So the guys and girls at Skyrunning ANZ have been ‘teasing’ us with some course profiles over the last few weeks, so in some respects it should come as no surprise that there’s a brand new Skyrunning series to announce for ANZ! This is good because finally we have a series of races in Australia and New Zealand, that form part of a group where there is actually something to race for and the prize is more than just a bottle of cheap vino from the local bottle shop.
Now, you could argue that UTWT has done the same thing. Indeed it has, but it only has two races on offer currently in Australia and New Zealand, those being TNF100 and Tarawera. AND… If we’re going to be perfectly frank here, the rest of the races really are quite inaccessible for runner’s down under, given the need to have a bank balance the size of a Russian oil tycoon, plus a huge amount of time on your hands to wait the 3-4 years required to get into races like Western States and Marathon des Sables.
So what’s the series all about?
Overall, there will be 13 races held over eight events, with four brand new SkyRaces©.
From January to November 2015 runners will have the opportunity to race over distances from 24kms to 100kms. New locations selected for races include the first ever race of its kind in the Blue Mountain’s World Heritage area of the Grose Valley and the iconic coastline of New Zealand’s North Island Hillary Trail. The series will also explore Queensland’s Scenic Rim World Heritage area and also take runners to Cromwell, Wanaka and the Victorian Alps.
Salomon’s Anna Frost who has preformed at the highest level for some years in Skyrunning races in Europe is excited to see ANZ get its own series. “It is a varied series of races with a little something for everyone. It will be a wonderful display of off-road running down under and really test our strengths and weaknesses!
- January: The Ultra Easy – New Zealand
- March: The Hillary Trail – New Zealand (North Island)
- March: La Sportiva Mt Buller Skyrun – Australia (Victoria)
- April: The Buffalo Stampede – Oceania SkyRunning Championships – – Australia (Victoria)
- June: Wild Earth Ascent – New Zealand (South Island)
- August: Barney’s Bluff – Australia (Queensland)
- October: Hounslow Classic – Australia (New South Wales)
- November: The Ultimate Direction Sky Rock n’ Run – New Zealand (South Island)
The series is a collaboration between a number of Race Directors across ANZ whose individual races meet the strict criteria required to be sanctioned as an official SkyRace© by the International Skyrunning Federation.
These requirements included selecting races on their extreme ascent and descent over unique and challenging terrain whilst encouraging the runner to move as fast and direct as possible carrying the most minimal of gear safely.
To qualify to be Included in the Oceania Series Championship runners need to complete a minimum of four sanctioned ANZ SkyRaces©. For those events that have more than one SkyRace© over the race weekend e.g. Buffalo Stampede, Hillary Trail, Barney’s Bluff and Hounslow Classic only one result can be included in the series totals. The Buffalo Stampede attracts double points as it also doubles as the Oceania Skyrunning Championships. Each race has been allocated a set total of points on offer based on distance, difficulty and likely depth of field.
New races for 2015
Race Director Sean Greenhill from Mountain Sports Australia was instrumental in putting on Australia’s first ever SkyRace© in 2014 with the highly successful Buffalo Stampede. For 2015 he has upped the ante with two new races.
“The Buffalo Stampede while known as mile for mile, the hardest trail race in Australia is also quite achievable within the cut-offs allowed.
“The Hounslow Classic is a new event on a mountain that’s never been raced on before. It may well be a tougher event than Buffalo, climbing into and out of the rugged Grose Valley several times. It starts and finishes in Blackheath, the highest town in the Blue Mountains of NSW. It’s only a 2 hour drive or train trip from Sydney and is set in World Heritage National Park.
“Barney’s Bluff covers the summit and hinterland of iconic Mount Barney, two hours inland of Brisbane and the Gold Coast of Queensland. Scrambling, rock hopping and extraordinary views make for a very difficult course but over an achievable distance and cut-off time, also set within a World Heritage National Park. Australia’s best mountain country isn’t all in NSW and Victoria!”
The series kicks off in January 2015 with the longest race in the series the UltraEasy 100km in Wanaka, New Zealand. Race Director Terry
Davies was hugely attracted to having his races considered as SkyRaces©.
“Being part of the inaugural international series is a must for me. It’s an opportunity to show-off our unique and amazing locations to a wider group of runners. The Ultra Easy 100kms has a 3am start, which is probably pretty unique! But the view from Roy’s Peak just as the sun comes up will be something quite special.”
Terry also directs the particularly tough Mt Difficulty Ascent. “I’d say it’s the steepest Vertical Kilometer® as part of a marathon in the series running through absolutely stunning rocky, craggy country. Being at the start of winter no-one will be over-heating at this race. There’s a bit of snow expected around the tops, it will be a true adventure run.”
The series also recognises the beauty and history of the trails in which they the races are set. Shaun Collins from Lactic Turkey Events is delighted to be involved in the 2015 Series.
“Having The Hillary added to the 2015 Skyrunning Oceania Series is amazing! Only in it’s second year the event will benefit by attracting some top runners from around the world. My goal for the event has always been to show the awesome terrain and scenery that I take for granted to the rest of the world. The next step in the event was to try and show Australians what an adventure the event offers and how easy it is for them to get to the start line being just 30 minutes from New Zealand’s largest city and airport.
“The trail was named in honour of New Zealand’s Sir Edmund Hillary, and it sums up the sense of adventure and personal achievement that Sir Ed himself championed and was renowned for. Those that have run the Hillary would find it hard to disagree with that!”
The series will see brands such as Salomon, Compressport, Suunto, Arc’teryx, La Sportiva, Outdoor Research and PACE Athletic join forces.
*Declaration of interest – Marcus Warner is president of Skyrunning ANZ and has also been involved with the running of Ultra168. This story was written and included by Dan, who has nothing to do with Skyrunning ANZ. Thus the decision to write about this news is purely down to Dan and the strength of the news value to Ultra168 readers.