Hobart local makes it on Australian team after winning Ultra 66km
27 March 2023
Photo credit: Glenn Thomas
Hobart local Andrew Gaskell and Broome runner Sarah Ludowici have won an automatic entry onto the Australian team that competes at this year’s World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Austria, after taking out the grueling 66km Ultra (Solo) event at this weekend’s kunanyi Mountain Run.
The race was a national trail running championship event with automatic qualification for the first male and female, making it a drawcard for some of Australia’s top trail runners, who spent 8 hours plus circumnavigating Hobart’s kunanyi / Mount Wellington on Saturday.
Around 150 runners competed in the 66km Ultra (Solo) event on Saturday, with over 800 registered in kMR’s five races across the weekend.
The Ultra course took runners all the way from South Hobart to the Pinnacle, across Collins Bonnet, down Mountain River Trail and even along an exposed ridge line on Montagu Thumbs, before beading back down to South Hobart via the Pipeline Track and Waterworks Reserve.
Gaskell finished in a time of 7 hours 52 minutes and 25 seconds, beating the record set by fellow Hobart local Alex Hunt by 21 Minutes.
“I’m pretty surprised but pretty
stoked,” he said.
The World Mountain and Trail Running Championships will be held in Austria in June.
“I don’t think I’ve run outside Tassie,” Gaskell said.
“It’s something I think that hasn’t sunk in. It doesn’t seem real,” he said.
Meanwhile 23-year-old Jeremy Hunt and Brit Kate Avery, 31, took out kMR’s Vertical Kilometer on Friday – the steepest and fastest way to the Pinnacle with 1000 metres elevation over 5 kilometres – to be crowned Australian Skyrunning VK Champions.
Jeremy has automatically qualified for the Australian team and next year’s World Skyrunning Championships .
Kate Avery, who’s been in Australia during the northern hemisphere winter, set a new female course record in 54:44.
“It feels great to win the VK, this race was something I was a little apprehensive going into as I haven’t done such a condensed climb.
My favourite parts you were running alone in the bush and you had this most amazing view climbing up the mountain,” she said.
She narrowly beat Hobart local, Maggie Lennox (55:32) who has recently returned running after the birth of her first child only 9 months ago.
“With only 15 seconds separating the top three men, it shows fantastic depth and quality in the field. Even more exciting is seeing a new women’s course record set by Kate Avery,” President of Skyrunning Australia and New Zealand Dave Byrne said.
Aaron Knight, who’s previously represented Australia at World Skyrunning Champs and works with La Sportiva, said that the new generation of runners “will make their mark on the international stage”.
"Australia is only very new to the vertical kilometre discipline. While a few have competed in them in Europe in years gone by, it’s this new crop of talented athletes that will make their mark on the international stage and show that while Australia may not have the biggest mountains, we’ve got world class skyrunners,” Mr Knight said.
The event’s founder and Run Director, Lincoln Quilliam said the quality of runners has been impressive but it’s not only about performance.
“While we had elite runners coming to run with kunanyi because they wanted to try qualify to represent Australia, the large majority were here to experience the amazing diverse landscapes and awesome community we have here in Hobart and we believe we provide a really unique experience that’s not seen anywhere else in Australia – or the world,” the event’s founder and Run Director, Lincoln Quilliam said.
John Claridge, President of the Tasmanian Trail Runners Association and Australian organiser’s representative for the International Trail Running Association, said Tasmanians can be proud of what the team behind the kunanyi Mountain Run (kMR) has created.
"kunanyi Mountain Run has instantly established itself as one of the best events in Australia and on par with the best in the world,” he said.
“As a 2023 national trail championship event, in only its second year, this consolidates the fact that kMR is and should always be on every trail runner's calendar.”
“We are bidding to have trail running included in the 2032 Brisbane Olympics. Our sport is now on the cusp of gaining the recognition it deserves, in line with mainstream sports,” he said.
“From the emotionally charged Opening Country performed by pakana kanplila, or breathtaking vistas to the Southern Ocean, the brutally Tasmanian climbs, to the stunning temperate forest trails on kunanyi, kunanyi Mountain Run leaves competitors wanting for nothing and all this within a stone’s throw of Hobart,” John Claridge said.
The festival continued on Sunday, with around 150 runners competing in the Foothills 9km event, and a range of palawa cultural activities, as well as yoga and live sound mediation at the runHub at Wellesely Park in South Hobart.