The 29th Annual Frankston to Portsea Road Race 55km/34Miles
Sunday 1st April 2001 Melbourne, Australia
1. Willem Boshoff [South Africa] 4:50:38
2. Peter Cooper 5:02:54
3. Max Gibbs 5:10:15
4. Geoff Hook 6:20:51
5. Kevin Mansell 6:46:32
6. Greg Wishart 6:50:50
report by Kevin Cassidy, race director.
Edition 29 of Australia's longest running ultra saw the tradition continue
to build upon the rich and unique history of this "one of a kind" event.
Six runners and a host of supporters gathered at the Davey Street corner in
conditions that were a tad hazy but ideal for running. I had received a
number of phone calls in the days before the race that had me thinking that
maybe a field of 10 or more was possible, but on race day, a normal sized
field of 6 toed the starting line. This event goes all the way back to 1973
but its true beginning can be traced back to the 60s when coach Percy
Cerrutty would drive his squad of world class athletes to Frankston and make
them run back to his Portsea camp. Amongst these athletes was Herb Elliott,
the greatest Mile/1500 metre runner the world has ever seen and 1964 Olympic
It was a privilege to have Kevin Mansell in the field. Kevin is a 5 time
Sydney-Melbourne finisher and one of the few people in the world to have run
1,000km in less than 6 days. Kevin earned legend status when he dueled with
Yiannis Kouros for several days during the 1989 Sydney-Melbourne race before
finishing in third position. Kevin was being looked after by his better
half, Gwenda. Also on the comeback trail was Greg Wishart, Greg was a
regular on the ultra scene but we had not seen him for almost 7 years. Some
things just never change, Greg had a crew ready and waiting to assist him
but Greg himself still hadn't shown up as I was about to say
"GO"..........With only seconds to spare, a car flew around the corner on 2
wheels before screeching to a halt in a cloud of dust........Yes, Greg had
arrived and the race was under way.
I should point out, at this stage, that while all the other runners paid
their 5 dollar entry fee with a single 5 dollar note, Max "Mad Max" Gibbs
showed what a cheapskate he is by handing me a bag of 5 cent and 10 cent
It was Max who took the early lead and was soon a long way in front with
Peter and Willem cruising along behind. Peter was inspired to run this
event after crewing for Rob Davis last year. Rob returned the favour by
looking after Peter this time around. Meanwhile, the prize for the biggest
crew was firmly in the grasp of Willem Boshoff. Willem is a newly arrived
citizen from South Africa and had a huge contingent of South Africans
Max was still leading when I caught up with his good wife, Allison, at the
Rosebud Jetty...."How's Max" I asked....."He's buggered" replied Allison,
not mincing her words. At this stage, I was just hoping that the runners
would get safely through the busy traffic from the Sunday "outdoor market"
in the Rosebud Village Green.......I had no idea that the market was on,
normally this section is almost deserted on a Sunday morning.
Max lead through the marathon point at 42 km before hitting the wall which
saw Willem and Peter come through in the later stages.
Last year saw victory go to two newly arrived South Africans in Rob
McConnochie and Richard Jourdain, this year was to be a South African
victory again as Willem cruised to the finish........I guess we can now
claim an international flavour to this race along with all its other
With Willem, Peter and Max all finished, myself and our two roving course
officials in Ross Shilston and Sandra Stewart went out in search of our
remaining three runners. The incomparable Geoff Hook was next followed
closely by Kevin and Greg.
Willem received a bottle of red wine as the winner while all finishers
received the traditional block of plain Cadbury's chocolate and a souvenir
mirror.....It seemed somewhat appropriate that the date was April Fools day.
The arrival, in Melbourne, of several competent athletes from South Africa
has seen Geoff Hook, in his capacity as Secretary of the South Melbourne
Athletic Club, eagerly trying to get their signatures on paper for the
upcoming cross country season
With another Frankston to Portsea event completed and runners on their way
home, Sandra [course official] decide to add some excitement to things by
taking a very nasty fall over a tree root that saw her rip a hole in her
jeans and take some serious layers of skin off her knee, hip and both hands
which left her dripping blood in all directions. By the time I had put my
first aid skills to use and bandaged up all her wounds, she was looking very
much like an Egyptian mummy!!!!!!! Not so lucky, however, was her mobile
phone that died a horrible death when it crashed into the asphalt and ended
up in 1,000 pieces !!!!!!!
We have seen many bigger and fancier ultras in Australia but none of them
have stood the test of time the way that the Frankston to Portsea has. I
have no doubt that when I am dead and gone, the April tradition of a handful
of runners enjoying the journey down the peninsula will be ongoing. Almost
everyone who has ever been anyone in the ultra world has graced this event
at one time or another and it is an event that every ultra runner must do at
least once in their lifetimes.
The next edition of "Ultramag" will contain a history of results going right
back to 1973, this history is still being researched by Max Gibbs. Also in
Ultramag will be a collection of photo's from this years event. Meanwhile
the webpage is at www.coolrunning.com.au/ultra/frankston/index.shtml
Sunday April 7th is the intended date for 2002.........Just roll up at the
corner of Davey Street and the Nepean Highway in Frankston at 7am to enjoy a
great run and be a part of the ongoing traditions of an event that is an
icon on the Australian ultra calendar.