Sharon Scholz will represent Australia for the sixth time in a 24 Hour event on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November. This time in the inaugural Asian and Oceania Championships to be held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Scholz is keen to bolster the team and help Australia bring home a team medal.
“Australia is a chance for team gold,” said Scholz. “Japan will have a strong team as always in these international competitions, but with Jodie (Oborne), Nikki (Wynd) and Nicole (Barker) we could surprise them. Nicole is from South Australia and new to the team, but Nikki (Victorian) and Jodie (Queensland) and I have all been there before,” Scholz added.
Sharon is downplaying her own chances of an individual medal, but is confident of a strong personal result. “I’ve been training fairly well lately,” Scholz said. “But I’m not in the physical or mental form that I was when I ran nearly 225 kilometers in France in 2010,” she said. “I’ve done the best I can to try and acclimatize to what will be warm and humid conditions in Taiwan by running in long clothes in the hottest part of day. It’s a bit of an unknown for me this event, but I do know that when the race starts I’ll be committing everything I’ve got and encouraging and supporting a strong team result as best I can,” she added.
Scholz has been selected for the Australian 24 hour team on seven occasions, however this Taiwan based event will only be her sixth representation. “My first selection was for the World Championships team to tour South Korea in 2008,” Scholz said. “I sustained a stress fracture in the lead up and had to withdraw. I was devastated at the time but also committed to overcoming the adversity. I feel so privileged to have been able to get through that and go on to represent Australia so many times,” she added.
Keen to continue to perform well personally, Scholz is also looking to inspire health and fitness within the broader community and support the initiatives of others. “Justin (husband) and I were invited to speak with the senior school students at Wang High about the fun run this week,” Sharon said. “This gave me an opportunity to discuss the importance of a healthy lifestyle with some fitness thrown in. There’s no need to run for 24 hours to stay active and healthy of course, but hopefully my story at least allows some of the youth at the school to ask themselves if they have a reasonable balance in their diet and fitness,” she added.
“It was interesting in that we asked the students how far they thought Shaz might be able to run in 24 hours,” added Justin Scholz. “We encouraged them to bid high, but none were keen to mention a total past 100 kilometers. Their attentiveness increased when we mentioned that Sharon’s best was just a few meters short of 225 kilometers,” Justin added.
“It’s mind boggling,” said Year 11 student and Wangaratta High School prefect Zac Gregory. “We were delighted that Justin and Sharon were able to give their time to speak with the students about the fun run and about Sharon’s national representations. It really does show that a little bit of belief can go a long way and that the body is capable of extraordinary feats. I hope their attendance helps to encourage a big team from Wang High in the 2017 fun run,” Zac added.
Senior School coordinator John Paola was particularly impressed by the Scholz’s attitude to health and fitness. “We were glad that both Justin and Sharon mentioned the importance of a balanced diet and a bit of healthy exercise for everyone at all levels,” John said. “It’s not just about being elite or being an athlete. Good diet and exercise are critical for all. Hopefully we will have a chance to get the Scholz’s back in future to promote the benefits of this as it’s a message that many of our students can gain benefit from,” he added.
The Scholz team fly out to Taiwan on Sunday and will have 6 days to acclimatize to the warm and humid conditions before Sharon’s event which starts at 3pm on Saturday.
“Those few days are critical,” said Sharon. “I won’t undertake much intense training in the last few days, but will spend many hours walking and moving in the warm conditions on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be a day of almost complete rest and then Thursday will be a very active, low intensity day. Friday will be spent with the team and then Saturday it’s ‘game on’,” she said.
Those interested in the Australian teams’ progress in Taiwan can gain additional details on the national ultra running website at www.aura.asn.au, or on the International association of ultra runners website which is www.iau-ultramarathon.org.
Sharon encourages participation in the 2017 Wangaratta marathon and fun runs and asks that the community visit the website at www.wangarattamarathon.com.au for all the details and the online entry form.