The Next Step – From Marathon to Ultramarathon with Kate Smyth

The Surf Coast Century has firmly established itself as one of the major ultra marathons not only in Victoria, but in Australia. The great news is that it’s also part of the Ultra168 Supporters Club, where entrants into the 100km solo can save over $40 on their race entry. Check out the link here if you want more information.

The race has always managed to attract some quality talent, and this year is no exception with former Aussie marathon runner, Kate Smyth taking up the gauntlet with her training partner in the 100km pairs race. We caught up with Kate to see what she’s been up to of late since she retired from competitive marathon running.

Kate Smyth doesn’t like running. She loves it. From local cross country races as a girl in her home town of Orange, NSW to representing Australia and finishing seventh at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and two years later running home in 44th at the Beijing Olympics, Kate has tallied up a total of 16 marathons.

During an eight-year hiatus from competition Kate’s love of running has not wavered, nor has her excitement for events. This September will see Kate return to her competitive zone, when she steps up to take on her first ultra marathon in the Surf Coast Century, Anglesea, Victoria.

She’ll be tackling the 100km in a team of two, with her friend and training partner Brianna Bateup.

Fun Fast Facts – with Kate Smyth

  • Marathons: 16 and counting
  • PB: 2:28:51 in the Nagano Marathon (2008) placing Kate 6th on the Australian all-time list.
  • Running shoes currently in rotation: 10 pairs
  • Home: Orange NSW and Sydney
  • Lives: Jan Juc, Surf Coast, VIC
  • Born: 1972
  • If you weren’t running, what would you be doing: Being miserable, or doing another sport of course, maybe Skydiving?!
  • Running dislikes: Smelly running shoes
  • Funny running stories: My most embarrassing mishap was collapsing in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games from dehydration and heat stroke. The key memory I have from my first experience of representing Australia is waking up in the medical tent surrounded by a whole bunch of people after collapsing at the finishing line, practically naked, packed in ice.


Boulder USA part of Aus team

You’ve already achieved much in the running world – representing Australia at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. What is it about long distance running that first got you hooked, and keeps you coming back?

Running just sets me free. I first got a taste for it when I was 8 years old in my first cross country at school but it wasn’t until I watched the Sydney Olympics that I was motivated to train properly. Now that I am retired from serious competition, running still remains my passion. It’s something I just love to do and running long distances is really enjoyable for me. I love getting outside and onto the trails amongst the bush. It’s a form of meditation for me and no matter what the weather or what is going on in my life, it keeps me physically and mentally healthy and balanced!

What would be your all-time favourite running memory? (if you can pick one)

Running in the Nagano Olympic marathon in 2008 in Japan. I ran the race of my lifetime finishing the marathon in 2.28 and qualifying for the Olympics. It was one of those few races where everything came together on the day, it just felt effortless. I met some amazing women at that event including my all-time inspiration who won the gold medal at the Sydney Olympics – (Naoko) Takahashi from Japan and also once world record holder Tegla Loroupe from Kenya. I learned that underneath we all are just runners living and breathing our passion in life.

Is stepping up to take on the Surf Coast Century 100km ultramarathon with your friend a natural progression in your running journey? How did the idea come about?

I’ve always wanted to do an ultra, just for the thrill of making it! Doing it in a team makes it even more motivating for me. We were chatting in the gym one day and realized we both had the same idea, and we just agreed to do it together.

Kate trailrunning along trails above Royal South France

How’s training been going, and have you tweaked it to account for the new distance and course?

I’m actually training completely differently to what I used to for hard competitive road racing. As I have quite a lot of wear and tear already in my body, I have to respect that. I am trying to build up very slowly and gently. I won’t be doing speed work or hard workouts, it’s all about just getting time on my legs and getting onto the trails. The main goal is to stay injury free between now and the event and to finish with a smile on my face.

What would you say to someone thinking about giving it a crack?

Go for it. You only live once. I am a rookie too so I can’t suggest anything specific but I’ve learnt some brutal lessons in the past when I have pushed my body too hard. So I would suggest listening to your body is key. Adapt slowly and surely. Train for the distance and time on your legs. How can you expect yourself to run for 5 hours if you haven’t even run 2 hours in training? Most of all- enjoy it! It is such a unique event and we are so privileged to have the physical capabilities to do it regardless of where we finish or how long it takes.

And finally, what are you least and most looking forward to about taking on the Surf Coast Century?

I just love living and running on the coast. The Surf Coast has the most amazing trails with such stunning scenery. It is a runner’s paradise! I am most looking forward to the sense of satisfaction from finishing the event. I am least looking forward to my first massage after the event. That is never pretty!

The Surf Coast Century is a spectacular 50km and 100km ultramarathon along Victoria’s Surf Coast and wildflower hinterland, taking place on Saturday September 3rd, 2016. This incredible race, starting and finishing in Anglesea, takes runners on an extraordinary journey below towering sea cliffs, along remote beaches and along twisting single track. As well as attracting many of Australia’s best runners, the Surf Coast Century also has a great reputation as the ideal event for those tackling their first ultra marathon due to the accessible course, support services and easy logistics, and the incredible energy around the course from supporters, other runners and event officials.


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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.

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