It’s time for one of the most brutal races in the Southern Hemisphere, the Northburn 100s. With around 10,000m of climbing over the 100 miler and 6,000m in the 100kms this one ranks highly in the toughness stakes, which is why, along with the Alpine 100s here in Australia, it’s the only 100 mile course in the Southern Hemisphere to be granted a Hardrock 100 qualifier too.
We’ll start with the premier event, the 100 miler and preview a couple of ladies taking part that could take out the line honours. Perhaps one of the more well-known on the list is Shona Stephenson, now a Queensland resident and making her second appearance at this event after a rather incredible third place a few years ago and a time of 24:46. A particularly emphatic demonstration of running on that course!
This will be Shona’s first major outing in 2016 after a solid 2015 that saw one of the highlights being third at UTA100.
Up against here though are Jean Beaumont, another former female double winner on this course, consistently finishing in the 26hour mark and I do believe that maybe Becky Nixon is running too, although can’t be 100% as she’s not listed down on the starters list from what I can see. I could be wrong.
Jean is a bad ass runner who shows up many a younger pair of legs at events. She finished in the top ten at Leadville last year just over the 24 hour mark and also fourth at Kepler too. Pure consistency is what you get with Jean, expect a strong showing as usual.
The men’s will be a similar story too, with a couple of guys duking it out up front. Grant Guise, local home-grown hero in these parts will be up against UK hardcore trail man, Charlie Sharpe.
Starting with Charlie, I wouldn’t have had a clue this guy was racing had he not gone out and won the Motatapu Ultra just recently, smashing Jason Scharlb’s time by over an hour. This guy is pretty hardcore when it comes to racing and does well too. Last yea he won four of the seven events he entered. Although like Grant, it appears he may have had a bit of a tough time of it at UTMB last year, finishing in 32:34. On paper and looking at Charlie’s other results, you’d have thought he’d have a mid-latter twenties time in him, similar to Grant, who to put it mildly as he would have said, ‘fell apart’ a little.
And onto Mr. Guise… Grant has been one of New Zealand’s most accomplished trail runners for the last few years. Bar the little shocker he had at UTMB last year. He’s always on the podium of some race each weekend so expect a really good battle between these two.
Anything can happen over a hundred miler and that’s what Glen Sutton, a former winner of this race will be hoping I’m sure! Watch out also for Aussie Darren McClellan too. Good solid runner who’ll certainly be up or arund the pointy end if fit and trained up for this one.
Another Aussie to look out for is Tim Kacprzak. He finished fourth at the Surf Coast Century last year in a speedy time of 9:41 as well as a very good result at the You Yangs hundred miler, finishing fourth there in a time of 18:47.
It appears to be a bit of an Aussie takeover of this race – Konrad Legge, the super hiker will go well here. He knocks off some ridiculous climbing in a week (like over 10,000m) and will be very well suited to this one. He came sixth at Bogong to Hotham earlier this year in a very good time of 8:32. I predict a good result for him in this race.
The thing with a miler is that it’s so hard to call a winner because so much does and will go wrong. But Charlie and Grant would be my two favourites, along with Shona and Jean in the ladies.
Ian Masterton is a two-time finisher of the 50km event here at Northburn, now making the step up and looks like he could go well. As does US runner, Mark Dyer. Not a lot of previous form to go on, but a good result in a 50km in the US makes him pop up on the radar.
But it’s in the ladies where I think a lot of the strength lies for the 100km race. Aussie Julie Sager looks like she could go well having had a solid run at Bogong to Hotham recently in a time of 10:36. She’s got some solid racing behind her including UTMF, UTA and the Buffalo Stampede too. Libby Masterton came sixth in this race a few years ago, so another name to keep an eye on for this year.
But a lady whom I think could win the race overall is Orlaith Heron. She won the Tarawera 85km race last year and she also finished second overall in the Northburn 50km two years ago. She’s my pick for the win overall.
All the best to everyone and looking forward to seeing you out there at some point hopefully!
Feature Image Credit: Paul Petch, Outdoor Photography