Trail Run Fest crowns King and Queen

TrailRunMag 11.03.2013

Mount Baw Baw in Victoria crowned its first King and Queen of the Mountain this long weekend with two of Australia’s best trail runners putting in a tour de force on the singletrack over three days of competition at the inaugural Brooks Trail Run Festival.

The female all-mountain event title went to Gippsland local, Traralgon resident Kylie Murray, who won the marathon and 12km trail runs along with third and fourth placings in the 1.5km free mountain ascent and descent technical runs, which rounded off the festival Monday morning.

The inaugural King of the Mountain male title went to ultraIMG_0277 trail champion Matt Cooper, of Berowa, NSW. Cooper took a clean sweep winning the marathon, the daytime 12km and the free mountain runs.

Competitors first gathered on Saturday in the historic mining township of Walhalla to kick off the first ever Brooks Trail Run Fest with a marathon effort on a course that is now being rated as one of the toughest on the marathon trail calendar. Runners tracked along the old tramline before dropping to cross the Thompson River and then climbing two big ascents to top out on Mount Erica. Running through pristine snowgum country they weaved across the plateau before dropping back into the Baw Baw Village finish line.

Pushing Murray to the limit in the women’s marathon was Australia’s best adventure and obstacle racer, Deanna Blegg, who took second place followed by one of the nation’s best trail runners in Nikki Wynd. In the men’s, Cooper’s 4hr 14 run was pushed by notable Russian adventure racer Sergey Kurov just over six minutes in arrears followed by Geelong-based mutisporter Darren Clarke in third.

IMG_0535Murray took her marathon title in 4hrs 54min, a time impressive enough to have her across the line as fourth overall runner.

In the half marathon event spectators caught glimpse of a future star of the trail with 18 year old Warragul runner Joel Claxton taking out the win in  2hrs 5min on a technically challenging course that threatened ankles and brutalised knees for the length of the course.

Five minutes behind Claxton was Simon Forbes in second place and Gordon Meredith in third.

In the women’s, Ireland’ s Meadhbh (May-ve) Bolger took her first half marathon title, with Kathryn Hildern and Claire Issell claiming podium places.

With plenty more trail running on the roster for the weekend, competitors, friends and family settled in on Saturday night for a special film presentation by adventure runner, Jindivick resident Beau Miles. The Gippslander showed his film Trial of Miles: Running the Australia Alpine Walking Track on the two year anniversary of his feat.

Sunday saw the mountain abuzz again as runners tackled first a 12km day trail run, a six kilometer kids fun run and 12km nighttime trail run.

Hundreds of runners and spectators enjoyed three days of festivities on Mount Baw Baw in what organisers expect to grow into Australia’s biggest celebration of off road running.

IMG_0197“We hope this weekend was memorable for all runners,” says Event Director Grant Seamer. “Our aim was to create a program of running for all levels of abilities, to attract families and kids to have a go at trail running and to present plenty of inspiration in the form of films and information sessions exploring the culture of mountain and trail running.”

Competitors were also treated to a presentation by two of Australia’s most notable adventure runners in Samantha Gash and Richard Bowles, along with a masterclass in technical hill running by the eventual King of the Mountain winner Matt Cooper.

Mount Baw Baw has taken a lead in creating an all-new format event for the trail running community. Specifically, the ‘free mountain’ technical downhill and uphill runs over a 1.5km/400m descent/ascent course are the first to be offered in Australia, bringing a Euro-style competitive element to the traditionally longer form trail run event roster.

The Brooks Trail Run Festival will be a regular feature on the trail calendar, taking place on Victoria’s Labour Day long weekend every year. Entries and accommodation bookings for the 2014 festival will open in September.

Full results for festival events at:

 IMG_4163JOIN: the Brooks Trail Run Fest Facebook Group to see more images from the event, competitor feedback and ongoing news on the 2014 Brooks Trail Run Fest.