The biggest ultra trail running event in Australia kicks off this week. More than 7,000 runners will descend upon Katoomba in the Blue Mountains to tackle one of several distances on offer, including the mainstay 100k event. There are also 50k, 22k and 11k events plus the 951 stair race and 1k-for-kids race.
The event has humble origins, growing over the years to become not only one of the biggest trail running events in the world but also an incredible showcase of the beautiful Blue Mountains National Park.
The 100km courses include 4,500m, while the 50km sits at 2,400m elevation gain. The course has had several changes and variations of the years but the current course was set in 2014. This year, as always has drawn the best of the Australian trail running scene with a smattering of international guns to battle it out at the pointy end.
We’ll kick things off with the 100k female field, which this year appears to be wide open as previous winners from the last couple years are not returning. This should make for some interesting racing up front as it really is anyone’s game, however several females stand out as potential podium finishers.
These are Amy Lamprecht, Emma Roca, Gill Fowler and Fiona Hayvice however as you will see below there is no shortage of females to give them a run for their money and we always love a good upset. Amy Lamprecht was 3rd here last year and 4th in 2016, her other recent results include 4th at 2018 Buffalo Stampede 75k and 2nd at 2017 Gone Nuts 101k.
Emma Roca hails from Spain and has a logbook of stellar results from across the globe, although she seems of perform better in longer mountainous races she has proven on several occasions that she has speed too. Her recent results include 7th at 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail 119k, 2nd at 2017 Run Rabbit Run 100 Mile, 3rd at 2016 Grand Raid Reunion and 5th at 2015 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run.
Gill Fowler is one of Australia’s most consistent ultra trail runners both at home and abroad. She has completed this event five times, finishing outside the top 10 only once with a 12th place way back in 2010 in first attempt at the race. Her most recent results include 6th at 2019 Mount Solitary Ultra, 7th at 2017 UTA 100 and 1st at 2017 Ultra Easy 100k.
Fiona Hayvice is another runner who has much experience with this course having done the 50k event twice and also coming 2nd in the 2016 100k event. Her most recent results include 5th at 2017 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and 4th at 2019 Tarawera 100k.
Other female contenders:
- Marie Mcnaughton – 6th 2016 UTA 100k, 11th 2017 UTA 100k, 4th 2018 Vibram 100
- Emily Woodland – 11th 2018 Vibram 100, 4th 2017 Lantau 70, 17th 2017 UTA 100k
- Cecily Butler – 5th 2018 UTA 100k, 15th 2017 UTA 100k
- Brook Martin – 6th 2018 UTA 100k, 6th 2017 Ultra Trail Cape Town 100k
- Chrissy Redwood -11th 2018 UTA 100k, 6th 2018 Blackall 100k
- Lucy Cant – 10th 2019 Vibram 100, 4th 2018 Lantau 70k
- Malory Young – 8th 2019 Tarawera 100k
- Angelique Plaire – 3rd 2019 Tarawera 100k, 3rd 2017 Surf Coast 100k
The male 100k field features last year’s winner Brendan Davies along with Vlad Shatrov, Marcin Swierc and Vlad Ixel.
Brendan Davies will be looking to defend his title, after managing to bring the title back to Australia last year and he will be tough to beat. Brendan has not only raced this event six times including two wins (and the course record last year), but this is also his home turf and he lives and breathes these trails. All the signs in Brendan’s lead up indicate another solid race and a sample of his jam packed schedule these last few months includes 1st at Canberra 6hr, 1st at Jabulani 25k, 3rd at Mount Solitary Ultra and 3rd at Canberra 50k.
This will be Vlad Shatrov’s first attempt at the UTA 100k, having done the 50k event and 22k several times before. He has a good amount of course experience, and his recent results include 3rd at Six Foot Track Marathon, 21st at 2018 Comrades Marathon, 1st 2018 Six Foot Track Marathon and 1st at 2017 Great North Walk 100k.
This will be Marcin Swierc’s first time racing in Australia. Originally from Poland, he has achieved several solid results over the years, including 2nd at 2018 Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC), 2nd at 2016 High Trail Vanoise and 14th at 2016 Transvulcania.
Another runner vying for a podium spot is Vlad Ixel, well known on the Asian trail circuit and having dabbled in triathlons recently too. This race however marks his return to 100k distance for the first time in several years. He’s looking fit and raring to go, having quietly racked up 200k weeks over in Western Australia. His recent results include 3rd at 2019 Tarawera 50k, 2nd at 2018 Hong Kong North Face 50k, 4th at 2017 UTA 50k and 1st at 2015 Hong Kong North Face 100k. The 100k distance is still a long way and as the below list demonstrates there will be plenty of runners keeping everyone honest.
This race will be hugely close over positions 3-10, with a variety of runners all capable of nabbing a podium spot. Despite a few niggles, Jono O’Loughlin has put in some hard yards the last month or so. And, you can’t discount him from grabbing what would be a first podium placing for him. He’s raced every single UTA/TNF since it’s inception in 2008.
- Tom Brazier – 3rd 2018 Ultra Easy 100k, 12th 2018 UTA 100k
- Jono O’Loughlin – 5th 2018 UTA 100k, 13th 2017 UTA 100k
- Andrew Lee – 6th 2017 Hounslow Classic 68k, 13th 2018 Six Foot Track Marathon, multiple top 10 UTA 100 finishes
- Clarke McClymont – 7th 2015 Buffalo Stampede 75k, 13th 2017 Six Foot Track Marathon
- Scott Richmond – 12th 2017 UTA 100k, 13th 2018 UTA 100k, 4th 2019 Mount Solitary Ultra
- Hamish Macdonald – 11th 2017 UTA 100k, 7th 2018 UTA 100k, 7th 2018 Six Foot Track Marathon
- Mike Carroll – 5th 2019 Six Foot Track Marathon, 14th 2018 UTA 100k
- Geoff Arnold – 6th 2019 Mount Solitary Ultra, 4th 2017 Great North Walk 100k
- Ewan Horsburgh – 5th 2019 Jabulani Challenge 45k, 17th 2018 UTA 100k,
- Morgan Lindqvist – 8th 2018 UTA 100k, 10th 2017 UTA 100k
- Justin Whitley – 10th 2018 UTA 100k, 16th 2017 UTA 100k
Watch out for our 50km and 22km previews tomorrow.