Cairns' Mike Le Roux confident of breaking a new endurance run mark
CAIRNS endurance athlete Mike Le Roux is targeting a sub 18-hour time when he races the Vermont 100 Mile (160km) Endurance Run this weekend.
The 36-year-old is in the US chasing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, which started last month with the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
Despite suffering a head cold in the lead-up to the race, Le Roux clocked 19hrs55min 47sec for the demanding course.
It was the fastest time by an Australian in race history, but Le Roux expects to be quicker in Vermont.
"I would like to break 18 hours if I can," he said.
"It’s not as mountainous as Western States, however, it’s 100 per cent runnable.
"These races are too long to predict the outcome, so I always aim for the best-case scenario and capitalise when I feel good and deal with it when things are getting a bit tough.
"I’m hoping that the head cold at Western States was my baptism by fire into the Grand Slam and that things look up from Saturday morning."
The winner of the Grand Slam is the runner with the lowest cumulative time for the four races that make up the series.
After Vermont, Le Roux will compete in the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Run (August 18) before finishing with the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run (September 7).
It’s an exhausting schedule to maintain, with the recovery phase between each race a vital component of the endeavour.
Since a good recovery from the Western States, Le Roux has focused on making sure his body is ready for the rigours of another 160km run.
"I feel as good as I have ever felt before a big race in the week leading up.
"It took a full week to lose any form of soreness. However, I was running again four days after the Western States.
"I have kept it ticking over, as it’s more about joint mobility than increasing fitness."
It is doubtful Le Roux can become much fitter, but it’s not always the athlete with the greatest lung capacity that prevails in ultrarunning.
As Le Roux has discovered during his career, pacing is as important as outright speed.
"With 100 miling, it’s about how well you can run the last 25 to 30 miles," he said.
"It’s no good going out too quickly and walking the backend of the race.
"You want to be running the entire race, so a conservative start is important."
But Le Roux still plans to push himself.
"In a mountain race, there is a fair bit of power hiking and with single track you are forced to change your foot strike, stride length and pace," he said.
"Your muscles fatigue a lot quicker, particularly due to the increase in pace, but also due to the overuse of the same muscles."
The race starts 6pm today (AEST).
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Ready to run: Cairns athlete Mike Le Roux prepares for another endurance run in the US. Picture: Merick Rickman