EDITORIAL: Technique of Ages

Technique is about the little things, but also about the big things, like keeping you in the game in the first place, says TRM Australia Editor, Chris Ord. [This is the AU Editor’s editorial from the recently released TRAIL RUN MAG #19, out now. Download for FREE here.]Mt Buller

A general thirst for adventure led me to trail running. But technique has kept me in trail running.

I was a generalist outdoorsman – expert at nothing, dabbler in everything. Trekking, paddling, mountain biking…whatever it was, so long as it was in the Great Outdoors.

Blame a youth spent in scouts under a scout master who threw notions like uniforms, badge collecting and honouring the Queen and Country out of the tent flap in favour of midnight madness mega-hikes and coasteering without ropes or helmets. Thanks for that, Dad (he’d never get away with it these days).

If there was a running influence, perhaps it was that same scout master (I was never allowed to call him Dad, it had to be his scout name – Suba – taken from the first half of the name of his work car. His lieutenant’s name was, of course, Roo). Suba/Dad punched out eight or so Melbourne Marathons in his day. Never broke three and a quarter, however (3:17 was his peak performance). Perhaps the trail thing was seeded obliquely back in a youth spent cross-country running, the only sport I was anything better than below average at.

But I was not a runner. At least I didn’t call myself a runner.IMG_6184

So when I came to trail running – not much prior to the beginnings of this magazine – I had long lost the elasticity and supernatural recovery powers of youth. I loved being out on trail, in the bush, an environment in which I had spent so much time. But my running was hopeless. I could headstrong it through the distance. But I soon paid the price of absolute ignorance: ongoing, unabated injury. ITB was the worst, but my knees felt like I had severe osteoarthritis (or what I imagine that to feel like) – something akin to metal grinding and ceasing. It sounded bad, it felt worse. Running to the top of some steps I clearly remember stopping, and inching down like a decrepit old man. I was in my mid thirties at the time. My boss of the day bounded off ahead. He was around the same age. I thought that was me done with running before I even really started. That realisation was wrenching. I wanted to run. I’d spent a mid-life doing all sorts of adventurous things, but not running. And now I’d found it (or rediscovered it if you count the cross country), I wanted it badly.

So I did what any idiot runner does. I bulldozered on through the pain. I ran anyway. No idea why things just got worse. No idea why I didn’t consult anyone. Not a physio, not a biomechanist, not a coach of any description. Not even a running buddy.

Then I did what any other runner does do. I consulted not someone, but something. Hello Doctor Google.

Now, Medi-Googling is not to be recommended. But somehow it did indeed start the journey to rehabilitation by exposing me to one important thing: the idea of technique. I didn’t even know there was such a thing – as stupid as that sounds. I read up on how to run, even though I thought I knew. I mean, we run from the day we can walk, why do we need to learn any more about it? Okay, if you’re an elite, I would accept that technique makes you faster. But I wasn’t trying to get faster, I just didn’t want my knees to lock up whenever I took ten paces.

Following the black hole of tangents that can swallow days on the Internet, I ended up reading about form, Chi running, gait, cadence, barefoot, body position, breathing, core, arm swing. And I took none of it in. This is the danger of the Internet: awash with so much information, yet so little of it sinks in.

One thing that did stay with me was the danger of overstriding and heel strike. I leant forward a little. I started stepping on my mid-to-fore foot. Smaller, more nimble steps. It felt awkward, wrong, laborious. But then I left the screen and started my studies in real life. On a hill in Victoria, I watched elite runner Matt Cooper glide through the bush. Easy, with grace, and a smile. I wanted to float like he did.

In the mountains of Nepal, I watched, me the broken runner still ascending on an out and back, ultra star Lizzy Hawker springing down the boulder field, rock to giant rock, her wrists limp, arms out in front like a kangaroo, feet tap dancing. It was a flow of easy, efficient movement I instantly likened in my mind to Fred Astaire, Singing in the Rain. This at 4000 metres and 100km along the trail. She, too, was smiling.

And so it was that I decided to take my running lessons in the school of observation. I soaked up other’s technique  – watching, feeling, and admiring. I chose my subjects by their lightness of being and their smile.

I banked away in my mind images of those runners. On a downhill bomb, I’d project visions of Lizzy’s (and Fred’s) dancing onto my own technique. Weaving along flowing singletrack, I’d get my shoulders back, engage the core, float over the earth, just like Coops. And, of course, I’d smile.

For me it was not about speed, nor winning, nor times, or even comparing performance against performance. It’s not even about being the best runner I can be, in a way.

What it has been about is seeking a more natural, effortless flow so that I may tap into and enjoy the more ethereal aspects of running: the seeing, the smelling, the feeling. If I make it easy on the effort, through technique, I get to relax and enjoy the ride a whole lot more.

And it’s about longevity. I’m not alone in not getting any younger. And the older I get, the more aware I am of my limited lifespan. Not just generally, but specifically as a runner. And my worry is that my lifespan as a runner will end before my lifespan as a human. And I don’t want that. I want to die on my feet. Running. In the wilderness. With a smile on my face. Thankful for the technique that allowed me to pass away while still moving freely in the environment that makes me feel so alive. Yes, I’ll die running and smiling wildly. Until that time, I’ll keep watching others who radiate effortlessly through nature and try my best to follow in their footsteps, so light they are.

Your observant editor,
Chris Ord, AU

Mt Buller

Larapinta strip


Records smashed at Surf Coast Century

It was a record breaking day at the 2015 Surf Coast Century ultra trail run in Anglesea on Saturday 19 September with the men’s, women’s and relay team course records all broken.

First over the finish line in the 100km event was team Love the Run, taking line honours for the third year in a row and setting a new course record of just 7hrs,15.41. That set the tone for the day.Ellie_Emmerson

Paul Munro from Melbourne paced himself brilliantly for the first 75km to creep to the lead in the final leg and finish strongly, winning the 100km in 8hrs,17.08. He broke the previous individual course record by over 8 minutes, which had been set by Rowan Walker in the first year of the event in 2012.

“I was seeded number one today which added a bit of pressure but I ran the whole way and was feeling pretty good. I made sure my stops were quick and just kept moving through.

It wasn’t until a couple of k’s to go that I realised I was in the running for the course record so I tried to push a bit harder to see if I could break it and I’m really happy with how it all went today.

It’s great to have such a large field here and thanks to everyone for all the encouragement along the course, especially my partner Anna and other support crew members. It’s such a great atmosphere here at the finish,” said Paul Munro.

Behind Munro was Ross Hopkins from Mansfield in 8hrs,44.40 – who improved on his fifth placing in 2014 – and then third male (fourth overall individual runner) was Michael Rathjen, a newcomer to the event, who finished in 9hrs,21.25.

Kellie Emmerson, last year’s female winner and current women’s course record holder, stole the show. She was untouchable as she powered through the 100km, absolutely blowing the rest of the field away. She set a new women’s course record in a smashing time of 9hrs,18.15, finishing 11 minutes faster than last year and nearly an hour ahead of her nearest rival. Not only that, she also finished third overall individual in the 100km, a fantastic feat.Paul_Munro_2

She was overcome with joy and swamped by friends at the finish line.

“Everyone has been amazing with the support on course, especially my crew, you’re awesome,” said Kellie Emmerson.

Amy Lamprecht from Tasmania finished second to Emmerson in a repeat of last year’s results. Lamprecht finished in 10hrs,10.07 with Marlene Lootz from Western Australia rounding out the top three in a time of 10hrs,40.30.

This year the event also incorporated the Australian 100km Trail Running Championships under the guidance of the Australian Ultra Running Association.

Paul Munro and Kellie Emmerson have rightly claimed the prestigious National Titles following their stellar Surf Coast Century performances.Larapinta strip

In total, over 800 runners competed in the Surf Coast Century, across the 100km solo, 50km solo and the 100km relay team events.

The race started at sunrise on the Anglesea Main Beach with runners enjoying a stunning course consisting of bush and 4WD trails, flowing single track, sandy beaches, coastal headlands and breathtaking cliff top trails with seemingly endless views across the Great Ocean Road region.

The 50km half century included legs 1 and 2 of the course which took runners on a loop from Anglesea to Torquay along the beach and then back again via the coastal hinterland trails and Surf Coast Walk. New Caledonian runner Cocherau Oswald took the field by surprise and won the event in just 3hrs,33.03. In second was Tim Oborne from Queensland and then Fergus Koochew.Surf_Coast_Century_Leg_1

In the women’s event nobody stood a chance against former World Orienteering Champion Hanny Allston from Tasmania who had a clear win in 3hs,43.56. Behind Allston was Karen Sharman and in third was another visiting New Caledonian, Plaire Angelique.

The second half of the 100km course featured more single track and bush trails as runners took a second loop from Anglesea to Moggs Creek, and returning to Anglesea via the coastal trails and surf coast beaches.

The course received rave reviews from competitors.

“It’s the first 100km I’ve ever run and I’m really stuffed. I loved it. The course was awesome, just a mix of everything. The beach at the start at sunrise… it doesn’t get any better than that. It was a perfect morning. Then you go off into this awesome single trail for the next 50km which is just unbeatable as you snake in and out. Then the run home past Aireys Lighthouse is picture perfect, it’s the Great Ocean Road on a plate really,” said Michael Rathjen.

Many runners finished in the dark with just a head torch to light their way through the coastal trails. After the many hours on their feet they were treated with fairy lights to guide them back down Anglesea Beach and through the finish arch to the crowd of loving family and friends waiting to cheer them home.Mt Buller

Brendan Soetekouw, a member of the local Surf Coast Trail Runners, finished after sunset in a time of 13hrs,48.24.

“It was awesome. I had a tough day, particularly on Leg 2 and I really had to refocus and start afresh for Leg 3. It’s such a mental effort but the body held up alright so I couldn’t be happier.


Male 100km solo
1. Paul Munro 08:17:08
2. Ross Hopkins 08:44:40
3. Michael Rathjen 09:31:25

Female 100km solo
1. Kellie Emmerson 09:18:15
2. Amy Lamprecht 10:10:07
3. Marlene Lootz 10:40:30

Male 50km solo
1. Cochereau Oswald 03:33:03
2. Tim Oborne 04:08:50
3. Fergus Koochew 04:14:00

Female 50km solo
1. Hanny Allston 03:43:56
2. Karen Sharman 04:32:59
3. Plaire Angelique 04:34:51

Top male team of 2:
Burning Sensation (Grant Hicks and Chris Armstrong) 09:50:48

Top female team of 2:
The Merri-Jigs (Christine Hopkins and Katherine McKean) 09:42:12

Top male team of 4:
Love the Run 07:15:41
(Campbell Maffett, Agustin Scafidi, Tim Bryant and Aidan Rich)

Top female team of 4:
Licorice Legs 09:14:18
(Michelle Keogh, Bernadette Dornom, Sharon Hanna and Eiblin Fletcher)

Top mixed team of 4:
Surf Coast Mammas 13:21:36
(Sally Connor, Denise Satti, Annella Chambers and Anita Nichols)

This is the fourth year of the Surf Coast Century and it has really developed a strong reputation amongst the Australian and international trail running community. Approximately 130 runners came from interstate or overseas for this year’s event and this number is expected to increase again in 2016 as again, it will host the Australian Titles.

For the full event results visit www.SurfCoastCentury.com.au


The North Face 100: an A-Z

Dan Lewis previews this year’s The North Face 100, with an A-Z guide of the iconic 100km Blue Mountains trail running event (May 15-17) that attracts elite athletes from around the world. IMAGES: Incite Images / Mark Watson

THE NORTH FACE 200 - 2009A is for AROC Sport, the organisation that runs TNF100 each year and started it in 2008.

B is for Kilian Jornet Burgada, the freakish Spanish trail runner who won the 2011 TNF100. B is also for the cherished belt buckles awarded to those who finish in under 20 hours.

C is for the camaraderie of the runners, climbs (more than 4000m), checkpoints (five) and competitors (a thousand in the 100km race). C is also for cut-off time. If you haven’t finished by 10.53am on the Sunday your race is over.

D is for Brendan Davies, a Blue Mountains runner who won the 2013 TNF100 in a time of 9:16:12 – still the record. He’s aiming for another win this year.

E is for the incredible emotion runners display when they cross the finish line. E is for the eighth running of TNF100. And E is for employment. TNF100 is a big employer of the Blue Mountains outdoor guiding fraternity for their first aid skills.

F is for TNF100’s companion 50km race. It’s for Furber Steps, the first big descent into the Jamison Valley and the last agonising climb out of the valley (860 steps, 200m of vertical gain) just before the finish line.

G is for Tasmania’s Stu Gibson, last year’s winner. He won’t be in this year’s race unfortunately, he’ll be working in Antarctica. G is also for the Golden Stairs, the race’s first big climb out of the Jamison Valley. G is also for the Gundungurra people, the traditional owners of the land across which TNF100 is raced. Gundungurra man David King has provided a great welcome to the runners every year since 2008.THE NORTH FACE 200 - 2009

H is for hotel rooms. It’s impossible to get a last-minute one in Katoomba on the weekend of the race due to the hundreds of runners and supporters who come to town.

I is for Ironpot Ridge, a section of the course with spectacular bush views that isn’t usually open to the public.

J is for the journalists like Dan Lewis (ex-The Sydney Morning Herald) who will keep you informed about TNF100 on its Facebook page and website.

K is for Katoomba’s KCC convention centre where the expo (where you can buy cool outdoor gear), registration and race briefings will be held on the Friday. K is also for the Injinji 1km-4-Kids race on the Sunday morning.

THE NORTH FACE 200 - 2009L is for Andrew Lee (right), a Blue Mountains runner who won his first TNF100 in 2009 and famously tied with Stu Gibson to take out the 2010 race. L is also for Tom Landon-Smith, TNF100 race director and a former member of the Australian cross-country ski team.

M is for the Megalong Valley, where the race follows the historic Six Foot Track that connects Katoomba and Jenolan Caves.

N is for the first ever National Trail Running Conference that’s being held in the Blue Mountains to coincide with this year’s TNF100. N is also for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, a key supporter of the race.

O is for overseas runners from 35 countries This year’s elite field includes athletes from New Zealand, Japan, France, Canada, Britain, Lithuania, Spain, South Africa, Ireland, China and the US. The world’s top-rated trail runner in 2014, Francois D’Haene of France, will be out to see if he can do better than his second place in 2011.

P is for Petzl, one of the race’s sponsors. Their head torches come in very handy for night running. P is also for prize money – $1500 to the male and female winners – that will be handed out at the presentation at 10am on the Sunday. And P is for Nuria Picas, the female winner of last year’s TNF100 in a new record time of 10:57:46.

Q is for the old Queen Victoria Hospital on Kings Tableland, Wentworth Falls – the last checkpoint (78km mark) before the finish line.

R is for race rules – everything from no iPod use at checkpoints to no faeces on the track.

S is for Scenic World in Katoomba, where the race starts and finishes. S is also for the race start, 6.20am on the Saturday. And S is for spectators. Scenic World is a great place for spectators to cheer on the runners.

T is for Tarros Ladders, a spectacular climb down the cliffs runners must make from the heights of Narrow Neck to the grassy oasis of Dunphy’s Camp, named after the legendary bush walker and naturalist Myles Dunphy. And T is for outdoor clothing company The North Face, which has sponsored the race since 2008. T is for Blue Mountains adventurer Lucas Trihey, who co-ordinates the race’s first aid team.

U is for the Ultra-Trail World Tour, a prestigious international trail running series which TNF100 is an important part of.

V is for high-visibility vest, part of the mandatory gear runners must carry with them to stay safe. The mandatory gear list also includes thermals, a waterproof jacket, beanie, gloves, compass, compression bandage, whistle, space blanket, maps, matches and mobile phone.

W is for the women like three-times winner Sydney-based Beth Cardelli who are going to make the female section of this year’s TNF100 so competitive.

X is for x-factor, that special something that has made TNF100 Australia’s greatest ultra-endurance trail running event.

Y is for YouTube, where you’ll find some very cool TNF100 videos.

Z is for zen, that meditative state of mind trail runners seek as they compete in TNF100.

Check out www.thenorthface100.com.au  and follow the action.

Trail report: Convicts & Wenches, Tas.

Conditions were ideal for the 45 runners who toed the start line of the ‘Convicts and Wenches Marathon’ on 23rd March. It was a cool and calm 10 degrees as the field set off at the 8am on the out and back course.

Now in its fifth year, this 50km ‘fun run’ winds its way through Narawntapu National Park, on the north coast of Tasmania, a 50 minute drive from Launceston. It is a true trail ultra-marathon, run completely on pristine Tasmanian beaches and coastal single-track. Dubbed the “Serengeti of Tasmania”, Narawntapu is also one of the best places in Tasmania to view wildlife. The National Park boasts a rich array of animals such as the Forester kangaroo, Bennetts wallaby, common wombat, a plethora of birdlife, those slithery things that runners would prefer not to see, and even the famous Tasmanian devil. Along with the 50km ultra-marathon, teams of two can enter as a relay (out then back), with the day also offering a 25km, and 12km race.

DCIM100GOPROAfter claiming line honours in the 25km race for the past two years, 23 year old David Bailey decided to take the step up to the 50km race in 2014 and from the start made his intentions clear. David, along with Queenslander Anderson Mocquiuti set the pace early along the first 6km stretch of the course which winds its way around West Head. This section of the course sees runners hugging the coastline along pine needle covered single track, rising up onto the headland and past some impressive sea cliffs, before dropping down to the first aid station and then onto Badger Beach.

DCIM100GOPROThe beaches along the course are flat, hard, and fast, with the race start being timed to coincide with low tide. After 5km along Badger Beach, the runners arrived at the 11km aid station ready to then begin the 7.5km stretch of trail across Badger Head.

DCIM100GOPROThis next ‘middle section’ of the course (7km) is a real treat as the trail rolls up and over the headland firstly to Copper Cove, then asks the runners to climb up and out of Copper Cove, over Little Badger Head, and finally drop down the switchbacks onto Bakers Beach. It is a truly remarkable trail to be meandering along with the ocean over your shoulder and taking in views of the beaches, coastal cliffs and rock formations, whilst also being able to look further afield at identifiable mountain peaks such as Mount Roland, Black Bluff, and the Dial Range which are inland to the west.

The field worked into a slight headwind as they covered the 7km length of Bakers Beach and headed out to the 25km turn point which saw David Bailey and Anderson Mocquiuti reach together. For the females, last year’s winner Amy Lamprecht was looking really strong and wasted no time at the aid station before returning for the back half.

DCIM100GOPROAs the clouds blew off and the temperature rose to a balmy 25 degrees, the wind also picked up slightly giving the runners a very handy tail wind to push them back along the course for the return 25km.

Leading from start to finish, David Bailey ran a near perfect race and took line hours in 3:51:55 whilst also setting a new course record, nearly 4 ½ minutes quicker than Aub Henricks’ 2013 winning time. After turning with the competition on his shoulder at the halfway mark, when crossing the finish line David had put nearly 15 minutes between himself and his nearest rival, that being second place getter Jonathan Worswick (4:07:35), with third place then going to Jarrod Shaw (4:11:37)

DCIM100GOPROFor the females, Amy Lamprecht was never challenged and smashed her 2013 course record by nearly 17 minutes in a blistering time of 4:16:35 (7th overall). Rounding out the top three for the females were Jennifer Boocock (4:50:30) and Kirra Lewandowski-Porter (5:12:12)

With 42 finishers in the 50km race for 2014, and now also offering the 25km and 12km versions which saw 61 and 17 runners compete, the Convicts and Wenches Marathon has grown in each of its first 5 years and is quickly becoming a ‘must do’ on the Tasmanian trail running calendar. Make sure you’re there for 2015!



IMAGES and words: Phil Beeston



Great minds run alike – edition 11 editorial


Our search for understanding will never come to an end, and…we will always have the challenge of new discovery. Without it, we would stagnate.”  Stephen Hawking

I remember reading somewhere that some (many?) of the world’s most brilliant minds were and are runners.  Not Stephen Hawking, obviously. But others of his ilk more fortunate in physical capacity.

Not only that, but when faced with one of their mind boggling problems – like, how do black holes work and is the universe expanding or contracting, that kind of thing – it was a run that emptied their obviously fruitfully full minds enough for them to see the light (or the dark in the case of black holes and dark matter) and solve the problem.

Sure, some people sit on the toilet for their lightbulb moments. Others take LSD. (LSD perhaps scatters the mental decks and a restroom stink is perhaps not the best olfactory seed for genius). I reckon it’s on the run where the brain best expunges the clutter, readies for clarity and follows the legs’ lead to go into overdrive.

It may be in a manner that dreams up your next creative vision (talking to all you painters, potters and rainbow makers). It may be a mathematical solution that you break the back of (talking to all you PhD physicists reading). Or it may just be cracking that damn Sudoku in last weekend’s newspaper (hi, Mum). But I bet you’ve had some kind of brainwave hit you on the trail (sometimes a second before the tree branch knocks it out of you, the distraction of your own brilliance momentarily making you forget to duck).

There’s some science behind why any scientist worth their weight in Nobel Prizes runs. Partly it’s about your Chief Executive Officer. That’s colloquial for the prefrontal cortex of your brain that they reckon steer the intelligence ship. It is the area just behind our foreheads that controls the “executive functioning”, which includes cognitive processes like prioritising, planning, initiating, managing working memory, managing time and resources, and self-regulation.

The results of a study by Hillman and his fellow boffins1 suggest that intense cardiovascular exercise affects neuro-electric processes that underpin executive control. Simply, exercise improves your ability to manage cognitive processeses.

LM_131120_WEBAnother report2 reckons that aerobic exercise training has antidepressant and anxiolytic (something that inhibits anxiety) effects, which protect against the harmful consequences of stress. The findings suggest that exercise triggers a process that helps not only endure and reverse, but prevent future stress.

And of course we all know and love the ‘runners’ high’, a euphoria felt after running described by as the so-called opioid theory. Boeker et al3 suggests region-specific effects in the frontolimbic brain area that translate to improved mood and an increase in general optimism.

Right, so running means that our brains work better, we stave off feeling down and indeed we get a little high. How does that translate into Eureka moments?

One factor is simply that with better delivery of oxygen and energy to the brain – it works better. Exercise increases cerebral blood flow and provides for more efficient glucose utilisation. Writes Craig Bennett, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, (and a runner): “The brain lives on glucose. Over 25% of the energy you take in is going to fuel that grey matter in your skull. When you are really working (thinking) on a tough problem that percentage only goes up as energy usage increases. If you can more efficiently get energy where it needs to go that would represent a major benefit to cognitive processing.”

Indeed, make a rat run in a laboratory and it gets smarter. Make it run harder than it otherwise might have of its own volition, and its thinking prowess improves further.

Of course, it is the act of running in the first place that some argue (including Christopher McDougall of Born to Run fame who most popularly leads the charge) led to mankind’s sudden warp speed increase in intelligence: we ran animals to death, ate the meat, our brains exploded with the protein pill leading to vastly improved cognitive functions and outcomes, like agriculture, politics and One Direction.

So where does this leave us? Firstly, that running should be incorporated into our education system, primary, secondary and tertiary. Post doctorate in quantum mechanics? You’ll be up for an ultra distance, then. Secondly: running (or some form of physical activity that is cardio vascular intensive) should be prescribed by doctors and psychologists more often than drugs – the science is in, the former can be just as if not more effective than the latter (obviously cautioned by a dose of context here – I’m not saying a psychopathic prone to bodily harm should simply be told to go for a jog). Finally: it doesn’t always work. After all, (Australian Prime Minister) Tony Abbott runs a lot and it doesn’t seem to laying the groundwork for any Eureka moments there.

And so, as Stephen Hawking said “…our search for understanding will never come to an end…” Better keep on running then. The answers – whatever the problem – are out there. On the trail.

TRM11 cover shotChris Ord, Australian Editor
chris (at) trailrunmag.com


1. Charles H. Hillman, Erin M. Snook, and Gerald J. Jerome. (2003) Acute cardiovascular exercise and executive control function. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 48 (3), pp. 307-314.
2. Salmon, Peter. (2001) Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: A unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review, 21(1), pp. 33–61.
Henning Boecker, Till Sprenger, Mary E. Spilker, Gjermund Henriksen, Marcus Koppenhoefer, Klaus J. Wagner, Michael Valet, Achim Berthele and Thomas R. Tolle. (2008) The Runner’s High: Opioidergic Mechanisms in the Human Brain, Cerebral Cortex, 18 (3), pp. 2523-2531.



Trail Run Fest returns: entries open

IMG_7826_low2Following a highly successful inaugural event earlier this year, the acclaimed Brooks Trail Run Festival will return to the flanks of Mount Baw Baw on the 8-10 March long weekend in 2014, with entries to the three day celebration of off-road running now open.

A unique three day outing on the trail running event calendar, the Brooks Trail Run Festival is the only trail event that combines a fantastic line-up of competitive runs with plenty of off-trail activities in the form of seminars, presentations and trail running films along with a uniquely social atmosphere, with most participants staying for the duration in Baw Baw village accommodation.

IMG_0724_lower“We want to not only showcase what we believe to be some of the best single-track running there is to be had in the country,” says Event Director, Grant Seamer, “but also to celebrate the holistic aspects of the trail running lifestyle and the passion people have for it as their chosen sport. With that in mind we will be jamming the event program with a bunch of great activities from technical training sessions to nutrition seminars, inspirational talks and trail running films.”

For competitive trail runners out to make their mark, there will be a cash purse on offer of $1000 – one of the largest in Australian trail running, paid to the Brooks King and Queen of the Mountain title-winners. To be eligible, runners must participate in the Walhalla to Mount Baw Baw Marathon on the first day, and then choose from a 12km night or 12km day run the next day and then vie to be the fastest free mountain runner in the 1.5km technical downhill and uphill challenges on the final day.

IMG_0908 -lower“Of course, while we expect to see some of Australia’s best trail runners shoot for the money and glory, the event is first and foremost about enjoyment of running in mountains, so people can enter as many or as few events as they like: there is also a half marathon that is 99% singletrack, and a 3km kids and family fun run. Or people can just come up to watch some of the action – the free mountain running is spectator friendly being so short, sharp and spectacular – and maybe join in some of the break out sessions,” says Seamer.

The Brooks Trail Run Festival will again feature a line-up of Australia’s best competitive and adventure runners presenting and offering advice on mountain, with notables yet to be announced.

Says Brooks runner and event ambassador, adventure runner Samantha Gash (pictured running in the inaugural event, below right).

“The Inaugural Brooks Trail Run Fest ranks up there on one of my most enjoyable trail running weekends I have had. The energy of the whole weekend was extremely positive and uplifting, as not only did we have plenty of time to race hard but the three day format allowed everyone to get to know each other on a social level – which is part of the beauty of the trail running community in particular, it’s very welcoming and I think the Festival epitomises that.  It’s definitely one to prioritise for the 2014 running calendar.”

Affordable self-catering accommodation is available on the mountain, with runners able to enjoy the benefit of having comfortable lodgings to rest and recuperate all within a few hundred metres of the finishing line. Also on mountain is a bar, café and restaurant, along with an Adventure Hub store, all open throughout the weekend.

Families will be catered for with a jumping castle and other kids’ activities to keep them amused while Mum or Dad runs, and there’s plenty else to keep everyone happy including mountain bike hire (XC and downhill, selected times) and of course walks, including to the summit of Mount Baw Baw for spectacular views across the Gippsland valley.

IMG_0779_lowerENTRIES NOW OPEN: www.eventbrite.com.au/event/8964391737
Information at: www.mountbawbaw.com.au (Events)

Brooks Trail Run Festival

Saturday 8 – Monday 10 March (public holiday long weekend)

Confirmed line-up (more to be announced)


  • Marathon – Walhalla to Baw Baw village, 43km
  • Half Marathon – Mt Erica Car Park – Baw Baw village, 21.5km
  • + seminars and activities


  • 12km day run
  • 12km night run
  • 3km kids and family fun run
  • + seminars and activities


  • 1.5km free mountain technical run descent
  • 1.5km free mountain technical run ascent
  • + presentations

Entries are now open at: www.eventbrite.com.au/event/8964391737
Information at: www.mountbawbaw.com.au (Events)

Big Red Run Launched

A major new endurance running event, the Big Red Run, will be in held in Australia’s Simpson Desert in July 2013 to raise funds for type 1 diabetes research.

Based out of Birdsville from 8-13 July, the Big Red Run will take runners across the iconic red sands of one of the world’s most remote deserts, including the world’s longest parallel sand dunes and the famous 40-metre high ‘Big Red’.

Launched this week, the week-long running event has the support of some of the biggest names in Australian running and entertainment, with ultra-marathon champion Pat Farmer announced as event ambassador and country music legend John Williamson set to perform a free concert atop ‘Big Red’ on 8 July.

The Big Red Run will become the major annual fundraiser of the Born To Run Foundation, a new charity founded by amateur runner Greg Donovan, whose son Stephen was diagnosed with the potentially fatal type 1 juvenile diabetes at age 14.

Donovan launched both the foundation and the Big Red Run in September, kick starting a mission to raise $5 million to fund research into a cure for type 1 diabetes.

“More than 130,000 Australians are living with type 1 diabetes, with six new cases diagnosed every day and around a quarter of Australians affected directly or through family and friends,” said Donovan.

“I know this first hand due to my son Stephen being diagnosed with the disease and I know the best thing I can do to help him is support clinical trials and improved lifestyles and awareness around type 1 diabetes through the Born to Run Foundation and the Big Red Run.”

Coinciding with National Diabetes Week, the Big Red Run will give runners the option of participating in the Big Red Run, a 250km six-day stage race, the Born to Run 100km or the Big Red Dash 42km.

Among the world’s largest and most remote deserts, the Simpson Desert is six times the size of Belgium, stretching across 176,500 sq km in central Australia crossing the borders of South Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland. It is also Australia’s driest desert.

An Australian owned and organised event, the Big Red Run will be underpinned by a comprehensive safety plan, with endurance event specialists Adrian Bailey and Lucas Trihey managing the event, safety and logistics.

Event ambassador Pat Farmer – twice world record holder for crossing the Simpson Desert – said the Big Red Run would attract endurance runners from across Australia and internationally.

“The Big Red Run will give runners a truly unique opportunity to tackle some of the most beautiful and forbidding landscapes in Australia and join an even bigger race – the race for a cure for type 1 diabetes,” said Farmer.

The journey of the Born to Run Foundation began earlier this year with a team of five ordinary Australians attempting the extraordinary: to race across five deserts on five continents to raise money for type 1 diabetes research.

The Born To Run team, which includes Donovan, his other son Matthew Donovan, Ron Schwebel, Jess Baker and type 1 diabetic and regular Trail Run Magazine contributor, Roger Hanney, is aiming to become the first team to complete the 4 Deserts, the world’s leading endurance footrace series.

The team have already successfully completed the first two deserts, the Atacama in Chile and the Gobi in China, and will embark on the two remaining weeklong, 250 kilometre races in the Sahara Desert and Antarctica in October and November.

The Big Red Run will mark the final leg of the Born To Run team’s five-desert journey, with all money raised going to type 1 diabetes research projects. The Born To Run Foundation will work with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a charitable organisation dedicated to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, to identify promising research projects for funding.

“It’s going to be a physically gruelling journey but in every step we live our foundation motto of “fitness for fighting diabetes”,” said Donovan.

To make a donation to the Born To Run Foundation, register to compete in the Big Red Run or for more information visit: www.borntorun.com.au

Top to tail on trail: mission New Zealand

Adventure runner Richard Bowles is set to create another record in the world of ultra-distance trail running, this time with sights set on New Zealand. During 2012 Richard became the first person to run the world’s longest marked trail, the rough and remote National Trail of Australia, raising awareness and funds for mental health organisation SANE Australia along the way.

In just 5.5 months Richard ran the equivalent of 127 marathons, and traversed the treacherous dividing range mountains from Melbourne to Cooktown, earning the reputation as a hybrid of Bear Grylls and Forrest Gump.

Starting on Saturday 13 October, Richard will run the 3054km Te Araroa trail stretching from Cape Reinga in the North of New Zealand to Bluff in the South where he aims to arrive on 15th December, just 60 days! The trail which opened on 3 December 2011 showcases New Zealand’s impressive landscape traversing down the coastline, through the forest, across farmland, over volcanoes and mountain passes, along river valleys, and on green pathways through seven cities.

Combining a passion for adventure, a love for running, and a determination to make a positive contribution to the places through which he runs, Richard is raising funds and awareness for Project Crimson, a leading conservation organisation, who have made impressive progress re-establishing pohutukawa and rata nationwide by planting trees, coordinating and supporting a wide range of maintenance activities, scientific research, possum control programmes and public education.

 One of Project Crimsons projects is Living Legends, planting native flora throughout New Zealand, supported by former All Blacks.

Many people have run the length of New Zealand on relatively flat terrain and at a total distance of just 2,200km. Richard will run another 50% on top of this distance and on rugged, mountainous terrain. Richard says, “The trail less travelled offers the best adventures, and I’m all about challenging myself on a daily basis”.

It’s one of the longest walking routes in the world. Hundreds of volunteers worked over ten years to put the trail in. The Te Araroa trail has never been run before, and typically takes hikers 100 days or more to complete. The trail offers people from all walks of life the ability to experiences some of the most magnificent aspects of New Zealands natural beauty and in turn educates people about the importance of conserving the natural environment.

Richard invites runners to join him on the trail for a run, and is keen to meet with the communities through which the trail passes.


Richard Bowles has many years experience in the discipline of distance running and regularly runs 200km weekly on trails around Melbourne. He is the first person to ever run the worlds longest marked trail, and is the Australian Record holder of the 2010 Tenzing Hillary Mt Everest Marathon; Winner of the 2011 Tasmanian 3 Peaks Challenge (sailing and mountain running event)
and Record Holder of the Wilsons Prom Ultra Marathon 2010.

For more info go to www.richardbowles.com.au

Project Crimson www.projectcrimson.org.nz

Te Araroa Trail – 3080km trail from Cape Reinga in the North to Bluff in the South www.teararoa.org.nz

Trail Run Mag is proud to be nominated as Richard’s media partner for this mission and will be following his exploits on our Facebook page and will undoubtably feature his story in our zine pages down the track. In the meantime make sure you’ve downloaded our latest Edition #6 from www.trailrunmag.com/zine  

Run The Planet: in the footsteps of legends

Can an ultra runner who has already run two times around the planet and a beginner who has run a few times around the block answer the question: were humans really born to run?

To find out, two runners – master and apprentice – will look to push mind and body to the limit and beyond in a proposed television series, dubbed Run The Planet. The series will will take viewer on a journey following a number of grueling ultra-distance challenges that trace the footsteps of history’s greatest feats of endurance through the wildest environments on the planet.

The pair will investigate what drives endurance runners to push the boundaries of what is possible; is there an evolutionary need to run? Is it part of our DNA? Is there something in our psychology that makes some people push the limits of endurance, to forge past frontiers, to be pioneers, explorers and adventurers? Is there an innate instinct to run? Was the ability to run in an ancient world the difference between life and death – the ultimate survival of the fittest?

Here’s a ‘screener’ – a small abridged taste of Run The Planet.


From chasing down food as hunter gathers to running hundreds of miles for a message of war, Run The Planet will take viewers to the edge of what is possible to run. And what is not.

During the series Lisa will mentor her student in the art of endurance running, the pair battling through some of the scariest ultra-challenges on earth. Will they make it? Is Chris tough enough to endure Lisa’s world? Can she find an answer to the question she has been asked a million times before: why do you do it?

Viewers will join the pair on an rollercoaster journey as they face medical crises, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, breakdowns, meltdowns, triumph and failures: all part of the experience of extreme running.

The program concept for Run The Planet was developed when Trail Run Mag editor, Chris Ord, journeyed to Kashmir, India, on assignment for Australian Geographic Outdoor Magazine to cover Lisa’s attempt to run La Ultra The High, a 222km ultra through the Himalayas.

While embedded in Lisa’s crew, as he watched her throw up, faint, and push her body and mind to oblivion, Chris got to thinking about why people would consider undertaking such extreme runs in the first place.

Lisa’s answer echoed that of Christopher McDougall and his famous book, Born To Run: humans were born to run. She went further, saying that anyone could be an ultra runner. We all had it in us.

Trying to run with Lisa over two of La Ultra’s 5400m  passes, Chris had doubts.

Conversations ensued about big runs undertaken throughout history. Suddenly the pair had the bet (‘I can turn you into an ultra runner’) and they had plenty of legends to unearth and feats to recreate. And Run The Planet was born.

 More info at www.runtheplanettv.com.

Run From The Hills: new trail event

Ah running and booze – always going to strike a chord. The trick here, we feel, is to run FIRST, then drink. Just a thought.

Thing is, at least with this all-new trail event slated for the western side of Victoria, Australia, you know that whether you have a good run or your legs drop off from under you (there’s a nasty descent), you can be 100% guaranteed the plonk you down at the end will be quality. Yes, you saw it coming: you can get legless for the second time in one day. At least it’ll take the pain away.

Actually, I drama queen it up. The new Run From The Hills event is no ultra ball buster. Rather we’re talking about a sensible weekend dash of 21.5km through the stunning Pyrenees Range State Park forest. Those of you with an eye to to a good Shiraz or Cab or other varietal will recognise the name as pertaining to one of the best wine districts in the nation. Turns out amongst the vines, there’s some trails to be enjoyed.

And thus the first year of Run From The Hills will be held on Saturday 17th November in the Pyrenees Mountain Range finishing at the Mount Avoca Winery.

The event is expected to attract over 200 runners with three different distances to appeal to all abilities: a 21.5k trail run, a 7km Round The Vineyard trail run/walk and a Through the Vines for the juniors at just 2km. Anyone entering the latter will not be served at the bar.

Participants of Run From The Hills will be transported from the winery up to the start line in the heart of the Pyrenees Range State Park forest, where they’ll run down fire roads, 4wd tracks, double tracks and the newly restored Pyrenees Endurance walking trail. This will finish with a sprint through the grape vines ending at the beautiful Mount Avoca Winery.

Entries in the main race are currently limited to 163, to allow for transport up to the start line in the forest.

Round The Vineyard is a shorter 7k run/walk which takes runners through the stunning grounds of the Mount Avoca Vineyard. The Through the Vines fun run for the kids will take place through the grape vines of the winery. So you can just about pour your Chardy and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. And if not, there will be course marshalls (who will be directed to not be drinking for their on duty period).

The event is run by local Rohin Adams, a pro level mountain biker who has obviously seen the light and recognised that trail running is the go..and who has been working at promoting the Pyrenees as a key outdoor destination for the past 4 years.

The event will be supported by the fantastic crew of volunteers from Avoca Primary School and the Ballarat 4wd club who will marshal the track and man the feed/water zone stations.

Run From The Hills will attract runners, friends and families of all abilities to this beautiful area to get a taste of what a trail run event is all about. If you are interested in attending or require more information please do not hesitate to contact Big Hill Events.

Trail Run Mag is proud to be a supporter of this inaugural event. Hell, we’ll support any new event so long as it’s on dirt… but this one looks especially appealing A wineray as the finishline? Wish I’d thought of that…

Entries HERE.

Run From The Hills
Saturday 17th November
21km / 7km / 2km