Monday, May 16, 2011

The North Face 100 - Race Report

It's been a year and and 9 months since i started running, only managing a meagre 8km's in the beginning.

Its been exactly 12 months since the last TNF100 event where I was over the moon to finish in 13hrs 28 minutes really off the back of very little training.

This year I went into the race fitter and faster with ambitions to break the 13hr mark and if i was lucky then possibly the 12hr mark.

My training had been fairly varied. Practically no trail running which isnt ideal but plenty of fast road running. The only specific training on the course was the Mt Solitary marathon 3 weeks earlier. It was during this race and a proceeding training session that i severely strained both calves = zero training for 3 weeks before the race.

I located my trainers on the Friday which were still stuffed with newspaper to dry them out from Mt Solitary. I was a little alarmed to see a rather large whole on the side. With no back up choices these would have to do.

I toed the line at 6.50 with my left shoe wrapped with duct tape whilst chatting to other runners Andy Bowen and NickW.

Andy beat me by a few minutes last year and he mentioned he wouldnt be going 100% this year due to his other commitments. Sandbagger....

The start was reasonably quick and i settled into a comfortable rhythm and within a few kms was running with Devon Crosby-Helms (ultra running extraordinaire and recent Olympic Trials Qualifier). Good fun chatting shop with her until around the 15km mark before i decided to push on. By this stage the duct tape was gone from my shoes so i ran then next 75kms with half my right foot hanging out the shoe. Not ideal. The shoes are now in a bin.

The Golden Stairs came and went without too much trouble and before I knew it i was at cP1 refuelling and feeling pretty good. From CP1 to CP2 I spent a lot of time chatting with Kevin and commenting on the scenery. Just after CP2 Kevin and I caught up with Pipi and we were all in good spirits. Kevin and I took turns leapfrogging each other for a while and i opened up a small gap going into ironpot ridge. This section sucked last year and it sucked again this year. My lack of trail running really slows me down on the technical stuff but i managed to remain on 2 feet and not trip up.

Passed Andy Bowen at this stage so i guessed i must have had about a 10 minute lead on him which i found worrying as he was 'taking it easy'..

Soon after this i started to feel pretty bad. My lower half was just hurting. Shins, tendons, ligaments, muscles, everything was hurting. I was entertaining thoughts of pulling out at CP3 but was hoping the boost of seeing my girlfriend and a pizza would fix things up.

Well i arrived sooner than expected and to my dismay there was no pizza van. or girlfriend. So on i trudged and just before I left the checkpoint i saw girlfriend. I screamed out that i would meet her at CP4 and told her to bring some drugs.

CP3 to CP4 was just painful. A complete battle to run and i had to walk at many points even on the flat. Pretty disheartening. Kevin and others quickly left me at this stage. Felt great to finally get to CP4. Fortunately the missus was there with some panadol and a bonus - big bag of pizza! This lifted my spirits. I had gels and all the sugary crap so to get some proper food in was great. I left CP4 with a relative spring in my step which soon left me as i came to the dreaded downhills. By far and away the worst part of the course for me. Its here when I should really be able to eat up the kms but my body is just useless at downhill running. Everything was screaming out in pain and I had to do my old trick of running downhill backwards. I got passed by a few people along here some of those being the marathon pairs runners.

Was a total relief when i started the climb up Kedumba. My legs had no trouble at all with the inclines and I was making good ground. Passed a couple of people who had passed me on the downhill and nearing the top i caught up with Andrew Lee (2 time winner and previous course record holder). Very surprised to see him but pretty obvious he was injured. Absolutely top bloke. In a world of pain himself as he mentioned he had injured his knee. Didnt sound in the slightest bit sorry for himself, he said it was one of those days and that was that. Not too many other elite athletes who would persevere until the end like that. Humbling experience and gave me the kick up the back side that i needed to get moving again.

Running up to CP5 I passed a nice a guy from Tassie and then I was in and out of CP5 pretty quickly. I could see a couple of runners up ahead and I kept them in my sight until we hit the single track. Well, this leg totally killed me. Again my lack of technical trail skills were overwhelmingly obvious and i lost a lot of time here prancing over the rocks slowly like a fairy. I wasnt overly impressed with myself but by that stage i had given up caring. It was during this leg last year that Andy Bowen came flying past out of the blue, so i was half expecting the same thing to happen again. Fortunately I didnt get passed I crossed the line in 11.32 for 15th position.Very very pleased with that. Not long after Pipi, Andy Bowen and the first female all came through. If the race had of been any longer I would have easily been passed. It will be a few years before I make a jump up to 100 milers. By body just wouldnt be able to handle it yet.

Kilian Jornet took out first place in staggering 9hrs 19 minutes looking fresh as a daisy. What an athlete!

No doubt i'll be back next year - i just hope the field will be as strong.


  1. Amazing effort Ian.
    Massive progress in less than 2 years!

  2. Well done Ian - another steller effort. You made my first leg very pleasant as I laughed at every bit of silver duct taped ripped off your shoes by the trail. Classic!
    See you at FFFTM - sub 3 hour for sure.

  3. wow, bloody fantastic, 15th!!!!! I was walking the 6 foot track with a 20kg pack missed you all by one hour...camped at Allum Creek in -5C...I am completely in awe of anyone who can do what you just did after climbing the 1000m of the track.....incredibly challenging terrain....well done, you can count yourself among the fittest people in the world.....Ill stick to ultra distances at walk speed!

  4. Great effort Ian, without the injury and a bit more trail running I reckon you would be a shoe in for top ten! Top 20 in Australia's most competitive ultra is incredible though! Awesome.

  5. Thanks for the nice words guys.

    Paul, you'll be there one day yourself at the rate your going

    Zac, reckon tnf100 would be right up your street. No doubt a shoe in for first under 25 if kilian isn't there again of course..

    Nick, see you at ffftm. I'm sure you'll duck under the 3.25 Mark given the amount of running your doing this year