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Paul Every

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  1. Approaching 4000km, Aalto has a 64km lead. The race started over 5 weeks ago. Recent days have been around 100*F. "Only" about 1000km to go.
  2. At the elite end, it's a little perplexing as to how Australia is faring in the ultra running world. There's less interest in running a fast 100km among our better runners. Unfortunately, our men haven't matched the performances of Tim Sloan and Don Wallace in the early to mid 90's. Our women are only recently eclipsing Linda Meadows and Mary Morgan/Francis' times of the same period, with the exception of Jackie Gallagher's foray into ultra running earning her the Australian 100km record in 2009. Considering the participation base we now have, this is disappointing. On the positive side, we now have greater depth and better performances on the world stage in the 24 Hour, largely due to the strong interest in trail 100 milers and Coast to Kosci. We had some very good male 24 Hour runners in the Westfield years, and in the last 6 or 7 years we're producing them again, along with a some solid performers among the women. As for multi-day running, we don't have the runners matching the performances of the Westfield athletes like Bryan Smith, Kevin Mansell, David Standeven (all ran over 1000km in 6 days, an elite benchmark), or even Cliffy at his best. There's just not the emphasis or allure for longer races for our current runners.
  3. On the whole, I've never seen the ultra running scene healthier, either globally or in Australia. Ultra running attracted reasonable numbers in the late '80s in Australia on the back of running/marathon boom of the early '80s. We were also helped by having the Westfield Sydney to Melbourne as a flagship event from '83 to '91. Having the race featured in daily newspapers and on the nightly news was influential in attracting runners to the sport, obviously more so to the shorter ultras. And Cliffy's win in the inaugural event and elevation to a national folk hero was thoroughly unforeseen. Cliffy was the most unlikely but effective ambassador for the sport. With the demise of the Westfield, competitor numbers, races and public interest waned dramatically. I also think triathlon's rise in popularity in the '90s also attracted many potential marathoners and potential ultra runners, as well as more effectively captured the media and sponsor interest (Toohey's Blue series, Welchy winning Kona). We had new endurance sporting stars. Some were even sexier and cooler than your average elderly Beech Forest potato farmer. For a long time, ultra running in Australia needed a mass participation, flagship event. Something that those attracted to endurance sports would look at and think "I want to do that", and for every 1000 that do, maybe 5 or 10% will walk (or hobble) away from that race and think "Yes, this is the sport for me." When The North Face 100 (now UTA 100km) came along in 2008, we finally had that event. Ultra running has been on the rise ever since.
  4. I'm assuming the SLSC is just covering its arse. It appears a routine thing whenever an "unusual" shark is reported. If a non-regular swimmer reports a shark sighting, the SLSC can't really just say "Yeah, we know. 50 swimmers have seen it already." The reporter appears to be just drumming up a story and searching for an angle which isn't there. Her claim of "more than 130 pink-capped ocean swimmers defied the warning" is clearly bullshit. The B&B blog reports the morning differently : "The surf at the point is tumbling and mess of white water....There is a combination of conditions including swell and a challenging rip .......The call out from John and the surf club is to ‘think about the conditions and if you have any qualms - go to half way. .......Apparently shortly after the 7.00am had finished ...a couple people sighted a young grey nurse..... " The only warning given at 7am from the SLSC via B&B's John Bond (himself a Manly SLSC member), was to consider the surf conditions and if you feel uncomfortable, enter the water near the steps by the pool ("half way") rather than through the surf break. The 7am group is the largest and final group to enter the water with swimmers finished by 7:30. There was about 8 swimmers who swam another lap ("doublers") who would have finished about 8am, but they wouldn't have exited the water at Manly but instead turned around off the point, 100 metres or so offshore. The doublers wouldn't have known of any imminent closure of the beach by the SLSC. Even the journalist's own report states the shark was sighted and reported at 8am, by which time all of the 164 B&B swimmers that have logged their swim for today, would have either long left the water or, in the case of the handful of doublers, been just about to exit. The photo accompanying the article would have been taken at Shelly at about 7:15am, prior to any reporting of the shark to the SLSC. So it would appear that the journalists claim of defiant swimmers is fabricated. To a regular B&B swimmer, there's other inconsistencies between the swimmers' quotes and the narrative of the story that stick out like dog's balls shark's claspers.
  5. It was a very different time in the ultra scene back then, and it's difficult for newer runners to appreciate how much the sport has changed and developed in recent years. Competitor numbers were so much smaller globally, though particularly so in Australia, and though the process to secure one of the 400-odd places for Western States was different, those places were nonetheless still highly coveted. Glasshouse 100 Mile in Qld was Australia's first 100 mile trail race, and although first staged in 1995, it wasn't until 1997 that the Miler had its first finisher. 3 runners finished that year, though only two Aussies with US runner Janine Duplessis crossing the line in second place. In 2005 we finally had a second 100 miler, when the Great North Walk 100 was established on the NSW Central Coast. That year we had 4 finishers from 11 starters. Two of us were backing up from Glasshouse, which by then had escalated to a grand event with a massive total of 16 finishers! It was a niche sport with relatively few competitors, which fostered strong friendships. On occasions, you would know all your fellow runners at a longer race and if not, the few newcomers would be heartily welcomed into the fold. The sparsity of races resulted in frequent interstate travel, with road trips, shared accommodation or bunking down with local ultra runners reinforcing the bonds of friendship. Across Australia, the CoolRunning site kept everyone in touch in the pre-FB era. It was around this time a Western States DVD was being circulated among runners. At a CoolRunning drinks evening in late 2005, with the DVD being again passed on and amid discussions of aspirations to do the race, someone mentioned we should all head over in in 2007. Among about 6 of us, a drunken pact was made for WS in 18 months time. Roll on to September 2006 and about 20 runners finished the Glasshouse 100. In the following days, the provocatively encouraging emails and chatter on CoolRunning started. Western States entries had opened and a few had already entered, taking up the first of the 24 places reserved for international runners. I had long forgotten about WS and the previous year's alcohol-fuzzed commitment. With another few entering in rapid succession, I fired off my entry and we soon had about 7 of us committed. The Aussie Assault was born with the WS Race Director reputedly noting, "Clearly, something was happening Down Under." It quickly became apparent that as an Australian runner, there wouldn't be a better year to run WS. 2007 would be the year. With many of having just qualified at Glasshouse and with GNW 100 miler looming, Aussies soon snapped up 20 of the 24 international places on the then first-come basis. Ian Javes, the Glasshouse Race Director and past finisher of the Sydney to Melbourne, even emerged from his running retirement. Runners co-opted their support crews or pacers, pre- and post-race hotel accommodation was block-booked, an Aussie Assault team uniform was designed and manufactured, (sadly, a design featuring a koala "molesting" the WS mountain lion race mascot was rejected by the group for something more "tasteful") and extended holidays were arranged, (for some of us, all the way through until the 24 Hour World Champs in Canada about 6 weeks later). Five or six of us organised to lodge in the "Australian Embassy" in Berkeley upon arrival in San Francisco upon arrival in the States, before heading up to the mountains for WS. The "Embassy", more aptly the home of three-time Glasshouse 100 winner Carol La Plant and husband Phil, and a traditional landing point for many of the Aussies on pilgrimages to US ultras. Carol and Phil inducted some local runners into the Aussie Assault to further expand our on-course support. It was a unique opportunity to compete in a major, iconic, international ultra, surrounded by so many close friends and, for many of us, also our loved ones. It was organic and ridiculously spontaneous in its origins, thoroughly unprecedented and unlikely to be emulated in a comparable manner. The sport has since changed, domestically and globally. Fortunately for a few of us, we were a part of ultra running at just the right point in time.
  6. Yes, it's been basically the same course since the mid 80s, barring the occasional diversion in heavy snow years. Although a "downhill" course, WS certainly has some significant climbs, kicking off from the gun with the climb to Emigrant Pass, nearly 800 metres of climbing in the first 7km. There's also a stiff climb out of Duncan Canyon, the aptly named Devil's Thumb and Michigan Bluff all in the first 50 miles when you're smacked with canyon temps of around 100*F. Hardrock is another dimension again, particularly with the altitude involved. I did apply for Hardrock without success one year. Ideally, if I could had squeezed out one more big race, I would have loved it to have been Hardrock. For a comparison of the longstanding US 100 mile courses: Profiles of AC, HR, LT, OD, WF & WS (from Andrea Feucht)
  7. It was 2007. We were the one's who f*cked with the system and made it hard for everyone who came after us.
  8. There's been a few Channel/marathon swimmers among the B&B group over the years, though as you say, most of them do the bulk of their training at Vlad Swim or elsewhere. The B&B 5:30 group is a fairly tight little group, with most starting early due to work demands, though a few with an interest in the longer events like Bondi to Watsons and Rotto. It can be a rewarding time to swim. You feel like you have the ocean to yourselves (or even yourself!), and being out there from pitch dark and swimming through the gradually increasing light, watching the sun rise as you breathe, then eventually to the full the brightness of day is quite special. Then there are the magical mornings when the shore break sparkles with phosphorescence in darkness. As you swim out, under and past the waves, you settle into your stroke and watch the water beneath glisten in swirls of phosphorescence, as your hand and arm move below you. Simply gorgeous.
  9. The other thread could probably do with a bit of tidying up.
  10. Yes, sharks are fish. Extant fish are divides into four classes: "bony" fish - "typical" fish inhabiting salt and/or fresh water. The most diverse class of fish, comprising most familiar species that we view as a "regular" fish, also including sea horses, eels, lungfish. sharks and rays - have a "skeleton" composed of cartilage, primitive but highly evolved. lampreys - primitive jawless fish, lacking a skeleton and scales, with an eel-like body. hagfish - similar to lampreys, but an earlier evolutionary branch.
  11. At night, very little of a shark's perception wouldn't be visual. It's primarily sensitive to subtle variations in water chemistry, electrical impulses (including those of nerves) and variations of water movement via other sensory organs (ampulae of Lorenzini and its lateral line).
  12. I wore gaiters when I ran Western States. The course was typically quite dry, gritty and dusty, at least it was after we dropped below the snow covering Emigrant Pass. I had a pair of Dirty Girls, (which sounds way more exciting when I type it now). Thin, light, secure and not hot at all. I'm not sure how much gaiter design has moved on in the intervening decade or so.
  13. I don't have to imagine it. I know a couple.
  14. Surely if it's vegan-certified, it won't just say it on the website, rather it would be mentioned at every possible opportunity.
  15. He's still a channel swimmer. He didn't die.
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