A Great Weekend in California

I’ve been thinking about getting this blogging thing going again. On the one hand, friends who write well inspire you to get back into the practise. On the other, when they’re doing it so well, it’s good enough reason to share theirs instead 🙂

To be fair, on top of being a great host and a good friend (who I’ve now actually hung out with – yay!) Jill’s a published author whose books Be Brave, Be Strong, Ghost Trails, and 8,000 Miles Across Alaska are all quality reads for fans of adventure and extreme endurance.

So here’s Jill’s latest post from Jill Outside. She sums our weekend up nicely – except for the unsatisfied bit. To run again with my friend Beat, to finally meet Jill off the internet, to get sweaty biking then sweaty running, even with the race being cancelled on the Sunday with short notice – I had a blast. Thanks guys!

Jill tells it better here.

Fun was had

Fun was had

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Coast2Kosci 2014 Race Report, by Roger Hanney

Writing race reports after properly long runs easily turns into an exercise in self-indulgence. Let’s face it, there’s a reason the whole world’s eyes turn to watch Usain Bolt run for 9.5 seconds but generally glaze over when runners talk about feeling a second or third wind at the second rising of the sun.

So, Coast2Kosci 2014, short version – ran smooth, hobbled a bit, got wet, how fun was that?!

Coast2Kosci 2014, longer version.

It would be fun to one time read a race report where somebody really complained about their crew. Something along the lines of, “these guys couldn’t tell a sports drink from a ginger biscuit. I called them Team Guantanamo because they frequently blasted loud noise at me and wouldn’t pass the water, choosing instead to leave me in uncomfortable positions when all I wanted to do was go to the toilet.” This is not that report.

Where else would you be at 5:30am on a Friday?

Where else would you be at 5:30am on a Friday?

If you’re going to run 240km alongside 49 of the most committed endurance runners in Australia on the first weekend in December, it’s helpful to have at least one person on the crew who knows what that distance feels like. It’s even better if they’ve done the same race themselves. To have 3 such runners on your crew, and for each of them to be a great mate (or girlfriend… or course recordholder) is ridiculously fortunate.

Dave Clear, Rob Mason, Jess Baker – you legends, thank you.

Starting line, Boydtown Beach 5:30am Friday 5/12/14

Like a joke that’s only funny to a handful of people, you just had to be there. It’s like a family reunion for ultrarunners, in the middle of almost nowhere and before the sun has even had a coffee. Random.

Continue reading

Posted in Badwater, Bondi 4, C2K, Challenger ATR, Extreme, Hoka OneOne Australia, road running, trail running, ultra, Ultrabalaton | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

You know you’re running 240km when…

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 12.45.18 pmSo this is it, a week from today, 50 runners each with a support crew tagging along by car will pound out 240km on foot from the south-eastern shoreline of New South Wales to the top of Australia.

We have all subjected ourselves to different methods and levels of training. Some of us have raced a lot, some of us hardly at all. Some runners have made it down to do course-specific training, many of us have instead just tried to find the longest hilliest roads we can near our home locations.

Now it’s taper time. Even as the legs itch to go for a run, some of us worry that if we take even 6 days off running we’ll forget how to do it. Ironically, the other favourite activity now left to us is eating but with our favourite calorie-burning activity on hold, we’re on reduced rations for this kind of fun too.


Early morning training brings its own rewards

When training goes well, it reinforces a positive belief in the outcome of the race itself. We know who the top runners are, but many of us simply hope to reach an eventual placing somewhere in the midpack without any bones breaking or tissues tearing or organs collapsing. And if they do, well, we hope that training will still give us the strength we need to drag ourselves across the line before we get timed out.

Nutrition strategies are in place, timing plans set to dream, pragmatic, and parachute finishes have been worked out, I’m still thinking about which socks are going to get the thumbs up, and have obviously already made my shoe choices. Super crews are champing at the bit, ready to enforce hydration needs and keep runners on course at night when the sleepy zigzags set in anytime between 9pm and 5am.

The great thing about running 150 miles is that it’s always going to be a new experience. Even running 100km on the same course has a particular freshness to it each time you race, but with a race as long as Coast2Kosci anything can happen. It might be scorching heat, headwinds, dehydration, rain, extreme cold, poor visibility, injuries, blisters, nuclear chafing, nausea, fatigue, mental weakness, or any other factor that can slip beyond the runner’s control, but whatever it is, you know that your only choice will be to deal with it as efficiently as possible and bust on through, regardless. Running 240km is a massive challenge, no doubt, but the real challenge lies in how you deal with whatever happens during that 240km.

Seaman's Hut at the 228km mark. Still some real work to do here, but you know you're going to get there now.

Seaman’s Hut at the 228km mark. Still some real work to do here, but you know you’re going to get there now.

To paraphrase half of the Race Director team, Paul Every, ‘ours is a sport where you don’t have the luxury of thinking about anything beyond your next step’.

Racing starts 5:30am, Friday December 5 Australian Eastern Standard Time – follow here. Messages of support welcome!

If I'm looking this happy on December 5th, my crew probably need to kick my ass a lot harder.

If I’m looking this happy on December 5th, my crew probably need to kick my ass a lot harder.

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Sakura Michi International Nature Run 2014 pt.2

by Roger Hanney – with thanks as always to my workplace and insanity-enabler Hoka OneOne Australia – Hoka One One is the only running shoe with enough crazy genius for my liking.

Having already run for over 10 hours, thoughts turned to evening and the night, cold, and distance ahead. We had long put the city of Nagoya behind us, and although the increased steepness beyond the 100km mark wasn’t expected to be savage, the sustained gradual climb of the last few hours had definitely been getting into all the places you’d expect – hips, glutes, head!

Running through the rolling green beauty of Japan, dotted with towns and villages that seemed to live so comfortably within their natural setting, it was hard not to feel both blessed by the moment and intrigued by the prospect of what lay ahead. Any ultramarathon is a landscape in its own right. A familiar landscape seen and experienced through a different lens after an unusually long time on feet or in an atypical physical or emotional landscape is an almost entirely different place than usual, a place that defies simple cartography or contours, and can’t be shared through anything as neutral as a camera.

Within the realm of exultation and fatigue, all flavours and colours take on an emotional electricity. Maybe the runners who don’t experience that change too deeply have an advantage over those who seek it, or perhaps the opposite is true.

2,000 cherry blossoms, 1,000 awesome volunteers, and 250km of friendly road going from one side of Japan to the other. What's not to smile about?  :)

2,000 cherry blossoms, 1,000 awesome volunteers, and 250km of friendly road going from one side of Japan to the other. What’s not to smile about 100km in?

Which ever may be the case, this was amazing. Every cherry blossom exploding in the slowly lowering sunlight was a personal message from Ryoji Sato, the humble bus driver who had personally planted each tree more than four decades before. Each one was a promise that the next 150+ kilometres would hold incredible beauty to balance the pain that must surely come soon. Each cheered ‘Kudasai!’, and although they didn’t yet implore me to keep going I expected that the struggle would begin in the deep dark. It doesn’t mean anything to run the first 50km of a 250km race well. Anybody can do that, and in fact the inexperienced runner like me is more likely to do that. But to run the last 50km of a 250km run well, that’s the elusive goal. Continue reading

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Sakura Michi International Nature Run 2014

In April this year, ultrahottie Jess Baker and I travelled to Japan for a three and a half week visit that took us everywhere, from Hiroshima to most of the way up Mt Fuji, to a sumo stable in Tokyo and the temples of Kyoto, but the inspiration and purpose of our visit was an incredibly special ultra marathon, its full title being the Sakura Michi Kokusai International Nature Run.

The finish line in 2013, pic by Diane Weaver while waiting for Paul Every to reach that extremely special final tree

The finish line in 2013, pic by Diane Weaver while waiting for Paul Every to reach that extremely special final tree

One thing that draws many runners to ultramarathon is surely that this sport we love is so far from ordinary. Even most marathoners will never run 50km, so the experience of running a 100km race is an extremely special thing and should be treasured, because it is a feeling of struggle, achievement, satisfaction and life affirmation that many will never know.

So, within an already extraordinary sport, Sakura Michi is a truly extraordinary race. Why?

  • single stage 250km road run
  • close to 1,000 volunteers
  • more than 40 aid stations
  • crosses Japan, one of the few countries where endurance running is truly appreciated
  • follows the path of over 2,000 cherry blossoms planted by a great man, Ryoji Sato, as they are blooming
  • inspired and coordinated by some of the organisers of the original 420km Hiroshima to Nagasaki Peace Run

Continue reading

Posted in Coast2Kosci, diabetes, event news, Hoka One One, racing the planet, Sahara, Sakura Michi, type 1, ultramarathon, Vive le France!! | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Great North Walk 100-miler Part 3: It’s About Time

Octember was really something and I would recommend to anybody that you do this:

once a year take something that you love doing, add the challenge of aiming to do it in a way that you never have before – whether by intensity, duration, volume, or venue, and use everything you know to get it done. As long as the outcome is unknowable and the challenge actually feels challenging and at the last moment possibly even scary, you’re in for an adventure and you’d better not back down. Continue reading

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Great North Walk 100-miler, racing the clock Sufferfest pt. 2

Just like the miler itself, this race report is taking longer than expected. During this burst of energy our intrepid runner and crew make it to the final checkpoint, Mooney Mooney…

When we last spoke, Super Pacer Jess and I were on our way out of the 103km checkpoint at Yarramalong, headed into the deep Tolkien on the way to Somersby. Oblivious to the fact that we only made it out of the school grounds a half hour before cutoff, I had only managed to bribe myself to get there with the promise of a 15-minute blanket nap. The lights, the excitement of seeing Graham again and now especially Jess had banished the sleep zigzags and rational thought long enough to get us out of there without the wimp stop. This would prove significant later, and leave me with the lasting impression that it’s okay to lie to yourself in an Ultramarathon, if that’s all it takes to keep moving forward.

Necessary background: my fiancée Jess is a running machine. She knocked out 9:29 for an evenly paced 100km at the Ned Kelly Chase just two weeks prior to GNW. It’s the first race she’s done on bitumen in the two years since I’ve known her and was always framed as a taste test for Coast2Kosci. She placed 8th overall and the only woman to outrun her was Shannon-Leigh Litt, New Zealand National 100km Champion. Good going!

I am a big Meredith fan. She kicks much arse, even more than she did on the day by winning the 100km and going 3rd outright in 13:xx

I am a big Meredith fan. She kicks much arse, even more than she did on the day by winning the 100km and going 3rd outright in 13:xx

More specifically, she and rock star Meredith Quinlan own the Great North Walk, with dominating times on the miler and the outright record for the 250+ km from Newcastle to Sydney. In 2012, with over 11,000m total ascent on harshly tricky, rocky, twisting, turning, pitching and diving trail, and only 40 minutes sleep, these two endurance badasses knocked over 10 hours off the old record, hit the Sydney CBD in just under 55 hours, and no boy has even got close since. I didn’t so much pace as keep them company over the last 50km then, and couldn’t have asked for a better suffer buddy over the 71km of suck-it-up that still lay ahead.

But the start of our run into the night can’t have been too encouraging. Still spooked by the long and near-fatal nausea of the preceding day, I was keeping well below any kind of red line. Walking anything resembling any kind of gentle rise – exactly the way that I hate – I couldn’t even mirror Jess’ sunny disposition. In fact, we were barely a hundred metres along the dirt track beside the road that starts the heartbreaking Bumble Hill and I was already thinking life was not meant to be like this, stumbling along a stupidly up and down trail of rocks, rubble, and cast off beer cans when there was a perfectly good road just metres away leading to exactly the same destination. Damn it. Continue reading

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