Yesterday we took a look at the Hillary Ultra ladies preview and today it’s the turn of the men, although I do think that some of the ladies could be challenging for overall podium!
The clear leading male that I can see is Aussie Joel Fitzgerald. He’s had some cracking results over the last few years and perhaps his best to date would be 17th at UTMF last year where he ran 25hrs and some change. That shows he’s got good mountain legs for The Hillary, but he’s also pretty speedy on the flats too, recording a very good sixth place at the Surf Coast Century in 2014 in a time of 9hrs 16mins.
A very interesting name on the starters list is a Kiwi by the name of Danny Garrett. He’s only run one ultra, but he’s done it twice – Kepler – and he just happened to finish fifth there a few years back in a pretty stacked field. Last year he ran a whole hour slower and some, finishing 37th. Clearly he has awesome racing potential, but with little to no form guide to look at, it’s a massive unknown as to how he’ll go or what type of condition he’s in. He could win it, or he could be just along for the ride…
A couple of other names to keep an eye on include Nick Johnston who I think could push Joel quite hard up front. He finished 12th at Tarawera this year in a time of 9hrs 13mins in what is his only ultra to date. Definitely a dark horse for the win.
There’s also a couple of other Aussies who’ll be looking for podium placings, James Flittner and Steve Pemberton. Steve recently finished third at Blackall in a time of 11hrs 45mins, while James has had some strong results on the sandy trails of Glasshouse over the 50km distance.
The 34km Preview
While it might be half the distance, there are some pretty big names lining up for this one and a good chance we could see both the ladies and men’s titles coming back over the Tasman to Australia.
Lucy Bartholomew is in fine form right now. She recently took out the Bogong to Hotham race record, smashing it by nearly 30 minutes and then just last weekend won the Moonlight Shotover Sky Marathon too. Anything in the 30km-60km region is Lucy’s right now and it would be pretty hard not seeing her pick up the win here.
BUT, Tarawera 100km winner, Fiona Hayvice is running also and is likely to put up a pretty stiff challenge to Lucy. However with a 100km just only a few weeks ago, it’ll be interesting to see how well Fiona has recovered. Given Lucy’s form over the mountainous stuff of late, well give her the pip for the win.
In the men’s 34km race, it’s almost a re-run of last weekend’s Shotover with Aussie Majell Backhausen up against Lithuanian, Kiwi resident, Andrius Ramonas. But don’t discount Aussie Daniel Green, if it is the same Daniel Green that won Six Foot Track back in 2005. He’s lining up again for Six Foot Track and for this race, so it will be interesting to see what kind of shape he’s in and this race might just tell us that.
I’m sure there are one or two others in the pipeline, but the winners will come from the above 🙂 All the best to those running, have a ball out there!