Six Foot Track is upon us again, one of the most competitive trail ultras (45km), in Australia. While the men will get their chance in a day or two, today we feature the women. And, as per usual there’s a fine crop of talent on the start line for the 2019 edition.
Looking at the list, I think the winner will come down to one of two women. Last year’s winner, Steph Auston and the 2017 second place getter, Gemma Jenkins. On paper, these two are extremely evenly matched, Gemma with the slightly better personal best coming in at 3:55:51, while Steph coming in at 3:57:08. Just 77 secs between them. That’s of course what the paper says. The reality is that both will be quite different runners now.
Steph is pretty well-known for her trail and ultra exploits, Gemma for her road prowess. In September last year she ran a 2:49 Sydney marathon to finish inside the top ten. A personal best for her, so we know she’s in shape coming off the back of that.
Steph too is in fine form, but has done a lot of racing of late. Most notably second place at the Tarawera 100km, just 20 minutes behind the invincible Courtney Dauwalter. Also this year, she’s won the Two Bays 56km ultra. Then after Tarawera, won the Snowies 50km ultra a few weekends ago. There’s no doubting she’s also on fire right now, but time will tell if there’s too many races in the legs come Saturday.
As for the final podium spot, well it’s literally pick a name from the hat of around five other possible women. Again, that’s how close it could be.
Gill Fowler and Lou Clifton are two very obvious choices that stick out, both with personal bests very similar to each other. Lou coming in at 4:08 and Gill at 4:06. Both better known for their exploits over the longer stuff, yet lots of leg speed to challenge the podium.
Another strong woman, and whom I expect will improve quite a bit after her first run last year is Melanie McDonald. She ran 4:07 in 2018, sitting right between Gill and Lou’s personal bests. You have to think coming back for a second crack at this race, Melanie will push for that four-hour marker hard.
Julie Quinn is back for her ninth Six Foot. She’s ever consistent around the 4:15ish mark, running a PB last year of 4:12. Expect her to feature.
Perhaps a dark horse for the podium too, is Michaela Macdonald. This is her first time running Six Foot. But, with C2K cancelled, she’s got a five month block of training behind her. The Ultra168 computer has plugged into the Strava analytics API and spits out a possible time sitting between 4hrs-4:05.
Others to look out for include Cecily Butler (PB 4:17); Greta Truscott (PB 4:23); Jo Nevin (PB 4:24) and Sasha Lee (Debut).
Once again, some quality women’s racing in store and best of luck to all running. Stay tuned for our men’s preview tomorrow / Wednesday!