Ultra Trail Australia: a birthday to remember

It was a birthday celebration to remember not only for the Ultra Trail Australia event enjoying its tenth outing, but also for the women’s winner, Lucy Bartholomew, who took out the women’s title on her 21st birthday. UTA 2017 Low-27

It was a satisfying victory for Lucy, who began her trail running career at the tender age of 16 running the Surf Coast Century amid a swirl of age/ultra participation debate and was often banned by some event organisers from competing in ultras due to her age.

The proof is in the commitment pudding however, as Lucy rose from being known simply as a plucky teenager with ultra trail dreams to this weekend cementing her place as a serious and long term podium contender on the world trail stage. Hers was an emphatic but hard-fought win over experienced trail runner, Tasmanian Hanny Allston. Kamil-Sustiak-20170520-009A1960-Edit_high-res_lowKamil-Sustiak-20170520-009A1915-Edit_high-res_CO edit

Lucy battled a stretch of hamstring pain during the event and says she expected Hanny to tap at her heels at any moment during the course of the day. “But that also spurred me on,” said Lucy at the finish line. “I thought she might overtake at any stage, but that also kept my legs turning over despite the pain.  It was a big day and the most special race I have ever done,” she said.

“The changed course meant on the new out and back section I had people coming at me, telling me ‘you got this’ and even wishing me happy birthday, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, it was an incredible experience. Ideally I wouldn’t have gone from the front, but you gotta do what you gotta do!”

Lucy finished in 10 hours 52 minutes, with Hanny crossing just under 20 minutes in arrears. Lou Clifton rounded out the all-Australian female podium a further 12 minutes back.

Lucy was not the only one to have to change race plans late in the piece with massive storm predictions forcing a closure of some remote sections of the course, meaning organisers had to scramble, enacting a Plan-B course including the out and back.

The new route made little difference to American, Tim Tollefsen, a UTMB podium placer racing in Australia for the first time.  Like Lucy, he led from the get-go, leaving minor place battle action to American Rob Krar, who reeled in Frenchman Aurelien Collet to finish second while Australian, Dave Byrne was the first Australian home in the men’s, finishing fourth behind Collet.

UTA 2017 Low-18

Tollefsen looked strong on trail all day, finishing in 8 hours 52 minutes, elated as he crossed the finish line.

“I was just trying to keep it controlled through to the 57km aid station where I saw my wife, and at that point I started to push a bit and tried to create more of a gap in the last half of the race.”

UTA 2017 Low-32

The 50km event was taken out by Nepali runner, Samir Tamang, who just edged out Australian legend and past winner of the 100km event, Stu Gibson, who crossed a mere 10 seconds behind Tamang, with Frenchman Thibaut Baronial in third. All were under course record time, albeit on a changed course from previous years.

In the women’s 50km Kellie Emerson (AUS) put a shot over the bow for her upcoming trip to Europe to vie for honours at the World Trail Championships, winning in a course record time (altered course) of 4.42. She was ahead of fellow Australians, Sophie Brown and Michelle McAdam.

Race Director Tom Landon-Smith was thrilled with the turnout for the event’s 10th Anniversary.

“This year’s Ultra-Trail Australia was epic, with the weather making the course tougher than ever before. We had record participation numbers and one of the biggest international line ups to date. We’d like to thank all the runners, local community and visitors to the area, for all their support and making the 10th Anniversary of UTA one of our most memorable events.”

Of course, Ultra Trail Australia is  just as famous for the extraordinary feats achieved by ordinary (sub-ten hour!) people, and there were great stories too many to tell out on the trail.

Six-time gold medal Paralympian Michael Milton, who was the first person to attempt the race with one leg and on crutches, competed in the 50km race, inspiring all who followed his lead up runs and on the day. Michael, who finished in 12 hours 8 minutes, said that the race pushed him to his limits.

“It’s great to finish. Finishing is just about keeping moving, so we minimised checkpoint times and stop times … and eventually you get there. There was the party at the start and the party in the finish.”

There were first time ultra and 100km runners aplenty, all achieving their personal equivalents of a first place, and others who had overcome odds and personal challenges to succeed in crossing the line, including Kerri Claydon, who had been told by doctors that she would never run again following a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy in 2012 – she lost feeling in her feet – to Dean McHardie, who lost his arm to cancer a few years ago.

UTA 2017 Low-26

As ever, they and more than 4500 others proved no achievement is off limits in the outdoors as runners knocked off 22km, 50km, and 100km achievements in Ne South Wale’s Blue Mountains, home to Australia’s biggest trail running festival.

2017 – Ultra-Trail Australia 100km Podium

Place

Male

Time

Female

Time

1

Tim Tollefson (USA)

8:52:00

Lucy Bartholomew (AUS)

10:52:35

2

Rob Krar (CAN)

9:11:15

Hanny Allston (AUS)

11:12:00

3

Aurelien Collet (FRA)

9:30:50

Lou Clifton (AUS)

11:24:06

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2017 – Ultra-Trail Australia 50km Podium

Place

Male

Time

Female

Time

1

Samir Tamang (NEP)

4:07:09

Kellie Emerson (AUS)

4:42:27

2

Stuart Gibson (AUS)

4:07:19

Sophie Brown (AUS)

5:03:19

3

Thibaut Baronian (FRA)

4:08:33

Michelle McAdam (AUS)

5:08:13

 

2017 – Ultra-Trail Australia 22km Podium

Place

Male

Time

Female

Time

1

Vlad Shatrov (AUS)

1:42:27

Sophie Horrocks (UK)

2:04:16

2

Niam McDonald (NZ)

1:45:51

Ella Jamieson (AUS)

2:05:42

3

Blake Hose (AUS)

1:46:49

Jasmine Sargeant (AUS)

2:06:39

 

2017 – Ultra-Trail Australia Scenic World UTA951

Place

Male

Time

Female

Time

1

Ben St Lawrence (AUS)

00:08:23

Marnie Ponton (AUS)

00:09:25

2

Mark Bourne (AUS)

00:08:43

Meg Reeves (AUS)

00:10:40

3

Michael Wardian (USA)

00:09:36

Maeve Kennedy-Birdsell (AUS)

00:11:11

For further information please visit http://www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au

UTA 2017 Low-5

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