(Posted - 26 Aug 2012)
The Trail God was confused this weekend - does this trail running mob want The Elements or not? Should I give them wet? Freezing? Is that what they enjoy? Feeling nature? Or do they just want a little slip, sliding, damp fern tickle without the downpour?
Well, He/She/It got it right (even if the weather forecasters didn't) much to the delight of 1200-odd trail runners who massed at the bottom of Silvan Dam wall in the Dandenongs (Victoria) today…the mud (ergo 'fun') was delivered in spades by a downpour overnight, but the morning awoke under bright blue skies and relatively perfect trail running conditions.
Once again runners chose from a short (7.3km) and long course (14.3km), with both weaving through towering stands of gums and bellbirds chiming away a chorus of encouragement.
Check out a few image highlights HERE.
Up the front, it was anyone's game in the men's category long course, with Series leader (having won races one and two), Jarad Kohlar absent, adventure racing in Mongolia. Im the women's the money would, if it was being wagered, have to had been on women's Series leader leader Rebecca Rosel or last year's Salomon Champion, Kathryn Preston, who won here convincingly last year, relishing the big, bitey hills.
As it turned out, the mud slowed everyone on course, with records well safe. Even so, Rosel relished the conditions, proving she was no flash in the dirt pan and has trail talent to burn by winning with a minute to spare from Kathryn Preston, in a repeat of their 1-2 finish in race two. Wendy McAlpine, who has registered strong placings in last year's series, took third less half a minute behind Preston. The result means Rosel pretty much claims the Series title, whether or not she races at Anglesea on 23 Sept (Series Title based on best three performances of the four race series, Rosel having won three to date).
With the men's first and second place getter from race two AWOL, it was always going to be a new name on the podium in the long course. Sluicing through the mud with the most pace was Alex Houghton, perhaps used to wild trails courtesy of his adventure racing. He dashed the race win away from favourite, Dan Trevena, who finished in third place only 48 seconds in arrears. Splitting the two was Matt Bell, who couldn't quite make up the 20 seconds Houghton had stolen on him.
For the remainder of the 1000+ runners, it was all about fun in the mud, 'Killer Hill' eliciting a few huffs and moans: overheard at the top was one saying "I'm a bloody Kiwi and we don't have that at home!"
Ummm…she was obviously from the North Island. Even so, the sentiment was there: that was one killer hill as promised. In fact, as it turns out, there were about three, but who was counting? There was too much sweet singletrack distraction to worry much.
The Salomon Trail Run Series now hurtles headlong (like a few competitors down the flip side of those hills) into Race Four and the finale event on Sunday 23 September, at Anglesea on the Surf Coast.
It's likely to be a big weekend of celebrating the trail, with the inaugural 100km Surf Coast Century trail ultra kicking off the day prior Sat 22 September, from the same start/finish. Tail end finishers of the Surf Coast are expected to come over the line Sunday morning, just as Salomon Trail Series competitors are limbering up for this shorter 8km and 14.6km dashes.
And yes, there are a few attempting to run in both events, The Banzai Adventurer tackling the Surf Coast solo and then into the long course Salomon Series event. And our own man with the life-changing plan, Scott Knabel - who finished well at Silvan, will be hooking up into a team of four to knock off the Century in a relay effort before completing the Series by running in Race Four - long course, of course.
Entries remain open for both the Salomon Trail Run Series race Four and the Surf Coast Century.
R#4 Sunday 23 September, Anglesea: 7.9km / 14.6km
Surf Coast Century Trail Ultra (teams or solo) www.surfcoastcoastcentury.com.au
FULL RESULTS (SEARCHABLE) HERE.
LONG COURSE MEN'S
1. Alex HOUGHTON 01:02:10
2. Matt BELL 01:02:41
3. Daniel TREVENA 01:02:58
LONG COURSE WOMEN'S
1.Rebecca ROSEL 01:10:44
2. Kathryn PRESTON 01:11:40
3.Wendy MCALPINE 01:12:24
SHORT COURSE MEN'S
1.Riley KENNEDY 00:30:37
2. Jason AGOSTA 00:32:25
3. Ben POLLITT 00:32:37
SHORT COURSE WOMEN'S
1. Snezana KNIGHT 00:39:03
2. Kasia MALARSKA 00:40:28
3. Carmel BUCKLEY 00:41:17