Are you ready for an incredible 80km journey…
Starting on the brilliant white sands at Hamelin Bay the 80km ultra marathon passes through an incredible array of landscapes, from towering karri trees to cliff top trails, past famed surf breaks and over iconic headlands to finish amougst the vines at Howard Park at Wilyabrup.
This is the original event (OG!) of the Margaret River Ultra Marathon and is open to solo runners and relay teams with 2-5 runners!
80KM COURSE SUMMARY
Course distance: 78.6km from Hamelin Bay to Howard Park. Divided into 5 different legs.
Elevation gain and loss: 1,730m ascent / 1,650m descent
Format: solo runners running the full 80km and relay teams who divide it between 2, 3, 4 or 5 runners
- Leg 1: 11.5km Hamelin Bay to Boranup Campsite
- Leg 2: 16km Boranup Campsite to Contos Campground. Total: 27.5km
- Leg 3: 19.5km Contos Campground to Riflebutts Reserve, Total: 47.0km
- Leg 4: 18.5km Riflebutts Reserve to Gracetown. Total: 65.5km
- Leg 5: 13km Gracetown to Howard Park Wines. Total: 78.5km
Definitely a favourite event! I’ve done this event three times; twice as a team event and once solo. Whichever way you choose you won’t regret it. The people, the event coordinators, the race itself, scenery, you will be on a runners high for weeks! – Kate, 2022 Competitor
PUT THE MAPS ON YOUR PHONE: Scan the QR Code above (or click here) to download the terrific CAPRA mapping app and receive the 80km map on your phone. (Follow the prompts to create an account and you’ll find the map in the app’s ‘Library’).
Leg 1: 11.5km Hamelin Bay to Boranup Campsite.
The Margaret River Ultra Marathon gets under way on the crisp white sands of Hamelin Bay with a terrific journey through laid out in front of you.
Starting at the southern end of this beautiful beach, runners soon leave the coast and head inland (and uphill!) on a scenic run through a little visited part of the region. Running through the heathland you will swap the sound of crashing waves on the off-shore reefs for the sound of bird song and rustling leaves in the karri forest of the South West. Leg one follows a range of 4wd tracks and single tracks with some quite tight semi technical running in spots.
The last part of the course goes across some private land so please respect the landowner and keep to the obvious track before dropping down a narrow single track into the checkpoint at Boranup Campsite.
- CAPRA Maps link for Leg 1 HERE
- Leg distance: 11.5km + Elevation gain / loss: 370m / 190m
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 50mins / 1hr
- Cut off time: Start time + 3h30min for Individuals i.e. 0945 OR Start time + 2h 15min for Teams i.e. 1015
Leg 2: 16km Boranup Campsite to Contos Campground. Total: 27.5km
Setting off from the Boranup Campsite, the course takes runners on a journey through the world famous Boranup Forest with its towering Karri trees. The exact leg 2 course will be confirmed nearer the timeas the forest recovers from the 2021 fires.
The sandy beaches and turquoise water of the coastline will seem a million miles away and won’t be seen at all on leg 2 as you weave through these mighty trees on a mixture of 4wd tracks. The undergrowth has a lot of new life and regrowth after the fires and the tree canopy remains lush and green overhead, providing an interesting and varied run through the forest.
Leg 2 finishes with a 1km climb (that is two way with outgoing runners), you will soon enter the Checkpoint 2 at Contos Campground at the 27.5km mark.
After a 1km climb runners soon enter the Checkpoint 2 at Contos Campground at the 27.5km mark.
- CAPRA Maps link for Leg 2 HERE
- Leg distance: 16km + Elevation gain / loss: 350m / 440m
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 1hr20 / 1hr30
- Cut off time: Start time + 6h 30min for Individuals i.e. 1245 OR Start time + 4h 15min for Teams i.e. 1315
Leg 3: 19.5km Contos Campground to Riflebutts Reserve, Gnarabup. Total: 47km
Leg 3 commences with a long, flowing downhill as you leave the hinterland and return to the coast at the spectacular Cape Freycinet for some incredible rock hopping on the ancient granite domes that make this headland so significant. Heading north from there we join the official Cape to Cape Track for one of the most popular (and most spectacular) sections above the Conto Cliffs, past Redgate and ultimately into civilization at Gnarabup. Large sections of this area was also burnt in the 2021 fires but new life is plentiful with the vegetation coming back.
This leg includes many kilometers of beautiful single track providing uninterrupted views out to sea, interspersed with sections of beach running down at water level leading into the Checkpoint 3 at the protected Riflebutts Reserve. The final 4+kms of beach runinng into Checkpoint 3 is challenging and tough and should not be under-estimated. Mental strength and preparedness is required here. This is potentially the hardest part of the course and requires a good dose of concrete pills!
- CAPRA Maps link for leg 3 HERE
- Leg distance: 19.5km + Elevation gain / loss: 380m / 485m
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 2hrs / 2hr10
- Cut off time: Start time + 10hr for individuals i.e. 1615 OR Start time + 9h for Teams i.e. 1700
Leg 4: 18.5km Riflebutts Reserve to Gracetown. Total: 65.5km
Continuing north from checkpoint 3 runners pass the Margaret River Mainbreat at Surfers Point before crossing the iconic Margaret River mouth on the beach. Leaving civilization behind once again runners traverse a more remote section of coast, past little visited beaches and coves and landmarks such as Cape Mentelle, Joeys Nose and Kilcarnup.
The course sticks to the Cape to Cape Track with some short sections of beach running and long sections of beautiful single track that ultimately leaves the coast for some challenging but enjoyable hinterland running before descending into the historic Ellensbrook Homestead. After leaving Ellensbrook the course continues along the coastline (but off the beach) along the Cape to Cape track that whilst you’re on single track it does still include a few sandy sections before entering the beautiful township of Gracetown and Checkpoint 4 at the 65.5km mark.
- CAPRA Maps link for leg 4 HERE
- Leg distance: 18.5km + Elevation gain / loss: 280m / 290m
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 1hr50 / 2hrs
- Cut off time: Start time + 14h 15min for individuals i.e. 2030 OR start time + 12h30min for Teams i.e. 2030
Leg 5: 13.1km Gracetown to Howard Park Wines. Total: 78.5km
After leaving the checkpoint at Gracetown the trail cuts across North Point, providing some technical running over some rocky terrain for a ~2 kilometers before reverting back to softer going on some sandy single and 4WD tracks paralleling the coast.
With the new finish line at Howard Park, runners turn away from the Cape to Cape track earlier than previous years and cut across to Juniper Road and then through Private Property that provides some scenic (and sometimes sandy) running through WA bushland. Cross over Caves Road and the final stretch to the finish delivers fast running on flat 2WD dirt roads through lovely farming land that provide plenty of joy. Then its a final sprint through the vines to the celebratory finish line at Howard Park. Well done!
- CAPRA Maps link for leg 5 HERE
- Leg distance: 13.1km = Elevation gain / loss: 250m / 150m
- Expected fastest time – team / solo: 1hr 10min
- Cut off time: Start time + 17h 30min for individuals i.e 2345 OR Start time + 15h45min for Teams i.e. 2345 course closes
The entire 80km course includes ~1,730m of elevation gain and 1,675 of elevation loss (you finish at a higher elevation than you start).
Leg by leg statistics:
|Leg||Leg distance||Elevation gain||Elevation loss||Total dist at end||Expected fastest team||Expected fastest solo||Cut off time for the leg|
|Leg 1||11.5km||370m||190m||11.5km||45mins||50min||Start time + 3h30min for solos OR Start time + 2h15min for teams|
|Leg 2||16km||350m||440m||29.5km||1hr10||1hr10||Start time + 6h30min for solos OR start time + 5h15min for teams|
|Leg 3||19.5km||380m||485m||49km||1hr35||1hr45||Start time + 10hrs for solos OR start time + 9hrs for teams|
|Leg 4||18.5km||330m||340m||67km||1hr30||1hr45||Start time + 14h15min for solos OR start time + 12h30min for teams|
|Leg 5||13.1km||250m||150m||80km||1hr||1hr 10min||The Course closes at the finish line at 2345 Saturday for ALL competitors|
On course checkpoints
- Checkpoint 1: 11.5km at the Boranup Campsite.
- Checkpoint 2: 27.5km at the Contos Campground
- Checkpoint 3: 46.5km Riflebutts Reserve, Gnarabup
- Checkpoint 4: 65.5km Gracetown.
Nutrition and hydration at checkpoints – for solo and relay team runners
The following nutrition and hydration will be available for solo and relay team runners at each checkpoint (CPs):
CP1 at Boranup Campsite AND CP2 at Conto Campsite
- Tailwind Endurance Fuel sports drink – premixed at their recommended strength of 200cals per 500ml
- Sandwiches – sweet (eg. jam) and savoury (eg. vegemite and cheese)
- Bananas, oranges and watermellon
- Banana cake and/or honey and oat slice
- Snakes and lollies
- Small packets of potato crisps or Shapes (salty)
- Cold boiled chat potatoes with salt
CP3 at Riflebutts Reserve AND CP4 at Gracetown
- All the items listed for CP1 and 2 above PLUS:…
- Warm foods in paper cups such as: chicken noodle soup (CP3) and minestrone soup (CP4), two minute noodles…
- Cold quinoa salad (or similar)
- Hot water and cups so you can make your own tea and instant coffee
- Some Coke will be available in cups at CP4
Considerably more information on Checkpoints can also be found on the Support Crew page here
In the same way that the course passes through a range of landscapes, the terrain under foot also has plenty of variety with anything from hard pack dirt through to soft sand passing under your feet between the start and the finish.
Being a coastal race, sand is an overriding trail feature common to all legs. In the most part the sand is quite runnable and the sandy trails often have a firm base below. Leg 3 (especially) and leg 4 include some longer stretches on soft sandy beaches that make for slower going at times. Some parts of the course are moderately technical with roots and rocks to jump over but on the whole the course is not overly technical – although the sand makes it harder than it looks on paper. .
Listed below is a very brief summary of the terrain types found on each leg:
- Leg 1: Good running on a firm base. Minimal sand or technical aspects. Quite a bit of uphill.
- Leg 2: Great running on firm, hard packed trails. No sand or technical aspects. Undulating.
- Leg 3: Varied running with all trail types. A lot of running on soft sand – on beaches and trails, as well as some technical aspects with rock hopping and some trail obstacles. You’ve been warned!
- Leg 4: Good running with all trail types. Quite a bit of running on sand – mainly on trails which mostly have a firm base with some sand on top. Some lesser technical aspects and trail obstacles.
- Leg 5: Good running with all trail types. A bit of running on sand – mainly on trails which mostly have a firm base with some sand on top. Some hard pack dirt roads at the end. Some lesser technical aspects and over trail obstacles.
The 80km Ultra can be completed by solo runners doing the whole thing or by relay teams of up to 5 doing one or more legs each.
Because each leg is different, relay teams can consist of team members with varying abilities – with less capable runners doing shorter legs and the fitter runnign further.
If all team members are roughly equal then here are some ways the course can be split up:
- 2 runners: Runner 1: Leg 1, 2 and 5 (40.7km) / Runner 2: Leg 3 and 4 (38km)
- 3 runners: Runner 1: Leg 1 and 5 (24.6km) / Runner 2: Leg 3 (19.5) / Runner 3: Leg 2 and 4 (34.5km)
- 4 runners: Runner 1: Leg 1 and 5 (24.6km) / Runner 2: Leg 2 (16km) / Runner 3: Leg 3 (19.5) / Runner 4: Leg 5 (18.5km)
There are many different ways to divide the legs between a team!
ITRA pts / UTMB qualifying race
The 80km Margaret River Ultra Marathon individual race is registered with the UTMB as an UTMB Index Race. The Margaret River Ultra Marathon is awarded 3 ITRA points. For further information on UTMB click here.