There’s a lot of focus (and Trail Run Mag is just as guilty in this respect) on ultra distances when it comes to trail running in the media.They are the big, bad boys of the sport, the ones that provide the most drama, heartache and top end action.
But let’s face it, ultras, as much as we love them and what they represent beyond the simple act of running a long way through the bush, will only ever attract so many punters. The hours you have to train, for one, means it’s a sport only for those able to tear themselves away from work and family demands for the long hours required to condition the body to run 100km, 200km or more.
Thankfully there’s another groundswell in the trail community happening across Australia (and I reckon it already happened in NZ a long time ago): the surge in shorter distance trail run events hosted in locales accessible to the greater urban population. We now have the Salomon Trail Run Series in Melbourne, Running Wild NSW has long held a series of short runs, the Perth Trail Series has its final summer outing on 24 March, and if rumours are correct there will be at least two trail series springing up in South East Queensland, not to mention the great work already being done in Far North Queensland by Adventure Sport NQ with its Dirty Northern Trail Running Series not to mention the Cairns Road Runners with its series of four trail runs (the next being the Black Snake on 24 April).
So it makes sense that Australia’s most populous metropolis, Sydney, has witnessed the birth of its own series of late in the Sydney Trailrunning Series, put on by the folk at Mountain Sports, purveyors of the fine Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon.
The Series’ autumn season kicks off this coming weekend with a new venue at Bobbin Head on beautiful Cowan Creek in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park on Sydney’s northern outskirts.
There is a 12km and a 6km race option, with the 12km race doing the 6km track twice.
Organiser Sean Greenhill of Mountain Sports notes Bobbin Head’s beautiful start/finish point at the picnic area and a scenic though testing figure-of-eight track.
‘The first mile or so it climbs quite steeply up onto a ridge and does a loop along that ridge and then there’s a long descent that winds back and forth. Most of it’s single track, with about a kilometre of dirt road in that 6km loop. It’s probably a bit steeper [than the summer season track at Manly Dam].’
Greenhill has offered the 6km option as well as the 12km because many people only had the time or inclination each week to train for shorter distances and wanted to offer something to them as well as more serious runners. It’s a move that reflects the explosion of trail running in general, and especially in the shorter distances, with Series One attracting more than 400 runners and the Salomon Series in Victoria attracting more than 1200 to some of its events in only its second year (2012).
‘By having a 6km race, it will still test them a bit but it’s more accessible to people who are just getting into running or are generally fit but not runners per se. Somebody who plays sport a few times a week or rides a bike, they may not be running fit but they can have a go at a 6km race. It will also be great for kids,” says Greenhill.
The first male and female home in the 12km race will both collect $250 while the top five males and females in the 6km event will win sponsors’ gifts. There will be water fill-up points at 2.5km, 6km, 8.5km and 12km.
Mountain Sports runs a no-cup policy for environmental reasons so all runners should carry their own cup or water bottle. There is parking for more than 400 cars at Bobbin Head but runners are reminded that the National Parks and Wildlife Service charges an entry fee to the national park of $11 for each car.
The Sydney Trailrunning Series is a series of short-course trail running events all within 45 minutes of the Sydney CBD. The series runs all year round and is divided into seasons at various locations. The autumn season at Bobbin Head features races on March 17, April 21 and May 12.
www.mountainsports.com.au for more information or to enter the Sydney Trailrunning Series.