As the Western States 100 miler draws forever closer, we’ll be paying particular attention to it this year as we have two standout performers from our neck of the woods gunning for a top ten finish, and it’s a very real possibility that it could happen. Last year Brendan Davies scored Australia’s first top ten placing in this race where he came an outstanding eighth in a time of 15hrs 56mins.
We heard from Brendan yesterday and now we’re going to turn our attention to Andrew Tuckey. We profiled him recently on these pages, but we thought it high time to check back in with him again and see where’s he’s at with things post TNF100. That race didn’t quite go to plan, but it is what it is to be honest. Things don’t always work out, but the great thing about Tucks is how pragmatic he is and moves on. Here’s what he had to say as he leads up to the big dance over in California in just over two weeks time.
I didn’t feel great at the start but after CP1 I started to feel good and ran well until CP3. I started to struggle a bit on the way towards Nellie’s and then my legs just stopped working on the way up the stairs. I’m not really sure what went wrong, I went out pretty hard so I guess I just overcooked a bit. After that I just couldn’t recover and couldn’t think of a good reason to struggle to the finish. I was also in a bit of pain from some niggly injuries so I wasn’t really having much fun. I didn’t really learn much, I just put it down to a bad race.
You were recently front page news in your local paper, knocking off 2 x 60km runs a week to work and back, what mileage are you putting in right now?
The local paper got a few things wrong, that was one of them. I usually run to work twice a week which is between 26 and 32 km depending on which way I go. I’ve only done the return trip once (about a year ago) so I’m not doing that much right now. I’ve only been doing about 120km a week lately and my main goal is keeping things together until WS. I’ve got some old injuries that are annoying me a bit so I’m trying to keep on top of them rather than push things too much.
It’s clear that you’re a lot quicker than previous years. Have you been doing any specific speed work and if so what?
I did my first road 10k in about 12 months last weekend and ran about 34 mins which is pretty slow so I don’t feel quicker. I think I’m a lot stronger than I used to be which means I can hold my pace better on tough courses. My run at six foot track is a good example where my finish time from the top of pluvi was a lot quicker than I’ve done before. My speed work is done with the HuRT squad and that hasn’t really changed much over the years. I really struggle to do any fast running on my own so I’d prefer to do the squad sessions and make them fit in with I’m aiming for. The Tuesday sessions are usually longer reps and tempo runs and I push those pretty hard. There is a session calendar on the website which is pretty specific (hurtsquad.com).
Do you have a running coach at all? If not, how do you work out what to do each week and what do you think you’ve focused on most over the last 6 months?
No Coach. My structure hasn’t changed a lot and I generally do a longer run and a couple of faster sessions per week. I take things a bit easier the week before and after a race. This year I was concentrating on getting in some bigger km weeks earlier on and also trying to get lots of hillier runs in for Buffalo and TNF. Lately it’s been more effort on the speed sessions and a bit less on the long weekend runs just to freshen up a bit. I’ve been pretty busy with life for a while now so none of my training is overly planned, I just make sure I have a general plan in place and fit the pieces together.
I think the course is really going to suit you at WSER, have you done much in the way of heat training, or do you feel comfortable with side of things?
I think the heat will be OK. I don’t think there is much you can do that will really simulate the heat and I’m a big fan of keeping things simple so I’ll just turn up and deal with it.
In your last interview with us you’re talking of around 16hrs or so for this. Are you still thinking like that, or has the DNF at TNF made you reset things a little?
I’ll still be aiming for 16 hours. I’ll be running by feel but I’ll work out a couple of splits along the way so I’ll know how things are going. My only real concern is sorting out a few niggles so I can run as freely as possible.
Mentality how are you getting your head ready for racing over there. It’s a course you’ve not run on, so what kind of things do you run through in your head to get in the right ‘zone’ so to speak.
Being a largely unknown course I’ll just try to work out as many things as possible like aid stations and the main parts of the trail and then I’ll just switch off and not worry about the little things and just take those as they come. I’ll do the usual things like staying positive throughout the race but it’s pretty exciting to be doing WS so I’ll be trying to enjoy that as well.
WSER100 has seen some fine athletes down the years, who would you say you admire/inspires you the most for their performance there?
Probably Ann Trason, her record there is amazing over a long period of time and there aren’t too many runners that have such a dominant record.
Best of luck to Tucks and Brendan as they embark on their adventures. Next week we’ll be chatting with Mike Wardian and last year’s ladies winner, Stephanie Howe.