Well call me Mary and bugger me backwards, what a line up we have for the 2012 edition of the Bogong to Hotham race. Despite a few last-minute withdrawals, this race still has what can be regarded as the creme de la creme of Australian ultra runners contained within its line up.
Last year’s winner Stu Gibson is unfortunately absent, but the list of names makes this one a massively difficult one to call. When I look at the start list, I see at least a dozen names down there that could potentially win this race, with a whole host of others who’ll be very close behind the front of the pack too.
But first of all, another Ultra168 prediction before we get into the nitty-gritty of whom we think will take the line honours. Given the move back to one start time of 6am and a strict 6 hour cut off at Langford Gap, we predict that’s there will be around a 40% DNQ rate. Failing that, there will probably be some monumental blow ups too as people chase the 6 hour marker, only to find themselves on a death march up to the summit of Mount Hotham. Harsh… But fair. This race is a brut. The first 20kms will chew you up and spit you out like there’s no tomorrow. Big River will take one look at you and say “is that all you got little trail runner?”
But onto the matter of whom will win? Tuckey? Davies? Donges? Goerke? McClymont? Coombs? Cooper? Wight? Zambon? Worswick? Warburton? Walker? Lee? Criniti?
Man alive… How do you pick from those lot? Before we delve into the form book, let’s provide a little précis. On paper the head says Rowan Walker, based on his marathon time he should turn up trumps. The guy is up there with the best of Australian distance runners, having won the Melbourne marathon a few years back. It will be extremely interesting and exciting to see what he can do over trail. Could this be the start of something special to hit the trail scene in Australia?
Also up there in terms of marathon times is Andrew Tuckey with a PB of 2:27. He’s had a storming season on the trail, with wins at Willy to Billy and the Coastal Classic. Right alongside him will be Woodstock runner, Brendan Davies who is turning his hand to trail more than ever before. Brendan recently broke the course record at the GNW100km race, and will be in good form going into this race. But here we have what you would regard as three traditional road marathoners all gunning for top spot in a very tough mountain race – is the tide of ultra marthoning turning? Dave Criniti, a late entrant to the fray will alsobush the front runners toe-to-toe.
Then you have the pure mountain men in Lee, Donges, Wight, Worswick, McClymont, Coombs, Cooper and Goerke. These guys are born and bred on the trails, and whilst a quick marathon time counts for a lot, these guys are sure to be there or thereabouts as they gun it out on the flats towards Pole 333. From the above list, Lee, Donges, Wight and Goerke standout as the potential danger men to Tuckey, Davies and Walker. But as we’ve said before, it could be anyones race on the day.
Lets not however forget some of the youngsters in Oli Zambon and Caine Warburton who have both shown huge promise this year over the 50-100km distance. We fear that experience might get the better of these two come January 8th, but they will be there or thereabouts.
So what of our top three? The early race favorite with ‘the people’ seems to be Andrew Tuckey. Based on his form this year, it’s really hard for us to go against that, so we’re going to give him our nod for the win. This is where it gets really tough though. Rowan Walker has the best marathon PB of all the athletes, so we’re going to shoot for him in second, closely followed by either Brendan Davies or Andy Lee. That was so hard. I’ve alread changed my mind five times!
BUT… Watch out for Lee, Goerke, Donges and Wight. We could just as easily see these three occupying the podium too! It really is that difficult to pick an out and out podium of three.
We could get his completely wrong of course, which is why we’d like you, our readers to tell us who you think will win and why.