Run Forrest Half Mara: course preview

TrailRunMag 13.05.2013

FAST, FLOWY, FERNY & FUN…that’s the official verdict for the upcoming Forrest Half Marathon Trail Run happening in the Otway Ranges in Victoria on 9 June, 2013. ENTRIES ARE NOW OPEN.

Forrest Trail Run Mag along with readers and trail guide writers Olivier Caire and Mike Honeyman decided that a race new to the calendar deserved a thorough going over, just to ensure those signing up would get their money’s worth. And you will, if you like 100% singletrack that rolls and winds through thick rainforest jungle, where there’s little climbing (and what there is remains gradual), a smidge of technical, but for the most part, a course that is perfect for trail runners of all skill and fitness levels.

For the BEGINNER, this is a great course as there’s nothing too meaty in it. No smashing hills, just a gradual incline out of the start before it’s a downhill roll to Lake Elizabeth – a serene mirror lake that has a Dali-esque quality to it, with dead tree daggers slicing up from its still waters, surrounded by lush, almost tropical forest. The course loops around the back of it, a little boardwalk at the rear, before back onto soft singletrack. Running anti-clockwise, runners are given repeated glimpses of spectacular lake views from all perspectives in between dashes through fern tunnels that make you feel like Skywalker in an X-Wing (although I was running TNF Ultra Guides, which did the job just as well).

For the INTERMEDIATE, this course becomes fun from the get-go. The trails offer up plenty of ‘feature running’ – that is there’s enough twisting and turning to get the core involved, there’s a few little downhill ‘speed’ moments but nothing that will put ou out of control, there’s views and vistas a-plenty, and it’s a course that, because it doesn’t belt you up too much, leaves room for those mid-packers wanting to slightly up tempo their run to make some speed and form gains.

For the RACER, this is a perfect course for testing the leg speed: you’ll need it if you want to be at the pointy end. This is almost the road runner’s trail race, in that the lack of beefy climbing combines with trails that are for the most part perfectly groomed and, for singletrack, wide enough to pass. Trail Run Mag won’t be surprised if someone puts in a time hat nearly resembles a road half marathon.

Forest-2Our favourite section was the Lake Elizabeth loop – like a rollercoaster – and then, on the latter stages of the famous Red Carpet (every trail you run in this is a mountain bike trail with names and numbers attributed – you can’t get lost) you’ll find a sublime section that is the most technical on course. It weaves on a decline between trees with a drier patch than most of the course (which is for the most part soft underfoot – a wet day requiring something along the lines of the Speedcross 3), some rocky, rooty terrain and a weaving course making for fast, furious and fun tech running for the brave.

The best thing is, Forrest’s MTB trails are usually teeming with riders, making them a game of dodgems for trail runners usually – yet the lure of sweeping trails makes them a magnet for us trail junkies. That’s where Run Forrest is brilliant as it closes off the trails for one morning in June, allowing freeflowing enjoyment of the routes without fear of a head on with a two wheel warrior.

To be held on Sunday 9th June 2013, Run Forrest will be staged in the hinterland township of Forrest, nestled in the heart of the Otway Ranges.

The event offers 2 race options – a 21km half marathon and a 10km event, both of which will be staged on the world class trails of the Otway Ranges. Both courses will start just outside the township of Forrest at the beautiful Barwon River and will incorporate the beautifully groomed mountain bike trails for which Forrest has become renowned for.

Registrations for Run Forrest are now open. Don’t miss out!

Visit to enter online or for more information.

SHOE SELECTION: underfoot is mostly soft, grip will be needed for the wet patches. We reckon a Salomon Speedcross 3 would be ideal in these conditions. The North Face Ultra Guides held up well. A pair of La Sportivas of any model would work a treat (all being grippy). Minimalists could even whack a pair of Inov8 Baregrips. Choose light, fast and grippy. A great trail for ‘barefooters’ running Vibram Fivefingers or similar, too.

SOUP DSC_7152SOUPER BONUS!! Run Forrest is gonna be hot!
Run Forrest coincides with the 8th Annual Otway Soup Festival which will also be held on Sunday 9th June from 10am at the Forrest Public Hall. The festival features homemade soups, conserves, pickles, relishes, homebrew beers and wines and a wide range of free family entertainment including a jumping castle and market stalls. 

Run Forrest and the 8th Annual Otway Soup Festival provide visitors another reason to visit the Otway Ranges and surrounding region over the June long weekend. 

The Run Forrest event is one of two key events staged by Southern Exposure this year.

The Surf Coast 100 – a 50km and 100km Mountain Bike Festival will also be coordinated by Southern Exposure on Saturday 26th October 2013.

For more information about Southern Exposure and their calendar of events, visit