Ultra168 Supporter and all round top bloke, Troy Lethlean is on hand again to help us understand who’s hot for the win next weekend.
The combined genius of ‘Those Guys’ (Matt Judd and Chris van Hoof) have organised a race that will rival (and possibly exceed) some of the most oversubscribed races in Australia. First, due to the location. This is not ‘another 50’, this is a first for Queensland, with a race through some areas that have previously been closed to these type of events. It is through some of the most amazing landscape Australia has – World Heritage listed Springbrook and Lamington National Parks, that are part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia, with lush rainforests, ancient trees and spectacular views.
Secondly, Matt and Chris are experienced race organisers, having run a number of top quality events in South East Queensland, and they go well beyond expectations! This race is almost two years in the planning and is sure to rise in stature over the coming years.
The Coastal High Ultra 50km Course
While the Coastal High Ultra course only has a vertical gain of 1,540m, and net downhill of 240m, the terrain is highly technical. Narrow single trail, rocks and tree roots, muddy sections, creeks with slippery crossings, stairs up, stairs back down, and plenty of tight turns, all making for a tough race. Most of the climbing (almost 1000m) happens in the final 14km as runners are faced with over 900 stairs up to Apple Tree Park, then a descent to Purling Brook Falls and final ascent to the finish. The fastest section should be the descent from Binna Burra to Numinbah, with over 500m in descent in around 8km.
Who’s lining up?
Let’s begin with the ladies. There are four who are expecting to personally finish this course in under 6 hours. Brisbane local, Amber Wood, who I managed to find out finished the 2014 Death Valley Marathon in around 4 ½ hours is personally predicting a sub 5hr race. Others who are predicting a sub 5hr 30min finish includes Ruth Kelly, Emily Randall and Belinda Bradberry.
In the men’s, there are two standouts, with
Stu Gibson and Ben Duffus toeing the line with Stu making one of his highly elusive appearances. He’s the 2015 winner and current record holder for the 6 Foot Track (3:14 for the 45km), who I predict to set a longstanding course record here on the Gold Coast. This is fairly typical of Stu. Last year he randomly turned up to the Glasshouse 50km in September as a tune-up for the stuff he’ll be focusing upon later in the year. There was a rumour that he was going to hang up the shoes after Six Foot. But this guy is a former elite athlete (genuine elite as in represented his country in a major global athletics championship – not a self-appointed elite), and the competitive desire is still burning. I’m sure he’s got his eyes still set on ‘that’ record – the nearly 20-year-old Bogong to Hotham time held by Andy Kromar . If I’m totally honest, Stu is going to win with daylight to spare. No disrespect to Ben, but the master is at play here. This will be Ben’s first Ultra in over 14 months, but he wouldn’t be racing if he didn’t feel ready for a crack at the podium and being a SE Queensland local, some pride will be on the line! He’s had an up and down last year with injury (some of it not his own fault), but it’s great to see him back on the startline for some more ultra fun.
Rounding out the podium is harder to predict. I’m expecting good results from a couple of Gold Coast local road speedsters, Jim Turner, and ‘Run Pain Free’ physio Brad Beer. Other locals to watch include Kyle Weise, who I expect to be running through the field in the final kilometres, and the darkhorse in the form of Dave Coombs whose team recently crossed the line first in the 96km Kokoda Challenge.
Finally, the Coastal High Ultra race organisers are predicting a cracker from Brisvegas local, Darryl Taylor, who cleaned up the Brisbane short course series and 16km ‘Up The Buff’ race earlier in the year, and who placed 5th in the recent Pomona King of the Mountain race.
*Stu Gibson is no longer running due to an injury flare up.