Northburn Predictions- by Matt Bixley

cropped-web-banner1 - CopyClearly the in-depth interview I gave for Northburn detailing my battles with injury and opening up the more empathetic side of me was not worthy of publication. Another theory is that Grant, like most others just deletes everything I send to him. I think the other profiles and thoughts are more enlightening anyway. As with all big races there are a significant number of withdraws  Lining up for an event that takes 24+ hours is not something you do (or should do) with injuries and even for the shorter events if they’re not your “A” race for the summer. Luckily that hasn’t diluted the quality of the Northburn 100mile field.

When Ray Sanchez ran last year he thought 22-23 hours was possible, he’s revised that to the 25 hour mark. I think that’s a sensible number and will put Ray in a position to win. When he went off course last year, he was leading and I think on track for a sub 26. He is a positive guy and is confident in his experience to run well on the last loop.

Glenn Sutton wants to improve on his 26:30 and after a summer of endurance sport will be fit enough to go the distance. He’s the only guy in the field that I would bet money on to finish.

Dennis deMonchy can run all day. To win the World Rogaine Championships you need to be able to run when it hurts, when you’re tired and when you don’t want to. He has the experience to deal with all the little issues and will know himself well enough to start at a sensible pace. While he hasn’t trained as he’d like I’d expect him to run under 26 hours if he has no difficulties.

Matt Bixley, yes I’m talking about myself in the 3rd person. I’ve dropped to 50-60k/week to try and get rid of random injuries. That hasn’t exactly worked but I’ve been having a lot more fun and it hasn’t hurt ability in the 40k range. It’s not really possible to control the outcome of the race but I have a plan and if that comes off (sub 26) I’ll be happy and in contention.

Martin Lukes is easily the favorite, he is very clear in his plan of going out easy, most likely running/hiking as part of a group for more than just the 1st loop. But if he wants to break 24 hours he’ll need to run alone for longer than he wants. The only thing stopping him from winning and lowering his course record are the things that often crop up in a long event and are sometime beyond our control.

Michael Beaumont is better than his sister Jean who ran 26:45, but he lacks the experience of something this long. He is generally a very strong 2nd half runner in events between 50 and 100k. I’ve never beaten him, we’ve had some great battles and it’s always fun. Like Martin he has had issues with chafing in the past. If he avoids that he is another to put in the sub 26 box.

So Martin Lukes will win, I think it will be in 24:15. The rest of us are so close in ability that the podium will be filled out by those who have the least trouble.

The women’s race has also attracted it’s strongest field. First year champ Tracey Woodford is back for her 3rd effort and no doubt with the best support crew at the event. She has been running exceptionally well and should go better than her 32:57. Course experience is big for Northburn, she has it. She has two talented Australians to battle this year.

edit: Keiron Coulter beat Dennis de Monchy at the 2012 Tarawera 100k, finishing 10th overall. Good pick for a dark horse.

Shona Stevenson
who should be known to most BCR readers is backing up after illness stopped her at 85km during Tarawera last weekend. I think that will cost her, and as this isn’t her goal for the near future (Ultra Trail Mt Fuji) I’d expect her to take a very conservative approach. Expect to she her footing it with the front men though.

Joanna Kruk if she is starting will be a huge threat, to the MEN. She has experience at Stage racing, so tiredness and fatigue won’t be a problem. At Yurrebilla she hold the outright record for the climb up Black Hill which comes at the 45km mark in the race. So the hills may not be an issue for her. She is my pick for the win.

In the 100k it’s the Matty Abel and Shannon Leigh-Litt show. Expect to see both lowering the course records. Matty got some NZ experience last month at Moonlight and now knows what he’s in for. Shannon has plenty of experience and speed at the flatter 100k’s.

The training run that is the mens 50k also has a good field. Martin Cox has been moaning about being worked hard on Ben Lomond Station, Grant Guise is training for UTMF and Gary Melhuish has said he’s going after it. They’ve been joined by Wanaka Multisport guru Gavin Mason and it could be a group run for 45k and then whoever has the best 5k speed for the rolling finish. I know for a fact that there will be more re-hydration apres run by those four, than the rest of the event combined.

The women’s field only has 4 entries but they are very evenly matched. They could easily finish within 15 minutes of each other. However, I have to make a pick, so I am going to tip the one that I know has trained exceptionally well, has some course experience and it suits her style. Hopefully I am not putting the kiss of death on her, my ever supportive wife Ann Bixley.

About Mouth of the South

Matt Bixley has written 24 .

Outspoken and opinionated- which is great cause we never have to guess what is on his mind. “The Mouth of the South” started his love of trail running with a 8hr+ Kepler in 2004. Since then he has run 220+km in 24hr while representing New Zealand and now has 5hr50, top 10 finish to his name. You can follow him HERE on his personal blog

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