The line-up for the Buffalo Stampede Ultra and Marathon is pretty spectacular if you ask me. Not to mention the names that are also lining up for the 26er too, but given that we focus on ultras, we’ll let others have a crack at covering that area.
The Stampede does have some of the world’s best runners toeing the line, not to mention I feel, some of our top guys and gals who proudly sit alongside some of the world’s best.
As per usual, we’ll start with the girls and it’s this line-up that I think I’m most excited about, and in particular the ladies marathon.
Check this for a line-up: Steve Kremer Vs. Mira Rai Vs. Hanny Allston. This is all about the current skyrunning world champion (Stevie) vs. perhaps the most talented up and coming ultra runner globally (Mira Rai) vs. Australia’s best mountain runner over the 40-50kms distance in Hanny.
If you don’t know who Stevie Kremer is, do some research. She is a former North American Ski Mountaineering talent, who’s racked up wins at Pikes Peak, World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, Mont Blanc Marathon, Sierre-Zinal and Matterhorn Ultraks. She’s the Kilian Jornet of ladies ultra running, combining serious ski mountaineering skills with mountain goat legs and the ability to win pretty much anything she races. She is one of the best female ultra runners in the world right now.
Mira Rai is the lady on the lips of the ultra running glitterati. One of our good friends, Lloyd Belcher has been following Mira around the mountains of Nepal, articulating her story and journey, you can see more here. Mira is the current Asian SkyRunning Champion, Mira has and has taken first place in nearly every race she has competed in across Asia and in Europe. She’s a little like our own Stu Gibson. She enters a race and wins. Period.
Finally, the Aussie golden girl of the moment following her 6ft track record the other weekend, Hanny Allston. Hanny is clearly head and shoulders above any other female in the 40-50kms mountain running distance in Australia currently. OK, I’m sure there are a few ‘track’ athletes in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney that would fancy their chances against Hanny, but she has the results on the board and is someone who would genuinely compete with the world’s best. It’s a shame Ruby Muir isn’t yet down to race the marathon. What a line-up it would be to see these fours ladies going hammer and tongs at each other. It wouldn’t be remiss of me to say that in these four ladies, you have quite possibly some of the best female trail runners in that ‘short ultra’ distance.
The other local girls in the mix include Sarah Douglas, a Queenstown local who is coming off a dominant 2014 where she won the New Zealand Mountain Running Championship and the epic Routeburn Classic. Also a several time podium getter at the Kepler, Sarah will do well if any of the top 3 ladies falter. Someone who will also do well, is local Aussie girl, Colleen Middleton. Colleen is a former Six Foot Track marathon winner from Albury who has been running Mt Buffalo regularly.
The men’s marathon has an equally stupendous line-up. Leading the way is Michel Lanne, second at the World SkyRunning Championship marathon in Chamonix last year, splitting Kilian Jornet and Tom Owens. Yes, that’s how good this man is. A name that will become increasingly familiar to us down under is Andrius Ramonas, a Lithuanian living in NZ. Andrius won the inaugural Rotorua 50K late last year and followed that with a win over Scott Hawker and Chris Morrissey at Hillary a few weeks ago. Scott is in shit hot form right now, that’s how good Andrius is. Scott will also be in the marathon too, so expect a fiercely contested rematch.
Then some of the big gun Aussie’s make an appearance too. Marty Dent, John Winsbury and Blake Hose will all be gunning for the win against some of the big names from overseas. I’m particularly pleased to see John’s name on the startlist again, having come third here in the same race last year. John’s a former Bogong to Hotham winner, of similar ilk to Stu Gibson. A massively quiet achiever that let’s his running do the talking. Another Mr. Shut up and run type character who puts the results on the board.
Marty Dent is someone that needs no intro having perched at the top of Aussie marathon running for a number of years. Marty is now firmly entrenched into the trail running scene and it’s brilliant to see someone of his calibre going to to toe with some of the world’s best trail runners. I for one am really keen to see how all of these go up against each other. It’s something Aussie trail running has longed for for a number of years. Truly top gun pedigree road and track starts like Marty and Dave Byrne going up against the big names in trail running.
One young Aussie trail star though is Blake Hose. In Blake and Ben Duffus, we have two of the hottest prosects for the future of Aussie trail running. These two guys have got what it takes to mix it with the world’s best trail runners as we saw in the Skyrunning World Champs last year where they finished 6th and 3rd respectively. The mens marathon is going to be one hell of a race.
And that’s the just the marathon… what about the ultra?
Well in the ladies Landie Grayling is the big name to keep an eye on, hailing from South Africa, with course records at the Otter Trail, South Africa’s Salomon SkyRun 100K and top placings at a number of European races. On her tail will be local Aussie girls, Beth Cardelli and Gill Fowler, both of whom are hitting some good form right now. Beth has just won the Hillary Ultra race over in New Zealand, while Gill placed second behind Hanny at 6ft track, beating her PB by some considerable margin. Gill has always been so strong over the longer stuff, but is now it seems finding a bit of pace to match those awesome strong hiking legs, for me, a bit of a dark horse for taking out this race.
Then from over the ditch we have Jo Johansen and Whitney Dagg. Jo burst onto the ultra scene with a win at Tarawera a few years back, along with finishing just behind Beth at the Hillary recently. Whitney is still on the comeback trail from injury, so it will be interesting to see how she pits against some of these lovely ladies.
In the men’s ultra, there are three overseas runners that could grab the headlines, but two Aussie guys that will be there to make sure they don’t. The aforementioned Tom Owens will be stepping up to the ultra distance and this is about as long as he will go. He typically loves the marathon type distances and has racked up a series of wins and top places at many events around the world. Hailing from the UK, Fell running is his forte and love. The harsher the conditions, the better.
Samir Tamang is to men’s ultra running in Nepal that Mira is to the ladies… these two are some of the hottest prospects globally right now, so the match-up with Tom and some of our local guys will be hugely intriguing. Samir running resume is outstanding. In 2013 he won the grueling TransLantau 100K in Hong Kong and last year was second at the 119km TDS in France, pitting himself against some of the world’s best. That race is a marker of how good he is. In February this year, he also won the Asian SkyRunning Championship.
Christofer Clemente hails from Spain and has won the Scafell Trail Marathon in the UK, as well as achieving top places at many rough and rugged European SkyRaces such as Transgrancanaria. He most recently came third at the Asian SkyRunning Championship behind Samir.
But trying to put a spanner in the works for these guys will be two of our leading Aussie runners. I don’t think it’s out of place to say that Andrew Tuckey is our leading ultra runner over the 100km distance. I rate the guy so highly and can’t wait to see what he does at Western States a little later this year. He recently placed sixth at 6ft track in a new PB time against some seriously good runners, so his pace has certainly got better. But he’s the guy that hangs back and like a silent assassin, takes all before him in the latter stages.
But perhaps our leading bet for this race from a local perspective is Ben Duffus. Ben will be out for vengeance on this course having blow-up so spectacularly last year chasing Dakota Jones’ tail for 60 odd kms. Ben learned from that however and finished the year with an awesome third place at the World Skyrunning champs. My Queensland grapevines have indicated he’s traveling well and in form. if he has a great race and all goes well for him, I can see Ben winning this. It’s a big call against this talent, but a win here would put him right on the map globally as far as mountain racing is concerned. No pressure champ 🙂 I’d love to see him do it. (Editor Note: Ben is injured and not running now)
Also in the line-up is a certain Alex Matthews, 2:2x marathon runner and Six Foot Track former winner. Word on the street is that he’s trained up big for this one, expect a big showing. Another guy making big waves too is Mark Green, who finished an outstanding third place in the most competitive Six Foot Track race ever run a few weeks back. He keeps getting better and better and will be in fine form for this if he’s recovered well from that run. A big dark horse this guy, definite podium potential.
Then finally two guys from across the ditch in Grant Guise and Marty Lukes. Grant is no stranger to our pages and shores having finished third in the Ultra here last year. An ever consistent performer Grant is the guy that never quite goes away – he’s always there or thereabouts. Marty Lukes is a bit of a legend of NZ trail running, plus a champion rogainer too. In fact there’s not much Marty hasn’t done. He’s won Kepler three times and finished on the podium TEN TIMES! He’s also won the NZ 100km champs three times in a row and is a sub 7hr 100km runner… serious pedigree.
So as you can see, while the deep and talent in the two fields is outstanding, and I’ve only mentioned a few runners. There are so many more to consider – but these two races will be seriously exciting up front. We’ll do a more detailed preview of other runners too closer to the time. But for now, this is a taster of what’s to come.