I have to admit, I miss this race pretty much every year in terms of it being on my radar. I think because it remains such a low-key, old school event, it just quietly slips me by without a second glance. I keep promising myself I won’t miss it again and I almost did this year too, hence me writing this preview at midnight the day before. To be fair, I write most of my stuff around midnight for this website, sleep is overrated.
However, I’m most pleased with myself for not missing out on the race this year as it deserves its plaudits for being one of the longest standing races in Australia and tracing its first running back to 1981. The course record is a staggering 7hrs 25mins by the finest mountain runner Australia has produced, Andy Kromar in 1996. It was in that year that Andy did the treble, namely this race, Bogong to Hotham (a record that still stands to this day) and Six Foot track. In fact, just taking a peek at Andy’s all time ultra results in Australia, he’s won every single race he’s entered, bar one – Six Foot Track in 1998. If you want to know what hard work, grit, determination and just getting the feck on with running is all about, speak to Andy. No multi-coloured calf panties near him that’s for sure. He lugs chainsaws up a mountain for fun.
So who’s in the running for the race on Saturday. One thing’s for sure, with an entry list that almost fits on one page, it makes my life pretty easy for the predicts. This race is also harder to get into than Fort Knox, and there’s no training camp option (ransom) to guarantee your entry for the following year either – it’s fastest finger first.
I’ll start with the guys because if truth be told, bar a freak accident, there’s only one guy in it. It’s either that or the other guys are sandbagging in a serious manner with very soft predicted finish times.
Stu Gibson is the man you need to look out for. He’s predicted a finish time of 8:00 dead, which although is in line with his previous attempts at this race, is I feel maybe a little below what he might be capable of. Still, who knows if he’s in tip-top shape. I do know that he has another race coming up in five or six weeks and I’m hugely excited to see how he fares in that against some real pedigree roadies.
It’s in the ladies where things get interesting with three equally capable women all vying to top spot. Gill Fowler is the obvious big name and her predicted finish time suggests she might be too strong for the other ladies in contention. Gill is probably our leading lady over technical trail in the 100km – 100 miler distance. She comes from the rogain background and will eat a course like this for breakfast. She’s had some great results in the big 100 milers in the last few years and I think she’ll come out top dog here.
Chasing her tail will be Amy Lamprecht. I remember being down at the Surf Coast Century last year and Amy was leading for much of the race and no-one had a clue who she was. Amy is a local Tassie girl who will not only have great course knowledge but is strong to boot as well. Her predicted finish time is around 10:00hrs, which I think might be a little ‘soft’ for her, but it does of course depend totally on what type of form she’s in. If fit, she’s going to be right up there with Gill as she goes out hard.
Finally, there’s Katherine Macmillan, a notoriously steady starter but tends to finish extremely strongly. She finished second here last year in a time of 10:27, this was after a cracking run at Bogong just a month earlier, which she followed up with third at the Buffalo Stampede ultra in April of last year. She then bagged seventh at a very competitive TNF100 field and just last month finished in the top five at Two Bays. She likes to race, and if the other two ladies in front blow up a little, expect Katherine to be right there at the finish.
Good luck to all the runners on Saturday.
Feature image credit – Matt Chamberlain