AN unforgiving uphill battle was fought by a field of 22 dedicated runners last fortnight at this year’s ‘King of the Mountain’ race.
The 29.1 kilometre gruelling gradient from the Traralgon Showgrounds to the top of Mount Tassie was conquered fastest by Morgan Tucker, but reaching the summit was no small feat.
In addition to the 22 ambitious athletes that took on the full distance, two teams of five also lined up for a piece of the action.
The first 12kms of flat trails eased runners into a false sense of security before the relentless 17.1km climb began.
The race was murmured by many at the finish line as comparable, if not more challenging, than a flat marathon (42.2km).
Kylie Murray gave winner Tucker a run for his money, going stride for stride with the eventual champion the entire 29km, before Tucker pulled away to win by a whisker in the final sprint.
Only one second separated the pair at the finish line.
Brendan Whelan turned in a phenomenal effort, leading the field by a significant distance for the majority of the race, but medical conditions forced him out of the competition at the 26km mark.
Biasi Silvestro finished third (2.25.47) in the veteran male category, after repeatedly denying his intention to enter this year’s race.
The veteran female category was won by Liz Kenney (2.51.59), followed by Sue Elsdon (2.54.47) with Kim Essex (3.14.43) in third showing that her ironman training is paying off.
In the open male category, first place went to Cameron Gillies (2.23.12), an ultra-marathon runner from Drouin.
Second place was claimed by Mark Rossiter (2.30.54), while Greg Semmler added a few extra kilometres to his route to come in third (2.42.26).
The team competition was a contentious one; ‘Long way to the Top’ (Elle Woolveridge, Tom Mosley, Bob Duljas, Phill Mayer and Bree Morris) ran a swift 2.27.58 but was disqualified for changing runners at the wrong drink station.
Royal Entourage (Madelon Lane, Diana Van Rhine, Trevor Preston, Isaac Van Rhine and Peter Grixti) also ran a great race (3.00.10) and took home the trophy.