Australia’s David Bailey and Jane Wegener have been crowned as the first winners of the 2022 Ultra-Trail Australia by UTMB, claiming the men’s and women’s UTA11 titles.
Bailey was the first person to cross the finish line after 11km, stopping the clock at 47:38. The battle for second behind the Tasmanian came down to a sprint finish, with 16-year-old local from Wentworth Falls, Casper Larkin just edging out German athlete Stephan Tornier by five seconds.
All podium finishers said the UTA11 course was tougher than they had anticipated.
“It felt really tough actually, I think with the course changes I thought this would be quite an easy course but it’s just unrelenting because there’s a lot of undulations so you can’t really get into a fast rhythm, so the times are a little bit slower than I thought they’d be and it’s a lot tougher. But I really enjoyed the course and I’m really thankful for the organisers to be able to find an alternative for us,” said Bailey.
“I’m from Tassie so it was great to pull up here and I had a ball out on the course. I’m running the 22km tomorrow as well, not sure how I’ll pull up, but we’ll see how we go.
“I’ve never been to UTA before, I’ve been to the Blue Mountains once but I’ve haven’t actually run any of the trails up here, so it’s been an awesome experience to run today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow as well and seeing more of the area,” he said. “Narrow Neck is really nice looking across the mountains there, I didn’t get an opportunity to look out as much as I possibly could, a few rocks and things, trying not to snap an ankle, but it was a really scenic course.”
Beecroft’s Jane Wegener was the first UTA11 female across the line in 56:02, just 10 seconds ahead of the fast-finishing Katie Conlon. Completing an all-Australian top three was Melanie McDonald in 57:57.
“It was much tougher than expected to be honest, I stupidly thought it would be less hilly than it was, and I found the first half was tougher but it was pretty hard coming home, my legs were pretty jelly but no, it was good,” said Wegener.
“I think you could probably say that I blew up a bit, I’m good at that. I ran the Melbourne Marathon a few weeks ago so this was quite different, the end came quite a lot quicker than that did but I reckon it was still very hard,” she said. “I knew that I was ahead but at the turn around, but Katie flew over the second half. I turned around and I think I must have had about 300 to go and I saw a female and thought ‘oh gosh’ and I picked up, it got me scared.
“It’s an amazing place to run, we come up here quite often, my sister-in-law has a house in Katoomba so we often run the trails up here, it’s beautiful.”
UTA11 – MEN’S TOP THREE
David Bailey, AUS, 00:47:38
Casper Larkin, AUS, 00:48:12
Stephan Tornier, GER, 00:48:17
UTA11 – WOMEN’S TOP THREE
Jane Wegener, AUS, 00:56:02
Katie Conlon, AUS, 00:56:12
Melanie McDonald, AUS, 00:57:57
For more information visit www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au
Header image: David Bailey making his way through the Blue Mountains during UTA11. Credit: Tim Bardsley-Smith