Bed Sunuwar of AWOO Team Nepal wins TNF100 Hong Kong!
Bed Sunuwar of AWOO Team Nepal won the 2017 The North Face 100 race in Hong Kong (TNF100)! Despite getting lost during the race and not being fully fit (still recovering from heavy cold) Bed ran a perfect race. The highlight must have been the blistering pace on the last section where he was even faster that Jeff Campbell during his record breaking TNF50 win on the same day!
We sat down over a Nepalese dinner with AWOO Team Nepal runner Bed Sunuwar after his 2017 TNF100 Hong Kong win to talk about the race and his training. Here is the transcript of our casual conversation with 2017 OTW and TNF100 winner:
Bed: The TNF100 is no joke. Up and down, some flats, but overall very hard race, no joke. But I tried to go easy. My most important target was the win, not the course record. I was not targeting record. This was very short time after OXFAM Trailwalker so not enough time for proper recovery.
When I found out that the strongest competitor (Pau Capell) did not come I reminded myself again – “target is to win, take it easy Bed.”
Q: But when you arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday evening before the race you were quite sick, right?
Bed: Yes… Last week, Friday, I went for 65km training run in Kathmandu. It was very cold. Because North Face is so hilly race – up and down up and down – so I went for 65km run on similar profile route. I felt good, easy but it was very cold. And afterwards problem … Headache, fever, cough… I was so sad… I was not sure I can race, it was tough. But then on the race day I felt better, “easy” feeling. My race time target was 12h30+ mins. As I said – no recovery, no rest, then felt sick – so no record target, just go for win.
So on the race day I felt quite strong. But then I got lost…
Q: How did you get lost ?
Bed: The marking at some places was not in very good place. Sometime too high on the tree – easy to miss when running fast. I arrived at some junction – wide trail one side narrow path the other side. I missed the mark there. I felt good, running fast but… the wrong way…
Q: so you turned back…
Bed: Yes, after about 1.5km uphill I see no marking. So I stop, maybe for one minute, thinking, feeling disappointed, looking right, left still wrong way… So I ran back until I found marking again. After that I slowed down to be able to follow marking. Everywhere just pay attention, follow the signs.
Q: So when you got lost it was after CP3, right ?
Q: Because when I saw you at CP2 you lost a little time there and you left in 3rd place, maybe 20 seconds behind the leaders but then in CP3 you were leading by about 3 minutes.
Bed: 3 minutes yes
Q: Then in CP4 you were about 6 minutes behind. So you lost about 9 minutes.
Bed: Yeah, 9 minutes… So after that I just carefully followed the signs. Follow my target “win” not fast run. So no tough race feeling. The route was hard but I did feel quite easy as I was not running fast. Weather was very good, I was preserving power.
Q: I remember at the beginning you were running with one Chinese runner, long hair, what happened to him ? He disappeared somehwere ? Or he got lost ?
Bed: I don’t know. I think he disappeared at the time when I got lost 🙂 I did not see him after that.
Q: After that you were following the runner from Thailand.
Bed: Yes, yes
Q: Then I remember you came to CP5 in Fanling (where you picked up your poles) – the gap was still about the same, about 5 minues. Same like CP4. You were both running at the similar speed. After that you had the long climb to Tai To Yan. How did that feel ?
Bed: Very easy.
Q: Very easy ?
Bed: Very easy. Because until then I was preserving power. Not running fast. When I went fast I went wrong way and got lost 🙂 . So after that I was thinking – don’t go fast, no record – but follow signs follow signs, power reserve for pace jump later. Because most important was win, timing not important.
Q: We could see from the timing that at Tai Mo Shan, after Tai Mo Shan – CP7 – you were leading by about 10 minutes. We did not go to that CP because it was a bit too difficult to access. We waited for you at CP8. Then when you arrived we told you “last CP 10 minutes lead”. But after you left – only 2 minutes later 2nd and 3rd runner arrived. So what do you think, why they closed the gap so much ? You were running slower ?
Bed: After arriving at CP7 I stayed a bit there. Maybe 5 minutes. No tension, no hurry. Please pass me this to eat that to eat, easy. Because the distance from CP7 to CP8 is quite big, 15km ? So I remember – most important eat well, check the backpack, water etc. No need to go out too fast here. After that slower run, not fast, preserving power.
Q: Then in CP8 you also stayed little bit – sit down, eat some noodles …
Bed: I did not know the other guys were coming
Q: Harry in 2nd place arrived maybe 2 minutes after you, only stopped maybe for half a minute, some food water and go. Then in 3rd was Wong Ho Chung – he did not stop at all. He never stopped in CPs. He just switched backpacks while moving in and out of CPs, no break at all. So after they left the CP they were maybe 1-2 minutes behind you only. They came later but their CP stop was much shorter than yours. And then … Yeah – how was the marking when you went from CP8 to CP9 – especially on the road down from CP8. Was it easy to find the left turn ?
Bed: That was quite hard. The sign was not very well placed, it could have been marked better. If I was running fast I would have missed it.
Q: But you found the turn ?
Bed: Yes, I did not get lost but I lost time because I had to run slowly. If I ran fast I would get lost again there.
Q: Then in CP9 you were very close together with Harry in 2nd place, right ?
Bed: Cloudy Hill… I was going up slowly still wondering wrong way/right way, slow run, walk… Then I hear “click, click, click, click” – Harry in second behind me with his poles … I hear that, I check with my headlamp the bib number – then I remember that is the 2nd guy. I felt good, easy so no worry at that time. I ate 2 gels, some sport drink and then think “OK guys, come come get me 🙂 ” and I started moving fast. But Harry still followed. Cloudy Hill… now no more walking, running up… Running …This was no joke, 100km race, 85km done and we run up Cloudy Hill … But I felt good, it actually felt easy at this point. Very happy feeling. I enjoyed this Cloudy Hill a lot, very happy feeling.
So then CP9 we arrived quite close together. The volunteers there were pointing me here and there, this side that side. I was not sure what was the right way. So I sit down for a while, eat something and telling to myself: “Bed, wait wait, you go wrong way now, time lost, no win, or DSQ – no win. Better don’t hurry, wait wait wait because Harry is coming, I wait for him. I believed I had more strength left than him.
Q: So you were waiting for Harry at CP9 and then you left together ?
Bed: yea, yea
Q: You wanted to make sure you go the right way…
Bed: Yes, yes. Then until 92-93km we were running close together. After that I could see the markings well with the headlamp – could see far, easy to see. So I said to myself: “Bed, you are not lost, go fast now”. So went very fast from here. But then 5km from finish way too many 50km runners on the trail. Very hard to pass. Narrow trail. Often 2 guys walking next to each other. I was shouting “hello excuse me, excuse me, please” but nothing… So I lost maybe 5 minutes.. Here I also turned around to see if any light behind me moving fast but could not see. So I believed now I can win. Then later I see finish line, great feeling – I shouted “awooo” – you remember ? 🙂
Q: Yeah 🙂 We were wondering at the finish line how long will it take you guys from CP9 to finish. We checked times of some guys in previous years – it was all about 2hrs, 1h54 something like that. We thought OK, it’s cold, he will be faster, maybe 1h45mins this time… And then somebody who was waiting at the road sent message to Keith that first runner is on the road already and will finish in 10-15 mins. Number 1722 … Oh, 1722 – that is Bed, get the cameras ready … But you arrived in 5 mins 🙂 12h20mins… that means from CP9 only 1h35mins…
Bed: I think when you saw how close we were at CP9 you were a bit worried … 🙂
Q: Well, I was not worried about your pace because at CP8 you looked very very good. Very relaxed… Earlier CP2 – angry, stressed, CP3 – little better but still lots of tension, CP5 – you were upset because you got lost earlier, CP6 – you threw the sunglasses down, threw the poles down, also quite tense stressed. But when you arrived at CP8 you looked very strong, very easy, relaxed. I was a bit worried that because you were sick maybe after sometime you may feel weak. But when I saw you at CP8 you looked very good. But… also the 2nd and 3rd guy looked very good. And we told you that you have 10 minutes lead, right, but you actually only had 2 minutes lead at that time. So we were wondering how will you feel when suddenly people catch up with you. So I was not so worried about your energy at this point but more about your head – how will you handle having the competition back with you all of a sudden. But at the same time I observed during the race that every time there were hills you were gaining time. If the section was flat the others were catching you a bit. But at the end there are hills so that should be your advantage. So I believed you had power to win but at the same you can’t tell how strong is the guy in 2nd chasing you. At the finish we thought we will have a fight all the way to the end.
Bed: This year I ran many many races. There was one week I had two 50km races in China, very fast… Like that. So not enough time for recovery. Had to preserve power in this race.
Q: So can you tell us how do you train for a race like this ? An example of a weekly training ?
Bed: Sunday – Interval training. For example 2km about 3:10m/km pace, 1m30s recover time and again 2km again 2km again etc. Another Sunday may be 1km interval at 3m/km pace. Very fast pace but short distance
Monday – easy training after hard Sunday. Still running, but easy, with other guys, talking, joking, easy easy 15km, 18km, 20km but easy, relax
Tuesday – Track, 400m laps, continuing, 83-84sec/lap again again, no break, 21km, 52 laps
Wednesday – recovery again, run, hilly up down, easy, 1-2 hours
Thursday – easy 1 hour and then short bursts, 200 meters, then 2 minutes easy then again – fartlek style.
Friday – long run – 35 – 40km trail, easy pace
Saturday – relax run
Q: So the whole week around 200km
Bed: Yes, 180 – 200km. But if big race coming then training escalate, maybe 250km training program. Last week before race rest.
Q: So when you go up to 250km week how you get the extra distance ? You make the long runs longer ?
Bed: Yes. Interval very fast and short, Long training very long but speed goes down
Q: So instead of 30km you would run 50 – 60km
Bed: Yes, then next week or 10 days before race very easy. Last time I had not enough recovery. Because OXFAM Trailwalker, then back to Kathmandu, 7-10 recovery, then training time very close to the race again. Then last week I had long training…
Q: And then you got sick …
Bed: Very important is rest time, recovery, relax, massage – very important.
Q: And then come and win 🙂
Bed: 🙂 the race day helicopter style 🙂
Q: Rocket booster 🙂
Bed: Rocket booster 🙂
Q: Thank you Bed and congratulations again!