How do you make a trail race better? Especially one as amazing as Coastal High? Well, make travel arrangements simpler and make the course more epic, of course! At first, the thought of removing the O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra section of the Great Walk seemed to be detrimental, however I can personally guarantee the change has improved the course, as there are now more opportunities to experience more of the diversity that is within the Lamington National Park including some amazing lookouts! And as most of the runners will not be competing at the pointy end of the race, there will be plenty of places to take trail-selfies, Run Goat Run-style!
But that isn’t the only positive reason for the change – Instead of the long bus ride from the car drop off point at the finish to the 2015 start at O’Reilly’s, the shuttle has been made much shorter by having the course start at Binna Burra Lodge. From there the runners will be taking in two of the best single trail circuits in Lamington National Park – those being Dave’s Creek Circuit and Ship’s Stern Circuit – before making their way back to the original course, sharply down to Numinbah Valley and then repeating the serious climbing up to Springbrook National Park, where we have the “Suunto King of the Mountain” for runners to compete for, as they do around half of their total ascent in a 10km section up to Apple Tree Park, including the final section of 900+ stairs. The final leg covers the same territory as in 2015, a steep downhill to the base of Purling Brook Falls, and then a long grind up to the finish line.
If you’re interested in knowing who will be heading up the field of runners, then read on. After scanning the start list, who is looking like being crowned the Wild Earth Coastal High 50 Champions of 2016? Starting with the women, Deb Nicholl, Shona Stephenson, Amanda Kyneur and Natalie Goodwin stand out as podium favourites. Deb and Shona are ultra legends and will know how to handle both the distance and the difficulty of this race. As far as I am aware, both Natalie and Amanda haven’t raced a trail ultra, but both have good road speed and I know Amanda has been training hard since the GC Marathon on the course and on trails around the Gold Coast in preparation, and will be hard to beat.
For the men, Ben Duffus isn’t down to race again this year, so the field has opened up to other SE Queensland Trail Runners, including a few who are back for a second crack. Of those returning, the two stand-outs are Kyle Weise and Darryl Taylor. Kyle has shown a marked increase in performance this past 6 months and he should wipe a huge chunk of time of his 2015 result. Darryl has had coaching from Caine Warburton this past few months and has even pinched a few Strava crowns off Caine while training on the course! Two others worth mentioning as podium favourites would include Justin Power who has previously ran a 5hr UTA50km and first time Trail Ultra runner Tom Brimelow, who has been cleaning up in the local SE Queensland trail race series this past 12 months.
Many thanks to Troy Lethlean for writing this preview. Troy’s been a star in helping Ultra168 with some of the race previews up in Queensland. He’s also made his own brand of nutritional food too, TrailBrew, if you want to take a look.
Feature image credit: www.coastalhigh.com.au