For most ultrarunners, planning your race calendar will typically revolve around one or two big, well-known races such as the UTA100 in NSW or perhaps the Surf Coast Century in Victoria. Maybe even the Buffalo Stampede that ran just over a week ago in the stunning township of Bright.
But what you might not realise is there are a whole host of other, perhaps lesser know races all over Australia that offer a completely different type of experience than the razzmatazz of some of the large events.
Instead of music pumping and a cacophony of cheers at the finish line, there are some wonderfully understated races in this magnificent country that shy away from the corporate dollar in favour of being a community centrepiece.
Both have their place in our sport, but for those that seek less fluro and more fortitude through solitude, I’ve picked out three races that I think you’d do well to push your hard-earned racing dollars towards.
The WTF Ultras – Western Australia
First up, we head over to Western Australia, which for those of us on the Eastern Seaboard might as well be in Timbuctoo! A little like New Zealand, for many an Aussie ultrarunner, we might stick this one in the ‘too hard’ bucket. It’s too far, too expensive and what the hell would I want to go to Perth for?
Well in this instance, you’d want to go to race the best-named event in the entire world, ever – The WTF ultras. Despite what you may think, it does not stand for What The F**k, it stands for Waterous Trail by Foot, referring to the Waterous Trail that the event is held upon.
Although currently, the race is held on the Munda Biddi trail, while race director Dave Kennedy continues to grapple with the regulations of local authorities, a familiar story for many an event director trying to do some greater good for the community at large.
The WTF course is quick, Aussie 24hr rep, Ewan Horsburgh being the current record holder in around 17hrs and some. Race director Dave would probably liken it to the Glasshouse 100 in terms of being held on a lot of open fire trail tracks with not much in the way of massive climbing, compared to say some of our more mountainous ultras.
If you’re looking for something a little different to the usual hoard of races in either NSW, VIC or QLD, you’d do no worse that to have a crack at the only 100 miler in Western Australia. The race is held on the 24th and 25th September this year and you can access the website here for more details.
Ultra168 Supporters can save 25% off race entry to The WTF Ultras, plus get free accommodation!
Peaks & Trails 50km Ultra – Southern Grampians, Victoria
Next on our list, we shoot across to Victoria and the Peaks and Trails 50km event, which is held alongside a number of other smaller distance events in the Grampians. Very much a low-key affair in an area that’s not extensively used for trail races at all. In fact, at Peaks and Trails, part of the race runs on private tracks, normally inaccessible to the public, so you’re already running in an area that’s not commonly used!
The Peaks & Trails 50 km Ultra course starts & finishes adjacent the Royal Mail Hotel “Mountain View Room” in the heart of Dunkeld in the Southern Grampians and this is no picnic run! Runners will summit the three most Southern peaks of the Grampians National Park – Mt Sturgeon (548m), Mt Picaninny(422m) & Mt Abrupt (827m). Large sections of the course will be on private trails normally inaccessible to the public.
Highlights of running on the private trails include historical Mt Sturgeon station and a stunning section that weaves its way through the Grampians Retreat. The total elevation change for the ultra is 1601m ascent & 1595m descent. The race is held on Sunday 7th August, visit their Facebook page for more information.
Ultra168 Supporters can save 20% off race entry to Peaks and Trails, across any event.
Hume and Hovell Ultra – New South Wales
Finally, we return to NSW for our last pick and the Hume and Hovell Ultra. No word of a lie here, this run has a special place in the hearts of Ultra168, as three of our founding members, Andrew Vize, Darrel Robins and Terry Coleman who completed the 440km track in just under 5 days I believe.
Now there’s a 100mile, 100km and 50km races on the track, organised by awesome members of Wagga Wagga Road Runners. I still recall my very first trail race being the Wagga Wagga trail marathon back in 2008, so have fond memories of the place and of the warm welcome given by those people who support the club.
The actual Hume and Hovell walking track follows as closely as possible the historic route taken by Explorers Hume & Hovell on their 1824 expedition to Port Phillip Bay, starting at Cooma Cottage near Yass and finishes at the Hovell Tree in Albury.
The 100km event starts (6am) at the Henry Angel Trackhead, (some 9km south from Tumbarumba on the Tooma Road), and finishes at Blowering Dam Power Station near Tumut. The track is a mixture of constructed walking track and fire trails. The highest point is over 1200 metres in elevation, passes scenic Buddong Falls, then close by to Snowy Hydro Tumut 3 Power Station, near Talbingo and then along the foreshores of Blowering Dam.
Further details will be announced about the 100 miler, but it’s great to see another miler added to the list of events here in Australia, so I do hope it becomes well supported. The race is held on 15th and 16th October, for more information on the event, see the Hume and Hovell website.
Ultra168 Supporters can save 15% off race entry to the Hume and Hovell