A race without a finish line!

What it takes to run 221 km in a space of 34 hours

Bix ambassador Michael Hooker joined Herdy's Frontyard Ultra Challenge (in Perth Western Australia) - a race without a finish line! 
What does it take to run a 6.7 km loop every hour on the hour for 34 hours straight?
As one of the last men standing Michael shares insights into his training, pacing strategy, his hydration & nutrition plan as well as his recovery.


Btw, Michael also accomplished the fastest lap in 22:50 minutes

(around 3:20 pace per km) in the dark! 

How did you train for the last man standing challenge? Were there any key sessions that you knew you needed to tick?

My training is very structured by my coach Tony Smith, he sets out my schedule and I just get out and complete the sessions. Some key sessions leading up to the event included 3 x seperate 40km trail runs, some fatigue sessions that were structured around my 12 hour work roster. Meaning I'd have a 16-24km run to do on my workdays. This would occur back to back, 2, 3 or even 4 days in a row. On those days I simply ran, worked, ate and slept as there was no time for anything else. I also had a weekly interval session and session designated to running at Herdsman lake itself. 

How different is a taper to an event like this compared to a regular ultra marathon?

My Taper was fairly standard, a lowered load two weeks out and then an even lighter few days prior as the event began on a Friday. I still had a daily run leading into the event, just of a shorter than normal distance ansd at a slow recovery pace to complete my preparations. Distances varying from 12-15km at around 4:45-5:30/km

What was your hydration and nutrition plan for the race?

My Hydration plan was simply to drink a Tailwind mix and water after every lap at equal portions. Throw in a Bix Hydration every 6 hrs to help with my recovery of each lap as the event went on. My nutrition was very structured, also with a schedule that included homemade pumpkin/potato soup, white bread, salty boiled potatoes, 2 minute noodles, hash browns, honey sandwiches, porridge, custard tarts, watermelon, up n go's, salt sticks and my usual Pauls custards, jellybeans, Allens snakes and chocolate of course.

What was your pacing strategy for the race?

My strategy was to maintain the same comfortable pace each lap, for me that is around 4:40/km. This allowed me time to complete each lap and have around 25 minutes each lap to recover  before the next lap. Plenty of time to eat, nap, stretch and do anything else I felt I needed to do.  

Was there a routine that you followed during each break?

 Not really, I walked from the moment I crossed the lap completion line back to my aid station and rehydrated first on most laps, then it was a case of changing my shirt and then doing whatever my plan said, whether that was to rest or sleep and if not I just did what I felt was right at that moment. The only other routine I followed was 5-6 minutes from having to line up for the next lap I'd be up and making sure I was ready.  

Looking back to the race, was there anything that you would have done differently during training or the actual race day?

Maybe some small things like trying to run cooler (with cool neck ties) in the daytime and at night, the first night I wouldn't have worn a jacket for every lap. I'd carry and sip a small hydration flask as I ran the laps also. Other than those small things, I wouldn't change anything dramatically, my run was going exactly to plan until the 26th hour mark, that's when I started getting GI issues, but other than that everything else was flawless. 

What was your recovery like compared to a regular ultra marathon?

My recovery was great, although I was tired and had the to be expected muscle soreness from my 34 hour run, I actually pulled up really well. I have two toes (same toe on each foot) that are prone to nail loss and they were a little sore but after two days rest they were ok. 

What is your next project?

My next goal event is the 24hr track invitational in Canberra on the 2nd and 3rd July, 2021.


Fast questions:
1. Describe yourself in 3 words: Devoted, Disciplined, Deliberate
2. Favorite race? Feral Pig 100 miler
3. Favorite running shoe?  Hoka Bondi7 
4. Your most important running gear? Bunnings straw hat 
5. Favorite snack/ gel during a run? Jellybeans 
6. Bix Orange or Bix Berry flavor? Berry 
7. Are you a flat, uphill, or downhill runner? Uphill 
8. Run in the cold or run in the heat? Heat, I hate cold weather
9. Favorite racing distance? 100km 
10. Trail running idol? I dont have one, but anyone who can start and finish an Ultramarathon is amazing and inspires me.  
11. Favorite trail? Bibbulmun Track, especially the northern end. Although the south end does have some spectacular coastline views.
12. Strength workouts indoors or outdoor? Mainly indoors 
13. A quote that you would put on a T-Shirt? Run with your heart not your legs, your legs will tire and give up, but your heart will push on and get you through. 


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