Team La Sportiva 2013 wrap up!

La Sportiva Team 2013 wrap up……

2013 saw the first year of a partnership with Running Wild and La Sportiva to form the La Sportiva Mountain Running Series and from there grew the development of the La Sportiva running team! Here are 5 of the players in the team and what 2013 delivered….

Caine Warburton

Well what a year it has been for Caine, 2013 has been by far the best in his short running career.

After a terrible 2012 season that was strewn with injury and saw more than 7 months without running  a step he have bounced back in 2013 with some serious vigour! Trail, Road and Track races, and was welcomed to the La Sportiva team plus helped pioneer the Kokoda Spirit Racing Team with new supporters Endura and Compressport to his camp.

While he thought his trail running has enormous room for improvement Caine had also been pretty satisfied with the racing in 2013 gave considering his relative inexperience in the sport.

Outside of running his personal life has been nothing short of hectic. Overseas twice, changed careers, welcomed his first daughter into the world and even managed to celebrate his 26th birthday!

As for the running lets “run” some stats from 2013.

9x 1st place finishes

6 x New Pb’s

6x New course records

3x 2nd place finishes

3x International race podiums

1x 3rd place finish

In 2014 Caine has BIG plans and intend on competing in the most competitive races I can find! As such I have signed up for the Buffalo stampede, Alpine Challenge 100k and Australian 100km road championships amongst others and cannot wait!

So on reflection it’s no shock that he is having a break off running over the Christmas New Years break, as much for physical recovery as it is for mental…. and his girls! Being a dad it has changed things for sure and made training that little bit more “tactical” however Caine think fatherhood will be another addition to his arsenal and help push him to new heights.

Caine’s philosophy Think Big, Run Hard, Be Strong



1st Alice Springs Ultra 60km

1st Kurrawa to Duranbah 50km + Course Record
1st Numinbah to Pollies 18km
1st King of the Mountain – Numinbah to Pollies
1st Up the Buff Trail race 25km + Course record
1st Run Wild St Albert Marathon + Course record
1st Nerang Short Course Trail Race 2 – Soleus 6km +Course record
1st Nerang Short Course Trail Race 3- Soleus 6km + New course record
2nd Lake Mountain Sky Run 34km
2nd Pinnacles Classic 18km
2nd Edmonton Police Half Marathon
7th The North Face 50km
8th Oceania Championships 5000m
Bronze medal mixed medley relay Oceania Championships

Isobel Bespalov

2013 started off in a promising manner, Izzy had had a great 2012, completing both her first and second 100k races in improving times, she was hoping this trend would continue into 2013.

However, life does not always go as planned! A ‘niggle’ from late in 2012 became more insistent. It never stopped her from running, but it slowed her right down. Whenever Izzy went hard, her right quad would cramp and would end up basically dragging those legs behind her!

She did win a race in March, the 43km Roller Coaster Run and was hopeful things were settling down for TNF100 in May. She managed to finish TNF (in great pain), but her time was a couple of minutes slower than 2012, and she had been hoping to be significantly faster!

A few weeks rest and recovery, and her injury seemed to feel a bit better and training started again. Izzy was preparing to run her first 100 miler, the Glasshouse 100 in September. Putting in the hard yards and training a lot, she just couldn’t seem to get any speed. Her quad was still giving her grief, in spite of intensive massage and dry needling. Then her hamstrings started….Izzy recalls she had this incredible tightness that left her unable to stride out and was reduced to a kind of shuffle.

However, determination being her middle name Izzy was still determined to make it to the 100 miler, especially because of a planned family holiday! She went into the race knowing that she was not at optimal fitness. After about 20kms it was not to be her day. The intense pain in her hamstrings left her only walking and crying so she pulled out after 43kms.

Not regretting  her decision, as she was worried she would. Izzy was hobbling for the next few days which told her that if she had kept going, not only would she have probably been the last to finish, but would have received a serious injury. As much as she hates to DNF, it was the right thing to do.

After her Queensland family holiday, some time was spent completely off running just to let her body settle down. Then a focus on re-training her running stride. She thought she was over-striding which was causing the hamstring issue, and so slowly got back into the running, plus hired a coach to help out so that she could avoid over-training (as is her habit!).

Her last race for the y ear was the La Sportiva Razorback Run 40km. Izzy ended up being first female, and fourth overall, which was great, however, she believes that with a higher level of fitness her time would have been faster. So, still improving, and her legs are feeling fantastic.

2013 was a disappointing year for me running-wise, but I believe 2014 will be a much better year!

Stephen Upton

2013 has been an unexpected positive for Stephen after battling a hip impingement through 2012-13, which at points looked like he might have to give up running altogether. So he never take his running for granted now and cherishes all the joy he get out of it week in week out.

In February running began again after the 3rd successive 5 weeks of layoff from all running to let his injury settle, and after a week back running up in Mt Beauty, an easy run up Mt Bogong amongst other trails. Stephen took on the Mount Buller 36km Skyrun, never pushing himself during the race due to the injury and lack of ran pre, he managed to pull up pretty well with 4th overall in 4.15. 

May was a different month with a conservative increase in running along with good periods of rest in between saw him lining up at the beautiful Prom in the 48km event: Arguably the most underrated and awesome of trail venues anywhere. He ran that with a bit of pace and was in 1st for more than half the race, but suffered towards the end with some cramping, coming through in 3rd  5h14m, although he was beaten by 2 guys whose ages combined were the same as Stephen!

With the cool weather Stephen stepped it up in June with the Mount Macedon 30km. He had been training regularly at Macedon and reckoned he could put a good time in and maybe a podium, but on a training run just a few days before the event he managed to pick up a mild calf strain. Not feeling too bad he turned up at the start to see if it would hold out, but to no avail 9km…DNF

After about 3 weeks he was back on his feet and still had a reasonable base.  A week in his favourite town, Mt Beauty saw him back on the trails, whenever in Mt Beauty he always will do one thing. Run up Mt Bogong! White out conditions from the tree line saw him using his mountain navigation skills and loving every minute of it! As for the descent, 50m per minute drop in lovely soft snow… fun fun! Spion Kopje followed and some XC skiing for winter fun…

Looking to pick up some speed the Salomon Trail Series was next. The long course at Plenty Gorge, this reminded his of the cross country events back in Scotland that he used to do in the 80’s, sharp ups and downs it was difficult to settle into a rhythm, with a few water crossings. It was good to get a bit competitive again and he managed 3rd in his age group with 17th overall.

Head down with home renovations for many weeks the running was just an escape for Stephen, with little emphasis on structure or outcomes, however by the time October had come he had accumulated a decent period of running free and started throwing in some hills to get ready for the 4 peaks in Bright. And this is where Stephen loves that feeling of pushing hard and hurting! He had been looking forward to this event as he fully planned to do it last year but was out due to injury. 13th overall in 5hrs 10m with his favourite day, the last with Buffalo. He was in the zone by then, the views, the friendly faces, the track, and the weather was all just awesome.

November was the longest race month of the year for Stephen with the Razorback Run 64km in glorious conditions on a beautiful course and his legs were mountain ready as far a hills were concerned. However the distance and accumulative toll had concerned him pr race, especially as he his no stranger to cramping. He never set out to run it hard and was mainly using this event as a tester for the Bogong to Hotham for January. Considering all that Stephen went pretty well 5th place 9.25 although suffering with some mild cramping and he would have liked to run the last 20km more free.  A great event to finish the year in the most amazing setting, with a great bunch of people.

Highlights: 4 ascents of Mt Bogong this year and will never tire of that mountain

Still being able to run: my hip aches every now and then but I’m still running!

4 peaks…Love going hard in spectacular scenery

Gill Fowler

For Gill it started & finished in Harrietville (at the same pub)! And there may be a recurring theme of running over Mt Bogong, mostly in the one day in 2013.  It all started with a week running out of Mt Hotham between Christmas and New Year and them being invited to be the first member of the La Sportiva running team! During a few quiets drink at the Harrietville pub for New Year’s celebrations, pondering that a few too many km’s in the mountains had been run in the lead up to B2H. Unfortunately, but maybe luckily for me this race was not to be and cancelled, instead a more leisurely run with friends up Mt Bogong to Langfords Gap was the result.  Some short local trail races tested the speed over Summer, Sydney Trail Series with some Street Orienteering events was by far the most fun way to get a 45 minute fartlek run in.

Mid March saw Gill return to the Vic Alps for the Alpine Challenge. This run would confirm her enjoyment for the longer 100 Mile runs and it would test her as it ran over Mt Bogong 4 times in a day! Due to inclement weather there was an added bonus, to climb out of Big River, not once, but twice. This run was definitely a highlight for Gill this year, even with no finish line, due to the race being cut short because of weather. Gill lead the entire field of the 100M event from start to end.

Her year wasn’t just racing in Victoria, but also in her home state of NSW with a 5th 12:02:26 at The North Face 100. Not enough ascent or descent for Gill, but still a sound performance here for her.  Gill recalls one of her most memorable training weekend of the year was just after this event , 3 days of running with friends exploring new trails in the Blue Mountains.

Gill’s other passion other than the mountains is Rogaining, and with new Rogaine partners! In April – 2 x 12hour rogaines with Matt Cooper, one a great success, one a fun night run. See more the story here.

June – 2 rogaines with Joel Mackay, a 6hour practice the week before the 24 hour Australasian Rogaining Champs in Cairns. The practice paid off!  As they achieved 1st Mixed Team. See more the story here.

All this was preparation for the Europe tour with 4 great mountain runs! And Gill’s results here were outstanding and some of the best seen by an Australian ever, a definitely a highlight for 2013! Race 1 Sierre – Zinal after almost missing the start due to being on a slow bus! This Swiss punisher of 31km with 2.2km ascent, she finished 18th here was a good warm up for the tour ahead. Another short race, Schilthorn Inferno Half Marathon; 21.1km with 2.18km ascent finishing 8th was the final pre for the big one. The UTMB, 160 km and 9+kms of ascent it is the pinnacle for Ultra Trail Mountain Runners! Gill finished an outstanding 6th and the best placed Australian for this event to date! To finish her tour a quick drive to Spain and to take on another classic Ultra Mountain race, Cavalls del Vent 100 kms. The legs weren’t super fresh after the UTMB for the 6+kms of ascent, but a respectable 8th in the star studded field was yet another brilliant performance.

Returning to Australia a short (forced) break from the longer runs was needed, but managed 1st at Race #1 for Trail ACT, before heading back to the Victorian Alps for the Razorback Run. Again Gill didn’t disappoint winning comfortably for the 64km event, stunning scenery, and this time fantastic weather, a great way to finish 2013!


Tom Brazier


2013 was a build up to Tom’s first marathon in April and his first North Face 100 in May. He had been working on an endurance base then progressed to tempo efforts for the marathon plus hiking up/smashing down hill work for TNF. As for some lead up races, John Harding set up a couple of AMRA half marathon trail races and Tom found some time for some shorter rogaines (6/12hr) and completed Division 1 in ANU’s Inward Bound competition. This 28-person squad that he coached finished 2nd overall out of 8, performing well and finishing in every division.

His goal for the marathon was to sneak under 4min/km (2:48:47). The race went smoothly and felt good until the last 5km or so, but I made it through in 2:48:02 for 25th overall.

Quite a few of Tom’s mates from uni came up for TNF100, and their time was spent at the registration pointing out all the elite runners that they had heard of, read their blogs, seen them race, etc. He had calculated conservative CP splits for a race time of 12hrs, but this was his first official race over 50km so pacing was a bit of an experiment. Stoked to come in 17th overall with 11:07, and 2nd in u25s behind Ben Duffus! Resting after the TNF 100 to fix up some patella pain, lots of hip mobility and single leg stability work, Tom’s next mission was the Glow Worm trail marathon, where he was 10th placed of the guys in a pretty strong field and also he had the chance to meet and get beaten by Ruby Muir!

With a winter of training missions to Bimberi Peak (ACT’s highest mountain) of 50km runs with 2000m of climbing in total plus the final 3km climb through 30cm of snow! All done in shorts! Tom travelled down to Melbourne for the You Yangs 50 miler, mixing it up with Mick Donges for a while but ended after vomiting around the 50km mark. In hindsight he relied too heavily on spread out aid stations for water where he should have allowed for more consistent hydration.

Back to some speedy road action for City2Surf and averaging 3:45/km for 52:30 then the opposite of speedy road action – 24hr Aus Uni Rogaining Champs in WA. Teaming up with Sarah Buckerfield they dominated the uni competition for 1st place and ended up winning the Mixed Open category with 3rd overall behind 2 men’s teams that cleared the course!

Sri Chinmoy and Martin Fryer organised the inaugural Canberra Centenary 100km in September, and Tom figured this was too good an opportunity to miss a 100km in my home city. He did a final lead up 23km trail race in Albury (his old home town) the week before, with a confidence building win. The Canberra 100km turned out to be a battle between locals and NSW visitors, but Tom ended up with his first big race win, also claiming the course record with it being the inaugural race, 9:48!

October/November involved a heavier focus on finishing up my coursework at uni, and a series of Canberra based 15-20km trail races organised by AMRA and Hanny Alston’s new TrailACT series. At TrailACT they had a demo set of La Sportiva Helios for runners to try out, he was hooked! Tom also coached and raced in a road relay at uni – 9:22 for his 3km leg, and their 8-person team won overall!

The Deep Space marathon grants an auto-qualification for Six Foot Track to the podium finishers, so Tom saw this as a good opportunity. He finished in 3:26 behind John Winsbury to secure the entry for 6 foot track 2014.

His final ultra for the year was Razorback 64km in the Vic Alps. Tom hadn’t run here before and the single tracks are so amazing. The climbs were also a lot bigger than he was used to, but Tom liked that the courses were unmarked so there was some onus on the runners to be navigationally aware. A super exciting race it was with Tom overtaking the race leader for the first time within 3km to go! This was Tom’s first officially race being a part of the La Sportiva team!

December included an extremely spoilt week of adventures: Thredbo for some MTB and the Main Range loop; Blue Mountains with the uni triathlon club Mt Solitary exploring and TNF100 scouting; then finally back in Canberra for a trail half marathon and finishing 2nd behind Rob Walter by 30secs, which is closer than he has ever been to matching him.

2013 Tom’s results have improved but he is continuing to learn – nutrition, pacing, technique, training methodology. He has met so many people with nuggets of information to share or training sessions to join in on, and is looking forward to expanding his running world even further in 2014!




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