Competitors Todd Panietz and Drew Lichtenstein take on the 2016 RunningWorks WTF 50 Miler event. Image – Shane Holstein.
By Kate Dzienis
Perth’s ultra running community took to bush trails at the weekend with the fourth annual RunningWorks WTF (Waterous Trail on Foot) event held on Saturday, September 24 with two event categories – the 100 Miler and 50 Miler.
Still the first and only AURA-sanctioned 100 mile race in Western Australia, RunningWorks WTF is known to have generous cut-off times and provides spectacular scenery of the Australian bush from Jarrahdale (55kms south-east of Perth) south through to Dwellingup, mainly along the infamous Munda Biddi mountain bike trail, with the 100 Miler runners doubling back to Jarrahdale and a bonus extra hill.
This year’s tracks were super speedy with no loose gravel from recent rains and cool, calming weather.
Twenty-four competitors took on the gruelling 100 Miler and an incredible 31 stormed through in the 50 Miler event, a rise in numbers that race organiser and director David Kennedy was thrilled to see.
“The 100 was basically double the size of previous years whilst the 50 remained around the 30 mark,” he said.
“We had almost all runners finish with 28 making the finish line (50 Miler), and the aid stations and crew involvement this year was just simply amazing.”
With ‘hot ticket’ runners taking on RunningWorks WTF, well known names in the WA ultra running community trained furiously and ran hard, including Kojonup resident Richard Avery, who just last month completed 240.432-kilometres at the WA Track Ultra and broke the state’s old record of 238.9-kilometres.
Unfortunately it was not meant to be this time around for Avery, who was left with an injury and pulled out early on from the 100 Miler.
Kennedy said there were a number of competitors who were in top form.
“Nathan Fawkes was going to be hard to beat but a nasty fall about the 35kms mark forced him to retire,” he recapped.
“Last year’s winner Ben Harris was one to watch also and held on for third (20:59:26).
“Richard Gould, the winner (20:10:40), and runner-up Rob Freitag (20:45:08) wouldn’t have been in the most people’s top five so big surprises!
“In the women’s 100 Miler I picked Emily Laidley (22:38:02) all the way; despite minimal training, her frame of mind seems to be very suited to ultra running.”
In the 50 Miler, Lukas Scheidegger, originally from Switzerland and now living in Perth, was likely to be the youngest person to ever win an ultra race in WA at the tender young age of 23.
He finished first in a fast 8:17:02 and was followed closely by Rob Badger (8:24:07) and Bryant Burman (8:45:44).
The women’s race saw Martine Nield (9:04:29) up against Bec Hefferon (9:15:30) with Kelly Robinson(9:57:50) a strong chance – all ladies performed exceptionally well.
Kennedy was excited about the prospect for next year’s RunningWorks WTF but revealed the race has gotten a little ‘too big’ for the Dwellingup Caravan Park finish, meaning there was potential for a different finish line location.
“We may need to look at minor course changes to cater for race growth as well as Water Corporation changes that were forced this year,” he said.
“The course is tame by international standards but is a great runners’ course (as opposed to the mountainous races which require as much walking as running).
“The aid stations are spread out, which adds to the difficulty and the weather is always unpredictable – we had one infamous wet day that saw eight hours of almost continuous rain.
“I look forward to seeing a few more relay teams participate next year.”
Runglobal Australia congratulates all RunningWorks WTF competitors and volunteers with virtual high-fives.