Anna Mckenna took out the women’s race at Margaret River Ultra Marathon over the weekend in a scintillating time. Not only did Anna break the record, but she also finished 3rd overall! Along with the men’s winner, Josh Chugg, Anna is currently one of the few ultra distance Australian athletes that can compete with the very best in the world. We sat down with Anna for a quick Q and A after her victory.


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What did a typical training week look like in the build-up to Margaret River?

My running coach Gary Howard from Run Crew creates my training program for me. 

We work on a fortnightly cycle during an ultra prep, with a race-specific long run fortnightly and a longer tempo on the alternate week. 

Each week is about 170kms with a medium interval session (800 to 2km repetitions on varying terrain and recovery) and a longer session (tempo, fartlek, hills or a combination of those). 

Every 5th week is an absorption week with reduced frequency and volume, intensity is usually retained. 

I started tapering 10 days from Margaret River Ultra.  

Theoretically, each ultra-marathon race block should require less duration/distance specificity and more focus on raising my overall performance ceiling. 

Did you have a target time for Margs?

In the past, I have looked at the fastest times and given myself a target time to aim for. But for this race I didn’t have a time goal in mind. I focused more on my nutrition and hydration plan in order to be able to come home strong.

Not only were you the first female you were 3rd overall, which is an outstanding effort. If the race was a bit longer, we’ve no doubt you would have taken 2nd place. With that said, what’s your ideal race distance?

I think the longer the better for me, I really look up to people like Courtney Dauwalter and Ruth Croft. I do have long term goals to be able to get into Western States and UTMB so I am looking forward to building up to a 100-mile race in the near future. That said, I think it is still good to do the shorter and faster runs every so often to keep some speed in the legs. 

Were there any rough patches during the race?

I had a really good day out at MRU and I didn’t experience any low points. I really concentrated a lot on my breathing, nutrition and ensuring every 20 minutes I was consuming water, tailwind or a gel. 

What was your favourite section of the course? 

In leg 3 there is a section where you run up Conto Road and turn left onto the Cape to Cape walking track. Once you start running down that single track you are met with the most spectacular views. Trying to follow the rocky single track and admire the view is a challenge, but worth it. 


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Any tips for runners planning on racing Margs next year? 

My biggest tip is to go out steady,  the second half of the race is tougher than the first half. There is also a lot of soft sand running so mentally prepare yourself for that. 

What’s the race plan look like for the rest of 2022? 

I’m about to go into a marathon training block now for Gold Coast Marathon in 7 weeks’ time. This will then lead me into UTA100 in October which will be my main focus. 

What improvements would you like to see in ultra and trail running in Australia? 

Australia might not have the huge mountains like Europe but our landscape and climate make for hard races, so I think more races that are in line with the qualifying standards for Western States and UTMB would be great. 


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What’s the toughest race you’ve run to date?

The toughest race mentally was Noosa Ultra 50km. Like most runners, I strive for the ‘perfect’ race and everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I had to do a lot of problem-solving and adjusting of expectations whilst out on that course. 

Physically the toughest race has to be Ultra-Trail Australia in the Blue Mountains. All those stairs! 


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Favourite in race nutrition item?

I love tailwind, but I cannot live without Precision Hydration which is a strong electrolyte drink that I use daily and I also used it during the race. 

Shout out to your sponsors?

A big shout out to 2XU who is my major sponsor, they are so good to me. I then have some brands supporting me at a product level – Saucony, Polar & Gooch Goo.