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Saturday 3 February 2018

The Top Thirty Westfield Runners

by Phil Essam

Chapter Eleven

The Top Thirty Westfield Runners

 Many great runners ran in the Westfield Ultra Marathon between 1983 and 1991. History tells us that the irrepressible Cliff Young won in the first year. Other winners in the nine years were Geoff Molloy, Yiannis Kouros (5), Dusan Mravlje and Bryan Smith. After many hours of calculations I have calculated the thirty greatest runners in the Westfield. Some of the positions will be questioned and bound to cause controversy.

  The ranking’s were calculated by allocating points for position finished and the time taken in each race. The times were also adjusted, so that each race reflected a standard distance of one thousand kilometres. This stopped the runners from the first couple of years gaining an unfair advantage. No allowance was made though for course conditions or any other climatic variables. One will also observe from the ranking’s that runners, who only had one great race did not rate as highly as some of the runners who ran and finished on four or five occasions.

 1. Yiannis Kouros He was no surprise in landing the number ranking and I don't think that anyone could ever dispute the fact that he was the greatest runner to compete in the Westfield Ultra Marathons. The Greek Ultra Marathon Superstar won the event on five occasions and almost broke the magical five day barrier. After his win in 1985 the organisers tried to handicap him for road safety and spectator interest, but he would still make his way through the field and win the race. 1989 was the only year that he did not win Line Honours.

2. Bryan Smith Victorian runner, Bryan Smith was second. He ran his first Westfield in 1988 and ran every year after that through to 1991. He never finished any lower than forth. Bryan's moment of glory came in 1991 when he won Line Honours and Fastest time. He had to make up a tough twenty four hours during the race and won himself a handsome $60 000 in the process

3. Kevin Mansell Originally from NSW, but now living in South Australia. Kevin finished the Westfield Ultra Marathons on five occasions and was one of only two people to achieve this feat. He gradually improved each year and was definitely a tough customer who could never be underestimated. Between 87 and 89, Kevin knocked an incredible 67 hours of his time and his pinnacle at the top of Ultra running came in 89 when he finished third and became the forth person in history ever to beat 6 days for 1000km. 

4. Mark Gladwell Mark was the second runner to compete and finish the Westfield Run on five occasions. Mark was a good friend and training partner of Kevin Mansell and they would regularly run 100k for training every weekend. Mark's highest finish was ninth, but definitely deserves forth place for his consistency and courage.

5. Brian Bloomer Brian Bloomer from Victoria was a Marine steward on the Empress of Tasmania who use to train in Melbourne and Devonport every other day. He always struggled to find sponsorship but managed an incredible third, second and forth in the three years that he competed in the event.

6. David Standeven No one will ever forget David’s incredible run in 1989 when he crossed the line half an hour before Yiannis Kouros and won line honours. David was exhausted and had to be dispatched to hospital for care and observation. He had top ten finishers the two years before, but was never quite the same runner after 1989.

7. Maurice Taylor Maurice from NSW was a very consistent performer who had three Top ten performances in the three years that he ran in the race. Maurice loved the Race and even sold his prized Violin one year so that he could compete.

8. Tony Rafferty Ultra Marathon legend, Tony Rafferty competed in the race on seven occasions and finished in the Top ten four times. The Westfield Run evolved out of the many great battles that Tony had on the road with George Perdon over the years. Tony Rafferty had already been there and done that before this race ever commenced.

9. Patrick Macke English runner, Pat Macke finished with a third, second and eleventh place over the years. In 1986, he was dead on his feet towards the end of the race and took hours to complete the last piece of the journey. His crew were exhausted as well and as a result, Westfield organisers placed a minimum crew of six from the following year.

10. Don Mitchell Don was the highest-ranking New Zealander. He competed in the event on three occasions and got two fifth places and a sixth for his efforts. He was a timber worker and was known as tough and uncompromising who would not give an inch to another runner.

11. Eleanor Adams Eleanor was the highest ranking female finisher in the event, which confirms her rating as the best female Ultra runner in the world. She finished with three top ten finishers which included a seventh, forth and tenth to her name. She believed that she was just as good as the men and had the score to prove it!

12. Dusan Mravlje The beer swilling Yugoslav won in 86 and endeared himself to the Australian running community. In his only other finish he scored a third and was very unlucky to get injured on a couple of other occasions. He was definitely one of the few runners that had the capability of beating Yiannis Kouros. 

13. Dick Tout Dick was the second placed New Zealander. He finished third and second on the two times that he finished the race. He was another runner who had the capability to beat Kouros, but probably started each of his races at too fast a pace.

14. Ziggy Bauer Ziggy from New Zealand finished third in the first year and was one of the sports pioneers. He finished second in the second year of the race, but due to some problems with the organisers did not compete in the Westfield after that and has faded into oblivion since.

15. Cliff Young Cliff put the Westfield on the map in 83 when he won and became an instant folk hero around Australia. After that he finished with a seventh and a sixteenth and it wasn't till 1989 when he was ten km out of Bombala and decided that he'd had enough.

16. Tony Collins Tony from NSW finished the event three times. He raised over 100 000 for the Camperdown Childrens Hospital during his Westfield Runs. His moment of triumph came in 1991 when he was second runner across the line.

17. Ross Parker Ross from West Australia finished the event on four occasions. He wasn’t terribly fast, but enjoyed the fact of finishing the race each time. He was an excellent
sportsman who played first grade cricket and football in his time.

18. John Hughes Kiwi Policeman, who finished forth and second in the first two years of the event. The high price of sponsorship was the only thing that stopped him from crossing the Tasman in 1985.

19. Pat Farmer Pat Farmer was one of the "Young Guns" of the Westfield and finished the event on three occasions. Pat went on in later years to rewrite the record books with his magnificent runs across the Simpson Desert.

20. Joe Record Joe from West Australia deserves a ranking much higher than twentieth. He ran on five occasions and managed two top five placing's in that time. On the three other times he was injured in the closing stages of the race and had to withdraw. He was such an aggressive runner that he had an effect on the placing's every year that he raced.

21. Owen Tolliday Owen from Queensland was another former Australian 24 hr track record holder. He ran in the event three times and managed two Top ten placings. In 1991 he was unfortunately injured in the Snowy Mountains. 

22. Ron Hill Ron from Victoria ran in the event on three occasions. He loved the challenge and was able to finish all three times. 

23. Andrew Law Known as the "Tassie Tiger", Andrew raced in the last two Westfield's and finished twice. In 1991 he was third across the line and was headed for a big future in the sport until Westfield withdrew their sponsorship.

24. George Audley George from West Australia finished the event twice and absolutely loved the event.

25. Peter Gray Peter from Victoria was the youngest runner to ever finish the race in 1990. He got two Top ten finshes in the two years that he raced and would always give one hundred percent.

26. Sandra Barwick Top female runner from New Zealand who in 1990 claimed the womens race record from Eleanor Adams.

27. Donna Hudson American runner who competed twice for two top ten placings. Would have been good to see her and the other two female members of the top thirty in the same race when they were all fully fit. 

28. John Breit Salesman from Moe in Victoria who ran in the event in 88, 89 and 90. Finished towards the end of the field in 88 but was injured when he was doing well in 89 and had to withdraw at the 750km mark. In 1990 he ran very professionally and finished with a well deserved seventh. Was one of the best twenty four hour runners of his time in Australia.

29. Geoff Molloy Ex- Victorian Sun Tour Cycling Champion who won the event in 1984 when the race was ran from Melbourne to Sydney. Geoff was the Australian 24 hour record holder prior to the event and was only really pushed in the 84 event when John Hughes closed the gap on the last morning of the race. Geoff only ran in the race one time after 84 and failed to finish. 

30. George Perdon The late great George Perdon only competed in the Westfield on
the one occasion, but managed a second place. He regrets having so much sleep in that first year and letting Cliff Young slip away from him. He was the quiet achiever in Australian Ultra running and was the benchmark to which many Ultra runners try to aspire to today.

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