Skyrunning Launches First Unified Trail Series Down Under

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!

The 2015 Skyrunning Calendar

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.

How the points system works

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.

The scoring system for Skyrunning Oceania
The scoring system for Skyrunning Oceania

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

This is Mount Difficulty. It's seriously difficult as the name suggests. I did the inaugural event this year and I'll be honest, I almost shit my pants going up it... (Picture - EyetoEye Photos)
This is Mount Difficulty. It’s seriously difficult as the name suggests. I did the inaugural event this year and I’ll be honest, I almost shit my pants going up it… (Picture credit – EyetoEye Photos)

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.

Crazy climbing to look forward to in 2015
Crazy climbing to look forward to in 2015

“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.

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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.

One thought on “Skyrunning Launches First Unified Trail Series Down Under

  1. Mt Barney! Didn’t know such awesomeness existed in Aus.

    Getting super pumped about the race, I started reading about the place… amazing! Gondwana forests!? Tick!
    I saw on the national parks website that climbing Mount Barney is taboo for some indigenous groups in the local area. Knowing that (and its good to know!) I am wondering if these groups have been consulted about the race and given consent? If so, YEEEOOOOOOW! Its on! Will be my “aim” race for 2015.
    So good to have this series!

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