By Andrew Hegeman
I grew up in a small town called Paeroa, in New Zealand. After moving around a bit in my late teens and early 20s, I relocated to Brisbane, where I am today. I am 30 now; I started running 10 years ago after I went out for a jog and realized how unfit and unhealthy I was. After jogging only 2 kilometers, my chest hurt and I was struggling to breathe. I had to stop and walk the rest of the way home. That was a huge contrast to two years prior, when at age 18 I ran my first full marathon. I knew I had to get back into shape, so I entered a half marathon, then a full marathon and then my first ultra (100km). I basically went from being unable to jog 4km to running 100km – all in the space of 9 months! I ran my first ultra marathon at age 21; it was the New Zealand 100km Nationals.
My resume includes a few 50-100km races around the local trails in New Zealand and Australia. I’ve completed 4 multi-day races, including the Lycian Way Ultramarathon in Turkey, the Buffalo Stampede Grandslam in Bright (here in Australia), the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon in South Africa and the Larapinta, Ultramarathon (also here in Aussie, around the MacDonnell ranges).
I love the challenge that each race brings, having to push myself to the limit; but most of all I enjoy where these races take me – often to different parts of the world where most people wouldn’t even think of exploring. Every race is such a great adventure!
I keep my goals simple: to enjoy the journey and get to the finish line. I’m never focused on rankings or where I place – the focus is always to finish the race. I do try to train hard for big events, such as the multi-day races, only because I know how challenging they can be; and that always makes it a bit more enjoyable, finishing each day and still being able to smile.
My biggest accomplishment to date was my completion of a solo run of the length of New Zealand. I ran 2, 200km and it took me 28 days to complete. Thinking back on all the obstacles that I encountered and knowing that I somehow managed to overcome them makes me happy. I also completed a solo 1,000km run from Brisbane to Sydney to raise money for the World Society for the Protection of Animals. They focus a lot on helping get abused animals out of awful situations where they are being exploited or that just need help in countries that may not have the means or knowledge to do so. Although it wasn’t as difficult as the New Zealand run, it was far more rewarding knowing I was doing it for such a great cause.
When I compete, the thought of not finishing never enters mind. During the Kalahari race on the long day of 80km, for example, I was throwing up and had to see a medic twice. They asked me if I wanted to pull out of the race, and I just thought that was such a bizarre question – of course not!
There’s nothing different about me compared to any other ultra runner, by the way. I trained hard for my first race and just learned about myself as I went from event to event. Ultra marathon running is more about mental strength than physical (although physical strength helps, too); if you don’t have a strong mind to push yourself out the door to train or can’t believe that you can run 100km, then it’s probably not going to work out so well.
Also, I run only about three times a week; it changes from week to week and depends on what I’m training for, and I go to the gym for strength training every other day. I have some great sponsors, including Hoka One One shoes, Buff Headwear, Zensah compression and Skratch Labs for my hydration. Having all of them on board helping me to achieve my goals is a massive boost, and even just knowing that they support me is very encouraging and helps motivate me.
Multi-day races are my favorite type of race, but it’s hard to do more than one a year due to the commitment of training and also the costs involved with entry fees, travel and everything else, so I do put a limit on it. I will generally do single stage races here in Australia; but if I happen to be overseas and there is a 50km or a 100km race on at the same time, then it’s very tempting to enter those as well!
To read more about me, visit www.AndrewHedgman.com
https://www.endurancesportsandfitness.com/article/i-only-run-three-times-a-week-but-ive-run-endurance-races-around-the-world/ From the February 2018 Issue of Endurance Sports & Fitness Magazine. Don't forget to support the magazine at ShopEnduranceSportsandFitnessMagazine.com. ALSO, please the magazine keep moving forward. Support the publication's GoFundMe Campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/EnduranceSports-FitnessMagazine