Wow! So there it is for another year, and what a year it was in terms of times. Four course records (male and female in both 100 mile and 100km), four gold medals and numerous people sticking two fingers up to the sub 30 hour mark. Up until this year, anything under sub 30 would guarantee you a place in the top ten. So what’s changed?
But before we try to delve into the ‘why?’ a big congratulations to both Andrew and Meredith. I ran section two with Meredith and she was running very easily and within herself. When I was around 1km from the Basin, Meredith was heading back out, but she had a far different face on her from when we were chatting a few hours earlier. The game face was on. She smashed it. Andrew too. I don’t get to see any of him during the race, but I know from training with him that it was no surprise to see what he did. But back to the question at hand…
The main thing on everyone’s lips before and during this race is the weather. But just how much of a factor is it? There’s no denying that it makes a difference. Of course you’re going to be able to manage your race and your body much better when it’s in the high 20’s, compared to the mid to high 30’s. But I tell you what, it was still damn hot at Congewai school! That said, the weather does play a big part in how well this race is run, which of course has knock-on effects in terms of how your body reacts and the things you need to do it keep it in check and running as efficiently as you can.
BUT. I personally think the reason why we’ve seen so many quick times this year is down to the fact that there’s simply more quality competition in the field than ever before, and they all want to win it, badly. Four guys all going under sub-24 hours and Ultra168’s very own Poppy Darrel running 24:44 and still only good enough for sixth place!
As this run matures, it’s only logical that it will attract more and more people who traditionally run the shorter stuff, and whom want a crack at what is the ultimate 100 miler in Australia. Plus there’s the added bonus of trying to knock-off three-time winner and co-team mate here at Ultra168, Andrew Vize.
People have commented at how unbelievable his time was yesterday, but I think for us, the guys who train with him, it was no surprise. We’ll let Andrew piece together his own race report, but from someone who trains with him pretty much everyday, I don’t think there is anyone who trains as hard as he does, but most importantly wants it as bad too.
And this is where the mental aspects of running a race like GNW come into play. I’m not talking about the mental head space required to finish, but the head space required to physically push yourself to your outer limits:
- Can I run this bit?
- How hard can I really push myself?
- Can I run this hill?
This is also where knowing the course comes into play too, again not from a navigational point of view, but in terms of being able to know when to push it and when to hold back. When to take some cookies out the jar, or when to leave them for later on. For some reason, (and we see it every year), people go like bats out of hell to checkpoint two, and then it’s carnage on the third section – the toughest section of the entire race. Knowing the course well pays so many dividends to you on race day in terms of understanding how to manage your race and build a time around it.
Anyway, there are some initial thoughts on the run yesterday and why we’ve seen so many quicker times. The fact of the matter is that the quality is increasing and the know-how around how to run this race is getting increasingly intelligent too. Vizey sets the bar for both of these things. The question is – what’s next?