18 ultras you may not have considered racing to fill your 2019 calendar

Community is very much at the heart of what Ultra168 stands for. Yep, there’s the big races, which aim to create ‘experiences’ for people. But if you’re the type of runner that likes to create their own experience, prefers simplicity and to get away from the crowds, then these are the ultras for you.

I’m not affiliated with any of them. I don’t get any reward for mentioning them. They’re either races I’ve done, or have heard good things about them from others. No order of preference here, just merely ordered by thought as they enter my head.

The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail 100/50 miler is in its second 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 starts from Yarraman and ends in Ipswich this year. Whats more there’s a two hundred miler to boot as well.

The Glow Worm Tunnel 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.

Glasshouse Flinders Tour – Home to Australia’s oldest trail runs, the Glasshouse 100 was the first ultra marathon I ran back in 2008. I still have fond memories of this place and have raced up at the Flinder’s Tour now three times. A fast, flattish 50km, runners head out around a big 26km loop one way, turn around and come back. With some of the nicest volunteers around, this is a proper community ultra with no fuss or histrionics. Proper old school, I like to see just how little I can get away with using in this race. So far it’s been a pair of trainers, socks, running shorts and a water bottle… with a few jellies collected along the way at aid stations to keep you going. Nice.

You Yangs Trail Running Festival – This race literally has a distance for everyone with a 5km, 15km, 21km, 30km, 42km, 50km and 100km & 100 mile distances at You Yangs Regional Park in Melbourne, Victoria. This race is held in the middle of winter when the park is at its visual best with lush greenery and local birdlife on display. It can be a very different story in the middle of summer when dust and wind can turn the park into a less pleasant and much more harsh environment.

Berry Long Run – This is a great opportunity to run one of the few intermediate distance ultras in Australia, while also supporting a local charity that performs a crucial role in undoing the harm caused by the abuse and neglect of children. The Lerderderg Track, apart from being a really fun word to say aloud, is the Southernmost section of the Great Dividing Trail network. The course starts at Blackwood, quickly leaving town and getting into a brief taste of the sweet single-track along the gorge, before cutting through the forest along a mix of trails and dirt roads. I ran this last year and it’s a cracker. A bit of everything with some lovely people.

Peaks and Trails – Peaks & Trails, formerly known as the Mosaic to Mountain Run, is a picturesque run starting and finishing in the heart of Dunkeld, Victoria. The weekend offers something for all levels of trail enthusiast with access to beautiful Southern Grampians trails and a number of private trails normally inaccessible to the public. Saturday has a 1km OR 2km kids dash, 6.2km Mt Abrupt Short Course Challenge and Gourmet Trail. Sunday has 50km, 26km, 22km, 11km and 6.4km trail runs.

The Great Naseby Water Race Ultramarathon –  The course is set around a 10km loop – the first half along a gravel road and the second half on a forest track beside the water race that gives the event its name. There is no actual water running. This unique ultramarathon event takes place near Naseby – the highest town in New Zealand at 2000ft. Naseby is 15km north-west by road from Ranfurly and 145km north-west (via Middlemarch) from Dunedin. It is held on the last weekend of August each year.

WTF 100s – The Runningworks WTF 50 & 100 Miler is held annually on the last weekend in September (WA’s Queen’s Birthday Public Holiday weekend), the 50mi and 100mi events both start at 6am on Saturday, and have generous cut-off times. The 50mi event runs south from Jarrahdale to Dwellingup, mainly following the Munda Biddi mountain bike trail. The 100mi event runs from Dwellingup to Jarrahdale and back again, along the same course, with a bonus “out and back” hill on the outbound leg.

GOW100 – Another cracker of a race that I’ve personally done twice and rank as one of the best in Australia. Run by one of the most experienced ultra runners in Australia, Andy Hewat, every single detail is taken care of for runners to enjoy a quality 100km along the rugged south coast. You’ll see rain, wind, sun, snakes and koalas along the way before finishing at the world famous 12 Apostles, that is if you finish under 14 hours or so. High recommended.

GNW100s – Another Ultra168 favourite, this race used to be held in November, that is until everyone realised that it was just too freaking hot! Organised by the Terrigal Trotters running club for the first time in 2005, there are two simultaneous trail races, a 100 mile and a 100 kilometre, along with thew newly introduced 50 miler and 50km. There’s a change of format this year, due to some challenges around permits, but it will still rip the heart out of those who step forward.

Yurrebilla Trail 56km Ultra –  One of the premier shorter ultras in South Australia and never more than 12 km from the centre of Adelaide, the trail offers stunning views, amazing gorges, waterfalls, wildlife and wildflowers. Commencing at Belair Railway Station in the south, the trail climbs 1865 metres and descends 2060 metres before it reaches its destination at Foxfield Oval, Athelstone. Runners are required to run on only a few roads which connect the end of one bush track to the start of another trail.

Nerang State Forest Trail Race & 100 Miler – The Nerang 100 Miler is in the Nerang State Forest behind the Gold Coast in Queensland from Saturday, 29 September to Sunday, 30 September 2018, and uses a multiple looped course of 25km.

Hume and Hovell 100s – Another cracker local community event, The Hume & Hovell ultramarathon uses The Hume & Hovell Walking Track, constructed as a Bicentennial Project in 1988. With a 100 miler, 100km and 50km events, there’s plenty to choose from and a good chance to get into country NSW and explore these wonderful tracks.

Heysen 105 –  This South Australian race traverses a 105km section of the 1200km-long Heysen Trail. A 57km event was added from 2015 and a 35km event in 2016. Competitors experience the best trail running has to offer in the state, taking in rolling farmland, sandy forests, rocky hillsides and lots lots more. The views are spectacular through the magnificent conservation parks, with the backdrop of gum trees, abundant wildlife and wide open spaces making this a truly Australian experience.

Ned Kelly Chase –  Held in Wangaratta, Victoria the Ned Kelly chase can be run as a 100km, 50km, 42km marathon or 21km half marathon solo race, 4x25km relay, and a 10km fun run. The “chase” tests the physical and mental prowess of the 100km and 50km runners by foot. Aiming to finish near 12pm they start with individual time goals, but share the common goal of avoiding those that pursue from behind. When the runners have gone, the pursuit really begins with 100km and 50km bicycle chase entrants set to track down, and apprehend their runner equivalents.

Alpine Challenge – The Alpine Challenge Ultra Marathon incorporates the 100 mile (160 km) Alpine Skyrun, the 100 km individual and team Alpine Challenge and the 60 km Alpine Experience. With over 7,000 metres of climb and 7,000 metres of descent, this event is the classic 100 mile mountain trail run in Australia; testing runners to the limit, it also offers one of the country’s most scenic and challenging 100 km runs covering over 4,000 m of ascent and descent in 34 hours. Set in the spectacular Alpine National Park of North Eastern Victoria the event takes in some of the best, hardest and most exposed high country in Australia including Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt McKay, Spion Kopje, Mt Nelse and Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong.

GSER100s – The Great Southern Endurance Run takes on the rugged and picturesque mountains and trails throughout the Victorian Alps. In an odd year event runners climb over 10,207m of ascent and tackle 11,464m of descent over 182km distance. In even year events those numbers are reversed. In both iterations of the event, runners are challenged beyond their known capabilities and stripped bare to the soul in their quest to make it to the finish line of the most brutal, spectacular and amazing run in the southern hemisphere. This event has been designed to be the gem of 100 miler events in the southern hemisphere. The point to point journey is epic, the trails are predominantly single trail and the historical Australian Alps Walking Trail is used for parts of the course.

The 6 Inch Trail Marathon – This 47km ultra marathon race takes place on the Munda Biddi trail from North Dandalup to Dwellingup in the South West of Western Australia, about 80km South of Perth. The event covers a small section of the 1000km long The Munda Biddi Trail (which means path through the forest in the Noongar Aboriginal language) and fast becoming a world class cycle trail. With this in mind the wide trails have been shaped nicely for runners to get into a rhythm and enjoy the unspoilt bush lands and shade of towering eucalyptus trees.

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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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