Trail Run Editorial: The Voice of Fear

‘Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up’ – Chinese proverb.

HIGH Hut to Hut -400I’m scared. And that’s a good thing. It got me out on a blustery night to grind out hill repeats toward a midnight salvation.

So what’s your motivation? I’m not talking about the ‘Big Why’, here. For me that is easy: I simply love to run through wild places. Simple and pure. It makes my soul – whatever that manifestation is – feel charged, along with all that other quasi-hippie waffle I tend to spill in these pages. Tree hugger, guilty as charged.

But when it comes to actual motivation of the moment – the driving force that in winter keeps you tramping out the front door rain, hail and – if you’re based in the southern Australian states like me – eff-all sunshine. No matter how much you love to dry-hump a eucalypt and wax lyrical about the spiritual journey along life’s dirty highway, some days are just plain hard yakka. At that moment, when you’d rather plump on the couch and (cringe alert) guiltily enjoy reality singing schlock show The Voice while bitching about prima-donna judge Delta while morphing into a fanboy of her fellow judge, Jessie J …arrr, did I just write that out loud? I digress – what is it that makes you cut short the brave performance by that guy with Tourette’s (Adam Ladell – amazing how singing quietens his devil like running wild quietens ours), kill the tube and brave the sleet?

Fear. And commitment. The former seeded and sprouted, a flowering force borne from the latter.

You have signed up to something big. A relative-to-you big. Could be your first run or your five hundredth. But it’s a biggie. And you know that you are not quite ready. And you don’t have the time to be well-oiled ready. But you have some time to do something about your current inadequacies that are rising from the pit of your stomach like a badly thought-out Nutella sandwich at kilometre eighty-eight; you feel sick right now.

Well, that’s the fear I’m feeling and that’s my current of-the-moment motivation.Mt Buller

In a weird way, it reminds me of the fear felt when you first fall in love and she/he says an unexpected “yes” (to whatever your sappy or salacious question was). And you think, shit, what now? What do I do? What if I look like a dick? What if I throw up? What if I pass out? Have I got clean undies on?

Transpose that to what is feeding my fear now and those things are all very real possibilities, and the undies factor is suddenly a resounding ‘no’.

Ahead of me is a big mountain run, in very high, very remote places, over many days in a row. That bit doesn’t worry me. I’ve (somehow) survived that before and now have a possibly ill-advised semi-confidence in terms of the terrain and my ability to move through it. But like a semi-hard on, that bravado could be deflated in an instant when the harsh fluorescent light of reality is switched on to reveal my ill-prepared nakedness.

Like a first love, it’s the company I’ll be keeping – if I can keep up – that turns my stomach.

Timothy Olson, Chamonix, France. Photographer: Tim Kemple. The North Face Rights Expire: 09_15_15

Timothy Olson, Chamonix, France. Photographer: Tim Kemple. The North Face

Timmy Olson (above), I’ll tell anyone who will listen, is a monster in the way only a Western States 100 record holder can be. Look at him. He’s a running Buddha without the belly. A Zen ultra marathon man disrobed to reveal powerful piston legs, a core that is beefy yet lithe wrapped in a six-pack and packaged with a steely stare that makes mountains wilt before him; he’s the perfect running form of human being. That’s not hagiography, by the way, that’s just my insecurities sweating over the dude (and let’s face it, he’s a ‘dude’) I have somehow signed up to keep pace with on a Himalayan mission of likely little to no mercy. For me, that is.

High fiving Timmy will be his female mirror in Anna Frost, just as accomplished and at home in high mountains having won Hardrock 100 and knocked off the Nolans 14. I’ve already had the inglorious honour of clinging on to her heels for dear life up a steep incline or twenty in the same territory we are to return to as a crew of four, led by Everest summiteer, American Ben Clark.

Here, I look for solace to the Everest of quote machines, Winston Churchill:

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

This editorial along with a bunch more dirty goodness can be downloaded and read in the latest edition or Trail Run Mag. Click HERE.

This editorial along with a bunch more dirty goodness can be downloaded and read in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag. Click HERE to download FREE or subscribe via iTunes.

Well, there were certainly a few stumbles running with Anna (she didn’t see most of them, being too far ahead), but enthusiasm duly got me through. That and fear given the fact that there was no other way off the mountain – no roads, no crew car, not even a helicopter ride (Bhutan, the country in which we were running, may have a lauded policy of Gross Domestic Happiness revered above Gross Domestic Product, but its Gross Domestic Helicopter quota was also zero).

So as I head out into a blustery night, ignoring the high notes of The Voice calling my name, I hopelessly seek Everest-scale slopes in a seaside landscape that barely rises to dunes, feeling the urgency of my commitment to the team and the mission. Of what lies ahead, I feel like a giddy love-sick teenage cross country runner about to hit some hardcore hills with his heroes. But rather than give up and return to my couch-side critique of the latest contestant on The Voice, instead I go and run a 50 vertical metre hillock twenty five times with imaginings of how Frosty and Olson would judge me should I not; scathingly, like Delta Goodrem ripping through a sour note contestant.

Ah failure. The fuel of champions.

Chris Ord, AU Editor

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Women Better Runners Than Men: Research

It’s a headline that will rouse a few eyebrows, while also getting a few heads nodding in agreement (including those fellas who have recently been ‘chicked’, as the run crowd dubs it). But perhaps it’s something we all know deep down: women are better runners than men.Screenshot 2015-03-21 11.05.31

That doesn’t mean an individual female is any faster/better than an individual male (although of course that can be the case), or that women hold the ‘fastest’ titles. That’d be like saying all all female world leaders are better than male leaders – hello Queen ‘Bloody’ Mary. Too historical? Okay, hello Ms.Thatcher. Although she was hardly a Mugabe equivalent.

What we’re digressing away from is the fact that as a collective, statistically, it appears women have a much better and more successful approach to running, especially distances (and arguably politics), than men. And the reason, it seems, is that we men are a bit to full of ourselves…

Danish statistician and former competitive runner Jens Jakob Andersen has conducted the most exhaustive research of marathon results to date. The study includes more than 1.8 million marathon results from all over the world. The study includes results from 131 races from 5 different years.

The conclusion is clear: women are better at men at maintaining a consistent pace throughout a marathon, which, everything else equal, is the best strategy is you want to perform at your optimum.Screenshot 2015-03-21 11.06.02

The research funded by RunRepeat concludes that women slow down 18.61% less than men on the second half of the marathon compared to the first half.

The lead researcher Jens Jakob Andersen says:

“When I participated in my first marathon I noticed how most runners slowed down on the second part. They burned out. To be honest it annoyed me a bit that people spend month, even years, preparing for a marathon, and then they don’t spend 10 minutes to evaluate the pace they are starting out with.”

As a statistician Jens digged into the numbers and found that more than 90% of runners slow down on the second part. On average, one slows down by around 12%.

It was clear that men are, on average, faster than women are. Actually, men are around 7% faster. But at keeping a consistent pace, the women outperform the men.

Why is that the case one might ask himself.

The cause, Jens says, is that we men tend to believe a bit too much in our own abilities and therefore start out too fast. Actually it is proven than men are more risk seeking than women are. This apparently also applies in running.

DR4_8092Looking at elite runners

Usually, it is a good idea to look at the elite runners and apply some of their strategies. While the study did not focus on the elite runners it did include conclusions about the pace strategies by elite runners. The top runners of the world, especially the East African runners typically run the first and second half of their marathon with the exact same pace, and never with a difference larger than 0.1%.

How can you apply this study to your running strategy

We asked Jens how the average runner could apply this research in their training and racing. Here is what he said:

“It is important that you spend a lot of your training time in the pace that you plan to race in. Therefore, if you are planning to race a marathon at 5 min/km, then most of your training should be in that pace. This will teach you and your body what it feels like to run at that pace – even at longer distances.”

He added notes on the race day strategy:

“On the day of your race, it is important that you start out slow. Do not get too excited by the cheering crowd. I know you want to be looking good, but keep in mind that you have to keep it up for 42 km.”

You can find the full results from the research here:

(in no particular order)

1. Lizzy Hawker (UK) –  held the world record for 24 hrs on road until May 2013, and in 2006 became the 100 km World Champion. Lizzy is a 5 time winner of The North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, and in 2013 set a new world record running from Everest Base Camp to Kathmandu (Nepal). This was recognised in 2013 when Lizzy was named a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

2. Anna Frost (NZ) – since her debut in the 2004 World Mountain Running Championships in Italy, Anna Frost has hit the trails running around the world. A Team Salomon pro, Frost competes and lives mostly among the mountains, a lifestyle and dedication that has resulted in a bunch of mountain run wins from the Everest Marathon and Sky Race Marathon to Trans Rockies, TNF50 mile champs, Six Foot Track (AU), Transvulcania, Speedgoat, Azores and Buffalo Sky Run. There’s been plenty of course records en route, and her latest appointment as a Sisu Girls ambassador ensures she’ll be inspiring female trail runners for many years to come.

3. Ellie Greenwood (UK) – a 2:42 marathoner who holds the Western States 100 course record, she is a two-time100k world-champion and was named the female Ultrarunner of the Year twice by Ultrarunning Magazine.  She holds numerous course records, including those for the Western States 100, the Canadian Death Race, the JFK 50 Mile Run and the Knee Knackering North Shore Trail Run. She is the first British woman to win the 90 km Comrades Marathon in South Africa.

4. Ann Trason (US) – holds several course records at top ultra races, including the American River 50, Leadville Trail 100 and Comrades, and has broken 20 world records in her career. In both 1996 and 1997,  Trason won both the Western States 100 just 12 days after winning the Comrades Marathon in South Africa. She has won Western States 100 a whopping 14 times, and broken 20 world records during her career.

5. Paula Radcliffe (UK) –  acknowledged as one of the finest athletes of the modern era, Paula started her running career in cross country. A six-time world champion (marathon, world cross and half), and current dual world record holder with her 30:21 for 10km and 2:15:25 marathon, she won the London Marathon in 2002, 2003 and 2005. In 2004 she won the New York Marathon in breath-taking style and in 2005 she took the gold medal at the World Championships in Helsinki for the same distance.. Besides being blazing fast, she gave all mother runners hope when she won the New York City Marathon just months after delivering her first child.

6. Amy Palmiero-Winters (US) –  a runner in high school, Amy lost her left leg below the knee in a motorcycle accident in 1994. A decade later, she entered her first marathon, winning her age group.  Palmiero-Winters turned to ultras in 2009, winning the Arizona Road Racers Run to the Future twenty-four-hour race, marking the first time an amputee had won an ultramarathon. In 2010, she became the first amputee to finish Western States and in 2011, she became the first female amputee to finish Badwater.

7. Katherine Switzer (German/US)-  the first woman ever to run Boston Marathon with a bib, Katherine went on to fight for equality in women’s sports. In 1972, she organised the first women’s-only 10K, known today as the New York Mini. Kathrine became President of the Women’s Sports Foundation and organised the Avon International Marathon for women in 1978. The growing success of that event and the improvements in women’s times bolstered the case for Olympic inclusion. Kathrine led the effort to lobby the International Olympic Committee and in 1981, the Committee voted that the women’s marathon would be added to the lineup for the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

8. Krissy Moehl (US) – a veteran ultrarunner with 12 years of competition and 96 races under her belt. Her career includes 46 female wins and 2 outright wins… that means she’s won nearly 50% of her races (factoring in the two DNF’s). In 2005, she became the youngest female to complete the Grand Slam of ultrarunning, an honor bestowed to those who complete the Western States 100, the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run, and the Leadville Trail 100 – all in one calendar year.

9. Pam Reed (US) – In 2002 Reed was the first woman to bet all comers, blokes included, to become the overall winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon. The win also set the women’s record. She then repeated as overall winner of the race in 2003. That same year she set the women’s record for the USATF 24-hour track run. In 2005, she completed a 300-mile run without sleep, completing the run in slightly less than eighty hours. Reed is the current female American record holder in six-day marathons after completing 490 miles in the Twelfth-Annual Self-Transcendence Six-Day Race in New York.

12. Nikki Kimball (US) – an American distance runner specialising in ultra distances, she ran her first 100-mile race at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2004, and was the female winner. She won at Western States again in 2005 and 2007, becoming only the third woman to win that event three times. In 2014, she won the Marathon Des Sables multi-stage endurance race on her first attempt.

11. Your call…(we know you’ll have an opinion). Let us know on our Facebook stream (find the post linking to this article).


The lead researcher Jens Jakob Andersen is a former competitive runner in Denmark. Today he has dedicated his life to create transparency in the running shoe market, which he does through RunRepeat. The website is the largest website with reviews of running shoes in the world and includes more than 100,000 reviews.

DOWNLOAD FOR FREE: the current edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed#15).

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Mt Buller


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Slices of sanity amidst the boom

Watch it and get excited… this despatch from Salomon / The Africa Attachment featured Kiwi trail Queen Anna Frost, but also this little vignette manages to capture something of the essence of trailrunning.

It features the elites, sure, but hell, it feels like you’re watching people just like you and me. And really you are..they’re just that little but faster than you. But they have the same kind of dirty soul (a good one) as you and me… and they still get that the running is more about connection – connectiong with the mountains, the view, wilderness, and other trail runners who breath in the same appreciation for being out there, where we love life the most.

They’re tapping it out in the mountains for the same reasons as you and me.

And they get drunk and dance like loons just like you and me, too.

Mount Taranaki Speed Assault: Anna Frost blogs

With Salomon New Zealand’s Grant Guise, Matt Bixley’s inspiration, my ‘why not’ attitude and Salomon’s support we are off to Taranaki to try and set/break some speed records in the Egmont National Park.There are many record attempts, routes and fastest known times that can all be seen here  but this is what we are hoping to accomplish on our assault:

Grant Guise

Grant is going to have a go at the ‘Round the Mountain’ record which at the moment stands at 5:17:00set by Greg Barbour in 1992. It is one full circuit (approximately 50km) starting from any point on the track travelling either clockwise or anticlockwise. This track has alternative upper and lower routes in a few places and any are valid for the record.

Matt (pictured main image above) is going to attempt not only to break the ‘4 Ascents’ record that currently stands at 16:05:00 set in 1976 by Ian McAlpine but to continue for 24hours if conditions allow, to see how many ascents he can do in a calendar day. See his blog.

I am going to attempt the woman’s ‘1 Ascent’ and at the same time the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’ which currently stands at 2:45:38 by Ingrid Perols in 1993. Both of the men’s records are held by Greg Barbour with 68mins for the ‘1 Ascent’ and1:36:27for the ‘1 Ascent and Descent’. Depending on how my legs are feeling I might also give the women’s ‘Round the Mountain’ a nudge and set a record as there are none standing so far.

Paul Petch from Outdoor Photography  is going to be coming along to capture the fun and excitement of the weekend as we put our speed to the test!

Wish us luck.

Anna Frost

NZ Team Salomon trail runner and recent winner of the TNF50 in California, Anna Frost will report in on the record

attempt here on Trail Run Mag, so stay tuned as the adventure unfolds. Follow Anna’s Facebook here. And remember to LIKE TRM’s facebook, too, here.