Richard Avery, right, took last weekend’s WA Track Ultra by storm after completing a whopping 240.431kms distance in just 24 hours (seen here with participant Rick Cooke). Image – Jon Storey.
By Kate Dzienis
Last weekend on August 13 and 14 a record was broken in the running community by a Kojonup man who pushed himself to every limit possible and beyond.
Richard Avery, originally from the Marlborough region in New Zealand, participated in the WA Track Ultra (3hr, 6hr, 12hr, 24hr) where for 24 hours from Saturday morning through to Sunday he ran 400-metre loops on the Bunbury Regional Athletics Arena.
The 30-year-old completed a massive 240.431kms, beating the old record of 238.9kms.
“My target was 230kms, it was very ambitious as I knew that it would be a massive number in WA,” Avery explained.
“But that’s why I trained so hard. I didn’t really think about any other numbers, either higher or lower. I just wanted 230kms.”
Seventy-three runners participated in the four categories, and to assist their mental wellbeing as they ran loops, were encouraged to change direction on the track every three hours.
Distance runner Avery took up running six weeks before his first ever marathon (Rottnest, 2008) and since then, had participated in several others over the years.
In 2011 he wanted to take it one step further and attempted to complete (the now infamous) Race the Planet’s Kimberley 100 Ultramarathon but was taken to hospital with severe dehydration – and the race was soon after called off due to five runners being severely burnt from a rapid bushfire.
“This, together with a few other things in life, caused me to stop running,” he explained.
“Instead, I took up drinking way too much and put on a fair bit of weight.
“But sick of being fat in September 2014, I decided to sign up for another ultra, and from March 2015 to today I’ve been taking my running much more seriously and have spent a lot of time researching training and nutrition.”
Avery at the WA Track Ultra last weekend. Image – Jon Storey.
Last weekend, Avery proved to himself how far in running he could truly go, and after taking some respite since a big event this past March, his training really paid off.
“I took two months off after the Northburn 100 Miler in March, only running 30 to 60kms per week and doing some strength work; then I built volume back up through June until 200kms by the last week,” he said.
“In July I aimed for big volume and hills, every week running at least 160kms and trying to run back-to-back long runs.
“One of those long runs would be what I call a ‘starvation run’ where I would eat nothing for eight hours before the run.”
Avery told Runglobal he was shattered though once he had finished the WA Track Ultra.
“Mentally not too bad on Sunday, physically I was very sore in the evening, but a bit of a mess on Monday,” he revealed.
“So many people had said so many nice things about me that I really struggled on Monday; I was very achy, pretty much from the neck down. Each day has got better and better though, and I have been walking every day since.”
Surprisingly, Avery had been told several times throughout his running career that ‘he was not a runner’, but his advice to others is to never limit yourself.
“I finished my first ultra when I was 95kgs,” he said.
“Eighteen months and 20kgs later, here I am with the WA 24-hour record.
“Running makes my life so much happier and fulfilled.
“It has generated some of the lowest times in my life, but out of them the best times and memories have grown.
“Never, ever limit yourself.”
One of the race’s organisers, Shaun Kaesler, said it was a spectacular turnout at the weekend.
“(Organiser) Ron Mcglinn did a smashing job again with the event,” he said.
“In two short years it has quickly become the iconic track ultra in Australia and the atmosphere is second to none with the sharp increase in competitors including two overseas runners!”
Avery’s record breaker in the WA Track Ultra has seen him take the 16th spot in the International Association of Ultrarunners rankings.