Ultra-runners to Battle in the Heat
Oppressive conditions greeted our 50k runners in the inaugural Cairns 50 and 2023 is looking to be very similar. With some strong runners making the trip to Cairns for the blue ribbon event this year, will they be able to match it with the performances of 2022? Lets check out this year’s contenders.
It is a wide open field for the women’s Cairns 50 with none of the 2022 top 3 lining up for this year’s ultra. But do expect to see Cairns 50 Ambassador Kryssi O-Hare-Siplon to be matching with the men at the front. 2022 was a year of big results for Kryssi with a 3rd place finish and a sub 3:30 marathon at Cairns Marathon Festival, followed by her first Backyard Ultra in October. Her recent form is also strong taking out 2nd place at the recent Dynamic in a Dress Half Marathon. But, Kryssi hasn’t run a 50k before…so will she be able to go the distance is the only question.
The major competition looks to be coming all the way from the Gold Coast in the shape of Sophia Vinecombe. Sophia has put in a big training block and running fast. We expect to see her pushing Kryssi all the way on Sunday.
Then our final pick for the women’s podium is local teacher Sarah Hession. She is tenacious and strong, so don’t expect the heat to slow her down. And also don’t count out Rebecca Elliott and Jenni Jefferis. Rebecca had a great run in the Cairns 30 in 2022 with a sub 3 hour 6th place and Jenni finished in the top 5 of the 2022 edition of Cairns 50. It will no doubt be a close battle for the podium.
Similar to the women’s 50k field, this year’s event will be missing the 2022 champion and runner up. Which leaves Cairns 50 Ambassador as the lone member from the 2022 podium to be on this year’s start line. And we expect Jarrod to be there abouts again in a super strong field. Jarrod has been solid with his racing this year with a 4th place at Copperlode Cup the highlight, but will he be able to match it with the large brigade of runners coming from outside of Cairns?
Half of this year’s men’s field are travelling to Cairns for the 50k from Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Victoria and Townsville. And leading this onslaught is Triathlon Coach and 2022 Gold Coast 50 7th place Rob Dendle. In a big performance in amongst a incredibly strong field, Rob ran a 3:22 50k at the 2022 edition of Gold Coast 50 which puts him well at the top of the favourites for Cairns 50. He has what it takes to show a clean pair of heels with his previous experience on the big Ironman stage in Kona and deserves to be the favourite for Sunday’s ultra.
You can also expect to see Aran Hayes mixing it at the front with his experience in ultra endurance events. In 2022, he had a great race at Ultra 355 Australia including a 4:44 50k on the back of 300km’s of riding and a 5k swim over 3 days! And if he can cope with the heat and humidity, Victorian Mitchell Cumming could well be in amongst the top runners too.
But there is a strong contingent of local runners who will do their best to keep the Cairns 50 championship in Far North Queensland. Rinaldo Lookene is killing it on the local triathlon and running scene in 2023 and will be looking to back up his 2022 Cairns 30 3rd place with another podium here. James Farrell has come a long way since his first Ironman in 2022, and the Irishman is a strong runner who will test himself over the 50k distance. His determination is etched on his face when running hard and his recent exploits show he will match it with the more experienced ultra-runners (provided he doesn’t miss any turns on the course)!
But the list of contenders doesn’t stop there with Oliver Carey, Kevin Durose, Bryan Hawarden, Daniel Hannaford and Csaba Toth all capable of challenging for the podium come Sunday. It may just come down to who manages the conditions best.