Ultra Trail Australia 2019 is just around the corner and we were lucky enough to catch up with race directors, Tom Landon-Smith and Alina McMaster ahead of this year’s event.
Tom and Alina founded Ultra Trail Australia when there were 175 runners and have grown the event to one with an international community of trail runners.
Here at Aussie Grit Apparel, we are thrilled to be the official technical apparel partner of this year’s event and will be offering exclusive event apparel at the merchandise tent throughout the expo.
When you started UTA there were 175 runners, in 2018 over 6,000, how many runners are you expecting this year?
Around 7,000 runners over the four different events plus the kids race.
We’ve heard you say in interviews that ultra-trail runners are the most fun, why is that?
Trail runners are incredibly grateful and thankful and just all round lovely. I mean they can’t thank you enough for putting them up and down an enormous number of steps and many kilometres. Crazy!
There is great camaraderie with trail runners. They really look after each other like family.
How many steps do the competitors have to climb at the end of the race on the UTA course?
The Furner Steps are 951 steps. But national parks are doing some maintenance work on them at the moment. We are wondering if this might add or take away some of those steps.
How does the community in the Blue Mountains get behind the race and contribute over the week?
In addition to the runners there are over 14,000 supporters and spectators.
The whole of Katoomba and Leura is abuzz with energy. The event brings in $12.5 million to the local region. Over the years the local community have really got behind the event and now come out on the streets to cheer on the runners all through the day and night.
Tom is it true that when you were 13, you dreamed of winning an Olympic Gold Medal?
Yep. That is true. I just loved cross country skiing and trained my heart out. It was all I ever thought of. I did make the Olympic Squad and competed in various world championships and World Cup races but never the actual Olympics.
We heard that you’re training your children to take over the event one day, will they run it?
Our 2 boys always come to the event and spend the week before up at Katoomba with us. This year they have jobs and will help with the set up and pack down.
Our 6 year old is excited to be the cooks assistant helping to feed all our core staff that come to the blue mountains for two weeks over the event.
Finally, any last minute tips for anyone who is finishing their preparations for the race this year?
Too late for tips now other than to tape wisely, eat well and enjoy the ride.