CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT UTA22 IN THE BLUE MOUNTAINS
Close racing and quick times have highlighted the second day of Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB, with the UTA22 champions crowned on Friday.
Brodie Nankervis and Lara Hamilton have come out on top of the men’s and women’s races across the 22km course, with both runners impressing on their way to victory.
Nankervis, from Launceston in Tasmania, crossed the finish line in 1:47:49, just over a minute clear of Max Taylor with Billy Curtis in third.
Curtis led for the opening stages of the race before Nankervis hit the front and pushed ahead for a win on debut at Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB.
“I’m pretty happy with that, I’ve been trying to get here for a couple of years and it’s nice to finally get here and run and get a win, it was beautiful out there, such a good day,” said Nankervis. “I wanted to go out a bit conservative, I didn’t want to push too hard, I knew it would get tough at the end, I sat back but tried to keep Billy in sight, he was out the front on Narrow Neck, but we were still running really fast. When I came down Golden Stairs, I was feeling it already so I eased back a little bit and Billy got away but I kept at it, tried to get back into a comfortable pace, then we got to the stairs at Leura I could see him and I felt strong and actually looking forward to the hill.
“I got past him there and at the top of Leura I could hear some cowbells about 15 seconds behind me and I thought this was going to be a race, so I tried to turn it up. It turned out that it was Max but I didn’t look back, so I didn’t know who it was,” he said. “I was running scared for the last bit, trying to judge the bells as to how big the gap was, and it seemed I was getting away so when I turned at the bottom and couldn’t see anyone coming down, I realised it was all good.”
Fourth across the line was UTA11 winner Nathan Pearce, with 2008 and 2012 London Olympic Games representative Courtney Atkinson sixth.
Colorado-based Sydneysider Lara Hamilton took victory in the women’s race in 2:05:25, almost seven minutes clear of Patricia McKibbin, with Caitlin Fowlds third.
Hamilton was racing at Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB for the first time, having only landed back home in Australia a few days before the event.
“I’m tired but feeling good, the extra oxygen up here is great,” said Hamilton. “At first we were running fast and my legs were feeling heavy because I got off a plane on Tuesday but then I eased into it and felt better and better as it went on and managed to pull through.
“I know that I can run fast on the flats so every time there was a road or a flat section I really pushed it and then just tried to dance around the technical parts, I’m alright at climbing so I pushed up the climbs,” she said. “It wasn’t as technical as I thought it would be, but it’s got a bit of everything so it’s perfect. The event was awesome, the atmosphere is excellent, and I’ve had a great time.”
Hamilton’s win was a great start to her season as she builds towards a number of significant races in Europe later in the year.
“I live in Colorado for work and training to be a mountain runner and do the Golden Trail Series, training is going well and this is the season opener so it’s a good sign, next up is the World Mountain Running Championships in Austria,” she said.
Racing resumes in the Blue Mountains on Sunday morning with runners set to take on UTA50 and UTA100, with the final finishers due over the line on Sunday morning.