Spring shines on Seasons of Pain

TrailRunMag 01.12.2013

SOP Womens Winner Maria Plyashenko The Montane Seasons of Pain – an adventure event that has garnered a reputation as one of the toughest, yet most beautiful offroad multisport courses in Victoria – has wrapped up the 2013 season with some lightening fast racing at Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort.

“I’ve just returned from Xterra Maui, and this event was just as brutal,” said one competitor comparing it to one of the world’s better know off road endurance events.

“Hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said an experienced racer. “Insane,” said another.

Yet all quickly followed up with the same effusive sentiment: “But I loved every minute of it.”

It was a consensus opinion at the Spring edition of the adventure duathlon, which in its fourth outing featured new course sections and redesigned mountain bike singeltrack.

Competitors toughed their way up the now infamous ‘Sting’– a 300-metre vertical climb over 1.4km that capped off the 34-kilometre trail run and mountain bike course – to heave onto the traditional finisher’s couch wearing both smile and grimace for their efforts.

Run LegIn the men’s it was a pace that defied the hilly singletrack course, with newcomer to the series and first time off road racer, Melburnian Brody Gardner, taking line honours.

“I want to race a few Xterras (global off road triathlon series) so I though it would be a good first time outing,” said Brody. “But it is the toughest thing I have ever done.”

“The course was unrelenting and technical – at no time were you able to back off.”

The off road course features of a 9km trail run, 8km mountain bike, 7km trail run, 9km mountain bike and a 1.5km final ‘Sting’ uphill run, with trails exploring the flanks of Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort and into the adjacent Baw Baw National Park.

SOP_run leg web“It wasn’t a question of what kind of pace you could maintain; it was just about getting through it and finishing,” said Brody, who has a background in sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.

Despite the prospect of a course defined by hills, Brody attacked early in the piece, going hard out the front. The technical mountain bike trails took their toll, with eventual third place getter, Tim Doman, snatching the lead at one stage after Brody flipped his bike for a close encounter with a tree.

It took until the second run leg, in which his extreme pace was noted by all, for Brody to re-take the lead, going on to maintain a three minute buffer over eventual runner-up, Gippsland adventure racer, Rob Preston, who had reeled in and overtaken a slowing Tim.

Of his introduction to the ‘Sting’, Brody says: “I don’t know how anyone could run that on fresh legs, let alone having raced for 34 kilometres.”

The last incline didn’t slow him too much overall however, with an incredible course time of 2 hours and 44 minutes.

SOP Bike Mens Second Rob Preston nedIn the women’s it was notable adventure racer and current Australian Multisport Champion, Maria Plyashechko, who took to the front early, with multisport athlete and trail runner, Claire Thomas, and Xterra multisporter, Belinda Hadden, on the chase.

Neither could maintain the pace, however, highlighting Maria’s consistent strength in both disciplines. The expat Russian and co-owner of adventure event company and event sponsor, Adventure Junkies, knocked off the tough course in 3 hours 23 minutes, a clear 23 minutes ahead of second placed Claire.

“It was an absolutely gorgeous course in a stunning alpine area,” says Maria, who arrived at the finishline with its view over the Gippsland Valley, elated. “Seasons of Pain is a great event – put it into your diaries for the next year,” she advised.

In the teams (of two), category, Alan McCubbin and Chris Degruyter, put in a solid effort sharing the trail run and bike legs before running the Sting together, finishing in a time of 3 hours 18 minutes.

First and only women’s team across the line was Vickie Saunders and Rechelle Olsen. The pair was cheered over the line by a crowd, who appreciated the huge effort it took to stay out on course for 5 hours and 15 minutes.


1. Brodie Gardner                 02:44:28
2. Rob Preston                      02:47:46
3. Tim Doman                        02:54:12

1. Maria Plyashechko            03:23:27
2. Claire Thomas                   03:46:33
3. Belinda Hadden                03:50:55

Team Men’s
1. McCubbin / Degruyter       03:18:06
2. Farooq/Qazi                       03:47:01

Team Women’s
1. Olsen/Saunders                05:15:59


DISCLOSURE (AND INVITATION): We have listed Seasons of Pain event report in the news section as Trail Run Mag is a sponsor of the event. However, we welcome all and any other trail run events across Australia, New Zealand and Asia who can provide quality  pre- and post-event reports to submit along with 5 quality images that showcase the event. We support all trail running initiatives, whether or not TRM is associated.