The fastest 200 miler in Australia – The lowdown from the BVRT


The fastest 200 miler sounds a little like an oxymoron. 100 miles is often completed at a fairly pedestrian rate, unless of course you’re Jim Walmsley. To describe a 200 miler as quick, seems altogether ridiculous. However, this is what the BVRT (Brisbane Valley Rail Trail) series of races, and the 200 mile is. With a number of 200 mile events springing up now around the country, a fast, flat 200 miler is a tempting proposition for those that like it long.

The BVRT kicked off with its debut run last year, not including the 200, which debuted this year, but with a 100 miler, 50 miler and marathon to throw into the mix too. The event’s inception came about more than five years ago – before, it seemed, the BVRT was even ‘a thing’ for most and certainly before anyone had even considered an event along the whole length of the trail – when Tamyka Bell came to me with an idea and nowhere to take it. We discussed the basics of a 100 mile event, but never really progressed any further other than to remind one another occasionally that it was on the back burner and the clock was ticking. Fast forward to late June 2019 and here we are with its second running complete along with the introduction of a 200 mile, out and back event and it didn’t disappoint.

The 200 miler

A hardy bunch of nine set-off at midnight Friday the other week, with Dan Lollback setting a crazy pace at the head of the field. By 80 km, he was still on about 17 hour pace for the outward 100 as far as reports that were getting back indicated. The rest of the field settled into a predictable pattern through the day but as the sun went down, the cold (the biggest challenge of the ISUZU UTE BVRT100Ss) set in and had a massive effect.

With a dramatic drop in pace, Dan made the turn first with Lisa Spink not too far, relatively, behind. Susannah Harvey Jamieson followed with Stuart Grills not too far adrift. Jo Van Gorp and David Elms, who had been steady all day succumbed when David went through a spell of illness that, by the time it had passed the temperature had done its damage and with both retired at CP2, Linville (119 km). Neil McNeil, having reached the top of the range at Benarkin, decided that enough was enough – maybe 12 months of long, solid ultras was taking its toll – and pulled out at 138 km.

Beyond Blackbutt, the sun was coming up for those remaining but they weren’t without their problems. Dan and Lisa were holding steady, the former stabilising and maintaining a solid pace that was to take him through to the finish while the latter, Lisa, had overcome the mental challenge of facing the turn and another 100 miles to home and was doing likewise.

By now, the 100 mile field was on the course and while it seemed to bolster the 200 mile field. As morning wore into afternoon, Stuart had to call it a day having reached Benarkin at 186 kms. Susannah succumbed by 3:30 having covered 238 kms, short of Toogoolawah. And, then there were three. Both Dan and Lisa seemed only to have to keep moving from this point, while the remaining runner, Kris, was doing the same but seemed to have an impossible task ahead of her.

At 21:43:31 on Saturday 22nd, 47 hours 16 minutes and 39 seconds after the start, we welcomed Dan over the line to take out the race – ahead of all the 100 mile runners which was his objective! Two hours and 9 minutes later, Lisa Spink crossed. The final runner, Kris Ryan was not only within a shot of a finish but actually speeding up. The Gods were clearly in her corner as her run from the last checkpoint at Fernvale coincided with marathoner, Sarah Jane Marshall (fast approaching the 100 club) and she egged her along to the finish at a pace she’d not likely felt since the early hours of Friday morning. Kris crossed the line with 35 minutes to spare – a cracking display with will and determination.

1 Dan Lollback – 47:16:28.5
2 Lisa Spink – 57:25:15.4
3 Kris Ryan – 59:25:07.8
4 Sussanah Harvey-Jamieson – 238.2 km
5 Stuart Grills – 186.2 km
6 Neil Macneil – 137 km
7 David Elms – 119 km
7 Jo Van Gorp – 119 km
9 Bruno Lorenzi Lima – 42.5 km

The 100 miler

The first quarter started off as expected with Ryan Crawford heading the field, covering the first marathon in 3:30. Typical of the hard racing he’s become known for this year with wins at two AAA 50km races along with a clutch of other results. The question was, would it hold out for 100 miles. Ben Dennien was 6 minutes behind at the same point. Michael Griffin wasn’t far behind and with some experienced campaigners behind them along with the man who’s trained more than anyone on this course, Ben Bergan, it wouldn’t take much of a slip to let the racing take over and lose sight of the finish, but it was definitely on.

Through the course of the day, the position didn’t change too in the top five and there was some ‘toing and froing’ through the top end of the field. By the time they reached Coominya, both Ryan and Ben had been forced to drop with Jason West having gone to the lead, ahead of Michael Griffin, Greg Ponych and Ben Bergan. There was something of a tussle between Greg and Ben on the last leg from Fernvale, but Greg prevailed to get the podium, leaving Ben to fourth place making huge amends for the disappointment of not reaching the finish in 2018.

The ladies race was also a close run affair with the in-form Lou Ramsay heading the field for much of the event with Sarah Hately, Lauren Shay and first timer, Cheryl Kiernan keeping her honest. All four finished in strongly with less than 16 minutes between Lou in first place and Lauren in third. Lauren almost reversed her position as final finisher last year in 29:40 to take third place in 21:08, stripping 81⁄2 hours off her time.

Ladies Podium
1 Lou Ramsey – 20:52:24.9
2 Sarah Hately – 21:00:42.0
3 Lauren Shay – 21:08:01.6

Men’s Podium
1 Jason West – 17:20:14.4
2 Michael Griffin – 18:40:43.3
3 Greg Ponych – 19:01:03.2

50 miler

Pete Lavery, Enda Cotter and Brad Aird took the men’s race out from the start and there it seemed to stay with not too much happening in the meantime. Veteran, Nic Moloney, would certainly have been in the mix and showed that he certainly has a lot to give when back to his best. In the women’s race, Shelly Coleman was the clear favourite on paper and didn’t disappoint with the field spread out and not changing too much.

Ladies Podium
1 Shelly Coleman – 9:42:07.3
2 Jenny Friend – 10:24:46.4
3 Lisa Taylor – 11:44:42.5

Men’s Podium
1 Pete Lavery – 7:55:35.4
2 Brad Aird –  8:17:29.0
3 Enda Cotter –  8:47:54.6

Thanks kindly to RD, Alun Davies for the additional reporting and text to help compile this overview.

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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