This weekend will see the 7th running of the Great Naseby Water Race, taking place on the gravel roads, old water races and single tracks on the outskirts of the small historic Otago town that is Naseby. This year will see not only the biggest field ever for the GNWR but also a 100mile option – both things are great news for ultra running in New Zealand. But it is not just the quantity of runners, there is also a quality field turning up to Naseby. Arguably the best collection of runners at an ultra in the South Island this year over the 50km, 80km, 100km and 100mile distances.
Below is a small preview and a few names to watch- we are sure we have missed some off- but are not claiming this to be an all knowing preview, please feel free to leave comments of other competitors. You can read History and the Truth of the GNWR in earlier posts on BCR.
100mile- the new Main Event
- Marty Lukes (Asics), the GNWR 100km record holder and NB100mile record holder is hands down the one to beat here. Expect the Chch school teacher to “cruise” a few laps, teasing the field, before dropping hammer, winning big and then crawling into his sleeping bag some time before 4am Saturday morning.
- And this is where the 100mile at Naseby gets interesting (sorry Marty)- there are 6-7 guys that will be smashing themselves and each other in the wee hours of Saturday morning. When the dust settles (and the sun comes up?) I
think 2012 Northburn100 winner Glen Sutton and John Bayne will likely round out the podium to become the 2nd and 3rd people to ever receive a Great Naseby Water Race belt buckle. But my dark horse pick (of the whole weekend) is Mark Wareing.
- Jean Beaumont’s last romp at 100miles in NZ was at the NB100mile in 2012 where she ran 2nd overall in a smoking 26hr45. Jean is as strong as they come, with lots of experience. Given she likely is a bit fresher than Amy, we are picking her for the win.
- Amy Howse (Campbell) (Asics) would no doubt give Jean a real run on this course with fresh legs, but having just run the fastest ever time by a New Zealander at Badwater little more than a month ago we are thinking Amy might still feel that stella effort in her legs. We are hoping not and would love to see her and Jean battle it out!
- Gary Melhuish (Patagonia/Merrell) is making his 100km debut and look for him to run away for the win, much in the same fashion we expect Marty to in the 100mile. But this will be Gary’s first 100k and anything can happen in an ultra- if he falters- look for the 2 guys below to take advantage. But if Gary nails his nutrition and paces well early in the race I am picking he could go close to Marty Lukes 100km record…….
- Simon Wooding is another making his 100km debut, but with a solid run at the kepler last year and a win in the GNWR 50km in 4hr04 in 2012 he is ready to make the step up.
- Michael Rodliffe is no stranger to either Naseby or ultras. 2nd in the 100k here last year in 9hr23, he has had some big training lately and it does not seem that Naseby is a focus race for him.
- Shannon-Leigh Litt is back to defend her 100km title from last year and is our favourite for the win in the women’s 100km. Since this time last year Shannon has raced her fair share of ultra, including winning the NZ 100km title in May.
- The 80km at Naseby seems to always have the smallest field, and this year there is a clear favourite in Brad Monaghan who clocked 7hr10min for the 80km her last year (it is apity he is not lining up at 6am!).
- Well there has been a bit of talk about Kristian Day (Barefoot Inc) running away with the win and course record in the 50km at this years GNWR, he will be pushed and made to work for it. Certainly KDay is our pre race favourite, even with a few niggles that have seen him on the bike training.
- Ben Aynsley from Greymouth clocked a 5hr39 (12mins faster than Kristian) in a very competitive Kepler last year and will push Kristian for sure and no doubt has the speed and endurance to win (and get the course record??).
- Victoria Beck (Nike) is the favorite for the women’s 50km win- the 2011 Kepler winner is a class act. It is the one thing that I think is almost guaranteed to happen this weekend in Naseby (and I guess Marty winning the 100mile- but that is a long way and anything could happen over that distance).
- late entry- Nathan Jones- Nathan’s name just popped up on the start list this morning. Nathan has a strong background in multi sport (top 10 C2C) and good showings at the likes of Kepler and Routeburn, he should round out the top 3 in the 50km.
There is also a 60km (2x 30km) relay event at the GNWR.
More exciting than the top runners lining up this weekend is all the people that are lining up in their “first”- first ultra, first 100km or first 100mile. Unexpectedly and with little fanfare, the Great Naseby Water Race has become a key event in the New Zealand ultra running calendar. As much for its mid winter show down between some of the country’s top runners, but more so for its key role in the development and fostering of ultra runners and the ultra running community in New Zealand- with a fun, challenging and social event that brings together like minded folks. I won’t be at Naseby this weekend, so if you can please make sure to thank Aileen and Jamie for me!