Today, Sunday 12th April, Chris Jongewaard and Peta Mullens claimed the Wombat 100 titles at the iconic mountain bike marathon outside Woodend in Victoria.
Victoria is home to many great mountain bike events, like the Giant Odyssey, Bendigo Golden Triangle Epic, Dirt Gran Fondo – and of course the Wombat 100. Each event has unique characteristics, but the Wombat 100 is the only one that is part of the MTBA National XCM Series. It’s also got a great location, right at Cammeray Waters, so you can stay in comfortable accommodation less than 50m from the start line. Very civilised.
With a start time gratefully pushed to 8am by race organiser Henry Van Heerden, there were better chances for a slightly warmer start. But the autumn weather didn’t play along, and it was cold until the gun went.
Along with hundreds of keen mountain bikers keen to test themselves on 25, 50 and 75km course options, there were plenty to race the 100km event, including a pretty stacked elite field of the leading men and women of endurance mountain biking. The likes of Jongewaard, Blair, Lewis, Mather, Downing, Ward, Nankervis x 2, Adams, Shippard, Lestrell, Williams, Jackson, Cusworth, Ovens, Johnston and more were on the line. Perhaps the strongest marathon field since XCM Champs last year.
The women’s field was also deep, with Anset, Blair, King, Williams, Riley, Evans, Mullens and more.
Comments from the place getters at the Maximum Adventure Wombat 100 – what does Chris Jongewaard mean he’s not targeting Mountain Bike Australia – MTBA XCM Champs??Read our full report here: http://marathonm.wpengine.com/2015/04/12/jongewaard-and-mullens-claim-wombat-100-titles/
Posted by MarathonMTB.com on Sunday, 12 April 2015
The elite start was quick into the cold and damp air. The opening loop will really only catch out those unaware, and the main front group was still together as we hit the firetrail. The main challenge from there is positioning for the first section of pine forest singletrack, and the pace ramped up signifcantly about 300m out. I went in last wheel and came out alone. Word is that Jongewaard forced the pace at the front, and the groups started to splinter.
Just like at the Giant Odyssey, and at Easter in the Alice, Jongewaard was in a league of his own. Blair, Ward and Johnston put in a very good chase, with Ward having to back off at about 70km in, and Johnston needing to do the same with about 10km to go.
Blair actually reduced the gap, and finished under a minute down from Jongewaard, with Johnston further behind.
There were a number of elite casualties, with Shaun Lewis pulling out, along with Adrian Jackson, Michael Crosbie and others.
The elite women’s event was marked by a powerful ride from Peta Mullens. She started hard, aiming to get in a good small group of riders. She was seen to continually will more out of her legs, and finished in 22nd outright, and well clear of Jenny Blair, who was 2nd, and Jenni King in 3rd.
Marathon racing, race organisation and marshalling, are not without challenges. 100km of trail takes quite some investment in marking, and like just about any big race, some riders went off course. Both Ben Mather and Jenny Blair went off course briefly, but re-found it. This is only a couple of riders, and it happens in races as big as the Cape Epic. But after numerous riders went wrong at the last XCM Round in Alice Springs, it does raise questions about what style of course marking should be executed at national level events, and what role MTBA should take in providing the man power for this, or creating guidelines. Both Alice Springs and Wombat State Forest are littered with trails, they are mountain biking heaven, so it’s easier to go off course if a rider is inattentive.
However, looking for course marking is one of the challenges of racing, along with knowing how much food and water to carry, what bike and tyres to use, pacing yourself and managing any mechanical problems. It’s all part of the race craft.
All in, the Wombat 100 is a premium event in Victoria, and Australia. The course has a great mix of firetrail, pine singletrack, and natural bush trails. Don’t miss it in 2016.
Full results for all riders and all categories are available online.