Runners earn their stripes at Tassie Trail Fest

More than 400 runners – including a healthy interstate and international contingent – descended on the small tin mining town of Derby in north-east Tasmania recently, the influx inspired by the inaugural Saucony Tassie Trail Fest and $2 million worth of fresh trails to be run. [RESULTS AT:]

Tassie Trail Fest 16-0351The three day event was conceived to celebrate a love of single track and the trail running lifestyle with feature distances ranging from 44km through 21km, 14km, 6km and 2km making best use of all-new mountain biking trails created within quintessential Tasmanian wilderness. Keeping runners entertained and informed off trail was a roster of running seminars, a trail running film festival and live entertainment.

In the premier King and Queen of Tassie Trail category, which required runners to complete a 44km marathon, a 14km run and a 2km time-trial, the honours were shared between a local running gun from Launceston and a German itinerant known in his hometown as ‘the fastest moustache in Cologne’.

Elite Tassie ultra runner, Amy Lamprecht, won the women’s crown and a cash purse, registering a cumulative run time of 05:46:48, beating home Yvette Edward (West Hobart; 06:00:34) in second and Victorian, Kellie Emmerson in third (06:07:08).Tassie Trail Fest 16-9849

In the men’s, Germany’s Felix Weber held the King’s of Tassie Trails trophy aloft, but not before cycling all the way from Hobart to attend the event, via Freycinet Peninsua where he ran the long trail circuit (30km) to warm up, and volunteering with event organisers throughout the event in between competing. His total time for the King category was 05:13:54. The short sighted runner known as ‘the fastest moustache in Cologne’ and now ‘the fastest ’tash in Tassie’ has already decided what to spend his prizemoney on:

“Riding up here I lost my glasses. I have very bad eyesight and ‘run blurry’ so I’ll be buying a new pair of specs!”

Also on the dais was American runner who had come all the way from a stint working in Antarctica, Curtis Moore (06:00:38), and Hobart-based John Schuringa (06:10:48).

While the King and Queen was the premier racing category, the most impressive endurance competition was Multiday Madness, a category that challenged runners to run every single event possible across the duration of the event. That entailed a marathon, two 14km runs (a day and a night), another half marathon and the 2km time trial ‘Dash for Cash’.Tassie Trail Fest 16-

The Madness women’s title was swept across the Tasman with New Zealand runner Amanda Broughton running consistently for the win, her performance surprising even herself as a short to middle distance cross country specialist in her hometown of Wellington. Broughton took the win in a cumulative time of 10:24:19. In second was Jessica Collins (Margate, Tasmania; 11:43:43) followed by Victorian, Louise Crossley (13:21:48).

In the men’s Multiday Madness, John Schuringa added to his King of Tassie Trails third place by winning the endurance competition in a total time of 10:12:22. Antarctic Station worker, Curtis Moore, added to his second place in the Kings with another in the multiday in a time of 10:15:37, with Launceston’s John Cannel registering third place (10:33:31).

Of course there were individual distance winners throughout the weekend, with special mention going to husband and wife team Reece and Jacqui Stephens, who juggled parenting duties to run in all events between them, each taking out a half marathon win and Jacqui taking home the $250 for the Dash for Cash title, her husband pipped at the post into second by Jerome Whitley who nabbed a time of 7:07 for the 2km (and likely a smidge) ‘sprint’ trail run.


The inaugural Saucony Tassie Trail Fest brought together trail runners from across the globe, with representatives from Chile, Mexico, Belgium, New Zealand, UK, United States, Netherlands and Germany joining running crews from every state and territory in Australia.Tassie Trail Fest 16-0539

The host town of Derby has quickly become famous in mountain biking circles with the installation of up to 80km of new trails weaving through majestic stands of wilderness.

“The running experience is divine and like no other in Australia in my opinion,” says Race Director, Chris Ord from running tour and events company, Tour de Trails. “The huge stands of ancient forest, moss-covered rockeries, giant fern tunnels, and dam busting views make it a spectacular place to run, while the rollercoaster undulations, switchbacks and a few beefy ascents make the running challenging, especially for those taking on the multiday which is essentially 100km over the weekend.”

Runners were particulary impressed with the trails, the close knit community vibe and many noted the 14km nightrun as a highlight, with runners finishing under an arch erected inside a town hall, beer bar to one side and a live band in full rock mode playing on the stage just in front of the finishline. Impressively, the lead singer, Launceston’s Tim Gambles is also a trail runner and ran in a number of the events during the weekend.Mt Buller

Reviews by participants:

What a privilege to be able to run through that bush and have those epic views!” – Multiday Madness winner Amanda Broughton, New Zealand. 

“I volunteered and participated in the Tassie Trail Fest. It was an excellent and authentic experience with fantastic program on and off the trails. I can highly recommend this event to everyone who love to run in the bush.” – King of Tassie Trails winner, Felix Weber, Germany.

“Loved every minute of the Multiday Madness, stunningly beautiful but challenging course…Wow. Just wow.” Asha Mahasuria, Northern Territory.

“A fantastic event, a big thank-you to the organizers for putting on a fantastic event, hopefully everyone will get behind this wonderful event and it will grow bigger over the next few years.” – Tim Gunton, Tasmania

“Absolutely fantastic event. Loved every minute of it. Lovely people, amazing location, great trails. Thanks so much to everyone involved in organising the event – you guys were fantastic. Roll on 2017!” – Philip Judge, Queensland.

“Can’t wait to do it again! It was a tough course…that’s what made it so good! Thanks guys see you next year!” – Tracy Cron, Tasmania.

“Brilliant event. Well organised. Great facilities. Amazing track. Definitely doing it again next year.” – Kirsten Aylmer, Tasmania. 

“We had a brilliant time. Great festival and a well organised inaugural event.” – Emma Pryor, New South Wales.Tassie Trail Fest 16-9871

“We believe that the Tassie Trail Fest has installed itself as an slightly quirky, challenging, upbeat and iconic trail event for Tasmania and indeed Australia,” says Chris.

Also featured at the festival was Tasmanian local trail running heroine, Hanny Allston, an elite athlete who presented a seminar on training and nutrition, while fellow elite runner, Mathieu Dore, presented a masterclass on strength and conditioning for runners.

Organisers also screened the international Trails In Motion Film Festival as part of proceedings.

The weekend’s run festivities concluded with a 2km final time trial, a virtual sprint event in trail running circles, with the starter setting runners off at 30 second intervals and the winner not decided until every runner had laid down a time. That included the race organisers who downed organisational responsibilities for the morning to join in the trail fun and madness.

Organisers have confirmed the Saucony Tassie Trail Fest will return next year on the same Labour Day Holiday Weekend, which in 2017 will be 11, 12, 13th March. They are encouraging runners to enter once entries open in a few months and, importantly, book accommodation in Derby or surrounding towns early, as it is limited.

See for more details.


Tassie Trail Fest is supported by Dorset Council, Saucony Australia, IO Merino, Black Diamond, The Running Company Launceston, Find Your Feet, Run Goat Run, Cheeta Recovey, Little Rivers Brewing Co., Kooee Snacks Australia, SOS Hydration, Break O’Day Council, Veolia, Weldborough Hotel, VFuel, Wildplans, Adventure Types, The Corner Store Cafe – Derby, S Group and Tour de Trails.Tassie Trail Fest 16-0332

Larapinta strip

Race report: Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix (OCC)

Recently, all ultra eyes were on the UTMB, arguably the world’s biggest ultra trail outing. So it was for Australian Trail Running Champion, Kellie Emmerson, who travelled to Chamonix to crew her partner, ultra trail runner and TRM co-editor, Tegyn Angel. But there was no way Kel was going to fly all that way and not get a run in herself. Luckily the UTMB organisers saw fit to launch a new support event the, Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix (OCC), a 53km alpine outing prelude to the UTMB. Here’s her report…

utmb14-occ-fo-01-0041-1 medLife is about choices.

Too many of my daily conversations begin with “So where are you off to next?” “I’m so jealous.” “How can you afford to go overseas again?” “Can you pack me in your suitcase?” “How can you get leave from work again?” “I could never run that far.” “I’m too old.” “I’m too unfit.”

I am a normal human being. I work a full time job. I keep fit. I study. I pay a mortgage. I work extra jobs in addition to my full time role to save more money. I get 4xweeks holiday a year. My life is action packed. And busy. But is a choice. And it is so awesome. I have been to many countries, been to the tallest mountains, ran through the most beautiful places.

Life is about choices.  And anything is possible if you want it.

utmb14-occ-pt-02-0057-1 medSo when I found out I had the opportunity to go to Chamonix to play support crew for the 2014 UTMB, I was pretty stoked. However, I had already done the same in Japan earlier this year for UTMF, and the infectious nature of the scene had left me wanting more.  So I put up the suggestion of me being able to race as well. I had a pretty jam-packed race schedule for the second half of the year, but surely there was a way?  Would the 101km CCC be pushing it, knowing I had a 100km race in Victoria 2xweeks later…? Never fear, the stars aligned and the 53km Orsieres-Champex-Chamonix (OCC) was born.  Given it was the inaugural year, it was clearly meant to be.

The trail and ultra scene is becoming more and more accommodating to families and crew, most now offering shorter distances to entice everyone to be involved in some way. And everyone wins here. Everyone gets to run, the races draw a bigger crowd, and they get a chance to make more money.  Over time, the events grow, and people have the opportunity to take it to the next level and set new goals. Take the Surf Coast Century for example. The main race is a 100km ultra. But there are options for 50km teams, relay teams of four, and then 3xdifferent solo distances on the Sunday. Everyone can be involved. Awesome.

utmb14-occ-fo-05-0027-1 medThe Europeans have now caught on to this idea. It’s just that their idea of offering alternative challenges is a little different.  The OCC was promoted as a ‘beginner’ race. 3300+ metres of vert over 53km… for beginners… are they nuts? Let’s put this into perspective. Australia’s The North Face 100 has about 4200 metres elevation within 100km. Victoria’s Mount Macedon has 2500+ metres over 52km. I would never have classified either of these races as ‘beginner,’ but the Europeans are something else.

“All things have limits, but one should always go beyond them.” (George Guynemer, French War pilot).

Nevertheless, I was pretty excited to be able to run my first international race.  The French Alps were very foreign to me, and I am in no way a mountain goat. So it made it a bit difficult to decide on an appropriate position to start within the field.   That said I had to remember that I held the 2014 50km Aussie title so who knew what would happen?  I ended up crammed amongst the 1199 others about 30m back from the start line.

utmb14-occ-pt-03-0063-1 medThe start line was very overwhelming. I became really emotional in that moment.  That’s never happened to me before. I was surrounded by over 1000 people, few who spoke English, all ready for a huge challenge. Surrounded by thousands more who were just there to cheer and ring their cow bells.  I was so grateful for the opportunity to be in that moment at that time. So grateful for a body that allows me to do this, for a mind that chooses to push on when it hurts. So grateful for a partner who shares my crazy love of the trails, of the challenge. So grateful for friends who understand. The feeling was breathtaking.

The next minute we were off! I chose my position well, overtaking a few whilst still getting stuck in a few bottlenecks due to the sheer size of the field. 90% of the field had poles. I had chosen not to take mine, though I am still wondering if I should have.  I found them quite dangerous in the first few kilometers. While some people used them straight away others had them sticking straight out of their packs like daggers. You had to be very careful how you overtook people.

The first climb was tough, but bearable on fresh legs. I was in a different world. Suddenly my Glasgow reps seemed so insignificant. It became more of a hiking race than a running race. We climbed and climbed, and climbed some more.

The first check point was about 7km in and was followed by a lovely stroll around a lake at Champex Lac. One of my most memorable parts of the race was here.  A fisherman and his ‘fisherdog’ couldn’t have timed it better, as they swung a fish out onto the path in front of me! We all had a giggle as I jumped over the line and ran on, ready for the next climb.

utmb14-occ-fo-05-0013-1 medThe next checkpoint was about 25km in and was the first point where crew were allowed.  Somehow I had made my way into the top ten! Though I knew this wouldn’t last long, I pushed on up the next climb. This one was tough, and steep, but wow the scenery was incredible! Like being inside a painting. I stopped to take some photos. It was getting hot! Runners all around me were struggling. The hill was never ending, save for a huge manure pit at the top, so gross!

We finally got to come back down again, but the trail was technical and did not allow for a fast descent. I ran into the next checkpoint feeling a little damaged but ready for the last 17km. The elevation profile indicated that I had already overcome the hardest climbs right? Wrong!

The final climb was horrific! It was longer than the map suggested, and just kept going and going and going, way above the tree line. There were numerous creek crossings along the way; these saved my life! I dove into each one, splashing my face, my head, washing my hands, cooling down my body temp. We made our way right up to one of the insanely high chairlifts and then it was time for the final descent. Boy this took a while!  I was watching the clock, really hoping but doubtful of a sub-8 hour finish. Once the technicality subsided a little, I turned it on, lapping up my specialty. It was a shame it had taken 46km to finally get a good run in! I caught up to a man out for a jog who decided to stick with me right into Chamonix. This was awesome. He didn’t speak English, and I never got to thank him for sharing those last few kilometers, but I loved it.

The final run into Chamonix was something I’ll never forget.  As you snake around the township, thousands of people line the streets, cheering, screaming, cow-belling.  So much fun and so much relief to have made it, not only finishing but achieving my goal time by just two minutes, 12th female.


All in all it was such a magical experience. Though we only got to go for a few days it was totally worth it and I would highly recommend it, especially with the ‘beginner’ options available. Walking around town it seemed that many couples had taken this option, enabling both to be involved, whilst crewing for the other.  It is a shame though that the female contingent remains low despite the huge uptake of trail running in the past few years. Looking at the stats, amongst all races only 13% were women. The average age for the OCC was 41 years- this includes the oldest female at 76, and oldest male at 82!  Plenty of time left yet!

Life is about choices.  You are not too old. You are not too poor. You don’t just have to crew. Get involved! You only live once, so choose well.

Kellie Emmerson is a Run Coach at 2XU Camberwell, and is a brand ambassador for She Science, GNC Eastland and Thir.

Read Tegyn Angel’s perspective of running the UTMB (he came 99th!) in the latest (out September 18) edition of Trail Run Mag, available as a free download at or by subscription on iPad or Kindle devices.