Scenic World UTA951 WRAP-UP

19 May 2018

By Dan Lewis

Given Mark Bourne’s passion for running up stairs, it is little wonder he blitzed the Ultra-Trail Australia time trial today up Katoomba’s famed Furber Steps.
Only last weekend the 34-year-old from Canberra was in the South Korean capital of Seoul competing in the first leg of the 2018 Vertical World Circuit. It’s a nine-leg international stair running competition involving some of the planet’s tallest buildings. The Lotte World Tower is South Korea’s tallest building and the tallest on the circuit at 555m. Bourne was the second fastest man to race up 123 floors of the tower featuring 2917 steps.

The Scenic World UTA951, in comparison, boasts 221 metres of vertical gain over 1.2km and 951 steps from the bottom of the Jamison Valley to the finish line at Katoomba’s Scenic World. After a “warm-up run” on Friday to re-familiarise himself with the Furber Steps, Bourne was in second place to Irishman Loughlinn Kennedy (9 minutes 11 seconds) with a time of 9:43. When he gave it a real go this morning, he charged into the lead with a winning time of 8:25. That was just outside the course record of 8:23 set by Blue Mountains runner Ben St Lawrence last year, when Bourned finished second in 8:43. This year St Lawrence chose to race the UTA22 instead and won it on Friday.

Bourne said he was very happy with his UTA951 effort this year given how hard he had run in South Korea only a week earlier. “I pushed as hard as I could today.”
“I did [the UTA951] for the first time last year and loved it. This year my wife is having a go as well.” Running up irregular bush stairs like the Furber Steps are easier than running up the stairs of a building, Bourne said, because the changes in gradient on bush stairs mean changes in running rhythm which can help the body rest. Running up buildings offers no such relief. The fastest female in the UTA951 was Elizabeth Humphries (10:32) followed by Maeve Kennedy-Birdsall (10:43).

Pictured: La Sportiva Athlete Loughlin Kennedy smashing the Scenic World UTA951
Image: © Lyndon Marceau / Marceau Photography

Loughlin Kennedy powering up the Furber Steps on Friday afternoon
Image: Marceau Photography