After a week of mooching around in Mount Beauty and considering moving to Victoria (did I just say that?!?!?!), we focus our attentions to one of the most brutally beautiful races going around, the Hounslow Classic Skyrace. It’s a case of down, up, down up, down up, down, up and then down and up again for this 68km ultra which contains over 4,000m of elevation through some of the most stunning bushland Australia has to offer.
With a 21km race on offer for those wanting a taster of the brutality, the 68km version will chew you up and spit you out again. It’s so brutal on the quads that they’ve been known to leave their owners, pack up and head back down the M4 to the flatlands of Sydney for some respite and a chai latte.
So who’s racing this weekend and deserves a mention from the extensive analysis here on the Ultra168 super computers? We’ll begin with the ladies because this is where the tastiest racing is going to take place I believe. We have the number one and two placed runners from last year making an appearance again in Beth Cardelli and Lucy Bartholomew respectively. Last year Beth took the line honours between the two in a time of 9hrs 45mins, a full hour in front of Lucy.
This year I think it’s going to be markedly close between these two. Both girls have had fantastic years again with Beth in particular confirming her status as the Queen of UTA, winning in a time of 11hrs 16mins. She’s also won the Mount Solitary and Knapsack ultras. She’s in ‘good nick’ as some might say and probably pretty fresh compared to Lucy who has completed some very tough races this year already. But I don’t think that’s going to come into play too much.
Lucy is still very young in ultra years, so I don’t think she’ll be over burdened by the extensive / hard racing this year. What does however make me think that Lucy will take this race out is the fact that she wiped around 30 minutes off Beth’s course record at Bogong to Hotham. She’s won three races this year, including the aforementioned, the Buffalo Stampede Ultra and also the Northburn 50kms outright. Lucy has not only been winning races, she’s been clearing out most of the male competition too. So in short, I think we’re going to see a reversal of last year’s result, but it will be very close indeed.
Rounding out the female contenders is Lou Clifton, who earlier this year won the first race of the ANZ Skyrunning series at the Ultra Easy over in New Zealand. She’s also finished fourth at both the Buffalo Stampede and Mount Buller ultras.
In the men’s race there are four main contenders for the title this year in Jono O’Loughlin, Danny Garrett and Loughlinn Kennedy and it looks likely to be a pretty close race between them, along with a couple of dark horses that could also well challenge for the podium too.
Jono is the man with most of the form and experience over these types of terrain and distance having won the Mount Solitary ultra and claimed seventh at UTA. Since then he’s welcomed another child into the world, so it remains to be seen if he’s managed to get some good kms under his belt for this, or if the sleep deprivation will take its toll. Either way you know he’s going to head out hard and hold on for something, that’s just the way Jono rolls. EDIT: Jono is a late scratch from the race.
Loughlinn Kennedy is a Blackheath local all the way from Ireland who’s spent a lot of time on the course, all while being pretty early into his ultra career, but with some great results already to boot. He came fifth at the Mount Solitary ultra as well as claiming a solid fourth at Bogong to Hotham earlier this year. In this race last year in finished sixth, but given his results this year already, that one is likely to be blown out of the water.
From over the ditch coming to race on our shores is Danny Garrett, a strong contender for this race having already performed well in Australia taking third place at the Buffalo Stampede earlier this year. Last year he also finished on the podium at the Ultra Easy 100kms, and also has a top five finish at Kepler to his name too; no mean feat!
Next we come to the man who finished second here last year and another Blackheath local, Eric Holt. This race last year was Eric’s first ultra and the talk of the Blue Mountains was the big potential in this guy. Well he proved last year that he could stick with the best of them, winning the Alpine challenge 60km event. If trained up, I think Eric is the guy to beat this weekend.
Finally, keep an eye on Adam Clarke who has a 3:49 Six Foot Track to his name, as well as finishing just outside the top ten at the UTA 50km this year too. Guy has speed, will he have mountain legs?
Also, look out for ACT based Etienne Blumstein-Jones, who finished second at the Mount Buller 45km Skyrace.