A number of Australia’s best Trail and Ultra runners came to Brisbane for the inaugural Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival and they were not disappointed.  Trail and ultra runners love a challenge and this course challenged all.  We don’t have alpine country in South East Queensland but we do have mountains, Mount Glorious, Mount Nebo and Mt Coo-tha all with numerous fun tracks and trails to cover delivered a fun but challenging run for those who came to Brisbane.

The jubilation of finishing something epic was evident as each participant passed under the Red Bull finishing arch in grounds of the Martime Museum.  I asked finishers to compare this event to other iconic events on offer in Australia. This event was touted as being up there as the toughest, those with regret were only those who didn’t finish who acknowledged that they weren’t prepared for the course and that they knew what they had to do now conquer it.  I have a feeling many will be returning and that this event will only get better in the years to come.

The 100 mile event had a cut off of 30 hours and over 8000m elevation gain.  While five women started the event two finished both showed guts and determination in what was their first attempt at 100 miles.  Lisa Hurring held it together well to finish in 26:40:31 while Jenny Morris overcame some mid race adversity and proved that while the course was tough she was tougher to come home strong and with just under 10 minutes to spare in 29:50:11.

In the men’s race it was a battle between three.  Ewan Horsburgh was 1st to CP1 McAffees Lookout but Matthew Crehan took the lead and Ewan and Matt would exchange places through CP3 and CP4.  By the time the top three Matt, Ewan and local Kieran O’Brien had reached CP6 122.1km into the 100 miles at the Gold Creek Reservoir we had a race on our hands.  The top three came into CP6 within 10 minutes of each other. Unfortunately Matthew paid the price of his earlier pace and couldn’t maintain his place and by Checkpoint 7 at JC Slaughter Falls where the Brisbane Trail Runners provided an all-night party atmosphere ably assisted by the Red Bull Mobile DJ.  Ewan had wrestled back the lead with Kieran O’Brien now closing in. Leaving CP7 with 142.8km in the legs Ewan had a 3 minute lead, 1.8km later at the top of the Red Bull Climb Kieran had closed the gap to just over 30 seconds.  Bear in mind this show down was occurring in the dark around midnight on Saturday.  Kieran being a Brisbane local seemingly had the advantage and after taking the lead did not look back finishing at the Maritime Museum just before 2am in 20:49:43, Ewan also cruised in prior to 2am a mere 8 minutes later in 20:57:48 and Matthew Crehan 3rd in 21:44:39.

In the 110km Vlad Shatrov 1st male and Kellie Emmerson 1st female and 2nd overall, were unchallenged tearing up the course, their mountain running skills certainly an asset on this course.  It was a similar story in the 60km with Sam Burridge victorious in the 60km and Steph Auston a mere 6 minutes behind him finishing 2nd overall.

In the 30km in the men’s race Brisbane locals Luke Garrett 1st and Josh Dinale 2nd dominated while vertical specialist Aaron Knight was a close 3rd.  In the women’s race it was great to see Beth Cardelli finish strong in 1stplace with Lou Clifton 2nd, both women call the trails outside of Sydney their home and have some incredible results in events 100km and 100miles to their name.  Mish Hansford rounded out the women’s podium with a very credible 3:16:41.

This event really delivered something special for all involved in it’s inaugural year.  Participants experienced the best of what Brisbane has to offer, some challenging and mixed terrain and a trot through the streets of historic Paddington past the hallowed turf of Suncorp Stadium and finally a crossing of one of the many bridges in the River City named after iconic Brisbane band the Go Between’s to finish in the Southbank precinct.  There were the usual frustrations with locals tampering with course markings, but these issues were quickly fixed.

The support of the community and running groups was amazing and I can’t thank you all enough.  As a member of the Brisbane Trail Runners arriving at Checkpoint 7 was almost like arriving home.  I fully expected a home cooked meal as arrived there right on tea time but was content with the warm pumpkin soup on offer.  The rest of the spread look really inviting too but I had my water bottle refilled by Jen, hugs from Geoff and a short chat with Tam and I thought I had better leave.  Yes, on this occasion I spent way to much time at checkpoints be wary of the hospitality if you really want to race.  For me it was a fantastic weekend catching up with friends new and old in my running shoes.

At this finish line I loved hearing stories from the trails and the various ways people found they way down and then up Township Break. It rained during the day and the trails were a little muddy and slippery in places but there were no major causalities as a result.  If anything the rain and cloud cover kept things otherwise nice and cool, perfect running conditions.  I can’t wait to get out there again probably this weekend just for the morning this time.

Results for all events here.

Event Facebook page here.

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