Canberra turned 105 this year. To celebrate, we gave Canberra a big hug – a 105 kilometres hug embracing the whole city and many of her scenic features. She responded with an embrace of her own, an embrace of affection, beauty, joy, pride and the thrill of adventure and achievement.
The Solo Runners
Brendan Davies is a phenomenon. Brendan doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. Already established as one of Australia’s greatest ever ultra trail runners, leading coach and foremost authority in his sport, Brendan is a radiant example of sheer love of his field: running as life and life as running. Running with a controlled, focussed mind and powered by a limitless heart of eager enthusiasm, alone for the entire journey of 105km and offering himself utterly in the process, Brendan returned a sensational race record 9:38:31, faster even than Tom Brazier’s pioneering victory in the inaugural staging of the event when it was 5km shorter at 100km. Brendan didn’t only come to race: he brought inspiration, courage, joy and a touch of lightness to all who were fortunate to witness this stupendous master class. Outwardly he leaves Canberra with only a trophy, while inwardly he leaves in his wake a tidal wave of awe and gratitude.
Pam Muston is another shining example to all, tonight winning this race for the second time from the Over 50 category (and now only a year from 60). Pam stands as a mighty mountain of the sport in Canberra – as event organiser, stellar athlete and role model – testimony to the extraordinary influence that one person can exert through sheer passion and exuberance. Pam has made the question of age and ageing irrelevant, as all her being is given over to the immense satisfaction and freedom derived from running on the trails. We can’t know the personal sacrifice and willpower that sustains her incredible success: we can only marvel at the unending flow of her achievements and the grace with which she holds herself. 13:44:55 is a wonderful result on this challenging course, half an hour clear of the rest of the women’s field.
Second male finisher was another colossus of contemporary Australian ultra-running, Mick Thwaites, who although racing this event for training, ran an impressive 11:00:07 in his first outing over the course. First home in the Male 50-59 category was Andre Camilleri with 13:59:03. It’s always rather arbitrary to single out the top place-getters when every runner who completes such a momentous undertaking has accomplished something life-changing and given in the process so much inspiration to all involved. To every runner who dared to undertake this race: we salute you with admiration and thanks!
The Relay Teams
While the solo event embodies an absorbing inner battle and glorious adventure, for spectators the relay teams event is sheer entertainment and drama. Achievement has many faces and forms. The aspect of camaraderie and striving for the interests of the team, brings out wonderful individual performances and offerings, right from the front-runners to the “midnight finishers”.
“Poo Stick Racing” (Melissa Clarke, Mitchell Braithwaite, David Osmond and Elizabeth Humphries) came from behind to take out the Mixed Teams category in 9:00:40, ahead of all the All-Male teams, who were led home by “Geesed Lightning” (William Barlow, Rowan Lewis, Martin Pogson and Jason McCrae)in 9:06:22. “KoolGalz” (Narelle Desmet, Ellie Barrett, Sarah Maree Johnson and Allie Corripio) took out the All-Female category with an excellent all-round race of 9:44:31 – including the outstanding leg of the day, Sarah Maree Johnson's 1:59:10 being the outright fastest time for leg 3.