Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - Year In Review


Like most things these days I seem to be running way behind...but I have finally found a few minutes to reflect back on the last 365 days and remind myself of some of the great running related memories, achievements, surprises and a few inevitable disappointments of 2014.

If I could summarise 2014 in one word it would be busy! It seemed, and it certainly felt like I was always a couple of weeks away from travelling or coming back to reality of life and my passport pretty much remained on the office table all year round instead of it being put away in it's safe place where it should be. I certainly racked up some frequent flyer points this year. Hong Kong, New Zealand, Japan, USA and Qatar were all visited internationally with a couple of additional trips to Victoria and South Australia too for good measure!

At the start of 2014, if there was one big goal I wanted to nail was a big result in a big international ultra event. What that result would look like I didn't know, that was to be an internal measure that I could only determine at the time. Being a perfectionist of some sort this was always going to be a bit of a futile task and it's probably then no surprise that I feel like there were a couple of missed chances despite what on paper look like descent results.

So what about the races? Well it was another huge racing year. There were a stack of highs and there were one or two lows too. I can reflect back and be content in knowing I stayed true to my values as a runner, and this has never changed over my career - to be a prolific racer but have a one or two 'A' races, to be versatile over various distances and terrains and to give back to the sport the very joy that I get out of it.

If you like numbers, then these are the statistics.

Races: 41
Range: 5km to 240km, Road and Trail (no track this year)
Podium (Top 3): 33
Victories: 18 (1 shared victory)

Road

Running for Australia in the IAU 100km World Championship was definitely a highlight of the year
Although it didn't really feel like a big year of road running in comparison to trail, it actually ended up being quite significant. The highlights being.
  • 2nd at the Narrabeen All Nighter 12h; running 145km and ranking 3rd on the Australian all time 12h road rankings. Quite a surprise given I was planning to stop at 100km.
  • Breaking my only road PB for the year, lowering my 5k time by one second!.
  • Winning the Centennial Park Ultra 100km (although how this is called a road event is still a mystery)
  • Picking up a couple of podiums in road marathons at the M7 and Carcoar.
  • 12th at the 100km World Championships, running a sub 7h time.
The World Championships was an 'A' race for me this year and I finished just a minute outside my PB (although to be fair on a much tougher course and in more testing conditions). However, I can't help thinking that it was a case of a missed opportunity. I was definitely going into the race thinking I could get deep in the Top 10 with a time of around 6:45. Unfortunately things took a bit of a turn in the last quarter of the race and I missed the Top 10 by less than 80 seconds. But a wonderfully rewarding and fulfilling experience for sure.

Another highlight was regularly attending my local parkrun at Penrith Lakes. I love the parkrun concept and it's just a wonderful global health initiative. It's grassroots racing and it's where, for many, the joy of running is found. I look forward to continuing to be present as often as I can and spending time with other runners from the local Penrith and Blue Mountains area.

The other moment on the road this year, which deserves a blog post of its own, was Coast to Kosci, the 240km mammoth that I finished the year on. So many mixed feelings and lessons learned and I will get around to putting all these down soon.

Trail

Running in Western States was a dream come true
Some highlights:
  • 6th at Ultra Trail Mt Fuji (UTMF)
  • 3rd at TNF100
  • 8th at Western States 
  • 1st, shared with Dave Eadie at Surf Coast Century
  • 1st at Heysen 105
  • 1st and setting a new course record at Oxfam Sydney Trailwalker with 3 mates.
The trails were once again where it all happened this year. There were a couple of great results but the one I probably got the most satisfaction from was at Ultra Trail Mt Fuji. It is a 100mile race with +9500m and not really the type of race that I'm suited for, nor where my strengths lie with all the ascending. The field was stacked, with a classy international field assembled, and I fought hard all day and night for that result. The other result of significance was of course my other 'A' race of the year, Western States, the Grandaddy of all US 100 milers. But like the World 100km, I can't help but think a Top 5 spot was within reach, especially as I was there abouts with the finishers 4th to 7th all day. In the end only 12 minutes separated 8th to 4th. This has definitely left me hungry to go back next year and finish the job!

I also finished 5th in the overall series rankings of the Ultra Trail World Tour. This was a big surprise and to be in the same cohort of some big name international runners was a huge honour but good reward for all the hours of training.

Of course I have to thank my sponsors and supporters for enabling me to be able to do what I love. I hope I've been a good representative for what you and your companies stand for. I'm very grateful to Barefootinc, Hammer Nutrition Australia, 2XU, Injinji Performance Products, Ferei Australia, Valley Fitness, Suunto Australia and of course my main sponsors Inov-8. Many thanks to Lake Crackenback Resort and Spa, Mountain Sports, Southern Highlands Challenge, Heysen 105, Sydney Trail Series and the Australian Running Convention who have given me opportunities as an ambassador this year.

Thanks always to my awesome wife Nadine for being my number 1 supporter, sustainer and maintainer! It was just as big a year for her as it was for me and I know the sacrifices and compromises you've made for me. Thank you so much.

It was also a massive year from a work perspective. This year I've spent a lot more time investing into my UP Coaching business and getting that off the ground and running in more a full time capacity. I've been overwhelmed with the response and on a lot of levels I've learnt a lot of lessons in what it means to run a fully fledged business. But I've enjoyed the journey so far immensely. From running two weekly training sessions; running weekend camps, taking groups for trail running clinics and all the online coaching; it's been another super busy but rewarding journey. Look out for plenty of UP Coaching Crew to feature in and around big races in 2015. Thank you to all my clients and casual visitors who have been part of UP Coaching in 2014.

The other initiative that I feel particularly proud of too is Trail Kids which I cofounded with my good friend Jo Brischetto. To see kids getting outside, being active in the great Australia bush and introducing them to the wonderful sport of trail running is just incredibly enriching for both the kids and myself. It's at the grassroots where the future of the sport in Australia lies and I'm proud that I have a small little input at this level.

Shortly, I'll post my running plans for 2015.

Nabbing 5th in the UTWT was a nice reward for a lot of hard work!

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