Saturday sees the fourth installment of the now firmly established Great Ocean Walk 100kms run by veteran runner and race director, Andy Hewat. Known for leaving no stone unturned with his preparation, Andy ranks up there as one of the leading race directors in the country for one simple reason, the man has been doing this stuff for nearly 30 years and knows how to put on a good race.
The arrival of the Surf Coast Century a few weeks earlier doesn’t appear to have dampened the numbers of entries and it seems that two races along similar stretches of track around teh same time of year can seek to co-exist, showing good demand for these types of races.
GOW is an extremely scenic race, and the route is probably one of the best in Australia, taking you along rugged coast line and stunning single file track. It’s also a pretty quick course too as while undulating, there’s only a few ‘bigger’ hills to contend with so there is a chance that we could see a course record this year from some of the speedsters up front.
In saying this though, the track can really suffer from the elements as the runners most years have found out when mud and rain descends on the trail to make it a very mucky one indeed, particularly the first 20kms. Despite that, the first 20 and last 20kms of this race are quick, with some gnarly stuff in the middle. The temptation can be to go out a little too hard as you get carried away with the beautiful soft trails and downhills. As I recall, some of the toughest bits of this course is after Johanna Beach where you weave in and out of the cliffs, and whilst stunning, it’s here that full concentration is required to keep yourself on track and moving well.
But who’s going to win? Well this year has seen a few dropouts with the likes of previous winner and course record holder, Julian Spence along with Victorian ultra stalwart, Kevin Mannix. But despite this there are plenty of other names to keep the pointy end interesting.
Top of that list is New South Welshman, Brendan Davies, one of the countries leading trail runners over 100kms as well as road. Earlier this year Brendan broke sub 7 for the first time over 100kms, finishing a brilliant tenth place at the IAU world champs. He’s our pick for the win here, but he might not have it all his own way if the likes of Chris Wight and Damon Goerke have anything to say about it. Both of these guys will be keeping Brendan’s heels warm we’re sure.
Also to note is Japanese US base runner Mikio Miyazoe who has some pretty credible results to his name, along with local runner Dan Beard who’s always performed well here and trail legend, Phil Murphy.
However, we think it is with the ladies as to where the race is at.
Nikki is fresh off the back of a DNF at the Glasshouse 100 miler, so we’re sure she’ll be seeking to make amends and continue her fantastic streak here at GOW where she’s won the ladies event for the last two years running. Last year she beat most of the men with a great time of just over twelve hours, we’re sure she’s going to better that this year and be looking for something around the 11:30ish mark.
The reality is that all that goes to shit when you’re out on the course and if you’re in with a sniff, you’re going to take a crack at a bite of the pie and go for glory. So who’s going to win we hear you say?
Good luck to all the runners on Saturday.