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2015 Buffalo Stampede Report

Marty Lukes 3rd place Buffalo Stampede post race interview

Posted by Buffalo Stampede on Friday, 10 April 2015

A small but strong kiwi contingent traveled to Bright, Victoria for this past weekend’s Buffalo Stampede Skyrunning event. The Buffalo was the Oceania Skyrunnng Championships in the 42km and 75km distances and as such attracted a strong international field.

Friday saw the Buffalo 26km (which was changed to a 31-34km race depending on who you ask) and Matt Bixley lined up, set to tackle what was being dubbed the “Buffalo Triple Crown”- the 26, 75 and 42km races over 3 consecutive days. A mammoth undertaking but one which was right up Matt’s ally. Well, it would have been if he had not taken on the Barkley Marathons just a few weeks earlier. Matt crossed the finish line understandably spent, saying Barkley might have taken a bit more out of him than he expected.

Saturday morning saw the majority of the New Zealanders lining up- Whitney Dagg, Jo Johansen, Fiona Jane Wright Hayvice, Matt, Marty Lukes and myself (Grant Guise). The race went out at what felt like a ridiculously slow pace, with Tom Owens, Andrew Tuckey, John Winsbury and Mick Donges in a small pack, followed by a massive chase pack, with myself floating between, alone. I could see Marty, Jo and Whitney all behind me as we started out and was then past by James Roberts. I figured that was the last I would see of those boys out in front until the turn around on top of Mt Buffalo, but to my surprise, as I started down Mick’s track, John, Andrew and James where just in front. I found a nice line to descend on what is a silly steep (and fun) gradient and with little effort I arrived at Bakers Gully in 2nd, behind Tom who already had a big lead and was well out of sight. 2nd place 7km in was the last place I wanted to be and more so was the last place I belonged. But I figured I was here and may as well enjoy it…..

Your’s truly, nearing the top of “The Big Walk”. Photo: Mitch Lane

The 4 of us ran more or less together to the top of Keating Ridge, with Andrew and myself breaking away here. Andrew gapped me a little but we left Eurobin more or less together. Then Andrew gapped me properly early on the big walk, around the same time I started to hear John heckling me from below. John stormed past me, and then Tom Brazer blew past about 3/4 of the climb up. Marty, who had left Eurobin 10mins after I had, reached me at the top of Buffalo and we started the 7km loop together, before I was quickly dropped. There was a pattern forming and it consisted of me losing time and placings fast. During the loop I got to see Tom and Andrew flying past, as well as those behind me, including Whitney, Jo and Fiona- who were all running in the top 10! With Whitney looking super strong in 3rd place. I also saw Matt, who had pulled the pin, with Barkley finally catching up on him.

From here we re-traced our steps back to Bright. Down the Big Walk and back over Keating Ridge, I finally spotted someone closing in behind me- about time! I had been moving slowly, and was waiting for it to happen. Clark McClymont was closing in- he had his wizard sticks out and was tapping away, working his magic on the climb up Clear Spot. I recovered a little once we got off the real steep stuff and made a little ground before Clark stomped down to Bakers Gully and was on my tail. I hammered the flat section to the base of Mick’s track and was greeted with the ass ends of both Tom and John- what a lovely surprise!

I had visions of last year’s past glory and finishing strong in 4th place. I told myself I could do it again and got to work. But you can’t check out of a race like this 30km earlier, neglecting nutrition and pace and then decide to tag back in. I really was kidding myself and before long Tom and John walked away into the distance, Clark tap tapped his way closer and I dreamed of having a nap. Clark later told me I had a side to side stumble going on- the lesson here is if it feels like you are stumbling sideways, you probably are.

I pushed as hard as I could down Mystic and suffered the last flat 3km home, stopping under the big water fountain just before the finish line.

Tom Owens crushed it, Andrew Tuckey knocked 20mins off his time from last year and Marty showed his class and the young fellas how it is done, taking 3rd! It is very very cool to see Marty back running well- he is a force when in form.  Unfortunately, Whitney was also already at the finish, having had to drop at 60km with stomach issue. She was in 3rd at the time and after such a long injury lay off she is definitely back!

Jo crossed the line in 5th and Fiona in 9th+ in a very competitive women’s race, ending a successful day for our small team of kiwis.

Scott crossing the marathon finish in 9th.

Sunday saw what was viewed by many as the most competitive fields of the weekend, with the men’s and women’s marathons stacked. “Representing” NZ was Auckland based Lithuanian Andrius Ramonas and New Zealander Scott Hawker, who is living in Australia’s Blue Mountains. The race went out at a cracking pace and in the end the day belonged to young Australian Blake Hose and American Stevie Kremer, who both had strong wins, especially Blake. Andrius and Scotty both ran very strong and held their own, finishing 7th and 9th. Also running was Ann Bixley, once again resorting pride to the family name.

For me the Buffalo Stampede again delivered- a tough course, strong competition, well organized with great aid stations and course markings and an excellent venue in the town of Bright.  A big thank you to all involved in the weekend- our NZ crew of 8 that traveled together, Scott and Liz who baby sat me during my run, Bright Brewery for making such tasty brews and Sean and Mel for again hosting us and putting on such a great event! Thank you for the support you gave to Team UD in getting us over!

And thank you also to my sponsors (and employers ;-) )Ultimate Direction NZ and La Sportiva NZ.

More info-

Buffalo Website

Buffalo facebook

 

 


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