BEFORE his life was tragically cut short in an accident early last year Duncan Orr – a keen ultra-marathoner with a love for trails – had an ambitious plan to stage Gippsland’s first ever ultra, on the scenic Gippsland’s Grand Strzelecki Track.
Though running expeditions with his wife and fellow ultra runner, Anna, had led Duncan to some remote pockets of the world, he’d acquired a particular affinity for the iconic Gippsland track in his home region. In more recent years he had encouraged others, many of them fellow Traralgon Harriers, to join him in exploring its beauty.
Though the shock loss of Duncan – who packed his 31 years full of accomplishment and experiences – still weighs heavily on family, friends and fellow club members, the successful staging of Duncan’s Run Hundred in December last year bought some solace.
The idea of staging an inaugural ultra-marathon on tough trails through the Strzelecki Ranges less than a week before Christmas had the hallmarks of an insurmountable challenge from the outset, but Anna and her crew – among them more than a handful of dedicated distance runners – are partial to the odd challenge and so the date was set.
An impressive effort by a dedicated committee, with support from AURA, Traralgon Harriers, a range of sponsors and volunteer groups including the Grand Strzelecki Inc, oversaw permits and approvals, risk management processes, course markings and the multitude of other tasks required of a run event featuring a solo 100k, 50k and 28k as well as a 100k team event.
Their efforts were well rewarded. Duncan’s Run Hundred was a genuine success with 86 runners participating over the four events, including 18 taking on the 100k solo. Those who ran, and the hordes of volunteers who made it possible, embodied the spirit for which ‘Duncs’ was so well known and the overwhelmingly positive response was enough to convince organisers to do it all again.
Runners keen to experience the stunning Strzelecki Ranges in Tarra Bulga would be wise to mark the 19th December in their event calendar. Duncan’s Run Hundred takes place over diverse terrain through spectacular eucalypt forest providing some steep technical single trail and fire trail, plenty of up and downhill and it boasts Mount Tassie (740m) as the highest point.
Reflecting on the inaugural race a few year back now, Anna – who tirelessly headed the event as Race Director – was overwhelmed by the support Duncan’s Run Hundred had attracted.
“All this was for Duncs,” she said. “So many people loved him, were influenced and inspired by his positive outlook on running and life, and everyone wanted to be part of it in some way.”
In the words of Duncan himself, as he once reflected on the ultimate challenge of the ultra:
“When you enter an ultra of this distance most people ask ‘why would anyone want to run that far?’ and I would have liked to have replied ‘because I can’, but for me it was more along the lines of ‘because I don’t know if I can’.
“I’d encourage anyone to have a go at an ultra-trail race. Take it from me; you don’t need to be a super athlete to complete one of these, just a bit of determination and belief in yourself goes a long way.”
Duncan’s Run Hundred details
When: Saturday 19th December 2015.
Where: Grand Strzelecki Track, Tarra Bulga, Gippsland, Victoria.
Solo 100km: start 6am
Solo 50Km: start 6am
Solo 28k: start 9am
Teams 100K (50km, 28km, 25km): start 6am
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