King of the mount festival | RACE REPORT & PHOTOS

The 2018 King of the Mount festival kicked off on Sunday 19th of August with 19 hardy Sea to Summit runners meeting at the bus in front of the North Star pub with the temperature hovering around the two degree mark.

This year we added a longer distance as a result of a social run Quinten and I did from the sea at Mount Mambray to the summit of Mt Remarkable.

After last years King of the Mount event we saw an opportunity to satisfy runners who wanted MORE RUNNING with a course that is extremely challenging, remote, beautiful, that shared part of the course with King of the Mount and had everyone finishing together at the camp kitchen at the Melrose caravan park.

We left Melrose at 6:15am and after an hours subdued drive around to the start in a warm bus everyone came to life when we disembarked at the beach.

After walking 200 metres out to the incoming tide I delivered the final instructions, runners dipped their hands in Spencer Gulf and they were off!

Thanks to Geoff Axford for allowing us access to his private property, without his permission the race would have been much less direct and probably much less fun.

By the time the runners reached the Mambray creek day visitor area (14 gently sloping uphill kilometres, a mix of beach, farm track, road and non-technical single track) last years King of the Mount, this years Adelaide marathon winner and heavy favourite John Csongei came through first in 1hr 03min, a ten minute lead on a chase pack consisting of Joel, Camilo and Steve who appeared to be working well together to keep Johns lead to a minimum.

On the ladies side the race had a strong leader early, with Alison Ebert through in 1hr 30min followed by the Pirie trail runners Ella and Brenda through in 1hr 52min.

Louise, our international entrant (and experienced runner) was demanding some hills when she reached the end of the flat stuff in last position.

She went on to prove that hills were a strong suit for her by the end of the race.

I was pleased that everyone had made the 10:15am cutoff comfortably and were looking good to begin 22 kilometres of endless steep climbing, plunging descents or hard to navigate trackless creek line all with minimal phone service.

I packed up the aid station, sent the splits to Quinten at the finish line and started walking at cutoff pace toward the summit as the 'course sweeper’, hoping that I’d see no one until I reached the finish line (because everyone was finished, not hopelessly lost).

I had a very peaceful few hours listening to the birds, taking in the views and not seeing a soul until I reached the link land, a track-riddled navigationally-challenging part of the park where getting turned around is easy to do. At the section of the course which follows the trackless Heysen Trail along a creek at about 1:30pm I came across an animated young fellow by the name of Michael walking the wrong way up the creek towards me.

He explained he’d missed the turn down the creek at 11:20am and had followed Pines track before he realised he’d not seen a marking for a long time and retraced his steps, only regaining the trail just before I encountered him.

Michael is a real character, unafraid of putting himself out there.

In his position, after being lost for a couple of hours, and with a few more hours before I could sit down and feel sorry for myself, I believe I would probably be a bit grumpy about the way my day had unfolded.

Instead, Michael was great company, telling me stories about his recent trip abroad where he was persuaded to start running training and which culminated in a fifty mile road ultramarathon finish.

He also told me that when he signed up for our race, he thought the race was in Melrose Park. When he realised his error he just went with it, planned a road trip with his grandpa and got on with it.

Michael had regained his confidence by the time we reached the western slope of Mt Remarkable and he’d run off with a new goal, to get a beef parmy at the Mt Remarkable hotel as early as he could.

I was in phone reception by then and had heard that John Csongei had won the race in the amazing time of 3hrs 47min in front of the starters assembled for the 14 km King of the Mount.

I shouldn’t be surprised by that, because he just keeps winning- but how he averaged 5:20 per kilometre on that course blows my mind.

When I reached the summit of Mt Remarkable I was glad to hear that all the Sea to Summit and King of the Mount runners has been through the summit aid station and most had finished.

Between the tracking sheet and subsequent conversations with Quinten and Steve Burdett I think I have a fair idea how the race came out since I’d last heard.

John Csongei was the winner of the men’s race, bloodied from a late fall, but composed and fresh- surprising no one. The battle for second place man was quite intense.

Steve and Camilo dropped Joel at around the halfway mark, only to have him and Marcus reappear near Greys hut.

By the time the four contenders reached the summit aid station Steve and Camilo had a five minute lead on Marcus, with Joel only two minutes behind him.

The sprint down the Mount was won by Camilo, finishing four minutes in front of Steve, with the margin no doubt inflated by Steve falling with 400m to go.

Although bloodied and bruised, Steve managed to hold off Marcus for the last podium spot, finishing in third by less than two minutes.

Allison Ebert won the ladies race by nearly an hour. A fantastic effort and huge margin on a tough course. Once again the battle for second place was very interesting with the two Pirie trail runners Brenda and Ella hitting the summit aid station in second and third with an eleven minute buffer back to Louise.

Unbelievably, Louise made up the difference in less than seven kilometres to not only claim second place but to do so with a margin of seven minutes! That lady can descend!

I wandered down the southern summit trail to the sound of the air horn and cow bells ringing the runners in. I still didn’t see any runners which made me very happy.

Upon reaching the finish line I was stoked to hear that the finish line atmosphere had been great, with the soups and stew also a hit with hungry runners.

Some quotes from our runners:

John Csongei- men’s winner:

“I’m really thankful that the In the Flinders crew provided us with the opportunity to have such a memorable experience. The event was bigger in many ways than I expected, steeper hills, more wildlife, more varying and beautiful landscapes and terrain. While I was out there for a lot less time than other competitors, it was still a big day out. Many of us are after new and challenging experiences, and this ticked the box for me.”

John also took some video of the course for his training vlog.

Steve Burdett- Men’s third place:

“The Sea to Summit was a great experience that I thoroughly recommend to others. It was great being able to see the mountains in the distance from the edge of the sea at the start, and quite a good feeling to look back to the sea from near the top of the first climb and see how far we'd come. Then looking down to Melrose a short time after reaching the summit and knowing it's all down hill from here. There are certainly easier marathons, possibly all of them! We didn't run this to do something easy though, and I'm glad the terrain was tough and not over marked.”

King of the Mount

The historic event, King of the Mount underwent a major overhaul this year, with the run being to the summit and back to Melrose, instead of just to the summit.

We made the change so that we could provide a better atmosphere with a fire and decent food for runners, which gave them a chance to hang around at the finish.

The runners assembled for the midday start were treated to the amazing sight of John Csongei finishing his run from the ocean (42k) in comfortably less than four hours.

Anyone who’s been on the other side of the Mount realises what a huge accomplishment this is.

The runners were sent off by our local member of parliament, Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, who did a great job of elucidating the benefits a thoughtfully constructed and well maintained trail network brings to our community.

The big story of the men’s race was Angelo Fazzalari smashing his way to the summit in thirty nine minutes on his way to a finishing time of 1hr 11mins.

For the record, Angelos time to the summit was three minutes faster than the very strong time set last year (though it was on a the opposite trail which is about 1km shorter) and he finished about twelve minutes in front of second placed Scott Martin.

Scott was actually through the summit in third place to Phillip Tetlow, it must have been an epic battle on the downhill, because Scott managed to reel Phillip in and grab second place by less than thirty seconds.

The story of the day from a local perspective was Renae Kretschmer backing up her 2017 Queen of the Mount title with the 2018 win in 1hr 47mins.

Renae managed to hit the summit in 1hr 1min, a five minute improvement from last years win.

Renae didn’t have it all her own way this year though, she won with a slim margin of 47 seconds from Sarah Murphy.

Sarah must be a good descender because she went through the summit three minutes behind Renae.

A gutsy win for Renae, showing a lot of grit to hold off a strong challenge. Sam Sykes was the comfortable winner of Prince of the Mount in the blazing time of 1hr 30mins.

He gained the summit in a lung-busting 49 minutes, ten minutes faster than his nearest challenger and 18 minutes faster than last years Prince’s winning time.

Everyone I spoke to had a story about how well spoken and polite Sam was.

Local lad Alec Whellum managed second place with a time of 1hr 55mins, with last years Prince Luca Lee-Bruce close behind.

Both of these boys gained the summit in 59 minutes, which would have given them an eight minute winning margin last year.

The title of Princess of the Mount was taken out by Tayah Liffner in the time of 2hrs 2min.

Tayah reached the summit in 1hr and 7min, only a minute slower than the time achieved by last years Queen.

Tayah finished twenty minutes ahead of last years princess Matilda Miller, who took four minutes off her 2017 time to the summit.

I just want to say thanks to:

  • - Chris Clarke and Ali James (summit aid)
  • - Rob and Sophie Clarke (southern aid station)
  • - Marianne Clarke (registration and timing)
  • - Mich van der Werf (atmosphere and photography)
  • - Kate Trentelman (soups)
  • - Stephen Sanders (S2S start and Mambray aid)
  • - Lauren Waldon (marshal and atmosphere)
  • - Sally Lightburn (first aid)
  • - Geoff Axford (landowner)
  • - Simon Blieschke (landowner)
  • - Peter Newman (DEW liaison, emergency extraction)
  • - District Council of Mt Remarkable (road closure and use of camp kitchen)
  • - Mt Remarkable hotel

Without those listed above this event would not happen.

Also, a big thank you to the mid-packers, the walkers and the newbies. You are as important to us as the guns.


Al Clarke and Quinten van der Werf

Race directors


2018 Sea to Summit 42KM Results

1st Place Mens – John Csongei (AUS) 3hrs 47min 53sec

2nd Place Mens – Camilo Loor-Chavez (AUS) 4hr 40min 20sec

1st Place Womens – Alison Ebert (AUS) 7hr 03min 00sec

2nd Place Womens – Louise Cardwell (UK) 8hr 02min 20sec

2018 King of the Mount 14KM Results

2018 King – Angelo Fazzalari 1hr 11min 42sec

2018 Queen – Renae Kretschmer 1hr 47min 50sec

2018 Prince – Sam Sykes 1hr 30min 18sec

2018 Princess – Tayah Liffner 2hr 2min 0sec

- By Al Clarke and Quinten van der Werf