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Postponed race leads to 130K FKT for Australian runner

After a 200-mile race was moved from February to October, Sharene Blake decided to put her fitness to the test with an unsupported FKT

Photo by: Sharene Blake/fastestknowntime.com

Sharene Blake, an ultrarunner from Western Australia, recently smashed a 130K FKT (fastest known time) on a route called the Cape to Cape Track. This run stretches along the southwestern Australian coast from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin, and Blake covered the route in 19 hours, 41 minutes to beat the previous record by more than an hour. 

 

In 2020, Blake had planned on running a 200-miler, but it was cancelled due to COVID-19. With the pandemic relatively under control in Australia, the next 200-miler that she signed up for looked good to go, but just a week before it was set to run, a surge in COVID-19 cases prompted lockdowns in Western Australia, and organizers were forced to reschedule their race. 

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“Two 200-miler races entered, two cancelled, all that training,” Blake wrote in her post-run report on fastestknowntime.com. She said she was “ill-prepared … for this kind of disappointment” when her first race was cancelled, and that led to a five-week break from running. This time, she looked for another challenge, and after consulting with her coach, she decided to take a stab at the FKT on the Cape to Cape Track, which is a long and popular walking trail.

A map of the 130K Cape to Cape Track. Photo: fastestknowntime.com

As Blake explained in her report, she’s pretty new to ultrarunning (she ran her first ultramarathon in 2019), and she had never attempted anything like an FKT before. After giving it some thought, she decided to run unsupported, meaning she couldn’t accept any outside help and had to carry her own gear and nutrition. With everything ready to go, she set off early on the morning of February 11. 

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She had a rough start, running through “the webs of countless golden orb spiders” and nearly stepping on a venomous tiger snake. “This section was much tougher than I was expecting and I was beginning to feel quite ill-prepared for the adventure ahead,” Blake wrote. She eventually settled into the run, though, and managed to calm her nerves. 

Blake after her successful FKT attempt. Photo: Sharene Blake/fastestknowntime.com

The trail took Blake up cliffs, along beaches, on rocky terrain and across streams, and while it was a long, tiring run, she made it to the finish well ahead of the route record. Her time of 19 hours, 41 minutes shattered the previous women’s unsupported FKT of 20 hours, 47 minutes, which was set in December 2020. Blake’s time also beat the men’s unsupported FKT of 20 hours, four minutes, which was also run last year. 

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As Blake wrote on Facebook after her run, her favourite part of the whole experience was “not the time I came in on but what I learned. I learned that I could look after myself, that I could make good decisions to keep myself safe…. Tackling this unsupported FKT has been incredibly empowering.”