For eight years the annual CamelBak Highland Fling mountain bike marathon has turned on blue skies, and sometimes-sweltering conditions for riders. But with the 2013 race being sponsored by the world’s leading hydration company, CamelBak, it was fitting that for the first time natural hydration was abundant.
Whilst the skies were damp, rider spirits were anything but, with an impressive line-up of riders bracing themselves against unseasonably cold and wet conditions to take part in this year’s race.
Federal MP for Hume, Angus Taylor, himself taking part in event, officially kicked off the race with 100Milers and Full Flingers rolling out at 7:20am to the theme of The Flintstones – in keeping with the fun-side of serious racing and this year’s themed element of The Flingstones. The most hotly contested racing of the day was always going to be the Full Fling with a line-up of elites that included Australia’s best mountain bikers. Really, it was anyone’s race.
It was Mark Tupalski who set a blazing pace at the start, with only three other riders, Brendan Johnston, Andy Blair and Dylan Cooper able to go with him. The group worked together and changed it up a little throughout the race, losing Andy Blair at a train crossing but gaining Dan McConnell to help with the work.
It wasn’t long before Dan was no longer in the group, but Andy was back in the chase. Mark Tupalski picked up the pace once again and this time no one went with him. It was a bold move, but one that didn’t pay off in the end with the chase group working together to catch and pass him with only the last few kilometres to go.
It ended up being just two riders that kept the pace hot and battled for the finish line. Brendan Johnston, who finished third in 2012, took the win with a time of 4:18:53. First to cross the line in the race however was Andy Blair, but after taking a 30 second time penalty for a rule transgression, finished in second. Cameron Ivory rounded out the podium in third.
‘Mark lit up the pace from the start and it was really hard to go with him, but I’m glad I did,’ said Brendan from Canberra. ‘It’s a long race though and the last 20km are brutal. I worked hard and managed to drop Cameron, but couldn’t shake Andy and that’s what the finish line showed. But it was in my favour, so I’m happy with that.’
In the women’s elite race Peta Mullens, who finished second in 2012, took a convincing win with a time of 5:05:23 – almost twenty minutes ahead of Jo Bennett in second and Myra Moller in third. Peta’s strong form showed with a finishing line comment about the race missing a climb she remembered from 2012.
With the said climb confirmed as still in the race, she concluded ‘I must have been feeling OK then. I set a good tempo for most of the day, even though I was on my own a lot. It’s definitely a race that keeps giving though, in the most challenging of ways.’
In the long format 100Mile (or 165km to make it sound even longer) it came down to a sprint finish on the line. Andrew Hall took first place with a time of 6:59:15, with Ed McDonald, the 2012 winner, finishing a close second and UK rider Matt Page crossing in third.
Race Results in the 2013 CamelBak Highland Fling:
Men Gary Millburn (2:13:45) Brad Morton (2:17:26.2) Michael Potter (2:17:26.6)
Half Fling Women
Karen Evans (2:53:56) Kath Bicknell (2:54:55) Belinda Diprose (3:01:12)
Full Fling Elite Men
Brendan Johnston (4:18:53) Andy Blair (4:18:54) Cameron Ivory (4:19:00)
Full Fling Elite
Women Peta Mullens (5:05:23) Jo Bennett (5:24:50) Myra Moller (5:38:15)
Andrew Hall (6:59:15) Ed McDonald (7:00:49) Matt Page (7:19:13)
Charlie McCabe (9:30:24)
For full race results, including category results, visit: http://www.wildhorizons.com.au/highland-fling