Fresh from their wins at the Great Ocean Walk 100km at the weekend, we caught up with New South Wales runner, Brendan Davies. He’s had pretty barnstorming years to date with wins all over the place, and will be lining up for his first 100 miler at GNW in just under a month’s time too as he look to take his 100km form into the Big Daddy of them all.
How did you find the GOW course and what was the best bit for you? Conversely, where was your lowest point?
Brendan – The GOW is one of the purest trail courses I’ve run, it being an A to B course over varying terrain on an iconic route; there is nothing contrived about this course at all! One thing that pretty much remains consistent over the whole course is the technical nature of the track with over 70% of it tricky, windy single-track. It really demanded precise and measured manoeuvring; picking up any little advantage you could get from the terrain and conditions at the time.
I was really happy that for a 100km course with so many little undulations and ‘pinchy’ hills that it was relatively stair free too (one of my bug bears of the Blue Mts trails!) I really enjoyed the sandy, undulating escarpment section coming into checkpoint 2. There was nothing easy about the running but the views were breathtaking. I had a couple of low points; I came down twice on the slippery board walks around Cape Volney which were entirely my fault and also I found the last 8km really tough running low on fuel and losing pace and technique on the ‘hillocky’ terrain.
What nutrition did you use and what do you normally use for races?
Brendan – I’m a recent convert to Hammer Perpetuem and I had a 400mL bottle at the start and then every checkpoint apart from the first one which, to plan, I ran through. I find that since I’ve been using it my muscle fatigue is kept to a minimum and I neither felt empty nor bloated. I was also topping up on a gel every 40 minutes washed down with a Hammer Endurolyte capsule to replenish lost salts. I also downed a couple of Hammer Bars at random moments through the course to break it up and take in something solid. It was usually on a non-technical stretch where I could take my time. I also had 3 bananas throughout the run and topped up the bladder with water to keep it real! Sounds like I pigged out! This type of nutrition plan is generally my standard now, it’s working so I’m going to keep it.
You’ve had a very successful years to date, what’s been the highlight for you each?
Brendan – Lots of racing means lots of highlights! Winning the Kokoda Challenge Teams event on the Gold Coast alongside Clarke, Ewan and Andy was brilliant but the standout for me was running the 100km Road World Championship in Italy; breaking 7 hours and finishing 11th gave me an incredible amount of satisfaction and confidence for the year ahead. I think we are privileged to have the multitude of brilliant trail events around at the moment and I’ve done a lot of racing on great trails this year and the GOW win on such great course is something I’ll always cherish too.
Have you changed anything in your training from last year to make the difference this year?
Brendan – Not a great deal; I still do about an even share of my training on hilly trails, flat road and speed work at the track (with a bit of treadmill running in the Alt chamber at Valley Fitness thrown in). This seems to work well and enables me to be competitive on road or trail over varying distances. One thing I’ve focused a lot more on is my technique at the track. I train with Earl O’Brien, a great track runner who has shown me the soundness of warmup drills, technique and barefoot running (I do my barefoot work in Vibrams). I believe this has improved my speed and efficiency. Just on this, I really found myself nodding my head reading the last article on Ultra168 about speed training. Andy DuBois summed it up beautifully and I’ll just quote him “Any type of training that can improve your speed at shorter distances will help your speed at longer distances (provided you do a suitable amount of endurance training as well).” This is one of my key training principles. If I ran a 10k race and didn’t go sub 35, it would be a concern and getting back under that would be my main priority until that happened.
You’re running your first 100 milers at GNW, how do you feel your preparation has gone and what kind of things are you expecting?
Brendan – I made a pact at the start line last year at GNW100k that I would win that day and come back next year and attempt to do the same in the miler. I didn’t feel I was ready a couple of weeks ago and was going to leave it! In hindsight, I think I was worried about nothing as preparation has actually been quite ideal, I find I am recovering quicker and better after each ultra I do and the fact I had a bit of a break from the long stuff pre GOW has freshened me up. I know I have the endurance from training up for GOW, I’m mentally strong and feeling very fit at the moment. The GOW win has filled me with great confidence and I’m definitely peaking at the right time. But I won’t be taking it for granted either.
What are you plans for next year? Which races will you focus on? Do you plan to race overseas?
Brendan – Clarke McClymont and I have penciled in a 3 Peaks assault in Easter. Does that count as overseas? But he is having a baby so we will see (you’d know all about that Dan!) I’d like to do some more Team events with the No Roads gang, mixing the team up with the girls and guys would be great. I’m also definitely going to have another crack at the World 100k. The men’s team is shaping up to be super strong with myself, Chris Truscott and Dave Eadie already qualified but others like Chris Wight, Julian Spence, Rowan Walker and a few others are showing interest too.
Of course something epic like Western States, UTMB or Comrades will always be in the back of my mind. Having a mortgage though can soon diminish that dream rather quickly! On the domestic front, the ‘A’ races to start the year off will be 6 Foot Track and TNF100.