Following on from the Ultra preview earlier this morning, we turn attention to the marathon, where in the ladies race there is some serious competition and that is where we’ll start proceedings.
Much like Six Foot Track where we had four or five big guns, we have a similar number starting and it will prove to be a highly competitive race up front with a couple of Victorian ladies and a talented runner from New South Wales aiming to knock them off the top of the tree. That lady is Maeve Kennedy whom many of you will never have heard of and rightly so as she’s not really entered the foray of trail marathons and ultras until now.
The race result that pricks up the ears though was her smashing of the Hounslow Classic 21km back in October last year where she beat some very handy runners, including Gill Fowler – and she won with a fair bit of daylight too. This race is of course a bigger step up, but she’s proven on the rough, tough stuff, so I would expect her to travel extremely well on this course and be a contender for the top spot.
Kellie Emmerson lines up at Buffalo again I believe and brings with her some excellent results this year already. That includes a speedy second place at the Two Bays Ultras in January, as well as an excellent fourth place at the Tarawera 102.478kms. We’ve covered Kellie many times in our previews and we all know what she’s capable of. She appears to be hitting some really good form this year with a focus on getting the speed and intensity up even more – I’m thinking she’s going to run very well here and it will be a real battle with Maeve upfront, but I’d probably tip Kellie’s experience and form to edge this one out.
Another lady extremely well-known to our pages is Lucy Bartholomew and it’s often hard to believe that she’s still only 20 years old and developing as a runner. While she races a lot, I know Lucy is focused on getting the intensity up, with a desire to be competitive over the shorter, faster stuff. That pushes her outside her comfort zone, and probably away from some of the things she loves to do most, but it’s something she recognises.
Given the racing she’s done in the last few weeks, I wouldn’t expect Lucy to win this one – but hey, I’ve always said that if you’re on the start line, you’re in it to win it and I’m sure she’ll give it everything she’s got – But I’m also realistic and I know that she is too. Not winning the marathon is no big deal and will benefit her longer term than run/hiking the ultra, which she could do with her eyes closed. The bigger picture is far more important.
In the men’s race it’s four men that stick out like a sore thumb, those being Vajin Armstrong Tom Brazier, Ashley Bennett and a stalwart of Aussie mountain running, John Winsbury.
There’s not much you need to say about Vajin suffice to say that he’ll probably win this race. He’s in top firm right now having just come off the back of a podium at Six Foot Track the other week and the Old Ghost Ultra just before that too. Pending injury, almost a dead cert for this one.
John’s a classic mountain man, winning Bogong to Hotham in years gone by before an enforced break for a couple of years post 2010. Back in 2015 John finished fifth at the ultra here and has all the pedigree to challenge for the top sot this weekend.
Tom Brazier also raced the ultra here back in 2015, finishing just one minute ahead of John in fourth place. Tom’s also gained some great European experience in the last few years having raced Lavaredo (2015) and Epic Trail Aigüestortes (last year). He’s a true mountain man like John and loves the rough stuff.
Finally Ashley has a bit of form at Buffalo, finishing in the top ten last year here in the ultra and is well-known around the Victorian trail running circuit where he’s generally competing for podium places.
Good luck to one and all racing this weekend.