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Frankston to Portsea 54.7Km / 34 milesThe 29th Annual Road Race - Melbourne, Australia.
All info provided by the Race Director : Kevin Cassidy (KCASSIDY@mfbb.vic.gov.au)
2001 Results - 1st April
Edition 29 of Australia's longest running ultra saw the tradition continue to build upon the rich and unique history of this "one of a kind" event. Six runners and a host of supporters gathered at the Davey Street corner in conditions that were a tad hazy but ideal for running. I had received a number of phone calls in the days before the race that had me thinking that maybe a field of 10 or more was possible, but on race day, a normal sized field of 6 toed the starting line. This event goes all the way back to 1973 but its true beginning can be traced back to the 60s when coach Percy Cerrutty would drive his squad of world class athletes to Frankston and make them run back to his Portsea camp. Amongst these athletes was Herb Elliott, the greatest Mile/1500 metre runner the world has ever seen and 1964 Olympic Champion.
It was a privilege to have Kevin Mansell in the field. Kevin is a 5 time Sydney-Melbourne finisher and one of the few people in the world to have run 1,000km in less than 6 days. Kevin earned legend status when he dueled with Yiannis Kouros for several days during the 1989 Sydney-Melbourne race before finishing in third position. Kevin was being looked after by his better half, Gwenda. Also on the comeback trail was Greg Wishart, Greg was a regular on the ultra scene but we had not seen him for almost 7 years. Some things just never change, Greg had a crew ready and waiting to assist him but Greg himself still hadn't shown up as I was about to say "GO"..........With only seconds to spare, a car flew around the corner on 2 wheels before screeching to a halt in a cloud of dust........Yes, Greg had arrived and the race was under way.
I should point out, at this stage, that while all the other runners paid their 5 dollar entry fee with a single 5 dollar note, Max "Mad Max" Gibbs showed what a cheapskate he is by handing me a bag of 5 cent and 10 cent coins!!
It was Max who took the early lead and was soon a long way in front with Peter and Willem cruising along behind. Peter was inspired to run this event after crewing for Rob Davis last year. Rob returned the favour by looking after Peter this time around. Meanwhile, the prize for the biggest crew was firmly in the grasp of Willem Boshoff. Willem is a newly arrived citizen from South Africa and had a huge contingent of South Africans supporting him.
Max was still leading when I caught up with his good wife, Allison, at the Rosebud Jetty...."How's Max" I asked....."He's buggered" replied Allison, not mincing her words. At this stage, I was just hoping that the runners would get safely through the busy traffic from the Sunday "outdoor market" in the Rosebud Village Green.......I had no idea that the market was on, normally this section is almost deserted on a Sunday morning.
Max lead through the marathon point at 42 km before hitting the wall which saw Willem and Peter come through in the later stages. Last year saw victory go to two newly arrived South Africans in Rob McConnochie and Richard Jourdain, this year was to be a South African victory again as Willem cruised to the finish........I guess we can now claim an international flavour to this race along with all its other traditions!!!!!!
With Willem, Peter and Max all finished, myself and our two roving course officials in Ross Shilston and Sandra Stewart went out in search of our remaining three runners. The incomparable Geoff Hook was next followed closely by Kevin and Greg.
Willem received a bottle of red wine as the winner while all finishers received the traditional block of plain Cadbury's chocolate and a souvenir mirror.....It seemed somewhat appropriate that the date was April Fools day.
The arrival, in Melbourne, of several competent athletes from South Africa has seen Geoff Hook, in his capacity as Secretary of the South Melbourne Athletic Club, eagerly trying to get their signatures on paper for the upcoming cross country season
With another Frankston to Portsea event completed and runners on their way home, Sandra [course official] decide to add some excitement to things by taking a very nasty fall over a tree root that saw her rip a hole in her jeans and take some serious layers of skin off her knee, hip and both hands which left her dripping blood in all directions. By the time I had put my first aid skills to use and bandaged up all her wounds, she was looking very much like an Egyptian mummy!!!!!!! Not so lucky, however, was her mobile phone that died a horrible death when it crashed into the asphalt and ended up in 1,000 pieces !!!!!!!
We have seen many bigger and fancier ultras in Australia but none of them have stood the test of time the way that the Frankston to Portsea has. I have no doubt that when I am dead and gone, the April tradition of a handful of runners enjoying the journey down the peninsula will be ongoing. Almost everyone who has ever been anyone in the ultra world has graced this event at one time or another and it is an event that every ultra runner must do at least once in their lifetimes.
The next edition of "Ultramag" will contain a history of results going right back to 1973, this history is still being researched by Max Gibbs. Also in Ultramag will be a collection of photo's from this years event. Meanwhile the webpage is at www.coolrunning.com.au/ultra/frankston/index.shtml
Sunday April 7th is the intended date for 2002.........Just roll up at the corner of Davey Street and the Nepean Highway in Frankston at 7am to enjoy a great run and be a part of the ongoing traditions of an event that is an icon on the Australian ultra calendar.
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