So we reach the end of another year in the ultra and trail running world and what better way to finish off with a bang than to preview probably the longest point to point race in Australia, the epic that is Coast to Kosciuszko to give it it’s full name. For those unfamiliar with this race, we’ll start by giving a brief insight into the what, why and how below, before we get stuck into the contenders.
The original concept for the race was actually born in a pub (as most good ideas generally are!), by ultra marathon legend, Paul Every in 2004. On Dec 10th that year, Paul, Sean Greenhill, Jan Herrmann and Lawrence Mead assembled for the inaugural running of the race. The event was unofficial and unsanctioned in the tradition of FatAss ultramarathon events (www.fatassworld.com). Paul, Jan and Sean completed the course, with Lawrence succumbing to injury. Paul was first to summit Kosciuszko in 37:26 before arriving at the Charlotte Pass finish line with Jan in 39:27.
Since then the race has now become official and takes in a select number of applicants with the majority coming from Australia, but the odd overseas entrant too. Starting on the South Coast of New South Wales in the delightful little town of Eden, the course runs through various roads and trails, gradually rising to the highest point in Australia, Mount Kosciuszko. However the finish line is a further 9kms back downhill at Charlotte’s Pass in a rather unassuming car park.
This year’s race sees two big names and former winners of the event going head to head, Ewan Horsburgh and Jo Blake. It promises to be a fascinating battle between the winner from last year (Ewan) and the course record holder, Jo. But who’s going to take it out?
Jo started the year very solidly with a handy 124kms in the Narrabeen (12hr) Allnighter way back in January, finishing second overall. This was followed up with a handy 3:48 in the Canberra 50kms and then an 8:11 in the Centennial Park 100kms just a few months back in September.
Ewan has been building up steadily throughout the year too. A post C2K 12 hour stroll at the Stromlo 12 hour track event saw him clock up 115kms, followed by an awesome 234kms in the Coburg 24 hour race. This qualified him for the Aussie 24 hour team, only for him to be struck own by a bug shortly before the World Champs and record a less than satisfying 181kms.
On paper, both have had very solid and similar build-ups, so we could see a race actually go down to the wire here, and possibly either a downhill sprint finish after the obligatory summit photo, or a mutual respect and hand-holding scenario as both runners skip with glee to the finish line.
Or… a dark horse could come out of the traps from nowhere and prove me wrong on all accounts. However sticking our necks out, we’re going to plump for Ewan for the win, but Jo not far behind at all.
But if these boys decide to go hammer and tongs at one another and blow huge craters on the roads to Kosci, watch out for the likes of Dave Baldwin, Bernadette Benson and Rob Mason. All very accomplished runners with very handy times to their names, capable of sneaking a win if their legs will carry them.
In the ladies race again, two names stick their heads out as contenders, in the form of Pam Muston and the aforementioned, Bernadette who has had a great year to date, scoring fourth overall in the North Face 100kms and comes off the back of having completed one mother of a run in the Trans Alpine race back in September. This 320km race across eight stages is pretty brutal, with around 15,000m climbing – a finish is a pretty pleasing result here!
Pam has again been as steady as ever this year with perhaps her highlight being the win up at the Glasshouse 100 miler in a very respectable 21 hours. However keep an eye on former ladies winner Sharon Scholz, along with ultra stalwart Allison Lilley coming off the back of a great PB at the GNW 100 miler last month too.
Numbers might be slightly down this year, but the competition up front could be some of the closest in years. Good luck to all runners.