardly rates a blip on Amy Bush’s radar. And an Ironman triathlon? She’s done that, six times.
Last week, though, Bush, a 39-year-old systems administrator at the University of Texas, finished an Ultraman - a three-day endurance event designed to wring the last drop of energy out of the toughest of bodies.
On Day 1, she swam 10 kilometers and biked 90 miles.
On Day 2, she biked another 171 miles.
On Day 3, she ran a double marathon - just over 52 miles.
Even after that, she said this: “I’m not really an athlete.”
That may have been true in 2003, when she ran the Keep Austin Weird 5K. A year later she entered her first triathlon, the Danskin. She was, as they say, hooked.
This year Bush was one of 30 people invited to participate in the Aug. 2-4 Ultraman Canada, which took place in Penticton, British Columbia.
“I’m a poor cyclist and a decent runner, so once I made it through Day 2 I knew I was going to be OK,” Bush said Monday after returning to Austin. She finished that 171-mile ride that day in 11 hours and 20 minutes, in hot and dry conditions.
“You would hope it would be cooler there, but it was in the mid- to high 90s … On the second day there’s something called The Wall. You just keep going up and up, and you can’t ever sit because you’re about to fall over,” she said.
The cycling portions of the event - and worrying that she wouldn’t make the 12-hour cutoff each day - were the hardest part for Bush.
She isn’t the first Austin athlete to finish an Ultraman. At least four other athletes can make that claim. But the Ultraman club is a much more elite group than the one made up of Ironman finishers.
“Ironman is so faceless - you’re with 2,500 other people,” Bush said. In an Ultraman event, the competitors all get to know one another. “They’re all cheering for each other. By the end they’re family.”
She did the event, she says, to prove that she could. “I wasn’t an athlete when I was a kid and I’ve always had confidence problems.”
After the race, each athlete had to give a short speech. Bush told the audience she’d rather go out and run another marathon than speak in public. But she did. Briefly.
Incredibly, her race was about as perfect as it could get.
“Not a single blister, I kept all my toenails, I never threw up,” she said. “Aside from one flat and the heat … I’m almost afraid to think about doing another one because I think I used all my good karma.”