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Q and A: Kellie Angel, Overall VJM Champ

Alongside winning VJM 70km outright, Kellie has a long list of accolades to her name, including winning the Victorian Trail Championship and the Australian long course Championship, plus a notable second at the Lavaredo 80k and 5th at the UTMB Mont Blanc 100 miles. Here she talks to us about her running history, training, nutrition and more.   

Was running a part of your life when you were growing up?

No, I mostly played team sports including netball and basketball and enjoyed going to the gym to do aerobic classes with friends when I was at Uni. I didn’t get into running until late teens/early twenties. 

When you first transitioned from shorter races to ultras, how did you modify your training?

I mostly just ran longer long runs! And started to include a few more hills. I definitely needed more rest after those long runs initially. I have many memories of being pretty knackered on a Sunday afternoon, lazing by the fire. 

Do you have any nutrition tips for ultra runners based on your experience?

Try a few things out and see what works for you. Fuelling is so important; you can only get so far without fueling well.  

My number one tip is to make sure you have options. There will be times when your trusty nutrition won’t want to go in your mouth. Always have alternatives. 

When and how did you realise you have talent for being competitive in trail races? And how did you develop your talent to raise your level?

I started training for Oxfam Trailwalker with some friends. We signed up to our first trail ultra together as a training run. I loved it and found that it came pretty naturally to me. From there I decided to try some races solo and never looked back.  

I started training more, and I got a coach. I first won the Victorian trail champs (state champs) in 2012, and the Australian long course champs in 2015. It has become so much a part of my lifestyle and I am proud to have stayed at the top for such a long time. 

VJM kellie 2

How did it feel to fly the flag for Australia at the 2023 World Mountain & Trail Running Championships?

This one was really special to me, as it was my 5th time representing Australia, but the first after having two babies. I was so excited to see my hard work pay off and be selected back into the team. To top it off I was chosen as flag bearer for my contribution to the sport over many years. It was really nice to see that recognized. The race was great, and I was proud to finish top Aussie for the 5th time.   

Have you ever experienced a Did Not Finish (DNF) in a race, and if so, what did you learn from it?

No, I have not. Please don’t jinx me 🙂 

Trail running is a mental and a physical challenge - what tactics do you use if you face a mentally tough moment in a race?

I think I am naturally pretty determined and have a lot of grit. It always gets better, you just need to remind yourself of that. A few mantras can help: “Relentless forward motion, hike the sh*t out of it”.  

Just keep moving and you will eventually find that finish line, where you will forget any of that happened! 

VJM 2023 Kellie Angle

Of all your trail running memories, can you pick a specific one that had a significant impact on you?

My favourite memory is UTMB in 2017. It was my first 100 miler. I had no expectations, and I had the race of my life. We had horrid conditions with -10 degrees C overnight and multiple blizzards. With a few kms to go my brain switched into race mode and I hunted down the next female for a sprint finish, to finish in 5th place. 

Like Jasmin Paris, you are an inspiration to women who continue to run during and right after pregnancy. What has your training during pregnancy like? And what advice would you give to pregnant runners who are having doubts about continuing?

I kept very active during both pregnancies and I think it really helped me. I ran with both up until 36 weeks (more of a hobble by then!) but mileage reduced along the 9 months by feel. I swapped out runs for a lot more cross training including hiking and Zwifting on the indoor bike. Everyone is different, and you just need to listen to your body.  

Many runners have difficulty taking a break after the birth, but it is important to remember that our bodies have been through so much. There are evidence-based guidelines available, and it is such a small time in the grand scheme of things. I waited until 12 weeks post-partum before running after both babies. 

Kellie Angel with her family

At VJM 2023 you won outright, beating all the men. Congratulations on that again! What did you think of the course and how was your experience in Vietnam overall?

I love Vietnam. Early in my Occupational Therapy career I visited Vietnam a number of times to help with some volunteer work in the hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City. It was so nice to finally come back, with my husband, and see more of the countryside. The trails were fun and (mostly) fast, the food was amazing, and the people so wonderful, kind and generous. 

Can you sum up what motivates you to run in one sentence?

It’s a lifestyle I love seeing what my body is capable of, pushing the boundaries and visiting amazing places. 

Finally, you are surely an inspiration to many, but who inspires you and why?

I guess now it’s my children! I love showing them what an active, fun lifestyle filled with adventure is all about. 

Kellie with her family
Kellie with her family - 1