Once again, there’s a good mix of talent battling it out at the pointy end of proceedings, and while I think the ladies is pretty clear cut, the mens will see 2 or 3 gents battling it out up front.
Small, but perfectly formed is how I’d describe the ladies 50kms field, containing a few doses of quality in the form of Sophie Brown, Maggie Jones and Hanny Allston.
The big name of the three is Hanny Allston and the plethora of wins she’s had over the last few years, at the Surf Coast 50kms, The Buffalo Marathon and also being the current record holder at Six Foot Track. This distance is Hanny’s sweet spot and I fully expect that bar an injury or DNS, she’ll be coming home with the spoils from this one too.
But should things not go to plan, there are a couple of ladies waiting in the wings to scope up the pie so to speak. Maggie Jones is a very strong runner with the form to prove it too. This year she’s already bagged two 3rd place at the Buffalo Ultra and Razorback Run (64kms). Last year she also claimed third at Buffalo in the ultra, as well as a highly credible 12th here at UTA in the full 100kms.
Sophie Brown is relatively ‘early’ in her ultra career compared to the other two ladies, but shows a lot of promise. At Six Foot track a few months ago, she grabbed third place, and in 2015, she won the Alpine Challenge 60km race.
The mens field probably goes a little deeper in terms of competition, withthe main bettle up front between Vlad Shatrov and Mark Green.
Typically a road marathon guy, Vlad has a 2:18 marathon PB to his name and won the UTA 50kms back in 2013 in a time of 4hrs 15mins. He’ll be very tough to beat, but expect some strong competition from the likes of Gary Mullins, Mark Green, Sam Burridge, Wes Gibson and Tony Fattorini.
Mark Green is perhaps one of the guys that will really give Vlad a run for his money and perhaps even nudge him to the line for a win? Mark is a seasoned Six Foot Track runner, always there or thereabouts in the top 3 or 4. He also finished a close third place behind Jono O’Loughlin and Scotty Hawker a few weeks back at the Mount Solitary Ultra too.
Sam Burridge is a relatively new-ish name on the block having raced this a few times and bot featuring highly, but he’s shot up the watch list following a third place at the Buffalo Stampede marathon a few months ago.
Tony ‘Fats’ Fattorini is another name you can never discount. A former two-time winner at Six Foot Track, second place at Kepler a few years ago and numerous placings at trail races around NSW. Very much a feature at the pointy end of these types of races, he’ll feature in the top 3-5 for sure.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how Wes Gibson goes. After showing a fair of promise a few years ago, injury and a few DNFs here and there and I don’t think we’ve really seen the best of Wes. I hope he goes really well and is back on track for a great result here on Saturday.
Ultra168 will be out and about on the course, covering for the most part the 100kms race. All the best to all runners out there, whether you’re a leader or not, you’ll have a ball.