Records tumble at Brooks Trail Run Festival

It was a matter of a student overtaking master and a road runner showing up her trail cousins on home turf at the Brooks Trail Run Festival, which took place atop Mount Baw Baw in Victoria over the March long weekend.

Brooks Mt Baw Baw Trail Run Festival


The three day festival invited off road runners to battle it out for King and Queen of the Mountain titles across multiple events ranging from a marathon to 13km and 1.4km ‘technical running’ competitions.

In the women’s category, Australian champion 50km roadrunner Natasha Fraser showed that while her specialty may be on bitumen, she loses no speed running on single track through the mountains. Fraser easily took the Queen of the Mountain title winning the marathon, registering third in a 13km event and winning the uphill outing in the technical run sessions.Brooks Mt Baw Baw Trail Run Festival

In the men’s, it was odds-on favourite Blake Hose, who showed why he is being touted as an international trail champion, despite only taking up trail running one year ago following a successful period spent in the cycling and triathlon worlds. Hose dominated the event, registering course records in the marathon and technical running competitions to take out the King of the Mountain title. In doing so, the 21 year old also surpassed his current mentor and coach, NSW-based Matt Cooper, who set the original course records and won the KOTM crown in 2013.

Hose, from Geelong, Victoria, registered a course record marathon time of 4:02:13, running from the historical gold mining town of Walhalla to Mount Baw Baw, taking on a vertical ascent of more than 2500 metres.

Brooks Mt Baw Baw Trail Run FestivalHis win over highly regarded trail runner, Joel Fitzgerald, who placed second 18 minutes in arrears, and South Australian Sean Sweetman (04:38:36) set Hose up for the KOTM title early on for the three-day festival, which is touted as ‘Australia’s biggest celebration of the trail running lifestyle’.

Hose went on to win Sunday’s 13km day run (01:05:55) , before registering the fastest descent and ascent on Monday’s ‘Free Mountain’ technical course (00:04:57) for the 1.4km / 300 metre ascent/descent) to ensure his crown was never in doubt.

A winner of the Great Ocean Walk 100 trail run and one of only four runners ever to record a sub-seven hour for the brutal Bogong to Hotham ultra trail, is regarded as a rising star of the growing trail run scene. Meanwhile Queen of the Mountain winner Natasha Fraser heads of to Doha, Qatar, to represent Australia at the 50km road World Championships. Both runners came away with a $1000 winners’ prize courtesy of Brooks and Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort.

LM_140309_MBBDayRun_0002_MEDres (logo)The festival also hosted Round One of the Victorian Orienteering Series, with many orienteering competitors giving hint to the endurance talent that lies within their community when they discard the maps and compass. In the 13km night run, first to fourth men’s and first place woman were all orienteering competitors while first place in the half marathon was all secured by an orienteer runner. Interestingly, the winner of the 13km night run, Rob Bauer, beat even KOTM champion Blake Hose’s day run time, despite the disadvantages of running in the dark with only a headlamp to guide the way.

The competition across the Festival shifted up a gear from the inaugural outing, with course records falling across most categories. New times to beat were registered in the men’s marathon, both the men’s and women’s half marathon, and in all of the short course technical runs across men’s and women’s, down and uphill.

LM_140309_MBBDayRun_0129_MEDres (logo)Overall, more than 400 competitors turned out over the long weekend to celebrate and participate in the trail running events, which also included a 3.5km family and kids’ fun run showing off the Baw Baw summit views, and numerous off trail sessions including nutritional seminars, technique clinics and a premier sneak preview screening of the Desert Runners feature film, a documentary featuring Festival ambassador, adventure runner Samantha Gash.

Runners travelled from far afield with entrants registered from Townsville, Adelaide, Brisbane, France, Germany, Estonia and the United Kingdom, the English competitor having flown specifically to attend the Brooks Trail Run Festival.

Engaging stories abounded amongst the field, with one marathon competitor knocking off his 92nd marathon at Baw Baw, it being only his fourth on trail. The winner of the uphill technical run is Estonia’s best orienteer runner. Several competitors had also never run a marathon previously, choosing to take on one of the country’s toughest off-roaders for their first outing. All debutants made the distance.

Brooks Mt Baw Baw Trail Run FestivalThe Brooks Trail Run Festival will return next year, once again on the 7-9 March Long Weekend (Victoria, Labour Day).

All details at



1. Blake Hose 04:02:14 (CR) // 2. Joel Fitzgerald 04:20:12 // 3. Sean Sweetman 04:38:36

MARATHON – Women’s
1. Natasha Fraser 05:09:22 // 2. Kellie Emmerson 05:30:26 // 3. Angela Harris 05:58:10

1. Kerrin Rattray 01:54:35 (CR) // 2. Joel Claxton 02:08:26 // 3. Cameron Goodison 02:10:39

1. Claire Boulange 02:16:14 (CR) // 2. Lucy Bartholomew 02:31:07 // 3. Bridget Wetherell 02:32:08


13KM DAY RUN – Women’s
1. Claire Boulange 01:15:55 // 2. Fiona Gordon 01:17:19 // 3. Natasha Fraser 01:17:35

13KM DAY RUN – Men’s
1. Blake Hose 01:05:55 // 2. Tom Crosby 01:12:01 //3. Vincent Kerbarh 01:12:22

13KM NIGHT RUN – Women’s
1. Jasmine Neue 01:21:29 // 2. Fiona Gordon 01:27:49 // 3. Genevieve Blanch 01:36:05

13KM NIGHT RUN – Men’s
1. Rob Bauer 01:03:29 // 2. Rob Preston 01:03:29 // 3. David Brownridge 01:10:22


1. Blake Hose 00:04:57 (CR) // 2. Rob Baker 00:05:00 // 3. Rob Preston 00:05:24

1. Liis Johanson 00:05:50 (CR) // 2. Jasmine Neve 00:06:00 // 3. Margaretha Fortmann 00:06:46

1. Rob Baker 00:12:19 (CR) // 2. Blake Hose 00:12:29 // 3. David Fraser 00:14:10

1. Natasha Fraser 00:14:46 (CR) // 2. Lucy Bartholomew 00:16:36 // 3. Liis Johansen 00:16:43




Young Guns for Big Red Run

Lucy Bartholomew has run under the clouds of controversy before: at the age of sixteen, she undertook the challenge to complete the 100km Surf Coast Century. That was with her Dad running beside her. Now she’s off to run a 250km monster in the Big Red Run, Australia’s newest multiday stage race looping out across the desert from Birdsville and back. She’ll have to run a marathon a day before taking on an 80km leg. Stay tuned to her reports here on Trail Run Mag, but in the meantime, here are her thoughts in the weeks leading up to the event.


With only 21 days to go (until the start of the Big Red Run), I started thinking exactly how I got to where I am today: booking flights to Brisbane and then on to the Simpson Desert; training hard; being given a box of technical The North Face gear specially suited to desert running as a lead in to potential sponsorship; and working with some of the most amazing people who are supporting me in my journey to becoming a competitive trail and adventure runner.

I love running. I completed the Surf Coast Century 100km with the controversy of age limits hanging above, and finished how I finish all my runs: smiling and happy! It wasn’t easy when people were against what I was doing, but I do know that it was all in the best interests of my safety. And I knew I had my family to support me no matter what and so I was easily able to push aside negative comments and run proudly with my dad.

Big Red Run is a completely different scenario: there has been no media roiling with controversy at my age or the wisdom of my entry. And I no longer had the support of my Dad. The only things that were the same were that I was entering to finish and to have fun.

Entering didn’t come easy. It briefly tore my family apart. Mum wants whatever makes me happy and I knew I wanted to do this. Dad took the side all the people opposing my run in the Surf Coast Century, saying that I am too young, that it would affect me mentally and physically.

To be honest, I didn’t go about it the right way. Instead of asking him, I told him, and that pretty much guaranteed a bad result.

Dad was my running partner and my mentor and now I had neither.  I started doing my own research: how to train, gear for desert conditions, people who had done this before (Lisa Tamati and Sam Gash) and nutrition.

People were interested in what I was doing, believed I could achieve it and wanted to help and be apart of it. I was stoked; I took onboard all the advice I received and when the word sponsorship was spoken I couldn’t believe that it was a viable option. I always thought only top level athletes were sponsored. I never saw myself as this, despite my daring to believe it may be a possibility one day.


It was all pretty surreal up until now, where I have been told to think about tapering, booking my flights and buying my food. I entered this run oblivious to the fact that 254km is a bloody long way. I entered expecting to be travelling alone. I entered to prove myself and to challenge myself but since entering I’ve realised that the distance is brutal.

Yet I tell myself to break it down over the six days, to take it slowly, don’t get competitive and just enjoy something most people won’t even get to. This thing will be hard, but as any long distance runner must tell themselves, I must tell myself: it’s achievable.

I’m no longer traveling alone. Two runners gave me the best birthday present of joining me: Jacinta O’Neill will be part of the Big Red Run medical team and Jim Eastham will race the first-day 42km Big Red Dash and stay on to support me. Having two people I know and have run with will ensure a crucible of confidence when I am out there in the desert.

I’ve also come to realize that I don’t need to prove myself: what I have achieved, what I am doing is something no ordinary 17 year-old does and I’m proud of who I am and what I have become and I love what I do. I run.


I haven’t exactly got a race plan. I’ve got Jacinta and Jim who I know will look after me, making sure I am drinking and eating enough and pacing well. I know I am competitive, and want to run fast but I also know that this is no race to go out hard in and blow up.  As a runner used to shorter distances  – or at least timelines for finishing a race (20km-100km done and dusted in under 13 hours as opposed to a run broken into stages and completed over six days) – it’s going to be hard to hold back. Just another challenge I need to overcome.

I know this run isn’t going to be easy. I know it will test me and push me, but I simply can’t wait. I have two friends by my side, the support from my school and schoolfriends, support from my family (with some reservations from my Dad but nonetheless, we’re still a team!) and I believe in myself.

Bring on Big Red!


Lucy Bartholomew’s reports on the Big Red Run will be filed with Trail Run Mag in the near future. Stay tuned with race developments at and

 Lucy is being supported with gear supply for the Big Red Run by The North Face. We include mention of it here as we believe it is important that trail brands support up and coming (and established!) trail athletes in their endeavors to achieve.

 As with all entrants in the Big Red Run. Lucy is trying to raise money for Type 1 Diabetes. Help her in the cause at

 You can also follow Lucy’s trail life on her athlete Facebook page at