Ultra marathons to consider for 2018 in Australia / New Zealand – Part two

Last week, we ran the first part of our ultra marathons to consider in 2018 series, which focused on the first half of the year. As mentioned in that article, they’re not always the biggest or most popular, but a few races pulled together based upon my own experience of running them, or from reports I’ve had from friends and other runners too. All up, I try to maintain a balance between those runs that are highly accessible and those that are challenging, while also trying to cover a wide array of distance too. It’s subjective yes, but it’s based upon experience.

This second part focuses on the latter half of the year, which is arguably the biggest with a hive of activity taking place, particularly in September and October. Which ultra marathons will you race?

July

Glasshouse Flinders Tour – Home to Australia’s oldest trail runs, the Glasshouse 100 was the first ultra marathon I ran back in 2008. I still have fond memories of this place and have raced up at the Flinder’s Tour now three times. A fast, flattish 50km, runners head out around a big 26km loop one way, turn around and come back. With some of the nicest volunteers around, this is a proper community ultra with no fuss or histrionics. Proper old school, I like to see just how little I can get away with using in this race. So far it’s been a pair of trainers, socks, running shorts and a water bottle… with a few jellies collected along the way at aid stations to keep you going. Nice.

You Yangs Trail Running Festival – This race literally has a distance for everyone with a 5km, 15km, 21km, 30km, 42km, 50km and 100km & 100 mile distances at You Yangs Regional Park in Melbourne, Victoria. This race is held in the middle of winter when the park is at its visual best with lush greenery and local birdlife on display. It can be a very different story in the middle of summer when dust and wind can turn the park into a less pleasant and much more harsh environment.

August

Berry Long Run – This is a great opportunity to run one of the few intermediate distance ultras in Australia, while also supporting a local charity that performs a crucial role in undoing the harm caused by the abuse and neglect of children. The Lerderderg Track, apart from being a really fun word to say aloud, is the Southernmost section of the Great Dividing Trail network. The course starts at Blackwood, quickly leaving town and getting into a brief taste of the sweet single-track along the gorge, before cutting through the forest along a mix of trails and dirt road down to Mt Blackwood, then on to the Blackwood Range Track, all the way to the trailhead at Swans Rd. The return route revisits the Blackwood Range Track to Mt Blackwood and continues to follow the magnificent Lerderderg Trail all the way back to Blackwood. You will pass through plenty of juicy forest, catch views of splendid vistas where gorge after gorge rolls away into the distance, negotiate awesome, highly runnable single track winding above the Lerderderg River on the way back into Blackwood – a lovely, historic mining town that’ll transport you back in time.

Peaks and Trails – Peaks & Trails, formerly known as the Mosaic to Mountain Run, is a picturesque run starting and finishing in the heart of Dunkeld, Victoria. The weekend offers something for all levels of trail enthusiast with access to beautiful Southern Grampians trails and a number of private trails normally inaccessible to the public. Saturday has a 1km OR 2km kids dash, 6.2km Mt Abrupt Short Course Challenge and Gourmet Trail. Sunday has 50km, 26km, 22km, 11km and 6.4km trail runs.

The Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon –  The course is set around a 10km loop – the first half along a gravel road and the second half on a forest track beside the water race that gives the event its name. There is no actual water running. This unique ultramarathon event takes place near Naseby – the highest town in New Zealand at 2000ft. Naseby is 15km north-west by road from Ranfurly and 145km north-west (via Middlemarch) from Dunedin. It is held on the last weekend of August each year.

September

Blackall 100 – Very much modeled around the Glasshouse concept of being fast, close aid stations and mostly baking hot weather – bar this year when I raced and it was torrential rain, freezing cold and almost hypothermic! With a primary 100km event, supported by a 50km event, the Blackall 100 offers the opportunity for runners, walkers and hikers to participate in a large scale event taking in some of the most pristine trail in Queensland. Along with the spectacular scenery, the event will offer up a personal challenge for all to take on, with the peace of mind and safety that Run Queensland prides itself on.

WTF 100s – The Runningworks WTF 50 & 100 Miler is held annually on the last weekend in September (WA’s Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday weekend), the 50mi and 100mi events both start at 6am on Saturday, and have generous cut-off times. The 50mi event runs south from Jarrahdale to Dwellingup, mainly following the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail. The 100mi event runs from Dwellingup to Jarrahdale and back again, along the same course, with a bonus “out and back” hill on the outbound leg.

GOW100 – Another cracker of a race that I’ve personally done twice and rank as one of the best in Australia. Run by one of the most experienced ultra runners in Australia, Andy Hewat, every single detail is taken care of for runners to enjoy a quality 100km along the rugged south coast. You’ll see rain, wind, sun, snakes and koalas along the way before finishing at the world famous 12 Apostles, that is if you finish under 14 hours or so. High recommend.

Andy Turner, winner of this year’s GOW100

GNW100s – Another Ultra168 favourite, this race used to be held in November, that is until everyone realised that it was just too freaking hot! Organised by the Terrigal Trotters running club for the first time in 2005, there are two simultaneous trail races, a 100 mile and a 100 kilometre, along The Great North Walk south from Teralba on Lake Macquarie.  The 100 Kilometre race finishes at Yarramalong in the scenic Yarramalong Valley and the 100 Mile at Patonga on spectacular Broken Bay.  Although the route is primarily on foot tracks and fire-trails, it does include some minor back roads.  There is more than 6,200 metres (20,000ft) of ascent (and descent) in the 100 mile and 3,800 metres (12,500ft) of ascent in the 100 kilometre. This race has a good mixed or technical bush, some road and sweet single track. The finish at Patonga Beach is quite frankly one of the most satisfying finishes around. Get involved.

Yurrebilla Trail 56km Ultra –  One of the premier shorter ultras in South Australia and never more than 12 km from the centre of Adelaide, the trail offers stunning views, amazing gorges, waterfalls, wildlife and wildflowers. Commencing at Belair Railway Station in the south, the trail climbs 1865 metres and descends 2060 metres before it reaches its destination at Foxfield Oval, Athelstone. Runners are required to run on only a few roads which connect the end of one bush track to the start of another trail.

Nerang State Forest Trail Race & 100 Miler – The Nerang 100 Miler is in the Nerang State Forest behind the Gold Coast in Queensland from Saturday, 29 September to Sunday, 30 September 2018, and uses a multiple looped course of 25km.

October

Hounslow Classic – Starting in the picturesque township of Blackheath, one of the highest villages in the Blue Mountains – the Hounslow Classic Ultra takes runners of a tour of the Grose Valley past environmental icons such as Blue Gum Forest, Pulpit Rock, Junction Rock and Lockley Pylon. Not to mention the amazing Grand Canyon. This race is held on virgin territory when it comes to events and is awe inspiring in its scenery as it brings you into some pockets of the world which both amateur and professional photographers travel across the continent to capture.

Hume and Hovell 100s – Another cracker local community event, The Hume & Hovell ultramarathon uses The Hume & Hovell Walking Track, constructed as a Bicentennial Project in 1988. With a 100 miler, 100km and 50km events, there’s plenty to choose from and a good chance to get into country NSW and explore these wonderful tracks.

Heysen 105 –  This South Australian race traverses a 105km section of the 1200km-long Heysen Trail. A 57km event was added from 2015 and a 35km event in 2016. Competitors experience the best trail running has to offer in the state, taking in rolling farmland, sandy forests, rocky hillsides and lots lots more. The views are spectacular through the magnificent conservation parks, with the backdrop of gum trees, abundant wildlife and wide open spaces making this a truly Australian experience.

Ned Kelly Chase –  Held in Wangaratta, Victoria the Ned Kelly chase can be run as a 100km, 50km, 42km marathon or 21km half marathon solo race, 4x25km relay, and a 10km fun run. The “chase” tests the physical and mental prowess of the 100km and 50km runners by foot. Aiming to finish near 12pm they start with individual time goals, but share the common goal of avoiding those that pursue from behind. When the runners have gone, the pursuit really begins with 100km and 50km bicycle chase entrants set to track down, and apprehend their runner equivalents.

November

Alpine Challenge – The Alpine Challenge Ultra Marathon incorporates the 100 mile (160 km) Alpine Skyrun, the 100 km individual and team Alpine Challenge and the 60 km Alpine Experience. With over 7,000 metres of climb and 7,000 metres of descent, this event is the classic 100 mile mountain trail run in Australia; testing runners to the limit, it also offers one of the country’s most scenic and challenging 100 km runs covering over 4,000 m of ascent and descent in 34 hours. Set in the spectacular Alpine National Park of North Eastern Victoria the event takes in some of the best, hardest and most exposed high country in Australia including Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt McKay, Spion Kopje, Mt Nelse and Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong.

GSER100
Sheer brutality at the GSER100

GSER100s – The Great Southern Endurance Run takes on the rugged and picturesque mountains and trails throughout the Victorian Alps. In an odd year event runners climb over 10,207m of ascent and tackle 11,464m of descent over 182km distance. In even year events those numbers are reversed. In both iterations of the event, runners are challenged beyond their known capabilities and stripped bare to the soul in their quest to make it to the finish line of the most brutal, spectacular and amazing run in the southern hemisphere. This event has been designed to be the gem of 100 miler events in the southern hemisphere. The point to point journey is epic, the trails are predominantly single trail and the historical Australian Alps Walking Trail is used for parts of the course.

December

The 6 Inch Trail Marathon – This 47km ultra marathon race takes place on the Munda Biddi trail from North Dandalup to Dwellingup in the South West of Western Australia, about 80km South of Perth. The event covers a small section of the 1000km long The Munda Biddi Trail (which means path through the forest in the Noongar Aboriginal language) and fast becoming a world class cycle trail. With this in mind the wide trails have been shaped nicely for runners to get into a rhythm and enjoy the unspoilt bushlands and shade of towering eucalyptus trees.

The Kepler Challenge and Luxmore Grunt – The annual Kepler Challenge and shorter Luxmore Grunt is held on the 60 km Kepler Track circuit. Both events have a strict limit on numbers and sell out within minutes of online entries opening. Starting at the Control Gates of Lake Te Anau the route follows an easy first 6km before it takes a steady climb to the Luxmore Hut. The next 12km offer wonderful views of the South Fiord along the undulating tops before a spectacular descent to the Iris Burn Hut. A gradual 17km journey down the Iris Burn brings competitors to the Moturau Hut on Lake Manapouri and from there a 6km run to the last checkpoint at Rainbow Reach. The home straight follows alongside the Waiau River and back to the Control Gates. The concurrent Luxmore Grunt event follows the same route as far as the Luxmore Hut, then returns via the same route back to the Control Gates.

C2K
Iconic c2k – Paul Every on his road to the summit in the very first running of the event.

Coast2Kosci – Saving the best til last? Some consider this the pinnacle of Australian ultra running in its purest form. You, starting on the beach at one of the lowest points in Australia and just 240-odd kms of trail and road in your way to reach the highest point of Australia. Run by the experienced Paul Every and Diane Weaver and only accepting 50 applicants, there’s a real family sense about this race, with many repeat offenders coming back to run this one.

Now off you go and train!

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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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