New in 2016 at Ultra-Trail Australia (Formerly The North Face 100) is the UTA951 which pitches runner against mountain in a time trial from the Scenic Railway lower station, to the base of Furber Steps and all the way to the top of the cliffs at Scenic World. It traverses the final quad burning and lung-busting ascent to the finish of the 100km and 50km events at Ultra-Trail Australia and is something most competitors dread. It’s quite a sadistic way to end an ultra marathon and now being a race of its own, you get the feeling the race directors like to make people suffer.
The UTA951 is an exciting addition to the event and allows for anyone to have a crack at one of the hardest sections on the entire course. No matter how fit you are, it’s something everyone can give a go and feel proud for having completed it. What’s more, if you’re a real lunatic you can try your hand at it more than once across the several days of the UTA festivities, because it’s being held for one hour each day from Thursday to Saturday. I really like the idea of being able to pop down and try to better my time each day, or better still, setting up a bit of a competition between my mates.
The name relates to the number of upward steps you’ll have to endure in this short but hard journey. Yep, there’s nearly one thousand of the things! They vary from muddy, uneven timber and dirt, to flights of steel stairs with handrails. In between there are occasional stretches of flat, dirt track, plus some stunning scenery to help take your mind off the pain. The distance is about 1km with around 220m of elevation gain. Perhaps the coolest part is catching the Scenic Railway down from the top to reach the start line. That in itself makes it worthwhile to sign up!
How long will it take? Well, a steady hike would be somewhere around 15mins, with the fastest runners possibly challenging the 8 minute barrier.
More info and entries are available here! http://www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au/races/uta951/entry-details