What’s fast, flat and looks like a number eight? It’s the Surf Coast Century of course and it’s taking place this weekend with over 2,000 runners converging on Anglesea for a variety of distances and team events.
Our focus however is on the 100kms and as usual there’s a plethora of talent on show for what is also the Aussie National Trail Championships.
I’ll begin with the ladies and its hard to look beyond Kellie Emmerson for this one again to make it three years on the trot. She’s the course record holder at 9hrs 18mins and I’m sure she’s got one eye on cracking a sub 9 this year. Kellie’s only raced one other big ultra this year, UTA where she finished on the podium, a rather excellent performance. We know Kellie is fast and it was great to see her do so well on more mountainous course to show her all round trail skillz. As I said, very hard not to see her taking this one out again, the only question will be by how much?
But that doesn’t mean to say there’s not some women out there who could challenge. One of those is Christine Hopkins. She’s had some very solid form in the last two years or so, including a fourth place at the very competitive Two Bays ultra earlier this year. Last year she also grabbed second at the Great Ocean Walk 100kms, as well as third at the Mount Buller Skyrun too. Certain podium potential I’d say.
Another lady who could be featuring on the podium is Katherine McKean, who finished joint second place with Christine at the Great Ocean Walk 100kms last year. Could we see a repeat of that race with the two ladies holding hands across the finish line?
UPDATE: Late addition that I totally missed first time around is Kylee Woods. She’s had some cracker results this year which have included a podium at Two Bays and also fourth at UTA 50kms. She’s also won the You Yangs 50kms too. This will be her first step up to the 100kms distance, so a few unknowns, but she has the gas to burn and could very likely finish second place to Kellie.
In the mens I think we’re going to see a tasty four-way battle between former champ here, Ben Duffus, local favourite Ross Hopkins, Canberra lad, Tom Brazier and New Caledonian runner, Oswald Cochereau. On form and when he clicks, I’d have to go with Ben for the win but we all know that form doesn’t always hold true.
Ben is a class athlete and he has for me, one of the best performances by an Aussie overseas when he finished on the podium at the World Skyrunning champs a few years ago. He was racing some serious Euro talent that day, but since then he’s been rather unlucky of late with injury and a few withdrawals from races, including the recent Buff Epic over in Spain. This course is fast and flat and Ben is known for being a bit of a mountain goat. However that didn’t stop him winning this race back in 2013 in a speedy 8hrs 28mins.
Ross is a local lad who knows this course like the back of his hand. He finished second here last year in a time of 8hrs 44mins and is always there or thereabouts on the podium. He had a great result at Two Bays earlier this year to finish in fifth, but he also proved that he’s not all about the flat tracks, finishing sixth at the Buffalo Stampede too. I think Ben on his day will have a little too much for Ross, but never say never; one slip from Ben and the race could be Ross’.
But let’s not forget Tom Brazier, who is also a bit of a mountain goat and took part in the Buff Epic too; finishing just inside the top 30, no mean feat for such a tough race. Boy did good over there. He’s also got some great European experience having raced Lavaredo, along with the IAU world champs too. Back at home he won the Knapsack 6hour race with 65kms earlier this year as well as third at the Buffalo Stampede and winner of the Alpine Challenge 100kms last year.
Oswald Cochereau is from New Caledonia and last year won the Surf Coast 50kms in a very speedy time of 3hrs 33mins. Much of Oswald’s racing has been done in France, but the guy clearly has gas and will be certainly mixing it up with the likes of Ben, Tom and Ross up front.
On paper, I’d go with Ben for the win, but I do fancy a bit of a dark horse each way bet on Oswald for a win.
Kellie Emmerson will win the ladies and also probably finish top five overall too.