The World Mountain Running Championships are being held in a little over a week in Interlaken Switzerland at the famous Jungfrau Marathon.
We caught up with Aussie representative Andrew Tuckey as he heads off to run for Australia.
Tell us a little about yourself and your running background
My running really started about 10 years ago when I was living in London and trying to get in shape. I ran a few marathons and gradually took it more seriously. Since moving back to Australia in 2006 I’ve been running in a variety of events from Sydney Striders races to Athletics NSW track and cross country but mostly concentrating on marathons. I also joined up with a group of runners in the city called the HuRT squad which provides a regular training routine and plenty of competition. I’ve always been interested in running trail races and ultras but I decided a few years ago to concentrate on marathons for a while longer before trying some longer races. The decision came to try a few more trail races about a year ago, I’d had a few disrupted years after the birth of my two daughters and because of niggly injuries so I needed a change and I needed some different races to focus on.
Tell us about the course
It’s marathon distance but climbs about 1600m and nearly all of that is in the last 16km. The first 10k is fast and flat around Interlaken before some undulating sections then the big climb. Most of the course is either sealed road or good dirt paths so it’s non-technical.
What drew you to this race
About 10 years ago I spent some time walking in the Interlaken region and saw some of the course markings and decided then that I’d like to run the race one day. I think at the time I’d just run my first marathon so running Jungfrau was a bit of a distant dream but when it was announced as the world champs course this year it seemed like a good time to apply for the team and do the race.
How are you placed fitness wise/ What specific training have you done considering the course is not like anything in Australia?
I feel like I’m in pretty good shape, the last 8 weeks have been pretty good training wise. I’ve basically been training for this race as I would a road marathon because I think I’ll need some speed to do well, especially in the first half of the race. I’ve also done some long runs in the Blue Mountains including running on the hills of the six foot track and also Mt Solitary and Kedumba Pass. I’ve also done a few sessions at the Sydney Altitude Training * centre to be prepared for the 2000m+ finish of the race and I’ve even run up the 30 flights of stairs in my office building a couple of times, not sure if that’s useful but it’s definitely hard work.
What skills have you taken from the road to your new pursuit of the trail?
My basic training is pretty similar for road or trail, a weekly long run is still my main session to keep up the endurance. I guess for trail running I tend to do the long run on hillier trails where the constant gradient changes and technical aspects make the run more challenging. I think it’s important to keep working on speed even for longer races which is why I still try to get out with the HuRT squad in the city a couple of times a week for faster sessions.
For Jungfrau I’ll be using my usual road race shoes, it’s more like a road marathon than trail race.
I expect to be out on the course for up to 3.5 hours so will just stick to gels and supplied energy drinks and water. The race is sponsored by Sponser nutrition products which will be stocked at the aid stations. I’ve never heard of that brand so I’ll see if I can try some while I’m there. I’ll probably carry a few of my standard Endura gels as well.
What did you learn from Ryan Sandes at TNF?
I spoke to Ryan briefly after the race and he just seems to have a good race plan that he executes well, he also seems pretty relaxed about his racing which probably helps with longer events.
What needs to happen in order to have a full team competing next year?
Not too sure about this but part of the reason is the trip is mostly self-funded so it’s a pretty big commitment, I was lucky in that my company (IAG) paid for my flight which is a big help. The team application is not very well publicised either so I’m not too sure how many people are aware of it.
Who are you looking forward to racing
The two names that come to mind are Jonathan Wyatt and Marco de Gasperi. Wyatt is the race record holder but I’m not sure if he’s running this year, Marco de Gasperi is running and has won the race (and many others) before and is probably the race favourite this year. It will be good to see these guys in action but I doubt I’ll see them for long. I’m just looking forward to getting into the race and competing with those around me, I really don’t know what to expect from the course in the last 10kms.
Plans for the next 12 months
I’d like to do the surf coast century but that will depend on how well I recover from Jungfrau. I’ve entered Kepler which is a race I’ve wanted to do for a while so I’m looking forward to that. Next year I’d like to have a good 6 foot track (I’ll get it right one day) and would like to run TNF100 again. I’m also planning on spending some time in Europe, my wife is from Wales so we want to take the kids over there for a bit and I’ll be looking at doing some races if we do. There is also the possibility of trying to improve my marathon pb some day.
We wish Andrew the best of luck and look forward to following him on race day.
* In the interests of full disclosure, the interviewer also trains and is supported by Sydney Altitude Training.