Moments ago it was too hot to leave the air-conditioned house, but just like that the Oscars100 Hut 2 Hut in Mount Buller kicked off on February 15, drawing over 180 participants in its third year; Ryan Lowe polished it off in a jaw-dropping 13 hours and 53 minutes, while Kylee Woods crossed the line at 16 hours and 26 minutes (the event will be back next year from February 14 to 16).
By the time this magazine goes to print, the insatiable trail running world will have also endured the Snowies Ultra Trail Run Festival (on February 24). Now, with a few events in the bank, the trail running season is in full swing, steadily working its way towards an exciting line-up in the not-too-distant future.
The Ultra-Trail Australia run in Katoomba, from May 16 to 19, is bound to sneak up on keen runners, meaning the time to be getting ready is now. This event has plenty of options to cater to any level of skill and experience, from 100km madness down to the UTA22. The origins of the race provide good reason not to miss out; the event organisers scoured Australia to uncover the best location for a challenging and stunning 100km run, with the Blue Mountains standing out as the ‘obvious choice’.
Also in May, a little earlier on May 4, we have the 80 kilometre Margaret River Ultra Marathon, an event staged by the elite adventure event management squad at Rapid Ascent. This is a race more suited to those out west, or aficionados who don’t mind a bit of travel, or those who’d rather cop the sea breeze during their endorphin-euphoria. This run, which can be raced individually or as part of a team relay, covers some stunning coastal scenery from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Not to mention the Great Ocean Road Running Festival, on May 18 and 19, with the Ultra taking runners from Lorne to Apollo Bay.
Way down the track, over the horizon, the year will round out with the Alpine Challenge (from November 23 to 25). This event hosts 100 mile, 100km, 60km, and 36km runs, with options to participate individually, as a team, or as part of a relay. The 100 mile beast will see runners ascending and descending 7,600 metres along an alpine trail that threads together Mount Feathertop, Mount Hotham, Mount McKay, Spion Kopje, Mount Nelse and Mount Bogong. On top of the distance and undulating course, this race will challenge runners with its weather extremes, which in the alps at that time of year can range from searing heat to sub-zero at night.
One must take care not to run themselves silly, but there are of course many other terrific events to look forward to, like the Buffalo Stampede in Mount Buffalo in April, the Surf Coast Century in the Great Ocean Road in September... Actually, if we went through them all, that would be a marathon in itself.