A new year and a new dawn of ultras to whet your appetite… and right now, I’m seeing plenty of posts across the Book of Faces, of people asking which races they should consider for 2018?
The first half of the year tends to be a little quieter in terms of the bigger ultras, but that doesn’t mean to say there’s no decent runs knocking about. So in an effort to help you choose your racing calendar for 2018, I’ve pulled together a list of runs that either I’ve personally run in the past, or have heard great reports about.
There will be some massive races missed off here and that’s because a.) you probably already know about them and b.) I like to ensure those races that are a little off the beaten track also get a mention too. As mentioned this is not a definitive list of everything that’s going on in the first half of this year, but simply one or two runs for you to consider across the coming months. Enjoy…
The Ultra Easy & Big Easy Mountain Runs (Wanaka, New Zealand) are a 100km ultra run, 42km marathon and 13km river run, based out of the Albert Town Tavern in Wanaka. The 100km run can be run solo or as part of a 5-leg team relay. The course runs over Mt. Iron, Roys Peak, Mt. Alpha, Little Criffel and Mt. Pisa. The “Big Easy” name stems from the original idea of a “big easy” mountain bike race to buck the trend of all the “challenges” and “epics” out there. People then asked to run it so the Big Easy Mountain Marathon was added. Recently the 100k option was added and the organisers are sticking with the “Easy” theme, hence the “Ultra Easy” 100k. However there is clearly nothing easy about this event, with the 100k event boasting 4700m of elevation gain alone but whatever you choose you will get to experience the beautiful Wanaka area of New Zealand.
The Narrabeen Allnighter (Sydney, NSW) is a timed 12 hour race along a lovely trail by Narrabeen Lake, starting at 8:30pm and finishing at 8:30am the following morning. The course runs 2.5kms out and then the same coming back. It’s a cracking little event which also runs a few marathons in alongside the the 12 hour race. I did the 3am ‘midnight marathon’ this year and felt it was the prefect kick start into the new year.
The Hut 2 Hut – Oscars 100 (Alpine Victoria) is run over much of the same course as the GSER100. This race is one tough cookie with over 5,000m of elevation across the 100km route. It was also set-up with a view of helping to improve the lives of children living with Autism. There’s also an enforced overnight stopover for most of the field, making it very accessible for those that like tough races, but like to spread out the journey a little.
The Old Ghost Ultra (Seddonville, New Zealand) follows The Old Ghost Road in a north to south direction (starting at the Seddonville end of the trail and finishing at Lyell). The course is 85km long and involves 2,600 metres of ascent. The starting elevation is 30 metres above sea level (Seddonville) and the finishing elevation is 100 metres above sea level (Lyell). The maximum elevation attained is 1,340 metres above sea level near ‘Heaven’s Door’ on the mighty Lyell Range. Almost 15km of trail is over 1,000 metres elevation.
The Northburn 100s (Cromwell, New Zealand) are a series of mountain runs held in Cromwell, Central Otago, and is “bloody hard” according to the event organisers. Lisa Tamati and Terry Davis (a race director) with many years of organising and competing in 24 hour endurance events, are the main driving forces here. There is also a morning half marathon, night 5km and 10km runs, and a kids 1.5km adventure run. This huge variety means there is something available for everyone and makes sure that whatever you choose, it will be an amazing day in the mountains.
The Jabulani Challenge (Sydney, NSW) is a stunning trail run through the Ku-Ring-Gai National Park in the north of Sydney. Predominantly on single track the trail has everything to offer from waterside tracks, rainforest, bushland, steep hill inclines and creek crossings. Exploring some of the hidden waterways that Pittwater is famous for its hard to believe you are only 30 minutes from the heart of Sydney. With three distances to choose from the event caters for hardened trail runners to social walkers. The start and finish is at Bobbin Head, making it logistically easy, but more importantly a great spot on the edge of the Pittwater for a family day out
The Buffalo Stampede (Bright, Victoria) course takes runners on a tough but beautiful journey through the unique terrain that surrounds the amazing Mt Buffalo in Victoria’s Alpine country. Starting in the picturesque and welcoming township of Bright at the foothills of some of Australia’s most impressive mountains, The Buffalo Stampede Ultra covers 75k with the main attraction being the climb to the Mt Buffalo Chalet and the unique formations of Mt Buffalo, but there are also 42km, 20km and 10km options, with a grand slam option for those who wish to do the main three distances over three days (75k + 42k + 20k).
The Down Under 135 (Lerderderg, Victoria) is one of the newest gnarliest, super demanding and extreme running races offered anywhere in Australia, covering 135 miles ( 217 km ) single stage non-stop from start to finish. Competitors will adventure across the single trails of the Lerderderg and Wombat State Forests in Victoria located only 40km west of the Melbourne Airport and CBD. There’s 2 ways you can tackle DU135. The first is to run the 135 miles self supported unassisted no crew no pacer. The second is with a crew from start to finish and a optional pacer from 5pm on day one. This one is a brute, I think only four people finished last year.
The Mount Solitary Ultra has all the facets of what trail running is about – fast downhill fire/single trail, gnarly uphill, stairs, rolling single trail, creek/river crossings, rock clambering and diverse flora. Best of all, you will be tested to the hilt and be rewarded with stunning views all over the course. I run on part of this course most weekends and it’s simply some of the best running you can grab I reckon. This one sells out quick.
The inaugural Margaret River Ultra Marathon (Margaret River, WA) runs through the forests, trails, beaches and bluffs on the beautiful Cape to Cape coastline in South West WA. Starting on the brilliant white sands at Hamelin Bay, the 80km point to point course passes through a diverse range of breathtaking landscapes, from awe-inspiring Karri tree forests to cliff top trails providing views up and down the coast. You will run past famous surf breaks, iconic wineries and charismatic coastal villages in a journey that is as magical as the Margaret River region is beautiful. Tackle the race as a solo competitor and run the full 80km course or team up with a group of friends and complete the course as a relay team of up to 5 people doing one or more legs each.
The Hubert 100 (Flinders Ranges, South Australia), takes in the best of what the Flinders Ranges have to offer, focusing mainly on the land north of Wilpena. The course will cover trails throughout the Flinders Ranges and will consist of grueling mountain climbs and technical descents but runners will also be able to enjoy the scenery on the flatter parts of the course. The event takes its name from South Australian 20th century explorer, Sir Hubert Wilkins, who is famous for quoting “adventure is just a word used to disguise a series of unplanned surprises”.
The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail 100/50 miler (Queensland) is a new one for this year and is already laying claims to being the fastest miler in Australia. With just over 1,300m of elevation over the miler distance, there’s talk of a decent runner knocking this off in 13-14 hours… possibly less if the right calibre of athlete turns up. The route runs a complete 100 miles from Wulkuraka on the outskirts of Ipswich, to Yarraman, north west of the city.
The Glow Worm Tunnel (Blue Mountains, NSW) marathon takes runners on an amazing journey along a course that takes in the best sights of Newnes and the Wolgan Valley. The course is a tale of two halves and runners will encounter creek crossings, sections of long single trail, old mine cuttings, ruins and some long forgotten railway easements. The terrain is exciting, challenging and you may find it hard to keep the smile from your face. The event starts and finishes in Newnes and from the moment you arrive in “town” you will revel in the serene surroundings.
That’s it for part one, stay tuned for part two coming in a day or two.