One of Australia’s biggest ultra trail running events takes place this weekend with the Surf Coast Century, the fast course starts and finishes at Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. The event consists of 100km and 50km courses, with 1,811 and 1,186 meters of elevation gain respectively.
The women’s 100km race will definitely have a new winner for the first time in three years as Kellie Emmerson takes some well deserved rest after her incredible performance at the big dance that is UTMB this past weekend.
This has left the women’s race wide open with some solid competition lining up for what is going to be a great race. The men’s 100km sees the return of last year’s winner, Francesco Ciancio and his recent form suggests that another win will be on the cards. It seems as though everyone will be chasing Francesco come this weekend, but he won’t be able to rest on his laurels unfortunately given the competition from several past winners and podium finishers.
The 100km female field is led by last year’s podium finishers Kylee Woods and Christine Hopkins who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Their recent form suggest that they should duking it out towards the front of the pack again this year. Kylee this year has been 1st at You Yangs 50km and 8th at UTA 50km, and Christine this year was 1st at Buffalo Stampede 75km and let’s not forget her 2nd at the Great Ocean Walk 100km in 2015. Although these two women are clearly in a good position given their recent results and experience with the course, they will be kept on their toes by several other women who also have a shot at the podium.
Other female podium contenders:
- Cecile Laurent – 1st Alpine Challenge 60k 2016, 4th Wilsons Promontory 60km 2016
- Nicole Paton – 1st You Yangs 100km 2017, 10th UTA 100km 2017, 2nd Alpine Challenge 100km 2016
- Angelique Plaire – 3rd Surf Coast Century 50km 2015, 2nd Le Trail Des Cagous 80km 2016, 6th Grand Raid Des Pyrenees 160km 2016
The 100km male field is led by last year’s winner Francesco Ciancio, along with last year’s 3rd place finisher Ross Hopkins, plus the 2014 winner David Eadie. The recent form and raw speed of Francesco will make him hard to beat, aside from crushing this race last year, he also won the Gold Coast 100km in both 2016 and again this year. I therefore think that everyone will be largely chasing Francesco, but hey anything can happen.
Ross has had a great 2017 so far with 6th at Two Bays 56k 2017 and 6th at Buffalo Stampede 75k, which combined with his experience at the Surf Coast Century will certainly see him put in a strong performance. David has won this race before in 2014 and has demonstrated great speed over the 100k distance. Although he has not appeared to be racing much in the last 12 months, the fact that he has chosen to line up again after some time away suggests he is fit and ready to give the race a solid crack again.
Other male podium contenders:
- Michael Keyte – 11th Buffalo Stampede 75k 2017, 15th Surf Coast 100k 2016, 2nd Razorback 64k 2016
- Stephen Rennick – 1st You Yangs 100k 2016, 4th Alpine Challenge 60k 2016, 7th Bogong to Hotham 64k 2017
- Andrew Harrington – 1st You Yangs 50k 2017, 2nd Great Ocean Road 60k 2016
The Surf Coast Century 50km fields appears to be lighter in competition than previous years, but last year’s winner Stephanie Auston is returning and it seems that she will likely make it two from two – Steph is an absolute gun runner. She looks to dominate yet again given her experience and recent results, this year she has been 3rd at the Six Foot Track Marathon and 9th at the UTA 50km.
This leaves the rest of the female podium (and overall for that matter) wide open, but Belinda Ralph will be able to give Stephanie a run for her money given her recent form with 6th at UTA 50k this year.
The men’s podium is also wide open but David Bailey looks to lead the men’s field given his recent results and speed at the 100k distance. In 2015 David ran a quick 100km (8:03) to finish 2nd at the Gold Coast 100km, and this year he has been 1st at Convicts and Wenches 50km and Adelaide 6 Hour.
Best of luck to all those racing this weekend and I am sure there will be a few surprises along the way.