Woah what a field!!! Round 7 of the Skyrunning ANZ series the Mt Difficulty Ascent is set to be one hot race up the front for the men! It would appear that the opportunity to test yourself on some of the hardest terrain around has drawn out some of our region’s best Skyrunners. Lining up in June 11th for the men will be Altra/Ultimate Direction athlete Sam McCutheon (1st Buffalo Stampede) along with Innov8’s OCR Champion and Skyrunning rising star Matt Murphy. However, these two are not alone with Salomon’s Matt Cooper back from injury and New Zealand’s The Hillary winner Danny Garret also vying for the top spot.
We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Danny, (aka NZ’s Mr nice guy), to talk about the race, his perpetration and of course tactics.!
Skyrunning ANZ: So Danny you had a stellar run recently placing 3rd at the Buffalo Stampede, how was that experience and what has drawn you to now enter the MT Difficulty race?
Danny: Buffalo was a great experience, it was my first time over in the Victorian Alps and I was really blown away by the scenery and atmosphere throughout the race. The brutality of the course lived up to everything that I had been told and I had to go deep into the pain cave to get over the final two climbs with Majell Backhausen chasing me down.
At one point on the final climb someone said to me “deep down you know you are loving every minute of this”, and I realised that I actually was.
Mt Difficulty has been on my bucket list for a while now – It really is a proper mountain race, and the winter conditions will be a challenge too. Unfortunately I was out for most of last year with an injury and missed out, so I’m excited to take on the race this year.
Skyrunning ANZ: What do you consider your strengths running wise and how will you put them to good use at Mt Difficulty.
Danny: I’m one of the bigger sized trail runners and I think it’s really important for me to get my fuelling right, so I’ve trained myself to eat a lot of gels during a race. I aim for 4 gels an hour for the first half of a race and then 3 an hour for the final half. This usually turns into a bit of a battle over the last couple of hours of the longer races.
I also love bombing steep technical descents. Before Buffalo I forgot to cut my toe nails which caused me a bit of pain on the descents, but they’ve since fallen off so I shouldn’t have any problems at Mt Difficulty.
Skyrunning ANZ: Mt Difficulty is the most technical race in the Skyrunning ANZ series, what have you been doing specific to prepare for that?
Danny: I like to train in the Tararua ranges, which are really close to where I live in Wellington. While the highest mountain is only a little over 1500m it really punches above its weight in the technicality of the tracks and the climbing that can be squeezed into one run, and the adverse weather’s always interesting. I think it’s been the perfect training ground for a race like Mt Difficulty.
Skyrunning ANZ: At this stage there is a really hot field with Matt Cooper, Sam McCutcheon and Matt Murphy also toeing the line on race day, what are your thoughts on that how will it affect your plan.
Danny: All of those guys are really strong runners, as well as a few other names I’ve seen on the start list. I always try to focus on my own race, but part of that is trying to stay in contact with the lead group through the first half of a course and then running the final half really strong.
Skyrunning ANZ: What section of the course do you think will be key/most difficult.
Danny: Leaving enough in the tank after the 1000m in 3km climb around the halfway point to run hard across the tops and on the descent.
Skyrunning ANZ: What does a standard Monday to Sunday training week look like for you right now
Danny: I try to get in 5-7 hours of training Monday to Friday, with one speed work session. Saturday is usually my big day when I get out for around 5 hours with lots of vert, and Sunday is just whatever I feel like. I’m a big believer in listening to your body – It tells you if you’re doing too much training. So if I really don’t feel like going for a run I just take the day off to rest and recover. I put all my runs on Strava if anyone is interested in seeing what I get up to.
Skyrunning ANZ: What Shoes and pack will you use on the day.
Danny: Salomon S-Lab Sense SG and my trusty Ultimate Direction AK vest.
Well there you have it folks, this race is going to be a real cracker and we cannot wait to see who will triumph over the killer climbs and devastating descents.