1996 Yearly Report

The 1996 Coburg 24 Hour Championships
Coburg Athletics Ground
April 1996

Carmela Carrassi - Centurion Number 27

I was lucky enough last weekend to view and verify the excellent performance of Carmela Carrassi in the Victorian 24 Hour Track Championship at the Coburg Harriers Track in Melbourne. Carmela completed the full 24 hours and set new Australian Women's Bests for 50 miles, 100 km, 100 miles and 24 hours. These performances were as follows

50 Miles
100 Km
100 Miles
24 Hours 

Those of us who watched Carmela complete 92+ miles in the 1994 Centurions Walk at Clifton Hill and set new Aust records for the above distances were convinced that it was only a matter of time until she made the 100 mile and we did not have long to wait. In 1994, Carmela had only been walking for some 12 months and was very much a newcomer to the sport. Over the 18 months since that performance, she has competed regularly in the Veterans and in the Victorian Walkers Club and this showed in her latest performance.Whereas in 1994, she had problems with blisters and stomach upsets and a drastically slowing pace, this time she walked like an ultra veteran and and always looked in control. She was an almost continuous presence on the track and only stopped to change shoes. She never slowed to slower to above 4 min laps and sped up over the last couple of hours to about 3:35 laps once again. Her style was impeccable and never in doubt from my point of view.

Weather conditions were atrocious. It rained for most of the 24 hours of the race and during the night, the rain was so heavy and continuous that competitors were forced to fight their way through water that was several inches in depth. Add to that the wind that blew furiously overnight and you had conditions that will be talked about for some time to come. Carmela walked most of the second 12 hours out towards the second lane to avoid the water, thus adding considerable distance to each lap.

It was certainly a marvellous race to watch with 8 relay teams matching it with the individuals over the 24 hour period. Thus there were always a lot of athletes on the track and a big crowd helping and spectating. Carmela was the only walker amongst the runners but she was well treated and certainly did walking a great service by her efforts.

The great Yiannis Kouros was dominant and the race was worth seeing just to view his performance. He held the world 24 hour track running record at 282 km and was hoping to extend that to some 306 km. However the atrocious weather conditions slowed him and he had to be content with ONLY 294.50 Km (736 laps). He had broken his record by some 12 km in a performance that marks him as so far ahead of the rest of the world that he can be confidently called a 'superman'.

Final results were as follows

Yiannis Kouros
736 laps 
294.504 km 
Helen Stanger
211.130 km
Joe Slrombolak
201.856 km
Peter Goonpan
178.731 km
Bill Hick
164.211 km
Carmela Carrassi 
162.541 km

Queensland Race Walking Club 24 Hour Walk
QE II Stadium, Brisbane
28-29 September 1996

Caleb Maybir - Centurion Number 28

The Queensland walkers held their 24 Hour Fund Raiser event for the Epilepsy foundation on 28- 29 September. The event was held at the QE II Stadium in Brisbane and the Queensland Racewalking Officials and judges helped to run the event. Centurion representatives were Peter Bennett and Andrew Ludwig

Peter Bennet has provided me with a full set of results and what a fantastic result it was with a new Centurion and a new 100 Km Australian Record. Full results are as follows

Caleb Maybir
100 miles
Centurion No. 28
Peter Bennett
100 km
Aust Best On Record 
Michelle Curran 
259 laps (103.6 km) 
24 Hours

Andrew Ludwig
170 laps (68 km)

Caleb will be well known to any current walkers from his performances in Federation events over recent years where he regularly represents Queensland. Caleb has represented Queensland over both 20 Km and 50 Km on many occasions and has also represented his native Fiji in the Oceania Games. He certainly had the credentials to attack the 100 mile distance and put it down on the record with a very gutsy performance.

The race began at midday in 27 degree heat, not a cloud in the sky and a hot dry wind down the back straight. Six starters set off - 2 relay teams, 2 100 Km walkers and 2 100 100 mile aspirants.

Peter Bennett and Andrew Ludwig quickly settled into 2:30 laps which they maintained for the first 50 im. Caleb let his enthusiasm get the better of him and started the first 10 km at 2:35 laps. He then settled down and focused on the long job ahead. By the 30 km mark, Caleb had dropped the arms and switched to a brisk street walk, averaging 3;10 laps. After his earlier friskiness, the enormity of the task ahead dawned. The race plan had simplified. There would be no meal brreaks, no rest stops; he would remain on the track as long as it would take to walk 100 miles.

Going through 50 km in a respectable 6 hrs 13 mins, Caleb continued at 3:20 laps to record a 50 mile timie of 10:25:43. Soon after this milestone, he hit his first horror patch, slowing to 4:00 min laps as he battled fatigue. Many people leaving the track for the night left with the opinion that he was finished. By 90 km, Caleb had got back on course with 3:35 min laps and was looking more in control. Suffering from bad blisters, he slowed to 4 min laps from the 100 Km mark. At this stage, even Caleb's support crew thought he was gone, especially after a 20 min break to patch up the injured feet. But Caleb had gone too far and had endured too much pain and anguish to give up now.

By daybreak, Caleb had gone through 130 Km and was doing the required 3:45 laps. Relay team members and supporters returning to the track couldn't believe that Caleb was still going. He had to call on all his courage and years of experience to get through that last 30 km. Urged on by his crew and spectators, he crossed the finishing line in 23:34:20 after induring fatigue, pain and mental anguish that only those who have done such a race could begin to comprehend. Caleb finished in high spirits but the race had taken its toll. After his socks and shoes were cut from his feet (a la Tim Thompson) he was taken to Casualty at the hospital to have his feet bandaged and he was placed on a saline drip to replace depleted body fluids. No amount of pain though could take away the elation and pride of having become a Centurion.

1996 Australian Centurions 24 Hour Race
George Knott Athletics Ground, Clifton Hill
5-6 October 1996

Robin Whyte - Centurion Number 29


Robin Whyte on his way through the rain to become Centurion Number 29 in 1996

The annual Centurions Club 24 Hour walking event was held on 05-06 October 1996 and the result saw the addition of two new members to this elite club of people who have walked 100 miles within 24 hours.

Final results are as follows:

Robin Whyte
54 years of age 
100 Miles 
Centurion No. 29 
Merv Lockyer
65 years of age
100 Miles
Centurion No. 30
Peter Waddell 
65 years of age
100 Km

Sydney Elks
71 years of age
30 Km

Significant splits are as follows

50 Km
50 Miles
100 Km
100 Miles 
Robin Whyte
Merv Lockyer
Peter Waddell 
8:53:37 11:42:16 14:49:43

Melbourne turned on its usual fickle weather. Saturday morning saw continuous rain that did not let up and it was still raining at the start time of 2PM. The hope of a quick cessation was soon dashed as it rained steadily until about 10PM. Thus the first 8 hours were walked in wet conditions with competitors having to negotiate puddles and try to stay warm as best they could. It eventually stopped and the cloud cover fell away to reveal a cold night with low mist. Luckily the rain stayed away after that and the rest of the race was walked in cool and overcast conditions (almost ideal conditions on Sunday morning).

A field of 4 greeted the starter's gun and set off on Saturday afternoon. Let me elaborate on the performance of each competitor to give you a glimpse of the excitement of the race (yes, such races can actually be quite exciting events for those of us who appreciate them.

Robin Whyte is a walker of long standing. He is a former Australian 50 Km champion and represented Australia at World Championships over that distance in 1976. Robin had previously tried the 100 miler in 1978 at Gosford in NSW but had retired at the 70 mile mark. It had taken 18 years before he fronted once again and he was determined this time to complete the distance. He started at a brisk pace (2:45 laps) and maintained this pace till the 50 mile mark. By this stage he was gradually slowing towards 3 minute laps but he showed no real signs of trouble. At 90 km he took his only break for the entire race - a 5 minute break to change into dry clothes. Then he was off again and maintained a pace of between 3:00 and 3:30 for the rest of the race. He was determined not to stop, remembering what had happened last time in Gosford. Those present could see that the last quarter of the race was walked on guts as he was suffering intensely. But there was never any real likelihood of him retiring and it was a very pleased competitor who crossed the line just after 10:30 AM on Sunday morning. His feet were a mess with bloodied shoes and he had to be helped from the track - but this is a small price to pay and only a temporary inconvenience when compared with the great achievement of walking 100 miles inside 24 hours.

Merv Lockyer - Centurion Number 30

Here is Merv Lockyer finishing his 100 miler

Here is Merv finishing his 100 miler. Press here to see a bigger version of this picture.

Merv Lockyer was the surprise packet of the weekend. At 65 years of age, Merv was not highly rated by those in the know - especially when it was known that he had sustained a heart attack some 5 years ago and had at one other stage had a plastic knee replacement operation on his left leg. But there were rumours of the long training sessions done and the strength of the man so we were interested to see how he went. And he is from Ballarat and we know how tough Ballarat competitors can be. Well, he certainly did himself proud. He started off at a conservative pace of just over 3 mins per lap but just kept it going at between 3 mins and 3:30 per lap for about 80 of the 100 miles. Only in the dying stages of the race did he slow towards 4 min laps but by then, he was safe with enough time up his sleeve. He certainly struggled in the second half but amazingly, he managed to maintain his laptimes. This is an indication of his sheer strength and determination. He suffered badly with his plastic knee and was forced on numerous occasions to stop briefly for a rubdown or take some pain killers. But he obviously had confidence in his own ability and his support team looked after him very well. He finished in good spirits and was able to walk from the track, not bad at 65 years of age and after 100 miles of walking.