Brendan Davies is a four-time The North Face 100k-Australia finisher, the 2013 champ, and one of the locals ready to represent this weekend in Australia’s Blue Mountains. In the following interview, Brendan talks about how he trained for this race, what he thinks are the course’s key aspects, and how he sees the men’s competition unfolding.
Find out more about who’s racing with our in-depth race preview.
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Brendan Davies Pre-2015 The North Face 100k Australia Interview
iRunFar: I’m Kerry Suter of iRunFar. I’m here with Brendan Davies ahead of the 2015 The North Face 100k-Australia. It’s pretty much a hometown race. Are you ready for this one?
Brendan Davies: Oh, yeah, definitely. I always try to aim up for this one it being the hometown race.
iRunFar: Now there’s a massive international field here and a lot of guys who haven’t been out here before. You’re obviously very familiar with this. You’ve won this very successfully before. What are the guys going to expect out there on race day?
Davies: I think they’re going to expect a lot of different types of terrain than they’re used to—a lot of stairs, a lot of technical trail, and different impacts on their body they may have not faced before. I think overall, it suits a good all-arounder kind of runner. I can see any of those internationals aiming up and being able to take this course no problem.
iRunFar: How does this fit in with your training? Obviously you’re headed towards Western States again this year, and that’s going to be a big thing for you. This is also a target race, but you’ve got to work through it. What do we expect?
Davies: Definitely, I always try to aim up for this one. Realistically I’m probably still shooting at Western States to have my big peak, but I’m definitely aiming up for it. It’s a big honor to run in my back yard in front of these internationals, and you definitely don’t get that opportunity every day. So you just have to step up and do your best on the day.
iRunFar: Absolutely. On that international field, we’ve got François D’Haene; we’ve got Dylan Bowman; we’ve got just so many quality… Vajin Armstrong. I could list 10 guys here that are on the dance floor. What do you think is going to happen?
Davies: You know, I’ve seen stacked fields like this at other races really do a lot of damage to each other especially early on, like it becomes a bit of a race to the first 20k sometimes, and then later on in the race the guys come back to you. I think this course lends itself to that kind of recklessness a little bit to some degree because the first half is a lot more runnable than the second half of the course. Perhaps that might happen to some guys, but I think the classic ultra runner rules always apply. Run your own race. Be smart with your pace early on. If you’re strong at the half way mark and feeling great for the second half, you’ll have a successful race in this one.
iRunFar: Good Australasian field for this race. Vajin Armstrong from New Zealand and yourself and Andrew Tuckey. Obviously we have you Aussies beat on the pavlova side, but you can probably claim that cricket World Cup if you want. Who’s going to get it out of you three boys?
Davies: Tuck is just in fantastic form and has been for about six or seven months. He’s going to be tough to beat. Scottie Hawker as well—Kiwi come Aussie, what is he? He’s also always in good form. Vajin and I, we’ve just had battles over the years. I think it’s three-two my way. Vajin, I’m looking out for you this weekend. He’s always tough as well. I think he ran a really quick Boston race, didn’t he?
iRunFar: Yeah, he did.
Davies: He’s got the pace on his side. And there are a couple of other Aussies that have really stepped up and run well. There’s a guy called Jono O’Loughlin who has really stepped up and a few others as well.
iRunFar: Tell me a little bit about the little change in direction for you. You’re doing a lot more coaching and helping people out. You’re more involved with other runners. How’s that fitting in with your life?
Davies: Yeah, I’ve taken leave from my profession and I’ve taken on coaching as more of my profession now and I’m really enjoying it. It’s given me a new direction with my running as well. I don’t see myself on the competitive ultrarunning scene for a lot longer, so it’s like just trying to pave a bit of a direction for my running into the future. I’ve got 30-40 athletes I’ve coached in the race on Saturday in the 50k and the 100k. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go because I’ve trained them really well and they’re all feeling great. I get massive buzz seeing them succeed, even more than the buzz I get out of running races myself these days. To see them cross the finish line and tick off their goals and knowing that I’ve had some input in that is a good feeling.
iRunFar: You’ve had a pretty busy last couple of years and you’ve stamped the passport a lot. Obviously you’ve had a lot of help and support from people around you. How have you managed to achieve this?
Davies: Yeah, I’ve been lucky. A lot of the races I’ve been to have been supported by my sponsors (Inov-8), and also the Ultra-Trail World Tour has opened up a few opportunities for me. I’m very thankful to them. I got to go to Western States last year and I ran a good race, so I get to go back this year. I’ve been to Spain this year already, and I’m hopefully going to go back to Japan as well. I’ve been very fortunate. It’s something I haven’t taken for granted. I definitely won’t be doing that for too much longer. I’m probably going to settle down and focus on maybe one or two Australian races per year and concentrate a little bit more on my coaching and let some other people take those opportunities that I’ve had because that’s the nature of the sport. You just need to do your bit and then let others come through.
iRunFar: Tell me a little bit about your motivations to be involved at this stage. Is it still about doing the best that you can or are you out there to have fun? What’s your motivation to run this thing?
Davies: No, I’m still 100% competitive. I’m still looking to do my best. I still think I’m running in the peak of my form. There’s no doubt about it. My world-championship result last year on the road was just as good as two years ago. I’m feeling a lot better and faster actually because I’ve had a bit more time on my feet with clients and people I coach. I’ve had a bit more training this year. I think what’s happened in the ultra-trail world is that the field has become so much stronger. There used to be a small pool of guys that you had to look out for. Now there are 10’s of runners that you have to look out for. On Saturday, like you said, there’s a massive pool. I’m definitely still 100% competitive but looking at the future, I’m looking more towards enjoying those one or two big races per year in Australia and focusing a lot more on my coaching business. I’m going to try to get some world champions going and some ultra-trail winners. I’ve got a couple of really good athletes in the development now who could possibly do that in a few years’ time.
iRunFar: Given that knowledge and understanding you have of ultrarunning now and that you’re trying to pass it on, what would be the best tip you could give to people that want to come out and experience something like this—run 100k’s in the Blue Mountains?
Davies: I think just taking the small steps to getting there in the first place. So don’t rush into it. Don’t fall in love with the romance of it because if you have a pretty rough day out there then that love affair is just going to cease immediately. You don’t want that. You want athletes to enjoy the process and have a successful race and finish with a smile on their face so they come back and do it all again. I think taking the stepping stone approach into ultrarunning is important–so starting small and then moving up. Then also being prepared and seeking good advice and not being silly with your training, like getting out there and doing the hard yards is obviously what it takes.
iRunFar: Thanks very much for your time, Brendan. All the best for Saturday.
Davies: No worries, Kerry. Thank you.
iRunFar: Cheers, mate.