Wednesday, 18 December 2013

6 Inch Trail Marathon 2013 - Race report

The 6 Inch Trail marathon is a race I have missed out on the last couple of years since moving to Perth as my body has generally had a guts full by December and is ready for christmas ham and mid strength beers. Although I was by no means in ideal 'race' shape because of a couple of minor injuries, I was stoked to be lining up alongside some super fast runners for the race.

The race as always started at the crack of dawn at 4:30am and involves the first few km of the race going up Goldmine Hill. Not a big climb by any means but enough to get the juices flowing right from the start line while I was still trying to wake myself up. The pace was on right from the start as the lead guys took off. The race this year was stacked! Brendan Davies had come over from the Blue Mountains and we had local talent including course record holder Gerry Hill, last years winner James Roberts and a bunch of super quick marathoners in Tom Bakowski, Etienne Rodriguez, Kevin Matthews, Michael Ho and more.

The first 10-15km played out pretty much how I thought it would. Brendan and Gerry were off out front for a while before Brendan dropped the hammer and made a decent break. Behind those two was me and my good mate Tom and we gradually bridged the gap between Gerry and ourselves. Personally I was just trying to keep things as low key as possible early on making sure I stayed within touch of the front runners.

Approaching 18km I got word that Tom, Gerry and I were 2mins down on Brendan. I was surprised we weren't further back so knew we were running well. At this point the trail crosses the road and then goes up a short climb. It was around here I seemed to run ahead of the other guys. 

As I got to the 1st aid station the plan was to drop my handheld and pick up my AK race vest with 2 bottles as I knew the heat was going to come in hard and fast so I'd need the extra hydration. I basically grabbed the vest as I dropped the handheld and was off again down the trail within seconds.

The next section to aid 2 was a tough wee section. Enough short hills to keep you honest but enough flat stuff so that I had to keep an eye on my watch to make sure I was cruising along at a sustainable pace. I was averaging around 4min/kms through to aid 2. I was really cautious of not pushing too hard too soon in my efforts to try and catch Brendan out front. I figured there was no point pushing hard to catch him and then not be able to push harder, Brendan is a world class trail and ultrarunner so I was going to have to be smart if I wanted things to play out in my favour. Approaching about 34km there is a 2.5km out and back to aid 2 up the top of a fairly decent hill. My plan pre-race was that if I was anywhere near the front this was a spot I could hopefully close the gap. As I went past the volunteer at the start of the out and back he commented that Brendan was now about 30 seconds ahead. Unfortunately for Brendan along this out and back he made a wrong turn because of some flagging tape being down which on a course like 6 Inch makes things confusing at best - likely a kangaroo or possibly mountain biker, not at all due to course markings.

I was already running pretty solid approaching the start of the climb as I wanted to try and catch Brendan before the top or at the aid station. As I got further up the hill and finally to the aid station I realised he must have taken a wrong turn. Dave Kennedy the R.D was kind enough to provide some world class bottle filling skills and I was off hammering it down the hill a few seconds after arriving at the aid. I took to the downhill pretty fast, but a conservative fast. My Rapa Nuis were loving the descent and I maintained a pretty good speed down here. On the way down I came across Brendan, we had a brief few words and he said he'd gone the wrong way. Not too far along the trail I came across Tom next followed by Etienne, James, Big Kev and others. Tom looked super strong which also gave me motivation to ensure I closed out the race well.

My plan for the final 10km was to run solid but to not empty the tank completely. I had thoughts of the Hong Kong 100 go through my mind and I wanted to make sure that I didn't do anything silly in the final stages of the race. The last leg was really enjoyable as it was a section I had run before in one of the recon runs so I knew roughly where I was. I crossed the line in 3:20:28 for first place ahead of Tom Bakowski in 2nd and Brendan Davies in 3rd. I was over the moon with the result and it has been a timely boost of confidence before I head over to Hong Kong.

Thanks must go out to race director Dave Kennedy for putting on a fantastic race and all of the volunteers for their efforts and support during the day. Special thanks to my good mate Adam for partnering up with Liz to make a pretty formidable support crew for me. As always Liz was a massive boost whenever we crossed paths along the course.

As always I wore my Hokas, choosing the Rapa Nui trail shoes for this race. I used Injinji performance run 2.0 socks. My new Compressport Trail Shorts and trusty Compressport calf guards were awesome as always. Nutrition involved 7 Gu gels and some Hammer Endurolytes. Hydration was some quality H20 in an Amphipod HandHeld and an Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest.

For results see here: 6 Inch Trail Marathon Results

Some race photos courtesy of Ron McGlinn and Paul V Harrison:

Ron's Photos               Paul's Photos

My race on my Suunto Movescount can be found here: Movescount

Top of Goldmine Hill

Loving the trails

Tom and I

Approaching the finish line

I have no idea what this is about :p

Happy times

Winners trophy presented by Dave Kennedy

Monday, 9 December 2013

Trying something new

By attempting something really difficult and outside of your comfort zone,
you will discover how strong you really are - Anonymous

There has been quite a lot happening the last few weeks in my running life and I'm really psyched and excited to see where things are heading.

I have gone back and forwards over the last 9 or 10 months trying to decide whether I wanted to link up with some kind of running coach. There were different ideas in my mind about what that would involve, but I thought I could benefit from the use of someone who has far more knowledge than me about all things running. I liked some components of having a coach but disliked the idea of being told what to do and when to do it. Part of me thought that I had already had a few good performances based off what I was doing and did I really need a coach? After speaking with a few good running mates I was put onto the best in the business as far as endurance coaches go in Andy Dubois from Mile27 Personal Training.

Andy has a wealth of personal experience in ultra/endurance events including insane performances at the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB), Ironman and has represented Australia in the World Mountain Running Champs to name a few. Coupling his own physical ability with the knowledge gained through years of study, it's pretty safe to say this guy knows his stuff!

Any nerves or doubt I had about running coaches were wiped within the first few minutes when talking to Andy on the phone. I was instilled with confidence that I had chosen the right guy. After seeing me run via video, Andy was kind enough to say it was pretty much natural ability behind my results to date as my core strength and flexibility were less than desirable. Funny to hear but also really exciting to think what I might be capable of once my hips loosen up and my glutes get stronger :)

I'm only into the first week of the training/strength and conditioning program but I feel like I am already reaping the benefits of the strength and stretching routine I am doing twice daily. It's going to be cool to see how things pick up from here!

It's been awesome being back running the last week feeling that my knee injury from GOW is completely behind me and my niggly hamstring seems to have settled down too. I managed to sneak a win at the Perth Trail Series 12km Moon Shadow night race a couple of weeks ago which was awesome. Such a cool race on some really awesome trails!

I have the 6 Inch Trail Marathon coming up this Sunday which is going to be awesome!! I have missed out on running 6 Inch the last couple of years because of injury so despite my lack of preparation I am really pumped about the race. The competition this year is going to be stronger than ever and it's going to be faaaaaaaast from start to finish. I have no expectations for this race as it is more part of my build-up for the Hong Kong 100 in mid January. Despite this I know full well that as soon as the start gun goes it will be game time!

Some of the big guns racing are last years champ James Roberts, race record holder Gerry Hill, Tom Bakowski, Etienne Rodriguez, Kev Matthews, Brendan Davies from the east coast, Craig Berg, Brett Coombs, Jon Pendse and many many more. It's going to be super tough to get anywhere near the podium and it's so great there is such a competitive field for a trail race in WA.

Sunday just can't come quick enough ;)

Happy times making our way to the start line for the Moon Shadow 12km night trail race

Liz, Kate and I at Moon Shadow

Me and Liz doing our favourite local run from home

Sunday, 20 October 2013

“The person who really wants to do something finds a way; the other finds an excuse.” Sir John Marks Templeton

It's now a little over a week since the Great Ocean Walk 100km and I've now had time to think about the day I had on the beautiful trails of the Victorian coast and what unfolded.

The race kicked off in beautifully mild conditions at 6:30am when we were greeted with a fantastic sunrise as we made our way along the flat walking track from Apollo Bay to Marengo. The plan as always was to go out at a conservative but comfortable pace and let the day unfold before me. There were a bunch of really keen runners up front going pretty fast including Stu Gibson and Blake Hose who were from what I had gathered going to be the main competition for the day. I was more than happy watching them up ahead and was enjoying the warmth of the early morning sun.

The first leg from Apollo Bay to the Blanket Bay Checkpoint was relatively undulating, a few climbs here and there and also a couple of sections running along the soft sandy beaches which was nice to mix up the terrain. After about 8km I had caught up to youngster Blake Hose and Damian Smith who I had actually run the first 15km or so at the Glasshouse 100km with last September. For the next little while we chatted and made our way through some nice single track and ducked under and around the fallen trees that were taking over parts of the trail. About 4km from the checkpoint it started flattening out and became more downhill where Damian and Blake started pushing a quicker pace of around 4min k's which I felt was a touch quick with more than 80km to go so I eased off leading into the aid station. After a quick bottle change I ended up exiting the aid station before both of the guys and made my way along some more awesome single track.

A couple of km later Blake caught me up and we were running along one behind the other for around about 10km. The single track through here was mind blowing! Narrow, windy and in parts technical - we were having a blast. There was a really soft sandy section at around about the 32km mark. It only went on for approx. 1.5km but by the time I had made my way onto some firmer terrain I knew something was up. Initially I thought it was just one of the many aches and groans I have learned through ultrarunning that come and go for no apparent reason. So my initial response to the pain was that it was only going to be temporary and soon I would have the spring back in my step and would be on my way again. A few km later I still had the pain and it had gotten worse. The more flexion I gave my knee the worse it got, the more load I put through it upon landing the worse it got. I was left thinking that only 10 minutes ago I was smiling and happy about how the race was unfolding. Stu was around 5-10mins ahead going fast and hard, and Blake had pulled away from me and was putting on a bit of a break which meant I was able to do what I love best and just cruise along at my pace, nice and quiet through the bush. Although it was around here that the race for me had ended and it was now just about finishing.

Coming into the 41km aid station at Aire River, I had spent the last 20 minutes or so contemplating pulling out. The only positives I could find out of my new 'situation' was that going uphill wasn't quite as painful as everything else. As I came in Liz must have known something was up when she asked if I was ok. Generally in a 100km race runners would aim to feel pretty awesome through 40km as there is still a hell of a long way to go. My reply was short as I grabbed some more water and food before making my way out of the aid station. I figured that if I stopped the chances of a DNF were much higher.

I knew that leaving Aire River I only had around 14km or so to get to Johanna Beach which from there was the toughest and hilliest part of the course through to the 80km checkpoint at The Gables. My plan was to battle my way through to Johanna Beach, take some time to recoup there and then set off on the hills from there. To say the next 14km were tough is a ridiculous understatement. Combining the pain with the frustration that everything else on my body seemed to feel fine was tough. Everything was wanting to race except for my knee. My jogging into the 40km aid had now turned into a ridiculous ultra shuffle/walk/limp. It got progressively worse through to Johanna Beach at 55km. The last km into the checkpoint along Johanna Beach was brutal, I felt pretty useless as anything more than a slow walk was really painful on the soft sand.

I'll keep this short and say that from Johanna Beach (55km) through to The Gables (80km) was absolutely brutal. Emotions were high as I was coming to terms with the fact that I was going to likely have to pull from the race. Now my knee was excruciatingly painful, steep downhills were being performed backwards and the only time I was able to shuffle seemed to be on certain inclines where my knee briefly went from excruciating pain to slightly less excruciating pain for about 20-30secs. I was trying to understand how the rest of my body was feeling strong and good to go but my knee was hampering any decent forward progress. During this section, eventual 2nd place Damian, 3rd place Dan Beard and lead woman Jo Brischetto had passed me looking pretty good.

Coming into the 80km checkpoint I had the best km I'd had since before the 32km mark. As I shuffled/jogged my way up the hill a good friend Andre made comment that it was nice seeing me running again and that I was the only runner in the top 4 to run that whole hill. I've since found out this might not have been 100% correct but it helped in convincing me to finish so it worked, Cheers Andre ;)

It was funny how 1km of slightly less demoralising running put me in a better headspace coming into the aid station. After spending the last 25km urging my body along telling it that it would all stop at the 80km mark. I had gone back and forward, finish or DNF...DNF or finish. The whole time I thought about how I felt after the Tarawera 100km where I did DNF and how bad that felt and still feels. I started doing the math in my head and worked out I only had to cover approx 3.5km an hour to make the 18hour cutoff. For those that know me well know I'm not a huge fan of walking at the best of times, but I had come to grips and was ok with the fact I was going to have to walk this one in. After some ice and massage treatment from the race doctor at the aid station and a few mouths full of coke I got up quickly as the 2nd woman Janet Ng from Hong Kong had left. I figured if I could maybe hang onto her for even 1km then it was 1 less I had to do on my own.

The next 7 or 8km were easily the best km's I'd had since early on in the day. Still ridiculously slow for me but they had slightly more shuffling than walking and even some sub 10min km's so I was trying to take the positives from that. I'd managed to catch up to and pass Jo who was also having a really tough day on the trails and she did incredibly well to finish, super strong and showed great courage. A couple of km later the coke, massage and ice wore off - damn it. I knew it wasn't going to last forever but was ambitiously thinking if I could get to 95km or so that'd be great! Around 89km Janet passed me again on a dead flat gravel road section doing about 5:30min km's. I hung on for about 12 metres and then realised I wasn't kidding anybody. Back to my shuffle-limp which I had become slightly more efficient at over the last 55km or so.

Some of the short and steep descents over the final few km were brutal. My knee as it had done for the past 7hrs felt as though someone was stabbing me in the side of it. The scenery over the final section was incredible like the rest of the course. Coming up over a rise and seeing the 12 Apostles was surreal. Even amongst the pain and frustration they were truly amazing.

I crossed the line in 11:35:48 for 4th male and 5th overall behind Janet who ran an amazing 11:23! I pretty much stumbled my way over the line where my knee finally buckled beneath me. I was done, no more pain and I could finally switch off. Mentally this race was my toughest assignment yet. Somehow convincing myself numerous times that it was a good idea to push through the pain and finish the race, I'm still not sure how I did.

Post race things haven't been too bad. An appointment with my sports doctor and physio have revealed that it was literally a combination of bad luck and timing. Because of tapering before the race my glutes and ITB tightened up and switched off and combining that with the soft sandy running it was basically asking too much biomechanically of my body. The reason it was so painful was because there are so many nerves etc in the knee joint which basically starts to settle down as soon as you stop. That's also the reason why the body feels so good now, because I was hampered by my knee my other muscle groups were only able to work to a certain threshold. It's nice to know I haven't done any major damage and it is now just a case of strengthening my glutes and core muscles to relieve the load on my ITB's.

Looking forward I feel that my experience here has only made me stronger. I now know I have been to a really dark place and come out on top which I can use for my next race. It has almost given me confidence leading into 2014 where I am likely going to be attempting my first 100 miler, because that distance is a whole new challenge physically and even more so mentally.

Finally, congratulations to Blake for winning the race in his first 100km, keep an eye on this guy! And also Damian and Dan for rounding out the podium. Congratulations to Janet for a cracking run and Katherine and Jo on the women's side of the podium. Also congrats to everyone who finished a tough 100km course. Thanks to Andy and Brett for putting on an awesome race and all of the amazing supporters and volunteers for helping make this race happen. Thanks to my support crew Isaac you were awesome and also to Nick and Lisa for coming down to support as well. Not wanting to let you all down was a big motivator for pushing through the pain :)

As always I cannot say enough thank yous to Liz. Amidst all the dark moments I only had to think of her to bring out a smile. As tough as this whole experience was I knew that seeing her at the aid stations was going to give me a boost, or at least a kick up the backside to hurry me along ;) Already looking forward to our next race together.

Thanks to my sponsors Hoka One One, RaceReady, Ryders Eyewear and Peak Podiatry. I am very thankful for your continued support of me following my passion.

Until next time...

Some images courtesy of Patchanida Pongsubkarun, thankyou so much for capturing some of my race.

Crossing the creek before the Blanket Bay aid station

Approaching the Blanket Bay aid station
Staying dry before the Blanket Bay aid station

Happy times early on, obviously not realising what the sand was doing to me

Approaching Aire River aid station (41km) the beginning of the end

Feeling the pinch

Likely the moment where Andre had told me the good news ;)

Stoked to finish, rest time now!

Broken but not beaten

The amazing scenery approaching the Aire River aid station

Pre race crew photo

Trying to do a patch up job to get a few more km's out of my knee

Friday, 6 September 2013

Explaining the magic!

Hoka One One running shoes have definitely turned a few heads over the last couple of years with many runners giving them a go and loving them and many sitting on the fence feeling rather sceptical about the "over sized" shoes. 

From my own personal experience, like Andy DuBois, the man behind the article, I tried them once and have never looked back. They offer so many benefits for me and my running and I couldn't be happier with my running shoes.

So for those of you who already love the Hokas and those sitting on the fence, take a couple of minutes to read this well articulated article which addresses some key talking points behind the Hokas from a scientific point of view in easily understood terms. He also bullet points the pro's and the con's which summarises the talking points well.

If anyone has any questions or queries about the shoes feel free to drop me a message in the comments below or drop me a line on Facebook or Twitter.

Check out the article here:


They might look a bit goofy but the shoes speak for themselves ;)

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Mr Incredible and an incredible week

It's been a little quiet on here the past couple of months. In short, after a great race at the Hoka One One Kep Ultra 100k in June I then ended up having just under 8 weeks off. In the end this was due to an incorrect diagnosis from a doctor I was seeing, so it was pretty frustrating that this was the reason I wasn't out there on the trails.

Fast forward three weeks and I now had a Perth City to Surf Marathon entry in my mailbox which I was pretty excited about. The three weeks back since my break had progressed really well. Weekly visits to my wonderful physio Ali and sports massage therapist Nathan ensured that I kept things under control as my mileage was building up again. The great thing about my physio is that she understands the game I am in and that generic rebuild programs aren't really suitable or relevant for me. Its great having confidence in people who do their absolute best at getting you back out on the trails.

So it was the Monday before the Perth City to Surf and I had somehow stumbled across an entry for the full marathon, I have wanted to do the City to Surf Marathon since moving to Perth, but the chance never really presented itself. On one hand I was really excited about finally being able to do it, and on the other hand, in all honesty, I was paranoid and scared that something was going to flare up again.

I think having such a long period of time off really plays on your mind and gives a feeling of uncertainty about how each run is going to pan out. I knew that the three weeks had gone well and I really had nothing to stress about but the thought of being back on the sidelines really scared me. At times during the rebuild from the time off I thought about whether I really wanted to be racing again and whether it was worth it. I was scared that through racing I would end up with more injuries. I knew at the time, and even more so now, that those were purely thoughts based on my emotional feelings at the time and I definitely didn't want to stop racing.

I know from previous experiences that once I'm on that start line it's all go. There's no such thing as not racing a race. I like to think I could run a race as a training run but know that wouldn't happen... I'm too competitive. So from that came the idea to run the marathon in costume. What better way to ensure it actually was a training run. My goal for the race was purely to treat it as a long training run and have some fun. So Liz and I headed off to the costume store to check out a few costume options. The guy at the store was really keen on the idea and couldn't have been more helpful. We narrowed it down to Fred Flinstone, Ironman and Mr Incredible. We decided on Mr Incredible as we all thought that was a pretty cool outfit. Sunday morning was an early start as the race started at 6am so we had to be up and getting ready by 4:45am.

To say that I got some pretty funny looks and massive smiles is a huge understatement. The response from people on the start line was absolutely awesome, I was pretty surprised that friends still recognised me as Mr Incredible. The starter's gun fired and we were off. I started off in the second row of runners ensuring I wasn't in the way of the flying Kenyans and Big Kev. About 100m down the road I decided to make my way up to the front alongside BK and Trailblazer and in front of the mighty Kenyan runners.

We weren't in front for long but I think it ensured Mr Incredible was going to get on tv which I thought would look pretty funny. As I slowed down and settled into a comfortable pace I had quite a few runners fly past me, a few of which gave encouraging words saying to make sure I made it to the finish line. Everyone was so supportive, I kind of wish I had a better story as to why I was dressed up other than I thought it would be pretty funny and a reason to slow me down and avoid injury.

I went through the first half in 1:25:42 which felt really comfortable. I didn't have a target pace for this race, I was more just wanting to make sure I stayed well below my threshold and not do anything silly. After hearing from friends that the second half is where the hills were, I was pretty keen to stay with the pace I was running as long as it stayed easy.

Crossing back through the start line I got huge cheers with people clapping and taking photos, I've never had so much attention in a race before which was pretty cool. As we started getting into the hilly sections I found myself picking off runners one by one as we were moving along the course. I made sure I eased up on the hills and kept things cruisy. A lot of runners had gone out pretty hard and were now suffering because of this. I think I passed around 13 people in the second half of the race including four people in the final 5km. The looks I got from the guys at the start who had said to make sure I made the finish line were priceless. It must have looked pretty funny seeing Mr Incredible running along at a touch over 4min km pace ;) I crossed the line in 2:51:14 for 19th place overall and first superhero. Running up the finishing chute was a really cool experience. Hearing people yelling out "go Mr Incredible" was absolutely classic. I must admit that before the race I wasn't sure how people would take me running along in costume, but after the amount of people and especially the kids I made smile it was definitely a good choice. High fiving kids and drink station volunteers out on the course just added to the experience for me. I have honestly never had so much fun in a race before!

After I crossed the line I had the Channel 9 tv crew come over to me asking if they could ask a few questions which was pretty funny. It was all pretty chaotic at the finish line so hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much. The Perth City to Surf for me could not have been a better experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, it was everything I expected and more. I will definitely be back in 2014 for round two. The past week since City to Surf has been nothing short of fantastic! I almost feel like a new runner these days. I am really learning from past experiences and using that knowledge for the future. I think this is partly because I am scared of not being able to run, I am making a constant effort to make good decisions as far as my training goes and my rest and recovery.

Finish line, all done!

Coming up the finishing chute

Enjoying the hills through Kings Park

It was really beautiful running alongside the Swan River with no cars on the road

Running through UWA

Monday after the City to Surf Marathon involved my now traditional swim and spa recovery session which has been hugely beneficial for me. Tuesday was a nice 10km run with Liz and Kate which has now become a regular event, I especially look forward to this run (possibly the coffee and muffin afterwards is a drawcard). Wednesday was a 20km tempo run at Bold Park. I have been really enjoying running up here the last few weeks. It's a 20km circuit with over 500m vertical gain so a great place to train and also a good gauge of how training is progressing. Thursday was a massage with Nathan followed by a 10km run along the coast and a coffee and smoothie with our nieces Amitty and Piper. A new feature I've added into my week is pilates on Friday morning. I'm really starting to feel the benefits of the sessions and looking forward to seeing it continue to progress. Friday was where the fun for the weekend started. I planned on doing about 100km over the 3 day weekend starting with 20km out at Lesmurdie Falls N.P at night. I love night time running and it was great to be out there again. James ended up joining me for 10km which was nice for some company. Saturday morning was another early start as the plan was to meet James and Tom down south on the Bibbulmun Track near Mt Cooke. It's pretty much the hilliest part of WA near Perth so makes sense to utilise this awesome area. We ran 50km in a series of out and backs from where the car was parked. It was a really windy day but we got quite lucky with the weather as there wasn't much rain. The main focus of the weekend training was to ensure I woke up on Sunday morning feeling like I wasn't completely drained and on tired legs. I woke up on Sunday at 6am ready to throw my alarm clock at the wall as I felt like I needed more sleep. Then as I was laying there I thought about a line from a new book I had just started reading the night before from legendary ultra/trail/mountain runner Kilian Jornet saying something about not having your face on the sheets. I jumped out of bed all motivated and excited about hitting the trails again. The run started a little slow as I think I was still waking up but I soon got into the swing of things. It was 31km with some nice hills from Kalamunda to Mundaring Weir and back. It was one of those runs you do when you just can't stop smiling and loving being in the bush. Moments like these are why I run trails. It was just me, the birds and a few kangaroos bouncing around. It was so silent and peaceful that I stopped and walked for a moment. I was looking up into the trees hearing the birds sing and thinking how good this was. I would have taken a self portrait but I don't think the iPhone has a wide angle lens to get my oversized smile in. I hope to have many more moments like these during other runs. So, things have been going tremendously well and I feel I am progressing well towards the Great Ocean Walk 100km in October. The weekly totals were: Distance: 138.9km; Vert: 4880m gain; Hours: 12hr 42min.

Me and Tom running off the top of Mt Cooke, it was as slippery as ice.

Tom and James climbing back up Mt Cooke

Nice singletrack along the ridgeline

Me running back up Mt Cooke

Tom and James working hard getting up Mt Vincent

Panorama on the top of Mt Vincent

Nice running through the forest section

Pretty windy so needed the hat backwards ;)

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ryders Eyewear Ambassador

I am really happy and privileged to now be a part of the Ryders Eyewear team as a Ryders Eyewear Ambassador. I came across Ryders sunglasses over a year ago now after being told from a good running mate of mine that they were a really good product. I had previously spent hundreds of dollars and a lot of time trying to find some good sunglasses to hit the trails with, but always came up short for one reason or another. It's pretty safe to say as soon as I got my first pair I was hooked. They fit and feel great, and there is no bounce at all when charging down steep technical downhills, another reason they are perfect for what I'm needing on the trails.

There is a fantastic range to choose from as far as frames and lenses go so they pretty much cater for whatever you are looking for in a pair of sunglasses. From golf to running, they have you covered. The quality different lens options is a massive positive, especially living in Perth where summers are always bright, and also being able to protect my eyes from dust etc throughout other seasons. I couldn't be happier with the Ryders sunglasses and am proud to be a part of the team.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Tasmania in photographs

Some images from our recent trip to Tasmania. It was a truly awesome trip, we had an absolute blast exploring some of the amazing parts of Tassie! Looking forward to returning someday soon!

See the link for photo's :) - Tasmania 2013

Liffey Falls, Tasmania

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Kiwi, an Aussie and an Irishman head out for a run

A Kiwi, an Aussie and an Irishman head out for a run. During the 35km run in 36deg heat they had time to chat a bit... 

About an hour down the trail... Kiwi: "I might have a gel in a minute bro" Aussie: "Cool mate, I might have one too" Meanwhile the Irishman in the meantime has pulled out a hardboiled egg and a bag of salt and vinegar crisps and is chugging them back whilst on the run.... "Back home I normally have a pack of Tim Tams with me in me rucksack lads, but tis a bit warm in Perth for that carry on"

I've never laughed so hard on the trails than when my good mate Thomas pulled out a smorgasbord of treats on our first run together. I thought now this guy is hardcore!! 

Your chance to win 2 pairs of the sweet new Hoka One One's about to hit Australian coastlines in September!!  

All details on the pic, can be as simple as 500 words or less, or a quick 3min video telling a sweet, crazy or downright nasty running story 

Anything goes... GET ONTO IT!!!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013


“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That’s real glory” – Vince Lombardi (Football Coach)

I think the more I run and the more I understand my body, the better I am at accepting that sometimes things just happen for a reason. Sometimes those reasons might seem so blurred in what is normally such a clear pathway for me. It’s as simple as putting on some shoes, finding a trail and immersing yourself in the beauty that surrounds it, simple right?

If only trail and ultra running could be that simple and have that lack of complexity that we all wish it could. I mean that’s what draws a lot of people to running in the first place; it is just you and the trail. No thousand-dollar bike, no kayak carriers, and no fumes coming out the back end…well only sometimes!

I have found the last few weeks that I have learnt so much about myself through not being able to get out on the trails and having way too much time to think about what I’d rather be doing. It’s not like it’s the first time I have ever had a lay off period from running so nothing too ground breaking to share. Although this time around I have found that although still not perfect, I feel like I am able to deal with injury much better and with more understanding. Things weren’t like this last year when I would beat myself up over and over again because of not being able to run and I would find myself in a really unhappy place.

I’m not sure if a switch flicked or whether it’s been the constant support from Liz through these tougher times for me. Probably the combination of a few things. I’m definitely not claiming to be the most passionate, dedicated and die hard runner going around but these layoffs seem to really throw things off track for me as many others must find as well.

I have found a few different ways to take my mind off things including getting my camera out after a bit of a quiet patch with taking photos and also doing some swimming and bike riding. I have been reminding myself that there is much more to life than just running.
I think in times like these when you have a bit more time to think it is important to not lose sight of the things that make you happy. Sure running is a massive component in my life and I hope to do this for years to come but there have to be other things stimulating you outside of running. Before now I found it hard not to dwell on the fact I couldn’t run and would always rush back into things too soon.

For now I am quite content on seeing how things pan out, accepting things for what they are and making the best out of every situation that comes my way. If that means finding other interesting ways to get the heart rate up then I'm cool with that.

I’m really keen on getting in the pool as much as possible as it’s something that as an adult I have really come to enjoy, despite getting overtaken by 60 year old ladies J I know they must be thinking “oh that poor young chap” but secretly stoked to be overtaking a bloke in his mid 20’s.

So the next few weeks are to involve plenty of rest, reading and other forms of getting some cardio in. Throw in some stretching and strengthening and I’ll be back on the trails soon.

Until then…

Taking some time to slow down and enjoy some reading again :)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Hoka One One Kep Ultra 100 2013

We decided this year after two years of doing the 2hr drive to Northam at 3.30am that we would splash out, go a little crazy and get a hotel room for the night before the race. It was nice to finally do this drive in daylight and see some of the nice landscapes that the area had to show. After arriving in Northam and realising I hadn't had my daily caffeine fix I was pretty keen to attend to this matter as soon as possible so we took to driving the streets of Northam in search of the coffee bean. Northam is a small town approx. 100km northeast of Perth with a population of around 7000 people, so it's pretty safe to say we had to do a bit of searching. Eventually we found a lovely little cafe on the waterfront of the Avon River and only 50m from where the race starts!

I put my name down to do the 100km at Kep back in Feb/March and initially had the intention of making it an 'A' race for my racing year. That soon changed when I realised that we were only going to be getting back from our month long holiday in the US a week before the race. The reason for this was mainly because I thought it was going to be difficult to get specific 'Kep' related training sessions in when in different cities for the first time.

The race started at 7am and for the first time at Kep I wasn't nervous or over thinking things. Whether that was because we weren't in a rush getting there in the morning or because I was doing the 100km this year or maybe because I wasn't sure what to expect as far as my own performance goes. Whatever the reason I was feeling really good standing on the start line chatting to friends and ready for what the day was going to bring.

Early on in the race I kept things really conservative and let good mate James and a few others doing the 75km option take off and do the pace setting up front. They were flying along and I had no intention of trying to keep up with them at all. About 5km in I settled in with a group of 75km runners being good mates Mick Francis, Tim Eva and Sean Coops. It was really cool doing a race in my own back yard chatting along with friends as we were cruising along the heritage trail. The photo's show this well thanks to the fantastic camera work of Steve Fraser. Check out his work here.

At the 19km aid station at Clackline I arrived with only Mick and Andrew Wait who had joined us along the road section just before Clackline. After a quick bottle swap and stocking up on more gels and Hammer Perpetuem I was off again heading for aid station 2 at Wooroloo. Wooroloo was another 24km along the trail and was much of the same kind of trail since the start in Northam. Along this section we passed the infamous Bakers Hill pie shop which is always a favourite for the volunteers and support crew, including Mrs Hawker whom happened to be in the shop when I ran past as I found out from Rob Rob who must have finished his pie quickly to get back out on the trail.

Not long after Bakers Hill was where Andrew made a bit of a gap on Mick and I and was looking really strong and comfortable. Mick made a quick stop at the 34km mark to top up water and nutrition where I then made a bit of a break on Mick. At Wooroloo Andrew took a bit longer than Mick and I as we left the aid after another re-stock of supplies. My plan from Wooroloo (43km) to Mt Helena Aid (61km) was to pick up the pace as the trail flattened out during this section. After leaving the aid and a few words with Mick I started making my way to Helena. This section although relatively flat still had a few ups and downs that I had forgotten about but my goal pace of 4:40min/km was being achieved pretty comfortably. As I had left aid 2 I found out that James and the lead 75km guys were a touch over 15mins ahead of me, so naturally as I was heading for Mt Helena I was asking for time updates as I could. By the time I got to Mt Helena I was only 6min behind those lead guys and had secretly hoped to catch them. The aid station at Mt Helena went super smooth, as they had done all day thanks to  Liz and her sweet aid station skills. I left Helena feeling really good and was really looking forward to the next section of the trail to the Belleview (80km) aid.

Mt Helena to Belleview was pretty uneventful, as I had done all day I was keeping tabs on my hydration and nutrition making sure I didn't forget to take my gels or endurolytes as I sometimes do. I was also continuing to make sure I wasn't overdoing things on the downhills as I knew this could come back to haunt me in the final 20km to the finish. I had a great time running along the Heritage Trail through John Forrest National Park and it was really nice to see so many people out and about and plenty of kids cruising around on bikes along the trail. Belleview aid was short and sweet getting what I needed off Liz including an extra soft flask of water to take as things had heated up as the sun came out for a while. Then it was time for me to tackle the final 20km of uphill trails to the finish line at Mundaring Weir.

Emotions were high as I left the final aid station and headed for the finish. I have wanted to do the 100km at Kep for a couple of years now and it was so great to finally be leaving Belleview knowing that soon I would finish the 100. The whole day up until that point had been such a blast, running with mates, seeing my wife at aid stations and being amongst such a fantastic group of people in this race.

As I knew they would, the final hills of the last 20km started to hurt. A couple of times in the last 20km I stopped and walked very briefly as I started questioning my pacing from early on. These stops were only brief and I got moving well again pretty quickly. During this final section I had one of those unsure moments where one has to decide whether to overtake a fellow runner on the trails or not pending on whether you think you can hold this pace. The fellow runner was a young lady running along with her dog so surely I could make the move right...? I took a few moments to decide and thought I might as well give it a crack. I'll be honest and say I was pretty much running scared for the first time in the race as I really really didn't want to be re-overtaken by a young lady taking her schnitzel poodle pup thing for its afternoon exercise. This in hindsight was really good for me as it took my mind off the task at hand for a brief while and enabled me to get back on track.

As I approached Mundaring Town, approx. 6.5km from the finish I had a new lease of life in the legs and felt pretty awesome. I think this is what some refer to as the runners high, it was freaking  great! Instantly my pace went from 5:10ish to 4:30min/km and dropping. I knew this section of single track so well and was absolutely loving it. I had Bryn Donkersloot following me on bike doing a bit of video footage at this stage which was a nice bit of company. I remember saying to him with about 5km to go that things could get ugly in the last couple of km as I intended on picking up the pace from here to the finish. My final 5km went like a breeze as I was clocking km splits of around 4:30min/km and a final km of 4:05 as I flew up the hill to the finish line at the Perth Hills Conservation Centre. I stopped the clock in 8:17:06 for the win and course record by a touch over 45 minutes.

I was absolutely stoked to take the win and I surprised myself with the time I ran. Our time in the US meant that my training was sporadic at best and nowhere near my usual training volume. I think I might have averaged 40-50km a week in the US which is some 100ish km short of normal.  This definitely helped in some ways as I was much fresher than normal but now I am excited what time might be possible on the back of a good training block.

Thanks to my sponsors Hoka One One and RaceReady for their continued support and assisting me with my running. A huge thank you to Rob Donkersloot and his fantastic group of volunteers and support people who make this race happen. Congratulations to Mick Thwaites for running a 100km p.b and Tim for cracking the 10hour barrier for the first time. Well done to my training partner James who backed up at Kep with a solid 5:51 in the 75km for second place, and also to everyone else who ran in the Kep Ultra!

As always I couldn't do any of this if it wasn't for the love and support of my amazing wife. For those of you who saw us at transitions, we have things pretty efficient and organised, and always time for a kiss ;)

All things going well I hope to be lining up again next year and look forward to see what the 2014 Kep might bring.

There is also some video footage to come soon from this years race! Will post here soon!!

For those interested the gear I used was:

  • Hoka One One Bondi Speeds
  • RaceReady Active V Notch shorts
  • Injinji Performance 2.0 toe socks
  • Compressport R2 Race & Recovery Calf sleeves
  • Hoka One One run shirt
  • Buff Headwear 
  • Amphipod 20oz Handhelds
  • Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab belt set
  • Gu Gels (approx. 10-12 gels)
  • Hammer Perpetuem & Endurolytes

Knowing Liz is always there is a pretty good reason to keep pushing hard :)
Image: Ron McGlinn

1 minute to go
Image: Steve Fraser

And we're off!!
Image: Steve Fraser

Early on, L-R: Me, Mick Francis, Tim Eva, Sean Coops (Easily the most enjoyable part of the run for me)
Image: Steve Fraser

Following the pipeline trail
Image: Steve Fraser

Cruising through WA bushland
Image: Steve Fraser

Me and Mick, trying to keep things steady on the fast road section before Aid 1 at Clackline
Image: Steve Fraser

Just before Aid 1, Mick, Andrew Wait & Me
Image: Steve Fraser

Long section of flat trail before Aid 2 at Wooroloo
Image: Steve Fraser

Me and Mick at Wooroloo aid station
Image: Steve Fraser

Ready for the swap
Image: Ron McGlinn

Final few metres
Image: Ron McGlinn

Crossing the finish
Image: Ron McGlinn

Stoked to take the win in 8:17 and take a touch over 45mins off the old c.r
Image: Ron McGlinn