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13th May 2024


Elite trail runners from across Australia and around the world will line up in the Blue Mountains this weekend for their shot at the 50km titles at Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB®.

The sold-out event features four distances and takes place from 16-19 May, with UTA50 runners beginning their journey through the trails of the Blue Mountains on Saturday 18 May.

The elite men’s field in the UTA50 contains firepower from around the world, with athletes from Australia, New Zealand, France, Portugal and Italy all contenders for the title.

Clément Durance is the top ranked athlete on the UTA50 start line, with multiple European ultra-trail race wins under his belt over the past few years.

Though he has competed extensively in Europe, Durance will race in Australia for this first time this weekend, making the trip Down Under to join his partner for a few weeks.

“My girlfriend has been preparing her PhD thesis at the University of NSW since last November, so together we looked for the best time to get together. We're both trail runners so we looked for an important race, I knew of UTA by reputation, and it was a direct match and a good opportunity,” said Durance.

“My training has been going pretty well. I feel in good shape, and I was able to confirm this by doing a preparation race last weekend at the HOKA Runaway Sydney Half Marathon. I didn't prepare specifically for the flat, but a good base of speed I think is important for the UTA50 where there are lot of runnable sections,” he said.

Making his UTA debut, Durance is hoping to execute the best possible race and see where that lands him in the latter stages.

“Mentally I'm feeling good, quite relaxed and above all, I can't wait to discover this beautiful region of Australia,” he said. “A successful race for me is to be able to run the complete course at my full potential. Of course, I'm also a competitor and hope it could lead to a podium or more.”

Durance will face tough competition from a number of athletes including New Zealand’s Scott Hawker and David Haunschimdt, Portugal’s Tiago Viera, and Italy’s Gabriele Fior. His closest challenger however will likely come in the shape of Australia’s Charlie Hamilton.

Having finished second in the UTA50 last year, Canberra’s Hamilton is determined to nail this race and go one better in 2024.

“I've come second in my last three races, so I've come to UTA hungry to get back onto the top step after winning the 22km here in 2021,” said Hamilton. “I'm super excited for a hard day out. If the weather plays ball, I expect the winner coming in around 4:10, I think the course record will go down by whoever climbs out of the valley first.

“Ever since I started trail running, winning this race has been my goal. As I was getting started in the sport, a lady named Liz would come into the café I worked at and ask me about my training. She believed in me from early on and ever since, it's been my goal to win that rock and give it to her. Hopefully this is the year,” he said.

In the women’s UTA50 race, Melbourne-based British runner Kate Avery will line up as one of the favourites to take out the title after a strong start to the year, including a second-place finish at Tarawera Ultra-Trail by UTMB 50km in February.

New Zealand’s Juliette Soule is another top contender in the women’s race and will be hoping to build on her performance from last year, where she finished seventh in the UTA50.

The Sydney-based Kiwi will come into this race relatively fresh after femoral stress fracture kept her on the sidelines for much of last year.

“I absolutely love the Blue Mountains and any opportunity to get out on the trails is appealing. UTA is the most competitive ultra in Australia which ignites excitement for me as I get to challenge myself against some amazing ladies,” said Soule.

“My number one goal is genuinely to enjoy the day. I put a lot of pressure on myself last year and ended up having a really tough day on the trails. I want my race this year to be a celebration of the fact that I’m healthy, I’m back competing, and not put any expectations on the outcome.”