Melissa Robertson was the lucky winner of the TomTom City2Surf Challenge last month. She is an avid trail runner from the Central Coast, NSW and can be found out running most mornings before she heads off to work in Newcastle where she works as a web developer. Unfortunately she couldn't run the City2Surf this year, but in honour of the event still got her 14kms done. We spoke to her, and asked her to share her story.

How I got into running

I first got into running many years ago when I moved to Sydney and was looking to get fitter so I decided to have a go at the City2Surf. At the time 14kms seemed such a long way, but on the day with thousands of other people, I managed to run all the way to Bondi. A few years later I did my first obstacle race and absolutely loved it, all the running training meant that I could easily do the distances of the obstacle races. I started focusing more on my training and had a number of successes in the obstacle racing scene with multiple podium finishes and I even represented Australia in the Spartan World Championships in 2013, placing 15th in the world. In 2014 my focus shifted from obstacle races to trail marathons and ultra running. Ever since I started running I’ve always enjoyed it the most, especially trail running where you can throw a pack on your back and disappear into the bush for a day.

Ultras and the GNW100

Towards the end of 2014 I attempted my first ultra, the GNW100, a 103km race along a section of the Sydney to Newcastle Great North Walk, the race ran from Teralba to Yarramalong. I completed the race in a record breaking time of 12hrs 16mins. So this year I’m back again, only this time I’m attempting the longer course and running 175km from Teralba to Patonga. It’s going to be a tough race with tough competition and I’ve set myself a very high goal of attempting to complete it within 24 hours (only one other woman has achieved this). Whether or not I achieve it isn’t as important as just getting out there and running my best on the day/night/day (It’s a long race….).

My training

With all my training focused on the one race I need the sort of watch that can keep track of my progress. In particular, long runs where I need to maintain a low heart rate in the fat burning zone. This means constantly monitoring my heart rate during training and slowing down if it gets too high. Then for the tempo runs I need to train with a heart rate at just below threshold. Not everyone has the same zones so the ability to set custom heart rate zones on the watch and have the constant heart rate feedback is crucial to my training.

I'm was excited winning the TomTom City2Surf challenge as the cardio watch tracks my heart rate, running distances and times so I can monitor that I’m not over or under train. Sometimes it’s really hard to tell how far you’ve covered out on the trail without GPS. All that extra data should help to fine tune my training so I can get the best possible results come race day.

Melissa is a trail runner from the Central Coast, NSW. She raced many road and trail runs including the GNW100 in 2014 where she set a course record. Follow Melissa's training on her blog