This year on paper might be Caellum Crowes year.
Last years winner Michael Hosking is racing abroad at the 2016 World Race Walking Teams Championship in Rome May 1.
2015 runner up Caellum is running strong off the back of career best performances - all across the 10km distance. At the Albury Wodonga City2City Caellum was first local home by a mile, Caellum consolidated his form with wins at the 10km Riverina Lighting Trail and the Easter 10km Beechworth Fun Run. Caellum certainly earmarks this distance as his strength. In last year Nail Can tough conditions may have cheated him of a sub 40min run but with a clear vision of the winners tape it may just be the year that Caellum reaches greatness.
To challenge him Ben Buckingham was only a couple of hundred metres shy of Crowe taking third in the 2015 edition. History is to Ben’s favour with a proven sub 40min Nail Can in the book. With Ben’s proven pedigree it will certainly provide an exhilarating battle that could go down to the wire.
2015 Riverina Endurance Trail Series Champion Aaron Knight comes off a win at the Vertical km at Mt Buffalo just weeks ago - Aaron is going from strength to strength on trails and there is obviously no doubt the guy can climb. Aaron will line up for his 10th Nail Can where he can potentially make it 10 top 10‘s from 10 starts and a first time age bust potentially on the cards. Aaron is in training for a selection of Vertical kilometre races in Europe later this year.
‘It's a perfect suffer session because the finishing times are comparable to a European Verticle Km. (ie about 40mins)’ - Aaron Knight
Familiar faces in the recent top 10 include Anthony Evans and Ben Derrick. Anthony is a 2 time winner and Nail Can legend who will vie for another significant ‘Age Bust' at 46.
Ben Derrick at age 43 will be aiming to be the fastest ‘Age Buster’ for 2016. Recently finishing 3rd in the Buffalo Stampede 26er has earmarked this years event and is keen for a good result.
Luke Preston crushed the field in the brutal Buffalo Stampede 26er a few weeks ago. Luke has been one to pick his battles well so with Nail Can not falling at the right time for Luke its unlikely that he takes him self to task again. Luke's potential is ever emerging so we eagerly await for the year he decides to peak on this day.
Local Pro Triathletes Caleb Nobel and Nathan Rogers are a miss this year also with their form being spent on milestone races in their chosen disciplines. Other top 10 regulars Simon Bevege and Brad Hetharia are not racing this year either leaving the opportunity for a top end finish open to a new crop of talent.
The womens' event looks like a two way battle between locals Stacey Loccisano and Bel Ralph.
Previous winners Ellie O’Kane, Cara Peake look unlikely to be making a home visit from Melbourne this year. Nadine barnes is a definite non starter as she recovers from a 24 hr endurance run on the track. The door is wide open for honours
Ralph & Loccisano line up with totally different backgrounds and hectic schedules - both Stacey and Bel need a light week in training to put the best foot forward come Sunday.
Triathlete Stacey Loccisano bounds off an end of season break to earn some new suffer points. Whilst the hills may not have been in recent practice The 2015 City2City and 2016 Riverina Lightning Trail Champion might make a mark on the top 5 having shown she has the running legs before.
Bel Ralph will be most likely the most improved from last year following an outstanding lead up. Recently finishing 5th female in the Canberra Marathon in 3hrs 08mins, winning the Cumberoona 8km event, and second place in this years City2City 7km.
Might we see a new female crowned?
Lisa Barry has made a recent reappearance on the cycling racing scene inciting the engine. Lisa goes in as a proven performer on this track and starts with the element of freshness in her favour. As an excellent climber and known to be tough as nails always Lisa is always a threat
Julie Golan Foard - Recently recognised as Nail Can Hills greatest ever runner with 8 wins and a past record holder. Likely to again make another class top 10 finish.
New kid on the block is Lauren Preston. Lauren although Lauren amy not reach ultimate heights this year we could see a top 10. Lauren made a start on her running 18 months ago with the local 5km parkrun in 29 mins. Lauren's PB now stands at 21:28. Persistence has also led her to a number of podiums in region trail runs. A good lesson that effort is rewarded with time when fear is not let in the way.
Glory is open for the taking at the 40th running of the Nail Can Hill. As always, the mountain whispers ‘Fortune favours the brave’.