Runner’s Rambilings: Eye of the Storm

August 26, 2016 Posted By: Mizuno USA

By: Mizuno Race Team Member, Mike Aish


*a retrospective on chasing the leadman title *


Right now I’m sitting on the couch watching the Rio Olympics and trying to recover from a big weekend. This past weekend was the start of the final push in trying to win the Leadman Epic Race Challenge. Over the course of eight days- competitors are required to race the 100-mile mountain bike, a 10k and finish things off with a 100-mile run….. No problem right?


Things started on Saturday morning with the bike race. It was the first time that I’d ever been in a bike race and the mayhem of the first eight miles was complete madness. As much as I was trying to keep in control, I was anything but and it wasn’t until a tandem passed me that I decided to just embrace it and join in. A big part of racing well on this course is that you have to be able to get yourself into a good pack of riders so you can all work together. This leads to higher speeds on the flats with a lot less effort. On the way out to the Columbine Mine turn around point I got myself on the back of a great pack of riders and I felt like I was moving well. As much as I would’ve liked to give this race my all, because of the way the Leadman Challenge is set up, you really have to hold yourself back and keep yourself in control. By the time I got to the 40-mile aid station I had decided to let the group go and stop to refill my water bottles before the long climb up to 12,424ft up Columbine Mountain. It didn’t happen. Somehow I missed my crew and had to bum a little water and a gel from a few kind strangers, but I wasn’t really worried, things were going well and I was feeling good.




The Columbine climb is nothing crazy, but it’s really long and never lets up. They say it goes from up, to right up, to way up so by the time I got to the top I was more than ready to rest the legs and have a little fun on the way down. It takes just under two hours to get up the climb and back to the Twin Lakes aid station.



After a quick stop and a bathroom break, I was off again. The only problem was I was on my own. By the time you get to the 60-mile mark of the race, things tend to get pretty spread out and chances are that if you do catch up to someone, they are not really in the mood to work hard together. As it happened I only ended up riding about 15 miles by myself before a small group came up behind me, so I was able to jump in and work with them for rest of the flat section to the base of the Powerline climb.




As you come into the last 20 miles, you only have two major climbs. One is a three-mile long road climb that isn’t that much trouble if you’re feeling good, but the other is what they call “Powerline”. I think it’s only about 4 miles, but it’s just a grind the whole way. I was starting to do the math and even in my tired state of mind, I had it worked out that I was right on my 9:00hr finishing goal pace and that all I needed to do was relax and keep things even. The next thing I worked out was that mountain running tends to make you a pretty good biker on the hills, as I started to pass a load of guys on the way up.

With 12 miles to go, I was starting to feel it. My legs felt fine, but my back was killing me, so I made the decision to back off and just take it easy to the finish. I had a 10k race to run the next day and I didn’t want to push things too hard and pay for it later in the final two races.


Coming up to the finish line was a great feeling, and the fact that my math had been way off and I was 40 minutes faster than my 9-hour goal only added to it.  It had been a good day, but I was happy to be done.




By the time I had got myself together and back to the house, it was starting to get late. My plan was to get in a short run that night and then another in the morning to try and help the body recover and get my “running” legs back under me. The 10k race was at noon and I wanted it to be as easy and relaxed as possible.


As I warmed up for the 10k my legs felt good, but the back was still on the tight side. I spent a little extra time warming up and the goal was to try ad run around the 46 minutes that the current Leadman record holder had run back in 2012.


Funny thing is as soon as the gun went I felt great. I didn’t push things, but I didn’t hold back much either. The first three miles were run around 5:30 per mile (all down hill) and by the time I got to the turn around I had a good 2 minutes on the next Leadman and was in 8th place overall. I’m not sure if it was because I was in a good rhythm and I started passing other runners. As I came up to the line I was in 4th with only a few meters between me, 2nd and 3rd. I ended up running 38:20 and bagging a few more minutes for my Leadman lead.


As soon as the race was over, all I wanted to do was get some rest. I needed to eat and sleep and I was looking forward to a day off. In the last 30 hours, I had raced 106.2 miles and I still have another 100 miles waiting for me in six days time.


See you on Hope pass…


aish-hs-150x150Michael Aish is a former New Zealand Olympian, 2000-10,000/2004-5,000m, and current ultra marathoner for the Mizuno Race Team.  With PR’s of 13:22 for 5K and 27:46 for 10K, Michael has been tearing up the ultra scene for the last few years, with his most notable performance being a 2nd place finish in the 2014 Leadville 100. 


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