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Posted: May 23, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Adventure Racing :The North Face 100 reveals a new endurance champion for the 2009 edition

Returning to the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains for the second year, the extreme endurance race was deemed a huge success and saw an incredible 333 solo runners and 31 pairs embarking on an exhausting but ultra-rewarding journey. They came from the four corners of Australia and beyond with runners hailing from across the Tasman, PNG, Hong Kong and Europe. Determined and geared up to face gruelling hours of running through the absolutely relentless terrain and rugged environment, the 395 ultra-runners departed on Saturday 16th at 7:00am in crisp and cold conditions, with blood pumping and feeling more alive than ever!

Winner Andrew Lee, 39, from Warrimoo in the Blue Mountains, powered through the whole race and conquered the torturous distance in an amazing 10 hours, 20 minutes and 51 seconds beating last year's record by only 2 minutes! Surprised by his stunning result as he had never run longer than 45 km in his life, the father of 4 was just hopeful of finishing around 11 hours.

"Winning and picking up the race record was a real bonus and I am pretty happy about that. I was in the Six Foot track marathon a few weeks ago, and that was a 45 kilometre race where I came second. After that I kept up some training for the Canberra marathon and straight after focused on The North Face 100 so I did a fair bit of trail running near by at home for the past 3-4 weeks, leading right up to the race. I didn't know what to expect. I was hopeful that it wouldn't be too hard, but it is a tough and gruelling course, relentless at times, particularly coming out of the Kadumba Pass up near Wentworth falls. It was a bit of pain coming up some stairs, I was getting sick of stairs towards the end; the last leg was really hard. Overall it was a really good day: the scenery is amazing, the organization very professional. I would recommend the course to anyone who is into this type of endurance."

Following less a minute and a half behind was Tim Cochrane who finished 2nd in the Open Male category in 10:22:21 after an amazing acceleration between checkpoint 5 and the finish! He also thought that a good recovery strategy would be to ride his bicycle to the prize ceremony on Sunday from Parramatta, a return trip of over 150kms! Branden Haywood took third place in 11:39:22, leaving the first two winners far ahead. Defending champion Andrew Kromar was forced to pull out due to a pre-existing ankle injury after pushing it hard to the 54th kilometre. A shame as he was flying on track to beat his 2008 record. A notable feat is that of Wayne Gregory, winner of the veteran category (over 50) in a time of 12:37:47, who went back to Sydney to run the Sydney Half-Marathon on Sunday morning before coming to the prize ceremony in the early afternoon! James Pretto won the under 25 category in a time of 13:35:39.

Special guest Dean Karnazes, who stepped off a 14 hour flight from his hometown of San Francisco a day before, set a steady pace and arrived approximately four hours behind the leader with a final time of 14:42:56. The ultra marathon man, who had warmed up with a 350km race in the U.S. the weekend before, and ran The North Face 100 in China two weeks ago, said of the race: "I would rate this race as the toughest hundred kilometres I've ever done without a doubt, so I applaud anyone who finished".

John O'Regan, maybe trying to emulate DK' 50-50-50 (50 marathons in 50 US States in 50 consecutive days) travelled for this event all the way from Ireland to complete his 7 ultras in 7 continents, finishing in 15:51:56. The question for him now is "what's next?".

The women's race was taken out by New Zealander but ACT-resident Julie Quinn who smashed the record in an outstanding 12:13:45, taking 8th position overall. She was followed in second position by Beth Cardelli in 13:34:53 and Robin Cameron in 14:16:48. First female under 25 was Margaretha Fortmann in 16:03:05 and first veteran (over 50) was Ann Mackie in 16:33:48.

In the Marathon Pairs relay event, Team Blackheart (Liam Davies and Alex Stuart) came back to win a second year in a row in 11:03:18 in the male category. Team Live Strong (Nicci Drew and Kellie Epis) took the female category in 12:23:50 while the first mixed team was Team Landsedge (Rhett Doyle and Fleur Harmelin) in 15:21:10.

Runners continued to trek throughout the night and into the morning, with some finishing the race up to 26 hours and 30 minutes after they had begun. They were all greeted by a BBQ on arrival and received a certificate celebrating their achievement for posterity! All together, 282 participants made it over the finish line. Congratulations to all!

A huge thank you goes out to the partners and sponsors who made this event possible. First and foremost, The North Face for having the vision to create this event and support it. All the people who allowed this event to happen: the private land holders in the Megalong valley (the Carlons and the Friends), Bryan Ries and Tony Garbellini at National Parks and Wildlife Service -- Blue Mountains and Blue Mountains City Council. A huge thank you to the over 60 Blue Mountains SES volunteers who manned the checkpoints and timing, as well as the search and rescue crew. Organisers would also like to thank all the other volunteers for their energy in supporting the runners, David King, Gundungurra Traditional Owner, son of Aunty Mary King, Gundungurra Elder for the Blue Mountains for his spirited Welcome to Country, Lucas Trihey and his team for setting up Tarros Ladders and our generous sponsors without whose support this event would not be what it is: York Fairmont Resort & Leura Gardens who welcomed the runners in style, Petzl headlamps, Therm-a-Rest mats, Euro Optics sunnies, Casio watches, Kiehl's since 1851 skincare and bodycare , Runner's World Magazine, Chirosports, Endura drink, pb sports gels, Bounce Balls, Go Natural cereal bars, Fantastic instant noodles, soups and mash potatoes, Banana Boat sunscreen, Hero Energy drinks and Jiffy firelighters.

The North Face 100 is sanctioned by the Australia Ultra-Running Association, the governing body for ultra running in charge of promoting the sport in Australia and is a qualifying event for the North Face Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc. It is also supporting Leave No Trace Australia, a national non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor travel and recreation through education, research and partnerships.

Julie Quinn - Photo: - Mark Watson

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