The Great Ocean Walk 100 (GOW100) is one of two previews we have this week, with the Hume and Hovell Ultras following in a few days. Have raced this event a few times, I can attest to its stunning beauty as one of the most picturesque courses in Australia. What’s also great about this event, like other community style races such as GNW, is you see the same faces time and time again lining up for this one. Luke Goodfellow, Dan Beard, Rob Sutton and Jo Brischetto to name but a few.
Hugging the South Coast of Australia along the Great Ocean Walking track, all you need to remember is to keep the ocean on your left as you make your way to the 12 Apostles. If you’re really snappy, there’s also a good chance you can make it just as the sun sets to grab a view of one of Australia’s natural wonders too.
So without further ado, here’s a run down of the contenders for the GOW100 titles this weekend.
Beginning with the ladies, returning champion from 2015 and Blue Mountains local, Jo Brischetto makes a welcome return here having kept a low profile on the racing scene. Jo last ran a speedy Six Foot Track last year to finish in the top five and has plenty of gas to win again this coming weekend if in good shape. Jo doesn’t bust out the massive kms, but she doe focus on the quality and has plenty of natural ability too. This will be her third time racing GOW100, so course knowledge won’t be an issue either.
Nicole Paton is another contender, fresh from her second place podium at the Surf Coast Century just last month. Nicole’s had some good results in some of the local trail races around Victoria this year and also grabbed tenth at UTA in May too. Given her form so far this year, it would be the strong person to bet against her from taking out another local title here too.
One other lady to watch is a veteran of the ultra racing scene, Meredith Quinlan. Meredith was meant to start the GNW 100 miler last month, but a bout of bad flu put paid to her not starting, so I’m assuming she’s putting all of her good training to use at GOW. A previous winner at GNW as well as an Aussie rep in 24 hour racing and Commonwealth bronze medallist too, Meredith is tough as nails and should feature.
In the men’s race, Dan Beard is a likely podium placer. Dan’s raced every single GOW100 that’s ever been, along with pretty much every other race in Victoria too. He’s always been there or thereabouts in this race and this year has won the Wilson’s Prom 100km, along with finishing second at the Razorback 64km.
Last year’s third place runner, Joel Claxton returns for another shot and this year could see him push a few places upwards to take out the title. Following his podium at GOW last year he’s won the men’s title at Maroondah Dam, finishing just behind Kellie Emmerson. He also came fourth at the Macedon Ranges 50km too.
Nick Bryant could feature in the top three or five placings too. Another perennial Victorian racer, he finished just outside the top ten last year in a solid time of 12 hours. Finishing just ahead of Nick last year was John Cannell. He’s had some solid results in 2017 which includes second place at the Gone Nuts 101km race, along with sixth at Cradle Mountain. Also keep an eye out for Scott Manson who finished inside the top ten here last year too.
Although reporting in for duty having been injured, you can never discount Damian Smith for a shot at the podium, here’s finished on it enough times at GOW, so despite the apparent lack of training, you never know with Damian who keeps his training kms pretty low anyway from what I hear.
A named that hasn’t popped up on the ultra racing lists for sometime is Adam Stokes. Who knows what kind of form he’ll be in, but this guy has finished fourth at Coast2Kosci back in 2o13. I remember him well as I was crewing for Mat Dore at the time, passing him up Charlotte’s Pass when we passed Adam. Mat and Adam had a right old ding-dong battle for most of the race, so it’s great to see Adam back and running again.
Dan’s picks for the win:
Nicole Paton in the ladies
Joel Claxton in the mens
Feature image credit: Simon McSweeney Images