The North Face 100 2013 Race Report by Shona Stephenson. I’ve had a massive year 50km Aura Australian Ultra Runner Trail Champs VIC Feb 2013, Coastrek 50km NSW March 2013, Tarawera 85km (retired sick at 85km) NZ March 2013, Northburn 100M 160km NZ (my debut 100M) March 2013, UTMF 160km Japan April 2013 my 2nd 100M only a month later, plus 4 Sydney Trail Series speedy 10km and now I was about to run the premier Australian Event of the calendar The North Face 100km May 2013. In a way it is the last BIG Ultra Race in NSW Calendar before we all get a bit of a rest over winter then head to Europe for the Skyrunning Series.
It was 2 Wednesdays before The North Face 100 after a 10km time trial on road that I felt my Achilles go. It was only one and a 1/2 weeks after UTMF so I was probably still in recovery mode. I thought nothing of it as I have had Achilles tendonitis before and I’ve had so many other tendonitis before.
Wow what a line up to be part of at the Vibram Tarawera Ultra Marathon. I was so fortunate to be invite to race against the best athletes in the oceanic region. In Australia there is no better athlete than Beth Cardelli (Salomon) and in New Zealand Ruby Muir (Five Fingers UltrAspire and Barefoot Inc) is the young gun powering though the trails in her five fingers. I was so please to be named amongst these class athletes running for the 100km title. Niki Wynd (Hokka) and emerging athlete Steph Gasset were lining up for the 60km event and Canadian 100 Miler runner Candice Burt (Salomon) were also amongst the individual line up. This was a great race. The competition was deep for the females and I was oh so happy to be invited to join in the fun. The men’s competition was thick and fast. With young gun Sage Canaday (Scott), western States Winner Timothy Olson (The North Face) last years 2nd placed Vajin Armstrong (UltrAspire/Saccony), Australian Aura Ultra Runner of 2012 Brendan Davis (Inov8 and Barefoot Inc) last years winner Mick Donges (Salmon). The elite athletes at the Vibram Tarawera Ultra Marathon were treated to press conferences, athlete seminars, guided tours of the Rotorua Springs and Traditional Maori Villages.
The race director Paul Charteris thought of everything in regards to promoting New Zealand, Rotorua and Trail Running as a sport and I was so please to be part of this classy event. After a slight nutrition malfunction at the airport where my expresso and vanilla Hammer Jugs were confiscated from me by Airport Security at Sydney. “Doh! You idiot”. I thought. I’m blaming my Hubby Mikey for suggesting that I pack them in my carry on to get through quarantine. I met up with Brendan in the duty free area and hung out and tried to relax. I was on a different flight to Brendan, we were to meet up in Auckland to fly to Rotorura on the same plane.
I jumped at the chance to race for No Roads Expeditions Trail Running Team. I was even more excited when my training partner Beth Cardelli said she’d travel down to the Mornington Peninsular to race the 30/50 Challenge too. Beth and I had unfinished business. Beth sadly had to pull out of our No Roads Expeditions Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney team with an injury. We both trained hard together and we were busting to race together rather than race against each other. We were both keen to run together and give each other a real push. I’m a great starter she is a great finisher. Together we will make a great team.
There was only problem. 6 days before the event I was diagnosed with haemophilus influenza. 9 days before 30/50 or 6 days after my GNW DNF I was still having problems with my breathing. I was getting worse. My strengthened asthma drugs were not working at all. I felt like I was only breathing out of one lung. I could feel something blocking my bronchioles on my right side. I was worried. It felt like I had a growth of some sort. I actually thought the worst, I was thinking cancer I felt so sick. I decided that I would go back to the doctor and get a referral for a specialist.
My lead up to my first 100 mile event the Great North Walk 100s (GNW 100s) was perfect. My body was feeling great. I finally felt like my body was finally able to handle the kilometers of training and racing I was putting into it. I won three 100km events in 3 months I was in great form. The only problem was that I was not fully recovered in my chest form Great Ocean Walk (GOW 100). During GOW I was having problems breathing from the 30km mark. I felt like I was only able to preform at about 80%. I should have seen this as a warning sign with my asthma, but I was busy (poor excuse). Too busy to go to the doctors and check out. Besides, who want to go to the doctors when you could be out running?
On the Wednesday before GNW 100s I was forced to go to the doctors. My asthma was now out of control. I felt like I could not inhale my preventive drug properly into my lungs past my swollen trachea. The doctor was not impressed with the state that I was in. She said I was rattling all over my chest and she prescribed me with some drugs to help get rid of the inflammation out of my lungs and a nasal spray for my nose to help me with my chronic hay fever. She then insisted that I come back for clearance on Friday before I raced because I clearly was not well enough to race in the state that I was in.
Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Training session for my No Roads Expeditions team consisted of Beth Cardelli. Our 3rd team mate, Andrew Lee was running in the Kokoda Challenge with Brendan Davies, Ewan Horsbrough and Clarke McCoughan up in Brisbane. Paul Robertson was resting before his adventure race in the following week. It was up to the girls, Beth and I to put in some tough kilometers in prep for the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 100km event in only 6 weeks.
I decided that to toughen myself up and to prepare my body for the onslaught of the Kuringai National Park, I needed to run from Berowra to Brooklyn and return. This would be our longest and most brutal training session for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney. It was the training session that was needed.
In the back of my mind I knew I was going to have to back up the next day and sprint 7.4km in the Footpoint Trail Series.I tried to forget that I racing the next day and I concentrated on the run ahead of me.