1997 Yearly Report

The 1997 Coburg 24 Hour Championships
Coburg Athletics Ground
Melbourne 12 - 13 April 1997

The Coburg 24 Hour Championship was the venue chosen by Carmela Carrassi last year when she successfully gained her Centurion membership by walking 100 miles within 24 hours. The event was held again last weekend with categories as follows
  • Ultra runners
  • Ultra walkers
  • 24 hour relay teams
A large field assembled with 12 ultra runners, 4 ultra walkers and 9 relay teams. As two of my sons were competing in relay teams, I was able to attend the full 24 hours of the event and witnessed some fine walking performances.

Carmela Carrassi was back once again and keen to improve on her record breaking performance of 1996. She did not let us down. She walked almost continuously for the full 24 hours (a trademark of her previous performances) and was ahead of schedule at all times. Starting off at about 2:45 pace, she gradually slowed to about 3:00 and was still maintaining 3:40s in the latter stages of the race. She broke all her Australian records on the way and finished with a fine set of results as follows

50 MIles
100 Km
100 Miles
24 Hours
166.06 km 
162.54 km 

Peter Waddell completed 100 km last year in our Melbourne based Centurion walk. This year he was keen to improve on that and was a starter in this event. Unfortunately his preparation had been sporadic due to various family related issues (his mother is very ill in Sydney and Peter had spent much time commuting between Canberra and Sydney). Thus he was not confident but was ready, not the less. to give it a go. He headed off at a conservative pace and showed the same sensible approach to ultra distance walking as he had shown last year. Unfortunately, Peter passed through the 12 hour mark with a distance of 62.1 km (51 miles) which was not fast enough to guarantee him a 100 mile / 24 hour performance so he stopped to rest after completing 100 km and then returned to the track later and walked for the remainder of the 24 hour period. He finished with a final distance of 130 Km (80.8 miles) and was walking fine at the end with no ill effects apparent. I am convinced that Peter can do the 100 miler once he has a proper preparation. His style is well suited to the distances and he has a fine mental approach and a good body that seems able to absorb the punishment without too much trouble. He is keen to travel to Brisbane later this year for our own Centurion based 24 hour event and that could be the big one for Peter.

Bev Car is a 54 year old veteran lady runner with the Coburg Veterans. She watched Carmela's performance in last year's event and was inspired this year to have a go and see how far she could walk in 24 hours. Now Bev is not a veteran walker - she is a runner, doing distances from sprint to 10000 metres. The 10 km run is the furthest she had ever previously gone. She has no walking background. Now you would say in such a case that she would have no chance to do well and should be off the track well before the 12 hour mark. Well, Bev showed us a fine performance and proved all such thoughts incorrect. She walked for the full 24 hours and completed a distance of 126.56 Km (78.7 miles). She started slowly and just kept going. She made the mistake of wearing new shoes initially and blistered on the heels early. She changed shoes and just kept going. She certainly suffered but did not give up at any stage. She showed great courage and determination and is to be congratulated on an outstanding performance. She shows once again just how well suited women are to long distances. They seem on many occasions to absorb the pain better than men and can keep going well beyond the normal pain thresholds.

Merv Lockyer was keen to build on his Centurion performance last year and fronted up once again in this event. He had been doing lots of work in preparation for his trip to Europe later this year and perhaps paid a bit of a penalty for this in that he suffered ankle problems early on and was forced to stop at 100 km (aschieved in a bit over 14 hours). For most of this distance, he had walked with Carmela and the two had certainly helped each other to maintain a good even pace. Merv was not too disappointed as it was still a good workout and he came back on the track later and walked with Bev Car to help her along. I am sure that Bev appreciated the company. Merv showed that his style is gradually improving - his performance was safer than last year and is gradually ironing out his style with ongoing work.

Temperatures varied throughout the 24 hours. On the Saturday afternoon, it was 25 degrees and a blue sky. Competitors were hit with the full impact of the sun and found the first 5 hours very trying. I was on the drinks table and was kept busy with the constant need for water. The night was clear and the temperature dropped towards zero. It was VERY cold and all (competitors and officials) suffered with the cold. Finally a clear morning ensued and Sunday was warm and sunny - an ideal end to the event.

The event was certainly full of interesting features. The indominable Yiannos Kouros was trying for his world 24 hour running record of 293 km (done in this event last year) and was well ahead of schedule at the 12 hour mark. However, a knee problem forced him to slow and he finished up walking to a still incredible final posting of 266 km (165 miles). It was a case of Yiannos and then a 60 km gap to the next finisher.

The relay teams were each of 10 runners and each runner had to do a 30 minute stint. At each 30 minute mark, a new series of runners would some onto the track and the attack would start again. The only exception to this was the Coburg Little Athletics team which was alllowed 20 runners each doing 15 minute splits. The winning relay team (The Traralgon Harriers) completed 384.2 km (239.4 miles) to set a new Australian record for 10 person teams.

So it was a great weekend in many ways. The event was superbly organized and the track is a good one for ultra-distance walking. The overnight lighting is comprehensive and the presence of masseurs and full canteen facilities makes it good for both competitors and officials and spectators.

Final results were as follows

Yiannos Kouros 266.18 Km
Helen Stanger
206.00 Km
Carmela Carrassi
166.60 Km (walker)
Peter Armisted 163.09 Km
Ron Hill 
161.46 Km
Kevin Mansell 
159.46 Km
Peter Gray 
144.40 Km
Michael Greyling 142.92 km
Peter Richardson
135.20 Km
Peter Waddell
130.00 Km (walker)
Bev Car
126.56 Km (walker)
Bill Hick
117.22 Km
John Timms
106.00 Km
Phillip Essem 103.30 Km
Merv Lockyer 
100.00 Km (walker)
Oskan Turkan
50.00 Km

1997 Australian Centurions 24 Hour Walk
27-28 September 1997
ANZ Stadium, Nathan, Queensland

The annual Centurions Club 24 Hour walking event was held this year in conjunction with the Queensland Racewalkers Club in Brisbane. As always, the aim is to walk 100 miles within the 24 hour limit and hence gain admittance to the exclusive Centurions Club.

Brisbane turned on a hot and sunny day and the start time of noon on Saturday meant that the field had to endure nearly 6 hours of sunshine and heat before the evening brought cooler weather. The cumulative effect of this was seen even during the first hours of the race. What had promised to be a very toughly contested race deteriorated quickly into one of survival. Plans soon fell by the wayside as walkers struggled to maintain pre-race plans and pace slowed. Although the night brought ideal conditions, the damage was done and the bulk of the field retired in the early evening hours. Caleb Maybir and Freddie Baker revised goals and decided to just keep going for the full 24 hours and were both rewarded with fine performances given the conditions. Results were as follows:

Caleb Maybir     42 years of age   150.8 Km 24:00:00  
Freddie Baker   65 years of age   124.0 Km   24:00:00

Frank Overton
57.2 Km 08:36:33
Peter Waddell
51.6 Km 07:35:33
Paul Thompson  
50.4 Km 08:31:33
Peter Bennett
50.0 Km 05:23:34
Andrew Ludwig
50.0 Km 05:30:00
John Harris
50.0 Km 07:09:51

Significant splits for the two finishers were as follows

 Marathon   50 Km 50 Miles   100 Km 24 Hours
Caleb Maybir 05:40:26 06:46:50    11:57:42 15:24:33 150.8 Km  
Freddie Baker   06:32:58 07:52:35   13:53:45   18:02:23   124.0 Km

Here are some details of interest on the competitors

Caleb Maybir (Centurion number 28) completed 100 miles last year in just under the 24 hour limit to become Centurion Number 28. He was keen to improve on that performance this year and was much better prepared. Those who saw last year's race will remember the state of his feet. This year although he did not achieve the 100 mile distance, it was a fine performance. His feet suffered no ill effects and his feeding was well organized. Perhaps the only reason he did not complete another 100 miler was because the desire was not so great this year. But taking the early heat into effect, it was still a creditable walk.

Freddie Baker is a veteran of 20 100 mile walks in his native England. He did his first 100 miler at age 23 and his last at age 60. Now retired, aged 65 and resident in Brisbane, he decided to try for one more 100 miler to become a Centurion on Australian soil. His preparation was limited and he was a few years out of formal training but he stayed on the track for the full 24 hours and showed great guts and determination. He realized early on that his pace was not sufficient for the 100 mile distance but he had entered the event with the firm view of completing 24 hours of walking. With this performance behind him, he is keen to try again next year and complete the elusive 100 mile distance once again.

Peter Bennett (Centurion number 24) was keen to improve on his Australian best on record of 10:51:25 for the 100 Km walking distance. He headed off at the requisite pace but slowed due to the heat and persistent back problems. He finally called it quits at the 50 Km mark which he passed in 5:23, a good walk at any time. Peter is already a Centurion, having completed his 100 miler in 1994 in the fine time of 19:42:54 so he had nothing to prove on this occasion.

Andrew Ludwig (Centurion number 25) toed the line once again but with very limited preparation. He was relatively open ended in his expectations and walked through to the 50 km mark before calling it a day. In fact, Andrew was so laid back that the missed the start and actually commenced the race a few minutes after the others! For him, it was just a hitout and a good training session. We appreciated his attendance and participation.

Frank Overton from NSW fronted for his first 100 mile attempt in many years. The last time I can remember him in such an event was in 1977 in Gosford when he completed 61.2 Km He was determined to get as far as possible this time and perhaps complete the 100 mile distance. Unfortunately the early heat took too much of a toll and although the mind was willing, the body gave out. He was forced to give up at 57.2 Km after giving it his all. He was disappointed with his performance and is sure to be back to improve.

Paul Thompson from NSW was keen to experiment with the longer distances and came up with Frank with the intention of walking as far as possible. He completed just over 50 Km. While he has done the 50 Km distance before, this was the first time he has entered such an untra-distance race and he is sure to be back to build on this first effort.

Peter Waddell completed 130 Km in the Coburg 24 Hour event earlier this year and was going to build on that event with a 100 mile performance. Unfortunately, his plans did not include the weather and he faltered in his efforts. He was forced to retire in the late evening but certainly has the credentials to complete the 100 mile distance if all falls into place for him in the near future. I believe that he has bounced back from the disappointment and is back in training for his next effort.

John Harris (Centurion number 12) became a Centurion in 1975 in his early twenties. He retired from racewalking in the mid eighties and little has been seen of him since then. It was then a pleasant surprise to see him toeing the line for this event. He had decided to try for 50 km and did that effortlessly on zero training. His easy walking action and relaxed attitude made for a good comeback performance. We hope to see more of John now that he has caught the bug once again.

Special Thanks must go to the following

  • The Queensland Racewalking Club who hosted the event, provided officials and meals and coordinated all aspects of the race
  • Centurion Peter Bennett who was the Brisbane convenor of the event
  • Centurion Chris Clegg who came out from California to help with the event
  • Centurion Tim Thompson who travelled from Adelaide to help with the event
  • The various Queensland based Centurions who supported the event
  • The Queensland walkers who walked in various shorter distance events during the 24 hour period. This ensured where possible that the walkers were not left on their own on the track.

Congratulations to those who competed. I look forward to seeing some of you back again next year to try to improve on your performances when we host the 1998 Centurions Walk in Melbourne.

Tim Erickson
5 Oct 1997