COFFS COAST INDEPENDENT, NSW, AU.
KELVIN Marshall became the only man to post four wins in the history of the event with his victory in this year’s edition of the Bananacoast Ultramarathon from Grafton to Coffs Harbour.
He covered the 83km in 7hrs14mins09secs to add 2008 to his wins in 1996, 1998 and 1999.
Arguably Australia’s most prolific ultramarathoner, this event marked his 199th ultramarathon.
He posted number 200 by finishing second in the last weekend’s 50km event in the Glasshouse Mountains.
The week before his run down the back road from Grafton to Coffs Harbour on May 11, Marshall had competed in another 80km event in Victoria.
These recent events are nothing compared to his schedule for the next couple of months when he will run an 1100km stage race in France and a 100-mile (160km) race across Death Valley in America.
Marshall was not alone in making history in this year’s Bananacoast event.
Meredith Quinlan re-established a female presence in the race after an eight-year hiatus.
She came to the run from a totally different perspective to all the men running, especially Marshall.
Firstly, it was her first attempt at a distance longer than 45km and, secondly, she was the youngest in the field of six that set out from Grafton Post Office at 6am.
She began with the intent of keeping as close to seven-minute kilometres as she could and her finish time of 10hrs12mins50secs showed that she dropped very little time in the later stages.
She becomes only the sixth female to complete the full Bananacoast event.
Second spot across the finish at the Coffs Hotel went to Glenn Lockwood, whose time of 8hrs17mins18secs represented a massive personal best of 1hr26mins.
Third-placed Robert Boyce, although an experienced ultra runner, was having his first attempt at the Grafton-Coffs run.
He was a bit disappointed with his time of 8hrs44mins55secs, but the time on his legs should stand him in good stead for another tilt at the famous Comrades event in South Africa.
The final male finisher was Bruce Webber, another first-timer on the course, who finished his journey in 9hrs54mins36secs.
It is worth noting that the times posted by all the men could have won the race on some other occasions.