TAIWAN heat one event, chilly Ireland the next.
Bushfield long distance runner Nicole Barker is taking competing in contrasting elements to the extreme.
The Australian representative won individual silver and team gold at the International Ultra Runners Association Asian Oceanic championships in Taiwan last week.
Her next international test will come in 2017 at the world championships in Ireland in July.
“This race was almost like a practice for competing at the international level and it’s great to come away with so much success,” Barker said.
“But now that means next year in Ireland I’ll know what it’s like to race against other countries and to travel and take on all of the extras like the opening ceremony and all of that stuff that I haven’t experienced before.”
Barker, who has completed six 24-hour races, clocked 206 kilometres at the Taiwan competition, which consisted of a 1.7-kilometre flat loop course.
One side of the circuit was on a road with people on motorcycles and scooters zipping past.
She went into the competition without expectations, knowing the weather conditions would play a key role.
“From an individual perspective, I haven’t ever run internationally so I was just hoping to get there and do my part and get a good distance for the team,” Barker said.
“I expected to be sitting middle of the pack.”
Barker was satisfied with her distance, which was just three kilometres shorter than the women’s gold medallist, another Australian competitor.
“Our team manager said to us at the start of the run to take 20 kilometres off our personal-best and if we could reach that distance we would be doing well because of the conditions over there,” she said.
“We started at 30 degrees but it felt like 34 and overnight it didn’t go under 25 but it was the humidity. It was just so hot and stuffy.
“Two laps in we were all completely drenched with sweat and then it was just sweating non-stop.
“It was so hard to cool your core temperature down and, as a result, your heart rate was right up as well, so it took a lot to try and keep your heart rate down. It became quite debilitating after a while, especially because here in Warrnambool I’ve been training in the weather we’ve had...and there hasn’t been any heat.”
This race was almost like a practice for competing at the international level and it’s great to come away with so much success.Nicole Barker