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5 October 2015

Hounslow Preview

Skyrunning is making its debut in NSW this coming weekend in the unique and magnificent Blue Mountains National Park, World Heritage Listed Grose Valley. Many runners from all across Australia and New Zealand will meet at Blackheath to participate in the 6th installment of the Oceania Skyrunning Series. With two events, a 68km Ultra and a 23km Skyrace on offer.  The Hounslow Classic is shaping up to becoming a bucket-list trail running event for the future.

The course is as tough and challenging as you will get in Australia. Technical, rugged, varied, steep, full of stairs and set in one the most beautiful parts of Australia. The long course will be a very difficult race with several steep and relentless climbs and descents and also offers tricky single track along the cliffs for runners to link these climbs together. Although it is now 68km the 17hr cut off will loom ominous for a large contingent of the field and the return journey for runners retracing their steps will be a massive mental and physical challenge.  The shorter option offers 23km of pure trail running bliss, the whole course bar 1km is single track with an absolute beast of a climb to finish. While it is less in distance it will test all involved to their limits.

So with 100s of budding participants who is who in the pointy end of the field? With a similar feel to the first Buffalo Stampede, the depth of local talent will be on show across both days of the weekend.

Hounslow Classic Ultra Skymarathon
           
Mens

A deep field and on a tough course there will be many twists across the day.

            Favourites

Ben Duffus is coming in hot off a win at the Coastal High 50 last month and appears to have recaptured his 2014 form where he went on to claim 3rd at the World Skyrunning Champs in the French Alps. He is smart, patient and built for climbing so he is the favorite for the win.

Clarke McClymont is going to take some beating in this race. It has his skillset written all over it and with a solid win at GNW100 last month, Clarke is in good form. He loves the tough grind and there is a lot of this course that will play to him.

Grant Guise is also a clever and talented mountain runner. He will enjoy the technical terrain and with a massive year already he will be pushing the front of the podium. The Kiwi runner is reported to have brought an investment in St John First Aid to ensure optimal care if the dreaded snake bite occurs.

            Contenders

Tom Brazier is all class and with a break after a busy first half of the year will be looking for another strong performance. Look for Tom late in the race to mop up those who went out too hard.

Marty Lukes ran super well at Buffalo and has the pedigree to win this race out right. If he can run as well as in April he may just do that.

Andy Lee the local favorite of many. Andy trains the house down and has been on course a lot. He will use this time to his advantage and this could be his run of the year.

Ewan Horsburgh is coming off GNW100 (miler) and the win. He is very good on this type of terrain and will act as a sweep for those struggling up front.

John Winsbry has performed well all year on the Skyrunning circuit. He is vastly experienced and a fierce competitor and will run well on the day.

            Wildcards

A race like this offers the likes of Konrad Legge, Darren Purcell, Ian Gallagher, Tom Barkowski, Rob Sharpe, Christian Warren and Matt Bixley the chance to show their wares if they run well on the day.

            Womens

The womens field is equally as strong and the race will just as competitive.

Favourites

Beth Cardelli is familiar with the course, as consistent as you could ask for and with the local experience should go one place better than at the Buffalo Stampede in April. She will ensure there is plenty left to come home strongly.

Jo Johanson is the big threat to Beth for the win. A meare 15min separated them in April and I have the feeling it will be just as close here too. Jo will enjoy the technical nature of the course and don’t be surprised if she lifts the trophy.

            Contenders

Maggie Jones is in form and has been training well on course. She will surprise many and I feel will be on the podium come Saturday afternoon.

Lucy Bartholomew is coming off plenty of quality running in Europe and if she can use this experience on race day will be close to the front.

Lou Clifton is coming of a strong run at the TNF50 in May. She has been training well and will also be in for a good showing on familiar trails.

            Wildcards

Others that will be around the front come the end of the race will be Jess Siegle, Anne Mackie, Bryony McConnell and Caroline Gavin.

Hounslow Classic Skyrace

            Womens

            Favorite

Ruby Muir the Kiwi superstar is returning to Australia and will be very difficult to beat on terrain that will suit her. She is a gun of the highest standard and will be flying around the Grose.

            Contenders

Gretel Fortmann is coming of a series of crazy mountain adventures and will be very difficult to beat in this type of race. She will bring it home strongly on the final climb and but can she run well enough to knock Ruby off?

Justine Medin has been strong all year in Skyrunning and with plenty of course time and with fresh legs she will be a big chance for the podium.

            Wildcards

There will be a few surprises no doubt and with an open field there is going to be a few ladies pushing the front, don’t be surprised to see Reegan Ellis come back strong after having her first child in the last year.

            Mens

            Favourites

Jono O’Loughlin will be very tough over the 23km. He is in form for 2015, loves the tough trails and climbs of the Blue Mountains and will run like a beast. Good luck dragging up the climb with him at the end.

Mick Donges is as technically gifted runner as you will find. He is in good form after a European trip and some good local races. Mick will be there when it matters the most.

            Contenders

Aaron Knight has burst onto the scene and is taking to the trails like a natural. He will enjoy the course and with a big climb to finish will be hard to hold off.

Scott Hawker is coming back from injury but has been running well in training. Of the Kiwi runners he is the only one to be snake acclimatised so his knowledge will be sought after by his fellow countrymen.
Kristian Day is another of the NZ crew and with some solid results under his belt will be very much around the front pack. How fairs on the unfamiliar Aussie trails could well be the answer to his result.

            Wildcards
With a strong local contingent there are plenty of runners waiting to show how well they can run on these crazy trails. Shayne Bunting, Ben Artup (unofficial King of the Grose), Darrel Nelson and Dirk Streefkerk will all be pushing the front end along.

So who will be the first ever winner of a race in the Grose Valley??? By 4pm on Saturday we should know!

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