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
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.
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:
- Brendan Davies
- Ian Gallagher
- Andrew Lee
- Vanessa Haverd / Beth Cardelli (this is going to go down to the wire – too close to call and we could see some hand-holding)
- Beth Cardelli / Vanessa Haverd
We’ve made our calls, who do you think will win?