Tony Smith, who frequents numerous parkruns in WA and is known for his fast pace, won first place at the weekend’s Feral Pig 50kms category. Image – Supplied.
By Kate Dzienis
More than 150 runners, along with 19 children, participated across four distances in Saturday’s (July 2) inaugural Feral Pig Ultra, the first race in the newly formed Ultra Series WA, and held in Pickering Brook, just east of Perth (WA) among the bush and including the Mundi Biddi Trail.
A technical course with challenging uphills and a one to two-kilometre long downhill set of switchbacks, runners contested in the 25kms Pork Chop, 50kms Sow, and 50 Miler Boar categories while the children took on a challenging 5kms Piglet pork run mid-morning.
The horn blew just after 7am and runners took off at a steady pace to not only conserve energy, but to keep an eye out for up to 13 soft toy piggies hidden along the route which could provide extra points for the ultra runners who were collecting numbers.
It was Eulalia Van Blomestein who took first place for the females in the Pork Chop (2:10:01) and Todd Ingraham for the boys (1:49:17).
In the Sow, Perth Trail Series regular Rachel Brooks took home first place bacon bits for the ladies (4:44:48) while Bunbury 50kms (May 16) winner Tony Smith sped past most and claimed dibs on the blue ribbon for best piggy in show in the men’s division (4:11:36).
The race also catered to the runner who wanted to be that little bit more feral than most and offered a 50 Miler event (81kms), with the calibre of participants most known to the running community.
Getting across the finish line before the sun began to set, and leaving others to whip out their headlamps and high visibility vests as they careened down the technical switchbacks and back up the trails, Margie Hadley secured first place in an astonishing time of 8:27:31 for the women.
Josh Garrett, who won last year’s 6 Inch Trail Race (46kms) in 3:24:29, took it home for the men in the Feral with a speedy 6:42:00 straight.
The children were speedy little piglets too, hoofing it hard in their 5kms race – Maddy Luscombe took home first place with a time of 00:31:51 in the girls’ event while Callem Burman won the boys category in an astonishing 00:28:17.
All children received a finisher’s medal and were amazing support systems for their parents, many of who were either volunteering, cheering, or running themselves.
50kms winner Smith told Runglobal he wasn’t a fan of technical trails and after originally signing up for the 50 Miler, dropped his registration down to the 50kms following a recent recce.
“I love the longer distances and can run on undulating trails, like the Heritage Trail, all day long but as soon as it gets to single track with switchbacks, I’m just waiting to stack!” he revealed.
“I decided to use Feral Pig as a training run in preparation for the Goldfields Marathon in a few weeks’ time and didn’t taper.
“Don’t get me wrong – put a race number on me and I’m Mr Competitive, but the aim was to get some quality kilometres in the bank after running the Perth Marathon three weeks ago.”
Smith, who has raced the Kep Ultra 100kms and 75kms previously and half a dozen other 50kms races, said the course was certainly one of the more challenging on the event calendar.
“The course had a little bit of everything, from a 1.5kms downhill tarmac section, rolling wide tracks to the infamous WNM (Whore No More) section (single track switchbacks) and testing climbs,” he said.
“For me it was on the limit of my technical trail running skills, which ended in me stacking three times, nothing broken though – just my pride as I stacked at the bottom of WNM with a few onlookers!
“I find trail races to be very inclusive, a little like parkrun in that it doesn’t matter how good you are or where you finish, it’s all about the taking part.”
Margie Hadley won the 50 Miler Boar (81kms) event in an amazing time of 8:27:31. Image – Jon Storey.
Hadley did the exact opposite to Smith – after registering for the 50kms, she decided to up the ante and went for the 50 Miler.
“I figured if I didn’t make the full 50 miles it didn’t matter, it’s all about just having a go,” she explained.
“I went into it thinking about it more of a training run than a race, getting some good distance in my legs and working on pacing myself.
“I haven’t done a lot of trail running so I struggle with technical sections and I’m not very confident on the downhill sections; I’m lucky that I know some fantastic trail runners and picked up a few tips from them. I think with endurance events there is always a mental struggle and I hit this point going into the third lap.”
Apart from a couple mishaps (miscalculating hydration levels in her pack and taking a wrong turn), Hadley battled it out and took to the finish with gusto – but in fine Hadley-style, she as always congratulated everyone else.
“There were some amazing runners out there on Saturday across all the events,” she said.
“I was lucky enough to run for quite a bit of the race with Felix (Andrew Poli) who ran the KEP 100kms a few weeks ago and Rich Gould who raced at Comrades Marathon (90kms event) a month ago.
“Rachel Brooks and Ingrid Michelle Bardon in the 50kms are exceptional runners and had a close race with less than two minutes between them at the finish, and Tony Smith had a blistering run, he is a machine!”
Feral Pig was Hadley’s longest distance to date.
Race organiser and director Shaun Kaesler was a bundle of encouragement and exuberance on the day, and the smile on his face could not have been taken off even if the world ran out of bacon or pork loins.
“You know how passionate I am about it all, just wrapped to get off to such a fantastic start to the (Ultra WA) series,” he chuffed.
To register for any of the races in Ultra Series WA, including the Lighthorse Ultra (November 12), Australia Day Ultra (January 21, 2017) and Wild Goose Chase (May 20-21, 2017), click here.