Kevin Cassidy's 2001 Mt Buller Report
Back to Mansfield to Mt Buller
A report on this event would not be complete without a brief rundown on its history. The Mansfield to Buller event was born out of a conversation between Peter Armistead and Dot Browne while travelling on a bus to the "Six Foot Track" marathon in March of 1990. Peter was relating the story about how he was visiting his brothers place in the Victorian country town of Mansfield and decided to head out for a solo training run which took him through a series of undulations before the long 16km climb to the summit of Mount Buller, one of the states premier ski resorts at 5,000 feet........"It would be a tough course for a race" Peter enthused...."Well lets organise it then" replied Dot, and so it was. January 1991 saw the beginning of what I believe is the toughest 50km road race you could ever find and, in its 11th year, we have seen this event graced with some famous and classy athletes and 2001 was no exception. Part of the tradition is the community sleep over on race eve at Wayne Armisteads home [he lives right near the start line] which sees a host of runners and helpers all flaked out on the floor of one large room which makes for a noisy and less than comfortable night with snorers being the main offenders!!!!!!!!
7am saw 18 hardy souls and a huge bunch of race helpers all assemble at the start as Dot Browne mentioned the word "GO". I don't think any of us had heard of John McKenzie as he bolted off like a startled gazelle but we sure know who he is now as he never faded for an all the way win over race favourite, Mike Wheatley. Third overall and first woman was the incredible Sandra Timmer-Arends who lowered her own course record for the third consecutive year, Sandra and Mike have represented Australia with aplomb at the World 100km Championships. It was also good to see the return of Bronwyn Hanns after her 2 year stint in the steamy tropics of North Queensland.
As I had the job of drinks waiter at the front of the field, I only saw the first two athletes all day and was oblivious to whatever else was happening back in the field. I did, however, have the company of Sandra "It's stupid to run so far" Stewart who found comfort in lying in the tray of my ute with her head up against the spare tyre while reading the newspapers!!!!!!!! In general, all the crewing and aid station movements worked well but we did have to teach timekeeper, Robin Anderson, how to use a stopwatch at the 5km point!!!!!!!!
I was busily recording times while Sandra handed out drinks at the Mount Buller summit, as well as admiring the view from the "rooftop" of Victoria, when race organiser Peter Armistead arrived with the news of a "stirring battle" going on between Ross Shilston, Alan Witt and the ever reliable Dawn Parris as they traded places coming up the mountain.........in the end, only minutes separated the three of them.
Brian Gawne deserves a special mention as the only person to have finished all 11 Mansfield to Buller events while Kelvin Marshall has 10 under his belt.
It was a privilege to have John Nuttall in the race. John comes from Townsville and was down in Victoria for the fruit picking season, he arrived in Mansfield with two other friends in a battered old van with QLD number plates and proceeded to run an excellent time. When the race was over and we were all enjoying the presentation at the ski lodge, John and his friends were heading back to the Shepparton district for more fruit picking before the day was over.............They sure breed them tough in North Queensland!!!!!
The 2002 event will again be staged on the third Sunday in January..............