Following our Six Foot Track ladies preview yesterday, today it’s the turn of the men – and the list of high calibre runners here, like the ladies, is insane. There’s probably a good 20 or so names I could reel off as potential contenders for a top 5 or top 10 placing, but we’ll try to keep it concise for everyone to get their heads around for the race this weekend.
If we’re going to boil it down to a few names for the podium, then there’s probably four or five really in it for the win, and given the level of competition at the pointy end, the record is probably likely to go as well. So who’s the names to keep an eye on?
Well there’s the current Australian 10km record holder in Ben St Lawrence, two former winners in Vlad Shatrov and Dave Byrne (have heard conflicting reports as to whether Dave is starting) and one of our quickest marathon guys right now, David Criniti. As an aside, Blake Hose was down to run previously, but is now scratch, which is a massive shame given his huge result over in San Francisco late last year.
The big name on the list is of course Ben St Lawrence, who like Scotty Hawker is making his debut at Six Foot. As well as being our current 10km record holder, Ben’s an Olympian and there’s been talk now for a year or so as to when he would toe the line and this weekend we’ll get to see that come to fruition. While known for his track exploits, Ben’s no stranger to the trails. His backyard is up Blackheath way and I’m sure I’ve crossed past him a few times traversing the Jamieson Valley in the Blue Mountains on occasion too. But perhaps the biggest indicator of his form right now has been his smashing up of the Sydney Trail Series half marathon last month with a new course record. People are already talking of some crazy times, but let’s not forget that we’ve been here before. But it is admittedly, very exciting to see Ben on the start line for this one.
Pushing Ben will be the likes of Vlad Shatrov, winner here last year and oh so close to Stu Gibson’s course record where he ran a 3:15:44. Vlad was primed for a fast 100km over at Tarawera last month, having put in some absolute killer training, but things don’t appear to have gone quite to plan, despite him finishing sixth in 9:22. Vlad said last year he had a bit left in the tank at the finish and I think it’s this type of distance and course that suits his running well – it really could be a Ben and Vlad showdown along the final descent into Jenolan Caves.
Scotty Hawker is going to be a really interesting one. Having been dogged by injury for the first half of 2017, the latter half saw Scotty really ramp things back up well, culminating in an excellent 11th place at UTMB, third at the Ultra Trail Cape Town and then winner at the very competitive Six Inch Trail marathon over in WA in December. Scotty, when he’s on form is dynamite and is a real contender here for the podium. As a comparison, Scotty ran 3:15 for the 6 Inch trail marathon, where the course is 2.5kms longer, but with around 500m less vertical. That gives you a sense of where he’s at right now, and for me, he’s sitting in that 3:15-3:20 bracket. A win would be a big call given there’s no track record of him at this race, but he’s certainly right up there. Scotty now a scratch.
Finally, Dave Criniti will toe the line right after running the Toyko marathon last weekend where he ran a 2:20:52. This was after his fine run in Berlin, where he ran 2:17:57 to qualify him for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April. Dave’s run this race once before, but not in the kind of shape he’s in now, so it will be very interesting to see how he fares this time around.
Over and above those top four or five runners there’s a whole host of other runner’s very much deserving of a potential top 5 or 10 placing:
- Kiwi Mark Green, one of the most consistent performers here in the last few years has by all accounts, been doing some training for this one. Don’t be surprised to see hm run a sub 3:20 and sneak a podium if those before him falter a little on the ranges.
- Another former winner, Alex Matthews lines up again. A notoriously slow starter (deliberately so), Alex pretty much always runs the fastest time from the top of Pluvio to finish.
- Andy Lee is another former winner here too. Summed up as ‘Mr.Consistent’, Andy is ever-present on the Blue Mountains running scene.
- Brendan Davies returns again for another crack, fresh from his podium at the NSW Masters 5km last weekend. Brendan literally turns his hand to pretty much any type of run and you can guarantee he’ll be up there come Saturday.
Other names to watch out for those upper placings include: Mick Donges, Chris Truscott, Marty Keyes, Mike Lichtwark, Rhett Gibson, Morgan Lindqvist, Clarke McClymont, Hamish Macdonald, Brad Bannister and Matt Caroll.
Best of luck to all runners this weekend.