Damian Smith 3rd Place at the KOM 2012

Damien Smith is one of my great running mates. We have run together in races on many occasions, he usually takes off extremely fast . Our running together is usually very brief maybe for only 1-2kms. Damien is a gun out of the blocks. He is in amazing form at the moment .
In The North Face 100km he ran a PB with a stellar time of 11:13:50. Avoiding being “Chicked” by Beth Cardelli, (yes guys we all know you will avoid being “Chicked” ). He is back racing and he has taken some time to chat to me.


Shona: Hi Damien, well done again in TNF100km I’m still blown away with your time and a PB of 66 minutes. You avoided being “Chicked” by Beth, well done. She was on fire that day, beating Beth is an achievement in itself. So how was the 35th Shoalhaven King of the Mountain yesterday?

Damian: If Beth and I have raced ten times she’d have me at 7 – 3, she usually gets me on the uphill. She caught me at the top of Nellies while I was leaning against a tree, stretching out a cramp. I took off after her, only to cramp, catch my toe and crash into the bush. I wondered if she was aware. Respect to her for not slowing ! We came into CP4 together. Soon after, the terrain fell to my favour and I was able to break away.

Shona: So how was the 35th Shoalhaven King of the Mountain yesterday?

Damien: As for KOM ; it’s always a great event. Ideal conditions prevailed. I led for 8k until eventual winner Lewis Ingram flew past. I then ran with Michael Miles for 14k until the base of Mt. Scanzi. Knowing he was stronger on the ups he took full advantage of the climb. He maintained the gap all the way to the finish. A great bloke, it turns out we shook hands on the podium the weekend before at the state xc champs.


Shona: What time did you do the KOM in?

Damian: 2.14.49


Shona: Great fast time!  Have you run KOM before?
Damian: Yes. I’ve done the last five.


Shona: Five times, man I need to get down to this race. What has your training look like since TNF? Did you have a rest period? Or were you back at training as normal?

Damian: I didn’t run for a week then eased back into things. I do a lot of training at Wandandian. These trails are as technical as anything this side of the Overland Track and it fires up my love of trail running every time I go.


Shona: What makes the Shoalhaven KOM such a special race?

Damian: I’m on the organising committee so this’ll be biased 🙂

It’s special because :

  • It has been run by the Nowra Athletics Club for the last 35 years
  • The male record has stood for about 20 odd years by Rob McDonald ( currently a coach at the club )
  • The aid station at the top of Scanzi has rum as an option   (Shona:What!!!!)
  • Kerryn McCann has the female record
  • It still holds a friendly, country feel
  • The atmosphere at the finish, kicking back in the sunshine with like minded people
  • An ongoing tradition where the first placed male passes his sunglasses down to second place then receives a flash new pair from the race sponsor (Shona: Nice)


Shona: What are your favourite sections of the course?

Damian: From 12k to 22k. Some decent hills are out of the way and the dirt road meanders along through a rural landscape.


Shona: Was that KOM a personal best for you?

Damian: Yes, by about two minutes. But hey, if I pb’d TNF100 by 66 mins, I should have pb’d KOM by 22 mins, right ?


Shona: If only it worked like that! I would have PB at the W2G by  12.5 Minutes.  How did you find the infamous Mt Scanzi?

Damian: If Scanzi was in your backyard it would be a great training run most days of the week, it’s really not a killer, but sitting 22k into the race hurts. What it effectively does is sap most of the spring you wish you had in the legs to run the last 7k.


Shona: What mind tricks do you play with yourself when you are climbing an ascent like Mt Scanzi? Please tell me your secret, I’m still trying to figure out how to climb.

Damian: I’m not much of a climber. Small strides and imagine the person up ahead who is better than you blowing up into pieces for mental comfort ( only joking ).


Shona: Did you run to a race plan or split times?

Damian: I didn’t wear a watch. It’s not an easy race to run by splits. I think I did my usual thing: go out a bit too fast, feel a bit self conscious of being out front, too embarrassed to drop back to the pack so early, wait for a lone runner to streak ahead then relax and enjoy ! Is that a race plan ? As I am the coordinator for the 26 marshalls on course, I also had the added disadvantage of having to thank every one of them as I ran past.


Shona: That’s a race plan, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about being at the front that’s the best place. You will always know your position in the event. The KOM have been compared with being as tough as a road marathon, what was your hydration and nutritional plan for the day?

Damian: Two gels and a few sips of water here and there. I saw Alex Matthews’ comparison to the marathon. It’s a good comparison, though I think a marathon is tougher.


Shona: What shoes did you chose to wear for KOM and why?

Damian: NB 860 ( I had to go and have a look. Can never keep up with the number changes ). When I rediscovered running six years ago I walked in to Sports Power and bought a pair of New Balance because I went out with a girl in year 11 who wore NB. When I got fitted properly a year later turns out they were the correct shoe for me. As for why, I only have these and a pair of trail shoes – Salomon …X something or other. The Salomon girls wore them in TNF 2011.


Shona: Did you have your trusty compression socks? I know you missed them last year at Coastal Classic 2011?

Damian: No. Too embarrassed to wear them at my local race.


Shona: What brand of compression socks do you wear?

Damian: When out of town I wear Compress Sport. Collen Middleton powered past me one year at 6FT on Pluvi wearing them so I bought a pair. I now realise there is a pattern here of me copying what women are wearing. I draw the line at a skirt.


Shona: Yes, you’ve asked me what back pack I’ve worn in the past! He he he. Do you have a recovery routine that you follow when you run a race as tough as KOM? Will you go for a ocean swim, or have an ice bath? Or just go for a slow jog? Yoga?

Damian: As a self employed plumber I was digging trenches and laying pipe lines the next day. Builders don’t care much about what you get up to the day before. If a race is Saturday I’ll spend Sunday resting and eating anything in sight and thinking back over the race. I really should stretch more and drink protein shakes.


Shona: Being a plumber I’d have thought your recovery drink of choice would be of the amber variety. Will you be back next year to try and beat you time?

Damian: Yes, of course. I’d love to break 2hrs 10mins but I don’t train specifically for road races. I’m much more comfortable on uneven surfaces.


Shona: What is your next race?

Damian: Mt.Solitary. I’ll go in to this a lot wiser than last year.


Shona: I’m doing Mt Solitary as well so I’ll be seeing you there. What is your race schedule until the end of the year? Come on we all have one? List all the events you intend to enter, your wife does not have to know.

Damian: The first half of the year was quiet, slowly rebuilding after a six month break. I’d really like to finish the year with Coastal Classic, Glasshouse 100m, GOW 100k and GNW100m. I dnf’d GNW last year so I’d like to do it properly this time.


Shona: Damien I hope to see you out an event again soon.  I do enjoy our chats at the start and finish line. You’re a great guy and I will look out for you for a chit chat at our next event. Take care.