Man what a week… not in running, but in life! Sometimes, the balance goes all out of whack, so my apologies for the lack of timing on the preview and also the depth here today as I won’t be able to do the two races the justice they deserve. However it’s important to make sure I get something out in the way of a preview, but apologies if I have missed anyone who deserves a nod for line honours.
Northburn is a gnarly, bastard of a run with endless climbs, weather that can change in an instant, but hours of fun in the ‘montanes’. And I mean hours. This race, for most, takes all weekend. Back when it first started in 2011 I lined up for the miler. We started at 6am on the Saturday and I said hello to the finish line at 5pm on Sunday. It was brutal and soul-searching, but a lot of fun.
The race consists of three loops of the rugged Cromwell mountain ranges that sit behind the Northburn Station farm.
The first loop is OK, apart from the ‘not-ok-bits’.
The second loop is carnage.
The last loop, if your soul hasn’t departed yet, you just don’t care anymore…
In the ladies, a quick scan of the entrants shows that perennial winner of this race, Jean Beaumont lines up again and I fully expect her to take her fourth victory. She’s entered three times and won every time. If the boys up front stutter as well, there’s no reason why Jean couldn’t win this race outright, that’s how strong a runner she is.
Although she’ll face some pretty stiff competition from our own Aussie favourite Susan Keith. Susan’s last race was Coast2Kosci back in December last year. She likes to go big and long in her races, so if Jean slips anywhere, Susan will be right behind her to take the spoils. Look out for Tania Miller too, who with some good runs at Kepler and solid UTA performances is likely to podium too.
In the mens there will be some tight-knitted competition up front with four or five guys sticking their heads up for line honours. The big favourite after his fine run at the Ultra Easy a few months ago is Martin Kern. He finished just behind Danny Garrett, and with no Danny this time around, it could be time for Martin to steal the show.
Chasing him will be a mixture of Aussies and Kiwis and we’ll start with two Aussie who’ll be firmly in the mix. Kieran O’Brien from Queensland had a cracking 2016 winning all of the Glasshouse Series races, before capping it off with a second place at Coast2Kosci.
Moving south, Ben Blackshaw has been tearing up the training on Ultra168’s favourite trail, Kedumba Pass and across the Jamieson Valley. There have been a few cap nods between Ben and I as invariably, we’ve been heading in the opposite direction to one another and the lad has been training strongly. Expect him to feature.
Across the ditch, my Dunedin sources tell me Chris Bisley needs some eyes and rightly so, scoring a 16hr 100 miler at the Great Naseby last year. And Glenn Sutton will always be there or thereabouts having won this race in the past. Glenn knows how to suffer, so expect him to go well.
Finally, a big mention to Lance Hunniford who at 65 years young is still showing guys half his age how to run this race. He won’t feature up front, but I saw Lance finish the miler last year and the guy is as strong as an ox.
Good luck to one and all racing this weekend – perhaps the best bit of the whole weekend is race director, Terry Davies’ briefing. I know Terry is offering refunds to people because the weather is meant to be rather good in the Cromwell valley and he’s huge disappointed about this. Terry likes to make you suffer.