When tackling a merciless 100-mile endurance run, Tania Miller keeps things simple.
The Fruitlands ultramarathon competitor says when she is moving through 100 miles, the finish is all that matters.
She had to dig deep just under a fortnight ago during the Northburn 100 mountain running event near Cromwell.
“And how much I would beat myself up if I didn’t finish. I keep that mantra in mind.”
Miller (45) overcame “extreme heat”, nausea and an injury niggle to finish as the first woman and fifth overall in a time of 28hr 2min.
She was not as fast as in her debut Northburn outing in 2017, when she was the second-placed woman in a time of 27hr 11min.
This year’s event proved remorseless for many competitors.
“About 38% pulled out, I think. Everyone was slower this year. I honestly didn’t think I would make it through.”
Her injury was a result of a staff v student netball game at Roxburgh Area School, where she teaches.
“I tried to behave like a high school student again by attempting to do this big intercept. I ended up tearing my calf muscle.”
Originally from Alexandra, Miller has been a regular challenger in local trail running events over the past few years. She first got involved about five years ago, once her “kids got older”.
Half-marathons quickly evolved into arduous ultramarathon events. Miller has appeared at the renowned Ultra Trail Australia 100km event through New South Wales’ Blue Mountains in 2015, 2016 and again last year.
“At the Ultra Trail event you get [silver] buckles if you finish under 14 hours. Less than 10% of females get that so I had that in my mind last year.”
Miller “sneaked in” with a time of 13hr 51min and was the 23rd woman home.
Following her Northburn win on March 24, she is focusing on recovery.
Next up is the 44km Mt Difficulty Ascent in June, in which she was second in her category in 2018.
“It’s a shorter race so I need to change the training a wee bit with a focus on more shorter, faster stuff.”
Beyond 2019, Miller has her sights set on either the Hardrock 100 in Colorado or the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) events through the European Alps.
“That’s the ultimate goal, to get to one of those events.
“[Northburn] proved that it’s not just the physical side but that the mental side is really important. I now know that I can do it, no matter how bad I feel at times. You will get through; you just got to keep going.”