First Champions Crowned at UTA11

14 May 2021

The first champions have been crowned at Ultra-Trail Australia following the running of the UTA11 event on Thursday.

More than 750 runners took on the 11km trail run in the Blue Mountains, the first of events across the weekend, with David Byrne the first male across the line and Sophie Butler the first female.

David Byrne UTA11 winner

Byrne crossed the line in 51:10, just a minute ahead of second place getter Mark Bourne with Jack Roth a further minute back in third.

“It was tough, it was beautiful, and it was fun, I really enjoyed it,” said Byrne. “The conditions were amazing, all of the marshals and volunteers on course we so supportive and it’s just a beautiful course, so even when you’re suffering it’s still a lot of fun.

“I’ve now done every event at Ultra-Trail Australia over the years and drawing a comparison on them all pound for pound that’s the toughest,” he said. “I knew I had to skip away a bit because Mark Bourne who came in second is an animal on the descending and the stairs.

“I had a gap on him on the stairs and he mowed them down and I looked back and said to someone ‘I think he’s got me’ but lucky there was enough little flat spots for me to hold a lead so it was great,” said Byrne.

Sophie Butler UTA11 winner

16-year-old Sophie Butler crossed the line in 1:06:09, less than a minute ahead of Alexis McKillop, with Tilly Richards third and Lucy Bartholomew fourth.

The top four all reached the 951 Furber Steps that make up the final climb to the finish line within a minute of each other, with Butler pushing ahead to take her first Ultra-Trail Australia victory.

“I was a pretty tough day out, it was good to have the turnaround so I could keep track of where I was and how I was going and I didn’t go out too fast which was nice,” said Butler. “Up the Furber Steps you look back and see second place and you panic a little bit just cause there are so many stairs. I was starting in about fourth or fifth but it was nice to not go out too hard and catch them eventually.

“I’m only 16 so this is only the second one I’ve been allowed to do, I did UTA11 in 2019 and I’ve just been training since then,” she said. “I did the 1km when I was 13 which was the start of the atmosphere and being a part of Ultra-Trail Australia.

“I love it, I trail run in Brisbane and I just love the trail running atmosphere and the people are really lovely,” she said.