The Giant Odyssey is quite possibly the king of Australian marathon races. It’s not longer than usual, but it’s hard. But not hard for the sake of being hard. The trails are really good. And it’s close enough to Melbourne, and Avalon airport, that getting there isn’t too much of a big deal. But the climbing, and trails, make it enough of a challenge that it’s almost like no other race on the calendar.
Chris Jongewaard continued his reign of the Giant Odyssey on the weekend, claiming his sixth victory of the 100km event and also the King of the Mountain title. In typical fashion, he won by just riding away from the rest of the field. In the women’s category, Jenni King took the overall win after a tight race over a stellar line up of elite women riders.
Jongewaard dominated the race right from the outset and held off a chase pack to win by over 6 minutes. Despite this, he was disappointed not to have beaten his own event record of 4:19:19.
“I was one minute off the record but it was still a pretty fast day; and I had the time of my life out there,” said six-time Giant Odyssey winner Chris Jongewaard from South Australia.
“I always love coming here; they’re such good trails, the people are great and it’s an awesome atmosphere. Bring a group of friends over; it’s the perfect weekend and you’ve got to be here,” said Jongewaard.
Coming in second was Mark Tupalski from the ACT and then Tobias Lestrell from Melbourne. They had managed to break away from a pack of strong riders that included high accomplished mountain bikers such as Ben Mather from Tasmania, Kyle Ward from NSW, James Downing from ACT, as well as Rohin Adams, Murray Spink, Tom Goddard and Brad Clarke.
It was also a tough battle in the women’s 100km Giant Odyssey with Jenni King managing to steal the lead in the final few k’s to cross the finish line victorious.
After undergoing surgery for a major injury only 8 months ago King has been working towards rebuilding her strength to be able to get back on the bike and into serious racing, and was ecstatic with the win.
“I’m a little surprised by this but I’m really happy. I had no idea how far in front Peta [Mullens] was so I just concentrated on my own race and was really lucky to be able to get past her near the end. The course was really good as each loop is quite different and I enjoyed the variety, although the climbs were pretty tough,” said Jenni King, female winner of the Giant Odyssey.
Peta Mullens had led the women’s field for much of the day and claimed the Queen of the Mountain title, having reached the highest point in the course first. However she was aware of the strong competition chasing her and wasn’t surprised when King caught her towards the end of the race.
“Jenny Fay and I got an early break and then I managed to put some time into her on the next couple of climbs but I was worried about Jenni King behind me, who is so good through the technical sections, and when she caught me she just rode off on me. I just had nothing left to give and she’s a class act,” said Peta Mullens.
“This is my fifth time doing the Giant Odyssey, I love coming back here. The trails here are amazing, I love the start and finish in Forrest and it’s a real mountain biker’s marathon so I’ll definitely be back next year to try to get the win again,” said Mullens who’s from Bendigo.
Rounding out the top three women was Jenny Fay who was followed by last year’s winner Rebecca Locke in fourth, then Karen Hill, Jacqui Slack from the UK, Terri Rhodes from South Australia, Naomi Williams, Melissa Anset and local favourite Jessica Douglas in tenth.
It was tight racing in the popular 50km Giant Shorty with a sprint finish to the line won by David Sagnol. In the women’s 50km event Louise Betts also won by less than a minute.
It wasn’t just the winners having a great day out at Giant Odyssey. In total, over 1300 very enthusiastic mountain bikers conquered the 2015 Giant Odyssey.
“That was the best race I’ve ever done. I’ve been mountain biking for 4 years and this was just awesome. I loved the single track, it was just terrific,” said Ewen Malmo from Narre Warren.
In the afternoon 150 riders took on the 15km Giant Pioneer, an event designed for new comers to mountain biking and for young riders. The field also included a number of handcyclists who raced on a tailored 6km course.
Race organisers Rapid Ascent were really pleased with how smoothly the event ran and the number of competitors.
“Today was truly one of the best Odyssey’s we’ve had. The trails were in mint condition, the weather was perfect, it was a top notch field with some tight racing and a great supportive atmosphere at the event festival. I congratulate everyone who took part in it,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent.
Giant Odyssey 100km
Top 3 Male
1. Chris Jongewaard 4:20:39
2. Mark Tupalski 4:26:43
3. Tobias Lestrell 4:29:23
Top 3 Female
1. Jenni King 5:13:33
2. Peta Mullens 5:14:53
3. Jenny Fay 5:17:44
King of the Mountain: Chris Jongewaard 1:00:42
Queen of the Mountain: Peta Mullens 1:12:12
Giant Shorty 50km
Top 3 Male
1. David Sagnol 2:15:51
2. Warren Faneco 2:15:32
3. Jack Lambshed 2:17:42
Top 3 Female
1. Louise Betts 2:43:32
2. Tanya Faux 2:44:07
3. Eva Plessing 2:53:36
Giant Pioneer 15km
Overall Junior Winners
1. Nathan Scarlett 0:32:40
2. Jonas Wolfe 0:32:42
3. Max Wood 0:33:55