Beth Cardelli Interview

A photo of trail Runner Beth Cardelli
Beth Cardelli is a good friend, training partner and a hero of mine. I remember the first time she ran past me up a fire trail on the 6 Foot Track and I was just blown away. She is still running past me on climbs. Beth is someone I really admire and I thought you would like to get to know her and find out what makes her tick.

Shona. How did you get into trail running?
Beth. By accident really. I had only ever played netball growing up then I went into a sporting hiatus in my early 20’s. It wasn’t until my husband decided to do Sydney Trailwaker in 2007 with some of his work colleagues that I started being more active again. I started with a few short jogs then some longer walks. I walked most of the Trailwalker event with my husbands team, only missing one of the legs so that I could go home to feed the dogs. They/we finished in 33:32. A very long time for 100km and I felt that I could do better, a lot better. When The North Face 100km appeared the following year I decided to give it a go. I finished in 15:30 and haven’t looked back since.


Shona. What was your first Ultra? and how long had you been running for before you ran your first Ultra?
Beth. My first Ultra (training or otherwise) was 6ft track in 2008. I finished in 5:08:10. I qualified using the Beyond The Black Stump Fatass Run, 33km


Shona. What is your favourite race?
Beth. Bogong to Hotham. 64km in the Victorian high country.


Shona. Which event have you learnt the most about yourself from?
Beth. Western States really pushed me. I had next to no training leading up to the event with an ITB injury. Three weeks before the race I did just one 70km training run after weeks of literally nothing, before tapering. Also during the race I spent 100km feeling nauseous and chucking up. I still don’t know if it was the altitude or what. But I learnt that I can still overcome the odds if I apply myself and chucking up does not mean the end of the race.


Shona. Do you like to train in a group or on your own? And Why?
Beth. I find that when I run on my own I tend to run slow and am not very focused. Certainly running with someone else gives me a focus and a welcome distraction.


Shona. What is your favourite training session?
Beth. I’m really enjoying the gym spin classes at the moment.


Shona. How did you go about running your first 100 Miler? How did you even think you could run that far?
Beth. My first 100miler was Great North Walk. I had done a few 100km events before that so my race strategy consisted of racing the first 100km then seeing what happens. As it turned out, it wasn’t the best strategy but I had to start with something.


Shona. What female records do you hold?

Beth’s Record List Below.

  • Bogong to Hotham.
  • Knapsack 6hr.
  • Mt Solitary.
  • The North Face 100km.
  • San Francisco Trail Half Marathon.
  • I did have the record for Great North Walk 100M, which is now the third fastest female time.


I have also got the second fastest female time for: Cradle Mountain, Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon.


Shona. What characteristic do you think go into making a champion like yourself? (Yes Beth you are a champion that is why I am interviewing you).
Beth. I’m competitive by nature. Having a big brother certainly helped with that. But I’m not sure where my results come from.


Shona. What sport did you play as a kid?
Beth. Netball, both outdoor and the shortened indoor version.


Shona. Is there a family history of amazing athletic ability? Like a long lost uncle or granddad/grandma or dad/mum who excelled at sport? Or are you just the “Stand Out Kid/Freak” in the family?
Beth. I must be adopted because my family isn’t very athletic.


Shona. What is your hydration and nutritional plan when you are racing? I know it is quite different from most peoples nutritional plan. Is it different from when you are training?
Beth. My fuel plan for training and events is very unorthodox. I prefer water or cordial when running. If it’s a longer run I will have an electrolyte drink. For food I like rice crackers and chips between checkpoints because they are light to carry. At checkpoints I will have a chicken and avocado wrap. I don’t get carried away with highly processed sports foods.


Shona. Have you ever had to work through injuries? If so what sort of rehab or cross training did you have to do before you could start racing again?
Beth. When I had my ITB injury at the beginning of 2011 I was stubborn and refused to acknowledge it. I kept pushing and it resulted in me missing The North Face 100km. I had to rest and do a lot of stretching which was very frustrating. Later in 2011 I developed a pelvic stress fracture which resulted in me missing Great North Walk 100M. Again I had to rest and wait for the bone to mend itself. For both these injuries I spent a lot of time in the gym doing spin classes and cycling up and down the Pacific Highway between Hornsby and Calga.


Shona. What is the biggest recovery tip? Food? Rest? Ice Baths? Recovery Jogs?
Beth. I don’t really do anything special for recovery. It’s just life as normal.


Shona. Beth you ran Western States 100 mile in 2011 and came 12th. You proved yourself in an international field. Did this experience change how you approached your running in 2012?
Beth. After Western States I can see the difference between me and the top performers in the sport. I would love to give Western states another go now I know the course. I only hope I get back there with some form to really race it. I was gutted to miss out on the opportunity to race against the Salomon girls at last years The North Face, but at the same time I don’t know if I would have done as wells as I did this year. At the end of the day I am always racing against myself and as long as I put in my best effort then I’m happy with that.


Shona.  What are the standout improvements you have made to your training, nutrition, or hydration and recovery in 2012 that bought you the amazing record breaking win of The North Face 100km smashing over 20 minutes off the record and beating the next female by 30 minutes? Your result I’m sure has made a few of the blokes nervous.
Beth. Surprisingly nothing. I know the course really well and I know how I should be feeling along the whole course. I didn’t run with a watch. I suppose I just ran my own race and I remained focused on running as strong as I could. I know I gave a few of the guys a bug HTFU moment down in Jamison Valley. At the time I didn’t know if it was because they were running poorly or if I was running well.


Shona. That must have been an awesome feeling.
Shona. Beth you had to miss TNF100 the year before 2011 due to injury, what did you change in 2012 for TNF100km to gain such an amazing result? Or was it just the case that you were stronger, faster, smarter, better and more seasoned athlete?
Beth. I stayed healthy in the lead up so at least this year I could start the race. Other than that nothing much changed.


Shona. What would you say is your biggest strength when you are racing?
Beth. I don’t really look at myself as being a strong or fast runner. I’m perhaps a consistent runner. I really like the trails and I think that in itself gives me the motivation to race hard.


Shona. What shoes do you like to wear?
Beth. I wear anything, though I have a tendency to use Asics 2160 or Nimbus. I have been known to race in different shoes, both brand and style. Sometimes my dogs optimise my shoes by eating bits out of them which I still use in races.


Shona.  5 Tips for anyone wanting to compete in their first Ultra Marathon.

Beth’s Top 5 Tips

  1. Start with small distances and build yourself up slowly.
  2. Start slow and slowly get faster.
  3. Believe in yourself.
  4. Race only on the trails, where walking is quite acceptable.
  5. Follow the trail runners mantra; run the flats and downs, walk the hills. I still follow this today, though I try to only walk the steep hills.



Shona.  Also Beth next time we hit a climb together can you let me win? You can answer it if you like. And you can say no! I know the climbs are your domain!
Beth. Would you prefer to know that you beat me in a climb or that I let you beat me in a climb?
Shona. I don’t think you will ever let me beat you!