It’s all about Victoria this week!
With the mountain race that is Bogong to Hotham taking place this weekend too, we move a little further south to some slightly flatter terrain where we’ll see the Two Bays 28km and 56km races play out.
This race, hosted by the ever enthusiastic Rohan Day, is on a par with the likes of Six Foot Track in terms of numbers and depth of field. It ranks as one of the most competitive ‘shorter’ ultras in Australia and this year is no different.
While we’ll be focused on the 56k Ultra for this preview, a special mention must first be made to Olympic 5km medallist, Sonia O’Sullivan, who is lining up in the 28km event. I’m sure there will be a few keen eyes to see how she travels and what kind of time she posts.
But given we’re all about ultras, let’s keep our focus on the big event.
Having studied the form guide and comments from those in the know, many are of the opinion that Kirstin Bull is a clear favourite for the ladies title once again. With three wins at this race in the last four years, it’s very hard to see her not taking out the title once again.
She’s coming off the back of some magnificent performances of late, her most notable being eighth place in the IAU 100km world championships in a super quick time of 7hrs 39mins, which broke the Australian women’s 100km record. I think it’s fair to say that Kirstin is in the form of her life right now and there’s no reason why she shouldn’t take this one out again.
However Kirstin will face some stiff challenges from a couple of other ladies in Natasha Fraser and the much touted Cheryl Martin.
Natasha brings with her some rather excellent form in the flatter variety of ultras and has podiumed here twice in previous years, finishing second to Kirstin last year. She’s won the Centennial park 50km ultra twice, as well as the Canberra 50km ultra too. There’s no doubting she has the pace to win this race, it’s whether the legs can compete with Kirstin in the final stages.
Cheryl has little in the way of ‘ultra form’ to look at, but word on the street is that she’s been setting the Dandenongs alight in training and those in the know are tipping her for a podium in her first ultra I believe.
In the men’s race, there’s plenty of running talent to consider, but for now we’ll focus on five big names likely to be duking it out up front.
Perhaps the biggest name on the list in terms of notoriety is Blue Mountains boy, Brendan Davies. The serial runner who seems to be at every race known to man. He said to me a while ago he was going to hang up the shoes competitively, but that doesn’t seem to be the case just yet.
Brendan had another massive year in 2015, knocking off two hundred milers in Western States and UTMF, as well as winning the Canberra 50kms and competing in both the IAU 100km and 50km events.
While he’s the favourite on many people’s lips, I think the man to take out this year’s run will be Dion Finocchiaro. Dion’s won pretty much all ultras he’s entered bar the odd one of two. He won this race back in 2014 and last year he ran a mind-blowing 85kms in a six-hour race at Coburg to set a new Australian record for that race discipline.
Francesco Ciancio while strong on the track has also put in some good performances on the trails too. He finished just 1.5kms behind Dion at Coburg. He also won the Ned Kelly 100kms in under 8 hours as well as the Marysville 50km ultra in November last year too.
Ashley Bennett finished in second at Marysville just behind Francesco and while early in his ultra career, has great potential and is likely to bag a top five spot. Finally, Daniel Langelaan will probably round out the top five. He bagged a fifth two years ago and last year won the Macedon Ranges 50km.
- Ladies – Kirstin Bull
- Mens – Dion Finocchiaro
Who do you think will win?