Ben Duffus is a fresh talent breaking onto the Australian Ultra Running Circuit. He has just won 2 Australian Ultra’s the Surf Coast Century and he was on the winning team at the 96km Kokoda Challenge all this while studying physic’s uni. This 21 year old’s name is one to remember. He was kind enough to spare some of his time to chat with me about his trail running adventures so far.
Shona Stephenson: You have a few memorable wins under your belt – what was the hardest (and why) and do you have a favourite win?
Ben Duffus: It’s very difficult to quantify a “hardest win”. I would say that the races I DNFed were the hardest! Having said that, it is hard to go past Pomona King of the Mountain in terms of shear “pain per second”! It’s only 4.5km long but involves going up and back down the 439m high Mt Cooroora. The burn going up was incredible and while the downhill was an absolute blast, it left my quads feeling like they had just lost a fight with a meat tenderiser! That feeling was probably also partly due to having run the Kokoda Challenge two weeks beforehand. Sharing the Kokoda Challenge win with my Kokoda Spirit Racing team mates was very special so it would have to be my “favourite” win.
Shona: You have a few memorable wins under your belt – what was the hardest
(and why) and do you have a favourite win?
Whitney Dagg: My recent win at the Surf Coast Century was by far the toughest.
Mainly because it was 100km but also because I got a sore IT band at
half way and had to run with the pain in the side of my knee for 50km.
Pain relief helped but it required mental toughness. I was determined for
a good result and thats what I got.
Shona: What’s a favourite training session or run (that most advances your
fitness or abilities)?
Whitney Dagg: I love getting up in the hills above Dunedin, away from the city. A
good long run with a few tough climbs and some technical descents
always feels like your getting somewhere with both your fitness and
Torquay CP2 to The Finish 100km Anglesea and Winning the Concrete Shoe!
At the the Surf Coast Century Torquay CP2 I quickly switched over my gels and water bottles in my pack. Up to 49kms I was running on Tropical Hammer Gels for my energy and Fizz for my Hydration. I also added in a small bottle of Perpetuem to add in around the 30km mark. I’d pre-made my water bottles, and my gel baggy’s so all I had to do was swap over my CP bags and water bottles. I then headed out of the check point.
The next section was made up of mainly rolling hills on a single man track or dirt path. We had been warned that the trail could be confusing through this section of the track. I ran back towards the beautiful Anglesea across the cliff tops, past Jan Jac Beach, Bells Beach where I was lead astray by a misplaced pink marker but I was lucky that I found another runner who was also turning back up the climb who had found his mistake. We pushed on together, chatted and were happy that we spotted another marker only 50m later. We then told two spectators to swap the pink marker to this trail and hopefully we helped any runners coming behind us. I then headed inland towards the check point 3 at Iron Bark Basin.
Getting to the Start to Check Point 2 Torquay Point Danger.
A sick feeling of dread flowed through my entire body while I was standing in the Virgin Australia Que at Sydney Airport. I thought I was totally organized for the inaugural Surf Coast Century 2012. It was my first time I was traveling inter-state for a race and I was so pumped. I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne, then hiring a car from Melbourne Airport and driving to Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. I’d packed my inov8 x-talon 190,UltrAspire Surge Back pack, 2XU Inov8 and barefoot Inc Branded elite compression shorts, bra and presentation jacket (all thanks to my awesome sponsors Barefoot Inc), socks, calf guards, tri-belt, TNF visor (why don’t other race organizers make awesome caps like TNF cap?) running sunnies. That was just what I was racing in. I had the mandatory race kit including the most extensive first aid kit I’ve ever had to carry, wind proof jacket, whistle, mobile, all my nutrition that consisted of Hammer Electrolyte Fizz, Hammer Tropical Gel, Hammer Expresso Gel, Hammer Perpetuem, Hammer Recoverite
Rowan Walker the Australian Road Marathon Champion of 2010 (2:18) crossed over to the Ultra dark side of running and tackled his first 100km event on a trail in the inaugural beautiful Surf Coast Century in Anglesea Victoria. Rowan Walker only decided to run the full 100km when is Duo Relay team mate pulled out a fortnight ago. After 5 trail stacks, tough but fast trail running he finished the inaugural Surf Coast Century in a blistering time of 8 hours 25 minutes.
Shona: You use to be in the Navy, correct me if I’m wrong you switched to the army so you can stretch your running legs, was that the only reason why you decided to switch Defense roles?
Rowan Walker: Actually, I still serve in the Navy on a part-time basis. I left he Permanent Navy at the end of 2005 after a little short of eight years service. I had actually served a few years in the Army Reserve for a few years but that was 20 years ago. I also worked as a Defence public servant for a few years.
I’m pretty excited. I’m heading interstate for the first time to the Surf Coast Century 2012 for a running holiday. No kids but sadly no husband. I spotted the Surf Coast Century at the beginning of the year. I thought it looked like an awesome way to clock up 100km.
This year I have already 2 race records for coastal events in 2012. Coastrek 50km Team Race Record of 6 hours 14 minutes from Palm Beach to Balmoral Beach and Coastal Classic 2:49 from Otford to Bundeena. Oxfam Trail Walker Sydney can be said to be similar terrain to a coastal event, as it is located along the Hawksbury River, Jerusalem Bay, Cowan Creek and Sydney Harbour. I again broke a record, I now hold the Mixed Course Record for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney of 12 hours 18 minutes. It was competing in Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 was when I decided to go for the the hat trick of Coastal Events wins in a year.