The Ultra168 Bogong to Hotham Predictions – Marathon Men Move to the Mountains

B2H is steeped in history as one of the toughest ultra marathons in Australia

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?

Rowan Walker is moving across from his traditional marathon distance to something with a few more hills (Image courtesy of the Geelong Advertiser)

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.

Andrew Tuckey took out a number of short trail races this year, can he do it over the longer stuff?

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.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

21 thoughts on “The Ultra168 Bogong to Hotham Predictions – Marathon Men Move to the Mountains

    1. You could well be right Brendan, I have honestly changed my kind so many times when writing this, it’s such a close one to call. But its great that so many big names are lined up for this one. Good luck on the day mate.

    1. Yep, youre right Chris, Dave will be up there. Apologies for the oversight. The article was written just before I heard Dave was going to be in and I forgot to add him into the reckoning. Another contender for sure.

  1. Nice work Dan. You already have my pick. When a runner moves to the mountains you know he is serious. It’s a pity Scott Nicholas and Julian Spence didn’t make it to the start. Apparently they have been training with Rohan specifically with B2H as the focus. A lot of attention will be focused on Rohan’s transition to a trail ultra. Uncle Dave knows the course so that will help him, for sure. Damon will be there if any of the really fast guys stumble, he is super strong on this course. And then the NSW/QLD armada could just bulldoze the pack and take down that untouchable course record in the process. You’re right, tough one to pick. I’ll be listening intently to the radio updates across the course as they come in. And I bet Stu will be online waiting for updates and wishing he was out there. Definitely not one to miss. 🙂

  2. If all goes well whippet, I think the course record could be in danger too. One of the longest standing records, and if it’s going to happen, this is the year it could with all the talent on display.

  3. Uncle Dave is in now? I was just talking to him last weekend at SMC about the B2H and he made no mention of it…talk about flying under the radar! Next he’ll be in 6 Foot is my bet! After the Mt Solitary half today, Tucks is definitely the man to beat but with Unc in the field now it will be a tight thing at the front with Rowan too.

    Take me off the podium Dan, i’ll be lucky to scrape in the top 10 I reckon. Might have to slip some sleeping pills into my housemates Andy Lee, Mick Donges and Clarke McClymont’s drinks in the morning!

  4. Criniti? Where did he come from? He should be favourite based on 6 foot times. Worried about Rowans B2H specific training. He may be too fast already.

    Go Tucks! Don’t forget he won Fitzroy Falls marathon just overtaking Mick with 2k to go. There may be bodies all over the mountain with these guys.

  5. Wow fantastic reading and wish I could be there to race in such a hot field. Agreed it too hard to pick. Dont discount the Marathoners…Why, because for year’s marathon runners (Mona, Troop, Quilty, De Highden, Michelsson the list goes on) have gone to Falls and a traditional run they did at the end of their training camp was to run up the stair case and down to Langfords.
    And when I say run these guys ran the majority of the stair case and smashed it down to Langfrods running amazing times.
    These guys weren’t trail runners but they excelled over this course due to their marathon strength and speed (of course ability also)..I hope Magnus read this and comments, as he was part of many of those epic training runs.(Maybe Rohan is only going to Langfords?)

    Anyway all runners mentioned by Ultra 168 are true gun runners. Good luck and I will be watching with interest..
    If I had to pick its; Criniti,Walker,Lee,Tuckey,Davies,then throw a blanket over (Donges, Goerke,McClymont, Coombs, Cooper, Wight, Zambon, Worswick,Warburton)

  6. If the weather is kind, I put my money on a course record.

    My tips – Walker, Davies and Criniti. Massive carnage due to the pace and numerous blowups.

  7. Im a Donges fan, the Prince has been living in the Wolgan Valley running the ridge lines in preparation for this one. Even the Prince doesn’t know how good he is yet. To be joined on podium by Andrew Tuckey and Andy Lee.

  8. Walker/ Tuckey, Davies, Donges, Lee. The first to Langford’s will most likely not be first to Hotham due to pushing the first half too hard. The second half is very runnable for a fast marathoner and a lot of time can be made up. Interestingly I have found that my B2H time is frigtheningly close to exactly twice my 6Ft time each year- eg. 7:34 B2H, 3:47 6Ft, 7:55 B2H, 3:57 6 Ft….. Therefore, I think winning time will be equivalent to a 3:25-3:30-ish 6 Ft or about 6:50 to 7:00. I think Kromar’s record is safe as he has (and has always had) course specific advantages by living and training on all of the Vic Alps trails as a ranger.

  9. Thanks Phibes for the breakdown. We do have one competitor who has moved to the region to train in the mountains with a pedigree on trails that could be enough to get him across in front.

    Report from the course over the weekend is that there are a lot of trees down on T-Spur and Duanes Spur that will slow runners down and take energy to climb over bringing the quicker guys back to the field. If Parks don’t manage to get in there (they are trying but it depends on other priorities) this will definitely impact on the leaders.

  10. Wow great write up. Love reading this stuff it puts the spark in my next run!.

    I am not sure thou that my name should be flirted around with the likes of this field, Now I am not sure if my 2 week honeymoon of drinking and eating was such a good idea or not?) 🙂

    In any case this race is going to be a complete all in brawl, with so much talent and so many factors (form, hills, injuries, nutrition, wether, blow ups) it is nearly impossible to pick. In saying that I agree with Dave E’s predictions for the race. Just to come in the top 20 of this field will be a massive achievement.

    Whoever comes away with the win on Sunday can rest assured that they mixed it up with the best assortment of Australian road and trail endurance runners ever seen at one race and came up trumps.

    Bring on the mountains!!!!!!

  11. Quick Update from Falls Creek. Race was halted at Langford’s Gap (approx 35kms) due to truly apalling weather – heavy rain, high winds and thick fog. First to reach the Gap was Damon Guerke in 4.02. I have forgotten the name of the second guy (just 3-4 mins later) – sorry! Third was Andrew Tuckey, and I think Brendan Davies came in fourth. These guys were good to keep going, but safety considerations for all competitors forced the race director to stop the race there.

      1. Thanks Andrew and djbleakman. I am in awe of those guys.
        Great website by the way – thrilled to have discovered it!

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