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.


Spring shines on Seasons of Pain

SOP Womens Winner Maria Plyashenko The Montane Seasons of Pain – an adventure event that has garnered a reputation as one of the toughest, yet most beautiful offroad multisport courses in Victoria – has wrapped up the 2013 season with some lightening fast racing at Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort.

“I’ve just returned from Xterra Maui, and this event was just as brutal,” said one competitor comparing it to one of the world’s better know off road endurance events.

“Hardest thing I’ve ever done,” said an experienced racer. “Insane,” said another.

Yet all quickly followed up with the same effusive sentiment: “But I loved every minute of it.”

It was a consensus opinion at the Spring edition of the adventure duathlon, which in its fourth outing featured new course sections and redesigned mountain bike singeltrack.

Competitors toughed their way up the now infamous ‘Sting’– a 300-metre vertical climb over 1.4km that capped off the 34-kilometre trail run and mountain bike course – to heave onto the traditional finisher’s couch wearing both smile and grimace for their efforts.

Run LegIn the men’s it was a pace that defied the hilly singletrack course, with newcomer to the series and first time off road racer, Melburnian Brody Gardner, taking line honours.

“I want to race a few Xterras (global off road triathlon series) so I though it would be a good first time outing,” said Brody. “But it is the toughest thing I have ever done.”

“The course was unrelenting and technical – at no time were you able to back off.”

The off road course features of a 9km trail run, 8km mountain bike, 7km trail run, 9km mountain bike and a 1.5km final ‘Sting’ uphill run, with trails exploring the flanks of Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort and into the adjacent Baw Baw National Park.

SOP_run leg web“It wasn’t a question of what kind of pace you could maintain; it was just about getting through it and finishing,” said Brody, who has a background in sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.

Despite the prospect of a course defined by hills, Brody attacked early in the piece, going hard out the front. The technical mountain bike trails took their toll, with eventual third place getter, Tim Doman, snatching the lead at one stage after Brody flipped his bike for a close encounter with a tree.

It took until the second run leg, in which his extreme pace was noted by all, for Brody to re-take the lead, going on to maintain a three minute buffer over eventual runner-up, Gippsland adventure racer, Rob Preston, who had reeled in and overtaken a slowing Tim.

Of his introduction to the ‘Sting’, Brody says: “I don’t know how anyone could run that on fresh legs, let alone having raced for 34 kilometres.”

The last incline didn’t slow him too much overall however, with an incredible course time of 2 hours and 44 minutes.

SOP Bike Mens Second Rob Preston nedIn the women’s it was notable adventure racer and current Australian Multisport Champion, Maria Plyashechko, who took to the front early, with multisport athlete and trail runner, Claire Thomas, and Xterra multisporter, Belinda Hadden, on the chase.

Neither could maintain the pace, however, highlighting Maria’s consistent strength in both disciplines. The expat Russian and co-owner of adventure event company and event sponsor, Adventure Junkies, knocked off the tough course in 3 hours 23 minutes, a clear 23 minutes ahead of second placed Claire.

“It was an absolutely gorgeous course in a stunning alpine area,” says Maria, who arrived at the finishline with its view over the Gippsland Valley, elated. “Seasons of Pain is a great event – put it into your diaries for the next year,” she advised.

In the teams (of two), category, Alan McCubbin and Chris Degruyter, put in a solid effort sharing the trail run and bike legs before running the Sting together, finishing in a time of 3 hours 18 minutes.

First and only women’s team across the line was Vickie Saunders and Rechelle Olsen. The pair was cheered over the line by a crowd, who appreciated the huge effort it took to stay out on course for 5 hours and 15 minutes.


1. Brodie Gardner                 02:44:28
2. Rob Preston                      02:47:46
3. Tim Doman                        02:54:12

1. Maria Plyashechko            03:23:27
2. Claire Thomas                   03:46:33
3. Belinda Hadden                03:50:55

Team Men’s
1. McCubbin / Degruyter       03:18:06
2. Farooq/Qazi                       03:47:01

Team Women’s
1. Olsen/Saunders                05:15:59


DISCLOSURE (AND INVITATION): We have listed Seasons of Pain event report in the news section as Trail Run Mag is a sponsor of the event. However, we welcome all and any other trail run events across Australia, New Zealand and Asia who can provide quality  pre- and post-event reports to submit along with 5 quality images that showcase the event. We support all trail running initiatives, whether or not TRM is associated.


Sting returns to spring with multisport

IMG_2392 med 300 IMG_2470 med copy 300 IMG_2618_med 300Multisport athletes (with a penchant for running sweet singletrail) will celebrate the end of spring with a little extra sting come 30 November when they race the unique Montane Seasons of Pain multisport event held on the flanks of Victorian alpine resort, Mount Baw Baw, located 2.5 hours east of Melbourne.

The series will be in its fourth outing for the year, the previous Winter edition testing a format that included a cross country ski and snow run. This final edition of 2013 will return to the regular trail run and mountain bike format, with participants completing two laps of each discipline over a cumulative course of approximately 30km.

Runners loop up and over Mt Baw Baw summit before diving into the Baw Baw National Park on an out and back to Mount St Phillack. Riders explore the technical singletrack looping around the village including the highly praised Mueller’s Track, a speedy downhill section that tests the nerve.

The ‘sting’ component comes during the final 1.5km trail ‘dash’, which takes in a leg-busting 400m vertical ascent to meet the finish line, the course rising up what is usually a downhill mountain bike trail. And of course competitors who make it to the top must abide by the social race ruling: everyone has to sit on the finisher’s couch (admiring the huge view of Gippsland Valley) until the next competitor arrives over the line, and congratulate them, before being allowed to head off for a celebratory beverage.

IMG_2598_MED 300The Montane Seasons of Pain multisport series has gained a reputation as one of the more social, fun events if not one of the harder multisport outings on the calendar. Entrants racing either as individuals or teams of two sharing duties, face an undulating course at an altitude or 1500 metres: not Himalayan by any stretch but enough to definitely put a noticeable squeeze on lungs.

The Montane Seasons of Pain Spring edition will join other on mountain activities as part of opening weekend for Mount Baw Baw’s summer seasons of activity, with a focus on it opening of the mountain’s singletrack bike trails.

For mountain bikers, there will be a ‘Pin It To Win It’ challenge on the Sunday, with $1000 cash up for grabs to the rider who gets the most consistent times (x 2, closest split) down the 1.4km downhill MTB course (the one Seasons of Pain entrants will have run up the day prior). This is a perfect competition for beginners to intermediates, as the aim is not the fastest ride, rather the most consistent.

There will also be a DJ and bar open on the Saturday night for those looking to make a weekend of their trip to Mount Baw Baw.

SPRING EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: enter Seasons of Pain before 10 October, and get a half price early bird entry.

Simply put ‘matesrates’ in the promotion code box when entering!





WHEN:                       Saturday 30 November
WHERE:                      Mount Baw Baw, Gippsland

WHAT:                        Run 8km + Ride 8km + Run 6km + Ride 8km + Run 1.5km

ENTRIES:                     Solo or team of two

NOTES:                       Mountain bike hire available, limited supply, book now

Accommodation deals available, contact Mount Baw Baw Guest Services

Proudly supported by Montane, available through Mainpeak. Australia’s Online Adventure Store.

NOTE: The publisher of Trail Run Mag, Adventure Types, is through its adventure consultancy business contracted to assist Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort in the design, curation and management of the Seasons of Pain series and Brooks Trail Run Fest (8-11 March 2014) events. Just means you know you’ll have a good time if you enter… what was that? Half price til early October you say…geddin…


Brooks joins ambassadors to headline Baw Baw Trail Run Fest

TRAIL RUN FEST _ LOGO _ SHIELD ONLYBrooks Running has bolstered its support for the trail running community with the announcement that it has confirmed a partnership to inaugurate the Brooks Trail Run Festival taking place in Victoria on 9-11 March, 2013.

The announcement comes atop news that two of Australia’s best known adventure runners, Richard Bowles and Samantha Gash, have also been appointed as official ambassadors.The pair have both recently come off record-breaking runs, Bowles recently completing the double of being the first to run Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail and New Zealand’s Te Araroa Track, a combined total of more than 8,000km.

Samantha Gash, a Brooks-supported runner known for being the youngest and first female to complete all of the 4Deserts multiday adventure runs, most recently became the youngest Australian to run non-stop across the Simpson Desert, battling sleep deprivation and dingo packs in the name of charity.

Both runners have big expeditions planned in the near future, but will first line up for the inaugural Brooks Trail Run Festival. The pair will be among many vying to become the first inaugural King and Queen of the Mountain, a quest that will see competitors run a total of 57km over three days, beginning with a marathon from the historic gold mining township of Walhalla and finishing on Mt Baw Baw.

They will then choose from a 12km daytime run or a 12km night time run the following day, wrapping up with two short, technical 1.5km ‘free mountain’ runs on the public holiday Monday morning.

IMG_2470 med copyOther competitors may cherrypick from the half marathon, one of the 12km events or a five kilometre fun run/walk in which children, families and those new to trail running are encouraged to join the singletrack action.

“The festival line-up is a great concept,” says Bowles, who usually avoids competitive races, but considers the long weekend outing more of an adventure that happens to be organized with live music at the finishline.

“The marathon route is bound to be an instant classic and a must-do on the trail running scene, being the majority of it runs along the iconic Australian Alpine Walking Track,” says Bowles. “I’ve already run the course as a recce and it is a simply stunning course that really puts you smack in quintessential Aussie wilderness. Of course, the difference from my usual expedition runs is that at Mount Baw Baw there’s a spa, restaurant, bar and comfy bed waiting for me at the end!”

For her part, Samantha Gash is looking forward to the festival atmosphere and entertainment between events as much as the runs themselves, with a film night and trail specific information sessions planned.

“In particular it will be interesting to see who shows for the short, sharp free mountain runs, which puts people smashing down a 1.5km technical course over obstacles and a 400-metre descent. Talk about fast and furious. And then, after a short rest, they have to run back up it again – it adds a whole new dimension that we haven’t seen on the Australian trail running circuit before,” said Sam, who will back up her on course efforts with an inspirational talk and Q&A session.

IMG_2552 medGash will have some stiff competition for her tilt at Queen of the Mountain with news that Victorian gun trail runner Nikki Wynd will also be on mountain.

Mount Baw Baw’s Events Manager, Grant Seamer, says the festival is specifically designed to cater to all levels of run fitness and aptitude.

“We want to offer something for everyone and build a true celebration of the sport of trail running of the community that has grown up around it in Australia . And we also happen to think that we have some of the best terrain a trail runner could wish for up here, and plenty to do for supporters, friends and family tagging along, so it’ll make for a great weekend outing.

“We’re proud to welcome Richard and Sam to the Baw Baw family and appreciate their involvement given their massive running experience. Richard has already been up a few times to continue his scouting and training on the trails and Sam ran in our Seasons of Pain event a few weekends back, and both have offered great feedback on the pure quality of trail running on the mountain.”

Mount Baw Baw is putting on a free return bus service from Melbourne CBD, stopping at major eastern suburban centres en route to the mountain on the Friday afternoon prior to the event weekend.

“We want to make it as easy as possible to get to the event and also create a unique social vibe where people share their experiences and love of trail running.”

Entries are now open at:

The full festival line up includes:

Saturday 9 March

>> 42.2km Trail Marathon, Walhalla to Mt Baw Baw

>> 21km half marathon (a bus will take runners from Mt Baw Baw to Walhalla / Mt Erica on Saturday morning or runners can make their own way to the start lines)

>> Film Premiere: 100 Reasons – Running The North Face 100.

Sunday 10 March

>>12km trail run

>>5km fun run/walk

>>12km night trail run

>>presentations, information and technique sessions to be announced.

Monday 11 March

>>1.5km downhill mountain run

>>1.5km uphill mountain run

+ Presentations

Baw Baw Alpine Resort  will be offering a FREE bus service from Melbourne CBD on Friday afternoon stopping at the following locations on the way to Baw Baw! Seats are limited. If runners would like to take advantage of this please add the FREE BUS to your entry order online. The bus will return on Monday afternoon after presentations. Stopping at: Southern Cross Station + Caulfield Station + Dandenong Station + Warragul Station + Trafalgar Station + Traralgon Station. Timings to be confirmed.

For inquiries please call: (03) 5165 1136



Seasons of Pain lives up to its name on Mt Baw Baw

The snowgum-cloaked slopes of the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort in Victoria IMG_2618_medwelcomed some of Australia’s elite multisport athletes on the Australia Day long weekend with the inaugural staging of its Seasons of Pain trail running and mountain biking event.

The first in a series of four outings for the year, Seasons of Pain Summer Edition lured competitors with a hardy offering of a 9km trail run, 8km mountain bike ride, 6km trail run, 10km mountain bike and a final 1.5km ‘dash’, running a 400m vertical ascent to cross the finish line.

The racing at the pointy end was fast and furious in both male and female categories. The women’s in particular represented a strong field with the added international competition of Swiss professional Xterra athlete Renata Bucher. Also vying for first time honours was Australia’s leading female adventure racer, Deanna Blegg, top end Torquay-based multisporter Peri Gray and Sydney-based Xterra racer Nienke Oostra.

In the men’s, the race was always going to be between perennial adversaries, Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto, both champion adventure racers, with the likes of Gippsland-based Rob Preston and up and coming athlete Alex Houghton determined to put pressure on the two favourites.

As competitors weaved their way along freshly groomed single track, it quickly became a tussle in the women’s field between Blegg and Bucher, the pair coming into the final changeover to the bike within seconds of each other. Bucher found the extra legs needed on what all agreed was one of the toughest multisport courses they had raced, overtaking Blegg to find a healthy seven minute lead by the time she battled up the final incline dubbed ‘The Sting’.

IMG_2498 medThe final 400 metre vertical ascent run over 1.5km took overall winner, Jarad Kohlar, more than 16 minutes to run on his way to victory. Showing just how tough The Sting was some competitors took up to 25 minutes to get to the top where spectators cheered them in.

Throughout the race Kohlar was never headed, however Pretto threatened his lead the entire way, with three of his five leg split faster than Kohlar’s, including both ride legs. With only a second between the pair up The Sting, it was Kohlar’s blistering pace on the fairly technical run legs that handed him the race by 50 seconds.

“It was fast out there; I had to work for every single meter. It was fun though, riding through the snowgums, and having this kind of short sharp racing.

Commenting on the final uphill run, Jarad was unequivocal that the event fulfilled its promise: “It’s runnable. But only just. And you have to hurt.”

“With its bike-run format I believe Seasons of Pain will fill a void on the Australian multisport and adventure racing calendar,” says an impressed Kohlar. “I think it should really take off as something that everyone from triathletes to adventure racers to runners buddying up with a riders can have a go at. And the environment up here is just stunning – absolutely pristine and amazing terrain to race through.”

For her part, women’s winner Renata Bucher, who competes around the world in the professional Xterra off road triathlon series, was also full of praise for the course.

IMG_2565 med“It’s one of the best events I’ve competed in,” said Bucher.

“It’s one of the toughest single day adventure race courses I’ve done in Australia,” added second placegetter, Deanna Blegg, who is the current Anaconda Adventure Race National Series titleholder. “Looking at the distance on paper we thought that we’d be coming up to Mt Baw Baw for a quick race that would act as part of my training schedule leading in to my race season, but it was a much harder course than expected. There was just no let up as it continued to throw challenges at every turn, with plenty of up and down.”

In the team’s category which allows two people to share running and riding duties, it was the engaged couple Daniel Trevena and Samantha Gash who registered as the first winners. Both are notable trail runners, Gash particular in ultra running having not long ago run across the Simpson Desert for charity. 

Renata Bucher continued her winning ways the following morning with the inaugural Dash for Cash, a ‘taster’ event for Mt Baw Baw’s upcoming Trail Running Festival (9-11 March) that saw runners bolt down the same course that was The Sting in Seasons of Pain.

Runners lined up at the top of what is usually the downhill mountain biking course to see how fast they could descent on foot, with an incentive of $100 at the finish line. Spectators lined the parts of the run to see a technical style of running usually only seen in Europe, which is perhaps why Bucher had the advantage in the women’s time trial.

Rob DaltonIn the men, it was Gippsland-based Rob Preston who flew over obstacles the quickest and managed to defy slippery conditions to set the benchmark for the run with at time of 5 minutes 18 seconds. As a comparison, the super quick downhill mountain bikers do the run in three and a half minutes, showing just how fleet of foot Preston was.

The downhill run will again feature as part of the Inaugural Mt Baw Baw Trail Run Festival on 9-11 March long weekend. Also on the roster will be full and half marathons, two 12km runs (one a night run), a five kilometer fun run and the down and uphill 1.5km runs.

The next Seasons of Pain event will be held on the weekend of 13-14th April 2013.

More information at

Seasons of Pain Summer Edition Results


IMG_2552 med1.     Jarad Kohlar (VIC) 2:25:44
James Pretto (VIC) 2:26:34
3.     Alex Houghton (VIC) 2:29:50


1.     Renata Boucher (SWI) 2:59:20
2.     Deanna Blegg (VIC) 3:06:26
3.     Peri Gray (VIC) 3:15:22


1.     Samantha Gash & Daniel Trevena 3:02:21
Jason Johnson & Becky Herridge 3:20:44
3.     Donna Gibson & Ian Gibson 3:26:31