Frankston to Portsea 2007

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THE 35th PERCY CERUTTY FRANKSTON TO PORTSEA 55KM ROAD RACE

Sunday 1st April 2007

1 Brian Trower 4:08:19      
2 Tory Trewhitt 4:15:12      
3 Mal Grimmett 4:18:03      
4 Tim Kenington 4:18:28      
5 John Nuttall 4:31:59      
6 Will Downey 4:38:32      
7 Brendan Mason 4:53:54      
8 Peter Bignell 4:54:24      
9 Michael Lovric 4:58:17      
10 Robert Boyce 5:12:54      
11 Sarah Drummond [F] 5:22:17      
12 Danny Cole 5:26:14      
13 Ben Cotter 5:32:26      
14 Stephen Van Der Tang 5:34:40      
15 Michelle Blake [F] 5:53:27      
16 Ben Liuzzi 5:53:27      
17 John Dobson 6:24:30      
18 Ernie Hartley 6:28:33      
19 Brian Glover 6:40:55      
20 David Jones 6:57:49      
21 Dee Greenwood [F] 7:13:02      
22 Peter Gray 9:06:25 his 199th ultra!      
DNFs          
1 Chantal Keyser [F] 4:46:58 at 42.2km      
2 Andrew Herman 42.2km      
3 Liam Staines ???      


Report by Race Director, Kevin Cassidy

There could be no more appropriate date than April Fools Day for a 55km jaunt down the Mornington Peninsula. More appropriate, however, was that it was the day our state government enhanced their inability to handle our drought by introducing a new level of water restrictions known as “Stage 3A”! Motoring down the Frankston Freeway, the 6am news featured “Water Minister”, John Thwaites. “Without rain, our water storages will continue to drop”, he said knowingly in one of those dizzy moments of inspired and incisive brilliance.

Make no mistake, I was feeling like the proverbial “Has Been” when half the field who descended upon the car park behind Frankston’s “Kitten’s Strip Club” were runners I had never met, let alone recognised. The usual suspects turned up, of course, but I was guessing that most of the younger brigade had probably never heard of Percy Cerutty. With this in mind, I felt a bit of a history lesson was in order prior to setting off. The famed athletic coach produced numerous champions at his Portsea camp. The journey from Frankston was a course used by several world beaters as part of Percy’s gruelling training schedule in the 50’s and early 60’s. Deemed eccentric by the establishment of the day, history has proved him to have been 40 years ahead of his time.

With two runners embarking on an early start [Peter Gray and David Jones], the remaining 23 starters hit the road for Portsea some 55km south at the bottom of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. Thanks to the once unimaginable marvels of the internet, what has been a low key event for a handful of runners for so many years has grown rapidly. 25 runners was a record field. There may have been 26,000 runners at the “Run For The Kids” up in the city but they sure couldn’t boast our long history.

In an excellent example of the fellowship that exists amongst the ultra fraternity, Andrew Hewat and Richard McCormick sacrificed their own chances of running to assist on the day by acting as roving aid stations. They both even refused my offer of fuel money!

The first panic of the day occurred only minutes after the start. As we watched the departing runners disappear down the Nepean Highway, Andrew’s 30 year old Kombi Van which he affectionately refers to as the “Mother Ship” failed to start!! “No Worries” he enthused as my heart started to palpitate, “I’ve got a second battery and I’ll have it going in a tick”. Much to my immense relief, he was soon on the road with a stock of drinks and substantial array of various tempting treats to sustain the runners.

John Nuttal and Michael Lovric were visiting from Townsville and Sydney respectively while Chantal Keyser from Hobart joined the field of four women. With female participation being rare here over the years, it was a welcome boost.

In the space of 10 kilometres, Mal Grimmett had shot to a substantial lead and the field had stretched considerably passing the Silver’s Circus that had set up for business in front of the local Bunnings hardware store. The thought of voyeuristic people forking out money to see maltreated and humiliated animals perform “tricks” made my stomach turn.

First timers Brian Trower, Tim Kenington, Stephen van der Tang, Tory Tewitt and Will Downey were all going strong and looking confident. Further back were many seasoned veterans running their own races in the knowledge of what lay ahead. Peter Bignell was powering along in his third appearance here while Brendan Mason, Michael Lovric and Ben Cotter linked up ahead of Robert Boyce. Towards the rear was Ernie Hartley, Andrew Herman and the indefatigable ultra walker, Brian Glover, setting his usual steady and consistent pace.

Amongst the women, Sarah Drummond had bolted away from Michelle Blake, Dee Greenwood and Chantal Keyser. Michelle was running with Ben Luizzi while Dee was enjoying the journey with her numerous supporters. Chantal was moving steadily near the rear in what was an episode all on its own. Chantal had arrived the previous night at the airport forgetting her credit card and unable to hire a car. Adding to this, she had booked a return flight for 4pm the next day unaware that the Airport was 130km from Portsea. A degree of car shuffling on the Saturday night got her to her Frankston motel but returning to the airport on time the next day was simply impossible. Given that her goal was to qualify for the Comrades marathon, all she needed was a 42km marathon time. With a bit of planning, Chantal reached that point at the Rye Pier then jumped into a pre arranged taxi!! By the time the last runner had arrived at Portsea, Chantal was devouring a hearty dinner back home in Hobart with a qualifying run under her belt. She’ll be lining up for a 10th Comrades finish in June, a meritorious achievement indeed. As a newly arrived ex pat South African, we keenly look forward to seeing more of Chantal around the ultra scene

Ignoring conventional running attire, Sarah Drummond was clad in a bright pink skirt and black long sleeved woollen jumper. Looking substantially younger than her 23 years and with a long loping stride, an astute observer would have thought her unlikely to last very long as she kept pace with the experienced Danny Cole.

With the race having progressed through the undulating first half and onto the beach road at Dromana, runners were treated to the enchanting sight of Port Phillip Bay at its inimitable best. The water was crystal clear and as flat as an ice rink.

Passing through the Dromana shopping strip, Mal Grimmett’s big lead was being gobbled up rapidly with Brian Trower surging ahead looking like he had just warmed up for a 12 round bout with Mike Tyson. Brian had been getting advice from Mike Wheatley, a master with several previous sub four hour performances over this course.

With my two able assistants taking care of the middle and rear of the field, I remained near the front runners, therefore missing the bulk of the mid field action in the second half.

Brian and Mal duelled for the lead going through McCrae where a new shopping complex had sprung up in recent months. Mindful of the fact that fools and their money are easily parted, developers had built a stunning array of cheap and nasty retail outlets stocked heavily with products of the “I never knew I needed” variety.

With Brian now a clear leader, I grabbed a couple of red wines for our respective winners from a wine store in Rye staffed by a youngster who had obviously made a recent heavy investment in a large tub of pimple cream.

Brian careered home for a solid win with youngster, Tory Trewitt, working through the field for second. Another first timer, Tim Kenington almost ran down Mal Grimmett for third over the final 200 metres with the dependable Queenslander, John Nuttall, steady in fifth. With sciatic pain raising its ugly head, Mal’s pace had diminished somewhat in the later stages.

Will Downey was another to put in an excellent first time performance while the guru himself, Brendan Mason, took over an hour off his 2006 time by ferociously overtaking the tiring Peter Bignell in the most potent of fashions just 400 metres from the line.

Still powering along and leaving Danny Cole in her wake, Sarah Drummond ran into Portsea displaying her distinctive loping style and with her proud parents by her side. Still clad in that long sleeved jumper and looking for all the world as if she had just enjoyed a short jog, her satisfied smile was bigger than the Queen Mary. Sarah’s run raised many admiring eyebrows. Word has it that she trains by charging up the hills in the Dandenong Ranges producing more sparks than fireworks at a Mexican fiesta.

Michelle Blake finished strongly for second with the inspired Dee Greenwood third. “Oooh, it’s a long way” laughed Dee as she crossed the line to the raucous applause from her large contingent of supporters.

Also arriving at Portsea was John Dobson who courts much fame as a member of the elite 13 who have completed all 29 Melbourne Marathons.

Relaxing at the finish, Robert Boyce, Ben Cotter, Stephen van der Tang and Michael Lovric were all wearing satisfied facial expressions as they sat discussing the day’s proceedings in the most serious of manners. Ernie Hartley was already looking ahead. In three weeks time, he’ll be pursuing a third consecutive 12 hour win at the Coburg 24 Hour Carnival.

With the bulk of the field having completed their days work, the otherwise peaceful ambience of the area surrounding the Portsea finish was split by an overtly enthusiastic individual housed nearby who took it upon himself to practice his drums. Trust me, he was seriously devoid of musical talent. Things deteriorated further when a gaggle of oddly dressed tourists alighted their vehicle puffing on cigarettes, rudely fouling the previously fresh and charming atmosphere. A mandatory five year gaol term for such offences will be my paramount priority when I become Prime Minister!!

Early starter, Peter Gray was the final finisher in his 199th Ultra!! He’ll bring up his 200th at the Coburg 24 Hour Carnival, a race he’ll be running for the 20th time!!

In keeping with the long standing tradition, each finisher received a block of chocolate and ceremonial mirror. Purchasing the entire stock of mirrors from my local “Two Dollar Shop” during the week had the young shop assistant advising me not to drop them. “That’ll be a lot of bad luck” she laughed, “At seven years per mirror, it’ll guarantee several lifetimes of misery”.

In total, nine runners finished under five hours with 15 under six hours. The depth being reminiscent of the early 90’s.

With only Peter Gray and myself remaining at the finish, we pointed the car towards Frankston with the radio blaring news of a win by one of the AFL football teams. Proving it to be a game of recycled clichés, the coach was emphatic that they had won by doing the “one percenters” , would only take things “one week at a time” , hope to maintain their standard “week in, week out” and would be “looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead”.

Barring nuclear attack or the onset of the next ice age, the Frankston to Portsea race will be run again on Sunday April 6th 2008

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