Aaron Knight – La Sportiva Athlete – Alpine Trail Running Coach
Ultra-Trail Australia is a fantastic event in the Blue Mountains in NSW. This is Australia’s biggest and best festival of trail running. An amazing location, brilliant courses and a range of distances means UTA is very high on most people’s event “to do” list. Lots of runners return year after year to do the same or a different race options.
La Sportiva athlete Aaron Knight’s quick tips on what you should consider about the UTA and which race to choose for you…..
I have competed in the UTA 951, UTA 22 and UTA 50 and would like to share some basic advice for those looking to do any of these very different and challenging events.
But firstly you need to ask yourself what your aim is for your chosen UTA race. I would say that most people fall into 3 main approaches.
- I’m looking for a challenge, I just want to finish and enjoy it!
- I want to run to do my best or improve on my previous UTA race (and enjoy it!)
- I want to compete for the overall win or an age group win…and still enjoy it!
UTA 951 – 2020 – Elite Entry via application
The Scenic World UTA951 Stair Race is a 1.2km time trial up the iconic Furber Steps. It is also the finishing 1.2km of all the other races.
So to prepare for this one you need to focus on stair running & power hiking. There is very few other places in Australia with 951 stairs in a kilometre so stair reps, hill repeats and strength work are best. Also spending time at your limit in 3-5k events will help. So get out and chase a parkrun or track 3000m PB !
The Pace UTA 22 is 21.6km and follows the final leg of both the 50km and 100km courses.
The course has approximately 1200m of total climb and descent. The unique feature of this race is the long fast firetrail descent to start the race. This has the potential to destroy your legs before the climbing even begins!
The race may be very close to a half marathon but don’t expect to beat your road half PB! The winner has taken over 30mins more than their half marathon PB the last 2 years.
So to train for this one you need decent kilometres in the legs but with lots of climbing and just as importantly lots of firetrail descending! Your legs will thank you for preparing them for the first 8k when you hit Jamison Creek with 14 km mostly uphill still to race!
50km is a long way. It will have you out on course for at least 4 hrs and up to 13.5hrs to make the finish cut-off. But what a course! Cliff top trails, valley fire trail & magnificent forest singletrack before ascending Furber Steps to finish!
This is an ultra in both distance and time taken to complete. You need to cover significant kilometres to prepare for this. If starting from scratch you want to slowly build your weekly running until you are covering at least 50km a week a few weeks prior to the race. For those that have run the event before or other trail or road marathons then you may wish to slowly build up even more than you did for those events. 50km to 100km per week will help you fatigue less on race day.
A strong emphasis also needs to be placed on running single track efficiently. This course has lots of it and conserving energy by running well on the single track will save energy & power for the stairs and climbs.
Aaron will be at Ultra-Trail Australia in 2020 with Team La Sportiva Australia and as a coach with his Alpine Training Running Athletes. Find out more about Aaron’s Alpine Training Running coaching here….