The inauguration Great Southern Stage Race certainly lived up to the region’s ‘wild and rugged’ reputation as competitors rose to the challenge the course and weather threw at them over the three-day event.
Held from Thursday 17th to Saturday 19th November 2022, the ultra-distance stage race featured a 200km point-to-point course that traversed large sections of the famous Bibbulmun Track in the Great Southern Region of Australia western.
Rapid Ascent organizers were blown away by the feats of the competitors at the inaugural event;
“We are truly blown away by the success of the event over the past few days; it showed us that this is a world class event on a world class course! said event director Sam Maffett.
“It was truly fantastic to see so many of our participants relishing the opportunity to race in an area of Australia rarely visited by people,” added Maffett. “During the three-day race, they pushed boundaries, pushed boundaries, broadened their horizons and challenged themselves every mile – falling asleep at the end of each day exhausted and satisfied!”
Competitors were treated to a challenging course that encompassed a wild, rugged and stunningly beautiful part of Australia en route to the spectacular finish line on the Torndirrup Peninsula in Albany.
61 relay teams of 4 competitors ran between 10km and 26km each over the four stages that make up each of the three days; with 8 competitors doing the entire course solo, covering 70km on day 1, 77km on day 2 and 56km on day 3.
The Flying V team maintained solid form over the three days knocking out the Category 4 relay team and feeling absolutely thrilled!
“At some point I stopped running… I climbed to the top of this hill between 2 mountains and just had to stop – the view was world class, and it literally took my breath away !” – Flying Vs.
“It was a dream race; the trails there are just phenomenal and all I could think of was doing this trail again!” – Flying Vs.
Supported by his wife and children, Alan Williams was our first male solo rider each day, taking the overall solo victory.
“Everyone on the trails was so fantastic and extremely encouraging; it is this camaraderie that keeps us going through this difficult journey! said Williams.
Linda Kilpatrick was our female solo winner and recalls, “It’s just beautiful on the course – I’m really blown away by how you find these courses and all those tricky little bits too!” said Kilpatrick. “Going to the beach was sometimes very difficult, but I had it to myself, so I had a lot of joy!”
The course was mainly single track as competitors followed the Bibbulmun track, Day 1 starting in the Valley of the Giants at Walpole on the elevated treetop walk and ending at Parry Beach.
The 70km course for Day 1 was split into 4 stages of varying distance and competitors traversed the lush forests of the Deep South and a mix of terrain along wild beaches, cliffs, rocks and inland trails. On day one, competitors were treated to a number of scenic spots such as Conspicuous Beach and Peaceful Bay; and also included a 200m river crossing by canoe!
Day 2 was described as simply sensational! The 77 km route started at Parry Campground and included an untimed ferry ride over Wilson Inlet. Competitors rose to the challenge posed by both the weather and the course, racing on trails that skirted picture-postcard beaches and popular spots such as Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks.
Day 3 was a staggered start from Camp Kennedy with the slowest to fastest solo and relay teams, with the goal of finishing the event together in time for the celebratory presentations at Camp Quaranup in Albany.
“The handicap format really brought everyone together at the finish line and maximized the celebrations for everyone!” said Maffet.
Last days trails included Australia’s best beach for 2022 – Misery Bay! Competitors swept spectacular trails along the beach with the Albany Wind Farm towering above; before crossing the towns of Little Grove and Big Grove, past Misery Bay to our finish line.
Participants stayed together in coordinated group accommodations at each day’s finish line, which created a social and supportive environment for all runners and supporters.
“The genuine enthusiasm and energy of the teams was fantastic to see,” Maffett said. “Their awe at the magnificence of the terrain showed how blown away the competitors were by the course; not to mention the many lifelong connections formed from the event! »
The event ended with a festive barbecue, free beer and presentations at Camp Quaranup, making it a very joyous occasion.
The Great Southern is the largest and most diverse region in South West Australia and is supported by the City of Albany who helped Rapid Ascent create such a successful event. Simultaneously, the event supported the Bibbulmun Track Foundation in its ongoing maintenance and management of the trail.
The event was formed as an amalgamation of the best parts of Rapid Ascent’s two most successful (and sold out) trail running events – The Run Larapinta Stage Race in the NT and The Margaret River Ultra Marathon in WA.
The next edition of the Great Southern Stage Run will take place in November 2023 and will serve as the official qualifying event for the Extreme Race Everest 135 (the only Australian qualifying race!). Learn more here.
For more information on the Great Southern Stage Run, including detailed results, go to www.greatsouthernstagerun.com.au.