Ok, ok maybe we are getting a bit ahead of ourselves here.. but 2015 will be the 5th running of the Centennial Park Ultra and there are a few people who have been supporting this event year after year. Will they become our very own special Legends?

Time will tell. Meanwhile we thought they deserved some recognition for sticking around for the last 5 years. So we interviewed them and asked to share a tips or two about how to survive - and enjoy! - the race.



  Helen running the Centennial Park Ultra in 2011. Image by Lee Baker.

Helen running the Centennial Park Ultra in 2011. Image by Lee Baker.


CPU: How many times have you run the Centennial Park Ultra?

H: I’ve run this event since the very first race and not missed a year yet! 
CPU: What do you love about this event?

H: Everything – the location, the fact that it's organised by runners, it has that small, friendly event feel, the race distance and the fact that people cheer you on almost every step of the way.  Theres such a great atmosphere at the start / finish hub, so its great fun running through every lap.  When you start to feel a bit tired, theres always someone there to cheer you on and get you going again!
CPU: How do you train for ultra marathon distances?

H: That's probably something I could do much better than I do!  I run because I enjoy it and I don't really have a very structured approach to my training.  I enjoy running long distances and I do build up my distances to suit the length of race I’ve entered, plus train over the terrain similar to the race. 
CPU: Do you have a goal for this year's event?

H: Just to finish. I would love to say that I have a time goal, but I got injured after running the Kepler Challenge last December and have been struggling a bit since then.  I’m just starting to run longer distances again now, but I know I wont be up to the distances I need to be at for this event.  Thing is, I’ve run every single event, so I have to be there again and I will do what needs to be done to finish J
CPU: Someone said that "long distance running is 90% mental and the other half if physical" - do you agree?  

H: I always know that if I see myself finishing a race in my mind, then I will, so yes, the mental part plays a huge role.  In my early long running days, I didn't believe so much in my ability – the distances scared me and I’m not fast, but I now know I can get there, it just takes me a bit longer than some others.
CPU: If you could deliver one message to every runner about to do the CP Ultra – and you can! – what would it be?

H: Have fun, enjoy the day and join in the camaraderie on course.  Everyone supports everyone else out there – you get to see people so many times during the day, so smile, chat and run!  If you are a slower runner like me, then set a faster runner a challenge to see how many times they can lap you!  Keeps you motivated as you try to go a bit faster so they don't lap you so much, but gives them a challenge as well to see just how many times they can lap you!

Thank you Helen, we look forward to seeing you at the finish line!




CPU: How many times have you run the Centennial Park Ultra?

This will be my fifth event which is all of them. If I may I might add a sub question to your question. Why? It started with a friend MarkMik when we thought it would be cool to run together for our first 50km. In addition I was fifty in the year of the first event that April organised and I had never run a 50 km race and took the opportunity to run 50 km in my 50th year. I have now built a bit of a rod for my back to keep the streak going. 

CPU: What do you love about this event?

As I slide down the back of the pack I love being able to run with other faster runners trying to anticipate when and how often the top runners lap me. We all support each other plodders and elite alike and that is pretty cool. 
It's great to have my gear on the side of the track just after the start finish, not that I need it because the race is always well provisioned on the food front. I get to pass it 14 times roughly every 25-30 minutes which is a good time replenish energy supplies.  There is a useful back up of food half a lap later if required. 

It is cool that there is a 100km race at the same time. Seeing these runners regularly is one thing and from a selfish point of view it provides me, under current rules, 11 hours to complete the 50 km, if this stays in place, it means I should be able to enter the event for many years to come. 

We could add one other aspect to the race - a 50 mile event. I reckon that would be a good initiative and allow those who know they cannot run 100 km in 12 hours a chance to test them at a longer distance. It might be the only 50 miler in the country. 

CPU: How do you train for ultra marathon distances?

I train so I don't get injured. I would rather be able to run than not to run.  Due to a range of factors my longest solo runs are 6 km and I try to get to 100km per month. This has been the case since circa 2008. This year I tinkered with this by running 6 km and walking to 8 km for an hours exercise. This ramped up time in my feet, the km I covered and so far has kept me injury free. In addition I try some cross training through 2013 to May I trained and completed in the Port Macquarie Ironman.  In summer I cycle as well as my 6 km runs so there is more time spent on exercise in the warmer months. 

CPU: Do you have a goal for this year's event?

So far I have done two CP Ultras under 6 hours and two races over 6 hours. Recently I did the Sri Chimnoy 6 hour race with a run walk strategy which I will try again. I was very pleased with the outcome of the last race: reaching and passing 45 km according plan and felt fresh enough to keep going for future longer races. The goal is to have a consistent 7 by 6 km pace using a run walk routine.  

CPU: It's been said that "long distance running is 90% mental and the other half is physical" - do you agree?

Is this a trick question looking at the numbers? For me, in my fifties, running is 100% mental.  So it is a qualified  yes but not in the sense of only saying positive things to yourself like 'dig in', 'you can do this',  'others are doing it harder than me in life and this race'.... 

Rather it is doing a lot of thinking about running which in my mind is about my mental approach. Each day I think about my planned run. Each week I think about what days I can run. Each year a plan for the key events.  All this requires a mental approach. When I run I think about how I am running. I am not typical. I would not suggest running ultras in 6 km training runs and some cycling and some people question the wisdom of this and others compliment me on the strategy. It seems to work for me because I think a lot about running and what works best in my circumstances of running and life 

CPU: If you could deliver one message to every runner about to do the CP Ultra – and you can! – What would it be?

Develop a creed for your running and live by it.  It has taken me decades of running to realise I have a creed for running based on 5 pillars.  The five pillars apply in the lead up to a race and then in the race. Firstly, preparation is crucial. Training needs to be habitual so it does not require will power to go out the door for a run, eat properly.  Some people say when a race gets tough you need to rise to the occasion.  I take an alternative view - when it gets difficult fall back to what you know - your habits.  Secondly, relaxation sets you mind and body for the race.  You just need to do what you do to relax your body and mind prior to and during a race. Thirdly, you need concentration to hold you pace, eat at the right times, take salt tablets when required and drink. Fourthly, in my opinion mindfulness is the most important. This involves listening to your body, understanding the terrain and surfaces you are running on, knowing when to ease up or push a bit and most importantly being mindful of any wobbles. This also means be mindful of the unique community we are in as runners. It is some cool and motivating to be around other runners, supporters and volunteers around you.  Fifthly, reflection on your race can be the easiest or hardest depending on your expectations and how you performed.

Thanks for the opportunity for the chat you have raised my level of excitement a lot earlier than normal.  Looking forward to the race in order to catch up with old friends and to make a few more!