The Sri Chinmoy Canberra Trail Ultra is conceived as an exploration and celebration of the natural heart of our unique capital city and our own role in its landscape, heritage, culture and community. Following tracks, paths and trails that wind like arteries and veins – agents of the heart – around, through and over national monuments, parks, lakes, hills, ridges and Canberra’s version of an urban sprawl, the course embraces and envelops the city – its built landscape and its people – both literally and metaphorically, weaving a spectacular scenic adventure and historical journey (the course grows one kilometre as the city develops and matures year by year) into a single day’s personal Odyssey of epic challenge, discovery and revelation.
The lead actors in this drama are the solo runners who tackle the entire journey alone. Relay team members are major co-stars playing entertaining, inspiring, serious, tragic, romantic and even comic cameos, with indispensable supporting roles filled by solo runners’ personal helpers and the legion of volunteer helpers, backed by a extravagant cast of extras led by Nature’s choir of serenading and dazzling birds, adventurous dogs, cautious lizards, contented cows, curious kangaroos and an occasional enigmatic echidna; the myriad greens and Springtime fragrances of eucalypts, acacias, pines, oaks and flowering shrubs of our gardens, bushland, farmland and grassland, our playgrounds, sporting fields, cul de sacs, avenues and ceremonial parades; co-produced by a mercurial climate and weather, an occasional rainbow, a magical sunrise and guaranteed glorious sunset behind Black Mountain. The Executive Producer is never seen, always behind the scenes; communicating with and understood by each actor in their own terms; facilitating and orchestrating absorbing grand drama and intriguing sub-plots – everywhere and in everything, inscrutable, instrumental, indefinable – the Soul of Canberra itself.
Katy Anderson ran a superb, controlled race today to take 4th outright among the soloists with a fine 12:24:51 over the gruelling 104km. Katy had just last month run the fearsome Leadville 100 miler in Colorado. Next female home – in 13:51:04 – Pam Muston is the undisputed Queen of this race, at 57 years young, a shining example of the power and strength of vivacity and the sheer joy of running. Jessica Robson was 2nd Female Under 50 with her indomitable debut finish in 14:14:52, the local girl earning perhaps the most emotional reception at the finish line. Paula Gaudry also gloriously flew the flag for the Female 50-59, taking 2nd in the category and 4th female with a most impressive and consistent 15:21:26. Wilma Leahy was next female to finish in 17:14:32, while Cat Gomer beat the midnight cut-off by 18 minutes, smiling across the line in 17:42:14.
There are many reasons why one might not finish an event of 104km – exhaustion, cramps, flaring injuries, stomach problems, loss of enthusiasm – yet these internal factors were compounded today by persistent buffeting winds strong enough to bring down marquees at transition points and blow away a drink station’s whole tableful of cups. The wind harassed runners with a vengeance, only easing off as the evening settled into night. We can barely imagine the challenges faced by a good field of fit, trained and experienced endurance athletes when we realise that the rate of those who did not complete the distance was the highest yet in the race’s history, with 27 finishers from 50 starters.
Joseph Hughes led the solo male field from the outset and was never threatened. As is often the case, Joseph also appeared the freshest of all the finishers at the close of his journey after 11:11:22 of intense physical, mental and emotional exertion. Triumph is a great antidote to pain and fatigue! 2nd finisher today was Geoffrey Isbister, who ran a beautifully controlled pace, gradually reeling in most of the field. His 11:45:08 bettered his brother Andy’s winning time from last year by 4 minutes. Sadly Andy was not destined to complete the distance today: it is hoped the brothers might return next year for a fraternal head-to-head. Adam Huttner-Koros placed a well-deserved 3rd and broke 12 hours in 11:57:44.
All finishers deserve an entire write-up devoted to their famous achievements (and we hope many will submit their narratives for the event Story Archive!) yet here we will only mention them all by name. Standing out were Male 50-59 winner and 7th place outright, Geoff Barnes’ superb 12:55:41, and Peter Badowski’s victory in the Male 60-69 with a sterling 17:09:03. Showing that experience and wisdom count for much in this ultra-running caper, the Male and Female 50-59 categories had a higher finishing quotient than the younger age groups. Other Male 50-59 finishers were Colin Wiley (15:35:18); Grant Jeffcott (17:14:33) and Gordon Waddington (17:20:03).
4th among the Males Under 50, Mike Matthews strode in with 12:32:08; 5th was Aston Duncan in 12:53:15; 6th placed James Hauptmann clocked 12:56:21; and 7th went to Brett Easton’s 13:21:31. James Sylvester came across the line in 13:17:00; repeat-finisher Adrian Cengia in 13:25:05; Aaron Flower in 13:28:35; and Stephen Kiley with 14:03:21. Jonathan Edwards was next across the line with 14:21:38; Shoji Iwasaki was all smiles to finish in 14:43:43; Ben Biddington’s finish came after 15:24:38; Chris McDougall clocked 16:33:18; and Sam Bignell 16:54:04.
The relay teams race is another entire thrilling and fascinating story unfolding throughout this absorbing day. Inspired by the bond and commitment of racing not only for oneself but for one’s team mates, comradeship and devotion can bring out our best capacities and noble qualities – as well as some gripping competition. New combination of Adrian Sheppard, Etienne Blumstein-Jones, Alexandra Grant and Dave Osmond came together to form “Poohstick Racing” and take out both Line Honours and the Mixed Team category in 8:28:55. They were more than one hour ahead of 2nd placed “Magenta Breakfast Professors” (Alice Bates, Daniel Oehm, Aimee Davonport and Ashley Kearton) in 9:40:02, with “Yaksxit” (Alison Senti, Paul Tilse, Nicholas O’Neill and Drew Baker) taking 3rd Mixed Team in 9:55:15.
2nd outright and 1st All-Male team were the formidable and edible-sounding “Formaggi che corrono” (Mark Bourne, Cameron Mackintosh, Bill Taylor and Denis Mungoven) in an impressive 8:48:26. Perhaps even more impressive were the outfits worn by 2nd All-Male team “The Superheroes” (Andrew Blyton, Luke Sartor, Henry Chan and Richard Juckes) who each wore their full uniforms of Iron Man, The Flash, Batman and The Hulk throughout the entire race to finish in 9:46:27. Good show guys! 3rd in this category were “Grumpy Old Geese” (Martin Pogson, David Clarke, Peter Burke and Peter Brown) in 9:52:55.
After a tight tussle earlier in the day, the All-Female teams were won convincingly by “Burghers with the Works” (Heather Lawton, Sarah Tapp, Rebecca Vossen and Lisa Krummer), placing 10th team overall with 10:15:03. Next were “Happy Chicks” (Narelle and Samantha Desmet, with Laura Marshall); while 3rd place All-Female team went to “We don’t need your stinking kudos” (Mhairi Craig, Jen Bright, Jennie Blake and Amanda Cook).
Our deep gratitude goes to the volunteers who collectively made this one of the easiest and most satisfying races we’ve ever organised. Together they offered cheerful, encouraging, tireless and selfless service throughout a long long day and well into the night. Our volunteers’ combined heart-power created a blanket of care and concern covering the whole of Canberra which every runner could not help but be touched and moved by. So a HUGE THANK YOU to Paul Mahoney, Keri Vaughan, Billy Pearce, Tom Landon-Smith, Dave Meyer, Megan Quinn, Shannon McClure, Phil Essam, Bridget Quayle, Tim Craig, Terry Dixon, Richard Smyth, Justin Jarvis, Paul Jeffery, Chris Toyne, Sue Brennan, Kim Salco, Tristan Webber, Helen Way and all their families, friends and supporters who helped them help the runners so wholeheartedly.
The Sri Chinmoy Canberra Trail Ultra will return on Sunday 23 September in 2018.