Runners from across Australia and New Zealand are preparing to converge on the Blue Mountains later this month for Ultra-Trail Australia, with the 2021 event set to provide a positive boost for the region.
After the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the event not taking place in 2020, trail runners are looking forward to returning to the Blue Mountains following a two-year hiatus.
Almost 7,000 runners will take part in four separate races between 13-16 May, with runners either tackling 11km, 22km, 50km or 100km distances.
The event kicks off with UTA11 on Thursday, with UTA22 taking place on Friday, ahead of UTA50 and UTA100 on Saturday.
Ultra-Trail Australia Race Director Nick Christopher said the event team, runners and volunteers were looking forward to getting back to doing what they love, hitting the trails of the Blue Mountains.
“The last year has been tough for so many people and we’re thrilled that we’re in the position to be able to welcome runners back to the Blue Mountains this month for Ultra-Trail Australia,” said Christopher. “Bush fires, COVID-19 and more recently flooding has made for a tough 18 months for the Blue Mountains, with the influx of runners and their families and friends for Ultra-Trail Australia set to provide a much needed boost for businesses throughout the region.”
Blue Mountains Mayor, Councillor Mark Greenhill welcomed Ultra-Trail Australia back to the region.
“It’s great to see the return of Ultra-Trail Australia to the Blue Mountains,” said Cr Greenhill. “Events like this bring so much to our region and help the long recovery for our businesses, who are still reeling from the effect of bushfires and COVID-19.
“This event will bring runners and their families into the Blue Mountains to enjoy not only the scenery and the run, but also all the Blue Mountains has to offer in great food and attractions,” he said.
The Ultra-Trail Australia course will start and finish close to Scenic World, with Scenic World Managing Director Anthea Hammon pleased to be welcoming runners back to Katoomba.
“Scenic World is thrilled to once again host Ultra-Trail Australia, which has earned a solid reputation as a world class event with a proven track record in driving visitation to the Blue Mountains region,” said Hammon. “The Blue Mountains has had a tumultuous 18 months with bushfires, floods and the pandemic, and Ultra-Trail Australia 2021 will deliver a welcome boost to the economy at a time when local businesses need it most.
“We look forward to welcoming spectators, competitors and support crew to the Blue Mountains for another year, and we invite everyone to show their support for local businesses during their stay,” she said.
Ben Mellor, General Manager, Fairmont Resort & Spa Blue Mountains, MGallery by Sofitel, said the event played an important role in bringing people back to the region.
“With Ultra-Trail Australia once again being held in Katoomba this year, bringing thousands of runners, spectators and support crew to the Blue Mountains, the significance of the event cannot go unnoticed,” said Mellor. “Major events like this establish confidence to a return to major events post COVID and the bushfires which impacted families and business alike, 2021 feels good with events like this returning.”
Jason Cronshaw from Fantastic Aussie Tours said that his business was already experiencing the positive impact of Ultra-Trail Australia.
“Ultra-Trail Australia is a very important event for the entire Blue Mountains region,” said Cronshaw. “People focus on the event weekend but the reality is we have a positive impact from months before with people heading to the mountains for training and to show their family and friends what they’ll be tackling on race day.
“The event also has a positive impact on local employment, we’ve had bus drivers who were working 20 hours a week go up to 40 hours a week which is absolutely fantastic and a real boost for us,” he said.
Racing at the 2021 Ultra-Trail Australia begins on Thursday 13 May with UTA11, ahead of UTA22 the following day and UTA50 and UTA100 on Saturday 15 May.
For more information on Ultra-Trail Australia visit https://www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au/