A break from running in his twenties to focus on other adventures might have been what spurred Andrew Hedgman to return to long distance running with such focus and big goals.
He shook the dust off his running shoes in 2008, after a lot of success in high school including completing his first marathon. He decided it was time to train up for his first ultra. The 100km race at the New Zealand Nationals saw him gain a top 10 finish and he’s since raced in multiple ultra marathons across the globe as well as completing some epic journeys.
In 2010 Hedgman ran the length of New Zealand; 2200km over 28 days, averaging 70-80 km a day. And in 2012 knocked off 1000’s of kms over 15 days from Brisbane to Sydney to raise awareness for the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA).
Now 30, Hedgman is preparing for his next adventure – Run Larapinta; which will be his first multi-stage race in Australia.
The four day, four stage race across the Larapinta Trail this August might not match the distances of his previous achievements, but don’t be fooled, it makes up for it in toughness. Racing back to back across diverse, dry, rocky terrain in some truly remote sections of the West MacDonnell Ranges in Australia’s Red Centre requires mental strength, grit and determination, as well as physical preparation.
You haven’t run in Alice Spring before, had it been on your list? And what inspired you to give Run Larapinta a shot?
I’ve always wanted to visit Uluru like any good tourist so this race will give me that opportunity, I also don’t think anyone can actually experience the ‘real’ Australia if they haven’t been to Alice Springs and the surrounding areas. I am constantly looking for new adventures so I was pretty happy to find out about Run Larapinta. Usually I have to look overseas for a similar race so it will be great to finally do one here!
Run Larapinta includes various stages spread across four days – how are you feeling about it and might you change your preparation and training in the lead-up?
I have done week long races over in Turkey and in South Africa so I feel I have the experience to tackle this one head on! Usually in my final couple of weeks of training I will start doing back to back runs similar to the distances in the actual race.
How many hours would you run each week?
It always depends if I’m training for something and what I’m training for. I always go for the less is more approach and only put in 3 runs a week that can range from 10km to 40 or 50km.
How do you divide your time between on and off road? Do you have a preference, and if so why?
I definitely prefer off road but train a lot more on the road as it’s just far more accessible and convenient. I do try to make at least one of my runs each week on the trails.
What is it you love about running and competing?I’ve always loved the challenge that each event brings and to see how far I can push myself. However, actually completing a challenging run or race is the most satisfying feeling I get out of it!
What’s your favourite place to run?
Back home in New Zealand. There are so many beautiful tracks to run along and each location offers unique and beautiful scenery. I don’t get to go back often so it’s always special when I do.
Will you be dedicating your run in Alice Springs to a cause or organisation, like you did when you ran from Brisbane to Sydney to raise awareness of animals’ plights and funds for WSPA?
I would have loved to but because I have entered less than three months before the race I don’t think that I would do the cause justice. It’s always a massive effort to raise money so I like to plan it out even better than the actual event itself. Maybe next year I will and it will always be for animal welfare!
What would you say you are most looking forward to about Run Larapinta?
The scenery and making new friends. I love the diversity that these types of races bring, people from all sorts of backgrounds and great personalities.
If you weren’t running, what do you think you would be doing?
When I started ultramarathon running I was skydiving so maybe I would have continued on with that. However, I know that I wouldn’t have achieved the same level of amazing experiences through skydiving as I have with ultra running. I’ve also just started getting into paragliding so I still get to have my feet in the air every now and then anyway!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Andrew, and all the best with your final weeks of preparation for Run Larapinta. We’ll see you in Alice Springs!