The Aussie Summer of Ultras

Spring / Summer was kind of the ‘unofficial’ start of the ultra season here in Australia, with three to four very established runs that signaled the start of the oncoming heat. However, we now have a plethora of races all year round, being blessed here in Australia to race what we want, pretty much whenever we want. Today we’ll give mention to many of the established races, as well as some newer races if you’re still yet to decide what to race over the coming months.

This weekend however sees the Daddy of them all, the Glasshouse Trails 100 runs for what we think is the 25th year in a row? Correct us if we’re wrong. This race established Australia’s first 100 miler, and is still directed by the ever active and ever-giving Ian Javes.

Ian is a quiet and understated chap, but his running resume is enough to make you salivate. The only thing you need to know about Ian is that he competed in the Westfield Sydney-Melbourne races back in the 80’s when the unknown Cliff Young shot to fame with his famous shuffle. That’s good enough for me.

I know of many people who don’t quite see the attraction of Glasshouse. It’s run mainly on forest trails roads, but culturally the area is very significant too. Look it up and read more about it. Glasshouse also has a great the community-feel, no-nonsense aspect too. This is why I love it and keep coming back.

The area around the Glasshouse trails has deep and significant cultural heritage
The area around the Glasshouse trails has deep and significant cultural heritage

They say that the place of your first ultra is a very special one indeed, and perhaps so because you tend to leave a lot of emotion out on that particular course. Glasshouse was also the destination of my very first ultra in 2008. I was a newly arrived POM on the shores of Australia. I had no idea about how to run a trail race, where the Glasshouse Mountains were or what I would need.

I decided to camp at the school the night before the race, but had no tent. I’ll never forget the generosity of Francis Harvey and his wife in lending me a tent and some stuff to get me by. It’s awesome that Francis is racing in the 100kms this weekend too. That first 100kms in 2008 was a baptism of fire for me. It hurt so much, but five years on and quite a few ultras (and fewer kilograms) later, I can’t wait to get back up there this weekend and experience the Glasshouse hospitality. This, for me, is what ultras and ultras in Australia are all about. Meeting nice people, having a laugh and a chat and just getting on with the running to be best of your ability. No dramas, no egos.

There are of course other races too this summer, namely: The Great Ocean Walk; The Hume and Hovell; The Great North Walk; Coast2Kosci; The Canberra Centenary 100kms; Ned Kelly Chase; Surf Coast Century; Yurrebilla Trail in SA; Bogong to Hotham; and the Razorback Run down in Victoria… the list goes on and on for sure and many more. But while there tends to be a major focus on the Eastern and Southern States here in Australia, there’s a little uprising taking place over in the West too.

David Kennedy, an Australian 24hr rep and all-round nice guy has been running a certain 100 mile fat ass for a number of years now, and this year will see the inaugural run of the WTF 100miler and 100km race. ‘WTF’ you say? For those of us versed in ‘text-speak’ you might be forgiven for thinking this race has a rather strange name… but WTF actually stands for Waterous Trail on Foot. We spoke with David recently to get a little more insight into the race and what’s unique about it…

What the **** is the WFT Ultra all about?

“So this will be the 1st official 100 Mile trail race in WA. I completed the original course in 2007 in 23:51 and ran it again in 2009 in 20:27. We’re racing on the Munda Biddi one of 2 easily accessible long distance trails in WA. Parts of it are within driving distance of 90% of the state’s population as it stretches from Perth south to Albany.

“It’s going to be great having lots of people doing their first miler. I’ve seen runners go from my 6 Inch trail marathon through Lark Hill (a night-time criterium style race) and then signing up for the big daddy of races over 100 miles. I started 6 Inch because I wanted to race long on trails and it eventually grew too big for me to run. I was expecting someone to break 16 hours on the old course but don’t think that will happen now as the new course is possibly an hour slower.

At over 1,000kms long the Munda Biddi where the WFT100 is taking place has plenty of options
At over 1,000kms long the Munda Biddi where the WFT100 is taking place has plenty of options

“I contrived the course after reading Ultramarathon man (& ran it about 2 years later). Unfortunately course has changed due to bushfire control burn in the area so we will be running north of Dwellingup out and back to next town along the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail (it is about 1000K end to end) There is also a 50 miler for those not quite ready for the big one.”

What’s the rationale behind setting this up?

“My motivation is basically to have a local 100 Miler to run, as my best ever running experiences have been my two 100 Milers.  We’re miles from anywhere over here in Perth, so it’s great to have a race of this distance on our doorstep. We’ve signed up some local running clubs to man the aid stations which was my vision to get some US style atmosphere into the crewing. Basically each club has their own aid station. I’m hoping they will really own their aid stations and have a great weekend out as well.”

Perth is a long way to go, who’s actually racing?

It's a long-old trail!
It’s a long-old trail!

“We certainly have a quality line-up for our first official year. Some favourites include Ewan Horsburgh, Rick Cooke, Mal Gamble, Myself and Mick Francis.We have one runner coming from Singapore and another possibly from Indonesia but that was unexpected. It’s certainly a great location for runners from South East Asia as we’re a lot closer to them than the Eastern sea-board states.

“I’m also offering $5 entries to Eastern states entrants to build the first race. Hence we’ve got some good runners coming over. We also have custom belt buckles for sub 24 finish.”

When’s it taking place?

“Race day is September 28-29 with 100mile cut-off of 36 hours. The course is very runnable but with lots of small (and a couple larger ) hills for ~3200m up and down (bit hillier than Glasshouse). The 50 miler will start in Jarrahdale (turnaround) and finish in Dwellingup.”

*Feature image from Bill Hatcher

 

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Dan
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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