Athlete profile: Bayden Westerweller

Alright, I’ve got Bayden Westerweller here. Hot off his third place at the Great Ocean Road marathon. He’s been building some great fitness this past 12 months and I’ve been around on some of his most recent races and have been regularly catching up for runs with over the past 2 years. He host PB’s of 34:46 for 10km, 1:15:34 for a half marathon (during last weeks marathon). He is truly a distance runner at heart and someone to keep your eye out for. He’ll go under 2:30 in a marathon sometime in the next year based off his current improvements. Plus, he’s a Collingwood supporter in the AFL which is an added bonus.

1. Alright Bayden, firstly, congrats on such a great result at the Great Ocean Road Marathon (44.5km) last weekend. 3rd place is a great result and shows how much improvement you have made in the last year or so. Did you have any expectations that you were in that sort of form?
Cheers, and well done on your own result! I certainly felt like I was in the best form I’ve ever been over the past few months, so I was confident of a decent time.
There were a few runners from previous years who weren’t on hand, so I’m glad that I capitalised. Regardless, it was a nice reward for sticking with it and reaffirms that I’m on the right track.

2. Is it true that you had no fuelling at all during the marathon last week? Do you think that you could have gone even faster if you had taken on nutrition?
I’ll admit to this one! It was a combination of intermittent stomach cramping in the first half and probably forgetting from a certain point, everything was focussed on getting to the finish from 30 km.
Sometimes in the past I’ve had electrolytes or gels and it’s worsened the stomach so I was wary and played the percentages. I’ve gotten better at experimenting with them in recent months, with a little more work I’ll have more faith.
It mostly paid off this time in that I didn’t drop any positions, though I might have gained another minute or so if I’d relented. As my times drop, it’ll become more pivotal to have it under control.

3. So far this year, you’ve had great races in the Hobart marathon in January getting a PB there. Then backed up in a half marathon at Challenge Melbourne. Which you were on 1:13:xx pace. So now with a new marathon PB from last weekend, you must have some high expectations with the rest of the year ahead.
Sunday’s result has definitely made the sub 2:30 goal realistic in a more immediate future than I’d thought at the start of the year, but I’m not complacent that it’ll happen overnight.
Gold Coast isn’t far away so it’ll be interesting to see how I back up off a short recovery. If it doesn’t come there, I’d hope to be in a position to do so by Melbourne.

4. Where did your running journey start?
I ran at primary school carnivals and did cross country in secondary, but I wasn’t anything special.
It wasn’t until I was 20 that I got back into running, and even then, it was very casual. There wasn’t any notion of attempting a marathon at that stage!

5. What were you doing before you got into the running scene?
I had a GAP year traveling Europe followed by Uni, and enjoying the drinks more than I’d care to admit!
Some of the days where I’d run after a night on the town were quite interesting!

6. How has becoming a runner affected your life?
It’s been a gradual evolution, from being something I did as an outlet, to something I now consider as my primary motivation and respectful of my wellbeing.
It’s taught me how to prioritise and sacrifice, it’s opened up a lot more social connections. Foremost, it’s probably saved a lot of money that would otherwise go towards alcohol!

7. So you’ve now run 15 marathons. Tell us about your first marathon experience and what your preparations looked like?
It was the 2012 Melbourne Marathon. I have an ambitious friend who always wants to attempt the biggest challenge available, so whilst I was suggesting the half as a good prep, he was insistent on the full, and eventually I relented.
I hadn’t done nearly enough training – 50-60 km per week for a month or so is a generous estimate, not that I was counting back then, so I was exposed pretty rapidly.
56 minutes for the first 10 km speaks to that. My mate – who was much fitter than me at the time, took off around 25 km, whilst I walked/ran the final 12 km in almost 90 minutes… 4:13 overall.
I nearly passed out entering the Botanical Gardens, still not sure how I made it home. I took about a week to walk without pain after that!

8. What does a normal training week look like for you?
It’s fairly conventional these days, with two workouts, a midweeker and a weekend long run.
I used to run at any given pace with no structure to work on, and it showed with a lot more injuries in those days.
I’ve focussed a lot on the workout side over the past eighteen to 24 months, alongside harder effort long runs more recently, so it’s no coincidence that my times have subsequently dropped.

9. How does your work fit into your current life and where do you see yourself going in the future?
I’m quite fortunate with my employment that the hours allow me plenty of time to run in the morning and/or afternoon.
There can be late and weekend hours that mean I have to tinker with my schedule, but I’m usually able to rearrange important sessions like workouts and long runs to earlier or later in the week pretty easily.
I have the motorsport media ambitions, but opportunities locally are quite limited – the Grand Prix is the only direct exposure on an annual basis.
More realistically I’d like to be involved in running in some capacity, whether as a professional someday or in a media role as I have some direct credibility.
I’d like to think I’ve spent long enough in the liquor/hospitality industry!

10. Were you physically active during your childhood? If so, did you play any sports and what were they?
I played cricket from nine through secondary school, and the cross country as I alluded to, which I enjoyed, but never took it seriously enough at the time.

11. What has been your most memorable run to date?
It’d be difficult to go past Sunday’s effort, as it felt like my best executed race.
I ran within myself and didn’t get sucked in to other runners’ paces, and it eventually came to me.
Cracking three hours for the first time (by three seconds), at GOR in 2016, and finally at Melbourne in 2017 at my sixth run there were also quite satisfying.

12. Do you have any interesting stories from your running experiences?
Probably one that stands out happened with my said mate back in the day.
We ran in the evening darkness along the beach from Mt Eliza to Mornington, over rocks etc since he’s sadistic, and suddenly we had this unnerving feeling of being watched.
Sure enough, there were several sets of eyes on us, we quickly realised they were naked and in some pyramid formation – not that either of us cared for a second look. It was a nudist beach, fair to say we bolted…

13. If time and money isn’t an issue, do you have any bucket-list races in mind?
I’d love to get back to Europe and race in all of the prestigious marathons.
Someday I’d be keen to give some of the famed ultras in America a go, but there are a few boxes to tick on the marathon scene before then!

14. Finally, what’s next for Bayden Westerweller?
Continuous improvement is my priority, whether they’re small leaps or big ones.
Gold Coast will be a good representation of what I’m capable of on a fast course. If it goes to plan, after that I’ll evaluate some bigger short and long term objectives.

Thanks for your time Bayden and all the best with the final preparations for Gold Coast marathon. Keep up the great training and recover well.

For those wanting to follow Baydens journey, you can follow him here on Strava, Facebook and Instagram.

Athlete profile: Mark Berry

I have been coaching Mark for over 18 months now and I’ve really built a strong relationship with Mark. He is a super inspiring athlete and is what you’d see in the dictionary when you look up words like dedication, motivation and commitment. He was a general no exercise at all type of guy and opted to spend days at the pub instead of being healthy. But I’ll let you read on and see for yourself.

1. You’ve now run sub 3 nearly 10 times. You’re most recent marathon was in Nanago, japan where you ran a new PB of 2:51:20. You’ve also competed at the Dubai, Bali, Hobart, Canberra, Gold Coast, Sunshine coast, Melbourne marathons. Have I missed anything?
Yes mate you’ve missed a few. In total I’ve now done 17 marathons.
Melb x4,GOR x2,GCM x2, Canberra x2, Adelaide, Hobart, Wangaratta, Sunshine Coast, Bali, Dubai, and Nagano

2. Was your first marathon experience like and how did it differ to Nanago?
My first marathon was Melbourne in 2014. It was pretty scary to be honest as it was my first ever competitive run. I basically had no idea what I was doing but I had been running for a nearly a year before committing to the run, and boy was I sore for a couple of weeks after.
With Nagano it was completely different I now seem to always sleep well the night before a marathon and don’t really get nervous and for me I’m just racing myself and that feeling you get after a marathon just keeps me coming back for more,and also my recovery time is a lot quicker than it was when I did my first marathon.

3. Tell us, what your life looked like before turning to running.
God life before running 😂, where do I start… Well basically I was a middle aged drinker haha. I would drink beers from Thursday through to Sunday sippers at the local footy or golf clubs and never really did any exercise, but always in the back of my mind wanted to do something challenging but had no idea what.

4. What was the catalyst for you change? Did it happen over an extended period of time or did you just simply wake up one day and try to live a healthier lifestyle?
I went to the doctors one day with a chest infection and just feeling like shit and he told me I was a middle aged bloke that could probably loose a bit of weight which was a fair call at 100kg+. I was driving home that night and said to myself that’s it! It’s time to change your life mate and when your wife and kids laugh at you for falling asleep on the computer and call you a drunken looser, that really was the sealer for me. So I was hell bent on turning my life around. Then that’s when I said I’m going to start running to lose weight and get off the beers. I really made a commitment to do it for 3 months and boy, that was hard! But I got through that then got to 6 months and thought to myself, I wonder if I could run a marathon… So I just signed up for Melbourne. And as they say, the rest is history….

5. I’ve always wondered about your email name “Boogs”, can you explain what it means?
Ha the nickname “Boogs”! Well I actually got that from my brothers probably from picking my nose to much as all 6 year old kids do. 😂 So that would be well over 40 years old and it has just stuck my whole life through school and my cricketing days.

6. What is your favourite distance to run and why?
Without doubt it is the marathon as it is a distance that you have to really pace yourself well at or as most runners know it can get very ugly very quickly if you don’t and I do think there’s an art to pacing a marathon and running your own race where as the shorter distances can be a bit more forgiving.

7. You work full time, have a wife and kids. How do you manage to fit in all of your training around your lifestyle?
Yes I work full time my boss might not agree with me 😂but I’m lucky as my kids are older know 20,18,16 and my awesome wife does most of the running around while I train after work and before work I think she prefers me doing this than getting on the beers.

8. What has been your most memorable running experience and why?
Most memorable is a really tough one but Nagano would be up there as the Japanese do some funny stuff in there warm ups and some of the gear they wear is a classic but they certainly know how to support a marathon with the biggest crowds I’ve ever run a marathon in front of,to be honest I remember every marathon and have enjoyed them all.

9. Whats is your favourite workout and your least favourite workout and why?
I don’t really have a favourite or least favourite session as they are all hard work but I do actually enjoy all of them and I think to myself that I can do the session you put in front of me so that gives me a bit of a buzz and it’s a good feeling that at my age there’s still a bit of life in the legs plus I know that there is a reward at the end of all the sessions I do and that is to stand on the start line for another marathon knowing I’ve given it 100% in my preparation.

10. Where would your ultimate run be and why?
My ultimate run would be Berlin I think as it is flat and fast with massive crowd support and I might get to see Kipchoge cruise past me at one of the turn around points running 2:50 pace!

11. So you’re 48, would you ever consider competing at any of the World Masters events like the marathon?
Well I’ve always said to myself with my running that I’m going to give it 100% and not die wondering I want to sit back when I can’t run and say to myself well you had a crack at it so if an opportunity like that ever presented it’s self then absolutely I would have a go.

12. Finally, whats next for Mark Berry?
What’s next I’ve got GCM then on to Melbourne then hoping to send the year out with a bit of a bang in December.

Thanks mark for your time, letting be involved with your running journey and we wish you the all the best with the rest of the year and beyond!

For those wanting to follow Mark’s journey, you can check him out on here on Strava, Facebook and Instagram.

Athlete profile: Stuart Cox

Hi everyone. It was great hearing such good feedback from last weeks interview with Andrew. I do, and I know, Andrew really appreciates the support and messages.

This week, I wanted to bring to you an athlete I found really showcased some real inspiration and perseverance. His name is Stuart Cox. An ultra-marathon runner from the bayside area in Melbourne’s South-eastern suburbs. Coached by Kevin Mannix from Run For Body and Soul , Stu also works full-time as a cardiac technician at MonashHeart. While he Stu was training for his most recent event, the Marathon Des Sables (MDS), I was lucky enough that chose to see me with managing his body for massage treatments.
There have so many different events around the world recently. Some world stage, some local and all have their own stories. But this race is like no other.
Ok then, lets get into it.

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1. Hey Stuart, so you’ve just run the one of the worlds hardest and most famous ultra-marathons, Marathon Des Sables (MDS) in Morocco which is a self supported race. Tell me more about this event.
Thanks Dion. This event has being run for the last 34 years and ranked in the top ten hardest foot races in the world for the last ten years. Distances have varied each year from 240-270km with an average of 60% on soft soft sand and the rest of terrain varies from hard rocky river beds to large cliff faces. Participation is usually around 900-1000 people from many different countries. This year was 970 people from 52 different countries, majority of participants from France, Spain and the UK. When they self supported race, they really mean self supported. The only thing supplied is water and a bivouac (crude shelter, material with some sticks). All cooking materials, food (minimum requirement of 14,000 calories or 2000 calories per day) and sleeping bag etc you had to carry the whole time. The course and distances were kept confidential till two days before the race begun. Each day was a point to point run with schedule looking like; Day 1 -32km Day 2 -34km, Day 3 -38km Day 4 -78km Day 5 -Rest pending on what time you finished. (People were still finishing at 10am from the previous day) Day 6 -42km, Day 7 -6km (Charity day, un-timed but had to complete). Each day started approximately 9am. Temperatures in the day went well past 38 degrees and at night went below -1 degree’s. There was approximately aid stations every 12kms with only water which was rationed at 3 litres to 1.5litres. Upon crossing the finishing line for that stage you were given 4.5 litres which was to last you till the first aid station the next day.

2. What was your thought process when thinking about entering this race?
Thought process about entering this race…..I had heard about this race from various runners which claimed it was one of the toughest things they have done. I thought this sounded like a bad idea, great, lets do it. After a few slow days at work and very little research, filled out the entry form and hit ‘send’. After more research and more information from people who had completed it before, this bad idea turned into a very very bad idea.

3. What did your training look like while training for MDS?
With so many different cogs to MDS, training for MDS was going to be complicated. Heat was going to be a major issue. Whenever the temperature got hot outside everyone headed to the beach to cool off I headed to the beach with my back pack to run on the soft sand. Whenever the temperature was cold/normal I would make sure I would layer my clothing to emulate hot conditions. Carrying a 10kg pack was also going to be a major issue, loading up the back pack with rice and water and running at least 3 times a week with a loaded pack was essential. Nutrition was another major issue. Practicing what worked and what didn’t work was important when it came to freeze dried meals, actual race nutrition and calorie requirements then came the actual ‘running bit’. Some people get side tracked with ‘running bit’ but if you can’t put heat, back pack and nutrition together you won’t be running. Running training consisted of putting together nice consistent months of long km’s with a lot of back to back long runs to emulate and prepare you mentally for what we were expected to encounter in the desert. Lots of sand!

4. What were some of the complications you had while training for such a grueling event?
Most of the complications in training were from carrying a 10kg pack. I initially tried to use flour as weight in the pack. I had a crash one day while carrying 6kg of flour and turned into a big mushroom cloud of flour. I tried to wash myself and back pack with water to the dismay of my wife who could only offer me some choc chips and salt to make some cookies. I switch to rice after that. Chaffing from the pack was probably the major issue, trying different things i.e packing, strapping and different creams solved the majority of these issues.

5. You needed to carry all of your fueling with you, what was actually in your pack? Did you have anything that was a huge help? And would you have done anything differently?
There was nothing that was a clear ‘stand out’ but would highly recommend the freeze dried apple crumble (delicious) and the dark cherry cliff blocks with caffeine. Overall, was very happy with how the food went. It came down to doing the work before the event to see what worked and what didn’t.

6. You would have needed a big team behind you to train, get to the race and arrange other logistics. Who do you want to thank?
As you know running to the outside world appears as an individual sport, nothing could be further from the truth. Ultra-running requires some incredible anchors to keep the ship safe and running well. My loving 34 month pregnant wife kept my spirits up and provided unbelievable support throughout the entire journey from the hardest of training runs right the way through to the finish line. Kevin Mannix and the whole Body and Soul running group provided expert running programing and lots of company and encouragement through the many tough km’s. The guy’s down at Physio@Sandringham (yourself and Tessa) who kept the ship running! So many people to thank I am sure I have forgotten some people.

7. Would you do it again and why?
I probably wouldn’t do it again. MDS was a such a great life experience not just ‘a run’. It added so many other dimensions to running. I think there are so many other great experiences and adventures out there in the world that repeating the same race again would be limiting.

8. What other crazy events have you done? I recall Leadville 100. Do they compare?
Nothing will ever compare to this epic adventure. The organisation, training and research for ‘a runner’ like me who can barely tie his shoelaces up some day’s is too much.

9. Finally, what’s next for Stu Cox?
My wife is 34 weeks pregnant with our first child so very excited about becoming a father.

Thanks so much for your time Stu and I’d like to wish you and Anna all the best with your exciting wait ahead.

For those who want to follow Stuarts journey, you can do so on Strava, Facebook and Instagram.

Athlete profile: Andrew Dubar

Meet Andrew Dubar…
Andrew came to me a bit over 2 years ago looking to beat his marathon time of 3:24. With some structured training and some close guidance, I’ve been lucky enough to be coaching him to a 2:58 marathon from New York in 2018.
He has an incredible story which I feel will resonate with many people out there. He works as a pilot, was a committed smoker, has a wife and kids and training running marathons. I thought he’d be a great interview so I asked him a few questions.

1. What got you into running and when did you get involved in it?

My running journey started at high school, I was fairly keen on track athletics. The 400m was my favourite distance but I didn’t continue running competitively afterward. Running throughout my 20s could only be described as the ‘casual infrequent jog’. Quitting smoking was the catalyst for where my running journey has taken me today. I quite literally stopped smoking and started running turns out both are addictive!

Andrew and I at the end of the 2019 Melbourne Marathon. He set a huge 22 minute PB in hot conditions.

2. What is your favourite distance to run and why?
Without doubt the marathon. Nothing comes close to the feeling of accomplishment you experience afterwards. It’s the culmination of months of dedication to the training schedule and your target. It’s also the special feeling you get from running in different cities with the atmosphere and crowds carrying you along the way.

3. You work as a pilot, how do you manage your training with the travel, temperature, time zone changes?
I try to be flexible with my own training schedule as time zone changes, temperature and fatigue can present challenges. For example, if in Perth I may opt to do a long run and take advantage of the earlier time zone change if possible. Or if I happen to be somewhere hot/humid I may just limit myself to easy running and change the planned workout to a different day of the week.

4. You’ve been all over the world, tell me about a few of these locations and what its like to run at these places.
Through work I’ve been lucky enough to run in some pretty amazing places around the world. Destinations which really stand out include San Francisco and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, the view is incredible looking out across the bay. Santiago is another, running along the river at sunrise with the dramatic backdrop of the snow-capped Andes.

5. What has been your most memorable run (good or bad) and why?
No question my most memorable run so far has been the 2018 NYC Marathon. It was my first Abbot World Major and I achieved a PB time. The course, crowds and atmosphere is something you just have to experience for yourself.

6. What were your running personal bests before joining with me and what are they now?
Before I started being coached by Dion my personal best was 3:24:07. Within 18 months my time had improved to 2:58:58.

7. Whats is your favourite workout and your least favourite workout and why?
My favourite workout is an easy long run with the last 30 mins completed close to/faster than Marathon race pace. This really helps to build confidence and it’s always satisfying to finish feeling strong.
My least favourite session would be a progressive 2×1200 3×800 4×400. Nothing is ever left in the tank after that one!

8. Where would your ultimate run be and why?
My ultimate run would be to do the Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town. I’d love the challenge of tackling an ultra-marathon especially in that part of the world.

9. Finally, whats next for Andrew Dubar?
Up next in 2019 is Gold Coast in July and another Abbot World Major event with Chicago in October, goal time is sub 2:55.

Thanks for your time Andrew and wishing you all the best fortune with your preparations for the rest of 2019 and beyond.

For those who would like to follow Andrew’s Journey, you can find him on Strava and Facebook.

Andrew with his 3 beautiful girls