There’s no better day to feature our wonderful women for the Six Foot Track Preview than on International Women’s Day and to celebrate the amazing feats not just of our race favourites, but all women who will toe the line on Saturday.
Following our men’s Six Foot Track preview on Monday, today it’s the turn of the ladies. We’ve picked out eight of the leading contenders to give you a flavour for whom could come up trumps this weekend.
We’ll start as we did in the men’s with two race favourites, Marnie Ponton and Steph Auston. Marnie who was due to run last year, but pulled just prior. Although technically never over the half marathon distance in a race, Marnie is all class and speed, which makes her one of the leading contenders in our minds.
Perhaps the biggest highlight was Marnie’s fourth place at City2Surf some years back. She also has a 1:19 half marathon to her name. Word on the street is that she’s training like a house on fire and like the men’s while I don’t think we’ll see Hanny’s record broken, we’ll see a hot run from her.
Steph is a real gun runner who won the Surf Coast 50km outright last year in a time of 3:50. She’s got a 1:16 half marathon to her name and it’s going to be a real battle up front between those two we think. Who’s going to win? Who knows, but I’d say Steph probably has the more recent form with a 50km under her belt already, but it will be massively tight!
Hot on their heels will be four other ladies of whom we think will fight it out for the podium spots.
Gemma Jenkins is another roadie staking her claim on the trails this weekend and will provide some serious opposition to Marnie. Training with the Centennial Park ‘speedgoats’, she’s got a 2:54 marathon and 37min 10km PB to her name and only two minutes behind Marnie on the half marathon PB, sitting at 1:21. Gemma’s got the goods to go sub four hours, the rest will be about how much people are prepared to hurt in that final 10kms to the finish.
While we have got a couple of road whippets in the line-up, there are two mountain goats gunning to test their speed skills against the best. The big name is Lucy Bartholomew, who is probably more at home on the big climbs and the mountains than the flatter tracks of Six Foot Track. Only just last weekend, Lucy raced (and won) the Motatapu trail event in New Zealand. This week she moves out of her comfort zone to some flatter and faster trails, and she should be applauded for that. To be frank, if you want to test yourself against the best in the shorter, faster trail ultra events, you need to be racing Six Foot Track, Two Bays, UTA or Kepler over in New Zealand.
So how will she fare? We all know Lucy’s record on the mountain ultras, Bogong to Hotham record holder and she smashed the Motatapu record by an hour last weekend. The question will be how much her legs have taken a hammering for this race. Given the intensity of Six Foot Track i.e. there’s no let up and you’re running the hills hard too, I think it would be a lot to expect Lucy to be challenging the likes of Marnie and Gemma. But in saying that, I still think we’ll see a time around the four-hour mark, give or take a few minutes.
Also of the mountain goat variety is Gill Fowler. Again, good to see Gill working on the speed here in preparation for some of the bigger/longer races later in the year. Gill’s got a good record at Six Foot, finishing second in 2015 in a time of 4:06. She could be there or thereabouts for this year too, but it’s whether that’s enough to see her sneak on the podium. If some of the quicker ladies suffer on the Black Range, expect Gill to mop them up.
Well known on the Victorian trail circuit, Kylee Woods has risen through the ranks as a trail runner since her first ultra at UTA back in 2014. Since then she’s improved markedly since then, recording fourth place at Two Bays earlier this year and an excellent second place at the Surf Coast Century. She also claimed fourth at UTA 50km in 2016 too. Given her Two Bays and Surf Coast form, I would expect Kylee to be running around the four-hour mark.
Then we have another three ladies that deserve some very honourable mentions.
Lou Clifton like the two ladies before her is probably better know for the mountain running, with some very good results at Hounslow, Mount Buller and the Buffalo Stampede last year. She also won the Ultra Easy in 2016 too. Last year she finished 10th in this race, but with more experience under her belt and no races to speak of yet in 2017, Lou’s going to run far quicker than her 4:39 from last year.
Like Lou, Robyn Bruins is much better know for running the longer stuff, winning the GNW 100 miler last year in an awesome sub 24 hour time. She also came sixth at UTA 50km in 2016 too. She last race Six Foot Track in 2015 where she ran 4:33, but again I think she’ll go much quicker this year.
Finally, Jo Brischetto looks to be back to some good form and although she’s not raced much in the last few years, the word on the street is that she could be targeting a sub 4:20 time, which puts her right in the frame for a top five spot, a position she achieved here last year in a time of 4:24.
Best of luck to all runners this weekend and enjoy what is one of the best finishes of a trail ultra in Australia.