Race Preview: Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker

Our Victorian cousins kick-off with one of the country’s largest ultra events on Friday, the Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker. This will see more than 700 teams walk from Wheelers Hill to Wesburn, through the beautiful Dandenong Ranges National Park. If you’re running, or if you have friends and family who want to see how you’re doing, don’t forget to send them to this link, where they can track any team’s progress: http://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/melbourne/teams/team-tracker/

Image from Oxfam

Trailwalker is where quite a few people cut their teeth into ultra-marathons for the very first time, as it gives them a taste for what’s required to enter and complete 100kms. Running, or walking in teams of four, the emphasis is very much on teamwork and getting everyone across the line together, and here at Ultra168 we think its awesome that so many people get to try the sport we love.

There are also a few teams at the pointy end that will aim to run the whole way, and hopefully break some records too. We understand there’s quite a bit of competition up front and we could see one of the teams break 10 hours this year. One such team is Trails Plus, which contains Ultra168 board members, Dave Eadie and Nikki Wynd. Having two AURA ultra-athletes of the year on your team is pretty good going, but they are also strongly supported by Darren Mooney and Scotty Orchard – both no strangers to pushing it hard.

The team has some lofty ambitions for this race, and their goal is to have a crack at the sub 10 barrier. We caught up with Dave to get the low down on the team and their training ahead of the race, which starts on Friday.

Dave Eadie and his team "Trails+" are gunning for a sub 10 time this year

How did you and the team get together for this attempt?

We all know each other from Ultra running. Nikki Wynd is the AURA Female Ultra Runner of the Year and is a training partner of Darren Mooney. Darren is a great ultra runner in his own right, as tough as nails and a regular competitor in many of the big ultras around Australia. Scotty Orchard is a great mate of mine who got me into Ultra running in 2006. Scotty is also an accomplished runner having represented Australia at the World Trail Champs in 2007 and recently ran 770km over 11 days from Canberra to Melbourne.

What made you want to go for that elusive sub 10 hour time?

Darren and I tried to put a team together last year and have a crack at a fast time. Unfortunately due to one of our runners getting sick during the day our plans went out the window.  I have run Trailwalker five times and really enjoy the event, but the sub 10 hr time presents a real challenge. As individuals each of our team could do it but combined on the day, but running as a team well that’s a different matter. It’s never been done before and there have been some strong teams so it can’t be an easy target.

Do you know who your competition is and how they’re going?

Yes we do, and by all accounts most are going very well. We respect them all as great individual runners, but as Teams I don’t believe they are any stronger than us. Everyone has to manage their own issues on the day and that becomes the biggest challenge. In my opinion pulling together four runners and creating a ‘champion team’ on the day is always going to be better than a team of champions.

What kind of training have you guys done?

Nothing that’s different to what we would normally, except that we have been doing a fair bit of speed work the last few months.

Scotty Orchard is coming off the a massive year and his 770km, 11 day Charity Run. Nikki and Darren have had an outstanding couple of years in the ultra scene with some awesome performances.  Nikki is the current is the AURA Female Ultra Runner of the Year so that’s speaks for it’s self in terms of her recent performances.

I have had some solid form over the last 12 months, but have focused a lot more on my speed since the 2011 C2K with the aim of running a fast 100km time at the National 100k Title in June, before I have a crack at the Badwater Ultra Marathon in July.

At the pointy end of the field, it’s often the small things that make the biggest difference – What do you think will make the difference on the day?

Racing, instead of Pacing, the four of us need to run along as if we are in a solo 100km race. There isn’t any room for ‘brown cowing’ as I call it in Check Points.

What nutrition plans have you got in place?

Each of us will use our normal nutrition plan, so for me in a race of this nature I like to keep it simple, that is 70gram of Carbs per hours (minimum) usually in the form of Gels and Nutrition Bars, along with a mix of Hydralyte Sports drink, Water, Coke and Cranberry Juice. Later in the race I might load up on some sugars via a range of lollies.

What gear will you be wearing?

Thanks to the very kind support of Shane and Trent from Mizuno Australia we are all kitted out with a variety of their awesome shoes. I am trialing the Wave Aspire 8, a great all round shoe which I have used previously with great success. We will all wear 2XU Shorts and T Shirts and a nice Trails Plus Cap. Thanks to Brett Saxon from Trails Plus for sponsoring our team.

I use a small light weight single water bottle caribee waist bag, the other will be using Solomon or Nathan lightweight camel packs.

If I know, Scotty he will use his trusty 2006 Commonwealth Games Volunteers Bum bag that’s also hold a water bottle. Gee Whiz that old beauty has seen some miles..

What are your own personal plans for the year Dave?

My immediate focus for 2012 is the Badwater 217km Ultra Marathon on July 16th in Death Valley USA. In the lead up to that I will run Trailwalker and then the AURA Australian 100km Championship on the Gold Coast on June 10th.

Who knows what will happen post Badwater, I have nothing planned. I believe that for a race like Badwater you need a sole focus and if you’re planning races post Badwater then you’re not 100% focused on achieving your best result.

Nikki and Darren are running North Face with Nikki also running the AURA Australian 100km Championship. As for Scotty well he has indicated he has a few things planned but exactly what I am unsure.

And finally…

Good luck to all the other Oxfam Trail Walker competitors. Enjoy the day and my advice is look after your weakest link, which throughout the day will be a different person.

It’s how you manage your weakest walker or runner at various points that matters, not how well your going as an individual.

Thanks to Dave and his team for their words, and good luck to everyone running. We’ll be posting updates as and when we can get them, and of course results too when they’re known.

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Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

4 thoughts on “Race Preview: Melbourne Oxfam Trailwalker

  1. I have joined a mixed team: 458, also under the Trails+ banner. We are the number 3 Trails+ team and I expect our time to reflect that so hope to have a nice cruisy day for my first Melbourne TW. Guessing there will be a bit of Tweeting but not sure of the relevant hashtag yet.

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