Monday, 14 May 2012

The North Face 100 Australia - The Preview

Can you believe it!!!

It is finally here!!! Better than CHRISTMAS!

The North Face 100 2011 Highlights

On Saturday the 19th of May at 6.56am I will embark on a trail ultra marathon covering 100km - including 4500m of ascent and descent of the world heritage listed Blue Mountains in New South Wales. The North Face 100. Couple of answers to dumb questions, The North Face is a brand (like Nike or Adidas) and the race is 100km in length (not 100 miles thank goodness).

If you are a follower of my blog, I have done a bit of training and a few warm up ultra marathons to get myself prepared. Mentally I am starting to finally feel "together" and ready to go. I've put on about 1.5kg thanks to my brain telling my body that I am still running 100km per week - lets hope it comes in handy to keep me warm down south!

If you are one of my international readers, I live in Rockhampton on the Tropic of Capricorn, so in summer we are the closest point on earth to the sun, not ideal training conditions and definitely not race specific for the freezing cold Blue Mountains! Currently at Katoomba where the race is it has minimum of under 3 degrees and the maximum is about 10-15 degrees - which will make it a very cool/cold day and night.

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just soft people."
-Bill Bowerman

 Click Here For The Weather in Katoomba Right Now

I am travelling with Marty and Benny, we fly out Thursday arrive in Sydney then grab our hire car for the drive up to the Blue Mountains. The three of us are all staying at the race headquarters the Fairmont Resort in Leura. It is going to be a great spot as this is where race pack up is, the pre race briefing on Saturday morning, the start line and the finish line it all happens at the Fairmont. So what it means is very little stress and travelling (all we have to do is walk down the stairs to get to the race start). If you have travelled to a major marathon like Melbourne or Gold Coast - travelling logistics are always a drama. You can't beat staying at the Fairmont.

Click Here to Check out Fairmont Resort

The other runners from the Rockhampton Road Runners are Gavin and Raelene and the RRR President Leah is coming to crew, so there will be a heap of familiar faces. It is nearly an official RRR Event with the President crewing us! Ex-Rocky boy Luke is also running so all up there are 6 of us running who will get a mention in the post race blog.

Once we arrive and check in, we have some "free" time until Friday afternoon when we have to attend race registration and collect our race numbers and have our mandatory gear checked. This might sound weird, but there is a fair bit of gear that you had to purchase for the race. All of this needs to be checked by the race directors before they give you the OK to line up the next day. Race check in is at 4pm, so it will be a good chance to catch up with other runners and soak up the atmosphere! I cannot wait!!

Mandatory Gear List - WTF!

My very supportive wife cannot understand why we need so much stuff and why there are boxes of gear turning up from Wiggle every couple of weeks. As you can see from the list, the gear is designed to keep us warm and safe - if the weather turns extra nasty and it snows at least we will keep a little warm.

The other thing about TNF is last year Team Salomon brought a crack team of elite ultra runners who took out the 3 podium spots for the men. The worlds best ultra runner Kilian Jornet smashed the course record on his way to victory. This year will see the return of Salomon's rock star ultra runner South African Ryan Sandes (winner of the Leadville 100miler in 2011 in the 4th fastest ever time).The North Face not to be out done this year have also flown in their own rock star ultra runner Jez Brag from the UK. It could be a real head to head battle with those guys up the front.

Click here to Learn More About Ryan Sandes
Click Here to Learn about Jez Bragg

On the local front the team from Ultra 168 have put together a review of the elites, including the Aussie guys who will be up near the front. Names like Andrew Vize and Brandon Davies will all feature. Blue Mountain local and 2 time TNF winner Andy Lee will also have something to prove. Leah will have the best seat in the house watching the elite fight out the podium spots.

Ultra 168
Ultra 168 TNF 100 Race Preview

There might be a bit of elite ultra runner celebrity spotting at race check in, like I said it will be an awesome experience to be there with the other runners from all over Oz. Can't wait to get my hands on my race bib #58!

Saturday morning will see us getting up at a normal hour, about 5am to have breakfast and sort out the last bits of gear for our drop bags. We will then head to the race briefing downstairs at 6.20 before walking outside to the race start on the road. The race has 4 start waves, self seeded. Marty, Gav, Benny, Luke, Raelene and I have all put ourselves in Group 2. So we get started at 6.56am. There are 2 other groups behind us. The groups are meant to help with the congestion in the early part of the race.

Once we are underway, we have 28hrs to finish the 100km. This is pretty generous, and it is possible to walk the entire way and finish within the time frame. Most runners though will be shooting for 2 time brackets, the first is Sub 14hrs the second is Sub 20hrs. The sub 14 finishers will be awarded with a Silver TNF 100 Finisher Buckle, the sub 20 finishers will be awarded with a Bronze TNF 100 Finishers Buckle. Of our group Marty and Gav have the potential to go sub 14hrs. If Benny wasn't running with me, he would also be giving the 14hrs a nudge.

For the rest of our group we are chasing a sub 20hr finish and to "Buckle". If you finish after 20hrs before the 28hr cut off, you are awarded with a finishers certificate. It is a long way to go to not Buckle!

For Benny, Raelene, Luke and I our races will be about being sensible with our effort, enjoying the day and taking it easy for the first 50km.

The race is broken into 6 legs, there are 5 checkpoints. Leg 1 is 18km, Leg 2 is 20km, Leg 3 is 16km, Leg 4 is 11km, Leg 5 is 24km and the final Leg of 11km.

At Checkpoints (CP), 3, 4 and 5 crews will be there - so Leah and Luke's fiance Bonnie will be providing their food, fresh socks etc. For the rest of us without a crew we will leave drop bags with our extra gear at CP 3,4,5.

So what do you put in drop bags.....well there are the normal things like more gels, powerade, coke, chips etc. Some of the other things will be a change of gloves, a warmer beanie, extra batteries etc. Checkpoints can be a trap also, so as you are tracking us - keep an eye on how much time we are spending at CPs. We want to be efficient at them to save time, not sit around having a picnic.

By about CP 4 we will be close to turning on our headlamps and running the remaining 35 odd kms to the finish in the dark. This will probably just be a solid walk with some running on the downhill sections for me. Who knows how my body will be going after 65km.

It would be super nice to be finished by 17hrs (just before midnight) but the goal really is to Buckle and be done by 20hrs.

Like I said earlier Benny, Marty and I are staying at the Fairmont Resort. Once finished I am guessing we might try and stomach a celebratory beer and have a shower and get warm with our buckles!

So how will you keep a track of us through the day?

The easiest way will be to follow the live updates and comments by HRE partner Jason at our Facebook page. Go and "Like" HRE by clicking

Jason will be stalking the live athlete tracking on the event website but most importantly will be receiving texts from all of us during the day. He will be sure to add some commentary from our texts, so expect to see "Gav putting the hammer down and on track for sub 14hrs" and "Sean and Ben running sensibly - on track for a buckle with no stomach issues" as a couple of example Facebook posts.

So it is finally here my Christmas, my dream- the sense of anticipation is intense. Come Saturday I'm prepared to suffer with the best of them for 28hrs (if I have to).

"We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort." - Jesse Owens

 To my fellow TNF runners

"May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back."
-Irish Proverb

Catch you next week - stay tuned and lock into our race progress via Facebook



  1. Good luck to Sean and all the other runners as well. Will be keeping up with the live feed.

  2. Something that one day I too would love to tackle.... go grab that buckle and may the wind guide you from behind