South African Ryan Sandes put on a commanding display last Saturday to win the North Face 100 endurance trail run through Blue Mountains National Park.
About 1000 competitors lined up for the fifth staging of the event with a strong contingent of local athletes pitting themselves against the international guns.
Beth Cardelli blitzed the female field with a course record time of 11 hours, 18 minutes, lowering the previous mark by a massive 22 minutes.
It appeared Sandes would break the men’s record coming into the fifth checkpoint but with a healthy lead and an important race in America on the horizon, he slowed the pace over the final stages.
“It went through my mind to go for the record but . . . I’ve got a big, big race coming up so I’d rather play it safe. The last leg, there was some quite technical single track so I thought there was no point doing anything stupid and trying to push on to beat the record when my main aim was just to win the race,” he said.
Sandes arrived 10 days early to get a feel for the course and it paid off as he fulfilled his goal of improving on a third-place finish in 2011. He was never seriously challenged after taking the lead about 8km into the race.
“I was definitely really elated crossing the finish line . . . Last year the race didn’t quite go according to plan but to come back here and run the race I wanted to run and achieve what I felt I could achieve, was really massive for me and I was super stoked to have won the race,” he said.
The event was not without controversy after course signage between the first two checkpoints was tampered with, leading a number of elite runners off course for 30 minutes. North Face athlete Jez Bragg overcame the setback to finish in seventh place.
Fresh from an impressive performance at the ultra marathon road world championships in Italy, Brendan Davies was the first Mountains competitor over the line in fourth place.
Mountains resident Ewan Horsburgh set a mixed pairs course record with teammate Angela Bateup while Joanne Brischetto and Ingrid Donald won the female pairs category.
Upper Mountains resident Anne Mackie put in a strong performance to win the female 50-plus division.
For full results, go to www2.thenorthface.com.au/100/