ULTRA Awards

The UK Ultra Runner Awards are back! First started in 2012 by Richard Felton, they have recognised achievements by some of the UK’s finest ultra runners, with names like Steve Way, Nicky Spinks, Steve Birkinshaw, Joasia Zakrzewski and Robbie Britton picking up awards. ULTRA magazine became involved with them in the last couple of years, and now we’re combining the two to form the ULTRA Awards.

For the 2017 awards we have a rebranding, and a new improved format to make the voting as fair as possible. We decided that potential winners should be nominated by the public, which took place in January with hundreds of nominations cast via social media and email; but crucially we determined that these major awards should be determined by a jury of peers.

We asked several jury chairs to assemble juries for each award, selecting each as independent and without conflict. Each jury then took good time to assemble, debate the nominations and whittle them down to a shortlist – and then vote on an overall winner.

We’re really excited by the results, and the team want to take this format forward to future years and build the ULTRA Awards as the most prestigious awards in ultra running.

 

Ultra Runner of the Year - Male

Winner:              Rob Sinclair                                       

Runners-up:      Dan Lawson / Tom Evans / Damo Hall / Mike Jones                                       

Year on year British men up the level of performance and take the challenge overseas, but it was domestic performances that stood out for this runner. Rob Sinclair not only won all three West Highland Way races, but smashed course records of a strong calibre on all three. We’re all very excited to see how Rob fares against international competition at the World Trail Championships.

 

Ultra Runner of the Year - Female

Winner:              Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn

Runners-up:       Carol Morgan / Beth Pascall  / Anna-Marie Watson  / Sabrina Verjee    

Again it was a difficult decision but Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn showed dominance in UK races as well as competitive performances against international competition in the Annecy Maxi Race and Mont Blanc 90k.

In an action-packed year, Katie did just a little more than some of the other nominees.

 

Best Performance – Male

Winner:              Jim Mann

There are some performances that just get runners talking. Nicky Spinks and her incredible double Bob Graham. Jasmin Paris breaking all three classic British round records in one season. 

 

But Jim Mann’s completion of the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay rounds all within the month of January 2017 was something very special indeed. To complete one winter round would be the pinnacle of many fell runners’ careers. To set a record a lifetime highlight. To do what had never been done before and complete all three within one month means that Jim can rightly be spoken of in the same breath as fell legends such as Bland and Naylor. And for that he is the deserving winner of Best Male Performance.

 

Best Performance - Female

Winner:              Katie Kaars Sijpesteijn

There is no Oxford English definition of a great performance. It doesn’t even necessarily need to mean a race win or a course record. Maybe it’s overcoming harsh conditions. A brave lead from the front against a strong field.

But when you get all of those combined from a relative newcomer to the sport of ultra running then it’s something really special. And on a rainy muddy night at last year’s iconic Lakeland 50 that’s exactly what we saw from Katie Kaars Sijpestein. A female course record and third overall meant this was one of the finest performances of any athlete last year and a deserving winner of the Best Female Performance.

 

Best International Ultra Runner - Female

Winner:              Camille Herron

Runners-up:       Patrycja Bereznowska / Andrea Huser

With records being broken all over the shop by female athletes, it was between one of two phenomenal athletes. Patrycja Bereznowska set the 24hr & 48hr Records but it was Camille Herron that just pipped her at the line.

With World records at 100 miles and 12 hours, as well as victories at races like the Comrades Ultra marathon, it was also Camille’s willingness to tempt failure that impressed. Not one confined by what is expected, or what is possible even, Herron just went out and did what she loves, run.

One day we hope to see a show down of these two athletes over a middle ground. Either 200k or 24hrs and there could be fireworks.

 

Best International Ultra Runner - Male

Winner:              Francois D’Haene

Runners-up:      Jim Walmsley / Tim Frienks

Whilst the whole world always goes crazy for Kilian, it was Francois d’Haene, quietly going about his business, that struck a chord with the jury.

Winning the biggest dance of them all at UTMB and then following that up by setting an astounding FKT on the John Muir Trail. Chapeau Francois.

 

Hard As Nails Award

Winners: Mark Thornberry and Kevin Webber

This award is intended for someone, male or female, who in 2017 showed grit, determination and mettle beyond compare in terms of ultra running, in either achieving a goal or trying something that few would contemplate. For us, there were two, and we couldn’t split them.

Both Mark and Kevin were diagnosed with terminal cancer, and both have been running ultras like they were kids again. Both inspiring others to get out and do more. Mark with the Javelina Jundred in this issue, and the GUCR last; Kevin with the MdS and other challenges, and both have raised awareness and large sums of money for cancer charities. If ULTRA had a hat, it would doff it to these chaps, as hard as very hard nails.

 

Nothing Ventured Award

Winner: Mimi Anderson

This is for someone, male or female, who in 2017 has given something a bloody good go, but not succeeded. The magazine is centred around adventure and exploration, and ultra running is about pushing limits, so this category is to celebrate those who tried but failed.

We need not say much more, except read her article in this issue – it’s inspirational, and wonderful, and carries extraordinary highs and lows just like all the greatest ultra runs. And a Transcon attempt is surely one of the greatest running challenges of all. Mimi, we salute the attempt, and hope that you come back to ultra running one day.

Lifetime Contribution to Ultra Running

Winner:              Hilary Walker

To describe Hilary as a legend of our sport would by no means overstate her contribution not only to the athleticism of ultrarunning but also the greater world of endurance sport.

A multiple world record holder over a variety of distances and disciplines, some of which still stand today. Spartathalon winner. Twice. Multiple winner of the classic London to Brighton road race. She raced on road and trail, on track and in the desert. Forever the competitor she has represented the UK in age group triathlon, cycle relayed across America and completed the MdS before most of us even knew what it was.  

Now the General Secretary of the International Association of Ultrarunners, her dedication to the sport continues, bringing endurance and mountain running to the forefront of world sport and for that, and her achievements over decades in the sport, she is a deserving winner of this award.

JUDGES AND JURIES:

Best Ultra Runner

Jury Chair: Robbie Britton

 

Judges:

Mimmi Kotka

Natalie White

Adrian Stott

Ian Beattie

Jez Bragg

Lucy Colquhoun

Sophie Grant

 

Best Performances

Jury Chair: Gary Dalton

Judges

James Adams (M)

Mimi Anderson (M)

Daniel Doherty (M/F)

James Elson (M/F)

Karen Webber (F)

James Ian MacKeddie (M)

Debbie Martin Consani (M/F)

Stef Schuermans (F)

Joe Faulkner (M/F)

Natalie White (F)

Holly Rush (M)

 

International

Jury Chair: Robbie Britton

 

Judges

Mimmi Kotka

Natalie White

Adrian Stott

Jez Bragg

Lucy Colquhoun

Sophie Grant

 

Nothing Ventured

Jury Chair: Richard Weremiuk

Judges

Mark Cockbain

Billy Craig

Jonny Davies

Dave Fawkner

Guillaume Arthus

Ant Bethell

 

Lifetime

Jury Chair: Gary Dalton

Judges

Daniel Doherty

Debbie Martin Consani

Holly Rush

James Adams

James Iain MacKeddie

Natalie White

Stef Schuermans