The CamelBak Highland Fling celebrated 10 years with an all-star elite line-up and its most challenging course to date.
After last years weather glitch, the Southern Highlands turned on its normal blue skies and sunshine for the tenth running of the CamelBak Highland fling mountain bike marathon; the race considered one of the most challenging on the calendar.
Following a Saturday of fun racing, including the Rollloff World Championships and the Ravensworth Bundanoon Dash, Sunday saw riders receive the Highland Fling bagpipers wake-up call – the sound of serious racing.
The first gun sounded at the early start time of 7:20am for 100Mile (165km) racers and Full Flingers (non-elite) who set off at pace for a long day in the saddle. The most hotly contested racing of the weekend was next off the line, with the Full Fling elite; an all-star line-up that included Andy Blair, Shaun Lewis, Dylan Cooper, Mark Tupalski, Cameron Ivory, Jason English and 2013 Fling winner Brendan Johnston in the men’s field, and Jenny Fay, Imogen Smith, Naomi Hansen, Rebecca Locke and 2013 Fling winner Peta Mullens, in the women’s race.
“I wanted to make it hard from the start,” agreed Tupalski. “I’m really happy with the result, it was a hard ride but the new track in the Wingello stage was great.
In similar fashion to the 2013 race, Mark Tupalski helped set a fast pace at the start, with only three other riders, Brendan Johnston, Andy Blair and Chris Hamilton able to go with him. The group stayed together for some time before both Blair and Hamilton were lost, and not able to bridge the gap. In the end it was Brendan Johnston from Canberra crossing the line to take back to back CamelBak Highland Fling wins, he was followed by Mark Tupalski in second and Andy Blair in third.
‘Mark was strong and really drove it from the start.’ said Brendan. ‘We worked together pretty well and there was a group of us riding together. We managed to break away about half way through the Wingello stage and just kept the hammer down.”
“I wanted to make it hard from the start,” agreed Tupalski. “I’m really happy with the result, it was a hard ride but the new track in the Wingello stage was great.”
Andy Blair, who was racing his 10th Fling said “I had a good day, but Brendan and Mark were stronger. If I’d tried to stay with them, I would have blown.”
In the women’s race, whilst Peta Mullens took the win, she didn’t have it all her way from the start, with fierce competition from Jenny Fay, who withdrew from the race in the final 25km with mechanical issues.
In second place was Rebecca Locke, followed by Lucy Bechtel in third. “Jenny was so strong out there, but suffered a mechanical and withdrew,” said Peta. “I really suffered through the first section – on the hills – and that last technical section is always tough when you’re fatigued. It was definitely harder than last year and I’m really happy to take the win.”
Rebecca Locke said “I’ve done a few marathons, and I was told this was a tough course – wow, it was! I’ve been doing a lot of four hour races, and at 4 hours I really knew it.”
In the 100Mile it was a reversal of 2013 with Ed McDonald taking the win (and even popping a wheelie over the line) from Andrew Hall in second and Sam Moffitt in third. For the women, seasoned marathon racer Wendy Stevenson stepped up from the Full Fling to conquer the 100Mile.
Race Results in the 2013 CamelBak Highland Fling:
Half Fling Men
Brad Morton (2:22:22)
Jack Lavis (2:22:24)
Garry Millburn (2:22:26)
Half Fling Women
Michelle Ainsworth (2:41:39)
Rebecca Hoschke 2:51:05)
Full Fling Elite Men
Brendan Johnston (4:30:21)
Mark Tupalski (4:30:48)
Andy Blair (4:34:26)
Full Fling Elite Women
Peta Mullens (5:24:48)
Rebecca Locke (5:24:48)
Lucy Bechtel (5:49:08)
Ed McDonald (7:43:51)
Andrew Hall (7:49:20)
Sam Moffitt (8:45:08)
Wendy Stevenson (10:19:32)