Brendan Davies set to go aggressive from the off in 100km race
The Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand this Saturday is a race that has occupied my mind for the last three months after I made the decision to make this my first ‘A’ race of what will be a very busy year of racing.
The lead up has been a bit of a roller coaster of a journey for me. Choosing this race meant that I had to forego what is arguably Australia’s most prestigious trail race, the 6 Foot Track Marathon (actually an ultra), which was on last weekend.
This is one of my favourite races as it starts and finishes in my training grounds up here in the Blue Mountains and it’s a dream of mine to win it.
Previously I have finished 2nd and if there was ever a year I was due for a win it was this year!
However, one of my big goals this year is to race internationally for inov-8 a lot more and to see how I stack up against the top guys from around the world.
I just could not miss the opportunity to race some of the world’s best like Tim Olson, Francois Dheane, Anton Krupicka, Sage Canaday and Vajin Armstrong, so the decision to go to New Zealand was a no brainier in the end.
Last year my good mate Mick Donges won the race and has spoken glowingly about the event ever since.
Adding to the easy decision is that Tarawera has a reputation of being a rather fast, flat ultra which benefits my strengths as a runner.
So my lead up in training was purposeful and precise. After having a few weeks off after Christmas, I got stuck into the training and have been really consistent and disciplined in my approach.
In the last month or so I’ve really turned more to the road in order to sharpen up my speed for this event.
My race plan had been to be conservative in the first 60km of ‘lumpy, technical’ trail before unleashing on the last 40km of gently descending fire trail.
I was confident that I could run a sub 2:50 marathon split to the finish and probably pull in a lot of the guys that are more suited to the technical stuff.
I couldn’t have been happier with how I was progressing.
In amongst some huge training weeks I ran some scorching times in a couple of low key road events, including breaking my marathon PB by running a 2:32 split as part of a 50k road race.
But I mentioned the roller coaster, didn’t I? Well, that really kicked in a couple of weeks ago when I was told by the Tarawera race director that it was likely the course was going to be changed, owing to brushfire risks on the last section. An alternative route now means we will stop and turn around at the 60km mark, running back 40km on the tough sections. No more fast, free flowing finish! Arrrrrrrrgh!
I must admit, after hearing this news I did feel a bit flat. Compounding this was that the 6 Foot Track Marathon hype was really building up in Australia and all my trail mates were preparing for this race. I actually still had my entry in… and yes it was tempting to line up on the start line let tell you!
It was fellow inov-8 athlete Shona Stephenson and a few others who made me see sense and get my head focused back on Tarawera.
I guess in my mind I know I am a good road runner so saw the original course as ‘up my alley’, but it was Shona who reminded me how much I’ve progressed on the more ‘traily’ type courses these days.
So it’s been a much more settled last week. Even with the course change, I know I can still be up there.
It will mean I’ll have to be a little more aggressive early on, so I’m envisaging quite a tactical type of run. I will race in my favourite inov-8 shoes, the x-talon™ 212s. It’s going to be a very loose trail so hopefully they will come into their own.
My friends, family and supporters are all behind me and I’m ready to race. Hopefully Tarawera will be the perfect launch pad for a great year of racing for inov-8!
Tarawerna Ultra official website: http://www.taraweraultra.co.nz/contact.html
x-talon™ 212s: http://bit.ly/S7cp0i