Over the last few years, Kellie Emmerson has risen through the ranks to become one of the top ultra trail runners in the southern hemisphere. In 2017, she had an absolute blinder of a season that included one of the finest performances ever by an Australian at UTMB (widely considered the pinnacle of ultra trail running) with her 5th place. Kellie has decided to open her 2018 season with the 9 Dragons race in Hong Kong (please read our preview article) and below tells us a bit about herself, her decision to run 9 Dragons and her plans for the remainder of 2018.
You are pretty well-known in the southern hemisphere, but perhaps not the rest of the world. Could you please tell us about your background and running history?
I’ve been competing in the Australian Ultra scene for approximately 6 years. I won the Australian long course trail championships for three consecutive years (2014, 2015, 2016), and represented Australia in the Trail Running World Championships on three occasions (2015, 2016, 2017). Amongst training and racing, I work full-time as an occupational therapist, am studying for my PhD, teach body pump classes and am a running coach for UP Coaching. I love using my running as an excuse to travel the world! I am lucky enough to be supported by a number of sponsors too that enable much of this.
What has been your best running achievement thus far?
My best running achievement would have to be 5th place at the UTMB in 2017. This was the furthest distance I had ever run, and the longest I had ever been on my feet (by nearly double the time!). I wasn’t sure that I could even finish it, let alone 5th place against an insane line up of amazing athletes. It was made even sweeter by the harsh conditions and a sprint finish to take 5th.
There are so many races these days, why did you decide to do the 9 Dragons?
I chose to run 9 Dragons for a few reasons. One – Michael had asked me a few times! Two – I’ve never been to Hong Kong, and love a good reason to see another part of the world. And three – I’ve had some unfortunate hamstring niggles following UTMB, meaning that my usual speedwork has been a bit limited. I have been able to do a lot of strength work and hiking, so figured that the elevation and terrain of 9 Dragons might suit my current strengths a bit better.
Have you run in Hong Kong before, and how have you prepared for the race?
I have not run in Hong Kong before. I have prepared for the race with a lot of hiking and stairs – with or without poles, and with our without a weight vest. I’ve been trying to get out for some long weekend sessions in the mountains as much as possible.
What are your other racing plans for 2018?
Other race plans for 2018 include the 6 Foot Track Marathon, MIUT (Portugal, UTWT) and UTA100.