If you know your running in the Blue Mountains, then you know who Andy Lee is. The phrase ‘tough as boots’ gets used a lot, as does ‘have you seen the size of his thighs’ as he runs through checkpoints in The North Face 100 (mainly from the ladies I hasten to add!).
Andy is a bit of a legend as far as us Aussie trail runners are concerned. The man is known to eat up hills training for breakfast and is still the joint fastest Aussie over the North face 100 course, setting the record with Stu Gibson at 9:54, before all them foreign elite people started coming over and running silly times 🙂
Not only is Andy a great athlete, but he’s also one of the nicest guys you could meet, and never one to play up his achievements. He just gets on with the business with a big smile on his face and gives it everything he’s got. For me, one of Andy’s most gutsy performances was in 2010, where he went toe-to-toe with Kilian at The North Face 100 for 54kms. It’s fair to say Andy blew a gasket bigger than a V8 at 10,000rpm around Wakefield Park, but true to his character and when others would have called it a day, he pushed on, still finishing in sub 13 hours. I remember passing him (I was running the pairs), with around 5kms to go thinking – legend…
As far as six foot is concerned, Andy’s the current title holder (2011). So he has form, he has endurance and so I’m told by my Blue Mountains watch folk of late, he’s in bloody good nick. As with all the other guys, we’ve whacked the same questions to Andy, so without further a do…
Andy, tell us how it is…
How has your training build-up gone this year? Have you stuck to a typical routine or done things a little differently?
I’ve had a typical build up however this time, which for me has been a little different from previous years, I have incorporated more rest days (getting older now = longer to recover!) as well as racing in the recent Sydney Trail Running Series over at Manly Dam (I have never been in any race of any description in the lead up to 6ft before.
What kind of kms are you doing per week? And at what kind of intensity?
Highest weekly km’s for this “campaign” topped out around 120km’s. In past years, weekly km’s got up to 145-155km. My weekends would be a 38-40km on the Saturday (Glenbrook to Woodford) followed by 1 or 2 Mt Solitary (i.e. Eastern Col) reps on the Sunday. As these back to back days fatigued me pretty well, I rested up on the Monday, “cruisy” efforts on the Tuesday & Wednesday and on Thursday’s I’d grind out 6.5 x 1km hill repeats (approx 180mr elevation each) after a 15-17km gradual paced run earlier in the day. Rest or cross train on Fridays.
As a lead runner, what do you think is most important training aspect for 6ft?
For me – hills. I have never done speed work.
6ft is a very tactical race, where do you see your own specific strengths e.g. on the flat, hills, technical trail.
For me, it’s both the hills and technical… I’m not much good on the flat! In addition to the grinding climbs that 6 foot track presents, I also love the start, the steep ascent down Nellies Glen… everything about it – the uneven steps, rocks & mud etc before hitting the gradual down hill to Cox’s River.
I like to establish an early rhythm in the race and trust that my hill training will see me up & over the Pluviometer with enough petrol in the tank for the last 19k’s. Also don’t forget those three hills in the Deviation… The third one just before the Caves Road crossing, whilst not that long, can hurt a bit (and get ugly) if you arrive there on empty!
Much is made of saving enough in the tank for the Black Ranges, where do you believe the race is won or lost?
Agree 100% about having something in reserve for Black Range… In order to do this I believe you need to run to your strengths, limitations and also in accordance with your training.
What nutrition do you use for the race?
Water & 3 or 4 gels.
Likewise, do you consider trail shoes, or is 6ft ‘flat’ enough for road shoes?
Have run it in both and you can get away with a road shoe, but I do prefer a trail shoe and for me that will be either the North Face Single Track or the North Face Hayasa.
Care to put out any predictions for your time? If not, what kind of time do you think will win 6ft this year.
No predictions for my time… Just try my best and see what that gets me. Before the recent rain I thought the race record was under threat, but I’m not so sure now.