It was a big weekend of racing at both home and overseas with the Two Bays trail race taking place down south and the first event of the UTWT taking place in Hong Kong with a highly competitive field winding their way through an extremely mixed and varied course.
This weekend, the Ultra168 computer was firing once again with the majority of predictions turning into reality.
Starting at home with Two Bays and perhaps the performance of the day by Natasha Fraser. Picked as a big favourite for this one, she not only won, but smashed Kirstin Bull’s course record to pieces with an eleven minute thrashing to come home in 4:42 for the 56kms. That’s a massive win and fine performance that spells awesome things for Nastasha in 2017 as an athlete on the rise. It will be very interesting to see how the rest of her racing season pans out. It would be great to see her racing up at Six Foot Track in a few months as well, nudge, nudge, hint, hint…
Second to Natasha was Kellie Emmerson with a fine performance of 4:52, but whom I also hear had a bit of deviation off course due to some idiots changing the markings. That’s not confirmed by the way, just what I’ve heard through the trail running grapevine. If that did happen, then that’s a big shame as we probably didn’t see the best of Kellie on the day. Rounding out the ladies podium was Sarah Jalim, who also went sub five hours to record a time of 4:58.
In the men’s, the race result went as expected with Francesco Ciancio winning by a hefty margin of 15 minutes to record a 4:09. Second was Ashley Hoffman in 4:24 and third was Luke Preston in 4:25 – sounds like a good battle between those two.
Over in Hong Kong at the Vibram 100, the computer was pretty much spot on again, calling China’s Yun Yanqiao as winner, which he did in a time of 9hrs 35 mins, just three minutes off Francoise D’haene’s record.
In second place was Italy’s Daniel Jung, which what are possibly the biggest, most defined quads I’ve ever seen on a runner. He’s certainly been eating his Weetbix for breakfast that’s for sure! He completed the course quite a fair way behind Yun in a time of 10hrs 1minute, with the US runner, Sage Canaday just behind him in 10hrs 3 minutes.
In the ladies, the vastly experienced Nuria Picas took the title in a time of 11hrs 18mins. Second was China’s Linmin Chen in 11hrs 53mins, with Hong Kong-based New Zealander, Marie McNaughton finishing third in a time of 12hrs 26mins.
The second leg of the UTWT continues in a few weekends in New Zealand at the Tarawera 100, where again a fine fettle of athletes will be gathered to take on the rather fast and flat course. Aussie hopes lie in the form of Dave Byrne, who following a bit of Strava spying yesterday, knocked out a very fast 50kms around the lush surroundings of Centennial Park. Dave finished second there last year and with Western States on his radar this year too, he’ll be hoping to go one better and take out the win.