Top field expected for 100km marathon from Apollo to Forrest
World champions, national titleholders, age group legends and a field full of weekend warriors hoping that they can make it to the finish line will be lining up at the Otway Odyssey Mountain Bike Marathon in Australia on Saturday, February 19.
Competitors will take on 15km, 50km or the main event, the 100km course which begins at the coastal town of Apollo Bay and snakes up the Otway Ranges to Forrest, two hours southwest of Melbourne.
So who will be masters of the Otway Odyssey come the final stretch of singletrack in 2011? The pointy end of this year's 100km Otway Odyssey is as sharp as ever with both the men's and women's fields including many of the nation's best riders.
Leading the men's charge is likely to be four-time national champion and two-time Odyssey winner Chris Jongewaard, fresh from an exciting, if narrow win at the Australian Mountain Bike Series cross country event at Mt Buller earlier this month.
Jongewaard will be pushed long and hard by the likes of 2010 race winner Adrian Jackson and runner up Lachlan Norris, who is particularly quick on the cross country circuit at the moment.
Hot on all their heels will be the likes of Matthew Flemming, Peter Hatton, Ben Hogarth and Andrew Fellows, to name just a few.
Former 24-hour Solo World Champion Craig Gordon and his entire Rock Star Racing team will be chasing victory in a race that has eluded the team in the past, while the reigning 24-hour Solo Champion Jason English is also a top contender and will take no prisoners in his quest to capture the title.
The women's field is just as competitive and should see a close battle in a field of very fast females. Forrest local and reigning 24-hour Solo World Champion Jess Douglas wants to make her mark on the race and is determined to stand on the podium, and preferably the top spot after four previous attempts at the race.
Having ridden the course plenty of times, she's not daunted but knows experience won't necessarily dull the pain ahead. "I know it hurts, it just depends on the day how much I can hurt. Last year was not so good - I hurt in the first 10km and never came good. This year I will try and go a bit faster. That's all I can do," said Douglas.
The likes of Gracie Elvin won't make Douglas' job any easier: as the Under 23 National Champion, Elvin is particularly strong over the distance and carries plenty of cross country speed.
Jo Wall, Peta Mullens, Niki Fisher and Amity McSwan will push these two all the way.
Now in its fifth year, the Otway Odyssey has grown to be the largest mountain bike event in Victoria and second largest mountain bike marathon in Australia, with 1,750 competitors set to pedal their way through the Otway bush.
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