If you haven’t seen it already, the Down Under 135 is the newest ultra on the Aussie racing calendar, with a definite slant towards attracting those who like to big and long. Perhaps pitching itself in line with some other famous 135 milers, it’s great to have another mega-long race to add to the books here in Australia.
One of the first big names to put their name to the starters list is Victorian ultra runner Kevin Muller. A stalwart of the Australian ultra running scene for many years, Kevin has always been there or thereabouts in the podiums of most races he competes in, as well as being known for a lover of the long stuff. After many years of podiums, he went a couple of spots better at Coast2Kosci this year to record his first win, a sweet moment I’m sure. In this interview with the Down Under 135 guys, Kevin outlines a little more about his running history as well as his training and hopes for the race. The Down Under 135 is also part of the Ultra168 Supporters Club where just 10 spots are free to members at a discounted rate of 10% off standard entry fee.
What’s your running pedigree / history?
Aussie Rules has been the main sport in my life. I ran occasionally to keep fit for footy and would run one or two fun runs per year. After spending several nights waiting in long queues for a taxi I developed a habit of running home from pubs, clubs and parties etc. On one occasion I was half way home and decided to lay down on the nature strip and have a snooze. I woke some time later cold, sore, dehydrated, had a throbbing headache and was no closer to home. After this I decided once I started running I wouldn’t stop until I reached my destination.
In 1994 I was talked into running the Sutherlind SLSC half marathon in Sydney with some army mates. I did some partying the day before and I surprisingly felt fine for the first 10kms. The feeling didn’t last and I suddenly needed to go to the toilet. There weren’t any toilets on the course and I spent the rest of the race desperately trying to hold everything in and only just made it. It was 14 years before I dared doing another race longer than 10 km.
In 1999 I joined the Wodonga Athletic Club to keep fit over summer and started to run more regularly but it was not until 2008 that I did my first marathon in Melbourne after another army workmate challenged me to race him. I was under trained, went out too hard and suffered badly in what became a valuable learning experience. I could barely walk for days afterward. I have never been so sore from any race either before or since.
My sisters were volunteering at some of the Trails Plus events and I decided to sign up on a whim for my first ultra at Maroondah Dam 50km in February 2011. I loved the relaxed laid back attitude of the ultra-community and was hooked. I broke my left leg playing footy a few months later so I didn’t do my next ultra until the Maroondah 50 km the following year. I have been doing 13 or 14 ultras every year since then.
Talk to us about your lifestyle and how you approach being ‘human’ in 2017
I have always kept myself reasonably fit but have gradually improved my health and lifestyle over the last 20 years. I enjoy the feeling of being fit. I used to be on a cycle of getting fit for footy and becoming very unfit during the off-season especially during Christmas/New Years.
I usually drive my car to work on Monday mornings and leave it there and drive home on Friday afternoons. I run to and from work the remainder of the week which 9kms each way. Sometimes I will get home and go straight back out the door to take my dog for a run. I currently live and work in Brisbane’s north-western suburbs which are quite hilly. When I get to work I do army PT four morning per week. My weekends usually involve a parkrun on Saturday Mornings, a casual run of any distance in the afternoon then a long race or training run on Sundays.
My attitude towards running is very relaxed. I don’t follow a training program or keep a log of kms done. I feel if I did follow a training program my running would become to regimented and would feel like a chore instead something I enjoy. I always feel good after a run so if I am not feeling good I go for a run. I live within 3-4kms of Camp Mountain and D’Augullar National Park so I regularly train on hilly trails. I grew up in Werribee which is a dead flatland, I used to avoid hills but after several years of training on them in Albury Wodonga and Brisbane I now enjoy them.
What are your aims for DU, why have you chosen to race it?
My main goal is to finish and I am hoping to do this before it gets dark on the second night.
I love a challenge and think this race will very tough to finish. The first 50 k will put everyone into the hurt locker and it will take a lot of mental resilience to keep going. I had planned on doing this event in 2018 as I might be living back in Victoria by then. A few cards fell into place so I decided to enter this year. The race is in the middle of a designated work leave period and my brother lives close to the start area. I was going to do it 100% solo but my brother and sister have offered to help crew. They won’t be on the course pacing but will meet me at some of the checkpoints for re-supplies. I enjoy running solo and have only ever used a pacer in coast2kosci.
I am looking for to the challenge of DU135 and sharing the experience with others on the course. Will be great to see all the other runners before or after the Hepburn turnaround.
Have you been to Lerderderg, thoughts? If not what have you heard?
I have been sightseeing in Lederderg many years ago but was casually walking at the time. The elevation gain/loss in the first and last 50km is enough to realise completing this race will be quite an achievement.
How will you approach your race at DU135?
I will try not burn myself out in the first 50km, which is easier said than done. If there is anything in the legs after that, the next 117km could have some good running. Otherwise it is going to be a very long and painful experience. I expect the last 50km is going to really hurt regardless. I won’t be using pacers and am not planning on sleeping or stopping at checkpoints for more than 5 minutes.
Training undertaken in prep for the Down Under?
I will do plenty of hills training for this race. A lot of the preparation will be mentally preparing for the many hours of pushing the body to keep going.
Equipment & Nutrition.
I will use an Ultimate Direction backpack with a couple of water bottles on the front and will keep a couple of spares in the back with the compulsory gear. I haven’t decided on what trail shoes to use yet.
My nutrition will consist of gels and water/ Tailwind Nutrition Australia. I don’t get hungry during races so don’t plan on having anything else. I had 61 gels in C2K last year and my stomach handled it ok. If my stomach starts to feel bloated I take a salt tablet and that seems to help. I will take no-doze during the night if needed. Coke and other drinks make me throw-up during races.
If you’re interested to find out more about the Down Under 135, check out the website here.