Following our ladies preview yesterday, today it’s the turn of the men and like the ladies, it’s a strong field.
We’ve picked out five names to watch for a spot on the podium, a few of whom have reverted to ‘stealth mode’ on Strava.
We’ll begin with a guy who finished just off the podium at Six Foot Track with a 3:32, Mark Green. Despite protesting that he ran that off around 40-50kms a week, I don’t believe him one iota and his Strava record of late backs up the ‘stealth’ theory with just an average of 20-30kms a week. However the 3:32 at Six Foot Track is far more telling, because if you’re running that time, then you’re probably in around 2:35 marathon shape.
Mark has run this race a few times now and knows the course well having finished second and third the last few years running. Indeed, Mark ran 3:31 at Six Foot last year and then went on to run 4:43 at Mount Solitary, so lock him in for a 4:43-4:45 as a dead cert. That could be enough to win it.
Chomping at his heels will be Ben Duffus, another ‘ghost of Strava’. Either he’s entered and not racing, or someone’s had a quiet word in his ear and told him to leave his training for the excel spreadsheet and away from the prying eyes of race computers. Ben’s not had it all his way of late in races, and while he’s been in fine form, it hasn’t quite clicked on race day for him. I’m really hoping he has a storming race here as it’s up for the taking and he really deserves a good one after a heavy investment in his training. Good luck Ben, we’d love you to have a cracking race mate.
Next on the list and whom I think could grab a podium spot is Loughlinn Kennedy. This type of race will suit him down to the ground with its monster climbs, sweeping downhills and technical running. It combines his strength of the love of big climbing and some of the speed he’s been working on of late which saw Locky grab a top ten at Six Foot at his first attempt. Loughlinn did run a tough Buffalo Stampede marathon just last weekend, so might be feeling the after effects of that run, but he’ll be right up there.
Jono O’Loughlin won this race last year with a barnstorming time of 4:32 after a pretty poor Six Foot Track just a few weeks earlier. Well, he had a very mediocre Six Foot track this year too, but I don’t think he’s quite in the shape he needs to be to run another low 4:30s this time around. Jono is building towards his tenth successive UTA in a few months time, so will be using this as a stepping stone to shedding some kegs and getting that pace back up. Expect him to feature early on and possibly first to the top of Mount Solitary, but whether he can hold on for the final few furlongs will remain to be seen.
A couple of guys to keep an eye on include Queenslander, Troy Lethlean and New South Welshman, Wes Gibson.
Troy is a solid runner and former winner of the Blackall 100 who is also building towards UTA where he ran solidly last year for 12 hours on the nose. Wes Gibson usually runs pretty well over the shorter stuff, but has often struggles a little to convert his pace to the longer form runs. This race will be a good test and I hope he knocks out a performance worthy of his talent.
Good luck one and all and enjoy the brutality of this race.