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UTA – What distance should you do?

Are you trying to decide what UTA distance to enter?

Having a few drinks with mates (via zoom) and signing up to run 100km, may not actually be the best thing for you to do.

You will have a lot more fun on race day if you have entered an achievable distance for your current level of fitness.

The Ultra-Trail Australia, is the third-largest trail event in the world, with over 7000 participants toeing the line, in 4 main events, there is definitely something for everyone.

Having run this event and treated literally thousands of runners, that have competed in Ultra-Trail Australia, here’s what we think.

So what UTA race distance should you enter?

UTA 11

This is a great race for everyone.

With over 6 months to train you can start working on your stair and trail running technique now.

It is a tough 11km, including a tricky descent down the golden stairs, and the final km is up the 951 Furber stairs. This event won’t be a walk in the park, but it is definitely achievable.

If you are new to trails, this event could take you up to 3 hours to complete. The front of pack runners finish this event in about 50 minutes. So it is a great challenge, with fantastic scenery, no matter what your level of experience.

UTA 22

This race is suitable for runners who have been running consistently for 6 months and are comfortable running 8km – 10km regularly without injuries.

Following a proper base training and race training plan 6 months out from race day is enough time to get you ready to really enjoy this event.

The winners complete this race in just over 90 minutes, with the majority of runners taking 3 to 4 hours.

The 22km course changed in 2021 and it now includes even more stairs!. The beginning starts with a relatively fast run on the road and wide trail for about 5km before you hit the stairs. Then you are up and down like a yoyo. Some specific up and downhill training sessions will be helpful for this event.

It really isn’t like any 21km road event you may have done before!

UTA 50

This event is suitable for runners who have been training consistently for at least 18 months and are able to comfortably run 17km – 18km regularly on undulating terrain without injuries.

If you have not yet run 17km, you should consider training for the 11km or 21km distance.

If you have been running for 12 months consistently, then 16 weeks base plus 16 weeks race training might just be enough time to prepare your body for this 50km race distance without risking injury, but you will need to get started soon and be diligent with some stretching, rolling and strength work on top of the running training.

This is an exciting but tough 50km with 2500m of vertical gain across the course. Learn more about the UTA 50km course, with this detailed course description.

UTA 100

This distance is suitable for runners who have been training consistently for at least 2 years and are able to comfortably run 20km – 24km regularly on hilly trails without injuries.

This race has 4500m of elevation which makes it a very challenging 100 kms.

Ideally, you should already have competed in some 30km – 50km trail races before tackling a 100k event.

If you can not, or have not, consistently included a 20km “long run” in your training program, you should consider training for the UTA50.

Six months may not be enough time to prepare your body for this 100km race distance without risking injury.

Too many runners end up in our clinic with overtraining injuries from trying to do too much, too soon.

If you haven’t done a 50km event before, it may not be a good idea to jump straight to this 100km.

So what UTA race distance should you enter?

It is a lot more fun if you get the distance right!

The UTA is such an incredible event.

You will enjoy it a whole lot more if you aren’t injured, terrified, and you turn up prepared.

We encourage everyone to give it a go and with 4 race distances you really can choose the right distance for you.

To learn more about the type of training required for the UTA check out this article

Better yet, start one of these UTA specific training plans and train smart all the way to race day.