Blackall ready to turn up the heat
RELENTLESS hills and challenging tracks are the hallmarks of the Blackall 100km and 50km races.
Facing the brutal climbs and undulations doesn’t phase Phoebe Nance. It’s the heat which generates lingering concerns for the 36-year-old.
Moving to Warana from Bondi six months ago, the ultra runner has quickly found her feet on the Sunshine Coast and is excited ahead of her 50km Blackall debut.
Running since she was about 10 with her parents owning a gym, she would have no trouble knocking out 5km on a treadmill as a youngster. Now a mother of three, Phoebe has chased broader horizons.
“Since I have had children I have looked for something more challenging. In the last four years I have done trail running...I dabbled before kids but my headspace wasn't the same,” she said.
“The hinterland here is beautiful. It’s brutal though compared to road running.
“The heat got me on the weekend. The heat is what’s going to be tough and it’s going to be harder during the race.”
Loving the sea change, Phoebe has been embraced by the Parklands Goat Tribe and she loves the proximity to access some of the nation’s best trails.
Regularly running at Parklands and Mapleton, the region has unrivalled access compared to living in Sydney. All Phoebe’s training was previously restricted to the road, and races often meant being away from home for three days.
No stranger to ultra events, at this year’s 45km Blue Mountains Six Foot Track Marathon she finished 10th in her age group, completing the course in 4:44:56. Last year she was fourth in her age group in the 50km Ultra-Trail Australia event, with a time of 6:17:33 that also saw her the 11th female overall.
Back in 2015 she completed the gruelling 42km Buffalo Stampede Skymarathon in 6:29:16.8.
Her preparations for Blackall have included long weekend runs up to 45km, while each week she does strength training in the gym, a tempo run, fartlek run, easy run, with one or two days off.
Under the guidance of her coach, she manages between 70-90km every week.
The most important part of each week is the logistics, working with partner Blake to look after the kids.
“We split the week up,” the part-time teacher said.
“I get up early to get it done, it’s a constant juggle and you make it work.”
Wary of the heat, Phoebe will also have to keep a close eye on the directions.
“With trail running you know your big climbs as landmarks. When I go I'm just out for a run and I don't look around. I quite often get lost,” she said.
“The Tribe call me Lost Goat.” This year’s Blackall events have attracted record entires.
Doubling as the Australian Long Course Trail Championship, it is also a qualifier for the sought-after Western States Endurance Run.
More than 420 runners are expected to take part at Blackall, with about 170 intrepid athletes tackling the 100km journey.
Among them will be Mountain Creek’s Elise Van Dorssen who is looking to ring the illustrious 100km finisher bell for the first time. Last year she had to withdraw due to injury at the 62km mark.
“I am feeling really good about it, I have improved my fitness greatly since I could run again earlier this year,” she said.
“I weigh seven kilograms less then I did at Blackall last year, so I’m hoping that makes it a little easier as well. I have been going out to Mapleton often and getting some decent runs in, which is good as I am getting to know that course really well.”
Elise’s training has included short weekday runs of 10-20km, as well as interval training at the gym. On the weekends she has been running at Mapleton for 30-50km.
“It's really nice out at there, however, the bluff is quite warm if you hit it around lunchtime to early afternoon,” Elise said.
“I have been running out at Mapleton in the warmer parts of the day because I think this years Blackall will be really warm.”
Elise’s partner Paul McDonald, a 2016 Ultraman Australia finisher, will also compete in the 100km epic.
Three-time 100km race winner Shona Stephenson will be back to defend her title, while in the men’s event Charlie Boyle is shaping as tough to beat after he posted a speedy 2:25:23 at the Gold Coast Marathon in July.
Run Queensland’s Brett Standring said trail running continues to gain momentum and the Blackall 100 has quickly gained a reputation as a Sunshine Coast bucket-list event.
“It’s the test of endurance and
the challenge,” he said.
“We get a lot of first timers and a lot of repeat competitions, and some are back for their fourth in a row.
“We have a lot of local groups like the Noosa Ultra Trail Runners (NUTRs) manning the checkpoints, they dress up, and it’s just good fun.”
All the action gets under way from Mapleton at 6am on Saturday, October 21, with the 50km event starting at 7am.
Warana’s Phoebe Nance is preparing for her Blackall 50km race debut.
Elise Van Dorssen of Mountain Creek is primed for the 100km race.