So, ahhh, it looks like I’m running 100 mile in 2017, and not just any miler, the grand daddy of them all – Western States! Gaining an entry came as a huge shock, and a good one at that. I was on holidays with my family, spending the Christmas break in the heat, humidity and stunning paradise that is Vanuatu. I awoke early in an attempt to get a run in before the weather got too overbearing and checked my email while having a coffee. At first I thought I had received some spam mail and ignored it. Then there was a second email from the same UltraSignup address. This made me start to think that maybe it was real. But it wasn’t until I scrolled a little further down and saw an email from the Ultra-Trail World Tour that started with the following that it dawned on me: “I am delighted to confirm that the UTWT and WS100 is supporting your participation to WS100 in 2017!” At this point I wet myself a little and let out a silent scream. I wanted to yell aloud but there were folks sleeping in the rooms nearby and it was 6am. In an instant it realised that the dream had become a reality.
The idea of someday running Western States was first hatched 2 years prior. A good mate of mine, Sean Greenhill, said that it’s an incredible experience to be part of. Not only because of the atmosphere, but the history it holds too. Plus if I were ever going to attempt a miler, the Western States course would be best suited to my strengths and the location I do all my training (The middle of Sydney). However in order to be competitive I would need to build the snowball. I had to get plenty of miles in the pins and give a few 100km+ events a go. So I set about exactly that, running Tarawera Ultra as my first century. The race went well and I loved the experience, and thanks to placing 2nd I also secured the potential to apply to the UTWT for an elite start at a couple major races in 2017. My application went in, with Western States at the top of the list as well as a few other events as fallbacks. Then it was a waiting game. I put an entry in through the Western States lottery system and didn’t score a start, so there was only one chance left, and as you already have read I nabbed my spot on the start line as one of three UTWT male athletes.
So what’s next? As I battled through my humid morning run in Vanuatu I was already planning the next 6 months of training. It would involve not a huge difference in what I was presently doing, just a marginal increase in long runs, a few double long runs and ideally weekly trips to the mountains to build some leg strength. Ahead of me I still have one major race to focus on before shifting gears to Western States, and that’s Tarawera Ultra. The 2017 field for the race just seems to be getting stronger and stronger with every passing week. More names are being released and it looks like it’s going to be the best field they’ve ever assembled. For now, I’ll stick to my current plan and do everything I can to be competitive for Tarawera, then once recovered from that, it’s all or nothing for Western States!
Here’s what a normal week of training looks like for me at the moment:
Sunday: Long run of 3 hours (Up to 43.5km)
Monday: 16km easy
Tuesday: AM 8km. PM Either a session of longer reps or 16-21km steady
Wednesday: Up to 30km
Thursday: AM 8km. PM Fartlek session.
Friday: Rest or easy 8km
Saturday: AM Session of long reps or tempo. PM 8km.