UTA50km and 22km Race Previews


Following our male and female 100km previews earlier this week, it’s the turn of the UTA50km and UTA22km runners, beginning with a high competitive and stacked 50km race in both the gents and ladies races. Thanks again to David Longo for his tireless efforts in pulling these details together.

The UTA50k event also starts and finishes in Katoomba and includes more than 2,000 metres of elevation gain. The women’s field this year looks to be a battle between Fiona Hayvice, Kellie Emmerson and Sophie Brown. Stephanie Auston is also racing and if I’m honest, I’d have installed her as favourite, but an email earlier this week to 168 Towers from Steph advised that she’s injured and although starting, is not expecting to be competitive and out for the ride instead.

Ladies UTA50km Preview

Kiwi, Fiona Hayvice has had a strong last few years and in 2015 was fourth at Tarawera Ultra and third at the Kepler Challenge Mountain Run. In 2016 she was first at the Tarawera Ultra, second at UTA 100, third at Mozart 100 and 8th at the Eiger Ultra Trail 101k, and she’s had a great start to 2017 with sixth at the Tarawera Ultra.

Kellie Emmerson at Surf Coast

Down to the wonderful South Coast of Australia and Kellie Emmerson has been incredibly consistent on the Australian trail running scene the last few years. In 2015 she was third at Two Bays 56k and first at Surf Coast Century 100k, in 2016 she was third at UTA 100 and first at Surf Coast Century 100k, and she has kicked off her 2017 season with second at Two Bays 56k and fourth at the Tarawera Ultra. It is highly likely that first place will come down to these two ladies.

However they will have some stiff competition from Sophie Brown, who in 2016 was second at the UTA50km and third at the Six Foot Track Marathon. In 2015, she won the Alpine Challenge 60km.

Other female contenders:

  • Mel Newton – 3rd UTA50km 2016
  • Kelly Anne Speight – 10th UTA50km 2016


Men’s UTA50km Preview

The men’s 50km field year is especially deep, featuring the likes of Mark Green, Vlad Ixel, Thibaut Baronian and Stuart Gibson to name just four. However there is plenty of other competition in the men’s field capable of picking up the carnage and creating some fireworks, so don’t take it as read that these four will take the podium. I think that of all the races on this weekend, this one is the most competitive and hardest to call in terms of not just a winner, but the podium too.

Mark has been very consistent in his racing over the last few years, achieving some awesome results both at Six Foot Track and here on the UTA course, despite his massive lack of running miles. In 2013 he was sixth at UTA 100, in 2015 he was fifth at UTA 100, in 2016 he was fourth at Six Foot Track Marathon and first at UTA 50, and so far in 2017 he has been fourth at Six Foot Track Marathon.

Mark Green at UTA – the 50km course suits Mark well.

Vlad is an Aussie, but he currently resides in Hong Kong and has been having a huge amount of success the last couple years, especially on the Asian trail running scene. In 2015 he was first in the Translantau 100k and North Face 100k Hong Kong, in 2016 he was first at Translantau 50k and 12th at Transvulcania, and so far in 2017 he has been first at the MSIG Sai King 50k and third at Gorge Waterfalls 50k. Vlad has traditionally done very well at trail races in the 50-100k range and brings a fair amount of leg speed and experience to the party.

There’s no secret here that we have some big man-love for Stu Gibson here at Ultra168. Stu rarely loses, and despite him telling me after last year’s Six Foot that he was pretty much done, it appears there’s life in the old dog yet. As far as I know, no-one has done the UTA100km and 50km double – no pressure Stu, but this one’s for the taking if you’re fit enough.

Stu’s record speaks for itself as far as racing ultras is concerned, and some of you may not know, but he’s also a former Great Britain rep, having run in the European Championships in the 1,500m. In 2014 he was first at Bogong to Hotham, first at Cradle Mountain Run, first at UTA 100 and first at the Glasshouse 50k. In 2015 he was first at Cradle Mountain Run and Six Foot Track Marathon (course record) and in 2016 he was first at Bogong to Hotham. You know if Stu’s entered into a race, he’s in it to win it.

Thibaut Baronian is probably unknown to the vast majority of readers here, but the French runner is a bit of a gun. He came third at the CCC in France last year, as well as fourth at the Lantau 50km in 2016 too. But there’s a run he did 10 days ago that really pricked up the eyes of the spotters here at 168 Towers, the Wings for Life race in Melbourne where he did this:

UTA50kmWatch out guys, the French are coming!

My other list of guys to keep an eye out for include Blackheath local lad Locky Kennedy, Samir Tamang, Luke Preston, Matt Carrol and Kiwi lad, Ryan Carr. Details of their form below, but expect any one of these guys to grab hold of this race and give it an equally good shake too.

  • John Winsbury – 3rd UTA 50 2013, 5th Buffalo Stampede Ultra 2015
  • Ben Blackshaw – 3rd Mount Solitary Ultra 2015, 4th Tarawera 60k 2016, 4th UTA 50 2016
  • Loughlinn Kennedy – 4th Bogong to Hotham 2016, 1st Hounslow Classic Ultra 2016, 10th Six Foot Track Marathon 2017
  • Samir Tamang – 1st Translantau 100k 2013, 2nd TDS 2014, 1st MSIG Sai Kung 50k 2015
  • Sam Burridge – 3rd Buffalo Stampede 42k 2016, 6th UTA 50 2016
  • Matt Carroll – 2nd UTA 50 2016, 3rd Tarawera 60k 2017
  • Luke Preston – 2nd UTA 50 2015, 3rd Two Bays 56k 2017, 5th Buffalo Stampede Ultra 2017
  • James Watson – 3rd  UTA 2016, 9th UTA 2015


David’s picks for the podium:

  • Female: 1st Kellie Emmerson, 2nd Fiona Hayvice, 3rd Stephanie Auston
  • Male: 1st Stu Gibson, 2nd Vlad Ixel, 3rd Mark Green


Dan’s picks for the podium

  • Female: 1st Kellie Emmerson, 2nd Fiona Hayvice, 3rd Sophie Brown
  • Male: 1st Mark Green, 2nd Stu Gibson, 3rd Vlad Ixel

UTA 22 Preview

The 22k event with 1600 metres of elevation gain starts at the Old Queen Victoria Hospital and takes runners through the last part of the 50/100k course, it includes a big descent into Kedumba Valley before climbing back up to Scenic World in Katoomba. We’re done a much shorter overview of this one because hey, guess what, we’re an ultra website, but given the talent lining up again, we thought we’d at least offer up some insights as to whom is racing.

The female contenders:

  • Christina Bauer – 6th San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Run 2013, 17th Ultra Trail Mt. Fuji 2015
  • Anna Fitzgerald – Half Marathon Personal Best 1.19
  • Jane Gordon -1st UTA 50 2014, 2nd Six Foot Track Marathon 2014, 4th UTA 22 2016
  • Jasmine Sargeant


The male contenders:

  • Vlad Shatrov – 1st UTA 50 2013, 1st Six Foot Track Marathon 2017
  • Mark Bourne – Stair climbing extraordinaire runner. As in seriously seriously awesome and current vertical world climb circuit champion.
  • Vajin Armstrong – 5th Tarawera Ultra 2016, 3rd Six Foot Track Marathon 2016, 3rd Six Foot Track Marathon 2017
  • Chris Truscott – 8th Tarawera Ultra 2015, 10th Six Foot Track Marathon 2016
  • Etienne Blumstein-Jones – 2nd Buffalo Stampede 42k 2016, 2nd Mount Buller Skyrun 2016, 1st Buffalo Stampede 20k 2017
  • Blake Hose – 4th MSIG Sai Kung 50 2015, 3rd Transvulcania 2015
  • Maybe Brendan Davies too if he enters 🙂
  • Gary Howard – Run Crew maestro

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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.

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