Shannon-Leigh Litt Naseby 100km Report

Current Athletics New Zealand 100km champ Shannon-Leigh Litt returned to the Great Naseby water Race at the end of August to defend the 100km title she won last year- her race report is below.

I arrived at Naseby at about 4.30 pm on the Friday afternoon. I went straight to see the course as I was eager to support the 100 mile entrants. I stayed at the course for about two hours before going to get ready for my race the following day

I had initially started training for the 100 miler however decided that I wanted to stick to the 100 km race and go back and defend my title. I’m not quite ready in my running career to run 100 miles. I’ll know when I am ready and will look forward to it. I really admired those out there running all through the night.


Shannon ticking off the Km’s. Photo: Michael Rodliffe

I’ve always been the sort of person who leaps into things quite quick and so I am happy with my decision to be patient, learn from others and build up my endurance over time and sometime take on the 100 miles. When I run it I know that it will be a good race because I will feel prepared. The most satisfying thing about running to me is the people I have met. The friendships, networking and positive vibes keeps me going. We are all there to help each other achieve.

When I arrived at the course I saw that Martin Lukes was in the lead. (although that didn’t surprise me at all!). He passed the start finish line a few times while I was there and I cheered him on. In fact I saw him run around a few times. He made it look so easy and didn’t look tired at all. I noticed that Lukes had his Salomon pack on and thought that was a good idea to have my pack as a backup for the next day. I didn’t actually use my one and in hindsight it would have been a good idea. I spoke to his wife Rachel for a few minutes around the start line

I then turned my attention to Lance Hunniford, at 63 years of age he is the oldest competitor in the 100 miles. To my surprise Lance has only been running for two years and already has competed in a few different ultra events. I had been running with him on a trail in the Waikato with a crew from Hamilton. I was proud that he did well and finished his first 100 miler. I supported him and Matthew Hall for a while and wished them well before heading home to get ready for my race.

I had been recovering from various injuries after being hit by a four wheel drive and knocked unconscious on a busy Christchurch Street in May this year and so it was important that I not push myself too hard as there are other future races that are important. The biggest achievement for me at Naseby was not feeling any pain in my knee or legs from my accident. It gives me confidence to now increase speed work in preparation for other races. I felt lucky enough to be at the start line.

The figure 8 course meant that we passed through the start finish line twice. The course felt like it was a bit rougher than last year and I fell over a few times and hurt my knees due to the limited toe support of my shoes. I thought that having a contemporary dance background that my balance would have been alright though once I started falling over I couldn’t stop. I am a contemporary dancer with a focus on jazz ballet and I find it helps balance my running. One guy said to me that I had the bloodiest knees of anyone on the course. Well that serves me right doesn’t it running in a skirt.

I arrived at the start line bright and early full of confidence yet full of nerves as well. I was told I looked line the most nervous person at the start and I probably was.  I initially looked at Michale Rodliffe as a pacer and while I lead for the first 2-3 km that was short lived. After about 1.5 km I started to turn the wrong way though Michael was able to point me in the right direction. Michael Rodliffe unfortunately wasn’t able to finish the race due to a damaged quad however he stayed for the whole event and took many photos.  I admire his sportsmanship and dedication to helping others. This has something that has shone through on many occasions. He is about to attempt in early October the 24 hour track run and he certainly has some miles under his belt over the past few months.

When the track started to get to a single trail I was passed by the men’s winner who I had met a year previously Simon Wooding. We chatted briefly before he sped off. Something I have noticed about Simon is that he has always looked very focused on his training runs when I have seen him in the Port Hills. I asked him what time he wanted to do and he said between 9 and 10 hours. I thought that’s my goal too and decided to sit about 100 metres behind him for a while though that again didn’t last for long.

I passed a lot of the people running the 100 mile and thought they were amazing for being out all night. I saw Matt Bixley and had a brief chat to him. I told him that I was cruising along doing hour laps. He looked really fresh and I voted him best dressed male runner with the matching cap and white compression socks.  I heard that he had actually been home for a sleep during the night.

The next 5 to 25 km I ran with the men’s winner of the 80 Km. After around 20 km the race organiser Jamie said that I was going fast. I think what he meant was slow down girl! I probably went out a bit fast and neglected my nutrition in the early part of the race.

The first quarter of the race went really fast because I was talking the whole time and I forgot to drink enough while having the gels. The gels gave me a stomach cramp. I had muscle soreness from a ballet class the week before. My nutrition suffered from about 20 km to 50 km where I was dehydrated and had cramps in my stomach. The thing about the gels is if you want to use these in a race drinking water is also important.

I wasn’t able to make up for the lack of hydration and it probably cost me my goal time in the race. However I wasn’t going to give up. I knew by the 50-60 km I wasn’t going to reach my goal time. I decided to change the game plan in terms of nutrition and started to eat ginger nuts which seemed to settle my stomach and I kept going. The latter part of the run I opted for jelly beans. My sister who was a great support put them in my pocket as I passed and told me off for eating too many biscuits.  I do not usually have support at races though it was really great this time to have the moral support.

The last quarter of the race I found really hard which is a contrast for me because I am usually better over the latter stages of 100 km and find the 60-80 km tough.

I got to the point in the last stages of the race where I wasn’t able to have a conversation. The last 5 km seemed to take a long time. I enjoyed being back at Naseby because of the supportive atmosphere and friendliness of everyone there. Because I was going slower this year and I got to take in the scenery that I didn’t see last year. It was breath taking and what a beautiful day.

I enjoy running the trail races and mountain races like Northburn and Naseby because I feel they improve my mental toughness. Naseby was such a great race for me as it has given me the confidence to run without injury after the set back in May. I learnt a few more things in particular about hydration and nutrition.

I want to say a thank you to the race organisers for making it a great day and the other runners at the event.  Thanks also to my friends Kate Townsley who gave me the Kori Kita fast moves T-shirt for the event and Valerie Henderson from running skirts for the buff.

Full Results HERE


Race report from Kat Bulk

Race report from Mark Wareing

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