A capacity field of 1,500 competitors will take part in the Margaret River Ultra Marathon on Saturday 6 May 2023 in south-west in Western Australia.
As one of Australia’s most in-demand races, the 80km point to point course will take competitors on a magnificent trail running journey from Hamelin Bay to Wilyabrup on the breathtaking Cape to Cape coastline.
Participants entered into the sixth edition of the event include a growth in solo runners with just under 400; and 1,100 relay team members that make up a variety of 2-5-runner teams covering 10-20km each.
Reigning champion Josh Chugg of Perth set an outstanding course record in 2022 which saw him clock a time of 6 hours, 40 minutes – running just over 5 minutes per kilometre pace. The in-form ultra runner is looking to go back-to-back all whilst keeping his mind on the goal and taking in the views.
“With a stunningly beautiful course and a great event vibe, some of my best running memories come from out on this course; so it has become an especially meaningful race to me,” says Chugg.
“Pacing is key on any course, and I like the thinking ‘run the first half with a smile, the third quarter with your head, and the last quarter with your heart.’ So for me I want to be able to enjoy that first half and take in those views, then use all the ultra running mental strength and skills I can muster in the final stages!” described Chugg.
Chugg’s closest challenge will come from local runner Adrian Castle from Nillup who placed third overall male on last years’ course.
The women’s solo 80km field will see the Surf Coast Century ultra marathon champion Nicole Virant from Geelong in Victoria head west for the first time.
Virant fell in love with ultra running only just last year and despite her natural talent, is feeling very humble to take part at the Margaret River Ultra Marathon.
“Getting through an ultra itself is a huge accomplishment for anyone, no matter if you come in first or just make the cut off time,” said Virant. “I will be over the moon to make it to the finish line myself!”
“My plan is to go out and run my own race and not let myself worry about where others are or what’s ahead on the course,” added Virant.
The point-to-point course has built an attractive reputation as runners experience a mix of coastal trails, beaches and bluffs, with trails that run past tall karri tree forests and sweeping views across the magical Margaret River region.
Joining the more serious solo runners on course is the huge contingent of relay teams who elude enthusiasm for the course and event overall, many returning year after year.
Sarah Laverick from Nannup in WA heads in to her fourth year as part of team ‘Trail of Discomfort’ which is made up of a number of various family members.
“Our group is getting bigger by the year as there is so much interest in the race especially locally,” said Sarah.
“Across our 4 teams you’ll see myself, my two children aged 11 and 14, my partner Steve – who surprised us all by joining this year – and my auntie and uncle too. I’m really looking forward to challenging myself again and crossing the finish line to celebrate altogether,” said Sarah.
The Settlers Express relay team of 5 are out for redemption since placing second by just 6 minutes in 2022 after a strong race victory in 2021. Led by captain Sam Maxwell, the team is made up of a group of mates’ with over 20 years of friendship behind them.
Another inspiring team are the ‘always trailing’ crew who reached out to event organisers Rapid Ascent regarding their team mate Teague Czislowski…
“Our recovering friend Teague was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year – yet he still trained every day determined to make it to the Margaret River Ultra Marathon as part of our relay team… and he has!” said team-mate Michael. “And this whole time through therapy, Teague would turn up for our ‘We Run the Cott’ runs at 5:30AM rain, hail or shine – and would chug out a few km’s.”
“Our focus this year will particularly be participation-orientated so that we can focus on Teague running Leg 5 and creating a fanfare to celebrate the end of his ordeal,” said Michael.
Competitors will finish well into the night at Howard Park Wines, the official event venue, with presentations and a 2km Kids Run to be held on Sunday morning from 9am.
Part of the event’s allure is providing an opportunity for runners to combine their love of running with a visit to one of Australia’s most spectacular regions. The course is accessible for spectators and a stone’s throw from world class wineries, cafes and surf beaches.
Local media and south-west locals are invited to come down for a look and cheer on the competitors.