7000 trail runners and their supporters descended on Katoomba’s Scenic World and the surrounding World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park this weekend for the 12thedition of what is now the third largest trail running festival in the world, Ultra-Trail Australia.
Conditions were perfect, with 50km and 100km runners treated to stunning blue skies and sunshine for the entire day, making it one of the best race days the event has seen in years.
Polish runner Marcin Swierc claimed victory in the premier 100km in an impressive 9:31:15. In the women’s race, it was homegrown champion Amy Lamprecht from Launceston who tore off the front of the race and achieved a one-hour personal best and winning time of 11:03:28, claiming an incredible 11thplace overall.
The men’s 100km race was dramatic, with Newcastle athlete Vlad Shatrov leading aggressively for more than 50km until foot pain forced him to retire injured. Then a Cinderella story unfolded as Sydney’s Jono O’Loughlin closed in on the lead.
O’Loughlin is one of only four founding runners, having participated in every 100km edition race since its inception 12 years ago. He chased hard to close the gap and came home second for an emotional finish in a time of 09:42:28, where he told his wife “I ran my heart out all day”. Sydney’s Morgan Lindqvist rounded out the men’s podium in a time of 09:43:45.
It was a truly international podium in the women’s 100km race with New Caledonia’s Angelique Plaire finishing second in 12:05:18 ahead of Spain’s Emma Roca 12:14:23. Sensationally, Roca edged out New Zealand’s Fiona Hayvice by less than a minute, even after running the equivalent of more than seven City-to-Surf’s.
In the 50km, runners covered more than 8,000 mountainside stairs before claiming their hard-earned finisher’s medal. Sydney locals Rhett Gibson and Gemma Jenkins were first male and female home in times of 4:25:18 and 5:13:46 respectively.
With over 1000 runners still out on course (as at Saturday evening) as the third day of Ultra-Trail Australia turns to night, spectators and commentators in the finish chute are reaching for their puffer jackets and beanies. Inside, sweat-drenched finishers gather under heaters and blankets on portable couches in front of a cinema-sized screen to watch friends and family finish well into the night.
The real stars are still crossing the line in the early hours of Sunday morning, with some runners having spent a cold Katoomba night marching ever closer to their dream, however exhausting, of a 100km trail ultramarathon finish, pushing the 28 hour on course cut off.
For full results: https://uta.livetrail.net/
For event information visit Ultra-Trail Australia
1 Marcin Swierc 09:31:15
2 Jono O’Loughlin 09:42:28
3 Morgan Lindqvist 09:43:45
4 Justin Whitley 09:56:18
5 Mike Carroll 10:19:00
1 Amy Lamprecht 11:03:28
2 Angélique Plaire 12:05:18
3 Emma Roca 12:14:23
4 Fiona Hayvice 12:15:18
5 Emilie Tan 12:17:55
1 Rhett Gibson 4:25:18
2 Tom Brimelow 4:32:25
3 Mick Donges 4:34:03
4 Gerald Macpherson 4:34:31
5 Andrius Ramonas 4:39:01
1 Gemma Jenkins 5:13:46
2 Lucy Bartholomew 5:15:48
3 Jessica Haro Ramos 5:37:47
4 Caitlin Perkins 5:39:51
5 Sasha Taplin 5:46:38