Team Hoka at The North Face 100 2012: 2-time winner, Andrew Lee

If you’re wanting to get a sense of why The North Face 100 in Katoomba is a special race, Running On Empty by Chris Ord is highly, highly recommended. It’s one of those rarely brilliant pieces about running that features a star of ultramarathon, Dean Karnazes, but doesn’t depend on his celebrity status to make up for ordinary writing, and doesn’t put the celebrity on some kind of hang-jawed, gooey-eyed pedestal or groupie altar at which the rest of us are meant to worship. It’s nice that our sport has stars, but it’s also nice that our sport is generally anti-celebrity, given that for every ultrarunner there’s an interesting back story and often an unlikely ‘this is why I run‘ to be told.

Each Team Hoka OneOne Australia athlete running this week at The North Face 100 has a great back story and we’ll hear more from them as races come up throughout the year. Melbourne’s Nikki Wynd of Team Trails+ took out AURA‘s Female Ultra Runner of the Year in 2011. She slashed her Great Ocean Walk 100km time by over 2 hours to set the women’s course record and just last month ran 10:46 for the OxFam TrailWalker 100km as part of a team – a much greater challenge than racing solo.

Nikki Wynd with Trails+ Team and Race Director Brett Saxon

Jess Baker ran the 2nd fastest women’s GNW100 ever in her debut hundred-miler last year, completed the GNW250 in a massive new course record running from Newcastle to Sydney barely two months ago, and will be running across vast open wildernesses in Egypt, Antarctica, and China this year to raise awareness and funding for a newly formed Foundation as part of Team Born to Run.

Jess Baker (foreground) with Meredith Quinlan on the GNW, sunrise on Day 3, having run for almost 50 hours already.

Jane Trumper, meanwhile, set out on Operation Desert Storm on April 1st across the Simpson Desert, becoming the first woman to cross the 660km expanse of red heat, running from the geographic centre of Australia to Birdsville in 10 days, then just 5 days later hit Canberra for a 4:01 marathon. Her fundraising push for the kids at Bear Cottage continues as she racks up more marathons this year, planning to complete her 100th in the next 6 months. She is also a brand ambassador for running fashion label Skirt Sports.

Jane Trumper running across the big red heart of Australia

And anybody who has headed down Kedumba Pass at 6:30 in the morning would be familiar with Andy Lee, because by then he’s usually running the other way. A two-time winner of The North Face 100, he dramatically smashed the 10-hour barrier for the course with brilliant Australian Scotsman Stu Gibson in 2010, setting a record that fell only a year later at the feet of Team Salomon’s Kilian Jornet. Lee trains hard and has been in form throughout the year with strong results throughout the Running Wild Series in the Blue Mountains and events interstate. Family and work commitments are priorities for Andrew, making his race day performances mean that much more. It is no wonder that he was selected alongside east coast speedsters Beth Cardelli, Mick Donges, and Brendan Davies to run for Team No Roads.

Andrew crests another rise on the way to his 2009 victory

Given the impact that he has had on the race, it is fitting that Andrew’s is the first interview we bring to you this week as we profile our runners.

Hoka OneOne: How hard are you tapering, and is it the best or worst part of training for you?

Andrew Lee: Started tapering 4 weeks out, but I hate it though!!… A necessary evil I suppose. In this 4 week period I reduce Saturday and Sunday distance runs (58 and 34km respectively) by about 1/4 of the distance each week and drop the intensity as well. Weekend just gone I did 28 and 15km.

Hoka OneOne: What do you think it is about TNF100 that galvanizes such growing excitement from runners old and new each year?

Andrew: Camaraderie and self challenge. Finding about yourself! I’ll never forget the raw emotion I experienced the first year I did TNF100 (2009)… All of these things bring me back, so perhaps it’s the same for others.

Hoka OneOne: With some big running and racing already done this year, how will you define success on the day?

Andrew: I haven’t really raced this year. Did Bogong to Hotham – going good, took wrong turn – got lost (!!!) and race cancelled at half way due to adverse weather conditions. Six foot cancelled too, as well as few Running Wild events! Success??? I always like to better my PB, so success for me will be PB… Am confident.

Lee and Gibson cross the line together for the first sub-10-hour finish on the course, in 2010

Hoka OneOne: You’re in the unique position of having felt the elation of wins and a course record, but also throwing everything you had at it last year and coming up with a hard day out. Are you going into this with a feeling of unfinished business, or with a more liberating sense of running without the pressure and expectation some people put on you last year?

Andrew: Both! Have learnt a lot from last year. Got carried away with a few things in training and race day last year… I overtrained (ignored rest or easier days) and on race day not getting adequate fluids and foods into me that led to de-hydration early on in the piece. Couldn’t recover from that.

As defending champion, Lee left it all on the course last year, throwing everything he had at Spanish prodigy Kilian Jornet

Hoka OneOne: Are you happy to be running for both Hoka and Team No Roads?

Andrew: Yes. Admittedly I was a little sceptical of the Hokas at first sight, but I’m now a big “believer”. Not only a great shoe range but the company is also out there doing all the right things in the running and triathlon communities. I represented Team No Roads, a great adventure, trekking and expeditionary organisation, at Kokoda Challenge – Gold Coast 2011. No Roads have excellent people who are doing alot of hard and vital work with the protection of the endangered Orangutans in Borneo, amongst other things.

Hoka OneOne: Anything you’d like to say about your shoes?

Andrew: Have run in the Mafates and now the B-Evos… absolutely love them.

Good luck to everyone preparing for The North Face 100 this week. Whether it’s your first or your fifth, it’s always a great running weekend and usually full of surprises.

One Response to Team Hoka at The North Face 100 2012: 2-time winner, Andrew Lee

  1. Pingback: Team Hoka at The North Face 2012: AURA’s Female Ultra Runner of 2011, Nikki Wynd | Hoka OneOne Australia

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