You grew up one of 6, in an active family at the foot of the Blue Mountains. From a local road running group at age 12, progressing to the 6 ft track in 2001 your running career has become something to talk about! You’re now an inspiring father of 4 yourself who seems to be on the trails for the camaraderie of it all. Welcome to Wild Earth and thanks for the opportunity to give our running community a greater insight to your world of running.
- How have you remained so consistent in ultra distance racing over the years? You never seem to take a hit, have you really been injury free all this time?
I think my consistency comes down to making good practice a habit and doing so with sustainable and manageable efforts. I think I do this in accordance with my limitations and rock and roll along with runs, doing some earlier than planned and some later. I believe this helps me remain injury free. Except on one occasion a few years ago I suffered from planta fascia for a couple of months. As I find it hard to sit down for any length of time, I overcame this injury by running through it. This was a quite painful at first, I changed to running on flatter terrain and softer surfaces (grass + athletic track mainly), and by self massaging the area which I believed was causing the injury (upper calf) and putting my foot in a slurry of ice after most runs.
- If you weren’t running all the time what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I also love camping & fishing, so probably a lot more of these activities.
- What was the best piece of advice you have ever received in regards to running - from who?
My mum used to tell me “in order to run long and strong, you have to earn the right first” i.e. firstly build a platform / base. She also used to tell me when I was young not to run on concrete! I've had trouble sometimes not adhering to her first bit of advice, but have been pretty good with the second, except during work lunch time runs. I work in Sydney & most of the time I have no choice but to hit the pavement.
- As a runner who trains almost daily; What are you favourite recovery tactics so you can stay at your best.
In no particular order.... adequate sleep, good hydration & nutrition, easy recovery jogs and switching off mentally. The latter is quite easy as I often have no choice due to family & work commitments!
- Talking about recovery, you never seem to wear compression even in the longer races, what do you think of the benifits of something like claf sleeves?
I've never really thought about it to be honest. Probably from being so used to just wearing the basics over a very long time. I do like the look of calf sleeves however and might have to give them a go one day!
- Do you have a crew who you run with or a mate who gets you out the door when motivation is low?
I don’t run in organised coaching groups or anything like that but run occasionally with a group of mates. Motivation is not a problem for me and whilst I do enjoy running with mates, I do most of my training / running on my own as I often have to fit it around family and work commitments.
- Do you have running highs and lows or do you just love it all the time?
I mainly experience highs, in particular after a race or a solid / hard training effort. Worst case I might just get a bit flat. Whilst I do run alot, which I love, I always strive to get the right balance and this seems to work.
8. Can you name your favourite race as a whole, and why?
The Six Foot Track Marathon. I've done 17 of these despite telling myself “never again” after the first one I did. Two days later I was planning my training for the next years race!!
This race has everything and will test every aspect of a runner’s arsenal. Technical, downhill, uphill, endurance and speed. You’re on the pump the whole way and if get the latter wrong in the first 15km down to the Cox’s River crossing and also under prepared for the upcoming two big ascents, this race has the uncanny knack of letting you know who’s boss by spitting you out deeper into it. There is also an amazing camaraderie between all runners as well as officials, volunteers and supporters which is quite unique compared to other events. The steep start down Nellies Glen and amphitheatre like finish at Jenolan Caves House are both spectacular and must be experienced.
9. What has been the hardest race for you?
Leadville 100 Mile in Colorado USA. My one & only "miler" so far, which I did this in August 2016 and the altitude... Oh that altitude – it’s a different beast. But despite this, I want to go back there and do it again.
10. What, then would be your favourite race moment? Has anything topped finishing with Stu Gibson in 2010?
Equalling with Stu in TNF100 2010 was definitely an amazing day and one that I have very fond memories of. He’s a champion bloke too who’s done some amazing things and looking back, it was an absolute pleasure to run with him (from about 35km mark) that day and share the podium with him.
Being “picky” however, there’s two events that just top this which I can’t split…. Second place in the 2009 Six Foot Track Marathon, which for me was one of those races where everything fell into place. After the finish I felt like I could have kept running for another 10km!
The other event was winning my first ever 100km race, the 2009 TNF100. What a day! Everything was a first for me. My first 100km, never out on the course before (except for a portion of 6 foot track and Nellies Glen) and I had no idea about pacing it, nutrition and hydration. I didn’t know what to expect. It was all new to me. Hence I approached it like going on a big adventure and never entertained the thought of even placing in the top 10, let alone winning. I vividly remember the raw emotions of it all and unlike 2009 Six foot track marathon of where I could have kept running for another 10km, on this occasion I could not have run another step!I was spent with about 4 or 5km’s to go!
11. Are you fussy about shoes? Do you have a favourite for each distance? Like would you wear something different in a 10km training run as opposed to a 100km race? What are your favourites at the moment?
I didn't think I was, but I now think I am after thinking about my answer to this question! The type of shoe I prefer to wear depends on terrain and how long a oarticular run is. For runs of say 10 to 40km and the surface not too gnarly, I prefer the North Face Ultra Trail III''s, but anything longer I go with the North Face Endurus and or North Face Flight Rob Krar Trail (RKT), with the latter being my favourite. These are super light, soft and grippy underfoot. For steep and gnarly terrain I’ll don the North Face Ultra Verticals.
12. Do you eat really clean in the lead up and during a race or do you just go for it knowing that you’ll burn through calories like a bonfire? Have you tried going Keto?
Most of the time I eat clean & healthy, but in saying that I am not super strict on myself either and I don’t mind a hamburger, pizza and hot chips every now and again. I'm also a bit of a sucker for chocolate & when I get a craving for some I don't fight it! Keto? No... In fact I just had to look up the meaning of it.
13. You have logged a lot of km’s in the Blue Mountains but what other Australian locations do you love to run? Where do you do most of your training?
I've done a few races in the high plains of Victoria and loved it own there. It’s a shame this beautiful part of the world is a long way from home, as I'd otherwuse do more training & racing there. I do most of my training in the Blue Mountains.
14. Are you training for Sky Run? What’s the training plan look like for that? How are you getting the altitude you need?
I was training for the world sky run championships but have decided to withdraw from it due to personal reasons. Up until I made this decision, I was gradually building the elevation & distance week by week. Elevation training consisted of 1km hill reps (14% grade - 155mr ascent each) near home & some more gnarly climbs up at Katoomba. I was then going to progress on this by regular runs through the Grose Valley at Blackheath in the upper Blue Mountains. But alas....!
15. What do you enjoy about running?
Sense of freedom and wellbeing it provides. It’s also a sport you don’t need to go too far for and or require a big list of resources. At the end of the day all you need is yourself, open up the front door, go out and put one foot in front of the other.
16. You spend a lot of alone time on trails, do you have a clear head or where is your mind at? Is there a random song that gets stuck in there? Are you thinking of what you’re going to eat when you get home?
Most of the time I have a clear head & when doing my weekly long runs I don't really think about too much.I don't often get a song stuck in the head luckily as that can be very irritating if it’s a song I don’t like! I get into a zone, think about nothing & get a feel for how I'm running and before I know it, the run's done!
17. What is you’re favourite post run pig out?
I get quite ravenous after a race, so nothing is off limits here.
I’m more watchful though after long training runs of 3 – 4 hours. I often do these on an empty stomach and only with water during. So when I’m back home from these I'll have something more akin with breakfast such as a bananas, weet bix & vegemite on toast or a large shake with full cream milk, bananas, raw eggs and honey. I also try to re-hydrate efficiently as well afterwards and won’t touch a hot drink like tea or coffee for quite a few hours after as these de-hydrate me.
18. What motivates you to train and race so intensely?
I don’t require too much motivation. I love all aspects of training and racing, including the overall health benefits it brings and therefore am always willing to explore, "stay in the game" and try to better myself
19. What would other race participants be surprised to know about you?
Probably not too much of a surprise, but whilst leading a 100km race I missed / went straight past a turn off at the 97km mark only to get lost, ending up with a DNF!! Not one of my greatest memories!