UTA postponement due to coronavirus forces runners to reassess their outlook

Ultra-Trail Australia's announcement earlier this week that it would be postponing the massive trail running event in Katoomba in May due to the coronavirus outbreak, has left scores of runners disappointed but determined to find a way forward.

The event brings thousands of runners and their families from Australia and internationally to the Blue Mountains every year.

"We are committed to the safety and well-being of everyone in our race community. We have been following and will continue to follow the recommendations of public health agencies and local authorities. At this time, we can confirm that the 2020 Ultra-Trail Australia will not take place as planned on May 14-17, 2020," UTA organisers posted on their Facebook page on Tuesday.

"We are working diligently to secure venues and a new race date. Stay tuned to www.ultratrailaustralia.com.au for the latest information. We appreciate your patience in this very dynamic time."

Two-time UTA 100km race winner Brendan Davies from Woodford had been training for the event again this year, and through his UP Coaching business, has been preparing many runners for the event.

While initially also disappointed himself, he has been encouraging runners to look at ways they can express their running away from racing.

"It's about taking the pressure off with training and let the mental preparation go with UTA, and go back to thinking about running as a leisure activity and go forward with it that way," Davies said.

Now was an opportune time to focus on technique, set new goals in training and give time to strength work and cross training.

"To improve technique you have to slow down and do a lot of drills and practise work," he said.

At his clinics they'll also be finding new places to explore, and continuing training sessions, while maintaining safe practices and social distancing.

"Running as an activity is quite safe and makes you more resistant to these things [exercise boosts the immune system] in general," Davies said.

He'll also be organising virtual races to keep the competitive juices flowing. Runners will be able to complete a run, upload it using one of the running platforms like Strava and Garmin, and be ranked using a formula applied in the currently cancelled Park Runs (due to COVID-19) which make adjustments for attributes such as age and gender.

"While having big A races postpone/cancel sucks, it's worth reminding ourselves that the journey is always paramount to the race and running is a lifelong pursuit that surpasses any one event in value," Davies said.

"Be kind to yourself with your disappointment, stay positive and let's rally and continue to stay connected with each other in this wonderful community through this time."