The windmill and shed at Lark Hill were the 3kms aid station points for laps taken on by all participants. Image – Scott Bunny.
By Kate Dzienis
The Lark Hill Dusk to Dawn Ultra in Port Kennedy (WA) on Saturday night (March 5) was testament to how mentally demanding and physically painful the world of ultra marathon racing can be.
It was a small event, with only 63 participants kicking up their heels at the sound of the 7pm cowbell, but Lark Hill is not a race to be taken lightly – it’s known to be an intense game of physical, mental and emotional chess, especially as runners do laps of three kilometres on compact limestone and a 400m sand trap.
There were eight men and two women competing in the 100kms event, 19 men and nine women in the 50kms, and eight men and 17 ladies taking on the newly introduced 25kms division.
There was also a children’s race, with 23 boys and girls hitting the trails at 5.45pm while the sun was still up.
One of the great advantages of the Lark Hill Ultra is that participants are able to set up their own aid stations at the top of the windmill where they finish their laps, and support crews can easily manage with the task at hand. It was at the top of this hill where racers could rejuvenate and refocus before taking on another lap.
The weather also put in a grand performance, as conditions cooled down and provided runners a chilled breeze as they sweated it out; support crews rugged up with blankets and hot teas.
Thirty-four laps for the 100kms mens division saw Peter Duff (9:27:27) first, Nathan Fawkes (9:37:11) second and Mark Williams (12:37:13) third.
For the ladies, only Chery Tatterton (12:37:12) completed the course.
In the 50kms event, Runningworks’ Chris Lark took home the kitty in first place with a time of 4:08:45, and he was closely followed by Ben Treasure (4:10:56) and Stuart MacKinnon (4:34:37).
The women kept the competition strong in the 50kms, seeing Barb Fieberg cross the finish in 4:53:48, Elyse Cripps in 5:17:28 and Tara Irving in 5:19:03.
The newly introduced 25kms course, which gave runners a taste of the ultra world, was an opportunity for those who enjoyed the half marathon distance but who wanted that little bit of extra mileage.
For the men it was Kim Thomas taking home the crown in a time of 1:45:47 and in the women’s division, Roberta Sibrra (2:22:57).
Race director David Kennedy was extremely pleased with the outcome of this year’s ultra and said all competitors fought hard to finish their allocated distances.
“It went very well with a great supportive atmosphere…cow bells on the biggest climb and motivational music along the tough sandy stretch provided by volunteers,” he revealed.
“We had a very fast first up 25kms from Kim Thomas winning by 20 minutes, and in the women’s Roberta Sibbra joined recent ultra winners Pam McCaskie and Kathryn Watt to take another win for their Rockingham training group.
“In the men’s 50kms and 100kms races we had very close racing and exciting finishes; in the women’s 50kms Barb Fieberg came from behind for two wins in a row.
“In the women’s 100kms Cheryl Tatterton finished strongly to just miss the course record.
“We had a lot of runners fight hard for a finish in beautiful conditions on a tough course with very few DNF’s.”
Ben Treasure, who claimed second in the 50kms, said it was his third run at Lark Hill.
“It was possibly the most relaxed and most tiring ultra event in WA,” he claimed.
“This was my third run at Lark Hill and first crack at the 50kms distance; very pleased about taking second place – couldn’t quite hang on to the pace I had planned but a solid run all the same.”