1998 Yearly Report

1998 Australian Centurions 24 Hour Event
19-20 September 1998
George Knott Athletic Track, Clifton Hill, Melbourne

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

This year's race saw a record field of 20 entrants with 19 actually fronting the starting line. The race start time of 2PM turned out well as this gave competitors a chance to get the tough night time hours over while still relatively fresh. The Collingwood Harriers track was used once again but this may be the last time due to the deteriorating track surface. The weather was kind to us. While it was windy and showery early, it never got really cold and a sunny Sunday gave competitors ideal conditions to help them through the tiring final stages.

The race saw a lot of firsts for us

  • A large international flavour with 2 English and 4 New Zealand walkers competing.
  • The presence of 6 Centurions in the field guaranteeing a class event.
  • An entry during the last week by ultra-distance runner Peter Gray. Peter was the youngest runner to complete the gruelling Sydney to Melbourne classic and has run many multi-day runs during a long career.
  • An entry on the day from the great Yiannis Kouros who holds so many of the ultra-distance running records and is the only runner to have completed more than 300 km in a 24 hour period.
There were many talking points but perhaps the main one was whether Yiannis Kouros could convert from running to walking. With no real preparation, Yiannis simply turned up on the day and started walking…and kept on walking. Rumour has it that he did 10 laps walking the day before to prepare for it.

The race started with Gerald Manderson of New Zealand and Frank Overton of NSW setting a cracking pace. They kept it up for the first 50 miles with both passing that mark in just over 10 hours. At that stage, Gerald was some 2 laps in front of Frank. However, Frank was feeling the pace and within another 2 hours had been forced effectively out of the race and off the track. That left Gerald on his own and he made the most of it. With a very consistent and strong performance, he walked right thru to the 100 mile mark with only a couple of breaks of a few minutes duration. He powered through the 100 mile mark in a personal best of 21:37:31 and kept on to the 24 hour with another personal best of 177.665 km. Now lots of runners would like a 24 hour time like that!

Fellow Kiwi Norm Morris was always only a short distance behind Gerald and walking consistently. Like Gerald, he had few breaks and just kept putting the laps in. The contrast between the 2 was stark. Gerald is short in stature, stocky with a quick business like gait. Gerald is tall and lean with a long raking gait.  It just goes to show that fitness, rather than build, is the main criteria to a good 100 mile walk. Gerald finished a clear second in the fine 100 mile time of 22:32:47 and then stopped. He had achieved his goal of Centurion membership.

Behind Gerald and Norm, an interesting battle was developing. As others fell by the wayside, Centurion John Harris of Queensland  and Victorian Yiannos Kouros were slowly making their way though the field while British Centurion Roger LeMoine was trying to hold them off and take the third placing. They finished with only 4 laps separating the 3 walkers. Yiannis was the first of the 3 to reach the 100 mile mark in the fine time of 22:55:23 and he then continued on to the 24 hour gun, completing 168.406 km. Roger was on his heels and completed his 6th 100 miler in 23:04:51. For Roger, it was especially pleasing given his limited training over recent years. John Harris had been about 30 minutes behind them at the 50 mile mark but walked a great second half to eat up the field. His 50 mile splits were 11:28 and 11:42.  He walked 23:18 in 1973 and improved that to 23:10 some 25 years later. John had been some 13 years out of the sport and was only intending to walk 100 km but felt so good that he continued on.

While all this was happening, Sue Ramsey of England was staging her own personal struggle further back. At one stage she looked destined to just miss out on the magic 100 mile distance. She was slowing and projections indicated that she would fall a lap or so short. But she rallied in the final 2 hours and dug deep to finish in 23:58:40. We think this might be the closest anyone has come to the 24 hour limit - about half a lap to spare. It was certainly an exciting finish and Sue was obviously rapt with the result.

Behind Sue was a whole bevy of walkers with 9 others walking at least 100 km.  This indicates the depth of the event and augurs well for next year's event. We can expect to see lots of them back to try their hand again and try for that elusive Centurion membership.

Here are profiles of some of the competitors:

Gerald Manderson (age 54) from New Zealand was definitely the gun in the field. He only took up the sport in 1995 and has been advised by Dudley Harris. His performances prior to this race were as follows

- Feb 1996  166 km in 24 hours
- April 1996  157 km in 22:01 before retiring
- Nov 1996  100 miles in 22:34:28
- Aug 1997  107.3 km in 13:42:05 in the Rotarua 100 Km event
  202.46 km in 28 hours
- Oct 1997 175.6 km in 24:00:37
- July 98  176.97 km in 24 hours

He certainly built on this with another fine performance, his first ultra outside New Zealand.

Yiannis Kouros (age 42) is well known to all sports followers as possibly the best ultra-distance runner in the world. He holds many world records including an amazing 300+ km in 24 hours.  Lack of any walking preparation proved no barrier to a fine performance. He looked always in control and was never in doubt. A fine first up Centurion walk that Yiannis can improve on if he so desires.

Norm Morriss (age 57) of New Zealand completed 100 miles in NZ in 1996 in 23:18 so is an experienced ultra-distance walker, having also completed the gruelling Colac 6 day event.  However, he had a quadruple heart bypass earlier this year and had had a quiet year since then, only gradually getting back into walking. For Norm, this was an experiment to see how he had recovered. Obviously very well judging from his performance.

Roger Le Moine  (age 57) of England is a British Centurion, having first completed the 100 miles in 22:04 in 1993 (C 802). Roger is a member of the famous Surrey Walking Club and is an experienced ultra walker with some 5 100  mile performances under his belt before this weekend's race.  This experience showed as he made the most of the occasion and completed yet another Centurion performance with only limited preparation.

John Harris (AC12 - 1975)  came to our Centurions race in Queensland last year after being many years away from the sport. This rekindled his enthusiasm and he completed a quick but intensive distance preparation. This proved to be sufficient to guide John to a second sub 24 hour 100 mile performance on the same track and in nearly the same time as he did 25 years ago.

Sue Clements (age 44) from England was keen to come out for our event last year but just could not fit it into her calendar. She is already a British Centurion (C950, 1996, 23:42:37) and recently completed the full 85 miles of the tough Isle of Man Parish Walk in 20:48:30 for a fine 23rd place. Her trip proved successful but by the barest of margins.

Frank Overton (age 50) of NSW competed in our 1997 event but the weather beat him and he retired.  He recently completed 89 km in the Gosford 12 hour and started confidently in this race. He was flying at the 50 mile mark but was forced to slow his pace soon after as exhaustion set in. Frank will be disappointed with his distance of 134 km but should be back to try again.

Robert Radley (age 41) of New Zealand recently completed 141.76 km in the New Zealand Sri Chimnoy 24 hour event so was a serious entrant. Once again, he walked consistently, walking 133 km during the 24 hours. He showed he has the mental attitude to soon achieve the 100 mile distance and we expect to see that soon.

Steel Beveridge (age 47) of NSW was going to walk in our event last year but the flu prevented him. This year, he was keen to make amends and walked well. However, his pace was never quite there and he just ran out of time, completing 132 km. But he showed fine mental toughness and he should achieve his goal soon.

Peter Waddell (age 67) completed 130 km in the 1996 event and was back once again to have another go. His last major venture was the 6 Day Colac Ultramarathon where he came 9th and walked 540 km, a record for a walker in that event. So his toughness and endurance are never in question.   However, this was not Peter's weekend as he gradually slowed and fell short of the required pace. His final distance of 120 km was still meritorious but probably disappointing to him.

Fred Baker (age 66) is a former Secretary of the British Centurions and has 20 100 mile performances to his name, the first one being at age 23 and the last one at age 60. He migrated to Australia a couple of years ago and came out of retirement to complete 124 km in our 1997 event on no training. With a bit of extra work in the last 12 months, he was keen to gain another Centurion badge and was well on target at the 50 mile mark. However, his body had other ideas and he was forced off the track after about 14 hours.

24 Hour / 100 Mile Walk Results    

Gerald Manderson 
Yiannis Kouros 
Norm Morriss 
Roger LeMoine 
John Harris 
Sue Clements 
Frank Overton 
Robert Radley 
Steel Beveridge 
Peter Waddell 
Fred Baker 
Peter Gray 
Paul Thompson 
Brian Glover 
Graham Watt 
177.665 Km
168.406 Km
100 Miles 
100 Miles 
100 Miles 
100 MIles 
134.400 Km 
133.604 Km
132:000 Km
120.000 Km 
110.400 Km
101.933 Km
100.479 Km 
100.400 Km
  54.800 Km

100 Km Walk  

Carol Baird      
Robin Whyte         
100 Km
24.4 Km 

50 Km Walk  

Dudley Harris 
Merv Lockyer 
50 Km
50 Km 

100 Mile Finishers  

Gerald Manderson   
Norm Morriss 
Yiannis Kouros 
Roger LeMoine 
John Harris 
Sue Clements 


Jack Webber Trophy

This is for the most meritorious performance. Norm Morriss walked a fantastic 100 miler only 5 months after a quadruple heart bypass operation. You can't go past that - it is the stuff of legend. Well done Norm on a great job.

50 Mile Splits

The following table shows the 50 mile split for each competitor. Note that to complete the 100 mile walk distance within 24 hours, it is recommended that you try to reach the 50 mile mark in under 11 hours. Note that neither Yiannis Kouros nor Sue Clements nor John Harris did this but still got there. That illustrates how evenly they walked.

G. Manderson 
F. Overton 
N. Morris 
R. LeMoine 
B. Glover 
Y. Kouros 
S. Clements    
F. Baker 
J. Harris 
R. Radley 
S. Beveridge 
C. Baird 
P. Waddell 
P. Gray 

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    24 Sept 1998