What does it take to win the Surf Coast Century 100 kilometre ultra marathon along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria? Lacing together a good race, some amazing running, and managing your nutrition to get to the finish.
That’s exactly what the unassuming Melburnian Francesco Ciancio did this morning in Anglesea. Ciancio, 38, put his head down to maintain an unfaltering lead throughout the race to cross the line in a fantastic time of eight hours, 26 minutes and 44 seconds, to clinch the win, and the National 100km Trail Running Championship Title. It was a different story to last year when he was forced to withdraw after falling on the rocks in leg one.
“I felt good for about 92 kilometres, but I didn’t think I was going to finish,” Ciancio said.
“It just was long and I’m dehydrated; I struggled, I walked most of the beach - the last section.
“Last year I hit my head, at about five or eight kms, and I stopped at 50kms, so this is the first time I’ve finished.
“It’s a great event, and it would be great to make it even bigger. So I’m looking forward to next year, hopefully. I’d like to thank Georgie, and the organisers, the volunteers, and all the athletes for participating.”
2015 runner-up Ross Hopkins (Mansfield, Victoria) was comfortably sitting in second position after race favourite Ben Duffus experienced difficulties and was forced to walk.
But it was young Michael Rathjen (23) of Melbourne who caught Hopkins on the sand, to steal second place by three minutes (08:47:07) over Hopkins (08:50:06).
2015 champion ultra runner Kellie Emmerson (30, Melbourne) continued her winning streak to make it three consecutive victories at the Surf Coast Century, slicing almost 15 minutes off the course record she created last year, this time coming over the line in nine hours, three minutes and 24 seconds to an ecstatic crowd.
“I’ve finally got a coach for the first time ever, and the last two months I’ve really been working on my speed and trying to improve my lactic threshold, (heading into the world championships),” Emmerson said.
“I’m pretty lucky to have all these guys, I’ve got my family here, I’ve got my old Running in the Burbs crew, 2XU crew, Surf Coast Trail Runners, you guys are awesome, thanks so much.”
Earlier in the day, 25 year old Stephanie Auston (Merimbula, NSW) powered her way over the line to win the 50km race overall in 03:50:29, almost half an hour ahead of the female field and nearly two minutes faster than the first male James Ralph. A mean feat considering she’s more at home in half-marathon road racing.
“It was really good, that’s my first ever 50km, so I didn’t know how I’d go, but it was good. I wanted to break four hours, so I could’ve run slower really. It was good though, I should run the trails more.”
James Ralph (34) of Elwood locked in a time of 03:52:13, just 78 seconds faster than Chilean Daniel Borquez (03:53:31).
“It was great, a fantastic course, a bit cold, but there was no real windy sections. The second part was probably harder but it was definitely incredible.”
Over 800 runners made the journey to Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road for the fifth edition of the Surf Coast Century, which has cemented its spot as the marquee trail running event on the Australian calendar. The iconic ultramarathon features a 100km solo, 50km solo and 100km relay team events, as well as incorporating the Australian 100km Trail Running Championships.
There is no other 100km course like it in the world; located on Victoria’s beautiful Great Ocean Road region; runners and spectators are treated to breathtaking scenery from towering sea cliffs, lush tree ferns, lighthouses, waterfalls, scenic lookouts, famous surf beaches and remote wilderness. The course is a figure eight with Anglesea the start, half way point, finish and the event hub, enabling great spectator opportunities and support crew access.
The Surf Coast Century is proudly presented by Rapid Ascent, an adventure sports event management company well-known for hosting challenging and professional off-road events.
Event Manager Sam Maffett from Rapid Ascent said he was ecstatic to welcome so many passionate trail runners to the 2016 Surf Coast Century and witness the emotion at the finish line.
“An ultramarathon like The Surf Coast Century can be life-changing; the commitment and the effort of every single runner today makes me so happy and I am immensely proud of everyone who took part. A very special mention is owed to our champions and place-getters who have today not only tasted personal victory but also inspired the rest of us with their infectious enthusiasm for what can be at times a really tough sport. Well done to everyone today, and that includes the friends, families, partners and sponsors who also make events like this possible.”
SCC 100km Solo Individual Results:
1. Francesco CIANCIO 08:26:44
2. Michael RATHJEN 08:47:07
3. Ross HOPKINS 08:50:06
SCC 100km Female Solo Individual Results:
1. Kellie EMMERSON 09:03:24
2. Kylee WOODS 09:35:00
3. Christine HOPKINS 10:18:17
SCC 50km Female Results
1. Stephanie AUSTON 03:50:29
2. Marlene LOOTZ 04:18:50
3. Cecily BUTLER 04:22:55
SCC 50km Male Results
1. James RALPH 03:52:13
2. Daniel BORQUEZ 03:53:31
3. Dave OULTON 04:01:46
CLICK HERE for all RESULTS
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CLICK HERE for all your event photos: http://www.supersportimages.com/ (available shortly)