The Honourable Mentions
When I embarked on this project, I had clearly underestimated just how hard it would be to narrow nearly a decade's-worth of memorable people and performances down to just 10 "Icon" spots. It would prove to be the most difficult part of the process, particularly without a strict, formalised selection criteria. Along the way I've had many thoughts and suggestions that have prompted me to compile this; a subset list of "honourable mentions" whose collective contributions have made the race what it is today.
Here they are, in no particular order:
The OG Winners - Ben Gerhardy and Shona Stephenson
Through their participation - and impressive performances - at the inaugural race, both Ben and Shona bought an instant level of credibility to the fledgling event. While their original Course Records have since fallen (Shona's time of 10:59:59 lasted 7 years until Blackall Icon Reesha Lewis finally toppled it in 2021), Ben and Shona's names are firmly etched into Blackall folklore.
Image: The inaugural champ, Ben takes out the line-honours and the men's title, 2014
Image: Shona's record of 10:59:59 would stand for 7 years. She features here taking out the inaugural women's title, 2014
The Characters - 'The Gatekeeper' and 'Bax'
One of the enduring quirks of Blackall is the cast of various characters that pop up throughout the course. Over the years we've seen witches, fairies, elves and zombies, but chief among them are the long-serving "Bax" (a troll who manages the Baxter Creek bridge crossing), and The Gatekeeper/Grim Reaper (who manages the gate on Suses Pocket Rd). For many years they have turned what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill course marshalling job into a memorable moment for front-runners and back-of-pack battlers alike.
Image: The original Gatekeeper/Grim Reaper (AKA Paul) gives chase to the eventual race champ Yun Phua, 2018.
Image: Neil C took over the Gatekeeper/Grim Reaper duties in 2019.
Image: Bax (AKA Nathan M) and some hapless victims on his 8th appearance at the race, 2022
Uncle Al's Welcome to Country ceremonies have become a genuine highlight of race weekend, transforming the standard race briefing into a moving ritual that connects the participants to the land upon which they are about to journey.
Image: Uncle Al conducting the Welcome to Country, pre-race 2021
There's few tougher race-day jobs than sweeping last part of the course, coaxing those weary 100km runners home as the new day dawns... balancing supportive sympathy with clinical incentive to keep ahead of the cut-off. Sweeper Gav has swept the final ~40km of the 100km every single year since 2014 (on two separate occasions he has done this AFTER competing in the 50km event earlier in the day). Likely to be the first to achieve the 500 Club purely by sweeping, he's a genuine Blackall legend!
Image: Gav all smiles after another successful sweep, 2022
Kirkwood Hall at QCCC Mapleton serves as the start line for the 100km and 50km races before transforming into the Finish Line precinct for all races. While the majority of the field (made up of the 21 and 50km distances) finish during daylight, the light from Kirkwood Hall beckons the 100km home throughout the night.
Image: Kirkwood Hall at daybreak of Day 2 (about 90 minutes prior to cut-off), 2020.
The Blackall Bell
Crafted by Francis Harvey prior to the inaugural race in 2014, the Blackall Bell has been rung, kissed, fist-bumped, prayed to and sworn at by every single finisher over the 9 year race history. It represents the final triumph for all 50k and 100k participants, and is truly an iconic part of Blackall.
Image: The Blackall Bell, 2017
Check out our other Blackall icons here.
Check out all our images of previous Blackall races on our Past Events page