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Margaret River Ultra marathon draws almost 2000 athletes to Cape to Cape region

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Kalani Ord exiting one of the tough beach stages.
Camera IconKalani Ord exiting one of the tough beach stages. Credit: Rapid Ascent

The Margaret River region has again played a stunning backdrop to the annual ultramarathon that brought almost 2000 competitors to town at the weekend.

The seventh annual Margaret River Ultra took 1900 athletes through trails and beaches across about 80km on Saturday and Sunday.

Esperance athlete Jayme Bergman claimed back-to-back victories in the 80km women’s race in a time of 7hr 45min. 56sec., while Josh Tighe was the first to cross the finish line at Howard Park Wines in Cowaramup for the men.

Travelling contestants took out the top 20 places in the long course as well as the shorter 42km event, with Margaret River’s Kalani Ord the only Capes resident to get his name on the leaderboard.

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The 24-year-old undertook a gruelling training regimen eight weeks out from the start of the ultramarathon to place 12th overall and ninth in the 20-39 male age category.

He posted a finish time of 8:40:51 and told the Times he was pleased with the outcome given he’d faced a couple of illnesses as well as a hectic social life in the lead up to the big day.

“The Margaret River Ultra was so undeniably scenic starting under the aurora lights and winding through the most stunning landscapes this region has to offer,” he said.

“Yet it’s the spirit of the supporters and competitors that make this event so special.

“Enthusiastic spectators cheer you on, claiming ‘you look strong’ when you’re struggling to put one foot in front of the other, and participants from all walks of life offer mutual encouragement. This collective energy spurs you to keep going,” Ord said.

“Personally, I am happy with how I battled through a series of challenges during the race.”

The young athlete’s troubles ranged from bursting his water bottle right after taking off through to fighting off vomiting and nausea during the tough final 15km.

“Considering my sole goal was to finish the race, walking away with an eight-hour, 40-minute performance is very surprising and encouraging,” he said.

“That being said, I’ll be steering clear of sandy runs for the next little while unless the surf is pumping.”

The 42km trail marathon held on Sunday was new to the event, which saw a capacity field of 400 individual runners start at Yallingup Beach heading south along the Cape to Cape Track to also finish at Howard Park.

Ben Leeson and Kate Baker were the inaugural winners in times of 3:48:23 and 4:07:24.

The runners shared their excitement at the new course.

“The course is equally tough and fantastic,” Baker said.

“I’m usually a road runner so it’s nice to find these new trails.

“It was continuously undulating. The ups and downs were as tough as each other, but yes, I couldn’t do it without my family who sacrifice a lot so I can achieve my dreams.”

As well as team runs for the 80km section, a 2km event was held for youngsters on Saturday morning that saw more than 100 children join in.

Organisers Rapid Ascent said they introduced strict competitor numbers to preserve the feeling of the ultramarathon that continued to be a star attraction for athletes nationwide.

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