Theory of Relativity


They tell me that is your energy systems transferring from glucose (reserves now gone) to fat burning. I just know everything is telling me the grass tree looks a comfy place to curl up. But so early in the run?

Mentally it is over. But I’m a long way from home. So it’s not. Plod. Plod. Should I walk? Yes. No. Get to that post. Then walk. No, next post. A hill, great, I can walk without shame. From here it is a zombie run. Not the ‘fun’ type where horror film and makeup buffs congregate to trot out five kay dead-leg style in homage to their favourite living dead flick. This is just straight day of the living dead running, no Shaun references or makeup required.

Halfway and there’s an inkling I might make it, but the stomach is turning over, flip flopping on a trampoline of indecision that has me simultaneously ravenous and on the verge of throwing up.
This run is going to be the end of me.

Of course, ultra runners may recognise this narrative well. The legs getting tired at 30km, the shift in energy systems at 40 or so… But the run I’m whingeing about was no ultra. It was, to be precise, a mere 6.4km run. Nay, an epic 6.4km. Epic in particular moments, at least. It may as well have been an ultra, so my mind chatter told me at the time.

But that’s the beauty of running – challenge, brutality, pain, hunger, fear; it’s all relative to the solitary moment and the individual feeling it. And all just as valid regardless of time, distance, ascent or some other self-validating number used to beat a chest with.

Someone’s very first 2km run – perhaps the beginning of a life-changing journey from couch to metaphorical Kosciuszko peak – can be as nightmarish as the worst trainwreck written in the history book of the 240km Coast to Kosci itself.

Which brings me to my point. Every run is worthy. Every run can hurt. Every run can be euphoric. Every run can also be a trainwreck with mental and physical ramifications as serious as the runner judges it to be. It’s all relative.

Ultra runner Rich Bowles loves to say “you didn’t ‘just’ run (insert whatever kilometre distance you like). You ran (insert kilometre distance). Be proud. Any run no matter the distance is an achievement.”

I agree – drop the magnanimous, self denigrating ‘just’ as though whatever you ran doesn’t really count when compared to…to what? Stop the comparisons.

Why is your run any lesser to anyone’s, the Kilians of the world included?

Because it’s not far or tough enough? Compared to who? To what? Because it didn’t hurt as much as someone else claims to have hurt? Judged by whom?

It seems we are in a phase where the ultra is the new marathon – the thing to be held in reverence, to be revered as an experience that allows you into an elite ‘club’ of sorts. It seems the marathon, which used to be held in the same stead, is something to be whipped out between breakfast and lunch, a mere training run. It is no longer to be boasted about, no longer backyard barbeque fodder, for it no longer (seemingly) holds the gravitas it once did in the New Audacious Age of 100km, milers and beyond.

Lest we forget we remain a niche sport. By the numbers, there are more people in our local communities who are yet to run 21km, let alone a full marathon, than there are those who have. That puts those who have run an ultra in a smaller minority again (note: this minority does not equate to superiority). Let us not lose respect for those who tread the trail at lesser distances. Lesser brutalities. Lesser inclines. It’s all very well to push the limits of mileage and pain when your limits have already been stretched into the ultra zone. But don’t sneer down at those entering their own hurt lockers at a Park Run. They are no lesser runner. They are no less brave (for who knows their demons, their struggles and what a 5km run around a park could represent in their context – it may be the equivalent of your Northburn or Buffalo Grand Slam, hell it may be their own personal Barkley Marathons).

Toughness is not measured in sheer distance, elevation or peaks bagged in one run. Respect should be afforded for the mere effort of lacing up and stepping into the environment, no matter where, how far, how long.

No doubt that running an ultra is a massive achievement worthy of the cherishing and of the plaudits. And like any experience of life, once lived you will find you have secret handshake conversations with others who have lived through the pain. You may even succumb to the fallacy that those who have yet to run an ultra ‘will never understand’. Indeed, I’ve seen it bandied that you’re not a real runner until you tick the 100 box.
Bollocks to that.

If you take a step out your front door, manage to get a bounce in your step, and do a blockie at a pace greater than you would when collecting the fish and chips on a Friday, and you do it more than once a week with no other intention than to travel faster than a walk somewhere, around something, through something, to something – then you’re a runner. You didn’t just run around the block. You ran around the block. And while you may not have risked rhabdo or even dehydration, you ought still feel chuffed to have run at all. And we, as runners living all sorts of contexts, should be chuffed for you.

Chris Ord, AU Editor 

This editorial first appeared in Edition #20 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.

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Edition #20 launched: Download free now!

Edition #20 of Trail Run Mag (AU/NZ) has been released, and is once again packed full of dirty goodness from trails Down Under and across the globe!

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.57.11DOWNLOAD your free pdf edition at or subscribe for iPad / Kindle Fire (access via same link).

In this edition: 

HIMALAYAN REDUX – a return to the front line as Tegyn Angel takes on the Himalayan 100 //
FRENCHMANS FORAY – the magic of Marlbek, Tasmania by Majell Backhausen //
FAMILY MATTERS – journey on the Heysen Trail, South Australia //
PLANT POWERED RUNNING – fuelling your run with green power//
INTO THIN AIR – running Shangri La’s Snowman Route, Bhutan //
NATURAL BORN HERO – Born to Run author Christopher McDougall on being a natural //
FASTEST ’TASH IN TASSIE – itinerant international Felix Weber //
RETURN TO FORM – trail technique //
SPUTNIK’S SPRAY – claims to fame //
PLUS: AU & NZ editorials ‪#‎gearreviews‬‪#‎trailguides‬‪#‎shoereviews‬ & ‪#‎trailporn‬

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Editorial: Mix’n’match

This editorial appears in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed #18), downloadable for FREE here. You can also purchase a subscription on iTunes for your iPad/iPhone or Kindle Fire.

Have you ever bought a new car, perhaps something slightly unusual, and all of a sudden that’s all you see on the roads?  Suddenly all you see are burgundy Toyota Tercels everywhere, like a Clone War of obscure imported All Wheel Drive station wagons?

What about a new sport?  You start rock climbing and you start to see routes everywhere.  Every bluestone rock wall along the highway becomes an imaginary red point, every mountain a wonderland, every quarry a vertical playground. Familiarity and an increased interest in a subject prepares our subconscious mind and more readily attracts our conscious attention.

Long before I was a trail runner I was a hiker, climber and surfer; a generalist.  Impatience inspired a natural shift from long hikes to fastpacking and then trail running, but the passion for being in the outdoors, comfortable and physically able, never left.  Every hiking trail became a running track and campsites spread along multi-day hikes became water stops on a long run.  Looking at maps was like a visual-learner’s version of Choose Your Own Adventure.  The pause between ridgelines, peaks and rivers was henceforth measured in hours, not days.Mt Buller

While the outdoors came first and the running second, I often forget this proper order of things.  As I’ve spent less time working in the field (hiking, paddling, educating) and more organising other people’s trips and training for trail races I’ve become more specialised.  Specificity has had a positive effect on my pace but has resulted in broader limitations and repetitive stress injuries I’d never even heard of.

Over the last few months I’ve been reminded of a number of subjects I’d previously studied but had largely forgotten: Phil Maffetone; Natural Movement Training; and a Renaissance approach to life that assumes specificity = stagnation = death.  Reading Christopher McDougall’s (of Born to Run fame) most recent book, Natural Born Heroes, has perfectly tied them all together.  Fascinated by the connections, I now can’t help but see Toyota Tercels everywhere I look!maffetone

For those who don’t know of him, Phil Maffetone (right) is an old hippy musician with a snow-white pony tail who just happens to be one of the all-time great endurance coaches. He coached the likes of Mark Allen, Mike Pigg and Stu Mittelman at their peak and has worked to improve the endurance of everyone from stealth bomber pilots to Formula One drivers and musicians like the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and super-producer Rick Ruben.  In short, his approach goes like this: develop your aerobic base (with a heart rate monitor as your guide), eat well, reduce stress, improve brain function.

Natural Movement, a concept largely developed by Frenchman Georges Herbert in the early 1900s, was based on the idea that:

The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.

If this sounds like parkour or an obstacle course race, you’re spot on. The founding father of parkour, David Bell, is known to have drawn heavily on Herbert’s work and philosophy.  While the parkour videos you see on YouTube are normally set in urban environments, there’s a rapidly expanding community applying the same concepts to natural environments and physical training in general, regardless of the environment.  CrossFit, while perhaps the best-known, is just one of a growing number of generalist approaches to physical preparedness that shun specificity.  The incredible explosion of Tough Mudder and Spartan Races is another expression of changing attitude.

I love running trails and I identify as a trail runner, but I’m afraid I’m paying for specialisation with my health and wellbeing.  Over the last few months I’ve been training for an obstacle course race and a freaky hybrid called the Survival Run.  The training has involved a good amount of running to rebuild my aerobic base, but it’s been mixed with climbing, lifting and carrying.  Survival Run even has me sewing, working with leather, crafting packs and (to my girlfriend’s raised eyebrows) learning how to swing a machete.  All I can see when I look around are opportunities for movement, adaptation and improvisation. Welcome back to the land of the living, the thriving, the capable!

In the next edition of TRM I’m examining the cross-over of OCR and trail running and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Your mix-it-up or die AU editor, Tegyn Angel

This editorial appears in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed #18), downloadable for FREE here. You can also purchase a subscription on iTunes for your iPad/iPhone or Kindle Fire.

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Singletrack on the sly

This editorial appears in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed #18), downloadable for FREE here. You can also purchase a subscription on iTunes for your iPad/iPhone or Kindle Fire.

Rebellion hath furthered many a righteous cause. And sometimes I’m glad that there are rebels in our midst risking angry lectures from park rangers at best, prosecution at worst, to forge new singletrack under a canopy of anonymity.

Those who are by day law-abiding, tax paying, voting citizens, become by night (or weekends, or days off), environmental vandals – as the grey suits sitting in grey boxes in grey-walled offices with grey views of the world would likely charge. That is, if they ever caught those singletrack vigilantes who steal into particular patches of wilderness, eyeing off the rise and fall of the land like a Howard Roark character gone wild, before pitching their shovel into the earth and getting dirt on their hands. All in the name of delivering the alchemy of science, art, elbow grease and risk that is guerilla trail building.291114_SamuelCostin_ full

I know a friend of a friend of friend who has worked on the legitimate side of trail building but now lurks on the shadowier side. He is approaching bald, hair left in meeting room after meeting room where he met with nothing but incomprehension, disinterest, intractability, and indeed hostility at the idea of building trails through suitable stretches of wilderness. Shock horror – he (and we all) wanted people to actually enjoy the environment. Not through a screen. But in person.

While certainly we need rules and regulations for society to function, sometimes those bureaucratic black and legislative whites don’t pass the muster of logic, context or flat out reasonable-ness. And so civic disobedience has its place and sometimes that place is in the bush because a culture of risk aversion, red tape and burdened process often grinds any moves to open up recreational access to a frustrating halt.

So now the singletrack shadowman, in complete anonymity and with a belief we all have a right to enjoy wild places, builds trails as he pleases. 

Now, I’m not arguing that we should all be off ripping into national parks willy nilly, bashing spades into the dirt at the environment’s peril.  We’re environmentalists, too. This particular individual has the nous and knowledge to only build sustainable tracks in areas he knows are tied up in bureaucratic nonsense rather than any real environmental concerns. For the most part, few of us would have the skills and thus most of us should remain on the right side of the law.

But as knowers of the landscape, runners also understand a little footfall through large swathes of forest hurts no-one. If brumbys and cattle can run in the high country – backed by (to the writer’s mind and on ground experience patently false) arguments of minimal impact – then the impact of the odd runner sticking to a snaking path is beyond negligible. We don’t eat the bush (unless you’re Beau Miles – reference his Trail Muse piece later in this edition), we don’t hoove up the ground, nor destroy fragile peats, bogs or pummel riverbanks to the point of destroying whole river and billabong ecologies. No, we just run though, smile, appreciate, get back home and tell ourselves we’ll do whatever is necessary to maintain the nature of the nature we love to be in.
Trail Run Magazine

The tide is turning, of course, as a new generation moves through the ranks of public and park services. They now ride and run, too. They ‘get it’. And with that turning tide comes greater collaboration with the communities who believe access to areas of wilderness isn’t a gift we are selectively given, but a right we should be given by those caretakers we, as taxpayers, employ.

Sometimes that collaboration just involves turning a blind eye to the odd bit of creative permanent wayfinding – “must be a busy roo run (chuckle).” We’re also sure there are some singletrack saviours fighting the good fight from within the system, keeping a sideways eye on those out there tilling under the moonshine, each in tacit agreement that all shall be done with an eye to environmental responsibility.

I’m no anarchist (unless you count my past working for the Ramblers’ Association in the UK as being employed by a vigilante trails group – they were borne of an access protest that ended in incarceration, as it happens), but I believe a little activism is sometimes warranted in fighting for what Parks Victoria herald as: Healthy Parks, Healthy People. Its slogan, of course, implies that getting more people into nature is the aim of the game, one with which we trail runners fervently agree. To do that, however, you need to have access. For access you need trails.  Legal trails preferably, but in the absence of land management motivation, what’s a renegade trail hound to do…?

Your bureaucracy fatigued AU editor, Chris Ord

NB: I reiterate the point, I’m expressly NOT encouraging you all to head out to start blithely building trails! No, no, no…but if you find one, may as well run it.

This editorial appears in the latest edition of Trail Run Mag (Ed #18), downloadable for FREE here. You can also purchase a subscription on iTunes for your iPad/iPhone or Kindle Fire.


Off the back of the editorial above, we received a strong right of reader reply, one that indeed made us rethink our editorial in some respects, and one we thought had some extremely valid points within. It was enough to shift our thinking some, and we’re okay with admitting that we (I – AU Editor), wrote in haste, with emotional drivers and language, which resulted in an inflammatory and perhaps reckless piece. However, we believe the piece and more importantly the reply below, brings to light some excellent thinking from the reader, so we’ll leave both here published, to show how one man’s rant can be another man’s call to order and correction. Simply, I got schooled. And that’s not a bad thing. We’re more than happy to further the debate and shift our thinking accordingly. Thanks to J, the reader who submitted (identity has requested to remain anonymous as he works in the land management sector and need not be linked back to his particular position in such):

J: No, no, no. The mate of a mate of a mate, who used to be “in the system” and now isn’t, is no longer aware of the planning surrounding the landscapes he is building in. That chunk of land that is “held up by bureaucratic bickering” (or so he remembers) may now be a centerpiece of a plan of ecosystem connectedness, but old mate wouldn’t have a clue. The wild places that we run in support a lot more important processes than allowing people to run on quieter trail.

This piece sounds like it is romanticizing illegal trail building and trivializes the impacts of it. Encouraging people to run on known illegal trails that they see means adding to the problems that the trails present. I wonder, how are the readers supposed to tell if the ghost trail in front of them was built by your trail fairy mate who has the Midas touch or if it was built by johnny-cum-trailrunner dude who reckons “there’s a rad line over some sketchy rocks, like in Killian’s videos” (incidentally skink habitat) that all of us dooooods just have to film with our gopro set ups.

This is so important that I will get specific about what I think is dangerous about the piece. I think you guys do a good job of covering events and other stuff that I’ve seen, and I know this is an opinion piece, and I am happy to see that you welcome other points of view. So here is what I find scary:

“…the idea of building trails through suitable stretches of wilderness.” — Wilderness has a pretty specific definition in most areas of Australia. Are you really talking about cutting unauthorised trail in wilderness areas? If so, this is so sad that I want to throw up on my keyboard here!

“This particular individual has the nous and knowledge to only build sustainable tracks in areas he knows are tied up in bureaucratic nonsense rather than any real environmental concerns”. — Please let us know how this conclusion was arrived at. Parks are managed as a system, a mosaic of assets, not individual chunks of land. Among so many other issues of interconnectedness, in this system there are offsets being allocated, which means the relative ecological significance of sites is in flux. Does you mate have access to this information on a weekly/monthly basis? Is your mate an expert on all flora and fauna in the country, migration routes, indigenous heritage and hydrology? I can already answer that question, no, he is not. No one person is adequately credentialed to make that kind of call, the bureaucracy acknowledges that, and I am glad.

“But as knowers of the landscape, runners also understand a little footfall through large swathes of forest hurts no-one”. — A bit of footfall (ie random off track exploration) and cutting a “snaking path” are different things entirely. I think this sentence either over-estimates the knowledge most runners have of “landscape” or underestimates how complex and fragile our ecosystems are… probably both.

“The tide is turning, of course, as a new generation moves through the ranks of public and park services. They now ride and run, too. They ‘get it’.” — What is this based on? The best trail runner Australia has even seen was a park ranger. [Ed’s note: Andy Kromar, for those wondering]

“No, we just run though, smile, appreciate, get back home and tell ourselves we’ll do whatever is necessary to maintain the nature of the nature we love to be in.” — This doesn’t make sense to me. You espouse “I’m expressly NOT encouraging you all to head out to start blithely building trails! No, no, no…but if you find one, may as well run it. “, so one thing that we won’t do is take time to check and then run only on sanctioned trails, and trust that hundreds (or thousands) of environmentally conscious (and mostly specifically educated) people whose job it is to protect our natural areas, might have a broader perspective on the importance of the condition of our local park?

“… getting more people into nature is the aim of the game, one with which we trail runners fervently agree. To do that, however, you need to have access.” — I get the impression that what is happening by the shovel of your mate is the extension of existing trail networks, perhaps some sweet singletrack offshoots of a wider gravel walking trail. If so, he isn’t increasing the number of people who access parks when he does this, instead he makes formerly intact areas less inviting for people to go and look at and be part of, which probably means less people going to look at them and visiting parks at all. Why does he do this? So that people who are active and use parks anyway can have an extra 3km of gnar on their 15km trail loop. Let me know if I’m wrong, but if this doesn’t describe what your mate is doing, it almost certainly describes what other self-appointed “sustainable trail builders” are doing all over the place and we all see it.

This brings up another point, the article sounds as though it authorises us to self-nominate to the group of a “few” who have the “nous” to build sustainable trail because we’ve worked with the environment in some capacity before. So bad!

I understand that you’ve said “most of us” shouldn’t build trail without authority, but that falls waaaaaaay short of my expectations of our community. There is such a thing as trail advocacy, and I’m sorry to hear that you and your mate are tired of the process. Illegal building is not the answer, but more people who read you magazine becoming involved in planning process might be. This piece misses an opportunity to be a call to arms (not literally) for your readers to become more engaged, and instead encourages us to become as disillusioned with the only process that will actually improve an already pretty great situation in the long term. The loser, in the end, is the environment that we cherish the chance to run through.


Ed’s note: Thanks J. Well-reasoned and some great points in there. While I won’t dive back in to reply to some specifics where I still feel I had a point (okay, mostly I got schooled), I will pick up JP’s point about trail advocacy. A great one. I’m actually a member of a trails advocacy group as it happens (which I guess makes the editorial in and of itself even more head-scratching, admittedly. Stay away from late night work and a glass of wine, kiddies). So JP may well say you should know better. So I should. And I too encourage all to volunteer to their local trail group, who work in with ‘the system’ to work towards that balance of protection and access for all.

That said, as in correspondence to J:

“The specific trail/s this piece came off the back of run through areas that in many ways may not be regarded as wilderness, and indeed factually are not ecologically sensitive, as part of any broader system or otherwise. Those within the system admit that while sometimes all your (J’s) reasoning is why trails aren’t and shouldn’t be built, they also admit that there are just as many cases where realistically there’s no reason for a trail not to go through a particular patch, bar economic and risk (not enough money for land managers to upkeep, no enabled way for volunteers to be empowered to take management of that trail upkeep, and the aversion to perceived risk of litigation. In terms of actual impact on environment, there are absolutely examples where trails would be fine. More broadly however, I agree with your well-made arguments – the system exists for very valid reasons, and in the main does very much more positive, beneficial work. And you are right if it’s a choice of unchecked impacts versus no access, no impact regardless of perceived ‘rights’ of access, then I guess no access is the lesser of two evils (rather a strong word… there’s no evil in any of this on either side of the debate).

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.” ― Michel Legrand

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Editorial: Yin to the Yang

Editorial: AU Editor Chris Ord looks at the balance, or lack of, in his trail running lifestyle. This editorial appears in the current edition (17) of Trail Run Mag, downloadable for FREE here

Mt BullerIn my natural state, I am chaotic, unorganised, and essentially a lazy individual.

But sometimes life demands more of you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still that same person sitting on the couch, eating fish and chips and ice cream watching endless episodes of Breaking Bad, wondering if my shed will be suitable to run an easy-money meth lab.

But somehow, today, life as a runner has demanded a little more of me. A little more organisation. A little more responsibility. A little more effort.

And, as a runner, it is demanding a lot more attention to detail than perhaps my personality has inclination toward. Attention to detail like, umm, training.

Essentially I’m on a mission to balance my running life of unpredictable, unstructured and unplanned running yīn with, for the first time, equal amounts of rigid, structured, charted-training-plan running yáng.

Now my yīn (shady side) is like Darth Vader’s force within (powerful and looking for total domination); the yáng (sunny side) is like pre-Yoda coached Luke Skywalker, all wide-eyed naïve and a little lost.

Barely two weeks in and I’m fumbling with the demands of scheduled training like Luke fumbles with the realization he’s related to Princess Lea. It’s awkward to watch.

My yīn approach to trail running has long been one of as-and-when-the-whim-strikes I’ll go for a training run. Trust me, the whim never struck at 5am. And if it did, I missed it, being fast asleep and all.

The whim that did win out on occasion is the one that had me entering long(ish) trail events without sufficient lead-in training. That mostly ended in all sorts of agonizing wrongness (particularly embarrassing was the needless call out of ‘medic!’ at the finishline of Shotover Mountain Marathon). I am responsible for all my own embarrassing demises, of course, and that is one thing I do take full responsibility for. Indeed I usually document it, see TRM Edition 12 for the Shotover tale.

But the time has come to see if there’s any Jedi lurking within. Reason being, I have committed to an expedition run in the high Himalayas. It’s a project that would be fine to approach with a death-by-cramp-at-altitude-wish if it were just me up there. But on this expedition I will be responsible for guiding other runners. And if there’s one thing that will make me sit up at 5am on a crisp winter morning, it is the realisation that I’m to be responsible for other people’s lives as they trot up to 5000 metres at a rate of incline that risks death from cerebral or pulmonary edema. Even tapping that out makes me sweat more than my scheduled hill repeats ever will. It also induces me to do them. At 5.05am.

And so in search of my inner-Jedi, I have sought some Yoda-wisdom where the Force I’m aiming to tap into is conditioning and strength. While I can (mostly) blag the distances and I’ve completed a wilderness first aid course so medical knowledge is covered, it’s the strength and abating of injuries and cramps that I need to tackle. The latter is my Death Star nemesis (exhibit A: a near-death banshee screaming session as seen in Run The Planet, a TV show pilot that underscored my ill-preparedness, in that instance at 93km in a desert. Google it. Not in a workplace. Swearing involved).

So the yáng to my yīn has materialised in the form of not just one structured approach to training, but two, the other side of my personality being always to put in three chillis when the recipe says one and generally over-salt everything.

And while I wouldn’t say that I am yet to latch onto Skywalker’s singleminded focus (The Force is a long way from my grasp), I have managed to jump on the Bulletproof Legs bandwagon, a program from the crew at Brewsters Running. Then there’s an adjunct program from Lee Harris, a mid-east based Brit who is a multiday running machine and owner of Lifestyle Fitness Management. His knowledge about holistic training methodologies and a focus on core strength gives me faith he understands where I need to get to with this new-fangled yáng approach.

To my own disbelief, I’m enjoying the structure and routine. It’s a work in progress, my idea of ‘routine’ a long way from winning any Anally Retentive OCD award, but on trail I am seeing, even in these early days, results. Whowouldathunkit?

Even better, I’m enjoying the yīn side of my running more so thanks to the late arrival of yáng. On an impromptu jungle run in the Otway Ranges, south west Victoria, we ran in with not enough water (there were waterfalls so we were safe), no food and no idea how long we’d be in there for. The reward was one of the most stunning waterfalls I’ve seen standing proud in an ancient forest far from any human impost. It was wild and remote goodness, off the chart. What made it possible and enjoyable was the fact that I’d been training. The foundations are only a brick session or two in. And the Otway run topped out at roughly 200 metres above sea level, not 5000, so we’re not on training parity just yet. But I love that my new yáng is complementary to (rather than opposing) my beloved yīn. Light cannot exist without shadow. Performance cannot exist without training (it’s finally sunk in). And for my money, a training program will never be truly leveraged without the chaos of a whimsical wilderness run where anything can happen, but the legs are bulletproof enough to withstand it.

Your getting-more-balanced editor, Chris Ord

Check out the latest edition of Trail Run Mag by downloading for FREE here.

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Ed’s word: choices of an Angel

Larapita new (1 of 1)-6 medGrowing up I was interested in a lot of things that my peers weren’t and a fairly mundane chain of decisions led me to university.  I’ll never forget going back to the town where I grew up, having a beer with a mate who’d decided to be a tradesman.  He couldn’t wrap his head around how I could “be so smart”.  That is, how I could get through the lectures, readings and assessment involved in being a tertiary student.  I tried to tell him it was simply a choice I’d made, that the only difference between him and me was that I’d decided to go to uni and he’d decided to be a tradie.  Clearly there’s a whole lot more to this; preferences, loyalties, priorities, nature, nurture etcetera, but in the end it all comes down to a solitary decision made at a particular juncture of life.

After leaving university I spent some time working an office job, moving freight around the world, sitting behind a computer.   My vision was to end up a logistician for some aid organisation in some ridiculous, undefined humanitarian crisis.  I couldn’t hack the office life and so chose to become an outdoor instructor and guide.

For the last four or five years I’ve travelled and worked around the world, living from a backpack; a sparse and lonely life recorded in the idyllic photographs that I chose to put out into the world in order to tell my story.  Again, my friends and peers begged to know how I’d managed to find the dream job, how the hell I get paid to travel.  I tried to tell them it was simply a choice I’d made, that the only difference between them and me was that I’d decided to become an expedition leader and they hadn’t.


When I first ran a mountain in the foothills outside of Santiago de Chile, in part it was because I was embarrassed at how hard I’d found a recent class hike.  I was on a student exchange and enrolled in a mountaineering subject and had struggled to keep up with the rest of the group.  That led to a decision. I chose to be fitter and more capable in the outdoors.

When I first ran an ultra it was because I wanted to do a multi-day hike and was impatient with how long it was going to take me.  I chose to train to the point where I could run it instead.  Those members of this obscure family of trail and ultra runners are often asked by outsiders how we’re able to run for hours, away from the comfort and security of urban spaces, through the night and extremes of weather.  We try to tell them that it’s simply a choice we’ve made, that the only difference between them and us is that we’ve decided to be trailrunners and they haven’t.

For me this issue of Trail Run Mag represents the power of decision.  The incredible results of choosing to run the length of Tasmania; the strength that comes from deciding the battle with illness and disease is one worth fighting; the decision to respect a millennia of culture and custodianship in spite of our individual goals; the apparently ludicrous plan of running 50 off road marathons and climbing 50 peaks in 50 days.

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Every article in this issue represents tells the story of a decision made by those with enough self-belief to move toward their goals and dreams.  Don’t spend your days wishing you were someone, or somewhere, else when all that really stands in your way is a decision.

As Goethe wrote, “Choose well.  Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”

Your decisive editor, Tegyn Angel

THIS EDITORIAL is from Edition 14 of Trail Run Mag, now on the digital stands, downloadable for FREE or on subscription via iPad and Kindle. See to get your copy now. 


Time bomb: Edition 13 Editorial

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

I look at my daughters, four and six. I watch them dart around the garden. Doing everything at once and nothing at all. And I yearn so badly to be a child in that moving but endless moment again.

That moment is one where time exists as a broken metronome. Tick. And the tock takes hours to show up, despite it only taking a second.

134580515064971As an observer – a supposedly ‘grown-up’ parent – my kids’ two hours running around barefoot, climbing the apple tree, laughing, bickering, sulking, crying, laughing, takes but seconds. I look down to my computer screen. I look up two seconds later and they have had five lifetimes of adventure (I can see it in their smiles and the grass stains on their knees). Yet I have only half written these first paragraphs.

The universe, apparently, is expanding at an accelerated rate and so to my life is accelerating; time is speeding up, robbing me of my life, stealing my children’s childhood, running me out of time faster than I could ever have imagined back when I was up that backyard tree plucking at the juicy apples of my own ‘when I grow up’ dreams.

Life. Slow. Down. … … … Please.

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

No one told me when to run. I missed the start, absolutely. But when I did start to run, properly run, I tried to (and still try to) do it like I was a child. Like I wasn’t late to the party. Like life had only just begun. Like my kids. But you can’t outrun time. Nevertheless, I try. I run more. And in the moment it works. When I am not running, I am going faster. Everything swirls around me – life, family, work, friends, events, words, jobs, happenings, dishes, renovations, crises, dinner, stop, stop, stop. Give me a moment. And I run. Into the trees. And my watch, thank Christ, doesn’t work. And so I am timeless. I’m running but I am going slower than I have for decades. Maybe I haven’t gone this slow since I was darting around the backyard as a child. And so I run further into the trees, away from time.

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter

Technology, the pace of connected life, the number of emails, the rate of my Facebook updates, the sheer number of things I am now plugged into…everything is being crushed under the weight of having access to the entire world and its vast store of information. I can talk to anyone on the planet, yet I don’t think anyone is listening, really. Everyone, including me, is just talking. Louder, quicker, more. I eye off the trees. They look quiet. There’s no-one there. Not even time Herself.  

Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I’d something more to say

There remains sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour. But that doesn’t mean time hasn’t sped up. For thousands of years, the Schumann Resonance or pulse of the Earth has been 7.83 cycles per second. Since 1980 this resonance has reportedly risen to over 12  cycles per second. Even if you don’t subscribe to the theory, look at it the perceptive way: what you can fit into 60 minutes (or sixty seconds) today, took much longer yesteryear. Communicate to your friend in England? Three months back then. Today, a millisecond. Travel from Melbourne to Sydney? Months once upon a time. Today, you can get there in a few hours by plane. And what you are expected to achieve in any one time span today is much, much more than ever before. Just ask your boss.

Effectively, time has sped up because we squeeze more action (if not result) into each tick of the clock. More, more, rush, rush, squash it in. It is no wonder our perception is one of accelerated  – or looking at it another way, lost – time. And the feeling that we have no time for anything. Especially the important things.

Perhaps, then, it is a good thing, that I am not a runner who tries to go fast. In fact, running for me is all about slowing down.

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

Your rushed editor, Chris Ord

Mt Buller


The latest edition (13) of your favourite dirty mag is out now, packed full of grit and sexy single trail. Take the time to read it! You can:

get it for FREE by downloading the PDF
subscribe via iTunes  to read it on you iPad or iDevice
subscribe via Amazon to read it on Kindle Fire

(COMING SOON: we’ll make it available on Google Play)


Latest Trail Run Mag blazes new trail

TRM COver 400px

The new-look Trail Run Mag: edition 10 cover, imagery by Lyndon Marceau, design by Jordan Cole.

You know that feeling when you run a trail for the first time? It’s all new, fresh dirt, exploding the senses – makes you wanna steam through the jungle… Well, get ready to feel the same bolt of change when you open up the pages of the latest Trail Run Mag, Edition 10, hitting the e-shelves right now, because you’re in for a surprise.

Last edition we checked in with new editors (welcome Rachel Jaqueline as our Asia Bureau Chief and Vicki Woolley, our New Zealand Chief). This edition we welcome to the singletrack fray a new designer in Jordan Cole. And boy has he stamped out a fresh track with his approach to the look and feel of Trail Run Mag.

At this point we have to say a big thanks to Heidi and Pete Hibberd from The Bird Collective, who forever remain co-founders of Trail Run Mag and will always be a part of its success. Heidi’s design and Pete’s direction resulted in works of art across our pages. Thanks guys for the late nights, heart and soul that you bled willingly. But change blows through everywhere and as the dynamic duo takes a well earned breather, Jordan steps to the breach and we’ve let him play like Matty Coops dances a mountain jig. We hope you like his style…we certainly do.

So, get your copy now. We’ll pay our respects to those of you who have or are about to subscribe via iPad or Kindle. Get your copy from the – e-newsrack while it’s still burning hot zeros and ones. Subscribe here (Apple Store) or here (Kindle/Amazon) if you haven’t already. If you have, you’ll already have the mag on your digi device.

For those still hanging out for the good old FREE pdf download, your dirty goodness comes a few steps down the trail. Check out on Monday. It’s free, all you have to do is register. No charge. Amazing.

 Mongolioan lead spread 400pxSO WHAT’S IN THE MAG?

PROFILE: Colour of Ruby > an insight into Ruby Muir

INTERVIEW: The Moment > trail snapper Lyndon Marceau


Manaslu Madness > getting’ singletrack high in the Himalayas

Mongolian second spread 400pxBig Red Heart > overcoming odds in the Simpson Desert

Black Dog Days > what is it with the downer after an ultra?

Mongolian Multiday Magic > in the footsteps of Khan

Beyond the Wire > thought your run was tough? Try Afghanistan…

Rhythms of the Trail > a German physicist unlocks the secret of trail running


Editors Columns – AU, NZ and Asia editors all have their say

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 1.32.44 PMPLUS: Rich’s Rant – Richard Bowles gets angry


Throws at you four big upcoming events, across AU, NZ and Asia

Trail Porn > so dirty, it’ll blow your mind

Now’s a good time to buy… all the good gear

Shoe reviews > a pearler and one we fell in love with

PLUS: TRAIL GUIDES – four of the best

Trail Run Mag, your fave magazine dedicated to trail running in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, now available online via:

iPad – check it out at Apple Store (subscription)

Kindle Fire – for tablets (subscription)

FREE PDF – for the skint 🙂 (email address required)






A dirty art: trail running*

I look at the large format canvas in front of me and ponder.

richard painting in the field

I guess I’m supposed to be pondering the way the artist has captured the light, the technique to be admired in the brushstrokes, what the scene – of a swathe of earth near Tibooburra located at the remote intersection of the Victorian, South Australian and Queensland state borders – makes me feel.

I’ll tell you what it makes me feel: like I want to go run it. I want to jump into that canvas and run through the brushstrokes, explore the terrain the artist has captured for the ‘cultural crowd’ that mills around musing, supping champers, demolishing cheese platters and generally engaging in discourse that has absolutely nothing to do with running whatsoever and is never likely to (judging by the a few of the postures and paunches pontificating around the room).

Anyway, I’m here, in amidst this arty crowd and all I can think of is trail running the lands that the three artists on show have captured. Stick with me here, there’s a parallel between the art world and ours.

One of the artists is revered Gippslander, Gary Miles. His son, Beau, just happens to be the first person to have successfully run the length of the Australian Alpine Walking Trail. He’s the reason I’m here – Beau is showing his film of that feat up at the Brooks Trail Run Fest, happening on Mount Baw Baw, and which I am curating (oh, such an artsy term).  Beau is also tapping back in to his Dad’s talent with his hands, rather than his feet, these coming days as he turns some wood medallions for some of the event winners at Baw Baw.  I happen to be staying at his rural property on the way up the mountain and so I find myself here at the art showing. Beau apologies for dragging me along, but I don’t mind in the slightest.

Screen shot 2013-03-25 at 2.23.18 PMIn the speeches, each artist talks about camping, heading off to explore the landscapes they were there to paint, to ‘experience’ them as a human beings, to discover their ‘essence’ in order to capture it in oil daubs.

All I can think of is that while they experience with a pure purpose to go and bottle that earth up and explode it onto canvas to share, with all their artful perception of it, we trail runners go one step further, to the detriment of the ‘sharing’.

We run it. We don’t bottle it, capture it, represent it or ever try to control its ever-changing light. We are artists of movement through our subject, and the art only ever lasts each split moment, in each distinct step.

We leave our art on the trail (maybe where it belongs?).

Sure, we can talk about it when we get back. I’m now blabbering to anyone who will listen about the light up on the ridges between Mount Erica and Mt St Gwinear after marking the marathon course between Walhalla and Mount Baw Baw.

But can we ever truly show it to anyone, the way an artist can? Can we drag the beauty out of the bush and do any kind of justice to it?

But in that lies magic. The magic of a moment experienced and felt never to be replicated nor, really, shared off trail.

The true art of trail running is to be in that moment. And let it seep onto your inner canvas.

(And then, perhaps, pontificate about that moment to a willing – or glazed eyed – audience. There.  There’s the parallel to the art world.)

Your artsy-fartsy editor, Chris Ord

*This is the AU Ed’s editorial from the latest edition of Trail Run Mag.



Santa’s a trail runner…TRM#3 online

Santa’s a trail runner. He must be. ‘Cause he just delivered Trail Run Magazine Edition #3, the first pressie to land under your e-tree.

Oh yes, it’s here. Hot on the heels of the ‘mook’ coffee table book-like hardcopy edition ( is the summer edition of Trail Run Mag.

TRM #3


What’s in this edition?

Bustin’ the Bibbulmun – psychologist trail runner Bernadetta Benson faces her demons over 1000km
Hoofing it on Hinchinbrook
Fear and loathing on the Great Ocean Walk 100  – a young gun punches it out with Failure
Andrew Vize Q&A  – Australia’s man at the front of the pack
Kiwi’s Sjors Corporaal – the man behind the mountain goat
Trail & sail – Tassie’s Three Peaks
Outback marathon – a beginner’s tale
No shoe shuffle  – What to do when you turn up to a trail sans shoes
Great North Walk 100
PLUS plenty more including trail shoe reviews, trail medic, shoe guru, gear, columns and plenty of trail porn (does using that word get a higher Google rating? It’s dirty people but not nude).

And just in case you’ve been out on the trail and haven’t heard: the coffee table book-like Trail Run Mag Collectors’ Edition has hit the stands. Get yours here.