Australia was blessed with three ultras this weekend as the number of events around the country ramps up considerably. Saturday saw the inaugural running of the Surf Coast Century with numerous events taking place over the 100kms course. Yesterday saw the second running of the Altra Centennial Park Ultra with a number of our Aussie runners bidding for national selection, and then Yurrebilla Trail 56km Ultra down in South Australia which is in its fifth year and is growing to be one of the biggest trail ultras outside of The North Face.
Surf Coast Century
At the Surf Coast Century one of Australia’s top road marathoners, Rowan Walker blew all contenders away to secure the inaugural Surf Coast Century crown. The Geelong runner knocked off the 100km course in a snappy 8 hours 25 minutes. New South Welshman Jonathan Worswick ran a strong race, registering second place behind Rowan in 9 hours 10 minutes while David Hosking filled the final podium place with a 9 hours 43 minute run.
Second solo female over the line was Amy Hinds, a Tasmanian Ironwoman who has never run a full 100km before. In third place was Mandy Lee-Noble, who ran with her husband Christopher Noble.
In the teams category, it was a come from behind win for Peak Adventure, with well-known adventure racers JaradKohlar, Alex Polizzi, Alex Houghton and James Pretto managing to reel in the Team Giant duo of Mitch Anderson and Damian Angus, the pair’s elite-level Ironman credentials transferring rather well to the ultra trail.
Whatever your view is on the schoolgirls that entered the race, the good news is that they all loved the experience with two being pulled before the finish on safety grounds with knee issues. The debate is a fine line and there is no right or wrong, just opinion. All of us would rather see young people out on the trails enjoying themselves than sat in front of a playstation, but at the same token there is plenty of time to discover these delights too. While we have our opinions, it’s equally as important to respect other opinions too and move on.
Altra Centennial Park Ultra
The second ultra to hit this weekend was the Altra Centennial Park 50/100kms with a number of Aussie ‘gun’ runners on show. The men’s 100km field was stacked with the likes of Aussie 24hr Captain Jo Blake, Tim Cochrane and debutant Chris Truscott aiming for a sub 8hr time and a qualifier for the Aussie National Team.
Taking part in this race myself (50kms), I could see all the action unfold with Tim Cochrane taking an earlier lead, but unfortunately blowing hard past the halfway mark and eventually dropping out. From here Chris took the lead and despite some hard running early on, managed to just hold on for a sub 8 time of 7:51 and with it a qualifier. Jo Blake took out a well deserved second with an 8:11 and Kevin Muller added another great time to his belt with an 8:58.
In the ladies, it was all about Beth Cardelli aiming to breaking the sub 9 barrier in similar vein to Chris. Unfortunately for Beth she was just outside the magic 9 mark, but still a superb 9:10 time for the 100km. Felicity Copp romped home in second place with 10:45 and Sabina Hamaty rounding off the podium with a time of 11:26.
In the 50kms, Alex Matthews held off a strong challenge from Aussie 100km rep Brendan Davies to win in a time of 3:10, Brendan coming home in 3:14. Chie F Brabon clocked third in 3:39. In the ladies Lisa Carroli took out the win in a time of 4:42.
But perhaps the story of the day was Blind runner, Ben Phillips knocking off over 70kms in the permitted 12 hour cut off with great support from the Achilles Heel running club.
Yesterday was a hot day in Sydney and while others DNF’ed, Ben stuck to his guns and remained out on the course for the whole 12 hours. The word ‘inspiration’ is banded around far too much in our sport, but Ben really is the true epitome of this. He stuck to his guns with a smile on his face the whole way. You can either feel sorry for yourself, or you can get out there and do something – Well done Ben for showing us what pushing your own boundaries really means.
And finally, a race that slips under the radar but deserves equally as much recognition is the
Yurrebilla Trail 56km Ultra. The race started about 5 years ago with about 20 runners and this year saw 300 entrants toe the start line. Kiwi runner and Team Salomon man, Grant Guise took out the win overall in a time of 4:54. James Duffy took second in 5.07 and third was Mark Bloomfield in 5.09. In the ladies, Joanna Kruk smashed out another win in 5:40 with Sally Roffey in second with a time of 5.47 and Stephanie Gaskell clocking third in 5.48.
The fun however doesn’t stop there as we have a plethora of trail ultra goodness coming up over the next few months, so stay tuned for more pre-race predictions and goodness.