10 of Australia’s Must Do Ultramarathons


Around the world the sport of ultra running is gaining in popularity and participation, and Australia is following suit. More and more races are being created across Australia’s diverse climates and environments. From the sand dunes in Australia’s central outback, to the cliffs and surf on Victorias coast, on the tracks through Queensland’s rainforests and right through the mountains in the Australian Alps, races can be found everywhere. But if I only got to choose 10 (I know how harsh) which ones would I choose? It’s a hard question but here’s the 10 I’ve chosen, I chose them using primarily the following criteria; 1. The difficulty, I want to be pushed, the longer the better, the higher the better, the more extreme the better, 2. Diversity, I want a set of 10 races that spans across Australia’s diverse environments, ones that will take me to different states and towns, 3. The Classics, every country has them, the races with a good reputation that everyone talks about and 4. My own experiences and recommendations I’ve had from other runners. So with that being said here my 10 must do ultramarathons in Australia.

1) THe GREAT SOUTHER ENDURANCE RUn (GSER100)

  • Location: Bright, Victoria, Australia
  • Distance: 181 km or 113 miles
  • Month: November
  • Course Elevation: 11,464 m ascent & 10,207 m or vice versa (depending on year)

An argument could be made that the GSER100 is quite possibly the hardest ultramarathon in the Southern Hemisphere. It runs every two years and is a point to point race, starting from Mount Buller to Bright one year and vice versa the following. The course spans 182 km (113 miles) across the rugged Victorian Alps, taking each participant to the top of some of Australia’s highest mountains, as a result depending on the year theres a total of 11,464 m accumulative ascent and 10,207 m descent. It’s not just the elevation and course profile that’s challenging though, fallen over trees, steep technical climbs, overgrown tracks, prickly shrubbery and even a rope ladder are all obstacles that must be overcome. It’s also set at a time of unpredictable weather, participants could possibly encounter sub zero temperatures at night with snow and storms or 30+ degrees Celsius (86+ degrees Fahrenheit) days in the simmering hot sun. However it’s a beautiful course, watching the sun rise over some of Victoria’s highest mountains is a site to be seen, running over rugged mountain ridges with spectacular views either side of you is quite spectacular and keeping an eye out for koalas, snakes and possums whilst listening to the birds is always pleasant when your running 100+ miles. I admit though I may be a little biased on this one as this was my first and currently my only 100 miler.


2) ULtra-trail australia (UTA100)

  • Location: Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
  • Distance: 100 km or 62 miles
  • Month: May
  • Course Elevation: 4,400 m ascent & 4,400 m descent

Part of the Ultra-Trail series the UTA100 is Australia’s biggest, most prestigious and most well known ultramarathon, with the likes of Kilian Jornet, Tim Tollefson, Brendan Davies & Lucy Bartholomew all being previous participants. It’s like the UTMB for Australians. The race is a looped course that takes runners through perhaps Australia’s most beautiful mountain range, The Blue Mountains. Running through eucalyptus forest, on well established tracks with views that will take your breath away the UTA100 course is one that encapsulates Australia’s beautiful alpine environment in all it’s glory. With a total of 4,400 m of ascent and plenty of steps, amongst rugged trails the course offers a challenge to even the most experienced trail runner.


3) GREAT OCEAN WALK 100s (GOW100S)

  • Location: Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia
  • Distance: 100 km or 62 miles
  • Month: October
  • Course Elevation: 2,184 m ascent & 2,132 m descent

Showing off one of Australia’s most iconic landmarks, The Twelve Apostles, the Great Ocean Walk 100s ultramarathon is an under appreciated ultra amongst the worldwide ultra trail community. The course is a point to point course which follows the iconic Great Ocean Walk all the way from Apollo Bay to The Twelve Apostles carpark. Along the way you’ll run along cliffs, across sandy beaches, over slippery bridges and amongst The Australian bush. Koalas, snakes, wallaby’s, kangaroos and echidnas can also be seen for those with a keen eye, all whilst you can hear the smashing of the surf against the massive cliffs along the coast. Overall the course is challenging but not overly challenging and it’s easy to follow, making it accessible and enjoyable for a broad range of runners, from beginners/intermediate runners to the veterans. The race is also very well put together by race director; Andy Hewat, an accomplished ultra runner in his own right. It’s an ultramarathon made by an ultra runner for ultra runners, Andy knows what’s important for these races from the aid stations, to the race briefings and drop bag systems, to the runners safety and all the staff and volunteers needed for such an event. This is a race I have participated in and finished and although the course was changed to a 50 miler and an out and back due to tides I still loved the atmosphere, the trail and event as a whole. I’ll definitely be back to do the full course.


4) DELIRIOUS W.E.S.T. 200

  • Location: Northcliffe, Western Australia, Australia
  • Distance: 351 km or 218 miles
  • Month: February
  • Course Elevation: 10,090 m ascent & 10,190 m descent

One of Australia’s few 200 milers the Delirious W.E.S.T is a must for those willing to run more than 100 miles. For starters it’s a point to point race which is awesome for a 200 mile race and should be commemorated as I’m sure stretching 25 aid stations (4 being sleep stations) across 200 miles would be one hell of a logistical nightmare. 2019 was the races inaugural year and seemed to be a complete success with numerous runners giving high praise in their race reports, already the race has gained some high notoriety and creating buzz amongst the worldwide ultra running community. Taking place in Western Australia the race is bringing some much needed love to Australia’s most underrated state showing off its beauty. Runners run along a section of an 1,033 km (623 mile) track, The Bibbulmun Track and along it runners can check out Western Australia aqua blue beaches, vibrant Forrests and coastal shrubs.


5) DOWN UNDER 135 (du135)

  • Location: Darley, Victoria, Australia
  • Distance: 217 km or 135 miles
  • Month: May
  • Course Elevation: 10,000+m ascent & 10,000+m descent

Every year a maximum of 35 runners get the chance to participate in one of Australia’s hardest ultramarathon’s, The Down Under 135. It seems to me The GSER100 or The Down Under 135 are Australia’s most difficult ultramarathons and whilst I can attest to the difficulty of the GSER 100 I can only read about how difficult The Down Under 135 is and state the facts, in the races inaugural year, 2017, 26% of participants finished, in 2018, 19% finished and in 2019, 29% finished and these runners aren’t just beginners. Runners need a significant amount of experience to gain entry into The Down Under 135 so these DNF statistics definitely highlight the difficulty of the race. Located and run along Victorias Bacchus Marsh outskirts the course has a total of 10,000+m vertical accent on technical, steep trails amongst beautiful scenery. It’s an out and back course with the turn around being Leonards Hill along The Great Diving Track. If your a seasoned ultra runner and/or want a super challenging and possibly life changing race where you also get to take in amazing scenery along some of Victorias best trails this is a race for you.


6) BRISBANE TRAIL ULTRA™ (btu100)

  • Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Distance: 160 km or 100 miles
  • Month: July
  • Course Elevation: 8,060 m ascent & 8,034 m descent

The Brisbane Trail Ultra™ made its inaugural year in 2019 with 4 main races a 30 km, 60 km, 110 km and a 100 miler but were going to be focused on the 100 miler. With a total of 8,060 m accumulative ascent the course is one of the only true mountain races in Queensland, taking runners through The D’Aguilar National Park and all its highest peaks. Unlike most of Australia’s Mountain races in The Australian Alps (New South Wales & Victoria) you’ll be running in a rainforest environment where jungle vines, palm trees and fig trees become your running companions. This offers runners a unique tropical, mountain race, something you could only find in Queensland.


7) buffalo stampede (Grand Slam)

  • Location: Bright, Victoria, Australia
  • Distance: FRI: 10 km or 6.2 miles, SAT: 75 km or 46.6 miles, SUN: 42 km or 26 miles
  • Month: April
  • Course Elevation: Combined: 8,383 m ascent & 8,598 m descent

The Buffalo Stampede is Australia’s first SkyRunning race/event, taking place in and around Mount Buffalo and Bright (The Victorian Alps). Originally only the SkyMarathon 42 km and Ultra SkyMarathon 75km distances were offered however as the event grew so did the number of races. Now the event offers numerous race distances such as a 10 km, 20 km and a Kids 4 km. However as an ultra runner you shouldn’t be interested in just doing a 10 km or 20 km, the 75 km ultramarathon is where it’s at, well not quite. The grand slam is what you should be looking at. The Grand Slam turns what would be a one day 75km ultramarathon into a 3 day event. First you run the 10 km SkySprint on Friday, this is then followed by the 75 km Ultra SkyMarathon on Saturday which is then lastly followed by the SkyMarathon 42 km on Sunday, now thats a challenge. As a whole all 3 races accumulate a hefty total of 8,383 m of ascent and 8,598 m of descent as you run up and over some of Australia’s most beautiful and rugged mountains.


8) SURF COAST CENTURY

  • Location: Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
  • Distance: 100 km or 62 miles
  • Month: September
  • Course Elevation: 1,811 m ascent & 1,811 m descent

The perfect 100 km for a beginner, The Surf Coast Century not only offers a reasonably flat course but also offers a diverse one, breaking up the monotony of running. There’s long stretches where your running along the compact, sandy southern beach, theres other parts that have you running along clifftop trails and through The Australian hinterland bush via fire-trails and single track trails. The course is well marked and nearly impossible to get lost on, the atmosphere is welcoming and encouraging with smiley volunteers and support staff. It’s also an easy course to prepare for and is extremely accessible for crew, family and friends due to how easy it is to access checkpoints. The course is designed as a figure 8 course with the start, middle and end of the race all being around the same area in Anglesea, and if you finish early enough you can walk straight across the road and grab a well earned meal at a restaurant, cafe or take away shop. It’s definitely one of the most diverse ultramarathons out there in Australia and gives runners spectacular views and scenery of The Southern Ocean as well as Anglesea’s remarkable hinterland bush.


9) GREAT NORTH WALK Ultras (GNW100)

  • Location: Patonga, New South Wales, Australia
  • Distance: 160 km or 100 miles
  • Month: September
  • Course Elevation: 3,266 m ascent & 3,266 m descent

Taking you through a good portion of The Great Northern Walk walking track this ultramarathon shows off some of New South Wales beautiful bushland, creeks, fire-trails, gorges and rocky plateaus. The course keeps things exciting with some difficult ascent and descents, rugged and technical terrain, creek crossings, slippery rocks and roots and a trail that can be hard to navigate. It’s a challenging 100 mile race that’s better suited for the more experienced ultra runners and allows runners to experience one of New South Wales classic walking tracks.


10) Simpson Desert ultra (sdu100)

  • Location: Birdsville, Queensland, Australia
  • Distance: 160 km or 100 miles
  • Month: June
  • Course Elevation: 1,388 m ascent & 1,388 m descent

Currently Australia’s only 100 mile desert race, this in itself make the race a must do. As of right now no one has run this race as it’s making it’s inaugural year in 2020. If you want to experience the whole of Australia you have to make your way to The Simpson Desert, and if you want to run a ultramarathon in The Simpson Desert you have no choice but to run the 100 mile Simpson Desert Ultra. Runners will be running over sand dunes and through gibber planes. The course is simple, it’s a looped course with 4 20 km loops which meet each other at a central point (like a flower, the loops being the petals and the central point being the middle the flower), runners run each loop once clockwise and once anti-clockwise, simple. Theres also plenty of checkouts along the way so runners won’t need to be worried about running out of food and water in the desert.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s