The next event in the UTMB World Series is the 25th and final one of an action-packed inaugural year, offering runners the last chance to collect Running Stones in the 2022 season.
The first ever edition of Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko by UTMB takes place on the 15-17 December in the Snowy Mountains of Australia's New South Wales, and promises to be a spectacular addition to the annual calendar.
With four race distances including the Kosci Miler (100M), that has attracted an international field of elite athletes as determined by the UTMB Index, this event is set on and around Australia's highest peak, Mt Kosciuszko.
It features trails through beautiful alpine meadows, snow-gum forests and mountain ski villages, with each race distance starting from Thredbo, known as the “home of adventure sport in Australia.”
“We're proud to be part of Oceana's trail running community and can't wait to welcome runners to Australia's alpine adventure playground this week,” said race director Nick Christopher of what is the second UTMB World Series event of the year in Australia after Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB.
“Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko by UTMB has been designed with our entire trail running community in mind, with unrivalled support, crew access, unique spectator points and, of course, an unmistakable trail running vibe,” added Christopher. “And with four distances on offer, Ultra-Trail Kosciuszko by UTMB will provide runners of all experience and ability the chance to be a part of an event and the incredible atmosphere that will come with it.”
Although the mountain that gives the event its name lies at the heart of the challenge, course designer Tom Landon-Smith has come up with routes that are not heavily geared to climbing and descents and are not overly technical. The goal has been to offer what organizers term “super-runnable” trails and “achievable elevation gain.” This has appealed to a wide variety of athletes including elites, among them the 31-year-old American star Hayden Hawks. The Kosci 100 (100K) is the first of six UTMB World Series races Hawks is planning to take part in as he looks ahead to his 2023 season. Having never run in Australia before, Hawks has travelled early to familiarize himself with the course, with winning on his mind. “I went up into the national park yesterday and ran up in the high country,” he said. “There is still a bit of snow… so there will still be some sections with snow but, for most part, the trails are very runnable. There are a couple of small technical sections but nothing too crazy. The track up on the top it pretty groomed and pretty wide and runnable and I definitely think that suits someone like me who comes from a track and field background.” In the women's Kosci 100, competition is expected to be fierce between Australian athletes Anna Pillinger and Lucy Clark, who are the top ranked in the UTMB Index.
Hawks's fellow American, Adrian Macdonald, the two-time winner of the Leadville Trail 100 in his home state of Colorado in 2021 and '22, will also be running in Australia for the first time, taking on the 100-mile Kosci Miler. Macdonald is looking forward to the opportunity to discover a new race in a new setting.
“I've travelled internationally but I've never really done it as a running trip, so it will be fun to sort of see how the running culture is in Australia,” said Macdonald, 34, who is targeting UTMB Mont-Blanc next year and will run the early stages of the Kosci Miler with a local Australian runner pacing him.
“They are advertising it as a fast course, but you never know for sure what one person's fast mean to another,” he added. “But I will be out there eight days early so hopefully I can see some of the course before race day.” Australia's Reece Edwards is also one to watch in the longest distance having won the 100K race at Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB in October, he is on great form. As is his compatriot Sarah Ludowici in the women's race, who will be taking on her longest challenge of the year.
Fans can follow all races, including the Kosci 50 and the Kosci 27, at live.utmb.world/kosciuszko