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On 03/07/2019 at 11:23 PM, FatPom said:

Holy Shit Paul, I had no idea you've done Western States!  How did you get your Golden Ticket?

 

18 hours ago, Paul Every said:

It was 2007.

We were the one's who f*cked with the system and made it hard for everyone who came after us. :thumbsup:

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.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Paul Every
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Outstanding Paul, what a story and experience.

What do you think of the scene now?  Loads more interest but with that comes commercialism of course.

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21 hours ago, FatPom said:

What do you think of the scene now?  Loads more interest but with that comes commercialism of course.

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. B)

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.

 

Edited by Paul Every
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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.

 

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Great info Paul, thanks for that. As for the Aussies, Lucy Bartholomew seems to doing well?

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6 hours ago, truck said:

A good (if not a bit long) video on Fraser Cartmell's Celtman race this year.  Some good shots across the course especially the run - 42k's with two peaks and 2000m climbing/descending to do.

https://gtn.io/CeltmanAdventure

 

I watched it last night, thought it was excellent. I was surprised at the relatively low amount of elevation on the bike. I suppose the run makeup for that?

Those midges though! ugh

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54 minutes ago, FatPom said:

I watched it last night, thought it was excellent. I was surprised at the relatively low amount of elevation on the bike. I suppose the run makeup for that?

Those midges though! ugh

Yep the bike course is fine for a TT bike (I used a roadie because we were travelling and it’s more user friendly). Only thing to watch is the headwind on the last 40-50k which with it being 202k all up gets pretty soul destroying. I wasn’t bothered by midges at all as a competitor but the support crew needs the nets. Once you’re on the run course though they’re non existent. For a good portion of the run there aren’t clear paths, just boulders....

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I've entered this, in order to get my last two points for CCC this year.  The elevation seems ok but it looks like it might be wet if we have rain the days before.

Any tips for running with  wet shoes/socks ?

https://www.climbsouthwest.com/events/dartmoor-in-a-day/

Edited by FatPom
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