Mountain to mall trail run challenge

Two endurance runners are set to run 180km from Baw Baw mountain to Bourke Street Mall, in an attempt to follow a route that stays almost entirely on trail and off road, taking in both wild national and suburban park landscapes.

Beginning on Wednesday 26th February, adventure athletes Richard Bowles and Jarad Kohlar, will leave Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort – usually a 2.5hour drive away from downtown Melbourne – running part way on the famous Australian Alpine Walking Track before hooking west towards the city, linking up bush and then suburban trails to arrive at Bourke Street two and a half days later.

The Baw Baw to Bourke Street Challenge won’t be the first time the endurance athletes have put their bodies and minds on the line to cover impressive distances.

993688-richard-bowlesRichard Bowles  is known for massive run missions including being the first person to run the length of Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail (5330km), the first to run New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail (3054km) from top to bottom, and the first to run the Israeli National Trail (1009km).

Jarad Kohlar (below) is one of the nation’s best-known adventure racers. The one time Australian Multisport Champion is used to running in wilderness for days on end as a veteran of the Adventure Racing World Championship and winner of the Mark Webber Challenge.

Jarad 1

The Baw Baw to Bourke Street attempt officially launches this year’s Brooks Trail Run Festival, a three-day event (8-10 March that celebrates the ‘trail running lifestyle’ with a range of trail running events from marathon and half marathon to shorter fun run distances.

“In developing the Trail Run Fest, the team at Baw Baw were discussing whether it would be possible to run all the way from the CBD to Baw Baw purely on singletrack,” says Bowles.

“The idea resonated and our aim now is to prove how accessible trails are by running them from country to city.”

The route will track through the Baw Baw and then Yarra Ranges National Park, cutting from the resort village towards the small townships of Powelltown and Warburton. The runners will then follow the Warburton Rail Trail into the outer suburbs, passing through Mt Evelyn, to the northern part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. After hitting and then following (on parallel pathways) the Eastern Ring Road, the route forges toward the Yarra River following its banks all the way into Federation Square.

The route descends from a high point of 1536 metres to a lowpoint of nearer 20 metres, with a small elevation challenge as the runners hit the Dandenong Ranges midway.

Screenshot 2014-02-19 22.39.45“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” says Kohlar who along with Bowles will run 80km on the first day and then follow up with two 50km days – a distance that in the endurance world doesn’t actually raise that many eyebrows. “The latter stages when we are tired and the trails are flatter will be tough. The Bourke Street finish will be as welcome as the cold beer at (iconic CBD pub) Young & Jacksons.”

Kohlar and Bowles will be supported by a small crew for the run who will manage hydration, nutrition and film the challenge as it transpires. The two runners are expected to reach Bourke Street to complete their mission by lunchtime Friday 28th February.

Richard Bowles  // Jarad Kohlar

Follow their progress here.


Run Israel back on track

It was always a big ask – to run more than two marathons a day, day in and day out, in arid conditions, for 12 days straight.

Prior to leaving Australia, Rich had sat with Trail Run Mag out on trail and while the words coming from his mouth were the usual confident, give-it-a-crack vernacular of the Rich we know and love, the look in his eyes was somewhat different. There was caution there, a glint of doubt. Even Rich, who had knocked off the Bicentennial National Trail and the Te Araroa to cover more that 8000km in under nine months, was unsure if he could really hold that daily distance for that long. You could tell the enormity of the ask was starting to seep in and niggle at his confidence.

And so it was that as he clicked over at the halfway mark, Rich stumbled, literally, in his mission to run the Israel National Trail. At the time his partner and support crew manager Vicki Saunders wrote to us:

Spring at Ein Zur near the Zihron Valley “We are dealing with some pretty heavy hearts (the whole Run INT Team), and badly infected and blistered feet (Richards!)…….and have had to take a break from the run. Rich ran 520km in just 6 days, before being admitted to hospital in Jerusalem where it was discovered that his foot was badly infected (he already had blisters that had turned into open wounds, but they were not the problem).
After having his foot drained, and antibiotics and strong painkillers prescribed, against doctors orders Rich was out on the trail again within the hour, and managed to run another 40km. The next day, yesterday, Rich ran 45km, the final 15km was with me as I needed to see what he was realy going through. He was in agony the whole time with his foot turning inwards uncontrollably causing him to stumble and fall avery few metres. I asked when it would be enough, he said he couldn’t allow himself to stop while he could still stand up.
Within 10km, he could barely stand, and I saw him break down as he stumbled down the dirt track, he screamed out in pain and sadness, it broke his heart, but he admitted he couldn’t continue. However, we still had 5km to go, and they took about 2 hours to complete in his broken down state, I tried to hold him up each time he fell.
He said his body from the ankle up was completely strong and healthy, as was his mind, but the infection made it impossible for him to walk let alone run.
Ben Shemen ForestThere is a chance that Rich will continue running, but as I need to get back home, the support crew will not include me.”

That was more than a week ago now. Rich, as stubborn and brave as he is, took some time off his feet, knowing to continue would likely not just slow his progress but stop it altogether. The rest may have frustrated him somewhat – he’s not a man to sit around and sip cocktails while reading a book – it also worked. Rich has been back on the trail for a few days now, Vicki picking up on his progress:

“Richard  is back on the INT, going for the northern section of the trail.  Is his foot back to normal? No, not quite, but he felt ready to push himself to complete the trail that nearly broke him just 9 days ago.

He is [still] going for two marathons a day. And all that just a week after the infection in his left foot literally brought him to his knees.

During his days of rest in Tel Aviv, Richard turned into somewhat of a celebrity in Israel. The media has been keeping up with him, interviewing him here and there. The big international Jerusalem Post newspaper covered his comeback with another big story, even the German MSN website featured Richard’s spectacular journey.

He met with Tourism Minister Uzi Landau who presented him with a Tourism Goodwill Ambassador certificate, acknowledging Richards enthusiasm and positive contribution to promoting Israel as a great tourist destination.

During his week off, Richard hosted a talk in a Pro Sport shop downtown Tel Aviv, where he answered curious questions from fellow runners in the crowd about his technique, his nutrition, his hydration, his ‘secret’… The essence of his answers and advice being: “Focus on running.” Listening to him talk, it really seems like he was born to run. He will host another talk in Jerusalem on Sunday.

 Now back on the trail, Richard has been keen to increase the mileage originally set for this final 400km, and today saw him complete 94km from Tel Afek to just north of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coastline. Many local runners joined Richard for sections throughout the day, and this kind of support has been constant and much appreciated throughout the entire project.”

Keep up with Rich’s ongoing progress at:

Running the Israel National Trail

First is was the BNT (Bicentennial National Trail – Australia), then the TA (Te Araroa – New Zealand), 800px-Israel_National_Trail_coast_of_Mediterraneannow Melbourne based adventure runner Richard Bowles is set to create another record in the world of ultra-distance trail running, in one of the most fascinating countries on the planet.

Starting on Sunday 14 April 2013 , Richard will run(and climb) at least 80km each day along the 1009km Israel National Trail, which winds its way from the Red Sea in Eilat in the southernmost part of Israel to Dan in the North, near the border of Lebanon and Syria, where he plans to arrive 12 days later on April 26….or even sooner if all goes well! Check a Google map of the trail HERE.

The trail, described by National Geographic as one of the worlds most ‘epic trails’, was the vision of Israeli Ori Dvir, and showcases Israel’s impressive landscape. Traversing the arid and unforgiving Negev, along ancient Roman roads, climbing up and down craters and canyons, past historically significant sites and over mountain passes, along lush river valleys, and through the heart of the bustling Tel Aviv.

During 2012 Richard became the first person to run the world’s longest marked trail, the rough and remote Bicentennial National Trail of Australia traversing the treacherous and remote dividing range mountains from Melbourne to Cooktown, raising awareness and funds for mental health organisation SANE Australia along the way.

Just three weeks after completing this incredible feat, Richard flew to New Zealand to tackle their incredibly tough and dangerous 3,054km Te Araroa Trail, and in just 65 days Richard became the first person to run the entire trail.

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 and the team will be choosing a worthy charity, one whose work is close to his heart and to which he feels he can offer the most benefit to. The charity partner will be confirmed in the coming weeks. Richard believes in giving back, as these adventures and the people who support him give him so much.

The question most people ask is why would anyone want to run over 80km each day for 2 weeks? Richard explains, “The trail less travelled offers the best adventures, and I’m all about challenging myself on a daily basis”.
Richard says he is keen to meet with the communities through which the trail passes, and always takes the time to do so…even when running such huge distances each day. “The highlight of the projects in 2012 was meeting people. Being welcomed into their homes, sharing stories over a meal, and enjoying the wonderful adventure that they had now become a part of”.

RunBNT-1233More about the Israel National Trail

Inspiration for the trail came from Avraham Tamir, a well-known children’s book author who, at the age of 78 hiked the Appalachian Trail. Upon returning to Israel he proposed a hiking trail that wove its way from one end to the other. And so, in 1991, the Israel National Trail (INT) was born. Beginning in the far north of the country hugging the border with Lebanon, the tiny Kibbutz Dan marks the starting point. The finishing line is found some 1009km further south, where Israel’s Red Sea coast stops at the border with Egypt. To undertake the entire trail takes seasoned hikers 30 to 45 days maintaining a pace of about 30 kilometres a day.

More information on Richard Bowles

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 (5,330km Bicentennial National Trail, Australia) , 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