Returning to 100km felt like returning home. The distance fits snugly into an Autumn’s day, offering a challenging and fulfilling outer and inner journey, while showcasing enough of Canberra’s scenic beauty to remind us that we are blessed to live in the world’s best city for running. A record field (one more than attended the inaugural run to celebrate Canberra’s Centenary in 2013) enjoyed an unusually warm September day: Canberra gleamed in brilliant sunshine, fragrant with fresh blossoms, while a glorious full moon presided over start and finish.
The headline solo performance of the day was Patricia McKibbin’s outstanding win in the women’s race. Never previously having run a marathon, let alone a 100km event, Patricia paced her run superbly – she was 17th solo athlete at the 1st transition – working her way through the field to finish strongly 3rd outright in 11:25:07, barely missing the solo course record by a mere 10 seconds: a promising debut run if ever there was one!
At the other end of the experience scale, Pam Muston shone with another stellar run of 13:07:17 to take 2nd overall among the women and 1st Female 50-59 – in the process defeating all the men in the same age group. Mallani Moloney of Queensland was next home with 13:11:29, a constantly cheerful figure throughout the day. Allicia Heron completed the podium placings in the Female Under 50 with a solid 14:12:04.
In a solo men’s field lacking obvious “stars”, with little consensus about a pre-race favourite, Nicholas Hamilton proved to be a “dark horse”, for though he resides in Canberra, very few local runners knew much about him. It turns out Nicholas was visiting the Arboretum last October, where he saw runners from last year’s race and thought to himself: “it would be good to participate in this event!” If only winning a race – or achieving any objective in life – were always that simple! His winning time of 11:01:40 was 10 minutes ahead of 2nd placing, the vastly-experienced Andrew Donaldson’s 11:11:00. Abhishek Tiwari, who had led the field for most of the day, bravely soldiered on after hitting a huge wall to finish in 3rd with 12:06:52, while Jonathan Miller took out the Male 50-59 category in 13:22:25.
No overall course records fell today, though understandably – given that this leg was reduced by 5km from 2018 – the record for leg 2 fell in several categories, including Solo Female Under 50 – Patricia McKibbon (2:52:51); Solo Female 50-59 – Pam Muston (3:13:29); Solo Male 50-59 – Geoff Barnes (3:01:49); Male in a Team – Matthew Robbie (1:46:40); and Female in a Team – Ellie Barrett (2:27:30). It’s a testament to how good Brendan Davies’ run was in 2018, that he retains his leg 2 (and overall course) record despite 5km being shaved from the distance!
From the spectator’s point of view, the most exciting racing came right at the front of the field with an epic duel between the 2 leading All-Male Teams, with never more than a few minutes separating “R-JAHS” (Hugh Williams, James Minto, Alan Craigie & Sam Crowther) and “Speedygeese #100” (Rowan Lewis, Matthew Robbie, Jacob Grooby & Sam Burridge). Their finishing times of 7:17:11 and 7:19:18 respectively, are the 2nd and 3rd fastest ever recorded at this race, and the fastest since the inaugural event in 2013. Both teams put great pressure on the organisers throughout the day, beating several marshals to their posts in the process. It was thrilling to observe such high calibre athletes giving their all in a great display of sustained speed, endurance and dedication.
The quality combination of “Kool Galz” – Fleur Flannery, Ellie Barrett, Narelle Smyth & Allie Corripio – were in a league of their own in the All-Female Teams, winning in 9:37:45. “Ultra HARM” were 2nd with 10:44:17 (Heather Lawton, Rachel Venn, Alina McMaster & Michelle Gretch); from “Champagne Yaks” (Danni Farlow. Helen Morewood, Kristy Zwickert & Donna Hyland) in 10:53:44.
The largest category saw 44 teams participating in the Mixed Teams. The winners of this division were Tom Driscoll, Mathias Richter, Justelle Coyle & Charlie Henshell posting a slick 9:07:59 to take the category from Kael Hulin, Daniel Carson, Carol Lander & Jonathan Chan (“Not All Who Wander Are Lost”) in 9:24:14 and event stalwarts “Formaggi Che Corrono” (Cam Macintosh, Denis Mungoven, Duncan Sheppard & Kate Chipperfield) in 9:52:50.
From an organiser’s point of view, just as satisfying as watching the superb efforts of the athletes in this magnificent drama, is to witness the heroic offerings of the innumerable helpers without whom the event cannot take place. Our gratitude to the tireless medics from Sports Medicine Australia – Mike Corrigan, James Elwin and Corey Bacon; and to the phenomenal volunteers – including Michael Thompson AND Michael A Thompson, Terry Dixon, Jon Schol, Jen Bright, Jen Davis, Paul Mahoney, Nei-kiewa Close, Jeff Grey, Bria & Dan, Mhairi & Tim Craig, Anthony Newman, Claire Edwards, Andrew Blyton and Lyndon O’Grady – heroes all!