Wow what at weekend that was! Our Skyrunning Championship race was held last weekend at the Buffalo stampede and I tell you what, it didn’t disappoint!
The Buffalo Stampede was the first sanctioned Skyrunning race in Australia in 2014 and served as the Continental championships for the World series in 2015. This experience combined with an adaptive management team has meant that the race has continued to grow and improve each year and continues to have a bright and exciting future.
This year we saw some awesome running, gutsy performances and best of all an enormous spectator turnout. The atmosphere at the start line of the Ultra was electric and the countdown chant made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. However the support didn’t stop there as 1000’s of La Sportiva/Tailwind cow bells where handed out and put to good use at every possible vantage point on the course. At one point I was standing at the Eurobin Creek checkpoint as the lead runners in the Ultra approached, the sound of cow bells, cheering and applause was deafening….now that was Skyrunning!
For the race we had a marked increase in runners entered across the races over the weekend however even with the extra participation the DNF rate still remained high, a testament to how difficult and challenging the courses are. At the pointy end of the field we had some intense racing and close finishes.
In the Ultra for the men New Zealand speedster Sam McCutcheon took a commanding lead after Clear Spot and despite wearing road shoes never missed a beat taking the win in 8hrs 24min. 2nd place went to (now) Bright local Matt Murphy who, since moving to bright, has dedicated himself to training for the race. This paid massive dividends for Murphy as crossed the line in a stunning 8hr 45min, some 1hr 11min faster than his 2015 effort. A close battle ensued for 3rd place as Danny Garret and Majell Backhausen duked it out on the punishing climbs of Warner’s Wall and Mick’s Track over the final 15km. However after 75km of racing only 8 seconds separated them with Danny (8:58:47) pipping Majell (8:58:57) in a finish line sprint for 3rd.
The women’s Ultra race was also all action with young Skyrunning star Lucy Bartholomew leading from the gun to blitz the field in a stagging 9hrs 51min and top 10 overall. Another close battle ensued between 2nd and 3rd with Amy Lamprecht and Maggie Jones separated by mere minutes all day long. In the end though Lamprecht was too strong for Jones claiming 2nd in 10hrs 45min with Jones close behind in 10hrs 52min.
For Sunday’s Skymarathon the “Zen” state of New Zealand’s Vajin Armstrong made him untouchable as he strode to a clear victory in 4hrs 23min. Yet again another battle was fought for the minor placings with Etienne Blumstein-Jones and Sam Burridge fighting all day for position until finally Blumstein broke away to take 2nd in 4hrs 49min with Burridge right on his heels in 4hrs 51min for third.
Once again the women’s race was a singular show of class as Kellie Emmerson backed her training and paced perfectly to take the win in 5hrs 10min. In the meantime a tight struggle was fought for 2nd place with Kylee Woods proving too strong for Gill Fowler snatching 2nd in a time of 5hrs 31min with Fowler on her heels in 5hrs 32min.
However it isn’t always just about who is at the front of the pack as many runners out there pitted themselves against the challenge chasing their dreams and pushing themselves to their limits. We witnessed many runners digging deep, suffering, smiling and having fun out on the course over the weekend. Some runners unfortunately fell victim to the punishing courses on offer, and a few ended up in the medical tent, however many tasted the sweet victory of the finish line and title of becoming a Skyrunner.
The entire weekend was a great festival of Skyrunning and a good indicator to show that the sport is alive and booming in Australia and New Zealand. So thank you all for coming and congratulations on your great running, walking…hell crawling at times. We cannot wait to see you all soon at another Skyrunning race this year!
As always seek “ Less Cloud, More Sky”