Sharon, 7 at Koraleigh


2006, Hamilton Island


2008 Coburg 24 Hour


2010 World Championships, Brive, France

Background:

Sharon was born in rural Victoria, Australia, to parents from an agricultural background. She was reared in the Mallee until at age 8 she moved with family to the rural North-East Victorian community of Moyhu. In her last year of High School she moved 28km into Wangaratta with future husband Justin (whom she met at 13) and still lives in Wangaratta today.

As a child Sharon had little interest in sport. She rode horses and competed in dressage and one-day events, essentially as an extension of her parent's interest in the horse industry. She also played netball in her early high school years and occasionally competed in social netball and volleyball competitions through her later youth and early 20's.

Married in 1996 at 21 years of age, Sharon was immediately keen to start a family, however it wasn't until 2003 that Jasmine arrived. During those 7 years and subsequent 4 years neither Sharon nor Husband Justin engaged in any form of physical activity apart from club / social golf, and so their health and fitness declined.

In late 2006 Sharon and Justin determined to change their lifestyle, reduce stress and improve fitness, health and well-being. In January 2007 they each took their first steps as 'runners'. Running was the chosen pursuit only because it appeared to be the easiest, cheapest and simplest way to burn calories quickly.

Such was the motivation to improve fitness that by the end of 2007 the Scholz's had lost a combined 30kg of weight and had completed their first marathon. Whilst their time of 3:38 was not world beating, it was, by today's standards, a reasonable achievement and quite remarkable considering it was just 10 months earlier that they first began to run.

In April of 2008 Sharon entered her first track ultra - a 12 hour event at Coburg in Melbourne, Victoria. She was nervous, scared, and had no idea if she would be able to keep moving for that long. Not only did Sharon keep going for the 12 hours, but with a bit of encouragement from Justin she went on to complete the 24 hour event which was being undertaken at the same time, and managed the then 7th best ever 24 hour track distance by an Australian woman. Both Justin and Sharon knew at this stage that there was something special about Sharon and that if developed she may be able perform strongly in the sport.

As the training ramped up in 2008 so too did the injuries. Initially only minor, the Scholz's in their lack of understanding the body and its limitations continued to build volume and pace in training. The result of this approach was a stress fracture in the femur for Sharon, which stopped all running for 12 weeks. By this stage Sharon was committed however and would not consider removing running from her lifestyle.

As soon as she felt able she commenced running again and once more started to build volume. This resulted in a 2nd femur fracture (opposite leg) in early 2009. Sharon was devastated but remained resolute.

By July 2009 Sharon was running again, though this time the Scholz's built up the volume more slowly, adopted more running on grass and introduced comprehensive core and general strength training into their regime. They also started to employ substantial cycling to allow continued cardio development without having to undertake even greater running volume.

At the 2009 Caboolture ultra event (6, 12, 24 and 48 hour races) Sharon was asked by Australian 24 hour team selectors to prove her fitness. She did this by running a 'slow' 100km off a very limited base and was selected in the Australian Commonwealth Championships 24 hour team. Just 5 weeks later at the Commonwealth Championships in the UK, Sharon ran 195km to finish 3rd best of the 6 Australian women and 8th overall. The Australian team was awarded a silver medal for their combined distance behind gold medal winners England.

Sharon and Justin knew that better results were yet to come and immediately targeted the 24 hour World Championships to be held in France in May 2010. All of their efforts went into ensuring that Sharon could be in the best possible condition for that future race. Suffering no major adversity Sharon trained for about 30 hours per week between November 2009 and April 2010 continually chanting the mantra FFSL (Faster, Fitter, Stronger, Leaner). Every session she undertook was in some way geared to achieving one or more of these outcomes.

Sharon gained selection for the World Championships and left for France in April 2010 with high expectations. Those expectations were exceeded however when she finished the race 6th outright female (running as high as 3rd at one stage) and 1st placed Australian woman smashing the Australian Road Course Record by nearly 20km. She also broke her personal best (established at the Commonwealth Championships just 8 months earlier) by just a few metres short of 30km. Sharon had arrived firmly on the world stage.

Later in 2010 Sharon competed in the 48 Hour Australian Championships, and in this her first 48 hour event broke the Female Australian Record with a final tally just over 333km. In December 2010 she ran in the 240km event Coast to Kosciuszko and battled 80km/h head winds for most of the 2nd half of the race and to the summit of Mt Kosciuszko. In these trying conditions she broke the Womens Race Record.

Due to her outstanding results in 2010, Sharon was awarded the title of Australian Female Ultra Athlete of the Year. Shortly after this, Sharon was voted the winner of the World Female Athlete of the Year Award conducted by the International Association of Ultrarunners.

2011 did not go to plan fr Sharon as she struggled with injury upon injury and health issues that lead to a decline in fitness. She did win the NZ 100km Championships, broke three major track records (12 hour, 150km and 100miles) in Brisbane, helped the Australian Team to a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Championships of 24 hour running in Wales in September and ran well though with injuries and lacking fitness at the iconic Coast to Kosciuszko finishing 3rd female.

The 100 miles record she broke in Brisbane saw her become the first Australian female to break 16 hours for this milestone and in that race she broke records earlier established by argruably Australia three best ever female ultra-runners in Mary Morgan, Helen Stanger and Margaret Smith. Margaret's 100 miles record having stood since 1984.

In 2012 Sharon continued to struggle with injury and gained weight. As the year progressed she improved and competed for Australia at the 24 Hour World Championships in Poland. This comeback didn't go to plan as Sharon sustained some recurrence of her hamstring / glute injury and had difficultly with her mental desire to be in that event.

Fortunately the World Championships injury was minor and Sharon was able to train and focus on Coast to Kosciuszko. She completed that 240km event in December for the third time.

2013 has been very positive with Sharon back onto the winners podium and again setting National records. She has completed a larger number of ultra events and both her pace and strength is improving. In June, Sharon and Justin each competed in the 24 hour event in Sydney as walkers. Sharon managed to break 12 records in this event including setting a new Australian Record for 24 hours walking with 187km+. It was the third best ever distance walked in 24 hours in Australia.

In that Sydney event, Justin and Sharon became the first married couple in history (worldwide) to have run 200km+ and walked 100miles+ in 24 hours in the same calendar year.

The main focus for 2013 now is a joint completion of Coast to Kosciuszko for Sharon and Justin. If granted entry to the field and assuming completion, they will be the first couple to achieve this feat together.

1 August 2013.
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