When a perfect day comes, you just have to cherish it. You know there will be wet, cold or super-hot, dusty and blustery days when just to put one foot in front of the other is a supreme effort – so when the sky is blue, the air calm and the sun mild; when birds are singing, balloons hovering and the very trees are smiling … these are days to be grateful for.
50 solo runners and 72 relay teams lined up at The Rond Terraces on Lake Burley Griffin for the dawn start, to venture forth along Canberra’s tracks and trails, wending an enormous circular route around the nation’s capital, cresting the peak of almost every hill and savouring a smorgasbord of superb vistas along the way. 102 kilometres would honour the 102 years this wonderful city has graced the Limestone Pains.
Paul Cuthbert and Sarah Fien are locals who know these trails better than most. Paul had come in second place both years this event has previously been held – in 2013 and 2014 – and this year, though his 10:17:57 was slower due to a more challenging course, his persistence triumphed with a front-running victory, having led the field from the first 100 metres. Sarah had also experienced disappointment here, having been forced to withdraw last year, but came back stronger and more determined, winning the women’s race in 11:35:18. placing her 7th outright. Both looked fresh and relaxed throughout the race, never more so than at the finish line.
Rob Mason (10:45:06) and Andrew Donaldson (10:55:46) both came in under the 11 hour mark, both working their way through the field to finish “on a roll.” Glenn Gielissen took out the Men 50-59 category in 14:07:37; and last year’s women’s winner, Pam Muston the Women’s 50-59 in an excellent 13:21:09. Deep respect and congratulations to all solo runners for their courage, vision, faith and heroism which permeated the whole race and only intensified the beauty and glory of this memorable day.
Having tasted winning teams in previous years, Martin Dent and Rob Walter decided to handicap themselves this year by each running twice as far as their competitors in the All-Male teams. Each ran 2 of the 4 legs for Team “2614”, and found it very demanding to back up for a second leg, yet still ran out convincing winners in 8:13:40 – 40 minutes clear of their rivals. Martin’s 1:59:38 was over 10 minutes clear in the 29.3 km leg 2.
Team “Malteesers” were convincing winners in the All-Female teams category, winning by 50 minutes. Tiffany Bonasera, Margaret Hemsley, Kyralee Bunt and Alison Mungoven were each in the top few for their legs, their combination proving unbeatable this day.
The “race du jour” was in the Mixed Teams category, between “StuLouElizDave” (David Osmond, Elizabeth Humphries, Louise Sharp and Stuart Doyle), and “The anu’s” (Joelle Ducommun-Dit-Verron, Richard Skelton, Jessica Amies and Emmanuel David). Both teams sprinted out at the start, with Dave and Joelle running the fastest male and female times for this leg. The anu’s drew away on leg 2, as Richard took the fastest male time for this leg and Jessica went further ahead on leg 3. Heading out of T3, Stuart was faced with a 9-minute deficit (abetted by Louise managing to run an additional few scenic km), and ran his heart out over Mt Majura and Mt Ainslie to bring his team victory by a mere 90 seconds.
Gratitude to all helpers, supporters, onlookers and well-wishers: especially to the Gungahlin SES; to Sports Medicine Australia; Triathlon ACT for the loan of equipment; to the staff of NCA, Environment ACT, the National Arboretum Canberra and Stromlo Forest Park; Martin Fryer for designing an outstanding course; the course markers, sweepers and clearers; to the transition and drink station attendants and marshals; to Shane Rattenbury for presenting the awards and supporting the race so wholeheartedly.
The race will return next year, maturing as Canberra does, to 103…