October 10th was a glorious morning at Melbourne's Albert Park. Runners from local crews gathered to hook around the lake, smashing time trials of all distances on the original Melbourne Marathon date. There were stacks of impressive performances - but the day belonged to Bayden Westerweller.
This man has been training his ass off all year waiting to front the start line of a marathon. Finally, he caved and decided to TT. Heading out at what seemed like kamikaze pace, he held strong for an unofficial 2:28, ticking off a long awaited goal.
Bayden, in simple terms, has no off switch. He is back building for the new Melbourne Marathon date in December, aiming to smash 2:30 officially. A dedicated runner committed to the cause - we're bloody excited to see how he backs up!
Tell us about yourself:
A lot of my life centres around running these days, though my background is in writing. I'm a huge motorsport fan - I've been into Formula One since I was very young. I worked in the media at the Australian Grand Prix before COVID got in the way, wrote regular articles and used to have a weekly podcast covering all the news. The passion has probably slipped a little in recent years as running has taken more of a centre stage, but I still stay/get up for every race at whatever hour!
It's quite ironic that I work in a fine wine store, though I consider myself fortunate in that regard to have maintained employment through the pandemic, 'essential services' hey!
When did running start for you?
I always enjoyed running as a child, I did cross country through the school years without taking it too seriously. It fell away after high school, though my coach Liam Delany's cousin, Kurt - who has been a friend since primary school, had been pestering me to run a marathon with him for a while over the many drinking sessions we had back in the day!
We had a crack at the 2012 Melbourne Marathon at the age of 21 off a non-existent training base and paid the price. I blew up big time and walked most of the second half, nearly passing out around 36 km and coming home in 4:13!
How has your running progressed over the years?
That experience lit the fuse to be more dedicated to running and I haven't missed a Melbourne Marathon since then.
I still didn't have much structure to my training for many years - not enough focus on the quality, and I was reckless in hindsight, eking out too many kilometres from shoes and drinking too much for my own good, so there were frequent injury setbacks. It took a while to go under three hours - which had been a longstanding goal. 3:40 in 2013, 3:05, 3:36... 3:10, so 2:44 in 2017 was very satisfying.
Although I ran 2:28 at last month's TT, my official PB of 2:35 came at Great Ocean Road in 2019. I didn't take on any fuel throughout the race since my stomach had been quite edgy and I didn't want to aggravate it. I knew all about it late in the piece and afterwards, I could hardly stand!
Kurt had been telling me about how Liam had a running group for a while, yet it took until after that race to head along to a training session and see what the fuss was about. It didn't take long to appreciate what Liam had built with Vigor and we commenced our partnership soon after the Gold Coast Marathon. Even though COVID has starved us of many racing opportunities since then, my running has undoubtedly reached new levels under his guidance and thrived in the group environment, everyone is there for the right reasons and we all get the most out of each other.
I went from running 160-180 km weekly with a lot of junk mileage to ~120 km, but the emphasis on quality has allowed me to take the next step.
You've trained solid all year and stayed more motivated during lockdown than anyone I've seen - how have you managed this?
The stretch from the Gold Coast Marathon campaign through to the TT evolved naturally due to 'circumstance.' As soon as GC was cancelled during race week, we turned our attention to the Sunshine Coast Marathon in August. Once the Victorian lockdown put paid to that, the focus shifted to Melbourne. Then Melbourne was postponed so it became the TT!
I think with so little else to do I was all in on nailing a marathon, whichever form it took. I know a lot of people have fallen off the ropes throughout the pandemic - I've seen that firsthand at work, and I also got a little carried away during last year's lockdown, so I was keen to avoid that this time around.
Favourite pre-marathon session?
It's difficult to top the final long run a fortnight out with the middle block at goal marathon pace. Your legs are beginning to feel fresher as taper kicks in and you gain a lot of confidence from knocking that one off.
A solid 3000/5000 on the track around ten days out with everybody firing is the icing. You know the hard work is done and it's all about being adequately rested from there until race day.
Now, Albert Park TT - tell us about this:
There's a stigma that a time trial is unofficial, but simply backing out and waiting for something else to come along after so many setbacks wouldn't have done justice to the training through the year. It also needed to be then or not at all since the body needed some downtime. Missing out on the massage treatments also takes its toll when you're chasing a big PB, so the fatigue was creeping in.
There was a great atmosphere that morning, seeing so many faces that I hadn't seen since lockdown, lots of people were chasing goals over various distances and we were blessed with good conditions. We knew heading in that breaking 2:30 was the primary objective, though I was quite confident of going closer to 2:25 if everything went well since we'd ticked all the boxes in the workouts and long runs over six months.
Having company through the first half made my life so much easier, and it felt like 2:25 was on going through 21 km if I could manage a small negative split. I was hit by nausea from around 30 km - I'm unsure if one of the Maurten caffeine gels proved too strong, and it was a struggle from there. Justin Kahlefeldt was a champion, pacing me home, and whilst the pace fell away slightly, 2:28 was still a huge PB so I was ecstatic.
And you're backing up for Melbourne?
It's taken a while to mentally get my head around shaping up for Melbourne. The body has recovered from the TT a little slower than ideal, though it has been nice to have enjoyed a few easier weeks.
Getting back to group training last week with restrictions easing and a solid long run on the weekend were timely boosts to finding the right mindset to knuckle down again. There won't be any major changes to training other than the long runs with such a short duration to December 12, and the base from the rolled over campaigns this year was so sustained that we're confident it can carry over.
Breaking 2:25 this time would be great. Ultimately it'll be fantastic just to run another official marathon after such a dry spell since Melbourne 2019!
Right now, it's Heaps Normal Quiet XPA.
There's some decent non-alcoholic options on the market these days, but I'm looking forward to getting on the real stuff once the job is done at Melbourne, it's been a while!
I'd normally say Weihenstephaner Hefeweizen, you can't go wrong on a hot summer's day!