Season of Pain: running on ice

TrailRunMag 12.08.2013

One of Australia’s more unique adventure events took things a little further on the weekend, with the winter edition of the Montane Seasons of Pain series putting competitors on ice with a mixed format snow trail run and cross country ski.

Seasons of Pain Winter from Adventure Types on Vimeo.

The Mount Baw Baw, Victoria, course weaved around stands of snow gums beneath a blue sky day (strangely – the only blue sky day experienced for the series to date has been in winter!) while the white stuff made alternatively slower and more slippery going than the usual trail run combined with mountain bike challenge of the regular Seasons of Pain events.

snow running

Michael Collins gunning it among the (snow) gums at Seasons of Pain Winter.

A shortened course to compensate for the snow featured  bursts of running along sweet singletrack, taking competitors down the back of Mount Baw Baw wilderness, before looping them around on ski trails to a central transition where they clipped into skis for a 3km loop course. With most competitors having only undertaken their first XC ski experience at the morning’s free lesson, the going was slow and not always so steady, especially when faced with some downhill slopes that would please Eddie the Eagle. Even so,

snow running

Jim Eastham reckons this snow running isn’t all that painful (refer to bloodied knee in video above).

With two run loops and two XC ski loops under their belt, competitors then faced a final downhill challenge: a toboggan run to cross the line. Dubbed the ‘Sling’ (with a tip of the hat to the usual Sting featured in the regular events), the 200m toboggan dash resulted in a few mouthfuls of snow and plenty of laughs.

Winning the third edition of Seasons of Pain and putting herself in the so-called SOP ‘Hall of Pain’ was top end multisporter-turned-trail-runner, Peri Gray. As an outdoor education professional, she perhaps was the only one with any on-ski experience, a fact that kept her out the front to record a 1hr 20min finish.

Following not too far behind in second place was Jim Eastham, whose bloodied knee proved he left more than just all his effort out in the field, followed by Sam Costin in third.

Kudos goes to a group of adventurous students from Alexandra Secondary College, Victoria, who travelled up the mountain to compete as two teams, their teacher Andrew Monson and his wife Anja Wondra also having a crack at the course as a team. The students are in training for the Hillary Challenge, an annual inter-school adventure sports competition, for which Seasons of Pain provided the perfect proving ground of fitness.

Montane Seasons of Pain will return on 23 November 2013, reverting to the familiar trail run combined mountain bike event, with the return of the Sting – a 1.4km/400m vertical ascent finish.