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!

ENTER HERE: http://seasonsofpainspring.eventbrite.com.au/

EVENT INFORMATION HERE: http://mountbawbaw.com.au/events/seasons-of-pain-spring/

KEEP UP TO DATE BY LIKING THE SEASONS OF PAIN FACEBOOK PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/seasonsofpain#


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…


The Sting still hurts at Seasons of Pain

RACE REPORT >> SEASONS OF PAIN >> A mountain bike specialist has usurped her contemporaries including a young gun trail runner in the second edition of the Montane Seasons of Pain multisport series held seasonally on Mount Baw Baw, in Victoria. Team iRide Rocky Mountain rider, Jade Forsyth (pictured above), took out the female category win, apparently surprising even herself.

AA_IMG_1742“I entered not knowing where I would finish amongst the girls as this was my first venture into the world of multisport events,” said Jade. “So I was stoked to win!”

In second place was rising star of the trail running scene, Lucy Bartholomew (profiled in Ed#7 of Trail Run Mag, pictured below), who, only nearing her 17th birthday, will be a star of the singletrack in years to come. “But maybe not in multisport,” she says. “I’m not great on the bike and had to walk some of the ride sections. I think I’ll enter as a team next time with a mountain biking partner!”

In the men’s it was second time lucky for Stephen Rennick (pictured right), a notable runner in the Salomon Trail Run Series. He came 11th in the inaugural Summer Montane Seasons of Pain in January, but turned up the speed a notch for the Autumn edition to outclass notable triathlete and adventure racer, Aaron Dodd, in second place. In third place was regular on the trail ultra circuit, Tegyn Angel, showing he’s no slouch on the shorter courses, even when two wheels comes into play. 

While Angel held on to third comfortably for the entire race, the tussle was tight between the top two from the starter’s bell.

“I knew I was in for a challenging race when Aaron took off from the bell at a cracking pace,” said Rennick. “For the first (trail run) lap I was on par with Aaron, but he was first out of transition for the first bike leg. My plan was to try to catch him on the hill climb and enter the singletrack section first to try to get a bit of a lead, which I managed to do.

“I then focused on settling into a rhythm on the second run leg, and by the last mountain bike leg I was focusing on getting through as efficiently as possible as the legs were getting rather heavy.

Rennick singled out the Seasons course – slightly shortened for this edition – for high praise.

AA_IMG_1814“The location, the snow gums and alpine terrain is something different and quite special,” said Rennick. “The format of the event of a trail run and mountain bike is perfect for someone like me just getting into multi discipline racing. I’ve been interested in adventure racing for a while, and this event was a perfect starting point as the distances are achievable, but still challenging. It’s also more accessible for people who don’t swim or own kayaks and being a grassroots event, the atmosphere was relaxed and competitors friendly. Oh, and the prize money is a good lure too!”

For all competitors is was the now infamous ‘Sting’ – a final 1.5km/400m vertical ascent – that will stick in the memory as much as crossing the line first.

“The toughest part of the race with out a doubt,” said Rennick. “It was a bit like a dream, trying to run it, but you just can’t. You know you have given everything by the top because the legs are burning. With the thinner air and heart racing at near max, it was just about getting to the top and over the line.”

Said Forsyth: “The Sting…well, what can I say…my legs stung! I think it was the most challenging part for me but rewarding at the same time.”

Both winners spoke highly of the course they’d just conquered, which took in 30km or singletrack trail running and mountain biking split into four loops.

“The run was along undulating double track with a bit of bush bashing thrown in to keep you on your toes. The mountain bike leg was a mixture of double and single track with some little rock rollovers and technical sections to keep the seasoned mountain biker amused,” said Forsyth.

“I will definitely be back for more Seasons with its great atmosphere and amazing terrain to ride and run through.”

Special mention, too, goes to Bright trail runner, Neil Kinder (pictured below), who at 63 years of age, knocked off the course solo apparently loving every minute of the Sting.

Organisers have confirmed that the Winter edition of Seasons will go ahead on a revised date and an all-new format to accommodate for the changed conditions, which includes guaranteed snow.

“Montane Seasons of Pain Winter edition will be a mix of cross country skiing and trail running/snow shoeing in the main, with a short dash of mountain biking thrown in as the edition’s unique ‘Sting’,” says Race Director, Grant Seamer. “The course won’t necessarily be as long, but it’ll be all on snow, so it will still be tough but fun.”

AA_IMG_1666Now slated for 10 August, 2013, the Winter Montane Seasons of Pain will inaugurate a unique event on the multisport calendar, being the only format of its kind in Australia.

“As far as we know there are no other XC ski combined with snow shoe, trail run and mountain bike events in Australia,” said Seamer. “And the event will take place on the Saturday prior to the annual Tullicoutty Cup, a Nordic ski style event taking in 8.5km and 5 km courses. So the Seasons event will make a great warm up for XC skiers in that event.”

The Spring edition of Montane Seasons of Pain will return to the trail run and mountain bike format.


More information and entries at www.mtbawbaw.com.au


  1. Steve Rennick 02:24:22
  2. Aaron Dodd 02:31:15
  3. Tegyn Angel 02:44:26


  1. Jade Forsyth 3:04:35
  2. Lucy Bartholomew 03:16:25
  3. Aislinn Prendergast 03:19:59

TEAM WINNER: Team Brady 02:47:22

Sting returns for Seasons of Pain

The snowgum-cloaked slopes of the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort in Victoria will again welcome a crew of multisport athletes with the second staging of the Seasons of Pain trail running and mountain biking event on Saturday 13 April, 2013.

IMG_2495 smlOrganisers have confirmed – following overwhelmingly positive feedback from the inaugural event in January – that the notorious ‘Sting’ will remain in the course line-up. The course includes a 10km trail run, 8km mountain bike ride, 8km trail run, and another 8km mountain bike, but the final 1.5km ‘dash’, a 400m vertical ascent to cross the finish line, is the ‘Sting’ in the race’s tail end.

While some of Australia’s top multisport talent vanquished the “tough” course in just over two hours in January, plenty of weekend warriors had a go, too, taking up to four hours with some opting to enter as a team of two to share racing responsibilities.

The summer event winner, Jarad Kohlar, rates the course as one of the harder, more technical ones he has faced. “I had to work for every single meter. It was fun though, riding through the snowgums, and having this kind of short sharp racing in such a pristine environment.”

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,” says Kohlar who believes the bike-run format is a winner for anyone who enjoys an outdoor challenge.

IMG_2618b“I believe Seasons of Pain fills a void on the Australian multisport and adventure racing calendar,” says Kohlar. “It is 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 amazing terrain to race through.”

Race director, Mount Baw Baw’s Grant Seamer, is hoping more  will venture up for the event to experience Mount Baw Baw’s landscape au naturale, before the snow blankets come.

“Seasons of Pain, despite the name, is a very relaxed, social affair,” says Seamer. “And totally achievable – we had first time competitors in both teams and solo categories last time and everyone lasted the distance. So we’re encouraging people to just come up and have a go, enter as a team, find a ride or run buddy and enjoy a few hours in the bush, followed perhaps by a few at the bar for a good Baw Baw sunset.”

Seamer noted, too, that the following day, Sunday 14th April, sees the Baw Baw Classic road cycling event, with riders taking on the steepest road cycling challenge in Australia.

“So bring your mountain bike for the Saturday, and your road bike for the Sunday,” said Seamer.

There is $1000 prize money on offer for the leading male and female winners ($500 each), plus the general reward for the slap and tickle a good physical outing always brings for everyone else.


More information and entries at www.mtbawbaw.com.au/events/seasons-of-pain-autumn/

DIRECT ENTRY REGISTRATION AT: seasonsofpainautumn.eventbrite.com.au/

Get a taste by watching this video:


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 www.mountbawbaw.com.au

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

FULL RESULTS: www.tomatoresults.com.au/default.aspx?CId=16&RId=30048