Mount Solitary Ultra Preview – Take Two

After the false start earlier in the year, this weekend will see the Mount Solitary Ultra try its luck again on the Aussie running calendar. After the deluge of rains earlier in the year, we’ve been somewhat relieved of the wet stuff (as you do), in the winter months. We gave a bit of a course preview in the last overview, so for something different in this one I asked Ultra 168’s very own Andrew Vize, the current race record holder what he thought newbies should look out for on this race:

  • The first 8kms is all downhill – don’t smash the quads too early but take advantage. These are the only ‘free kms’ you’ll get all race
  • It’s a fair old hike to the top, but once you’re there, don’t be fooled that it’s flat, there’s still some climbing to be done as you make your way across the top of Solitary – work hard
  • Once you’ve descended and you’re in the Leura Forest, take the time to look up and appreciate one of the most beautiful areas in Australia to run in – keep your eyes open as well for the red-bellies:)
  • The landslide section can be a little tricky, so watch yourself through here
  • Many who ran North Face will know the last section of the course, but from here it’s Go Go Go. Run hard downhill, and give it everything on the last climb back up to Wenty Falls
The course for Sunday’s race

But back to the business of who’s going to win. The change in dates has seen a few of the lead names drop, but on the flipside, it’s seen a few big guns come into action as well. One of the names to go is Mick ‘movie star’ Donges who’s currently racing his way around Europe with Team Salomon, featuring in films, running vertical kms and getting himself ready for his debut 100 miler at UTMB. Also out is Andrew Tuckey, the first-placed Aussie at The North Face 100 this year and probably a hot favourite for this run.

But in their place comes some fine calibre runners. Top of the list is Aussie 100km road race gun runner, Brendan Davies who seems to be just about everywhere and anywhere in the Blue Mountains running calendar. If there’s a trail race on, you can bet Brendan is running it and he’s surely to feature high and on the podium. Another addition is former double North Face winner, Andrew Lee who’s been cooking up a storm on the Mount Solitary reps each weekend. And finally, there’s Matt Cooper, another Aussie and member of Team Salomon that finished very well in the North Face 100 too.

But… there is also a sneaky little dark horse that has appeared in the field that goes by the name of Ian Gallagher. Fresh off the back of a 2:41 marathon up at the Gold Coast and finishing 31st overall, this guy is likely to feature very strongly up at the pointy end of the field. If the others get a little too wrapped up in the racing, he could surge ahead in the final few kms up Kedumba for a sneaky win.

Other names that will also feature up there will be Tony ‘Fats’ Fattorini along with ultra stalwarts, Jonathan Worswick and Tim Cochrane too. There are rumours that a certain Sleep Train is entered, but an inside source in the Lower Blue Mountains Moonshine Association has led me to believe that this will be a leisurely run out for the 6ft Track record holder.

Beth Cardelli winning the Mount Solitary Ultra last year

In the ladies, the race will be as hotly contested as the males with some serious competition up front. Vanessa Haverd, Angela Bateup and Beth Cardelli are the main contenders for the ladies crown.

Beth will be out to try to defend her title, but is likely to face some stiff opposition from Vanessa Haverd who is traditionally very strong over the 45km distance.

So who’s the pick of the bunch in the med and the ladies? Here’s our call, and believe me, this was a real tough one to call:

Male Podium

  1. Brendan Davies
  2. Ian Gallagher
  3. Andrew Lee

Women’s podium

  1. Vanessa Haverd / Beth Cardelli (this is going to go down to the wire – too close to call and we could see some hand-holding)
  2. Beth Cardelli / Vanessa Haverd
  3. ?

We’ve made our calls, who do you think will win?

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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.

26 thoughts on “Mount Solitary Ultra Preview – Take Two

  1. Good predictions. I see Clark McClymont on the starter’s list too, not sure he is racing but would be up there. Damian Smith thereabouts too.

  2. Some late mail…Saw Angela Bateup at M7 and is not running. Tim Cochrane pulled out of M7 due to calf strain so has to be doubtful as well.

    Thanks for the tip Dan but this course doesn’t play into my strengths. Clarke will be the man to beat, he smashed the Kokoda course and is my tip.

    Don’t think Sleep Train does anything ‘leisurely’ either. He’ll be up there. Ian definitely a smoky. Is Vizey defending his title? He’d have to be up there too?

    1. Cheers Brendan – good to get some further inside knowledge as we’re just going off he starters list. Agree that Coops and Clarke are going to be right up there too… a very tough one to call and there are any one of around 6 who could podium for sure.

      Vizey not down on the starters list for this one.

  3. Matt Coops for mine too. Question is will the CR be broken? Slightly different course with the Furber climb instead of Golden Stairs. I reckon the ladies will go but AV’s will remain.

    1. Training times by the likes of Matt Cooper and Clarkey on the course are nothing short of phenomenal. CR’s will go.

      1. They’ll be up the top 10-15 minutes faster than the lead group last year. It was also sopping wet and slippery last year so if it’s dry you can go for it off the top on the descent.

      1. As I slug it up and down Solitary most weekends for UTMB training there have been sightings of some fleet footed athletes carving new paths up and down the mountain. If it wasn’t for Kilian getting in trouble in the US with some of the local country bumpkins I could have sworn it was him straight-lining the switch backs – so it has to be Coops and Clarkey doing it.

  4. Fats is looking great ATM, much fitter than last year. He has great speed and loves the hills. Hard to know how he will stack up against Matt and Clarke though. Should be a great race.

  5. looks like a pretty hot topic and a tough call. I am going with Coops for the men and Beth going to be a good race. good luck everyone running

  6. Flattered to even be considered a dark horse. I haven’t been up a hill or mt solitary since the race last yr. I do plan to just hammer it and hold on for dear life though

    Andy lee
    Mr D

    Beth for the ladies

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