She started running at 31 and then became a 24 hour Ultra Marathon champion.

What a champion.

Meredith Quinlan didn’t start running until she was 31 years old because she wanted to take up a sport that would allow her to continue eating the way she likes.

Quinlan really enjoys cooking and food but was worried when her metabolism started slowing, so her Sister-in-Law suggested she take up running. It began at her local oval doing 15 minute runs, three times a week where she would alternate between running and walking. It took her six months to prepare for her first five km fun run.

Now Quinlan has become a 24 hour Ultra Marathon champion as well as a Mountain Biking champion and USANA Health Science Ambassador.

Meredith Quinlan Mountain Biking. Image supplied.

We had so many questions about why she took up running and why competing for 24 hours appeald to her. So we asked her all of them. Here’s what she had to say.

Why dis you want to do 24 hour marathons?

I love pushing the boundaries on what is physically and mentally possible. I don’t come from a sporty family so to be able to run/ride and compete successfully is still a novelty for me. I love the sense of achievement and conquering things that I fear. I’m not afraid of failure and enjoy taking risks.

Do you enjoy it?

I race to train, as opposed to train to race. So it’s  the training lifestyle I enjoy most and the races create a framework and goal for the trianing.

Races are great when you get through the first half and find your rhythm. Getting through that first half though is tough mentally, as you tend to question why you are doing it at all. For some reason once you have a fair chunk of the event done it all makes sense.


What’s going through your mind when you’re competing in a 24 hour event?

I usually try to switch my mind off as much as I can other than working out the maths to achieve my goals. Running 24 hour races is a lot more peaceful and less of a mental strain than the equivalent biking races. However there is a lot of pain to deal with, which is mentally and physically draining.

What do you listen to? Music? Or something else, or nothing?

When Running a 24 hour race I love the music and don’t allow myself to listen to it until 12 hours into the race as a treat. It’s one of the things I really love about racing. For many years I wouldn’t listen to music when training, that way the music would be fresh and have an even better effect when I did put on the earphones eventually in a race. You can really get lost in music and disassociate from the dull pain that inevitably sets in.

What about going to the toilet? What are the logistics?

Because these are timed based races, there’s not limit to how much you chose to be off the course. I don’t achieve my distances through speed but rather by staying out there as long as possible and minimising breaks. I don’t have to go to the toilet much as I know how to optimise fluid intake. Some races I will only go once or twice and they usually have a horrid super loo on the side of the track – which to be fair is kinda heaven having a sit down in the dark.


What are the weirdest side-effects you’ve noticed? 

I had completely lucid hallucinations at the end of the Coast to Kosciusko (Australia’s ultimate 240km Ultra Marathon from the beach at Eden to the top of Australia). I was looking at the bathroom floor at Rawsons Pass where I had popped in for a nature break and there was clear as day spaghetti on the floor circulating around. Maybe I was craving a proper meal!

Does it get boring? And how do you get past that?

You’re usually in a bit of discomfort so it’s not boredom but rather being “over it”. I just break the event up in my mind and set mini goals to take my mind off any negativity. Or I might chat to another competitor for a while.

A day in the life of an Ultra Marathon runner (Post continues after the video)…

Video via fulmar3

How do you prevent injury? What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?

I find it impossible to avoid injuries as Ultra distance sports and injuries go hand-in-hand. Ultimately it’s all about management of the inevitable injuries that occur and being willing to be flexible with my choice of activity to maintain fitness in the intervening periods and preventative measure though nutrition. Staying positive is important too.


How long does it take to recover? And, toe nails – do you have any??

The longer running races take up to a month to get over. I think the real issue is getting over the mental aspects of the long events. Sometimes you have to make some serious deals with yourself to get through an event so it takes some good down time afterwards as payback.

I still have all my nails but they always have nail polish as they are not all the same colour.

In other sporting news from the week…

Matilda’s midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight has been nominated for the Asian Women’s Footballer of the Year award following her valiant performance in the lead up to the quarter-finals against Japan in June this year. Should she win, the 23-year-old will become the third Australian woman to be named the best female footballer in Asia.

The Hockeyroos have been selected to play in the World League Final in Argentina next month. The Hockeyroos made it to a gold medal match of the Inaugural Hockey World League Final in 2013, winning silver against The Netherlands.

19 year-old Caitlin Parker is the only Australian female boxer to be invited by amateur boxing’s main governing body The AIBA, to participate in an Olympic test event in Brazil next month. Parker is the 2014 Youth Olympic bronze medalist and was recently competing in Germany and Russia.

What sport have you been watching or playing this week?