Sri Chinmoy "24 Hours on Track" – 24 Hour, 12 Hour. 6 Hour and Marathon – 2 & 3 June 2018
Provisional results are published. These will be confirmed once all have been audited.
24 hours can be gone in a flash, a mere flicker in our life’s unfolding history; again, 24 hours can reveal eternity.
Each adventurer-explorer-warrior-hero-soul who dared to take that one step forward to the starting line at 9am on Saturday 2 June at Campbelltown Sports Stadium Athletics Track, stood at that line with excitement, anxiousness, trepidation and above all, eagerness for a rendezvous with destiny, a surrender to an unfolding inner and outer drama in which each runner would be both protagonist and audience, as each one chiselled, wrestled and wrangled cherished secrets from the heart of the Unknown. We, witnesses to the story, would also be changed for the better by what we would see, feel and become…
While it’s true that the “smaller” races of 12 hours, 6 hours and the marathon would not happen without the 24 hour race as the backdrop and in that sense they could be seen as supporting or subsidiary events, it’s also true that the additional energy, enthusiasm, aspiration and rich humanity these races bring to the track serve immensely to invigorate, inspire and expand the horizons of the 24 hour race and its runners. Being able to employ lane 3 thanks to the computational wizardry of an electronic timing system, brings additional atmosphere, intensity and purpose which lifts and benefits all the races and participants.
6-HOUR RACE: start time, 10am Saturday
With the 24 hour race already one hour into its journey, a new chapter opened with the arrival in lane 3 of 15 runners aiming to cover as much distance as possible in the ensuing 6 hours. Running parallel with the 24 hour racers, their aims were congruent, though operating within a tighter timeframe. The field was certainly a motley crew of diverse nationalities, ages and backgrounds.
Tom Stevens took out the major prize in the race with a fine 67.422 km, from Japan’s non-stop Energiser Bunny, Masanori Chiba who won the Male 50-59 with 64.054km with Sarah Lately leading the women and taking 3rd outright with 62.962km.
THE MARATHON: start time, 11am Saturday
Despite another marathon being held just up the road on the same day, 16 willing subjects came to test their mettle against the classic distance in the controlled environment of the track. Given that the race would continue as long as the 24 hour runners were still out there, there was effectively no cut-off time for the marathon, a fact which doubtless attracted a few who might otherwise have had concerns about testing the patience of course marshals.
Kevin Heaton ran a superbly-paced marathon to win in 3:29:05, from Tom Luxton’s 4:11:01 and Victor Ziegler’s 4:32:07. Kathleen Ho was 1st placed among the women with 4:43:05, from Tina Wills in 4:51:22 and Celine Lamy with 4:52:23. The star of the show was undoubtedly 85-year-old Francis Dearn who ran in the company of Belinda and Glenn Lockwood, to clock an impressive 8:43:42 for the full marathon distance, a gritty performance of courage and faith rewarded with that sweet taste of completion.
12-HOUR RACE: start time, 9pm Saturday
Dark had well and truly descended on this early Winter’s night and the 24 hour stalwarts were already tunnel-visioning themselves for the push or grind or climb or float through their toughest ordeals ahead, when another group of fresh faces and legs gathered for their own assault of the night: the 12 hour race.
Standout performers in the 12 hour adventure were outright winner Dan Lollback with 121.533km, alongside 2nd overall and female winner Katy Anderson who clocked a breezy yet mighty impressive 113.772km. In addition to their own great performances, the 12 hour runners provided a wonderful service to the 24 hour field, keeping them company and bringing extra firepower to the track when it was most needed.
24-HOUR RACE: start time, 9am Saturday
An athletics track is always a sporting arena: during a 24 Hour race, it morphs also into both drama theatre and battlefield. Many of the dramas and battles are staged and fought entirely within the hearts, minds and bodies of the participants, while the helpers and spectators are privileged to witness some of the results of these inner struggles, duels, setbacks and victories. The competition between participants is largely secondary, and tends to follow the outcomes of the inner plot lines.
Gary Mullins set the pace early in a bid to gain a qualifying time for the Australian National 100km team; however he soon realised it was not to be his day and withdrew from the arena. From this point it was seasoned campaigner Matthew Eckford who led the way, with Stephen Redfern, Karsten Schiemann and Bruno Lorenzi Lima close together for the first 50km. The women’s race likewise saw a close contest through the marathon with the vastly experienced Sharon Scholz closely tailed by Heather Hawkins and Sabina Hamaty.
All eyes were on Rod Rainey as he steadily progressed towards his goal of a new 6 Hour Australian Record for Males 70+, which he duly set with a new best distance of 55.723km (yet to be ratified). Rod continued beyond the 6 hour mark up to 100km, at which point he called it a day.
Matthew Eckford’s goal was the 240km final distance required to qualify for the Australian 24 Hour team. It didn’t bother him that he was running so far ahead of the pack – 240km beckoned loud and clear and kept him focussed as he continued with brisk pace and strong form. At 100km he led by 40 minutes; at 150km his lead had grown to nearly one hour over the field. Inevitably his relentless output started to take its toll and his lap times gradually decreased. Both Karsten and Bruno dropped out of contention by now, yet Stephen Redfern continued bounding around the track with the same quiet reserve and effortless, weightless style. Now firmly in second place, he continued to make up ground throughout the night and the early hours of the morning. The other steady improver was John Yoon who had moved into 4th by the 100km mark, and 3rd place by 150km.
In the women’s race, Sharon Scholz was never going to be threatened nor would she ever much reduce her pace; nor would the mighty impressive Heather Hawkins be in danger in the women’s 50 and Over category. It was Cheryl Symons who slowly worked her way through the field. At the 100km point she was still a long way behind Sabina Hamaty, Karen Chan and Vanessa Phillips: by 150km she was comfortably in front of them all.
At no point in the race did Matthew Eckford appear to be on track for anything but 1st place: even the early burst from Gary Mullins was only ever likely to yield 100km or at most 100 miles. Yet as he passed his goal of 240km a curious thing happened – a combination of sheer exhaustion from the Herculean effort of running alone at the edge of his capacity and endurance for nearly a day, utter relief at having reached his goal, and perhaps the prospect of a physically and emotionally painful showdown with a fast-finishing Stephen Redfern, saw him happy to step off the track with a mere 15 minutes remaining in the race, with 242.201km to his name. Stephen meanwhile, who had already surpassed his personal best distance by more than 20 kilometres, was riding a rare tidal wave of inspiration and simply could not slow down, taking the lead soon after Matthew’s withdrawal and gliding to an astonishing and memorable victory with 245.566 golden kilometres. Both were ecstatic with their efforts and rightly so. John Yoon likewise finished powerfully to also claim a personal best and 3rd place with a remarkable 227.61km, an effort which would be good enough to win many a 24 hour race.
The next 3 placings were filled by women: Sharon Scholz ran a beautiful race, always seeming in control to again claim the crown of Female Champion with 188.45km. Heather Hawkins also ran an amazing race to win the Female 50-59 category and 2nd place overall with an incredible 178.927km; from the remarkably consistent Cheryl Symons with 177.35km. Not far after Cheryl came the first placed Male 50-59, Soonchul Shin from Korea running his first ever 24 hour track race with a wonderful effort of 176.531km, having been pushed all the way by Colin Wiley with a fine run of 173.033km.
Also topping the immortal 100 mile mark were Arthur Sargeant with 165.158km; Sabina Hamaty with a fantastic 164.294km; and the great Anyce “Kip” Melham, running his 31st or 32nd Sri Chinmoy 24 Hour race and taking the Male 60-69 category, having dug ever so deep for a mightily impressive 163.852km. Craig Gustard came home with 163.009km; while Justin Scholz completed at least his 10th Centurion effort by walking 100 miles in 21:50:43 at which point he withdrew from the race (thus slipping a few notches in the standings). Karen Chan just barely missed the 100 mile mark by a mere 28 metres and deserves a most creditable mention for her wonderful run of 160.906km.
Constance Attard had never entered a race of any distance in her life, let alone a 24 hour race. Her plan was “to walk with a happy heart” for as far as she could, and that she certainly did, clocking an amazing 123.426km to take 2nd in the Female 50-59 category – an impressive race debut if ever there was one!
David Attrill came to the track today expecting to walk about a marathon: however he was so inspired by Rod Rainey’s record-breaking run that he continued … and continued … eventually taking out the Male 70 and Over category with a whopping 120.632km, all of them walked.
Every runner and walker in the race deserves their own write-up and many a victory is not recorded in the results pages; these victories are recorded on the tablets of our aspiring hearts, on the beaming smiles at the finish line, and in the lasting legacy and memories of these fleeting 24 hours on a track in Campbelltown.
Our gratitude beyond words to Billy Pearce who provided medical expertise and cheerful on-track support to organisers and runners alike throughout the entire 24 hours; to Martin Fryer for his superb timing and results service as well as untiring support and encouragement from his own vast ultra experience; to the caretakers of Campbelltown Stadium Athletics Track for their incredible embrace of the event; to “My Rainbow-Dreams” vegetarian cafe in Canberra for supplying food throughout for runners and helpers; and to volunteers from the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team from Mongolia, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra.