Today’s Blackall preview has been written by top man, Troy Lethlean, who’s been a massive help to Ultra168 in recent months. Troy is running in this race too and is far too humble to call himself out as one of the favourites, despite it being his first 100kms… Take it away Troy!
As we move into the tail end of the ‘Aussie 100’ season, with the GOW, SCC, Sri Chinmoy and the GH and GNW milers in the rear view mirror, it’s time to focus on the newest 100km, now in its second year.
Hosted by ‘Run Queensland’ – a partnership between experienced ultra runners Alun Davies and Brett Standring – the Blackall 100 this year not only offers the amazing scenery of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, but also $1500 on the line for a course record-breaking winner ($1000 for the win, $500 for the record).
If you are coming from the southern States, be warned – you may be hit by daytime temperatures at least in the late 20’s, possibly over 300C, with Queensland humidity! With some apprehension, I’ve decided to run my first 100km, in my home state of Queensland, in late October… madness maybe? Reading some blogs from last year, it appears to be a tough event, having experienced a high attrition rate in its first running.
So, who’s going to be surviving the early summer, ringing the cowbell first, and taking the prize?
Starting with the 100km women, we have two stand-out names racing again, with Shona Stephenson back to defend her win in the inaugural event last year (2nd Overall). Being a seasoned ultra competitor, knowing the course, and being acclimated to the Queensland heat, she should be ready to roll. Shona has been running well this year, winning the Run Larapinta Stage Race and also placing an incredible 3rd place in the North Face 100 amongst quality international competitors.
Shannon-Leigh Walker (Litt) is crossing the ditch again to race, with results showing that she is in good form, with a recent 5th placing at Surf Coast Century and winning a local NZ 80km in under 8 hours.
In the men’s race, we have last year’s winner, Ben Gerhardy, returning to defend his title. Ben is making the pilgrimage again after his successful first 100 mile race at Glasshouse only a few weeks ago where he won. He knows the course, but will his legs be ready to race the 100 after a win just a few weeks ago at Glasshouse?
And when you think of a Queenslander, and heat, and ultra marathons, who comes to mind? Unless someone else has the same name as the guy who represented Australia in the World 24 hour championships, and came 3rd in the 2015 Badwater Ultra, this will be a hot (excuse the pun) contest with Mick Thwaites running!
So, I think it may be game over, top two decided, unless Anderson Moquiuti is giving his legs a good test before C2K, or Steve Pemberton, last years’ third place male wipes an hour off his time, or perhaps TattooRunner Matt Grills has a good outing in the Queensland heat. We’ll just have to see on Saturday!
In the 50km the women entered outnumber men by at least 30 or 40 entrants! I’m sorry if I miss anyone, one runner stand out in particular. Kathryn Austin could be a podium favourite, having won the River Run 100 this year in just over 10 hours, and also quite experienced on the trails of the Sunshine Coast.
In the mens, Matt Baker is returning to defend his 2014 title, however I think he will have to do better than the 4 hours 43 minutes of last year. There are a few guys who may run a low 4 hour race, including Matthew Eckford, another 24 hour World Championships Aussie rep.