The Standrings (Brett and Megan)


B100 race directors Brett and Megan Standring are the heartbeat of the Blackall 100. 

They are our only Icons to have never raced Blackall as participants, yet they have probably spent the most time out of anyone on the course - both physically and mentally - to plan, prepare and execute the great race each October.  Their love for the sport, the environment, the running community, and the brand they have built is infectious.  While the countdown of our Blackall Icons to date has been strictly "unordered", there is no denying that as the driving force behind Blackall, Brett and Megan are the most deserving of the #1 spot to complete our countdown.  Together, they are our final Blackall Icons.


Image: Brett and Megan at the pre-race ceremony and briefing, 2019

Brett!  Megan!  How exciting that we're now just a matter of days till the 10th edition of Blackall.  Does it feel like yesterday or does it feel like 100 years ago?  What are some of your memories about that first race in 2014?

As we eagerly approach the 10th edition of Blackall, I reflect on it all the time. There are moments when it feels like just yesterday that we embarked on this journey, while on other occasions, it seems as though a century has passed, especially when I delve into recollections from a decade ago.

Reflecting on that inaugural race in 2014, my first vivid memory is the scorching heat of the day, a reminder of the challenges bringing together a 100 and 50 km event of this magnitude. The road leading to that first race was an arduous one, spanning approximately 18 months of relentless effort and determination. Yet, as I look back on it now, I'm immensely grateful that I persevered, for it has since evolved into one of the annual highlights of our calendar.

The passage of time is a bit of an emotional whirlwind, to be honest. It feels like we embarked on this incredible journey just yesterday, and yet, here we are, celebrating a decade of Blackall. It's almost surreal how swiftly it has all unfolded. But I suppose that's what happens when you're doing something you love, surrounded by amazing individuals, and making a meaningful contribution to the community. It's an absolute privilege.

If I had to pick one memory, it would undoubtedly be that very first race. Standing there, watching all the runners lined up at the start, and taking a moment to reflect on the immense effort it took to get us to that point – it was an overwhelming surge of pride and emotion.


Image: The start of the story - the inaugural Blackall 100 start line, 2014

The race has grown year-on-year and has become a genuine fixture in the calendar that attracts runners from interstate and overseas.  What's been the key ingredients to that success?

This one is easy. It’s the Run Queensland Team, the amazing community of runners, volunteers and teams of contractors who supply their specialty of services (including you Mr SOK, You've been with us for the whole 10 years capturing all the special moments) that come together to share the absolute joy of trail running. So, in a nutshell it’s all of us humans!!

I agree with Brett, in essence, the success of the race can be succinctly summed up as the result of the combined efforts and shared joy of all the individuals involved. It's the human element that has truly made this event shine, and the deep gathering energy of the Blackall Range.


There was a lot of admin, planning and approvals that had to come together to run a race through this part of the world. Can you give the readers a bit of an insight into what was involved bringing the Blackall to life?

In the early stages of this journey, there were moments when I felt like I was scaling the formidable Bluff and enduring Gav's gut-busting challenges simultaneously. It was an uphill battle, with meetings scheduled left and right, involving a wide array of stakeholders including politicians, National Parks, SEQ Water, QCCC, and Main Roads, among others.

The task at hand was to persuade all these vested parties that hosting a trail run through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland was not just a dream but a worthwhile endeavour. Looking back, I'm immensely relieved that they not only heard us out but also lent their support. The Blackall 100 has now blossomed into an extraordinary weekend event that ignites the imagination of countless individuals.

This is where I really found my groove, and for those who know me, they'll tell you I'm always up for a challenge. When Brett pitched the idea and mentioned that others had attempted it in the past, I simply shrugged and said, "Yeah, but we haven't." I was all in and gave him my full support, and let me tell you, it sparked my creativity big time. It's like the universe was on our side every step of the way.


Image: The admin never really ended - Brett and Megan attending to race-day admin, approx 1:30am Sunday morning 2022

I'm sure it's hard to pick, but do you have a favourite moment/performance from Blackall from over the years?

There are countless memorable moments to pick from, but if I had to choose a personal favourite, it would definitely be the experience of watching Dean Karnazes run. It felt like a moment of completion, a full circle. You see, it all began when my father-in-law, Paul (who was the original gatekeeper), gifted me Dean's book "Ultra Marathon Man." Meeting Dean at Western States and persuading him to join us for the Blackall100 was something truly extraordinary. Dean's book had served as the spark that ignited my passion for running trail ultras.

I must admit, I even managed to sneak in a few kilometres of running alongside him later in the event, but let's keep that our little secret.

Much like Brett, there have been countless unforgettable moments, making it tough to pinpoint just one. However, what has truly touched my heart is the gradual evolution of our community over time.

Our Friday night smoking ceremony is a special tradition that brings us all together in a singular moment. It's a time when we're completely present with each other and acutely aware of the remarkable journey we're about to undertake as a collective. It's like embarking on a grand adventure, side by side, and that's what fills me with an indescribable sense of warmth and excitement.


Image: Brett and Dean at the race briefing, 2019


Image: Running royalty - Brett snaps the moment where Dean K and Andy L got the chance to meet Bax (one of our honourable mentions)

Could you take a stab at how many total hours (or KMs!) you've spent on the B100 course over the years, either exploring/mapping/marking/de-marking etc etc?

I’d say it would be over 1000kms. I have even run the hundred on my own with the help of Gav. 

In the past, I used to spend my time marking, and it was one of the things I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, they've handed that job over to someone else now, but hey, no hard feelings!


Image: Brett has covered north of 1000kms on the Blackall course over the years (on foot, not in this vehicle). 2014


Anyone we talk to about Blackall agrees there's something special about not only the race itself, but the whole experience across the weekend.  Do you have your own thoughts about what that 'something' is?

What truly makes this event exceptional is the people who gather here, the charming township of Mapleton, and the incredible hub of activity at the QCCC. There is an amazing synergy.

I believe I touched upon this last year, as many folks have inquired about what makes this event so extraordinary. There's no single answer, as it's a rich tapestry woven from various factors like our tight-knit community, the breathtaking landscapes of the range, the exceptional QCCC facilities, the dedicated volunteers, and so much more.

However, when I dig deep into this question, I sense something profoundly spiritual about this place, steeped in cultural significance. It feels like a connection that was forged thousands of years ago, and now, as a collective, we're tapping into that ancient energy and shaping this unique gathering into what it has become today.


Image: Megan welcoming runners to the 100km start precinct, 2022

Image: Brett congratulates 3-time champ (and fellow icon) Charlie Boyle after his most recent win, 2022


Image: Brett cheers on Neil C, a long-time supporter of the Blackall (as both a runner and volunteer) as he completes the 100km, 2018

Image: Megan and Brett embrace Tracey H, the final 100km runner home, 2019


One of the endearing quirks of Blackall is the various "characters" who pop up at various spots on the course, notably the Gatekeeper/Grim Reaper and Bax the troll.  Can you tell us anything about how this tradition came about?

I believe this might be Megan's brainchild. We'd be in different areas, soaking in the atmosphere, and someone would make a comment about how a specific place feels. Suddenly, a character would spring to life. The folks who now embody these roles have been doing so for quite a few years, and they've really made them their own.

Haha, absolutely! When it comes to having fun, count me in anytime! But you know, all you have to do is create the space, and people just take off with it. That's what I adore about Blackall – it's a place where everyone understands that it's time to let loose, be yourself, and have a blast.


Image: Megan preps her dad Paul, the original Gatekeeper (and one of our honourable mentions), 2014

What are two things that you have to deal with as a RD, but runners wouldn't even think about?

Ah, tiredness, and exhaustion – they were like my trusty companions during those event weekends. I'd manage to squeeze in a whopping total of 4 hours of sleep from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, staying awake for a staggering 40 hours straight. But hey, no complaints here; I like to think of it as 100-mile training ! 😊

Now, as for chasing down those runners who sneakily pull out of the event without giving the checkpoints a heads-up, well, that's a whole different adventure. We find ourselves making calls at all sorts of absurd hours just to make sure they're alright. So, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to withdraw, please let the checkpoint know. Or we will disturb your beauty sleep! 😉


Image: Late-night boogie. Brett usually gets into a dancing mood on the Saturday overnight as sleep deprivation kicks in, 2019

You've managed to iteratively improve the event every year without ever losing the key essence of the race.  How do you decide what things to tweak and what things to keep consistent from year to year?

A lot of the things we change are guided by the runners, checkpoint crews and RQ Team. We are always looking at ways to make the runner and spectator experience the best we can. You’ll see this at CP4 this year. 

All of us at Run Queensland are a creative bunch with all different types of gifts. We love and encourage the freedom to express and do things well. This is one of our core values, so I guess we’re always looking at what we can do better.


Image: Megan and Brett conversing (mid dance routine), 2016

There's been a long-running rumour that one day we'll see a B100 Miler.  Care to make any comment on those rumours...?

That’s just a rumour


Image: Brett on the phone to the local media, fuelling rumours of a future B100 Miler, 2021*

*Apart from date, this caption is completely made up

Do you think we'll ever see Brett have a crack at the 100km as a participant?

I don’t think so. I’ve run it on my own but it’s certainly not the experience I see watching the real thing. I ran it to get the GPX file on my watch, but the watch failed and never recorded it. The event itself is a massive undertaking and I feel responsible to make sure that every runner is back safe and has for the most part a good time (it is an ultra-so a bit of suffering feels appropriate).  I might have a go at it when I get old.

Ah, Andy Speakman and I tried my best to convince him to give it a run! But he's got this deep sense of responsibility for the runners that just won't let him take the plunge. And you know, that's one of the things I absolutely adore about Brett – he goes all in, heart and soul.
Having him as a husband is not just an honor, it's like having a one-man cheering squad, an event organizer, and a comedian all rolled into one! 😄


Image: Fellow icon Andy Speakman, Megan, and Jas all try to convince Brett to take on the B100, 2022

(At this point I wanted to get into some running specific details, all the answers below are from Brett.) Which races and runners inspire you, or inform some of your thinking about the types of events you want to create?

You know, the race that really gets my heart racing is the Western States Endurance Run. It's just so iconic, and it's stayed true to its roots since way back in the '70s. The fact that the Blackall100 is a qualifier for this epic event is something that gives me a buzz.

I had the chance to tackle the Western States Endurance Run in 2018, and let me tell you, it was an experience that's etched in my memory forever. I'm itching to go back and take another shot at it someday. Fingers crossed!


Image: Brett ran WSER in 2018, the same year Yun Phua took out the B100

What's your advice to someone attempting their first Blackall this year?

If it's scorching out there, don't rush the climb up the bluff. Take your time, and when you hit CP3, be sure to fill up all your water bottles. Trust me, you wouldn't want to regret running out of water later on.


Image: Brett attends to an on-course First Aid incident at Yandina 5'O' (a sister event to B100), 2023

Are you a headphones and music and/or podcast type runner?  (If so, any go-to artists etc?) Or do you prefer to go natural?

Natural for me. I love the sound of my feet hitting the ground, it sounds like a metronome. I also like to tune into the sounds in the bush, especially at night you here some weird and wonderful noises. So Good!!

Any particular tech or kit or equipment that you can't live without on a long run?

Toilet Paper: When nature beckons, my window of opportunity is quite limited. (Is that oversharing?)


Image: This image is (mercifully) unrelated to Brett's toilet paper comment, 2015

Do you have any pre-race rituals/superstitions or lucky charms that you rely on for race days?

Currently, I’m partial to wearing Pink shorts.


Image: Prior to his pink shorts phase, Brett was heavily inspired by the Roman Empire.  Gladiator Race, 2021

Any trends in races or running that worry you, or you don't agree with, either in your capacity as a Race Director, or as a runner generally?

I don't have significant concerns, but if anything, I worry about individuals over racing. Once their adrenal systems are taxed to the limit, it can be quite challenging to re-engage in the ultra running scene.

If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to go for a run with, who would it be with and where would you run?

I lost my Dad earlier this year, and I would have cherished the opportunity for him to have crewed at one of my events. He had a genuine passion for documenting my long-distance journeys, and that meant a lot to me.


Brett, Megan - thank you so much for taking part in the series, and for having me involved in your events in the first place.  It's been an absolute honour (and a whole lot of fun!) to be alongside as you've grown Blackall into the much-loved juggernaut it has become today.  All the very best for the 10th edition this coming weekend, and for the future of the race in the years to come!  Much love, SOK




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Check out all our images of previous Blackall races on our Past Events page