Hounslow Highs and Lows

Officially ranked Australia’s #1 toughest ultra trail run – just this week – the Hounslow Classic near Blackheath in the Blue Mountains of NSW is set for legendary status after only two years of operation.

The good folk at Mountain Sports have delivered a mind-blowingly tough 68km run that promises much and delivers more in the way of great scenery, vertical metreage and good, old-fashioned suffering. Finishers of this race were deservingly proud of what they had achieved, while those who came back next day to complete the double by running the 21km race were hailed as true heroes at the presentation on Sunday afternoon. 

Runners had 17 hours to complete the 68km option, with a midnight cutoff at the finish line, and intermediate cutoffs at selected checkpoints along the way. More than a few failed to make the cutoffs, while several more called it quits along the way after sickness, injury, and other factors got the better of them. 

The design of the course was such that runners came through the central race precinct/finish area twice before the finish line, giving spectators and organisers (and timers) a good idea of how the field was spread out, who was shadowing whom, and where the eventual podium winners may come from. 

Local runner Loughlinn Kennedy led the race for pretty much the whole way, closely shadowed by eventual second placegetter Danny Garrett – who ran in Kennedy’s footprints most of the race through lack of local knowledge, but gradually saw the Blackheath local put more time into him during the final 21km loop. First woman home was Sydney’s Beth Cardelli, closely followed by Lou Clifton, a scant 27 minutes later. 

The weather also played its part – with sunny and warm weather being replaced by overcast, cool and windy – and then as night drew in, the fog arrived, cutting visibility to one metre and bringing cold, clinging dampness with it. It was unpleasant for those of us on the top of the mountain, but for those runners still deep in the Grose Valley, it was just another challenge to overcome. 

Organisers Mountain Sports received high praise from all competitors over both days of running, and this race is now firmly etched into every true trail runner’s calendar of unmissable events. 

Full results of both days are here.

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