It was a matter of a student overtaking master and a road runner showing up her trail cousins on home turf at the Brooks Trail Run Festival, which took place atop Mount Baw Baw in Victoria over the March long weekend.
The three day festival invited off road runners to battle it out for King and Queen of the Mountain titles across multiple events ranging from a marathon to 13km and 1.4km ‘technical running’ competitions.
In the women’s category, Australian champion 50km roadrunner Natasha Fraser showed that while her specialty may be on bitumen, she loses no speed running on single track through the mountains. Fraser easily took the Queen of the Mountain title winning the marathon, registering third in a 13km event and winning the uphill outing in the technical run sessions.
In the men’s, it was odds-on favourite Blake Hose, who showed why he is being touted as an international trail champion, despite only taking up trail running one year ago following a successful period spent in the cycling and triathlon worlds. Hose dominated the event, registering course records in the marathon and technical running competitions to take out the King of the Mountain title. In doing so, the 21 year old also surpassed his current mentor and coach, NSW-based Matt Cooper, who set the original course records and won the KOTM crown in 2013.
Hose, from Geelong, Victoria, registered a course record marathon time of 4:02:13, running from the historical gold mining town of Walhalla to Mount Baw Baw, taking on a vertical ascent of more than 2500 metres.
His win over highly regarded trail runner, Joel Fitzgerald, who placed second 18 minutes in arrears, and South Australian Sean Sweetman (04:38:36) set Hose up for the KOTM title early on for the three-day festival, which is touted as ‘Australia’s biggest celebration of the trail running lifestyle’.
Hose went on to win Sunday’s 13km day run (01:05:55) , before registering the fastest descent and ascent on Monday’s ‘Free Mountain’ technical course (00:04:57) for the 1.4km / 300 metre ascent/descent) to ensure his crown was never in doubt.
A winner of the Great Ocean Walk 100 trail run and one of only four runners ever to record a sub-seven hour for the brutal Bogong to Hotham ultra trail, is regarded as a rising star of the growing trail run scene. Meanwhile Queen of the Mountain winner Natasha Fraser heads of to Doha, Qatar, to represent Australia at the 50km road World Championships. Both runners came away with a $1000 winners’ prize courtesy of Brooks and Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort.
The festival also hosted Round One of the Victorian Orienteering Series, with many orienteering competitors giving hint to the endurance talent that lies within their community when they discard the maps and compass. In the 13km night run, first to fourth men’s and first place woman were all orienteering competitors while first place in the half marathon was all secured by an orienteer runner. Interestingly, the winner of the 13km night run, Rob Bauer, beat even KOTM champion Blake Hose’s day run time, despite the disadvantages of running in the dark with only a headlamp to guide the way.
The competition across the Festival shifted up a gear from the inaugural outing, with course records falling across most categories. New times to beat were registered in the men’s marathon, both the men’s and women’s half marathon, and in all of the short course technical runs across men’s and women’s, down and uphill.
Overall, more than 400 competitors turned out over the long weekend to celebrate and participate in the trail running events, which also included a 3.5km family and kids’ fun run showing off the Baw Baw summit views, and numerous off trail sessions including nutritional seminars, technique clinics and a premier sneak preview screening of the Desert Runners feature film, a documentary featuring Festival ambassador, adventure runner Samantha Gash.
Runners travelled from far afield with entrants registered from Townsville, Adelaide, Brisbane, France, Germany, Estonia and the United Kingdom, the English competitor having flown specifically to attend the Brooks Trail Run Festival.
Engaging stories abounded amongst the field, with one marathon competitor knocking off his 92nd marathon at Baw Baw, it being only his fourth on trail. The winner of the uphill technical run is Estonia’s best orienteer runner. Several competitors had also never run a marathon previously, choosing to take on one of the country’s toughest off-roaders for their first outing. All debutants made the distance.
The Brooks Trail Run Festival will return next year, once again on the 7-9 March Long Weekend (Victoria, Labour Day).
All details at www.trailrunfestival.com.au
BROOKS TRAIL RUN FESTIVAL RESULTS
SUMMARY – DAY 01
MARATHON – Men’s
1. Blake Hose 04:02:14 (CR) // 2. Joel Fitzgerald 04:20:12 // 3. Sean Sweetman 04:38:36
MARATHON – Women’s
1. Natasha Fraser 05:09:22 // 2. Kellie Emmerson 05:30:26 // 3. Angela Harris 05:58:10
HALF MARATHON – Men’s
1. Kerrin Rattray 01:54:35 (CR) // 2. Joel Claxton 02:08:26 // 3. Cameron Goodison 02:10:39
HALF MARATHON – Women’s
1. Claire Boulange 02:16:14 (CR) // 2. Lucy Bartholomew 02:31:07 // 3. Bridget Wetherell 02:32:08
SUMMARY – DAY 02
13KM DAY RUN – Women’s
1. Claire Boulange 01:15:55 // 2. Fiona Gordon 01:17:19 // 3. Natasha Fraser 01:17:35
13KM DAY RUN – Men’s
1. Blake Hose 01:05:55 // 2. Tom Crosby 01:12:01 //3. Vincent Kerbarh 01:12:22
13KM NIGHT RUN – Women’s
1. Jasmine Neue 01:21:29 // 2. Fiona Gordon 01:27:49 // 3. Genevieve Blanch 01:36:05
13KM NIGHT RUN – Men’s
1. Rob Bauer 01:03:29 // 2. Rob Preston 01:03:29 // 3. David Brownridge 01:10:22
SUMMARY – DAY 03
1.4km TECHNICAL DOWNHILL – MEN’S
1. Blake Hose 00:04:57 (CR) // 2. Rob Baker 00:05:00 // 3. Rob Preston 00:05:24
1.4km TECHNICAL DOWNHILL – WOMEN’S
1. Liis Johanson 00:05:50 (CR) // 2. Jasmine Neve 00:06:00 // 3. Margaretha Fortmann 00:06:46
TECHNICAL UPHILL – MEN’S
1. Rob Baker 00:12:19 (CR) // 2. Blake Hose 00:12:29 // 3. David Fraser 00:14:10
TECHNICAL UPHILL – WOMEN’S
1. Natasha Fraser 00:14:46 (CR) // 2. Lucy Bartholomew 00:16:36 // 3. Liis Johansen 00:16:43
ALL IMAGERY: www.marceauphotography.com