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Ultrarunners stranded in Birdsville, Australia after river floods

Runners may have to wait until the river recedes to return home

Dozens of ultramarathon runners have been stranded in the Australian township of Birdsville, Queensland after the Diamantina River flooded road access to the area. The runners were participating in the Simpson Desert Ultra, an annual multi-distance ultra event.

Prior to race start, race directors issued an announcement that the river had reached a high point, and they anticipated the river dropping over the next few days. Runners entering Birdsville for the start of the race had to wade through floodwaters, helped by local police.

While the race was a success, the river continued to rise, and runners now find themselves stranded in Birdsville. They have few options aside from waiting for the Diamintina river to abate.

Birdsville has flooded numerous times in the past. Race officials provided reassurance regarding contingency measures to gain access prior to the race in their statement:

“We anticipate the river height will drop over the next couple of days. As a community we have a long list of contingencies in place if it doesn’t drop fast enough to allow vehicles access by mid week; these include planes, boats and a tow truck.”

Birdsville hotel manager Ben Fullagar observed that some of the runners were content to wait for the water to recede, despite meteorologists predicting river levels will remain high for the rest of the week. “With a cold beer, they are in no hurry to leave” Fullagar noted.