While the brutality of the Hounslow Classic takes place in New South Wales this weekend, also on this Saturday down south is the Great Ocean Walk 100kms run by the Aussie ultra legend that is Andy Hewat.
Having run this race a few times myself, I can attest for how stunning the course and the trails are down this neck of the woods. You can quite literally run through four seasons in one day as the vastly single-track course routes in and out of the coast line. You may even see a snake or a killer koala if you’re lucky 🙂
Numbers into this race are strictly limited to ensure the trail is kept in as pristine condition as possible, so those few that manage to grab a spot should consider themselves very lucky to get the chance to traverse this wonderful course. Another good thing about this run is that if you’re quick-ish, you can get this 100kms done pretty much in daylight too. A sub 14 hour run will just about get you finishing for sunset over the Twelve Apostles.
What’s great about GOW100 though is that it’s also a ‘local’s’ race where you see the same names popping up again and again, particularly the likes of Dan Beard who I think may have raced every single one of the GOWs (would have to check), along with others like Damian Smith.
So who’s up for some honourable mentions this time round? In both the ladies and mens races, there’s a really even mix of talent with some high quality blasts from the past too. For a slight change, we’ll delve into the men first.
One of the more interesting named to appear on the starters list is Kiwi, Kerry Suter. The blast from the Tarawera past, Kerry’s not raced an ultra in a while (according to DUV anyway), but when he does, he normally wins. If fully trained up and ready to go, Kerry could win this.
Another massive blast from the past is Rob Gray. Now if it’s the same Rob Gray that appears in my trusty little database, then he has quite a brief but solid record, which includes a podium at Two Bays back in 2008 as well as a fourth at Mansfield to Buller in the same year too.
Moving to a couple of guys who have appeared more often at this race than Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott have clashed, it’s Dan Beard and Damian Smith.
Dan is the man who only races in Victoria. In fact all 48 of his ultras have been in his beloved home State and I’m starting to think that NSW and SA have banned him from every entering, such is prolific record of running in Victoria. He’s clocked up seven GOWs and this year has already scored a podium at the Wilson’s Prom 100km as well as a very credible 15th at Two Bays.
Damian Smith also had a great record at this race, finished on the podium four times and then in fourth place last year. He also finished 3rd at the Alpine Challenge 100 miler last year too. Damian finishing on the podium at GOW is safer than betting on a turn of Prime Minister every two years in Australia.
Lastly a couple of dark horses to keep an eye on in Vaughan Andrews and Joel Claxton. The latter winning the Duncan’s 100km and also 5th at Mt Macedon Ranges 50km this year.
In the ladies, there are probably two clear favourites with solid form behind then in guise of Katherine Macmillan and Deb Nicholl. Katherine, as she always tends to do, has had another prolific year already with four podiums including two wins and 12th at UTA. She also finished second in this race in 2014.
Deb Nicholl has had a quiet couple of years, but has won the Hares and Hounds 50km up in Queensland earlier this year. It’s little wonder that she kept things quiet after the barnstorming 2013 and 2014 she had which included four wins in 2015, including sub 20hr Glasshouse 100 miler and 2nd at Coast2Kosci.
A very interesting name on the list is Erika Lori with only one result to date that I can find, a 7:58 Comrades finish in 2014 that gave her 36th place. Clearly plenty of pace, but totally unknown for this course. Could be a huge dark horse.
A couple of other ladies to keep an eye on include Meghann Coffey who scored a top 20 finish at UTA100kms this year, along with Katherine Costello another top 20 finished at the UTA 50kms.
Gayle Cowling has a solid record over ultras too which include a top 10 at Cradle Mountain in 2015, a 24h Glasshouse 100 miler and seventh at Blackall in 2014, as well as sixth in this race in 2013.
Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and wrap up warm, I hear it’s going to be a cold, wet one 🙂
Feature Image Credit: Simon Sweeney