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.