Thousands descend on Forrest for weekend of racing at Otway Odyssey presented by Focus

Peta Mullens and Jay Vine clinch King and Queen of the Otways titles

The 12th edition of the Otway Odyssey and Great Otway Gravel Grind (GOGG) presented by Focus confirmed its status once again as one of Australia’s greatest and most challenging off-road bike races with over 1,400 riders from across Australia and overseas travelling to Forrest to compete on the weekend.

The atmosphere was electric as competitors from the recreational to the elite raced across the famed single-track and smooth rolling dirt roads of the Otway Ranges in six races of varying distances.

King and Queen of the Otways.

Mild temperatures and light showers from Friday to Sunday settled the dust and made the courses fast and the racing exciting.

The weekend champions taking the King and Queen of the Otways titles, as fastest overall across the two premier long-distance races were Peta Mullens and Jay Vine.

Mullens, a former Australian Road Cyclist Champion and current professional rider, claimed a history-making fifth victory at the renowned 100km Otway Odyssey MTB Marathon on Saturday, then clinched her second GOGG victory in a time of three hours, 42 minutes, and three seconds.

100km female 1st finish, Peta Mullens.
Peta Mullens 1st female across line 97km.

By winning both the 100km mountain bike marathon on Saturday and the gravel grind today, Mullens successfully defended her title of Queen of the Otways.

“This is very much a surprise,” Mullens said. “Renata got a bit of a gap on me early, I got a puncture, then she got a puncture, then we didn’t see each other for the last few kilometres.

“She put a good ride together, but when I got to the last time-out, Renata was there, and I thought I’d lost overall so I wanted to redeem myself by winning the descent.

“When I caught her, I was like let’s just pin it around a couple of corners and I turned around and she wasn’t there anymore. It was super exciting racing, and good camaraderie by everybody out on the track; the support the whole weekend as a competitor was really great, I’m surprised and very happy; it’s good to be back!”

It was tight racing in the men’s field on Sunday throughout the race with the lead pack of seven riders entering and exiting each time-out zone together and crossing the finish line in quick succession.

Chris Jongewaard of Adelaide managed to hold onto a puncture for the last four kilometres, ultimately finding himself as runner-up to Vine (3:09:30) just 21 seconds behind (3:09:51), after time in the transitions were tabulated. In third place overall was Ryan Standish one minute later (3:10:52).

Jay Vine 1st male 97km.
Chris J-Blood Jongewaard 2nd male 97km finish line.
Ryan Standish 3rd male.

“I was struggling for about five or 10 minutes there early on, the bunch punching me all the way to the first time-out, so I was actually looking forward to that first transition,” Vine said from the podium.

“I was thinking something was going to come up this weekend. Yesterday was probably for the glory, and today was just a glorious ride, you’ve dropped onto to the beach, and 90kms of this with mates; it was just amazing. Thanks for putting on a great event and I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Vine’s lowest cumulative times over the two days of racing meant he clinched the King of the Otways crown.

In the shorter 49km GOGG race it was Michael Howson of Adelaide who took the outright male victory in a time of one hour, 45 minutes, 13 seconds and Sarah Bath (Melbourne) who was the fastest female around the shorter course in a time of 2:24:35.

Saturday’s premier 100km race brought exciting racing at the front thanks to an elite crop of men and women, with Peta Mullens claiming her record fifth win, and Ryan Standish crowned champion of the Otway Odyssey.


Saturday’s 50km Otway Shorty event also saw some exciting racing with Adam Blazevic first in 2 hours, 19 minutes and four seconds,  followed soon after by Sam Chancellor (2:20:14) and 15-year-old Domenic Paolilli in third (2:21:30).

Maria Plyashechko won the women’s 50km race in a tidy three hours and 33 seconds. Melissa Mackenzie was second (3:04:49) and Claudia Dohr placed third in 3:06:05.

300 riders took on the 30km Odyssey Rookie designed specifically for novice mountain bikers and developing juniors. First across the line was Harry Nankervis, 15, Bendigo (1:28:48) in the men’s, and first female was Millie Chester, 13 of Mt Eliza (1:48:35).

Race organisers Rapid Ascent in conjunction with local ambassadors and coaches tackled the barriers for women wanting to take the first step into bike racing via the new ‘Odyssey Angels’ program – a range of  initiatives, skills programs and support to help improve accessibility of the sport to female riders. More than double 2017’s numbers of females competed in the 30km race today with many of the 70 women racing for the first time.

“This year we did a lot of work to encourage, and provide support for female riders to participate in the event, to close the gap between the numbers of males and females. And I’m really happy with the outcome, it has been great to see so many first time female riders and racers enjoying the event which just proves that women are just as capable as men and we look forward to continuing these ideas into the future,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent.

Saturday rounded out in the afternoon with a kids’ focussed Grommets Ride. Over 30 kids from as young as three years old and up took part in an obstacle race, bike limbo and many other fun bike activities.

And Sunday’s schedule was complete when 136 riders finished the 10km Pioneer, with the fastest male being Taj Hamill in 27 minutes, 42 seconds, and Jess Williams winning the women’s in 34:14.

“The event has had a huge following right from the get go and we’re rapt that its popularity continues today. The trails of Forrest are world class, combined with the wilderness, the terrain and the friendly atmosphere all help make it the successful event it is today. We are stoked to continue organising the Odyssey and for riders to enjoy the amazing riding on offer here in the Otway Ranges,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent.

“Thank you to everyone for making it such a successful weekend, to our sponsors and to the locals of Forrest who dedicate their time to helping maintain the awesome trails here.”

For 12 years riders have travelled from across Australia to the Otway Odyssey to take on the region’s iconic single track.

Over the past two years the Great Otway Gravel Grind has further expanded the Otway Odyssey’s reputation as one of Australia’s most popular off-road bike races with over 1,400 riders from across Australia and overseas travelling to Forrest to compete across the weekend, as well as thousands of spectators.

The event generated an overall economic impact of $4.9million to the Otway economy in 2017, and with entries being in line with previous years the impact is slated to be similar again this year, reinforcing the race weekend as one of the region’s premier events.

An the electrifying race atmosphere for both competitors and spectators, the Grommets Ride, plus the array of adventures on offer in the Great Otway National Park including walks, waterfalls, lighthouses and local produce made it an event weekend the whole family can enjoy.

For more info head to


Otway Odyssey 100km

Top 5 Male

  1. Ryan Standish 4:31:28
  2. Jay Vine 4:31:30
  3. Daniel Braunsteins 4:36:23
  4. Brad Clarke 4:38:32
  5. Tobias Lestrell 4:40:53

Top 5 Female

  1. Peta Mullens 5:22:00
  2. Jodie Willett 5:30:10
  3. Tory Thomas 5:31:30
  4. Briony Mattocks 5:33:04
  5. Renata Bucher 5:33:25

Otway Shorty 50km

Top 3 Male

  1. Adam Blazevic 2:19:04
  2. Sam Chancellor 2:20:14
  3. Domenic Paolilli 2:21:30

Top 3 Female

  1. Maria Plyashechko 3:00:33
  2. Melissa Mackenzie 3:04:49
  3. Claudia Dohr 3:06:05

Otway Rookie 30km

Top 3 Male

  1. Harry Nankervis 1:28:48
  2. Archie Chester 1:29:13
  3. Louis O’Callaghan 1:31:02

Top 3 Female

  1. Millie Chester 1:48:35
  2. Kylie Edwards 1:54:21
  3. Tania Pearse 1:55:31

Great Otway Gravel Grind 97km

Top 3 Male

  1. Jay Vine 3:09:30
  2. Christopher Jongewaard 3:09:51
  3. Ryan Standish 3:10:52

Top 3 Female

  1. Peta Mullens 3:42:03
  2. Renata Bucher 3:45:36
  3. Helen Shelley 3:55:21

Great Otway Gravel Grind 49km

Top 3 Male

  1. Michael Howson 1:45:13
  2. Gwendal Guery 1:50:24
  3. Craig Jones 1:54:28

Top 3 Female

  1. Sarah Bath 2:24:35
  2. Joanna Kemp 2:25:29
  3. Rebecca Herridge 2:32:47

King of the Otways

Jay Vine

Queen of the Otways

Peta Mullens


Full results are available HERE.

When:                       Saturday 24th February and Sunday 25th February, 2018
What:                       Mountain bike and gravel grind bike races

Where:                    Forrest, Otway National Park, Victoria


Instagram: @rapidascent
Twitter: @Rapid_Ascent
Event Hashtag: #otwayodyssey


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