Hongkonger Marie McNaughton finished second in the 92km Shinzuoka to Yamanashi (STY) in Japan despite being plagued by injury.
With a dodgy Achilles, IT band and back, she found that her limitations became her strength.
“I benefited from not pushing anywhere during the race,” she said. “I had to go steady at the start, and steady at the finish. I wasn’t able to do anything stupid like push too hard.”
She finished second in 12 hours and 21 minutes, behind Yuri Yoshizumi (10:45) and ahead of Honoka Akiyama (13:01).
The STY is the little brother to the 160km Ultra Trail Mt Fuji (UTMF), one of the marquee ultra events in Asia which also ran over the weekend.
McNaughton, originally from New Zealand, had entered the UTMF but with her many injuries, she moved to the shorter race. In 2015, she competed in but did not finish the UTMF and in 2016 she entered the STY but extreme weather stopped the race.
“So part of the motivation to get round was that I just didn’t want to drop out again,” she said. “When I was about halfway and it became clear the injuries would hold out, that’s when I became really motivated.”
She slowly moved up the field from fifth. She entered a check point at 50km in third place, and left in second.
McNaughton was considering not running at all, but worked hard on her many ailments with Alain Chu, the infamous physiotherapist known as Needleman.
“I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but when he said I had a chance I began to think I could,” she said.