Under sunny skies, temperatures in the 70’s Fahrenheit, and very little humidity, nearly 700 runners made their way around the 2014 The North Face 100k Australia course in Blue Mountains National Park. Australia’s Stu Gibson, working under the constant pressure from men behind him, and Catalunya’s Núria Picas, pushing in her own world, emerged as champions in this sixth race of the 2014 Ultra-Trail World Tour.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to The North Face 100k Australia-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports.
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2014 The North Face 100k Australia Men’s Race
It wasn’t much more than 10k into the race when a pack of seven emerged as the day’s major players: Stu Gibson, Jorge Maravilla, Brendan Davies, Quentin Stephan, Scott Hawker, Andrew Tuckey, and Jonathan O’Loughlin. The men were within 50 seconds of each other at 10.5k and just after a major climb called the Golden Stairs. By Checkpoint 2 at 31k, deep into Blue Mountains National Park, the seven were all within two minutes of each other, with Jorge Maravilla leading.
Then, at 46k, Stu had taken the lead with Jorge a half-minute behind and the rest of the seven starting to string out. From there, Stu only pressed harder into the next aid station at 57k, back in the town of Katoomba before their next loop into the bush. There’s a 1,500-ish-foot climb between those aid stations, and Stu used it to run those 11k a full 10 minutes faster than any other guy in the field. It was a bold move that set him apart. At 57k, Andrew and Brendan had used that climb to launch themselves into second and third, where they would stay for the balance of the day. Early leader Jorge had some issues in that section, rolling into 57k in sixth place and 13 minutes off the lead.
At the 78k aid station, Stu arrived hard charging in first, looking solid but having given back 3.5 minutes of his lead. Andrew rolled through in second at 6.5 minutes behind, also looking strong. Then there was Brendan in third and 10 minutes back, who looked the freshest of the three. It was at 78k that Ben Duffus came onto our radar, having run outside of the top 10 early, then at the back of the top 10 in the middle of the race. But here at 78k, he was in fourth. He would later tell us that he’d decided to run conservatively early so that he could have a solid second half and finish under 10 hours. 9:56:16 would be his final time: perfect pacing, smart racing.
Between 78k and the finish is the race’s stiffest climb, a relentless 2,000-plus feet over the final 15k. It would be the hill (and the many, many stairs that are part of this climb) that would make or break people’s races. In that distance, Andrew bridged his gap to Stu, and the two sprint finished. Even after his aggressive move around 46k and that relentless last hill, Stu had enough to out kick Andrew by a couple seconds in the finishing chute. The both finished exhausted and smiling.
Brendan held onto third place, but he, too was pressed in that final distance by fourth place Jono O’Loughlin. For them, it didn’t quite come down to the finishing chute, as Brendan finished 20 seconds before Jono.
Ben and his stellar pacing rolled through in fifth, Quentin in sixth, Scott in seventh, and Jorge in eighth. With the exception of the second-half drop-in of Ben, the top men at 10.5k remained so at the finish.
Andrew Lee and Sam Maffett finished off the men’s top 10.
2014 The North Face 100k Australia Men’s Results
- Stu Gibson – 9:31:11
- Andrew Tuckey (The North Face) – 9:31:??
- Brendan Davies (Inov-8) – 9:53:10
- Jonathan O’Loughlin – 9:53:30
- Ben Duffus (Hoka OneOne) – 9:56:16
- Quentin Stephan (La Fuma) – 10:03:29
- Scott Hawker (Hoka OneOne) – 10:15:26
- Jorge Maravilla (Salomon) – 10:21:47
- Andrew Lee (The North Face) – 10:46:57
- Sam Maffett – 10:49:27
2014 The North Face 100k Australia Women’s Race
In the race’s early road kilometers, Fernanda Maciel led, running aggressively. By 10.5k and atop the Golden Stairs climb, Núria Picas had moved into the lead position, but barely. Fernanda would lurk only seconds behind for the next several kilometers. At 10.5k, Gill Fowler was running in third.
By 31k at Checkpoint 2, Núria had already dug herself a nice lead over the women’s field, arriving 7.5 minutes ahead of Joelle Vaught, who had moved up to second place after taking things casually early on. Behind Joelle just a few seconds was Fernanda in third with fourth and fifth place Gill and Claire Walton about 14 minutes in arrears of Núria.
At 46k, the women’s top five arrived in the same order, except that Fernanda had lost time to second place Joelle, and Gill and Claire were gaining on her, too. At 57k, after the big climb back into Katoomba, Núria cruised into town looking like she was out for a jog. Joelle ran in second but with an increasing gap to Núria. Gill and Claire arrived in third and fourth, with Fernanda not looking so good in fifth place.
From there to the finish, Núria would only increase her lead. At 78k, Joelle was solidly in second, 37 minutes behind Núria and 14 minutes ahead of–guess who–Fernanda. Fernanda had a resurgence and fought her way back into third. But just barely because Gill and Claire were both not more than a minute behind.
It was no surprise that Núria rolled through as a confident winner in 13th overall. Second place was Joelle, but surprisingly, Fernanda finished just 2.5 minutes after her, having made her way back onto the podium after her problems midway, and very nearly getting herself in position to challenge for second. She was elated with third place, however. Gill and Claire kept their respective positions, finishing fourth and fifth.
The balance of the women’s top 10 were Sonia McDermott, Katherine MacMillan, Belinda Zimmerli, Shona Stephenson, and Jodi Oborne.
2014 The North Face 100k Australia Women’s Results
- Núria Picas (Buff) – 10:57:46
- Joelle Vaught (Montrail) – 11:45:15
- Fernanda Maciel (The North Face) – 11:47:52
- Gill Fowler (La Sportiva) – 11:56:01
- Claire Walton – 12:05:30
- Sonia McDermott – 12:22:30
- Katherine MacMillan – 12:25:04
- Belinda Zimmerli – 12:44:46
- Shona Stephenson (Inov-8) – 12:45:49
- Jodie Oborne– 12:49:41
2014 The North Face 100k Australia Articles, Race Reports, and More
Articles and Photo Galleries
- Paul Charteris’s massive photo album
- Ultra168’s post-race survey results and analysis
- Brendan Davies – 3rd male
- Ben Duffus – 5th male
- Scott Hawker – 7th male
A big, bright thank you to Paul Charteris, Race Director for the Tarawera Ultramarathon, and Tom Landon-Smith, The North Face 100k Race Director, for their live coverage from the field. Our live coverage was made possible by them! Thanks also to Rachel Jacqueline who provided some information for this article.