Friday, April 26, 2013

Dogs or Caravan? is a Japanese ultra running website directed by Koichi 'fluffy' Iwasa. It's a terrific site, a lot like ultra168.

Shona and I had the privilege of being interviewed yesterday, here is the YouTube clip

Friday, April 19, 2013

Gear Comparison - Ferei HL20 vs AyUp AllRounder Headlamp

I've had a lot of people recently asking me about the Ferei HL20 headlamp that I use in ultras and in night training. I thought with TNF100 and other events coming up where there will be elements of night running, I would give a bit of a comparison post between the Ferei and the other popular runner's unit on the market, the AyUp AllRounder headlamp.

All I am going to do is compare both features of the units, from my review of the Ferei HL20 that I featured on my blog, and Shona's review of the Ay-Up All Rounder Ultra Lite that was on her site, simply by quoting each other's reviews. Any information not found on each other's reviews was sought from the products' website itself (and stated here).

As a disclaimer, I am sponsored by Ferei, and Shona is likewise by AyUp

Full In Depth Reviews

My Ferei HL20 Review
Shona's Ay-Up All Rounder Ultra Lite Review



  • Standard headlight unit (without standard 18650 battery): 150 grams 
  • Standard 18650 battery: 50 grams 
  • BP28 small external battery: 120 grams 
  • BP4836 large external battery pack: 240 grams 


"The new Ay-Up that I weighed on my kitchen scales weighted only 198 grams with the 1/2 epic battery and 254 grams with the Epic battery."
"The 1/2 Epic weighs 87 grams on my kitchen scales."
"The Epic weighs 146 grams on my kitchen scales."
"The new head strap weighs 57 grams"



There are three light settings on the unit, a high (100%) and a changeable secondary setting. There is also SOS/Strobe.


"There is three settings on your Ay-Up, High, Low, Flashing. These settings are all controlled by the visible yellow button on the battery pack."

There is one important difference here between the Ferei and the AyUp, that I feel needs explaining a little more. The Ferei, unlike the AyUp, has an adjustable 'second' brightness (power) setting. In other words, this can be changed at any point while running, so you can set this level to how low or as high as you want. This is very beneficial in headlamp power management, as on firetrails etc you actually will want to lower the beam right down. The AyUp does not have this feature, only an unadjustable 'low' setting.

Power output (brightness)


"The product specifics state that on high it outputs 10 watts of power delivering over 600 lumens of light."


From website...
"Each lightset outputs over 500 Lumen in the standard package"

Battery Life


  • Light time of standard 18650 battery on high: 90 minutes. 
  • Light time of standard 18650 battery on lowest setting: over 43 hours 
  • Light time of BP28 external battery on high: Up to 3 hours. 
  • Light time of BP28 external battery on lowest setting: Up to 100 hours 
  • Light time of BP4836 external battery on high: Up to 6 hours. 
  • Light time of BP4836 external battery on lowest setting: several hundred hours on lowest setting 
Other than high mode (100%) it is hard to give precise run times due to the variability of the secondary brightness setting. Roughly half full brightness will give at least double the runtime of high mode and the run time goes up exponentially with anything less than 50%


"The 1/2 Epic Battery will give you 3-6 hours of battery life. I’ve tested the 1/2 Epic on high for 3 hours on a trail training run running and it was still going strong. It will give you 6 hours on low, and 12 hours plus on flashing."
"The Epic Battery last for 6 hours on high, 12 hours on low and days on flashing."

LED Lifespan


"With burn time of the high intensity LED light around 50 000 hours"


From website...
LED life - over 50,000 hours



  • The standard HL20 package: $129.00
  • External batteries: BP28 is $39.00 and BP4826 is $79.00
  • Extension lead comes with purchase of either external battery.
Discount code: 20% off the Ferei HL20 using the RUNNERSCHOICE discount code.


$242 for standard unit with half epic battery
$88 for epic battery
$7.70 for extension lead (for when using epic battery)

Function, Comfort etc

As this is totally a subjective thing, I think you have to read our reviews in entirety to get a feel of how the units perform out on the trails. We have both since used the units extensively as successfully. Myself in the GNW100 miler last year and also on many training runs and also Shona recently wore hers overnight at the Northburn100 miler and in many other race successes!

One important difference is that neither external Ferei battery can be worn on the head. These have to be used with the extension lead running to the battery in pack etc. On the AyUp it is possible to wear the larger Epic battery on the headset, although the website does state that :

"We recommend you purchase an Extension Lead with this battery as it is double the weight of the 72 gram Half Epic Battery and you do notice this on your head when running. All batteries have a flashing mode plus a fuel gauge so you can easily check how much power you have left."

The Ferei does not have a fuel gauge but it does 'blink' when it is running low as a warning signal.

Warranty, water resistance etc

Very similar to eachother but please do your own research about this to be sure from the manufacturers websites.

Available from


The Ferei HL20 with standard on board battery (in cylinder casing), recharger,
and the two different external batteries with extension lead.
The AyUp AllRounder Kit, with epic (black) on board the unit. The two
smaller half epic batteries are shown as is the Orange charger

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Canberra Ultra Marathon 50k 2013

I love racing on the road. There is something about the rhythm, the consistency and the smoothness of the road that makes me feel at home. It is like coming home and getting into a warm bed. If feels very natural for me to run to a rhythm and tune out.

But it is probably a good thing I don't train or race on the road very often. I know too well that these things can soon become the very things that can turn you off road running and overuse injuries can occur if you do all your training on the road. Not can...will. But I still like flirting with the road; sometimes I pick up and sometimes I get rejected. Today I picked up!

On Friday night I cruised down after work and got to my brother-in-law and sister's place on the outskirts of Canberra. They are both starting to get a liking for running and we agreed to go to the Ginninderra parkrun the next morning to run the beautiful 5km course there. I was also meeting up with Paul, a client I coach who was attempting to run his maiden sub 3 marathon on Sunday...(BTW...he nailed it, and so did Stevo and mys sister who picked up big PB's!)

With my brother-in-law Stevo at Ginninderra parkrun
Although my plan was to just go for a jog to stretch the legs before the big run the next day, like always, I got caught up in the moment and raced it. I ended up winning and setting a new 5km road PB. There were lots of Canberran runners there I knew and I love the parkrun concept. Brad Hatheria and his team do a wonderful job hosting this parkrun.

I was invited down to the Australian Running Festival by Keith 'Buzz' Hong as an ambassador for the Ultra Marathon event. Unfortunately the pasta party/seminar where I was to be a panelist was canned but I still would have gone down anyhow, I really like this marathon and it's always a great opportunity for me to catch up with many relatives who live in Canberra, and of course all my running buddies.

I've raced the Canberra marathon itself 3 times previously, and each time I've thought I would do the Ultra add on. Every time I've gone into the race saying to myself 'I'm going to run a fast marathon then hang on and do the extra 8km' for the ultra. A couple of times I've even tricked myself into thinking the 'extra 8 is just a marathon cool down'...Well let me tell you were that kind of thinking got me in the past...

Marthon Time
Ultra Headspace
Ultra Time
Ultra Pain
20082:49:49 "I'll just keep going after the marathon" DNS DNS, Not one step more!
2009 2:51:14As above..."No repeat of last year" 3:30:41 Struggle Street, hurt like hell, pride got me home!
2011 2:43:22I want the best of both worlds" DNF Pulled out 1km into Ultra
2012 2:33:51 "I'm here to run the 50K" 3:05:01Felt great the whole way

"Come to me all barefooters!"
So, I think the moral of this little story is that for me to run a good 50K time, I had to go into it with the headspace that I was racing the 50k only. Believe me this is hard! Watching the marathoners sail off into the distance was no easy thing early on. I was being careful with my pace and had to rein it in constantly.

In the end though, and it just goes to show, that even with this conservative pacing strategy, it was probably not far off the best pacing strategy I could have done for the marathon! In fact, when I passed under the marathon finish line, I was only 7 seconds outside my marathon PB! But I'm not disappointed by this at all. I was there to race the 50k and I'm glad I didn't break my marathon PB...I want to save this for a stand alone marathon and then I hopefully won't be breaking it by seconds but by minutes and achieving a life goal of going sub 2:30. I know I have it in me, I just have to pick a race and schedule a block of training around it.

These shoes are freaking fast!
The runs of the day belong to Rowan Walker for winning the marathon; allowing Vlad to take a massive lead in the marathon and trusting himself to finish over the top of him, and also Alex Matthews's run in the marathon/50k was superb...he almost did get the best of both world's...pulling in many of the faster bunnies in the marathon to finish 3rd and then almost pulling in Vlad on the Ultra. Vlad also had a great day; although he may be a little disappointed about the marathon result, he showed he is a force to be reckoned with in the ultra scene with a victory in the 50k. Watch out for Vlad to set the TNF50 course alight this year.

My race was pretty damn consistent and I have to be happy with how the day panned out. Although I was holding myself back, this is the way to race distance events, and was pleased to pass a few marathoners before the 35km mark and also gaining one spot on the ultra leg to put myself on the podium. It was a great day for barefootinc, with a trifecta of their athletes on the mens 50k podium.

My time was a massive 9 minute 50k PB, and I pretty much held sub 3:40 pace for all the marathon and sub 3:50 pace for most of the ultra (see splits below in Garmin data). I released the pedal in the last 2km. Not every weekend you can go away with a 5k and a 50k PB from different races too!

The Men's 50K Podium, with Alex 2nd (far left) and Vlad.
Gear Choice
Top: Hammer Nutrition branded RaceReady technical running singlet
Shorts: Team inov-8 branded Body Science Compression Shorts
Shoes: inov-8 Road X-Treme 178s
Socks: injinji Performance 2.0 Lightweight Ultra-Thin toesocks
Visor: Team injinji branded Headsweat visor
Race Nutrition: Pre race gel, then gel every 40 minutes
Hydration: Water at every table, sponged face and head at every sponge station

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ultra Trail Mt Fuji

Ultra Trail Mt Fuji is a 100 mile ultra trail race which sends runners orbiting around the spiritually significant and Japan’s highest peak, Mt Fuji on the 26th of April. It is the sister race to Ultra Trail Mt Blanc, and as such the race attempts to replicate as many of the features of UTMB. Tough and torturous, majestic yet merciless to the underprepared!

Training hard in the beautiful Blueys!
It is very significant in my own ultra trail running career. It will be my first foray into the world of international 100 milers and indeed even my first true 100 mile ultramarathon. My only other 100 mile race was the Great North Walk in Australia last year, which was actually 108 miles!

UTMF will also be my greatest challenge to date. 161km with over 9000m of elevation gain on unfamiliar trail in a foreign land poses some intimidating challenges. But it is a challenge I am ready for. This year is all about testing myself on the worldrai stage and UTMF is not short of great athletes with some of the biggest names in the business toeing the line; Seb Chaigneau, Julien Chorier and Gary Robbins to name a few. Then we all know how good the Japanese runners are too!

With Wes, climbing Furber steps on UTMF
replication long weekend
In preparation I have been putting in consistent 100 mile plus weeks, finding trails with the most elevation as possible (not as easy as it sounds living on the flattest continent on Earth!) and trying to be as race specific as possible. For example, the recent Easter holidays gave me an opportunity that I don’t usually have while working the 9 to 5 job…back to back to back to back long runs! 180km in 4 days with over 7000 of total elevation gain with the objective of conditioning my body for the race distance and terrain and also to test my nutrition/hydration plan using Hammer Nutrition products.

Other challenges aside from the physical aspects are equally just as pertinent! Some interesting race information that has left this naive Australian scratching his head…”Noodles will be served at aid stations and as such runners must bring their own fork”…”all runners must carry a bear bell”…”if a runner has to relieve themselves on the course you must use a disposable portable toilet”…!

With Shona, Matty and Ewan after hills at Woodford
I feel fast and strong, fit and healthy. I feel that all the training and racing I’ve done so far this year is leading up to this day and it is up to me to execute on the day my own race, not to get too carried away in the moment and trust that my fitness and training will bring me home stronger than anyone else. I’ll also take great inspiration into the race from my fellow Australian and Inov-8 team mate Shona Stephenson who will be joining me at the start line. One week after significant challenges at Tarawera she scorched the field at the Northburn 100 miler in NZ. When the going gets tough, it’s things like this that will help me get through them.

One thing is for sure, I’m 100% #committed to this race!

I will race in my inov-8 TrailRoc 245 shoes.

I’m really looking forward to t having a ball on Japanese soil!