The biggest ultra trail running event of the year in Australia is finally here ladies and gentlemen, the UTA100 and what an event it is shaping up to be with what looks like the creme de la creme of Aussie and Kiwi talent on show, plus a few overseas runners thrown into the mix too. First up on the scorecard is the UTA100km ladies preview.
This year is the tenth anniversary and it’s incredible to see how far this event has come since its humble beginnings back in 2008 when the race had just 177 entrants. The 2017 event will include more than 4000 runners across three events and it goes to show just how much the event has grown.
This is a true testament to the effort that race directors Tom Landon-Smith and Alina McMaster, and their team put in every year to make this not only a world-class event with an amazing atmosphere, but also a showcase of Australia’s beautiful Blue Mountains. The growth of the event can also be seen through the increasingly competitive field that the event attracts every year and this year is no different with many top runners making the trip from America, Europe and Asia.
The bulk of the reporting and preview work has been done by David Longo, with additional insight from myself, your trusty editor in chief, Dan. Given the depth of racing this coming weekend, you’ll likely see a preview a day as we lead up to the big dance on Saturday with the 100km and 50km events. But as a starter for ten, check out the UTA100km ladies preview, which I personally think is the race to watch. Anyone of around six ladies can win this one and I honestly think there will be no more than ten minutes separating the podium. Despite the predicted wet weather heading over our way from WA this week, if we don’t see any last-minute courses changes, then the record is going to go I think.
UTA100km Ladies Preview
The deep women’s field includes many local repeat offenders and champions plus several international runners. Firstly, the queen of UTA and current champion Beth Cardelli who has won the event four times out of six attempts. Beth trains in the Blue Mountains regularly and the odd Strava stalking suggests she is in form and ready to rumble come next Saturday. She brings with her a huge amount of experience and course knowledge.
In 2016, Beth was dominant at Blue Mountains’ races wins at Mount Solitary Ultra, UTA 100 and the Hounslow Classic, so barring a major catastrophe Beth will certainly be the hunted come race day. This year however the women’s field is especially deep and several other women will be pushing the pace up front, namely Lucy Bartholomew, Gill Fowler, Hanny Allston, Sally Mcrae, Amy Lamprecht and Marie McNaughton. This group of ladies are all capable of at least achieving podium positions, if not winning the race.
Lucy is the young gun of Australian trail running and has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, despite being only 21 years of age, the day of UTA is actually her birthday. In 2016, she was first at Bogong to Hotham and Buffalo Stampede Ultra, plus ninth at Matterhorn Ultraks and third at the Hounslow Classic. She has had a solid start to 2017 with second at the Nine Dragons race in Hong Kong and fifth at the Six Foot Track Marathon. She’s been literally living on the course for the last month and has run every nook and cranny of it. She’s well prepared, stayed off the racing circuit and is gunning for this one.
Gill is a very experienced local runner with a wealth of international racing under her belt too, and has raced UTA several times before. Gill also brings a lot of course knowledge into the race, and having to pull out last year due to injury she will be looking to come back stronger this year. Gill’s incredible racing history includes sixth at Ultra Trail Mont Blanc (UTMB) in 2013, second at Bogong to Hotham and fourth at UTA 100 in 2014. Second at Six Foot Track Marathon and fourth at Lavaredo Ultra Trail in 2015 and first at Razorback 64k in 2016. So far in 2017, Gill has had an amazing start with first at Bogong to Hotham and Ultra Easy Sky Run, plus sixth at the Six Foot Track Marathon.
On paper, Hanny is the quickest lady in the field with a 2:40 marathon to her credit. Her results not only suggest she has great leg speed but also good climbing ability, both of which are crucial for doing well on the UTA course that has a little bit of everything. Over the last few years Hanny has been first at Cradle Mountain Run in 2013, first at Six Foot Track Marathon (course record) and Surf Coast Century 50k in 2015, and first at UTA 50 in 2016. The only question remaining that many people are probably wondering is how she will fare given she has never finished a 100k race. My view is that she’s signed up and raring to go, which with a competitor like Hanny means that training will have gone well and she’s ready to roll.
Sally has made the trip down under all the way from America and this will be her first time racing in Australia I believe. She brings with her a huge racing pedigree that includes many international races, in 2014 she was sixth at Lake Sonoma 50 Mile and tenth at Western States Endurance Run (WSER). In 2015 she was seventh at WSER and 26th at UTMB, in 2016 she was 11th at WSER and second at Ultra Trail Cape Town, and most recently she was 11th at the Tarawera Ultra back in February.
The final lady who is equally capable of finishing on the podium is the New Zealander Marie McNaughton who currently resides in Hong Kong (please read early Ultra168 article about her background) and was sixth at UTA 100 last year. Since then Marie has gone from strength to strength both internationally and in her local racing scene in Hong Kong that often attracts competitive fields. She was fifth at Lavaredo Ultra Trail, 15th at UTMB and first at the North Face 100k Hong Kong in 2016. So far in 2017 Marie has had a smashing start with third in the Vibram 100, first in the Nine Dragons race, first in the Translantau 100k and first in the Korea 50k. I believe that the final female podium positions will come from the group of women mentioned above.
We’ve listed a number of other ladies below whom we think will be in the mix and to be truly honest, it’s extremely hard picking out names to highlight as they’re all very worthy contenders. But I’ve never been one to be ‘Swiss’ so to speak, so Dan’s two dark horses to keep an eye on include Amy Lamprecht and Lou Clifton.
Amy is an extremely solid runner and has some real pace to burn too. She’s featured well here before and a top five placing beckons. Likewise, Lou Clifton a Blue Mountains local has really upped her game and speed this year with a seriously good result at Six Foot Track a few months back. Again, I think she’s a bet for a top five placing too.
Other UTA100km ladies contenders:
- Amy Lamprecht – 2nd Surf Coast Century 100k 2015, 2nd Buffalo Stampede Ultra 2016, 4th UTA100km ladies 2016.
- Katherine MacMillan – 9th Buffalo Stampede Ultra 2015, 6th UTA100km ladies 2015, 2nd Bogong to Hotham 2016, 3rd Bogong to Hotham 2017.
- Melissa Robertson – 3rd Mount Solitary Ultra 2015, 4th UTA100km ladies 2015, 2nd Tarawera Ultra 2016, 6th Six Foot Track Marathon 2016
- Chantelle Farrelly – 3rd Great North Walk 100 Mile 2015, 2nd Mount Solitary Ultra 2016, 5th UTA100km ladies 2016, 4th Great North Walk 100 Mile 2016
- Lou Clifton – 1st Ultra Easy 100k 2016, 4th Buffalo Stampede Ultra 2016, 4th Six Foot Track Marathon 2017, 5th Behind The Rocks 50 Mile 2017
- Robyn Bruins – 7th UTA100km ladies 2015, 2nd Great North Walk 100 Mile 2015, 1st Great North Walk 100 Mile 2016, 10th Six Foot Track Marathon 2017
As mentioned above, this race is going to be extremely close to call. I honestly believe there will be no more than minutes between the podium placers, such is the tightness of this one, making it a very hard race to pick the winers from, but pick we do, so below are David and my picks for the podium.
DAVID – 1st Beth Cardelli, 2nd Hanny Allston, 3rd Marie McNaughton
DAN – 1st Lucy Bartholomew, 2nd Beth Cardelli, 3rd Hanny Allston