Do you have any other advice that you think you could add? Ultra running is a fun sport, get out with your girlfriends, smile and have fun. Remind yourself how good it feels to be fit and healthy. Dare to dream, never think you are to old, to young, to big, to small, who cares, just get out there and love life. I have only been running for 5 years, but I am proof that you can dare to dream, set goals, train hard, and you can do all of this while working and being a mother, reward yourself by being the best version you can be of yourself………
Nikki Wynd the interview – Winner of the 2015 Badwater Ultra Marathon.
Australia houses some of the most amazing runners around, not to mention the most amazing mother runners. One such runner is ultra runner Nikki Wynd. Nikki only started running about 5 years ago and found herself not only loving the sport, but very talented at it too. After working extremely hard to smash all of her goals over the last few years, ultra runners everywhere, particularly in Australia have watched her climb her way to success. This year however, it was her winning performance at the 2015 Badwater Ultra Marathon in the USA (aptly named the worlds toughest foot race, a 135 miles (217km) non-stop run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA) where she embodied true resilience that saw runners everywhere take note, where Nikki would go down in the history books as one of Australia, and the worlds best ultra runners. We had a little chat to Nikki to find out how she juggles motherhood of her son Dan, training and competing on the world stage.
Where do you live, how many children do you have? I live in Lysterfield, Victoria and have one son Dan who is 11years old.
What does a typical day look like for you? My partner David and I usually get up around 5.15am and will run for anywhere from 60mins to 2 hours. I then get home, shower and get myself ready for work. I then get Dan up and get him ready for school. I leave home around 7.30am and then I’m off to work. I finish work around 3.30pm and usually try to walk to school to get Dan. The evenings then are usually taken up with Dan’s after school sport – he has something on 5 days of the week. I usually then squeeze in either another run, a hot yoga class, or pilates. Pick Dan up, get home, then organise dinner. We try to be in bed by 9.30pm to do it all again, this is basically our life 7 days a week
Do you work as well as run and if so, what do you do? I work 4-5 days per week managing RISE Health. At RISE we have Physio’s, Podiatrist, Dietician, Myo therapists, EP’s along with a state of the art high performance training centre. I am so lucky as I work in a job that suits my life and my running addiction. My work are so supportive and encouraging of my running, and I use all of the services to keep me in tip top shape.
When did you first start running and why? I have been fit and active all my life. I played tennis and basketball from about 5 years of age and begged my parents to let me join my local gym at 12. I only really started running seriously in 2010 when I signed up to do Oxfam Trailwalker with some friends from my gym.
What motivates you to get out and run? Why do you love it? What keeps you going and can you see yourself running until you are old and grey? I honestly can say I love running. Some mornings I can’t wait to get out of bed to go for my run. Its such a great activity that I can do with my partner David and my girlfriends. It can be a really social as well as often we will make our long run go via a coffee shop. David asks me that question all the time will I be running when I’m old and grey………..well I hope to be and if I aren’t running I am sure I will be doing something active.
Who are your running idols and why? I think the are so many amazing woman who motivate and inspire me. I would have to say Sharon Scholtz was the first person who was my hero as she was going all these long crazy races that she inspired me to do. Also some other amazing Mothers who run – Pam Reid, Pam Muston, Jodie Oborne, just to name a few.
How do you fit running and motherhood in at the same time? I suppose I am lucky that my son is nearly 12 and is quite self sufficient. I try to squeeze my running in around when he has his sport. I will drop him at footy training for 90mins, then head off for a run…….and I’m lucky enough that he loves running so he will come out for an easy run with me after work and loves coming to the Sri Chinmoy races with me (although I think he comes just for the post race pancakes).
What advice can you give other mother runners? I believe if you want to do something bad enough you will find away. When Dan was a baby I was so well known in the neighborhood as I spent hours out running with Dan in the jogging pram while he slept.
What is your most significant achievement to date? Well I would now have to say being the first female to win the 2015 Badwater Ultra Marathon. I think it just goes to show that if you can dream big, put in the hard work, and train hard and smart, that your dreams and goals really can come true.
What is your ultimate running goal or have you done it already? I would love to go back to Badwater next year and go sub 27 hours.
How did you take that step into ultra running and what makes you love ultras so much? I did Oxfam with some friends from the gym and realised I loved the longer runs. I loved the fact you actually were allowed to walk and eat real food along the way. I have met so many amazing people from all over the world and ultra running has taken me to so many places that I probably would never have been to if I wasn’t a runner.
What kind of training do you have to do to be a world class ultra runner? What advice can you give people wanting to get into ultra running? I think the main thing is to be consistant with your training, but in saying that you need to listen to your body. I have never been injured, however if I feel a niggle or something doesn’t feel right or I’m tired I will take a rest day or maybe swap a run for a yoga session. I think the best thing people can do is to just get out there and have fun with your training. Add variety ie: speed sessions, hill reps, some easy runs, a long run, keep mixing it up so you never get bored.
What was it about Badwater Ultramarathon that made you want to do it? To me Badwater was the pinccacle of Ultra Marathons. Its been named the “toughest footrace in the World” and whether it is or not it was a race that had me intrigued for years…….the elevation, the heat, the course…….it was also about me pushing myself to my limit and being the best I could be.
Were there any times in that race that you wanted to give up? I was lucky enough that I had a dream race. I felt strong and was really happy throughout the whole race…….A few weeks before the race I had told my partner David that I was going to have a crack at the 40-49 course record…..I know he looked at me with raised eyebrows like I was mad…..I said to him “what’s the worst thing that can happen?? I blow up and then end up walking the last 80kms”, so I went into that race prepared to put it all on the line. NOT finishing was never an option. During the race I kept reminding myself how lucky I was to actually be there and I just tried to embrace the heat and the blisters as I was only part of a lucky group of 100 people who got selected to do this race.
What kind of training did you have to do specifically for that event if anything different? There were 3 things I needed to do during training for Badwater, train on the road (as it was a road race), get used to the heat (as it was the middle of summer in Death Valley where the temps are often 50 deg), and lots of power hiking (as there were 3 big climbs in the race – 27kms, 23kms, 19kms). So I set about doing most of my long training runs on the road, the longest run I did was 60kms. I started doing hot yoga 6 months earlier and towards the last month or so I was going to hot yoga over dressed. I also did 2-3 hikes per week in the Dandenongs with my girlfriend Sam Gash who is a super strong power walker herself, these were fun sessions where we would walk and talk, so it never felt like a tough session but it really helped my walking during Badwater.
Who was your crew? What makes good crew? My crew was my partner David, my awesome friend Kati Nelson and the two US boys Uli Stuwe and Charles Klinger. Charles & Uli I only met at 4pm on the day of the race. They all brought different qualities to the race. Uli did all the power hiking with me and kept talking my ear off when I didn’t want to talk anymore, this was great as it distracted me. Charles was the silent assasin, he just kept making me run “one pole more” or 1km more, he pushed me in a way, that I didn’t realise until after the race what he was actually doing. Kati we called the “glue” she just kept everything together, she looked after the food and drink and kept me cool by spraying me with water. She nurtured me when I was hurting. David my partner is the one who believes in me more than anybody and made me actually believe I could win Badwater. I wouldn’t have done Badwater without his encouragement day in and day out all year round.
My crew were amazing and its a shame that you only get one buckle when you cross the finish line as they all deserved a buckle. Badwater is a team effort and I couldn’t have done it without my crew. I actually can’t thank them enough for giving up their time for me.
You have represented Australia in the 100k team and just missed out on the 24hr team in 2015, do you hope to represent Australia again in the future? I am off to Amsterdam on Monday 7th September to represent Australia in the 100km team. I am really looking forward to racing the world champs and just being part of an amazing team. I would love to represent Australia in the 24hour team, which hopefully should happen after running 221kms at the Australian 24hours champs this year.
What is your favourite ultra marathon to date and why? After Badwater, my favourite ultra marathon in Australia would be Coast to Kosci. 240kms from the beach in Eden to the summit of Mt Kosciosko, such an iconic race in Australia and its in December so a great way to finish off the year.
What would be your toughest ultra marathon and why? I think all ultra marathons are tough in their own way, but its more learning how you deal with them. I try to just be in the moment and embrace the race and enjoy being there and in the moment. Often we have tough patches during races but its how we deal with these flat patches. I try to talk to myself and remind myself that these flat patches pass. I might even just turn the music on my ipod up to distract myself…..