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