This 64km race in the Victorian high country has become one of the must do events on the ultra running calendar. Aptly named the Rooftop Run, it traverses stunning alpine landscapes as the runners go from Mountain Creek campground near Tawonga, to the top of Mt Bogong (1,980m) before crossing Big River on their way beyond Langford’s Gap finishing at the lofty heights of Mt Hotham’s summit (1,861m). It’s bloody tough to say the least!
This year was the 28th edition and followed cancellation of the 2013 race due to extreme weather conditions, so many runners had been eagerly awaiting it for quite some time. The extremely hot weather caused a little concern, with the possibility of the fire risk being too high to run the event. Alas, the stable weather and relatively low winds meant that it might be hot, but the Parks Fire Warden said the event was good to go!
The 87 runners set sail at the crack of dawn and made their way into the gruelling climb up Bogong. The early pace was quick and from the start both the men’s and women’s record was under threat. The pace remained fast throughout, with Stu Gibson reaching Langfords Gap (35km) in under 4 hours and Blake not far behind. The pair were being chased by Chris White who had a large gap ahead of the next athlete. The positions remained the same until the finish line, however the men’s record didn’t fall. That said, Stu’s awesome time of 6:44 was the second fastest ever.
In the women’s race Beth Cardelli skipped away quickly and set a cracking pace. Following in her footsteps was the ever-consistent Gill Fowler. An athlete of Gill’s calibre (6Th at UTMB 2013!) meant the race was going to be tough and regardless of any lead, Beth would have to maintain her momentum throughout. Needless to say, she did, and demonstrated the sort of form that saw her break The North Face 100 record last year as she set a new women’s standard in the B2H of 8:09.
Race Director Andy Hewat sums the race up perfectly: “For this years Hoka One One Bogong to Hotham we witnessed a classic, audacious display of front-running by Stu Gibson. It was clear he was going hard for the 18-year-old record, or going bust. Despite laying it all on the line he charged home and only missed the record by around 3 minutes, clearly establishing himself as one of our toughest mountain runners. It was almost a case of the master and his apprentice as 21-year-old Blake Hose chased hard all day and still managed to run home strong in second place and become only the fourth runner to break 7 hours. Damon Goerke showed there’s plenty left in his legs to secure yet another podium position in this tough race. The women’s race was no less impressive with Beth Cardelli stamping her name all over this event with another win and taking time off her own course record. Not far behind, and also in the low 8s, Gill Fowler kept Beth honest all day and still looked strong at the finish. Steph Gaskell rounded out the women’s podium to also come in under nine hours and was clearly stoked with her efforts. With two runners under 7 hours and five under eight hours, this was by far the fastest and classiest finish ever. Mountain running is strong in Oz and there is no tougher test of talent than Bogong to Hotham.”
1st Stu Gibson 6:44
2nd Blake Hose 6:56
3rd Damon Goerke 7:35
1st Beth Cardelli 8:09 (New Record)
2nd Gill Fowler 8:19
3rd Steph Gaskell 8:48