This weekend sees the running of the highly competitive Two Bays Ultra (56km) and the 28km version too. Apologies to those who organised and ran Bogong to Hotham last week – couldn’t quite get around to the preview while on holiday.
As per usual, Two Bays generally tends to be a very competitive race. It’s right up there in terms of the ‘shorter’ trail ultras in that regard.
So who’s in it to win it for 2019? As usual there’s a great deal of depth in both the women’s and men’s races.
We’ll begin with the women’s field.
- Steph Auston had a cracker of a year in 2018 winning Six Foot Track as well as the Snowies Trail Run 50km. She also finished second at the UTA 50km too. I believe she was hit by a bit of injury towards the end of last year. So, she’s probably working her way back to full fitness. But regardless, Steph is a gun runner at the best of times. Expect her to feature.
- Christine Hopkins finished on three podiums out of three races in 2018, which included a win at the Marysville 50km. Second at the Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon. And, third at the Surf Coast Century 100km.
- Carmen Atkinson is certainly one to watch. She finished fourth at the Blackall 100 in 2018, along with second at the Nerang State Forest 50km. She also finished second at the Glasshouse Hares And Hounds 52km.
- Nicole Vaughan had a bumper year of running in 2018, running no less than nine ultras. This included wins at the Berry Long run 70km, Halloween Howler 50km and New Years Eve Rock around the Clock 6hr. Her previous finishes at Two Bays have always been around the top ten, so expect a consistent finish here too.
- Crystal Lyons could be in for a cheeky top five finish. She finished eighth last year, along with a strong run at UTA, finishing just outside the top 10. She also grabbed third at the Yurrebilla 56km trail race in 2018.
And for the men…
For me, there’s a delicious four-way battle between Ash Bennett, Dave Byrne, Francesco Ciancio and Ash Watson. This one could be tighter than my wallet on January 2nd waiting for payday.
- Beginning with some local boys, Francesco Ciancio and Ash Watson are the guys to beat. Francesco hasn’t lost an ultra for over two years and is a former winner of this event in a rather speedy 4:09. He also has a 7:07 100km to his name too.
- Ash Watson smashed his first ultra at Comrades back in 2017 to finish 25th in a time of 6:05:59. Since then he won the Peaks and Trails 50km, as well as the Surf Coast 100km in 2018 in a time of 8hrs 16mins.
- Aiming to best them is NSW runner, Dave Byrne, who had a quiet 2018. He recorded a win at the Bright 50km ultra in September last year as his only ultra. Previous to that, he was fourth at both the UTA 100km and the Tarawera 100km in 2017.
For me, it’s really too close to call out of these three.
- Last year’s second-place getter, Ashley Bennett lines up again. A strew of mixed results over the ultra distance, Ash certainly has the pace to burn over the shorter stuff. Expect him to feature in the top five for sure.
- Ross Hopkins is no mug either. A former winner of the Surf Coast Century back in 2017, Ross took two podiums from three ultras in 2018. This included second at the Marysville 50km and third at the Buffalo Stampede Ultra SkyMarathon.
In the 28km, here are some names to watch out for courtesy of a little bit of copy and paste from the thoughts of Campbell Maffett.
Women’s Two Bays 28km potentials
- Tracey Austin
Men’s Two Bays 28kms potentials
- Steve Dineen
All the best to everyone running this weekend.