Peta Mullens claims record fifth win, and Ryan Standish crowned champions at Otway Odyssey presented by Focus


By Rapid Ascent
March 02, 2018

Peta Mullens has claimed a history-making fifth victory at the renowned 100km Otway Odyssey MTB Marathon presented by Focus, in Forrest Victoria today, with Ryan Standish conquering the men’s race.

Great Otway Gravel Grind . Copyright Fully Rapid Ascent 2018. All rights reserved.

The atmosphere was electric as over 1,100 riders from the recreational to the elite raced across the famed single-track of Forrest over three races, the 100km Odyssey, 50km Shorty and 30km Rookie. And with perfect mild racing weather, the courses were the best they’ve ever been.

The premier 100km race brought exciting racing at the front thanks to an elite crop of men and women.

After leading into the first feed zone at the 38km point, Jodie Willett (Brisbane) couldn’t match Mullen’s pace up the final hill meaning the former Australian Road Cycling Champion and current professional rider from Bendigo was first over the line in a time of five hours, and 22 minutes. Mullens didn’t have it easy suffering mechanicals early, losing her drink bottles and dehydration early in the race.

“It was a good battle,” Mullens said. “That’s probably the first time I’ve really suffered some dehydration in the middle of the race and I honestly didn’t think I would bounce back from it but that tempo climb out of town allows you to get in a steady rhythm that helped me. I’m just glad I can make it number five; it’s good to be back!

“Jodie’s the sort of person that can just motor along all day, so I was a bit nervous; I got some time checks from the volunteers out on course, and that sort of inspired me to push it, but it was hard! At the last climb I started to feel really good, and I knew I was climbing okay when I rode away from Tory because she’s a great climber.”

Willett came in second (5:30:10), and Tory Thomas (Mount Beauty) not far behind in 5:31:30. The top six was rounded out by an extremely close finish with under 30 seconds between Briony Mattocks in fourth (5:33:04), Renata Bucher; fifth (5:33:25) and inspirational 12 time Odyssey racer Jessica Douglas (5:33:28) in sixth.

In the men’s field, despite leading comfortably for much of the race, six-time Odyssey winner Christopher ‘J-Blood’ Jongewaard (Adelaide) took a wrong turn with 25kms to go, riding on to finish but ultimately disappointed to not officially complete the race.

This left the door open for Alice Springs’ Ryan Standish who crossed the line first in a time of four hours, 31 minutes and 28 seconds. After taking a wrong turn himself in the same race last year, the victory was sweet.

“I was sort of in no-man’s land, I thought Chris (Jongewaard) was up there, so I was trying to chase him down. I looked around in that last bit of single-track and Jay Vine was close behind me, I didn’t see him until then, we were just out of sight of each other for the whole day, until that last 5kms,” Standish said.

“There were no dramas at all today, it was awesome, I love the trails down here, and I’d love to come back down and spend a bit more time riding for fun rather than hurting the whole way.”

Great Otway Gravel Grind . Copyright Fully Rapid Ascent 2018. All rights reserved.

Jay Vine was just two seconds behind the race leader in 4:31:30, and in third place was Ballarat’s Daniel Braunsteins (4:36:23).

The 50km Otway Shorty event also saw some exciting racing with Adam Blazevic first in 2 hours, 19 minutes and four seconds,  followed soon after by Sam Chancellor (2:20:14) and 15-year-old Domenic Paolilli in third (2:21:30)

“It was a good race out there, it was super fun, a bit of rain made the tracks perfect, so grippy and fast, and it was really fun,” Blazevic said .

“The first half I just wanted to try and not go too hard because in the past I’ve sort of blown a bit on that last loop so I just tried to stay with someone else, and then the first climb on the second loop I’ve sort of put a bit of pressure on and was just sort of on my own from there”

Second place-getter Chancellor said he used experience to his advantage but was surprised at the first climb up Kaangalang, “It was just ridiculous the pace, I’ve never seen 200 beats a minute in the first five minutes, and credit to the young dudes too, they were just riding so good, and it’s not all age, they were riding really smooth, the young guy Dom, 15 - what a legend.”

It was Maria Plyashechko’s first time riding in Forrest, but it didn’t show – winning the women’s 50km race in a tidy three hours and 33 seconds. Melissa Mackenzie was second (3:04:49) and Claudia Dohr placed third in 3:06:05.

300 riders took on the 30km Odyssey Rookie designed specifically for novice mountain bikers and developing juniors. First across the line was Harry Nankervis, 15, Bendigo (1:28:48) in the men’s, and first female was Millie Chester, 13 of Mt Eliza (1:48:35).

Race organisers Rapid Ascent in conjunction with local ambassadors and coaches tackled the barriers for women wanting to take the first step into bike racing via the new ‘Odyssey Angels’ program – a range of  initiatives, skills programs and support to help improve accessibility of the sport to female riders. More than double 2017’s numbers of females competed in the 30km race today with many of the 70 women racing for the first time.

“This year we did a lot of work to encourage, and provide support for female riders to participate in the event, to close the gap between the numbers of males and females. And I’m really happy with the outcome, it has been great to see so many first time female riders and racers enjoying the event which just proves that women are just as capable as men and we look forward to continuing these ideas into the future,” said Sam Maffett, General Manager, Rapid Ascent.

For 12 years riders have travelled from across Australia to the Otway Odyssey to take on the region’s iconic single track, and it’s a tradition that continues to run strongly today with 1,151 riders competing in today’s races.

The day rounded out in the afternoon with a kids’ focussed Grommets Ride. Over 30 kids from as young as three years old and up took part in an obstacle race, bike limbo and many other fun bike activities.

The action continues tomorrow, Sunday 25 February, with the return of the Great Otway Gravel Grind (The GOGG) which debuted last year. Competitors will be taken on an incredible journey through the mighty Otway Ranges to the coast and back along the famed smooth rolling dirt roads, over the Big Ring 97km course, and the Small Ring 49km course.

“The event has had a huge following right from the get go and we’re rapt that its popularity continues today. The trails of Forrest are world class, combined with the wilderness, the terrain and the friendly atmosphere all help make it the successful event it is today. We are stoked to continue organising the Odyssey and for riders to enjoy the amazing riding on offer here in the Otway Ranges,” Maffett said.

“Thank you to everyone for making it such a successful day, and to the locals of Forrest who dedicate their time to helping maintain the awesome trails here.”

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