NSW and Tasmanian Orienteers completed the 82km Cradle Mountain Run last Saturday. The race travels along ‘The Overland Track’ through World Heritage listed Cradle Mountain National Park, and was first held in 1981. The field is limited to 50 runners to protect the environment and maintain the friendly atmosphere of the race. The track is famous for its mud, but a hot summer resulted in a dry, fast track.
The run started at 6am, and fog covered the mountains for most of the morning. Elson held a 3 minute lead over her rivals at the first checkpoint at Pelion Hut (manned by Paul Pacque and Christine Brown). By Narcissus Hut (62Km), over 9hours into the race she had extended her lead to 11 minutes. Thelast 18Km along the edge of Lake St Clair is considered the toughest section of the race, both mentally and physically. The end of the lake seems that it will never appear, and the tree roots are a constant battle for weary legs. Elson extended her lead to 18 minutes by the end of the race, finishing in 12hrs10mins. This was a particularly good effort for Elson in her first ultra-marathon, especially considering she was the youngest competitor in the race. Elson will now turn her focus to shorter training to prepare for the forthcoming NOL series.
The NSW Ultimax Stingers also sent a strong team of 5 runners to Tasmania. The race was seen as a good incentive to get out and do some long training runs over the summer. Rob Preston set the pace up the first climb to Kitchen Hut, on the shoulder of Cradle Mountain. But it was not long before pre-race favourite and 2005 winner Matt Dalziel went to the lead and pushed the pace down to Waterfall Valley. Preston stuck to Dalziel’s heels until Windermere Hut (20Km) before slowing to a more realistic pace. Andrew Hill, Richard Mountstephens (former elite runner), and Peter Preston ran together swapping the lead for the first 30Km. By halfway, Dalziel had extended his lead to 17 minutes over Rob Preston, and 23 minutes in front of 3rd placed Hill. Dalziel, a member of the famous AROC Adventure Racing team and Hobart’s Wellington Ranges orienteering club, completed the race in an exceptional 7hrs 49mins, 33 minutes faster than his winning time in 2005. This was the 4th fastest time in the race’s long history. Paul Reefman (Victoria) and Mountstephens ran the last section strongly to grab 2nd and 3rd places, ahead of very tired Rob Preston and Andrew Hill. Glenn Meyer ran a well judged race to finish in 11th place. Peter Preston was in 8th place at Narcissus Hut, but tired badly to finish in 14th place. The Stingers boys all agreed this was the hardest race they had ever done. They are planning on making a speedy recovery before the first round of NOL races on home territory.