Hakuba International Trail 2013

Hakuba International Trail 2013

After the UTMB (Ultra Trail Mount Blanc 2013) withdrawal I was physically, mentally and emotionally broken. I questioned why I was running. I was absolutely exhausted from my 2013 Trail Running season. I missed my family and kids dearly. What hurt more was that I was to have less than two weeks on the ground in Sydney with my family and beautiful girls before I was back on another plane to Tokyo.
At the start of 2013 I thought I was totally invincible. At the end of 2013 I had a suspected stress fracture in my Medial Malleolus and a tendonitis in my Tibialis Posterior. I’d made a commitment to Inov8 x Descente Japan to race Hakuba International Trails 2013 and I was not going to let my sponsors down.
On top of my ankle injuries had an extremely inflamed and painful left big toe. After the long haul flight from Geneva via London, stopping over in Singapore and landing in Sydney in 24 hours my toe felt like it was broken. It was a painful throbbing mess. When I touched down in Sydney I could not bare weight on it at all. On the Tuesday morning after the UTMB , I checked in with my family then I headed straight to RPA emergency to get both my big toe and my ankle looked at. The ankle was easy to clear from a regular fracture with a few test and manual manipulation. It still needed an MRI though to rule out a “stressy” and to see what had been giving me such grief over the past 1.5 years. My big toe was x-rayed and was also cleared of a fracture. Phew! I could let my Inov8 x Descente Japan Sponsors know I could race Hakuba International Trails 2013.

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Interview with Ben Duffus Winner of Surf Coast Century 2013

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.

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Shona Stephenson UTMB – Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Race Report

I had an awful lead up to the UTMB (Ultra Trail Du Mount Blanc) Europe’s biggest Trail Ultra 100 mile event of the year. Like most people living in Sydney in winter with children I was sick with a virus. I was also still going through personal hell and bad asthma when I boarded the plane from Sydney to Geneva, stopping over in Singapore to re-fuel and then landing in London. I felt like I’d learned enough from my last trip the European Alps to get a good result at the UTMB (Ultra Trail Du Mount Blanc).
I arrived in the gorgeous Chamonix in France. Chamonix was alive and buzzing with trail running athletes everywhere. I just had to take a walk down the main street and I’d bump into some of my trail running mates. The atmosphere in Chamonix was electric. The place was pumping with anticipation of the events that were starting throughout the week.  This place was going off and we had not even started the first races of the Ultra Trail Festival yet.

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Skyrunning – Ice Trail Tarentaise

Photo By Ian Corless

Two days before Skyrunning Ice Trail Tarentaise 65km I realize I had run out of my preventive asthma medication. I started to freak out. I was sent into absolute panic. It was the end of my European Adventure and I had planed out my spending to the last Euro. I also later found out the Hotel Double Charged my credit card by mistake. The Aussie dollar was plummeting whilst I was on holiday’s. The little Aussie battler had lost 13% Shit! I have 2 kids back in Sydney and a Sydney mortgage to go with it. I run my own business’s if I don’t work I don’t get paid and I have almost been away for 3 weeks. Adding a possible overseas doctors bill plus medication could be really expensive. I contacted the Skyrunning Race Director and told them about my problem.

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AURA Australian Ultra Runners Trail National Championships

I was asked by my sponsors Inov8 and Barefoot Inc to race in the Tarawera Ultramarathon Rotarura in New Zealand just 12 days before AURA Australian Ultra Runners National Trail Championships, Maroondah Dam. Being asked to race for your sponsor is a great honour and I did not want to let them down. It also meant that I had to pull out of the iconic 6 Foot Track 45km Trail Event scheduled the week before Tarawera Ultramarathon. I was bummed that I was not going to get a tough race in before Northburn and Tarawera. I then spotted the Maroondah Dam AURA Australian Ultra Trail Running Championships and I thought that it would serve as the perfect lead up to Tarawera Ultra Marathon and Northburn 100. I am to race Northburn 100 the week after Tarawera Ultramarathon. I am going to fly back to Australia in between the two events to see my husband and kids before racing in New Zealand again.

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GOW 100K Trail Race 2012

The GOW 100k was my second 100k trail race, after my first, The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains. I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing! I expected the course to be much flatter and with a lot less stairs. Also, the mandatory gear requirements were less stringent, which, thankfully, meant I was carrying less.

This race was run along the Great Ocean Walk coastal trail, which is located along the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian coast. The course itself was a mixture of fire trails, beaches and single track. The commonality of all of those was the beautiful scenery. The race started in Apollo Bay and wound its way around to Port Campbell.

Of course, being on the coast, we were subject to some tough weather conditions. We were faced with rain that came in sideways, and then warm sun that made me feel very hot! These two conditions kept swapping all day, but part of the challenge of an ultra race is dealing with different and difficult conditions. Such changes in weather also make a race more memorable, the coast is even more beautiful when the weather is blustery and wet.

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Surf Coast Century CP2 to Finish

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.

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Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012

Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012

It was a big ask to back up for Inov8 Coastal Classic 2012 only one week after Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012. I would not normally enter a race so soon after an Ultra. My sponsors Barefoot Inc with Inov8 shoes were the featured sponsors for the event so I felt compelled to show my support for the brand. Last year I had an extra week to recover and relish my energy stores, so I was not sure how my body was going to react. I am the current female record holder for the course and last years winner with a time of 2 Hours 57 minutes. I had to give it a go. You just never know how you are going to feel.
Mikey, my husband knows how well I’m going to run before the event better than I do. When I was figuring out my splits the morning of the Coastal Classic 2012 in the car on the way to Otford, Mikey insisted a personal best and breaking the record by 2 minutes was not enough. He suggested a 7 minute personal best just to keep me honest. Fine. I thought. I have not had a good PB since TNF100 (50 minute PB and City2Surf 80 second PB) so I would have loved a 7 minute personal best over 29ks. But was it possible so soon after Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney?
It was to be the start of a weird and wonderful day. At the start of the event my mate Brendan Davies approached me an offered to run with me as my pacer.
“How fast do you want to run it?” Brendan asked.

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Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 St Ives to Davidson Reserve

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012

We ran into St Ives Showground Check Point 4 hot and bothered. I was feeling relaxed knowing that that hard effort we put in on the climb has paid off. I spotted my hubby Mikey taking photos and I waved to my mates Michael, Gordi and Tom at the checkpoint. As a team we quickly checked in and out and I ran over to Beth who had my gear organized for me. I quickly swopped over my Hammer Gels and my Hammer Fizz water bottles over and I was ready to run. Mikey informed me that the Gu Nathan Team was only 2 minutes behind us at the 50km mark. I started to get antsy.

Andy was injured. He was so strong not to complain once about his knee. He needed some pain relief. I found him some voltaren gel and nureofen was given to him with some food. I started to get edgy knowing that we were losing time at the check point. I had no idea how far behind the Gu Nathan team was and I wanted to get moving. I started walking out of the Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney check point.

Paul soon followed me. We started to chat.

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Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 – Forming a Winning Team.

Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012 is a team event first and foremost. To win the event you need an amazing team that is willing to work together through everyones strengths and weaknesses……

This story started way back in December when I emailed Brendan Davies about the possibility of forming a strong female No Roads Team for Oxfam 2012. No Roads Expeditions already had a cracking male team, there was no way I’d be able to keep up with the likes of Andrew Lee, Ben Artup, Brendan Davies, Mike Donges. But if there was a female team with Beth Cardelli and Angela Bateup, I felt like I could maybe just hold my own.
No Roads Expeditions could only managed to obtain one team entry for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012. So I was not going to run in the No Roads Expeditions Team. I just was not fast enough. So I kept my options opened, and just stayed in contact with Brendan and waited for a spot as a reserve. The two major races for the Marathon Trail Running calendar in 2012 were cancelled the 6 Foot Track in March and Mt Solitary was cancelled in April. I had no way to prove myself as a runner until May. I then ran The North Face 100km in 12 Hours 29 seconds placed 3rd female. I then pulled up nicely two weeks later at the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon and again managed a 3rd. I felt like I did enough to prove my ability. Brendan’s body feeling the effects of his amazing racing season thus far and I think Beth Cardelli wanted another “chick” on the team with her for Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney 2012. So after the Glow Worm Tunnel in April I was asked onto the team. Yes!

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City2Surf 2012

I did not expect much from my performance for the City2Surf 2012. I’ve been injured for about a month with numerous ankle sprains. The last sprain was just over a week ago. My preparation for the event was definitely disrupted. I did what I could do. Cross trained and just watched my diet to keep the weight off. I heated and massaged and rehabbed my ankle daily. I’ve gone through about 4 rolls of strapping tape in 2 weeks. Running a personal best at the City2Surf 2012 was going to be a struggle. It is the only road race I compete in every year so I just wanted to enjoy the day, have fun, catch up with mates and hurt like hell. It was going to hurt.
I did not bother with City2Surf 2012 splits. My Garmin
will keep me posted on how I was doing. I instead wrote two of my favourite quotes on my hand. “Let Her Run” and “Heart of a Champion”. Both quotes are from my favourite kids movie about the famous race horse “Secretariat”. I knew that if I was going to manage a PB, I was going to have to run my little heart out.
I told all my mates to meet me up the front right hand side. I giggled to myself when they all appeared at the front , by my side one by one. How good is that. Amongst 80,000 people I could still organsie to find my friends. It was going to be a good day.

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Kokoda Challenge 2012 race report by Ewan Horsburgh

Ewan Horsburgh just ran the Kokoda Challenge and is a tough contender. He has won the Coast 2 Kosi and Coburg 24hr. He has just made it onto the Australian 24 Hour Team and it about to fly to Poland to represent his country in September. He is a dad a web designer and a husband. Ewan Horsbrugh has just notched up a team win at the Kokoda Trail in July.  Ewan is such a nice guy, and he has taken some time out of his busy routine to chat to me about Kokoda and his training techniques, nutrition and his up coming events.



Shona: The Kokoda Challenge sounds as tough. Just the word Kokoda represents sacrifice, pain, mate ship, courage and endurance. How tough was this event? Did it live up to it’s name?

Ewan Horsburgh: The Kokoda Challenge is a very tough and hilly event which covers 96km (Which is the actual distance of the Kokoda track) and crosses 12 creeks. There had been a lot of rain in the weeks leading up to the race so the creeks were full and the descents were very slippery with all the mud and clay.

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