Kohlar scorches field in Seasons of Pain

DSC_0109 medThe first outing in this year’s Seasons of Pain series was marked by blistering racing in more ways than one, as temperatures nudged the 37 degree-Celsius mark, adding extra sting to the offroad duathlon challenge.

As Melbournites sweltered in an even hotter 45-degree concrete jungle, adventure athletes tackled the 32km course amidst a snowgum jungle, with the slight cooling benefit of a 1500 metre altitude and shade of Mount Baw Baw’s Victorian alpine bushland.

With the lure of a pool sitting at the finish line atop the infamous ‘Sting’ – a 300-metre vertical run ascent – solo and team competitors headed out for two trail run laps including an out-and-back to Mt St Gwinear, and two mountain bike loops on freshly groomed singletrack.

DSC_0398 medLeading the pack was last Seasons’ (2013) summer edition winner, Jarad Kohlar, who belted out fast, chased hard by Spring’s winner, Brodie Gardner, keen for a back to back win off last year’s November effort.

It was still either racers’ title at the end of the first trail run, only seconds separating the two into bike transition. However, Kohlar’s expertise on the tight technical singletrack gave him a four minute breather as he came back off the first ride.

On the second run the difference between the two athletes was negligible, both recording 29-minute legs before Kohlar again put another three minutes on Gardner on the final mountain bike loop. Lucky he did, as Gardner fought hard up the killer climb that is the 1.4km Sting, snatching back four minutes. It wasn’t enough to extinguish Kohlar’s lead, the well-regarded adventure racer’s mountain bike legs and an overall time of 2 hours 41 minutes enough to secure the win, Gardner collapsing into the finish line pool three minutes in arrears.

Seasons of Pain: a mountain of whipping from Adventure Types on Vimeo.

It is early days for Gardner, however, as he transitions from competing in triathlons. Given improvement on the mountain bike over time and with more singletrack experience, there is sure to be some heated racing up front in future Seasons of Pain events.

In third place was Ben Pattie, a further three minutes behind Gardner in 2 hours 47 minutes.

IMG_9783 med“I didn’t know what to expect coming back, but I’d hear about Brodie’s win in the last edition and I knew Ben was in the field, so I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy day to stay out in front,” said Kohlar. “The heat was a game changer, and I tried to find the balance between pushing too hard and hitting a heat wall and maintaining enough pace to stay in the lead. The Sting still got me though – I felt lightheaded trying to get up it, so was happy to come away with the win and even happier to see that pool at the finish line.”

In the women’s category, all early bets were on Jade Forsyth, a racer with a mountain biking background and a previous winner at Seasons of Pain in 2013. Claim on the first female title for 2014 was, however, made on the first run leg by Britta Weller, who edged out in front and stayed there all afternoon. Her splits across all course legs were never threatened, despite notable runner and second place-getter, Ashley Lofton, putting in some smashing run times. Weller recorded a time of 3 hours 31 minutes. The split between second and third was closer, with Nicola Smithers punching up the Sting six minutes faster than Lofton, close but not enough to rise above third place, four minutes behind Lofton.

DSC_0420 med“The first lap I was in a lot of pain, and was thinking that it was going to be really tough,” said Weller, who has a mixed competitive background across both mountain biking and trail running, making the Seasons of Pain format well suited. “But then I settled in, relaxed and started to enjoy the racing. But I never expected to win!”

In the teams, Craig Flockhart and Chris Ord, stayed ahead of the pairs pack, recording the fastest times in the teams division across all four laps of the course bar the Sting, where they slowed somewhat (and were only third fastest team). Their time of 2 hours 56 was still enough to secure the win over Drew Cummings and Damien Bowden in 3 hours 22 mins.


DSC_0123 Brodie GardnerSUMMARY RESULTS:

1. Jarad Kohlar       02:41:16
2. Brodie Gardner    02:44:19
3. Ben Pattie      02:47:56


1. Britta Weller   03:31:37
2. Ashley Lofton  04:03:04
3. Nicola Smithers   04:07:38

Team (2)

1. Flockhart / Ord                   02:56:24
2. Cummings/Bowden          03:22:19
3. Crunden / Ormsby             03:26:23




The Sting still hurts at Seasons of Pain

RACE REPORT >> SEASONS OF PAIN >> A mountain bike specialist has usurped her contemporaries including a young gun trail runner in the second edition of the Montane Seasons of Pain multisport series held seasonally on Mount Baw Baw, in Victoria. Team iRide Rocky Mountain rider, Jade Forsyth (pictured above), took out the female category win, apparently surprising even herself.

AA_IMG_1742“I entered not knowing where I would finish amongst the girls as this was my first venture into the world of multisport events,” said Jade. “So I was stoked to win!”

In second place was rising star of the trail running scene, Lucy Bartholomew (profiled in Ed#7 of Trail Run Mag, pictured below), who, only nearing her 17th birthday, will be a star of the singletrack in years to come. “But maybe not in multisport,” she says. “I’m not great on the bike and had to walk some of the ride sections. I think I’ll enter as a team next time with a mountain biking partner!”

In the men’s it was second time lucky for Stephen Rennick (pictured right), a notable runner in the Salomon Trail Run Series. He came 11th in the inaugural Summer Montane Seasons of Pain in January, but turned up the speed a notch for the Autumn edition to outclass notable triathlete and adventure racer, Aaron Dodd, in second place. In third place was regular on the trail ultra circuit, Tegyn Angel, showing he’s no slouch on the shorter courses, even when two wheels comes into play. 

While Angel held on to third comfortably for the entire race, the tussle was tight between the top two from the starter’s bell.

“I knew I was in for a challenging race when Aaron took off from the bell at a cracking pace,” said Rennick. “For the first (trail run) lap I was on par with Aaron, but he was first out of transition for the first bike leg. My plan was to try to catch him on the hill climb and enter the singletrack section first to try to get a bit of a lead, which I managed to do.

“I then focused on settling into a rhythm on the second run leg, and by the last mountain bike leg I was focusing on getting through as efficiently as possible as the legs were getting rather heavy.

Rennick singled out the Seasons course – slightly shortened for this edition – for high praise.

AA_IMG_1814“The location, the snow gums and alpine terrain is something different and quite special,” said Rennick. “The format of the event of a trail run and mountain bike is perfect for someone like me just getting into multi discipline racing. I’ve been interested in adventure racing for a while, and this event was a perfect starting point as the distances are achievable, but still challenging. It’s also more accessible for people who don’t swim or own kayaks and being a grassroots event, the atmosphere was relaxed and competitors friendly. Oh, and the prize money is a good lure too!”

For all competitors is was the now infamous ‘Sting’ – a final 1.5km/400m vertical ascent – that will stick in the memory as much as crossing the line first.

“The toughest part of the race with out a doubt,” said Rennick. “It was a bit like a dream, trying to run it, but you just can’t. You know you have given everything by the top because the legs are burning. With the thinner air and heart racing at near max, it was just about getting to the top and over the line.”

Said Forsyth: “The Sting…well, what can I say…my legs stung! I think it was the most challenging part for me but rewarding at the same time.”

Both winners spoke highly of the course they’d just conquered, which took in 30km or singletrack trail running and mountain biking split into four loops.

“The run was along undulating double track with a bit of bush bashing thrown in to keep you on your toes. The mountain bike leg was a mixture of double and single track with some little rock rollovers and technical sections to keep the seasoned mountain biker amused,” said Forsyth.

“I will definitely be back for more Seasons with its great atmosphere and amazing terrain to ride and run through.”

Special mention, too, goes to Bright trail runner, Neil Kinder (pictured below), who at 63 years of age, knocked off the course solo apparently loving every minute of the Sting.

Organisers have confirmed that the Winter edition of Seasons will go ahead on a revised date and an all-new format to accommodate for the changed conditions, which includes guaranteed snow.

“Montane Seasons of Pain Winter edition will be a mix of cross country skiing and trail running/snow shoeing in the main, with a short dash of mountain biking thrown in as the edition’s unique ‘Sting’,” says Race Director, Grant Seamer. “The course won’t necessarily be as long, but it’ll be all on snow, so it will still be tough but fun.”

AA_IMG_1666Now slated for 10 August, 2013, the Winter Montane Seasons of Pain will inaugurate a unique event on the multisport calendar, being the only format of its kind in Australia.

“As far as we know there are no other XC ski combined with snow shoe, trail run and mountain bike events in Australia,” said Seamer. “And the event will take place on the Saturday prior to the annual Tullicoutty Cup, a Nordic ski style event taking in 8.5km and 5 km courses. So the Seasons event will make a great warm up for XC skiers in that event.”

The Spring edition of Montane Seasons of Pain will return to the trail run and mountain bike format.


More information and entries at www.mtbawbaw.com.au


  1. Steve Rennick 02:24:22
  2. Aaron Dodd 02:31:15
  3. Tegyn Angel 02:44:26


  1. Jade Forsyth 3:04:35
  2. Lucy Bartholomew 03:16:25
  3. Aislinn Prendergast 03:19:59

TEAM WINNER: Team Brady 02:47:22

Magnetic pull of tropical trails

Melbournite and Associate TRM Editor, Pat Kinsella, heads north, to the tropical climes of Far North Queensland, where it’s perfect trails one day, stunning trails the next…mind the wildlife.

On my first day of trail running proper in Far North Queensland, I slammed my foot down about two inches from a brightly coloured snake that, thankfully, decided not to punish my clumsiness with a couple of poison-laced punctures.

We were running around Dunk Island (pictured right), an idyllic isle a short boat trip from Mission Beach. It would have been slightly less idyllic on that same date exactly one year earlier, when Cyclone Yasi screamed through the area, turning trees into twigs and reducing concrete and metal structures to dust and debris. I’ve seen pictures of the immediate aftermath and it looked like a war zone.

The island hasn’t fully bounced back yet  – many of the villas are still roofless and ragged, a lots of palm tree are headless – but vegetation grows quickly in the tropics and it is beautiful again, despite its scars. Maybe even a little bit sexier because of them.

People running this trail as part of the Ona Mission adventure race in September will aid the recovery effort still further, but when I was there the track hadn’t been used for at least 365 days, and it was pretty overgrown. Hence I didn’t see the snake and, for its part, the somnambulant serpent had become accustomed to sunbathing without fear of trampling.

Running with me was Richard Blanchette, the post-cyclone recovery officer for area. Richard, a fit Kiwi with a background in triathlon, had jumped at the chance to go and inspect part of his patch via a trail run. “What kind of snake was that?” I asked him. “Ah, deadly venomous, those ones,” he grinned. “But they don’t bite tourists…”

Encounters such as this are enough to keep you on your toes and enliven any trail run, and they’re not that unusual in this neck of the woods, where it’s easy to escape into the arms of true tropical wilderness after running just a few hundred metres from your front door. In fact, sometimes the wilderness comes to you – the previous evening Richard had recounted a story about rescuing one of his kid’s new pet kittens from the jaws of a three-metre python that had let itself into the family’s house in Mission Beach.

Also with me was Ben Southall, the English guy some people may remember as the winner of the World’s Best Job competition in 2009, when he scored a year-long gig working as the caretaker of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Ben, who has since completed kayaking and diving trip along the length of the reef and who now works for Queensland Tourism, has enjoyed some pretty cool days in the office over the last few years, but he reckons he’s never happier than when he’s out running trails.

Around the very next corner the grin was momentarily wiped from his chops, however, when he nearly ran face first into a spider the size of a man’s hand that dangled in a monstrous web across the trail. There’s never a dull moment up here.

The second time I go trail running proper in Far North Queensland, I lose so much fluid from my body I don’t piss for 6 hours, despite constant attempts to keep rehydrated, and when I do have a squirt it looks like orange juice.

This time we were running around Magnetic Island in the middle of the Wet season. It was 6am and the humidity was unnerving – it felt like a warm, moist flannel was wrapped around my lungs. On this particular day bath-temperature rain was falling and it was so humid that it became hard to work out whether I was running or swimming. To add to the all-round moisture fest, I was sweating from parts of my body that I didn’t even realise had sweat glands on them.

And I loved every second of it. I was trail running in the Wet Tropics, where there are snakes bigger than me in the undergrowth and 5-metre crocs in some of the creeks. The air tastes and smells so different to home, and the singletrack wends through jungle. Real jungle. Within 15 minutes of running out of the door of my hotel, I was having a full-on adventure.

There’s nothing more exciting than running trails somewhere that is so utterly different to where you live, and this is as utterly different to suburban Melbourne as you can get.

It put its hooks in me, and I’ll be back for more. In fact, I’ll be back this very weekend, to have a crack at the Magnetic Island Adventurethon, an adventure race that involves 22km of trail running (plus 26km of ocean paddling, 29km of mountain biking and a whole lot of sweat and tears).

And that’s what happens when you end up in the pub while still on a post-run euphoric buzz, and you get dared to do something by the race organiser and ultra-enthusiastic running ambassador Ben Southall, who is also racing this weekend.

But I was easily press-ganged. The pull of the tropical trails was too strong to resist and I can’t wait to get back on that jungle singletrack to sweat it out.

Magnetic Island Adventurethon: 31 March–1 April, www.adventurethon.com.au

Ona Mission Adventure Race: 9 September 2012, www.adventuresportnq.info/events/multisport/onamission