Marathon Man Turning Right At The Garden Gate
MAXIM Australia|May 2021
Ultra-runner KAY BRETZ beat the race record of Australia’s Big Red Run by more than five hours and was awarded the Ultra Performance of the Year Award at the 24-hour world championships in France — but it took a significant change in mindset to do it. In this excerpt from his latest book, the elite athlete shares his amazing personal journey on overcoming physical, mental and professional challenges to achieve his success…
Kay Bretz

I had lived in Albert Park [Melbourne, Victoria] for almost three years and ran daily. Yet, I had never come out of my front yard and turned right. Every single time I had left my house, I had turned left at my garden gate. I didn’t even have a reason for it. My street was parallel to the beach, so I did two left turns to get to Beach Road. Instead, I could have done two right turns to get there. That was what Corey did, when at the suggestion of my new coach Gavin, he took me on my first mystery run.

I had no time to further ponder our choice of direction. We were only a few minutes into the run, and my concerns were growing. This felt wrong and uncomfortable. Corey was on a mission and, once we heard the first kilometre beep of his GPS watch, he increased the pace. This was a very different Corey from the one I normally trained with. It always took him forever to get moving in the mornings. Now, we were only five minutes into the run and he was running at marathon pace. And so was I. My thoughts were racing: How long would he be doing this? Why was he doing this to me? I should have known better and not said yes to this mystery run. Silly me. Maybe there was a way out of this? Maybe cut it short. Or even better, stop now.

Before I could pull the pin, I unexpectedly got a bit of time to breathe. After only one kilometre of this faster pace, Corey slowed down and took a very unusual route through St Kilda, passing shops and some random, unfamiliar residential streets. He was clearly taking me on an emotional roller-coaster, shaking me up in a scary ride, oscillating between hope and despair. We were about to hit the next bumpy section and accelerate. Corey took us on to a footy oval, where he picked up the pace to almost a sprint. Huffing and puffing, I managed to finish the first lap. No stop, no rest, onto our second lap. “Corey! Don’t break me!” I said, but he didn’t hear. The cries for help were happening in my head. I didn’t have enough air to scream out loud. Again, it must have been my pride that prevented me from giving up. Soon, though, I would have spent the last drop of it. My breaking point was close.

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