Trail Ultra scene growing out West

The culmination of another very successful season of trail racing from the Perth Tail Series was held last weekend in the hills just south of Perth with another trail ultra joining the booming 6 Inch Trail Marathon and the Kep Ultra as part of the state’s surging interest in Trail Ultras. Race director and ultra running icon Bernadette Benson gives us a rundown on the up and down run.

The joy of singletrack as Paul Knight crosses the line in his five fingers.

The joy of singletrack as Paul Knight crosses the line in his VFF.

Last Sunday, April 21st, Perth Trail Series hosted its first ultramarathon, “Truth or Consequences,” in conjunction with the 25km “Half Truth” and 12k “Little White Lies.” The 50km race consisted of two loops of the 25km +750mtr route, with the start/finish in Serpentine Falls National Park. The route took runners up massive steeps, down sweet, gentle single track, past heritage locations, over fallen logs, and through lush valleys with monarch butterflies. They passed through a secluded pine forest and ran along a brook just starting to drip with autumn rains, which sprinkled the competitors on and off all day. It was the nicest day for running that WA has seen for four months, after a record-breaking hot summer.

The 47 ultrarunners were given first start of the day and most sorted out their position in the field quite quickly. Scott Hawker, who won both the Kep 75k Ultra and the Bunbury 50k in 2012 and set a new course record at the Glasshouse 100k, set a course record time that will be hard to beat (3:50:55). His split times from loop one to two were pretty even, where the other front runners succumbed to the hills more the second time around. James Roberts, winner of the 6 Inch Trail Marathon in 2012 and second in both the Kep Ultra 75k and Lark Hill 50k (2013), finished in 4:06:01, followed by Thomas Bakowski (Lark Hill 50k 2013 winner) in 4:16:21. Several ultrarunners used this event as a last hitout before TNF100 in May, whilst one used it as a last long session before World 24hr Championships in the Netherlands.

scott hawker on his way to the ultra win

Scott Hawker on his way to the ultra win

Helen Roberts, winner of the female race, looked strong throughout her first ultra to finish in 5:08:47. Jamie McLoughlan, also competing in her first ultra, secured second in 5:35:54, with Beck Hefferon holding onto third place with 5:56:06, despite going off course on the second loop.

The front runners in the ultra were just coming through loop one when the 65 or so Half Truth (25k) runners started. Thirty minutes later, a large handful of 12k runners in “Little White Lies” took to the hills. Most were first time trail racers and would be quickly resetting their definition of “hill” with an event that offered about 500 metres of gain!

A sight for sore legs at the mid-loop aid station.

A sight for sore legs at the mid-loop aid station.

Volunteers at the fig house aid station were particularly welcomed by many, with their orange tutus matching their Perth Trail Series marshal vests. Hammer Heed and fruit, standard at PTS events this year, were on offer at the aid stations. Whilst no one chose to run entirely barefoot, we did see one pair of 5 fingers bringing in a very happy competitor in 5th place in Half Truth. First runner over the line in the Half was Josh Stephens in 2:03:13, followed by Mathias Ritter (2:12:22) and Tom Johnson (2:13:55). The women’s race was won by Jo Bennett, 4th overall, (2:14:41), followed by Marie Sorrell (2:24:45), and Pene Newitt (2:35:57).

The winner of Little White Lies was a visiting Canadian, Trevor Wallensteen, who only realised we had a mandatory hydration requirement an hour before his race. Fortunately the RD, in her “boy scout” ways, had brought a spare in case of such an event. Trevor ducked under the one hour mark with 59:56. Chris Jones finished second in 1:05:27, with Dean Templeton just a minute behind. In the women’s race, Rachel West was 4th overall with 1:09:15, followed by Melinda Evans (1:15:17) and Victoria Cartledge (1:18:26).

All runners were rewarded with a logo’d wooden treasure box and lunch for their efforts, complete with beer (non-alcoholic, of course!). The falls provided opportunity for soaking the legs and wiping off the worst of the dirt, though with the cooler day, fewer than usual took advantage. The RD was pleased to report all runners finished before cut-off, no search parties had to be sent out, and she was home before dark!

For more images of the day, check out;
Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3: