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.

Information at: (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:
Information at: (Events)

Trail Run Fest crowns King and Queen

Mount Baw Baw in Victoria crowned its first King and Queen of the Mountain this long weekend with two of Australia’s best trail runners putting in a tour de force on the singletrack over three days of competition at the inaugural Brooks Trail Run Festival.

The female all-mountain event title went to Gippsland local, Traralgon resident Kylie Murray, who won the marathon and 12km trail runs along with third and fourth placings in the 1.5km free mountain ascent and descent technical runs, which rounded off the festival Monday morning.

The inaugural King of the Mountain male title went to ultraIMG_0277 trail champion Matt Cooper, of Berowa, NSW. Cooper took a clean sweep winning the marathon, the daytime 12km and the free mountain runs.

Competitors first gathered on Saturday in the historic mining township of Walhalla to kick off the first ever Brooks Trail Run Fest with a marathon effort on a course that is now being rated as one of the toughest on the marathon trail calendar. Runners tracked along the old tramline before dropping to cross the Thompson River and then climbing two big ascents to top out on Mount Erica. Running through pristine snowgum country they weaved across the plateau before dropping back into the Baw Baw Village finish line.

Pushing Murray to the limit in the women’s marathon was Australia’s best adventure and obstacle racer, Deanna Blegg, who took second place followed by one of the nation’s best trail runners in Nikki Wynd. In the men’s, Cooper’s 4hr 14 run was pushed by notable Russian adventure racer Sergey Kurov just over six minutes in arrears followed by Geelong-based mutisporter Darren Clarke in third.

IMG_0535Murray took her marathon title in 4hrs 54min, a time impressive enough to have her across the line as fourth overall runner.

In the half marathon event spectators caught glimpse of a future star of the trail with 18 year old Warragul runner Joel Claxton taking out the win in  2hrs 5min on a technically challenging course that threatened ankles and brutalised knees for the length of the course.

Five minutes behind Claxton was Simon Forbes in second place and Gordon Meredith in third.

In the women’s, Ireland’ s Meadhbh (May-ve) Bolger took her first half marathon title, with Kathryn Hildern and Claire Issell claiming podium places.

With plenty more trail running on the roster for the weekend, competitors, friends and family settled in on Saturday night for a special film presentation by adventure runner, Jindivick resident Beau Miles. The Gippslander showed his film Trial of Miles: Running the Australia Alpine Walking Track on the two year anniversary of his feat.

Sunday saw the mountain abuzz again as runners tackled first a 12km day trail run, a six kilometer kids fun run and 12km nighttime trail run.

Hundreds of runners and spectators enjoyed three days of festivities on Mount Baw Baw in what organisers expect to grow into Australia’s biggest celebration of off road running.

IMG_0197“We hope this weekend was memorable for all runners,” says Event Director Grant Seamer. “Our aim was to create a program of running for all levels of abilities, to attract families and kids to have a go at trail running and to present plenty of inspiration in the form of films and information sessions exploring the culture of mountain and trail running.”

Competitors were also treated to a presentation by two of Australia’s most notable adventure runners in Samantha Gash and Richard Bowles, along with a masterclass in technical hill running by the eventual King of the Mountain winner Matt Cooper.

Mount Baw Baw has taken a lead in creating an all-new format event for the trail running community. Specifically, the ‘free mountain’ technical downhill and uphill runs over a 1.5km/400m descent/ascent course are the first to be offered in Australia, bringing a Euro-style competitive element to the traditionally longer form trail run event roster.

The Brooks Trail Run Festival will be a regular feature on the trail calendar, taking place on Victoria’s Labour Day long weekend every year. Entries and accommodation bookings for the 2014 festival will open in September.

Full results for festival events at:

 IMG_4163JOIN: the Brooks Trail Run Fest Facebook Group to see more images from the event, competitor feedback and ongoing news on the 2014 Brooks Trail Run Fest.



Surf’s up: course preview of the Surf Coast Century

Team Salomon ultra trail runner, winner of the Alpine Challenge and dedicated piccolo expert, Matt Cooper, takes a trip to Victoria’s Surf Coast to see how a coastal course compares to his usual mountain running terrain in a two-day preview of the 100km Surf Coast Century.

Coops running the hill overlooking Addis Beach – competitors will run down this towards the coast.

DISCLOSURE: Matt Cooper was hosted by event managers Rapid Ascent and is a team Salomon Runner, a company which is one of the secondary sponsors of the SCC. TRM’s editor also carries out media duties for Rapid Ascent. Having got that off our chests, a hill’s a hill and Coops will call it as such – we believe no bias was entertained in Coops’ writing of his preview and like to think as much as it promotes the event, it also serves to give those considering entering a better idea as to the course conditions. Keep an eye out on Trail Run Mag for more course previews, including that of another new ultra, the Hume & Hovell, happening in October.

When you get to board a plane to hit the trail for a day (or two)… you know you’re in for an adventure. Arriving at Avalon airport, about a forty minute drive from trail touchdown, it was off the plane, into the car and straight to the Surf Coast.

Entering the small seaside township of Anglesea, which hosts the start and finish of the Surf Coast Century (SCC), I immediately felt a sense of homeliness. It’s a cozy little town with a few gourmet shops (including an amazing coffee spot: hello Red Till, just opposite the race start area), set on a small escarpment overlooking some of the most pristine coastline you can imagine.

After a quick ‘Piccolo’ at Red Till, where I met local running gun Julian Spence and fellow Victorian trail legend Chris Wight, it was off to run the first half of the course.

Within meters of trotting off you hit the beach…Bam! There it is… a whole 18km of sand running alongside and underneath some of the biggest cliff lines I’d seen.

The first 50km takes runners north east along the coast from Anglesea to Torquay and back. [Ed’s note: the recce missed the first 4km of the official course, a quick out and back loop south-west.]

The beach run made for a great platform to move along the coastline, squeezing us between the incoming tide (supposedly low) and sheer cliff lines that hold above them many of the single tracks we would run later on. Rock hopping along some sections and a touch of deeper-water navigating made for a nice break up of this early section. But the stretch went quickly with mostly firm sand (assisted by rain in the days prior) and it didn’t take long until we were hitting the final stretches to CP One at Point Danger, Torquay. Special mention goes to my first experience of iconic surf spot Bells Beach, which competitors run along.

A few notes on taking heed of the race name. Surf equals sand and you will get it in your shoes. And yes, you will be in the surf albeit briefly as you pass just before Jan Juc’s Bird Rock – but hey, it’s a unique way to start a 100km trail race. I can’t forecast the condition of the sand in September, but this 18km of beach running was actually quite pleasant and made for quick moving with firm and fairly level sand underfoot. That may change according to conditions in the lead up and where you are in the pack, however – pointy enders get firm sand early on.

At Torquay, we double backed for the return journey on trails weaving their way towards Anglesea. Here, it’s all sweet, sweet singletrack! A fast, fun and flowing leg makes up the majority of this stretch. Well-groomed single track meanders and climbs its way along the clifftops of this classic bit of coastline – nice to feel underfoot after burning up the beach.

Any ascents/descents along this leg are generally smooth undulations with no steep pinches. Once off graded trail you hit rougher but well-defined trail in a forest section. This takes you up to the top of a short steep fun descent over Addis Beach.

Chris Wight on the same stretch overlooking Addis. After about 30km, I only made them run up and down about five times to get the shot…

It’s then back inland using slices of fire trail to link up single track sweeping you from deep tussock grass and native bushland back to the coastline yet again. This part of the course was again smooth and swift making for some great in-the-groove running.

Hitting a high point, the track opens up to a panoramic of Anglesea and the bushland and hills that make up the second half of the course. The final blast of the first fifty leads downhill past Anglesea’s sporting ovals, through more single track until you cross a short inlet to the  halfway checkpoint (start/finish area).

The following day was a slightly more abridged preview of the back half of the course that stretches out from Anglesea to Moggs Creek and back. This was my favorite section with a heap more bushy single track, fire trail, small waterfalls, lookouts and the majority of climbing on the course.

From the Anglesea Inlet, it’s not long before you take a steady climb up a local mountain bike trail that rises gently upwards before hitting a short, sharp ascent onto a ridge giving expensive views back over Anglesea and the coastline traversed on the first half. Undulating fire trail (okay one sharp pinch) on orange dirty/clay makes for a nice chance to get your rhythm going on a straightforward section between Anglesea and the back of Aireys Inlet. Then you hit the fun stuff: a beautiful loop trail amongst the iron bark park lands that dives into bushland hiding Currawong Falls.

Running through this section the terrain changes constantly ranging from smooth natural trails to rocky sections with a few small creek crossings. A ‘switchback’ climb to the top of the range brings you past a trig point and out to a small lookout where you can see the next 18km of the course, including the lighthouse at Aireys Inlet, which you run past later on.

A sweet bit of downhill dancing has you weaving down to join a short section of fire road leading to the most south western section of the course, which includes the short and sharp climb. Never far away on this course, it’s still only minutes until you reach single track again which climbs slightly to yet another coastal lookout from where you can sense the anticipation of making your way back to Anglesea.

From CP3 at Moggs Creek, a short section takes you through the streets of Moggs Creek before climbing over a range and drop back into the river inlet that Aireys is named for. Following the river it’s a small climb up past the lighthouse and some magical views of rugged coast line. More smooth groomed single track leads you along the clifftop until a short section takes you through private property to a quick fling down one of the only sections of paved road (very short). [Ed’s note: this section may still be taken off course and/or will be all coastal trail in 2013].

From here it’s a drop down to meet a long awaited rendezvous with another beach: Urquhart’s. It is kind of nice to hit the sand again now, although I should mention that the boys from Rapid Ascent had Urquhart quite hard packed for me and warn that for the top end runners passing through early, this beach section according to tide is likely to be on the soft side, all 3km of it. The back end of the field may have better conditions.

The nice part about this beach section is that as soon as your on it you can see the end of it: the backside of Point Roadknight. At the end of the beach you are put up a short set of stairs and onto the final sections of groomed trail leading back to completing the inaugural Surf Coast Century ultra.

Overall feel of the course is flowy, fun and fast. There are some great sections to really find your rhythm and put on the pace, with a few undulating climbs and some leg burning beach running.

With checkpoints spaced at roughly 25k intervals (with a couple of water stops in between) there won’t be any need for a heavy pack or much liquid.

Highlights for me were definitely underpinning the cliff lines whilst running along the beach at start; coming down Billy Goat Bluff (locals’colloquial name!) with the views south over Point Addis; the single track loop of Currawong Falls and, of course given my predilections, hitting the Red Till cafe for a piccolo at the finish line.

I think a great aspect of this event is the flexibility to enter as a team of either 2 or 4, giving shorter-distance runners, or those looking to just get a taste of the ultra trail scene, a great experience.

Wildlife on course encountered included kangaroo and wallaby, birdlife including cockatoo, parrots and two sea hawks along first leg. Apparently Julian encountered a sea lion in a small cove on one of his training runs on course.

Special thanks to Chris Ord who made the trip an adventure and homely experience (cooked up a wicked pasta dish too… Note to self: book in at his for Friday night pre-race carb load and accom); and to local star runners Julian Spence and Chris Wight for being local trail guides on the first recce day. We even found some off-course trails, which was a bonus (the Eumerella mountain bike trail sections on the second Torquay to Anglesea leg will need to be very well marked!); and to Rapid Ascent for hosting me to a full preview of the anticipated Surf Coast Century Ultra run.

I’m already looking forward to September’s Surf Coast session.

Training for the Surf Coast Century? Or any other ultra for that matter? Check out Matt Cooper’s ‘Ultra Made’ ultra trail running camp. The camp will be held from Friday 31st August – Sunday 2nd September at Fitzroy Falls, Southern Highlands, NSW. The location, with fully self contained cottage accommodation (including fireplace!) is set on 50 acres in the surrounding Moreton National park right alongside Twin Falls and the famous Fitzroy Falls marathon trail.

For more information the Surf Coast Century, including course maps, images, training tips and advice, see


Ultra Camp with Coops

Boom! Hear that? That’s the sound of trail running. It has a lovely echo through the forest, the reverberation of our beloved sport exploding, don’t you think?

What’s got me super excited, however, is what that growth means – not just for Trail Run Mag, or for products and brands and all that palava (technical term for ‘guff’), but for experience.

Along with more people lacing up a luggier shoe to take on trail, comes the opening up of possibility. Specifically the flowering of trail running experiences to be had, bought, sold, traded…from trail tours (a la those offered by our intrepid New Zealand Editor, Mal Law through Running Wild / Total Sport) to pseudo competitive trail adventures the likes of my current wish list experience, the Manaslu Trail Race (

At the upper end of such offerings are new products springing up around ultra and elite off-road running. I’m thinking of things like altitude training facilities springing up like mountain mushrooms  – did you know you can get high while running on the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne…?(,, And if you don’t like to fake it, there’s also specific altitude programs being offered at Falls Creek (

Further to that, more and more trail pros are offering to lend their knowledge, expertise and insight (all the same thing really!) to punters like you and me. And if you’re going to learn, you may as well learn from those winning races.

Someone like Matt ‘Coops’ Cooper (, winner of the Alpine Challenge, top ender at pretty much any race he enters and potentially the friendliest runner on trail – the man is a walking smile of positivity.

While he offers specialist physical and mental training and trail coaching for individuals through his company Present Energy (, Coops has also recently established a new, ‘Ultra made Training Camp’, a multiday intensive group experience that will give those looking to improve all aspects of their ultra running the inside line.

The first one is slated for the first weekend of Spring – Friday 31st August to Sunday 2nd September (with an optional ultra/long run) on the Monday morning.

Coops has chosen his local hunting fground to host the camp, with sessions taking place at Fitzroy Falls, in NSW.

Here’s what I like about these styles of experiences: it’s all about the running but the peripheries aren’t bad either. The setting is stunning with accommodation fully self contained cottages (including fireplace!) set on 50 acres in the surrounding Moreton National park right alongside Twin Falls and the famous Fitzroy Falls marathon trail (

“With the Australian Ultra running calendar ramping up, including Glasshouse 100, Surf Coast Century, GOW100, GNW100′s and Coast2Kosci, I figured there would be runners wanting to fine tune their Ultra training program,” says Coops.

“You don’t have to be a top-ender, either,” he assures. “Whether a seasoned ultra runner looking to crack a PB or a marathoner looking for the next step into Ultra trail, this camp is for you. I’ve developed a completely customised program tailored to meet the running mileage of both marathon and ultra distance runners.”

Coops’ ‘Ultra Made’ itinerary focuses on creating an ideal individual training program including specific seminars on eating for optimum results and training to race at your peak.

Matt will also open the doors to the lesser known secrets on race plan, ultra distance psychology and minimalist mindset that have put him at the pointy end of the field.

As a bonus to runners attending this first NSW Ultra Made camp, Matt will be introducing runners to ‘performing with Present Energy’… for ultra runners; the practices that Matt believes to be his most important training tools in his own race program.

Group presentations will be combined with 3 ‘on the trail’ running sessions (6-18km trail runs) among the single track and fire trail found on the Twin falls escarpment.

And to finish off a weekend of trail indulgence, Matt’s offering anyone able to stick around, a 30km or 50km long run on the Monday morning, down the Cannonball run into Kangaroo Valley, passing Twin falls and climbing the inspiring yet challenging Meryla pass.

In between training sessions there will be time for mountain biking, recovery baths (in a naturally cold pool), relaxing in the National park or viewing one of Ultra running’s original races – Western States 100.

Sounds like our kind of ultra trail experience. May there be more of it.


Camp pricing is $150 + accommodation which includes all trail sessions, 3 x group training/presentations by Matt Cooper, Friday night dinner (an ultra runners secret recipe which you can have), Monday long run and exclusive trial of Hammer nutrition and Salomon gear.

Breakfast, lunch and snacks must be self catered (each cottage has full kitchen, fridge, freezer) and Saturday night we will book dinner at local restaurant for all interested. Accommodation price for the camp will vary between $35-$85 p/person p/night depending on your preference of cottage and number of runners. Check out for cottage configurations and contact Matt for availability.

Booking your spot…

For all details see

To contact Matt about this camp, other camp locations (including Victorian Alps and Blue Mountains) or performance coaching go to:

Or email or contact Matt 0417436435.

Salomon announces AU trail team for 2012

Salomon Australia has announced its trail team for 2012, with four exceptional athletes – including TRM’s own senior contributor Margaretha (Gretel) Fortmann – set to race under the Salomon banner this year.

Congratulations to Andrew Vize, Mick Donges, Matt Cooper and Gretel.

Here’s a brief bio of each (below) or you can download more detailed profiles HERE (500kb).

Interestingly, we have one Salomon team member interviewing another with Margaretha’s profile of Mick Donges, along with fellow gun runner Brendan Davies, in edition #4 of Trail Run Mag.

Margaretha caning it up Mt Buller, Victoria.

Margaretha a.k.a Gretel lives and breathes the outdoors, so it is not surprising that she spends her time working as a mountain guide on the Overland Track. Guiding groups and individuals along Tasmania’s trails gives her the opportunity to share her passion for the outdoors and spend time training on some of the most rugged and beautiful trails in Australia. Within three years of entering her first Ultra Trail race in 2009, Gretel has come a long way and recorded the fastest Australian female time in the prestigious Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, finishing 10th woman overall. In 2012 she will race the North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains and will head overseas to compete in Ultra Trail races in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Wales.

Winning the Great North Walk 100miler 3 times in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011 (course record in 22h22m) and clocking the fastest Australian time in the iconic Western States 100 miler in the US, Andrew Vize has cemented his position as one of Australia’s strongest Ultra Trail runners. The running virus caught him only a few years ago after his wife bet him that he could not finish a Marathon without training. He managed to run the distance and has since then completed – and won – some of the toughest races in the Ultra Trail scene. Andrew is known for his meticulous preparation and gear choice as well as his determination to push his body to the absolute limit. In 2012 he will focus on the North Face 100km in the Blue Mountains and defending his title in the Great North Walk 100. He will also challenge the world’s best trail runners in the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 100miler in France.

Mick Donges on the hoof. IMAGE: Tod Clarke / Aurora Images

Living and training in the Blue Mountains (NSW), Mick Donges knows his way around the area hosting some of Australia’s most popular Ultra Trail races. His results include a 10th place in the Six Foot Track and a strong 6th place in the 2011 North Face 100km, when he challenged a strong international field including Salomon athletes Kilian Jornet and Ryan Sandes.

Mick’s determination and strong focus on training earned him a nomination to represent Australia in the 2011 Commonwealth Ultra Trail Championships (Wales) which he finished 5th overall. In 2012 Mick will compete in the Tarawera Ultra 100km (NZ), The North Face 100km (NSW) and in the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc 100miler in France.

Matt Cooper has established himself as a serious podium contender in the Australian ultra running scene by winning the 2011 Alpine Challenge 100 mile race and placing third (2010) and second (2011) in the Great North Walk 100 mile race. Matt focuses strongly on mental preparation and shares his ultra running experience with clients of his coaching and mentoring business. 2012 will see Matt competing in the Alpine Challenge 100, the North Face 100, the Great North Walk 100 and Coast to Kosci.