Welcome to the Valley Ultra 2020. If you've made it this far we haven't scared you off yet! These courses are hard...they're meant to be. All of the information provided has to come with a disclaimer, between now and the 21st of November 2020 we have a full ski season. This means the landscape can change and it also means that once the snow melts we may have to make some small changes. We only change a course where it is in the interest of safety and practicality to do so. We will provide you with updated maps if required closer to the races. Don't worry we have a fantastic Course B and C which can come into effect if the weather dosen't play ball.
THE WHOLE HOG
Setting off from Castle Hill Village, you will follow a fully marked course through beautiful dense forest on maintained mountain bike / walking tracks gradually ascending to the tree line before breaking out onto open plains following the undulating Hogs Back Track at 7.5km.
Joining Cheeseman Road you'll head up towards the ski field. Water point will be available for you at the end of the Hogs Back track before you head up towards Cheesman Road towards the ski field. Stock up here before your first tough climb of the day on to Cockayne Alley.
Cockayne Alley is a part-maintained track which winds and uses switch backs to take you closer to the ridge summit. Steep, narrow, single track with exposed tree roots, areas with fallen trees will make this a challenging technical section. You'll break the treeline at 15km and head on to shingle before joining the unsealed ski field road.
18km will see you reach the Cheeseman Ski Field checkpoint. This is the first major checkpoint on the Whole Hog course with a buffet energy boost and hydration available. First aid and toilets will also be available at this checkpoint. This is the “on mountain check in” point. You will cross timing matts as you pass through this check point to digitally register onto the ridge section of the course. You will then climb the final 1.6km on gravel / shingle ski field roads and access the ridge. A marshal will manually check you onto the ridge itself as you summit onto ridge line. CUT OFF: 5hrs
At 20km you will join the ridge. The ridge line is certainly one of the most spectacular section of this course. The ridge will see some steep descents and climbs which will see even the most elite athletes having to dig deep. Depending on the 2019 melt, you may still be able to experience snow-capped peaks at the highest points. Following the ridge line you will come across technical bluffs with fixed lines for guiding you / supporting you around the steepest of areas. This section of the course will give you 360 degree views of the Southern Alps and the Torlesse Range – on a super clear day, it is also rumoured to be able to grab a glimpse of the mighty Aoraki / Mount Cook in the far distance. The ridge will be scattered with static marshals, roving patrols and experienced mountain staff to ensure your safety comes first.
25km sees you hitting the hight point of the Hamilton Peak Summit. Take a moment and enjoy it!
Craigieburn ski field is your next big checkpoint at 26.7km. As you come off the ridge line you will be manually checked off by a marshal and then digitally as you cross the timing matts at the check point. A buffet energy boost and hydration is available at this check point as well as toilets and medical assistance if required. As you leave the check point you will follow the Craigieburn Ski Field Road before turning onto Craigieburn Edge Track after a 2km gradual descent on this gravel Road. CUT OFF: 7.5hrs
Once clear of the checkpoint you will be weaving in and out of forested sections to start your return to Castle Hill. This section is flowing, single track and has some brilliant undulating terrain. Great trail running sections for you over the next 20km taking in the Mistletoe track, Luge track, Hut Creek and Bridge Hill tracks. Get your pace up and prepare for your next hill climb at 48km.
This rough section which will take you over a short and punchy hill climb for 1.2km. Follow the visual markers off track through a wild section of the course. You will climb steeply before dropping into a long grass covered area. Push through the grass to join a farm track leading you around to a short road section before hitting Cheeseman Ski Field Road. You'll leave Cheeseman Road at the bridge (CUT OFF 12hrs) and climb out of gully onto ridge line.
At 51km, you'll be happy to hit your final steep climb onto the top of the gully edge before joining the tail end of the Hogs Back track and starting your final descent into Castle Hill Village. Only 6km left!
The final 5km will bring you home to Castle Hill Village.
That's it, you've done it, 58km! Hero...
This may be the shorter course, but that don't make it easy! The Piglet will see you take on 24km. Setting off from Castle Hill Village you will wind your way through the trees climbing to reach the Hogs Back track.
Stick with the track towards Cockayne Alley before crossing over to Terraces Track and hitting your big hill climb. This is a technical part of the course and you'll need to be watching your way and hopefully you've kept up your energy for this gruelling 1.2km section.
Another steep section before hitting the wild open planes and watch for visual makers, there's no track here but we'll show you the way.
A quick stint on Cheeseman Ski Field Road before crossing the valley and emerging out of the gully will put you on the home stretch, joining the tail end of the Hogs Back track and descend back into Castle Hill village for your victory sprint to the finish line.
Take in the forest loop of the Valley Ultra. A stunning 10km loop, whether you're supporting someone on a longer distance, want to see what the Ultra craze is about or 10km is just your jam, this is a beautiful way to spend a Saturday morning in Craigieburn Valley.
Just because it's the shortest course, don't think we have let you off lightly, you'll know you've put in a stellar effort after taking on the Teacup!