Saturday’s Shotover Moonlight Mountain Marathon is set to be a cracker- great course, good weather forecast and a stacked field!
Below is a very quick over view of some of the top talent that will be on that start line on the Shotover River Saturday morning. For every name below there was a name that I left off- the field is deep! Kudos to Adrian Bailey from ActiveQT- in 2 short years he has assembled a quality field, proof that a challenging course AND a little cash goes a long way to attracting top talent.
Martin Cox- last year’s winner, this is his goal race while in NZ. I think he has put the disappointment of Kepler behind him, re-focused and has spent the last 2 weeks on the Ben Lomond Station.
Richard Ussher- Better known for his mulit sport and adventure racing exploites, Richard also has the Kepler and Routeburn on his long list of wins. How much the C2C took out of him will be the question.
Braden Currie- Like Ussher, the question will be how much the C2C took out of Braden, but he is no doubt flying high after that win and smoking the Goat Pass section. His run and course record last year at the Routeburn Classic was, in my mind, the mountain running performance of 2012 bar none.
Vajin Armstrong- does not need any introduction, but I don’t see him being a factor for the win here. Vajin has his early season sights firmly set on Tarawera and will likely train through this race, like he did with his 2hr30 win at the Buller Marathon a few weeks ago.
Martin Lukes will be as solid as ever. Expect his usual conservative approch and a clean up of late race carnage that should see him feature highly.
Matty Abel is a name probably not know to most this side of the Tasman, but he is looking to change that this weekend and again next month at Northburn.
Gary Malleuish had an excellent Kepler, placing 6th in 5hr25, if he can reproduce that form he is a bolter for a top 5 here.
Andrew Town surprised a few folks last year with his solid 3rd place finish in the inaugural Shotover Moonlight and is back again this year. A top 3 again is very unlikely for Andy in this field, but he should mixed it up with the names above in some compacity.
Ruby Muir is hands down the one to beat in the woman’s field and again the big question will be how far up the overall placing will she get? Like Vajin Armstrong her main goal is Tarawera and she is training through this race, but she is still the red hot favourite. If she does have an off day- then there is a swarm of girls that will be on her tail.
Victoria Beck- the 2011 Kepler Challenge winner is, unfortunately, under an injury cloud so we will see if she is on the start line or not Saturday morning.
Elina Ussher is the former Routeburn record holder and a past C2C winner, like husband Richard and Braden Currie, much will depend on how she has recovered post C2C.
Sadie Cranston- the little South Australian pocket rocket and Yurrebilla Ultra race director placed a solid 3rd at last year’s Luxmore Grunt, no doubt learning much from her first real taste of New Zealand mountain running.
Whitney Dagg was injured at the Kepler last year, but if she is in the same form that saw her smash Elina Ussher’s Routeburn record (and the Nasbey 50km) then she might be the one to take it to Ruby Muir.
Lesley Turner Hall is always a solid performer in the NI off road scene and expect the same down here.
Amy Campbell- not running now
Anna Frost running half marathon now