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In 2015 the Kep Ultra has for the first time ever appointed a race ambassador. Shane James will be coming over from Tasmania to run the 100km Kep event. Shane James is an inspiration, he suffers from a rare often fatal disease called Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS). He is beating the disease through ultra running, running up to 400km per week, and taking part in major events in Australia and overseas.

As part of the 2015 Kep experience we are hosting an ultra running information night on the Friday before the race, May 29 at 7:00pm at the theater at Perth Zoo. A number of WA’s more experienced ultra runners will be discussing a number of topics that should be of great interest to those running the Kep Ultra, members of the general running community and those just wanting a good dose of motivation and inspiration.

The cost is $30 per ticket, and all profits go to Shane’s choice of charity, one supporting children with rare diseases.

Karen-Hagan---Photo-Ron-McglinnKaren Hagan: Tips and tricks for running your first 75km or 100km ultra

Karen Hagan is a local ultra runner, ultra mountain biker, ultra swimmer and adventure racer, who readily admits she is a mid to back of the pack finisher in most running events she enters. Karen’s first 75km race was the 2012 Kep Ultra which she finished in 9:49. In 2013 Karen returned to Kep to finish her first 100km race, not only completing the event in 12:35, but defeating all other women (and many of the men) to claim first female position.

Karen is uniquely qualified to speak about how to run your first 75km or 100km race and in her presentation will discuss how to prepare mentally, beating the low spots, correct race nutrition and most importantly how to have fun while running your first long ultra.

Rob Donkersloot: Strategies to finish a 240km ultra

Rob Donkersloot is a serial ultra runner, having completed six 6 Inch trail marathons, the 100km Kep Ultra twice, the Lantau 50km in Hong Kong as well as the North Face 100km race and the Glasshouse 100 Miler in Queensland.

Rob is obsessed with Australia’s longest single stage race, the Coast to Kosciuszko, a 240km event from Eden in NSW to the top of Australia’s highest mountain. He has crewed for runners in the race twice, and in 2013 ran the event himself, finishing the inclement weather course in just under 40 hours.

In December 2014 Rob crewed at C2K for Queenslander Mick Thwaites, helping Mick to third position in under 28 hours, as such he has experienced both the pointy end, and the back of the pack in this amazing endurance event. Rob will speak on how to prepare for an ultra long event such as Coast to Kosci, crewing tips and race strategies. Rob’s strategies can be applied to all ultra races, not just those of 240km in distance.

Bernadette Benson: Running the Bibbulmun Track in under 16 days

Bernadette Benson is a Canadian born West Australian ultra runner who over the last five years has been at the forefront of women’s ultra running in Australia. She has represented both Canada and Australia at 24 Hour World Championships and is currently the Australian female record holder for 24 hours (238km), 100 mile and 200 km track.
Bernadette was also the first female at the Coast to Kosciusko race (240km) in 2012, fourth at The North Face 100km that same year and two weeks after North Face set the current 100km women’s record at The Kep Ultra when she won that in 9:24.

Bernadette will speak about what many claim is her most impressive performance of all, setting the fastest known time (male or female) of an end to end of the Bibbulmun track: 1000km in less than 16 days.

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Shane James: Kep Ultra 2015 Race Ambassador

In 2006, Shane, a native Tasmanian, discovered he had a broken back, the cause a mystery. At the same time, he suddenly was racked with severe muscle spasms and seizures. Shane endured a life of hell for 18 months until he was diagnosed with Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS). A rare neurological disorder with features of an autoimmune disease, there is no cure and no understanding of its origins.

Losing half his body weight, and sent to live a shortened life in a wheelchair with pain meds by his side, Shane had an epiphany one day, struggling to walk along the beach near his home with the aid of a walking stick he called “Lance.” He would fight back. And fight back he did, trusting his intuition that learning to walk again, and then run, would do more good than bad.

Working through immense pain, he broke through SPS barrier after barrier, to the point that he decided to fulfill a life dream and run the Boston Marathon. In 2011, he did it. In 2012, he did it again, this time placing second in the mobility impaired division. Since then, he has run a PB of 21:25 in a 100 miler.

Shane still runs through pain – what ultra runner doesn’t? – but in his case, the pain weakens SPS and at the finish line, he feels more than an endorphin rush. He feels victorious over SPS and extremely happy to have a second chance at life.

Shane will talk about his unique relationship with ultra running.

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