Mick Donges has a lot to carry on his shoulders. For the last couple of years on the NSW trail running circuit he has been touted as “the next big thing !” This year, as last year, is being seen as his breakthrough year. And 2012 is definitely shaping up that way. With wins away from home as well as dominance in his own back yard of the Blue Mountains Mick was announced today as one of 4 new members of the Salomon Australia Trail Running Team. He gets to put his reputation on the line as he is one of the favourites for this weekends Tarawera Ultra
I caught up with Mick today to get his feedback on this news and also his encounters with Anton and the other competitors. In addition over the last few months we have been training with Mick and I was able to find out more about the “Running Nomad”
What does if feel like to be selected to race for Salomon?
I am so so excited, very fortunate and it is a bit like a dream. They are really at the forefront in trail running, putting a huge amount of research and testing into the products. I love what they are doing for the trail running industry and it’s simply just great gear for the Mountains.
Have you caught up with Anton ? Thoughts impressions ?
Who else is a threat ?
What does a typical training week look like?
Good question. My training program varies anywhere from quieter weeks of 100km to bigger weeks of about 170km. This includes some quite hard sessions. Previously in training I was doing ‘Easier’ kilometres
Do you think you could have won Bogong to Hotham?
(Ed’s note the 2012 B2H was called off half way through the event due to gale force winds and near freezing temperatures). No, although it did cross my mind. If I won no-one would have been more surprised than me. I was in the lead for a while and I was having a great time but I was also packing darkies. With that many top runners on your heels many of who are really strong finishers and sensible racers, anything could have happened in the second half. It would have been interesting to see how the second half would have played out. I was just looking forward to shaving some time of my 8h40m time from 2 years ago. It’ll have to wait.
You have recently been selected to run the Ultra Trail Mt Blanc in Chamonix this August, what will your preparation involve? Will you spend time at altitude and over there on the trails and if so for how long?
My whole year is basically geared around this race. It will be my first 100miler and through the year I plan to step up the distances to build up my endurance. TNF100 will be my longest in Australia in May and then I’m looking at a few longer races in Europe a couple of months out from UTMB. Over the next few months I’d like to train some more in the Victorian Alps and then do the bulk of training in the Blue Mountains. The Kanangra wilderness on the south-western edge of the Blue Mountains is somewhere I’m excited about utilising for some long training runs.
Then I’m keen to base myself somewhere in Europe for a few months and live at altitude and train in some of the greater mountains there, ideally for a couple of months. Not sure where yet. Maybe Swiss Alps, Pyrenees or the Dolomites in Italy. My current saving schedule suggests I’ll be camping and living off wild honey and I’ll have to sell the Rocky to get a plane fare there. Be good to possibly catch some of the Tour de France too. I’m just dreaming, but you kind of have to.
What is your preferred distance?
Another good question. As a teenager the 100metre was my best event. 400m was too far. Now I’ve run several 100k races and I’ve entered a 100mile race. I really enjoy the longer races, the journey you go through, the tactics. You can eat nice food, listen to music and take your time.
It feels all a little too rushed for anything less than 60km. I’m still unsure what distance I’m best suited for though. Probably 100metres.
What sort of time do you think is needed to win TNF100?
I think something closer to sub 9hrs. Everyone thought last year was quick, this year I think will be quicker again. I’m seeing South African runner and 2011 podium winner Ryan Sandes as the strongest contender but there will be a whole bunch of runners nipping at his heels. I strongly believe that the Aussies won’t let the internationals take the top places easily, if at all. The home ground advantage combined with an amazing trail running community behind us will see it red hot up the front.
Who do you train with?
I mostly train alone. When I’m in the Blue Mountains I’ll often join in for runs with some of the Blue Mountains Marathon Clinic (BMMC) crew. Other runs include the Coffee run with Leura Icebergs and the Rooster run with Ewan Horsburgh. Ewan is great to run with but he’ll call me and say ‘You want to go for a quick 80k?’ Often we are training for radically different events.
What lessons have you taken away from your Aussie representative duties in Wales last year?
It was a great feeling to be part of a team, and a great feeling to represent Australia. I felt like I could be a larrikin and my nationality excused this. For me it was a taste of international competition and I got chance to meet some great athletes. I thought connecting and interacting with the NZ runners was excellent and I am excited about the future Trans Tasman interactions.
Gear choice? What shoe are you racing in at the moment?
Every race I’ve done since TNF100 last year has been in the Salomon Speedcross. To me it seems to be the good all round trail shoe. I’m trying to get my hands on or feet into the new Salomon Sense. I’m sure you guys at ultra168 will have a pair before I do. You’re probably wearing them right as you’re reading this. The Sense would be good for fast racing.
I Just started using Salomon S-lab 12 pack and it’s made running with a pack fun. I think the pack is an excellent product and so specific in its design. It’s moved away from the traditional idea of a backpack to carry school books to a new product entirely.
Who are your immediate competitors?
There are so many. Depends on the race distance. Andrew Tuckey, Brendan Davies, Andrew Lee, Clarke McClymont are the usual suspects.
Damon Goerke in the longer races. I hear Ben “SleepTrain” Artup has woken up and is coming back into form. Ewan Horsburgh for anything over 200km. Then there are the top guys in the longer distances with Andrew Vize, David Eadie, Mike Le Roux. If I go up the distance I may be up against these powerhouses.
Plans for No Roads in 2012?
No roads trail runners have a busy schedule for 2012. Many races in different parts of Australia. There are also 8 of us now instead of 4 so it means we can spread ourselves a little further. Many races that have a team component you will likely see a No Roads team. Possibly a few overseas races too.
This is all still in planning. I think because of my plans to head overseas I will miss a few No Roads races in the middle of the year.
Do you cross train?
I occasionally ride my pushbike around. Ideally I’d like to ride more. I’m in Bright currently and their crazy about their cycling here and it might rub off on me.
I also like to hike and explore out in the bush. Steep climbs, long walks, this is really great cross training. I think to succeed in some of the European races you need a degree of mountaineering.
Best of luck for the future Mick and we can’t wait to catch up again plenty more runs and races.
Here is a sweet video Mick put together combining footage from the very successful Ultra168 Victorian Alpine training weekend. Enjoy.