Finish Line™ Story: Brad Kohring
The morning after this year’s Ultra-Trail Australia (UTA) event in the Blue Mountains Brad Kohring awoke to a range of emotions – elation, relief and of course the physical fatigue that comes in the wake of a 100km race.
But the overriding feeling that morning was of excitement and anticipation for what the rest of 2019 held and ultimately a return to Katoomba in 2020 for a real crack at the event on the back of a full preparation.
What Brad achieved this year is quite remarkable given he stood on the start line on what can only be described as a limited preparation after issues, first, with both Achilles and just months later a stress fracture in his tibia.
“I did UTA in May this year and I genuinely went into it without a lot of expectations. I was just pumped to be there,” the 34-year-old said.
“But I took an hour off what I’d done two years previously and finished 34th overall (in a time of 11hr 51min 36sec).
“I trained well for it in the time I had but was still coming back from injury so I was pretty cautious. I woke up the next day and everything in my mind was about next year. Now I’m ready to have a real crack at it.”
Brad grew up in Alaska and when an opportunity to take up theological studies in Sydney presented itself in 2004 he grabbed it. He is now a pastor with Hillsong Church.
He describes himself as naturally active and the outdoors type you’d expect most Alaskans to be but running did not become his “thing” until eight or nine years ago. Brad sheepishly describes how he got into running but we’ll leave that anecdote until the end.
“I’ve been active all my life and did triathlons for a few years including Ironman Cairns three years in a row (2014-16),” he says.
“I kind of did the same time three years running. I knew what it was going to take to go faster – more time for training – but being the father of three young children I wasn’t prepared to make that commitment.
“I guess because it takes less time I just started to focus on my running, rather than doing all three disciplines.”
“The next year I ran Ultra Australia in the Blue Mountains and that was fun. I planned to go back and do that again, I did a 50k or two that year as well and I was feeling fitter and stronger,” Brad says.
“But I got injured pretty bad and that was most of last year. It was Achilles on both sides and that was so frustrating, and it took about six months until I felt I was good and ready to go. I had one good training block in, did the Coastal High 50 and managed to finish eighth I think.
“And that’s when the stress fracture happened in my tibia.
“I was pretty bummed and completely off for the next six weeks.”
Brad first took himself off to POGO when his Achilles problem flared. He said he handed himself over completely to the process and the rehabilitation program designed by Brad Beer.
“I don’t know how it is for most people, I got the vibe that most people don’t follow the program exactly and I think Brad was kind of surprised with me. I’d come back in and say ‘I did that, I did that and, yeah, I did that too’. If he said ‘only run for 20 minutes’ that’s exactly what I did.
“He knows what he’s talking about.
“The big thing for me is it was more than just going in for treatment.
“He was really coaching me through the whole range of exercises and rehabilitation to be stronger. I learned so much from him through that process. I could have stopped running and the pain would have gone away but then I would have been weak.
“What I learned allowed me to navigate my way and come out stronger and fitter.
“What is golden in what Brad does, and his whole team, is their goal of treating you so you don’t have to keep going in.
“I think there are some out there who kind of sign you up for life where POGO was up front from the very beginning that in the long run ‘we don’t want to see you in here’.
“The other thing he understands and does so well is the injury is only a small piece but it affects your life. Running is a big deal to me so how that affects your thinking and the rest of your life, he gets that.”
Brad says the appeal of running extends far beyond the purely physical demands and discipline required although he wants to constantly challenge himself to see what the body is capable of.
“I think you only get one shot at life, and one body,” he says.
“I have three young kids and my wife runs as well. And I love what it does for them … from a health standpoint and their ability to experience life and pushing yourself to the limits to find out what you’re capable of.
“I’ve heard it said that ultra running is like the ultimate metaphor for life and I think that’s probably pretty accurate.
“You can learn just about any lesson in training for and running an ultra, that you can apply in life in general.
“I wouldn’t be doing it if I wasn’t pretty convinced that it makes me a better dad, a better husband and a better friend, in everything that I do.”
When pressed on how and why he got into running he explains the frustration and despair of being a San Francisco 49ers fan.
“This is a stupid story … are you sure you want to hear this?” he asks.
“I’m a bit of an NFL fan and have always followed the San Francisco 49ers quite closely.
“They were good many years ago, then they were terrible, and then they made it into the NFC Championship game, the equivalent of the semi-finals, eight or nine years ago. And they lost in the most heart-breaking fashion.
“It was a Monday morning and I was sitting on my couch completely lost and I thought to myself ‘what am I going to do? I’m just going to go for a run, and I’m going to run until I can’t keep running’.
“So while I was running that day I recall thinking ‘I’m going to run a marathon, (but) I don’t even know how long a marathon is’.
“So I got home and looked up marathon and registered for the Brisbane marathon … and it was awful, I didn’t even know what I was doing. I’ve kind of always done things before I probably should have.
“And I have absolutely no idea how far I ran that day.”
But while being “probably overly invested” in a football team has led Brad to experience the highs and lows of being a competitive ultra athlete he is happy where the journey has taken him, and more importantly, what lies ahead.
“That year of being injured was awful, but had that not happened I don’t think I’d be running as well as I am now,” he says.
“And because of what I learned and what I’ve added to my training when it comes to strength and knowledge and being sensible with things … I wouldn’t be where I am now without him.
“That’s opened up new possibilities for me for the next couple of years about what I might tackle.
“I’m very thankful for Brad Beer and his help and I would recommend he and his people to anybody.”
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