Are you ready for an incredible journey…
Starting on brilliant white sands at Hamelin Bay the course passes through an incredible array of spectacular landscapes, from towering karri trees to cliff top trails, past famed surf breaks and over iconic headlands, this is a course that has variety at its very heart.
Do it solo, or in a relay team of 2-5 runners!
80KM TOTAL – Leg breakdown:
- Leg 1: 10.5km Hamelin Bay to Boranup Campsite
- Leg 2: 18km Boranup Campsite to Contos Campground. Total: 28.5km
- Leg 3: 18km Contos Campground to White Elephant Café, Total: 46.5km
- Leg 4: 20km White Elephant Café to Gracetown. Total: 66.5km
- Cheeky Monkey Leg 5: 13.5km Gracetown to Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery. Total: 80km
The 2019 race had it all- sun, sand, surf, hills, rocks, forest, wind, salt and sea air, amazing views, great camaraderie, atmosphere and wonderful organisation! I’m ready to do it again next week! Cameron, 2019 Competitor
Course Description Index:
- Leg 1, Leg 2, Leg 3, Leg 4 and Leg 5
- ITRA and UTMB points
Map Downloads – CLICK HERE to download a .KML copy of the full 80km course that you can import into your own device.
This link downloads a KML file to your phone / computer that can be used to help navigate the course during training / racing. It can be used on your GPS watch or mapping app on your phone (CLICK HERE for instructions how to download this to your phone and use it on the free mapping app MapsMe – our recommended app!)
“I thought it was great for a newviw like me; very encouraging and I am hooked now!” Michelle, 2019 Competitor
Leg 1: 10.5km 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 final course alignment into Boranup campsite is still to be confirmed but will lead you into the Checkpoint at the 10.5km pt.
NOTE: Solo runners cannot receive any support at CP 1 (as there is not enough space for all support crews to visit this CP). See the separate notes below for support crew access to checkpoints here.
- Total course distance to the leg: 10.5km
- Elevation gain / loss: 370m up / 190m down
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 50mins / 1hr
- Cut off time: 9:10am (2hr10 for leg 1)
Leg 2: 18km Boranup Campsite to Contos Campground. Total: 28.5km
Setting off from the Boranup Campsite, the course takes runners on a magnificent journey through the world famous Boranup Forest with its towering karri trees and lush under growth. 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 fast flowing single track and 4wd tracks. In fact many sections of the trail feel like you are running through a picture postcard such is the beauty of this section of forest.
After a 1km climb runners soon enter the Checkpoint 2 at Contos Campground at the 28.5km mark.
- Total course distance to the leg: 28.5km
- Elevation gain / loss: 350m up / 440m down
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 1hr20 / 1hr30
- Cut off time: 12:30pm (3hr20 for leg 2)
Leg 3: 18km Contos Campground to White Elephant Café, 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.
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 stylish White Elephant Café. 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!
- Total course distance to the leg: 47km
- Elevation gain / loss: 380m up / 485m down
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 2hrs / 2hr10
- Cut off time: 5:20pm (5h for leg 3)
Leg 4: 20km White Elephant Café to Gracetown. Total: 67km
Continuing north from checkpoint 3 runners enjoy some easier running on the well-formed, beachside trails past Prevelly and the famed surf breaks 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 68km mark.
- Total course distance to the leg: 67km
- Elevation gain / loss: 280m up / 290m down
- Expected fastest leg time – team / solo: 1hr50 / 2hrs
- Cut off time: 9:50pm (4hr20 for leg 4)
Cheeky Monkey Leg 5: 13.5km Gracetown to Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery. Total: 80km
After leaving the checkpoint at Gracetown the course rounds North Point and is very technical and rocky for 1-2km as it crosses the headland and then continues its journey north on the official Cape to Cape Track.
After the first couple of kms the trail becomes more straight forward with a few sandy sections of single track as you paallel the coast with the beautiful hinterland to the right and extensive coastal views to the left – keep an eye out for whales and watch the waves at the popular surf breaks of ‘Gallows’ and ‘Guilotines’.
Runners continue on to Wilyabrup Cliffs(new for 2020) and then turn away from the coastline and proceed east along Wilyabrup Road and some private property and then cross over Caves Road before a final sprint for home through the vines and the finish line festivities at the Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery.
- Total course distance to the leg: 80km
- Elevation gain / loss: 350m up / 270m down
- Expected fastest time – team / solo: 1hr 10min
- Cut off time: 12:30am (2hr40 for leg 5)
The entire 80km course includes approximately 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 5||13.5km||300m||220m||80km||1hr||1hr 10min||2hr40|
ITRA pts / UTMB qualifying race
The Margaret River Ultra Marathon 80km individual race is registered with the International Trail Running Association (ITRA) and will provide successful runners with ITRA points (to help runners qualify for large international races), and UTMB points as an official qualifying race for this iconic event:
- ITRA rating: 3 Endurance Points, 2 Mountain Points and Finisher Rating of 260.
- UTMB points: 3 Points (new system).
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 with beaches having a hard sand down near the water and the sandy trails having a firm base. Sure, the run-ability may decrease as your legs get more tired but team runners could expect to pretty much run the whole thing.
Some aspects of the trail could be described as moderately technical with roots and rocks to jump over meaning you have to watch your step, whilst other sections provide easier, faster running on solid surfaces with few technical features.
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 angled 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.
- Cheeky Monkey 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. Uphill at the end.
The running is more energy sapping than it looks on paper. The distances are not great and the elevation gain / loss are not huge, but with the varied trail type and amount of sand on some legs (notably leg 3) probably makes it a more demanding course that you might expect!
The Margaret River Ultra Marathon can be completed by individual 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 have the opportunity to gather team members of varying abilities who can still race together, eg. less capable runners can do the shorter legs and more capable runners can do the longer legs, or do more than 1 leg. We suggest gathering together the runners you want to team up with (regardless of ability) and then allocate legs depending on who wants to do what.
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 4 (48.5km) / Runner 2: Leg 3 and 5 (31.5)
- 3 runners: Runner 1: Leg 1and 5 (24km) / Runner 2: Leg 3 (18) / Runner 3: Leg 2 and 4 (38km)
- 4 runners: Runner 1: Leg 1and 4 (30.5km) / Runner 2: Leg 2 (18km) / Runner 3: Leg 3 (18) / Runner 4: Leg 5 (13.5km)
There are many different ways to divide the legs between a team!