While New South Wales basks in the glory of Six Foot Track, the Two Bays Ultra (and 28km) is regarded by many as the jewel in the Victorian crown, certainly when it comes to fast, competitive ultra racing.
As with pretty much every year, the field is strong in both the ladies and men’s event with some extremely enticing battles ahead of us this weekend. Perhaps the most exciting battle is in the ladies between mountain goat Lucy Batholomew and speedster, Tash Fraser. Neither of these two need much of an introduction given the credentials both bring into this race – it’s simply a really intriguing battle between Lucy’s mountain strength and Tash’s flat speed. Now that’s over simplifying things rather a lot as both ladies possess a good mixture of the two, it’s simply more reflective of the races they choose to run.
Ladies Two Bays Ultra Contenders
I’ll start with Lucy and what a year she had in 2017 with two massive results on the UTWT tour that to be honest, places her firmly up their as one of the best ladies in the world at the 100km trail distance. Her wins at UTA and Ultra Trail Cape Town earned her the right to race Western States this year and while I may be a little premature in saying this, I genuinely think she could go on and win the damn thing. This would be a huge result of Aussie ultra running if she did. Now there’s a lot of ifs and buts to get there first, but right now, on paper, with her skill set and six months of top-notch training, she could be on the winner’s podium – I honestly believe that.
The same could be said of Tash Fraser’s 2017 too. She won every ultra race she entered, which tallied up to five wins in total. She also set the world record for the women’s 50k on a treadmill too, smashing the previous record by over six minutes. She’s also the current title (and record) holder at Two Bays, winning the race last year in a time of 4hrs 42mins. It’s going to be one hell of a battle between these two and I think there could be a new record as a result too.
Other ladies to look out for include:
Amelia Griffith: 3rd Ned Kelly Chase 2017, 1st You Yang 100 miler 2017, 1st Adelaide 12hr 2017, 1st Princes Park 50km 2017, 1st Coburg 6hr
Nicole Vaughan: 1st, Berry Long Run (80km) 2017, 3rd Maroondah Dam 50km 2017, 11th Two Bays Ultra 2017
Jacqui Hansen: 1st Wilsons Promontory 60 km 2017, Razorback 64 km 2017; Alpine Challenge 100 km 2017
Bec Howe: 3rd Great Ocean Walk 100 km 2017, 6th Surf Coast Century 50 km 2017, 5th Maroondah Dam 50km 2017
Men’s Two Bays Ultra Contenders
As with the ladies, there’s strength in-depth in the mens too and leading the way is last year’s winner Francesco Ciancio. Like Tash Fraser, Francesco won every ultra he started in 2017, this was following an absolute bumper of a year in 2016 where he took 10 wins from 14 ultras. He calmed down a bit in 2017 with just the three ultras, which included wins at this race last year by to be fair, a country mile as well as running a 7hrs 7mins 100km up on the Gold Coast. I’d love to see Francesco have a crack at races like Six Foot Track and Kepler too, I think he’s do very well.
If I’m honest, I think Francesco is a bit of a shoe in for the win here, but there will be a few lads aiming to knock him off the top. One of these is Majell Back to Front Hausen 🙂 Majell quietly goes about his business, which included a big win at the Tarawera 60km last year, as well as fifth at the Swiss Alpine Marathon K47. Expect him to feature.
Ashley Bennett is another local Victorian lad with acres of pace to burn, but also proving his mountain goat abilities with a cracking second place at the GSER 50 miler. I don’t think Ashley has quite hit his stride yet in terms of getting everything right on race day, but there’s no doubting his potential and a guy who certainly has the ability to podium here.
The King of Victorian ultra running, Dan Beard laces up the shoes once again. He’s run 56 ultras and every single one of them has been in Victoria, hence the title bestowed upon him 🙂 Last year he ran in 1st at the Wilsons Promontory 100 km, 2nd Alpine 100 miler, 2nd Marysville 50km and 2nd Razorback 64km.
Other fellas to look out for from those in the know include: Kevin Muller, Mack Clarkson, Corey Lawson, Roger Witz-Barnes and Matt Woods.
Have a ball ladies and gents if you’re running this weekend in either the 56km ultra or 20km