News

Ultra hard for approvals

Trail running legs
Image – Daxio Productions.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA

The 100-kilometre Kep Ultra, which is run every year from Northam down to Mundaring, may have run its last race this year on May 31 with race director Rob Donkersloot saying he was sick and tired of cutting through red tape from the state government to keep the event open.

After the tragedy of the 2011 Kimberley ultramarathon where two participants suffered serious burns following a bushfire, an enquiry report released in 2012 indicated approvals were to be sought by the Department of Lands for events if they were to take place on crown land.

The Kep course was primarily run on suburban streets but there were about 50 pockets of crown land participants were required to run through.

Mr Donkersloot said he had contacted the department on February 12 to get the required licence however had not heard from them until three days prior to the event.

“The race has gone ahead since 2013 with the correct approvals in place,” he said.

“This year I went through the process again but didn’t hear from them until April when I initiated contact again and they told me they were waiting for advice from the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

“Three days before the race I contacted them again and it wasn’t until the following day they told me they didn’t get advice from the department so they wouldn’t issue the license.

“Not only did I have local runners registered, I had eastern states participants and one person flew in from Germany specifically for the Kep.”

Mr Donkersloot said in order to get public indemnity insurance, he had to get the licence for the Australian ultra runners association (AURA) but because it fell through, he decided to go ahead with the race at his own risk.

He said he felt there was too much red tape involved to get the Kep ultra up and running for next year and chances the race wouldn’t be run anymore were high.

Thornlie resident Karen Hagan, winner of the 2013 Kep ultra women’s division, said it was disappointing because the ultra community was so small in Australia, let alone in WA.

She said ultrarunning weekends turn into family events and for many people completing long distances were considered a huge accomplishment.

“The first and foremost importance for a race director is participant safety, so all management is stringent and incredibly well run,” she said.

“When Rob said to me he didn’t get the licence because the Department of Lands hadn’t heard from the Department of Mines and Petroleum, I asked myself who does mining in this area, it’s all suburban.

“I just felt like it was a bunch of bureaucrats who hadn’t been out to the area where the race was being held, they didn’t know the reality of the situation, almost like they were basing it on the protocol of other events they may have.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Lands said as a result of being unable to issue a licence for the Kep, it was currently reviewing its licencing procedures in an effort to better inform event organisers in the event the department was unable to issue a licence.

“In February 2015 the Kep proponents applied to the Department of Lands for a section 91 licence to access crown land for the race,” he said.

“Before a licence is granted the department is statutorily required to go through a referral process with multiple stakeholders, including the local government and relevant government agencies.

“It is the responsibility of event organisers to consult with all other relevant agencies, bodies, authorities and adjoining land owners.

“This process is complex and can take some time; in the case of the 2015 Kep ultra the required clearances could not be obtained prior to the event.

“The department made every effort to fulfil the proponent’s request which is why the department notified the proponent a license could not be granted shortly before the event was to take place.”


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