GNW 100s Race Preview – The ‘Old Skool’ Part 1

Dave Byrnes, race director of the GNW100s and provider of pain

It might be two months earlier than normal, but the GNW 100s forms part of what I would regard as the old skool community style of racing here in Australia.

Run by the legendary Dave Byrnes the explorer/Terrigal Trotter one, not The Long Run one!… the GNW 100s can only be described as a bastard of a run – a masochistic indulgence of bush solitude that chews you up and spits you out. Of course, this was back in days when the race was held in November and temps on the course would peak in the low 40s – runners would drop like flies.

Now the race is in September, we see a 10 degree drop in the oven like furnace that embraces Somersby School around midday, but it’s still a bugger of a run. The 100 miler isn’t even 100 miles for crying out loud, it’s 108.5!

Still, it’s what attracts people to this race and it attracts a certain type of runner too. There’s none of the massive giant inflatable tents at the start and pumping music that you see in some more of the other commercial style events. There’s just a few hundred random runners most looking rather odd and not like runners at all, donning gear that’s used because it’s highly practical, rather than an orgy of fluro for the runner fashion show.


Let’s start with the 100 miler and some of the leading ladies. Four that stick out for me are Melissa Robertson, Susan Keith Robyn Bruins and Chantelle Farrelly

With no Gill Fowler this year, one of these ladies has a great chance to put a marker down for women’s 100 mile racing and interestingly of these four, none has raced over 100 miles before, so it will be interesting to see how each of them adapts as their bodies push through and beyond the 100km distance. I say interesting because, in terms of time, Yarramalong and the 104km point tends to be the halfway point as well in terms of time. This is a very tactical race and if any of the ladies go out hard, they will suffer massively later on, as a certain Brendan Davies found out one year in this race 🙂

Melissa Robertson is perhaps the standout of the four, having finished fourth at Ultra-Trail Australia (TNF100) earlier this year in 11:50. She won the GNW 100kms last year in a time of 12hrs 16mins (current course record), as well as claiming third place in the Mount Solitary Ultra (45kms) this year too.

Melissa Robertson, a Terrigal local and one of the favourites for the 100 miler
Melissa Robertson, a Terrigal local and one of the favourites for the 100 miler

Susan Keith hasn’t quite recreated the form she had last year that saw her claim second place at the inaugural Buffalo Stampede Ultra (75kms) in 2014. But I hear on the grapevine that she’s been training the house down. She’s another one of those silent assassin types. Taking it easy early on, before smashing through like a steam train in the latter stages.

In the men’s 100 miler, we have three-time consecutive winner of Coast2Kosci, Ewan Horsburgh toeing the line and for me, probably the standout contender given his form over the last few years. But that has been predominantly on the flat tracks of the 24hr circuit. Ewan however, is a strong trail runner.

An interesting name to see on the starters list is Levi Martin, a Terrigal local who a few years back ran a 22hr 100 miler here. Not sure what kind of form he might be in, but if he’s trained up, he’ll be right up there too.

Someone who has the form to really give Ewan a challenge too is Andrew Donaldson who recently ran a 17hr 14min 100 miler down at You Yangs. OK, so it’s a pretty flat course compared to GNW, but Andrew has speed and form to certainly be on the podium for this one.

Other notables to keep an eye on for a sub 24hr finish are Dave Graham, Damian Smith, Rob Mason and Gavin Markey.

In the 100kms it really is only about one man, Clarke McClymont. Current course record holder for this event with 9hrs 58mins, Clarke also won the 100 miler here last year in an impressive 20hrs 56 mins. A little birdie tells me that in the ladies, Kath Carty is the standout to watch for. She’s yet to race in 2015 over the ultra distance and this will be her first outing at 100kms, but last year she ran a 4:21 Six Foot track for sixth place.

Clarkey and his lovely lady, Tiff.
Clarkey and his lovely lady, Tiff.

Returning to the men, Dave Coombs a veteran on the Glasshouse mountains scene is down south for another crack at this race. On his day, Dave is a very good athlete and likely to podium if his body holds together. He’s showing good form having just bagged third place at the inaugural Coastal High 50kms this weekend just gone.

Other ladies to watch out for in the 100kms are Denise Maquire and Delina Rahmate.

A few special mentions to Phil Murphy, who will be running his 10th straight GNW 100 miler, along with Geoff Evison doing his 9th straight GNW too.

Andy Hewat is King of the Hill however as the only person to have started all 10 GNW’s, finishing eight, one DNF and one finish in the 100kms. This will be his 11th straight start. And finally, NRG (Northside Running Group) running club has 15 runners taking part this year too.

Best of luck to all. I’m racing the 100kms this year. I use the term ‘racing’ very loosely though. I’m going for a nice bushwalk and hope to be home in time for supper.


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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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