It was fluorescent lights at 100 paces plus on the Surf Coast in Victoria on the weekend, with a sell-out 500 runners glamming it up for the unique event that is the Black Diamond Afterglow Night Trail Run.
Sporting everything from bad-taste tight-and-bright leotards (and that was just the blokes) to glow-in-the-dark costumes that would have Cyndi Lauper or Boy George smiling with inspirational pride, runners shone their night lights on the Surf Coast Walk, choosing to run either the 21km course or the 12km route.
More than doubling numbers from its inaugural outing last year, the Black Diamond Afterglow Night Trail Run proved a hit with serious and fun runners alike, the latter vibe being the dominant take-away in an event that has broken the mould of a traditionally hardcore, mountain-staged pursuit.
“It was a real sight, watching the first batch of runners disappear down the trail at Point Addis, a wave of florescent diving into the bushy singletrack at Addiscot Beach,” said Race Director, Chris Ord from Tour de Trails, a running event and tour company based on the Surf Coast.
This year the twilight-night trail run added a 12km outing to the traditional half marathon (21km) line-up, to further entice those new to trail running. Runners were greeted on course with plenty of entertainment to help the kilometres pass, including two saxophonists, a troupe of African drummers, a didgeridoo player playing in the sand dunes and two DJ’s appropriately dubbed the Soul Mamas, spinning the eighties decks at the finish line.
“We purposely theme our event way over the top and out there to provide a different running and social experience,” says Chris. “It’s one very welcoming of runners new to the trail, or indeed to running! The most consistent feedback we get is how happy everyone is to be there, dressed in their glowing best, and the vibe that comes out of that being so easy and welcoming for people. “
Hundreds of runners got into that vibe with plenty of effort going into their retro, eighties – some would say bad taste – fashion on the trails, with the event gaining its own ‘mascot’ this year in the form of a ‘trail running rainbow unicorn’ as sighted on the official event tshirt (and by others somewhat dubiously actually out on trail).
While most ran for fun and frivolity, the winner Francesco Ciancio still clocked a handy time of 1:23:40 for his half marathon win, only five minutes shy of last year’s Olympian winner, Craig Mottram. In second place was Birregurra (Vic) local Steven Page (1:29:40) followed by Colac (Vic) resident, David Lipman (1:31:54).
In the women’s a Torquay (Surf Coast, Vic) local took line honours, with Renee Lane – fresh from a stellar third place in an international Japanese marathon and first place in the Great Ocean Road Marathon – taking the win in a time of 1:36:34. Her performance was enough to also deliver her fifth place overall (male or female). Behind Lane was fellow Surf Coaster, Loretta McGrath (Torquay, 1:41:19) and in third Wendy McAlpine (Sandringham, Vic, 1:42:49).
The 12km saw both blistering outfits and blistering times, with the women taking it to the men. While the first place getter was Kevin Chisolm (55:51), second overall (and first female) was Geelong’s Aleara Wallace (1:00:00). Andrew McDowell was second male, third overall (1:00:53) while Danni Rogan, from Truganina, Vic, scored second female and fourth overall (1:01:38). Third male was Paul Dickson (Geelong, 1:03:15) with Di Jorgensen (Clifton Springs, 1:07:05) registering third female in the 12km.
Special mention goes to a quartet of 12 year olds, including Isabella, neice of Jan Juc, Surf Coast, local Maggie Bufe who along with her three friends Ava, Chloe and Isabella, took on the 12km course.
Says Isabella’s Aunt Maggie: “Isabella found the event online and as I live in Jan Juc thought it would be fun to do with her friends. They all love to run. Her mother, brother and myself all cheered them on from the sidelines. They had a ball and all achieved fantastic results, especially for their age group Under 20s.”
Isabella Bufe was 1st female in her division with Chloe Joubert 3rd, Ava Lansell 4th and Isabella Mangano 5th. Notably they all ran an extended 13km course, a fun option for 12km runners who wanted to run longer to see the didgeridoo player in the sand dunes.
“Isabella did extremely well, having never run 13km before,” says Maggie. “She finished 10th overall and 4th female overall with a time of 1:08:15.
The unique event remains Australia’s only night-time half marathon distance trail outing, and will take place again in 2016, on 26th November.
All results for the race are available at: www.afterglowtrail.com.au/results/
Afterglow is supported by the Surf Coast Shire via its Major Events Grants, along with Black Diamond, Tailwind Nutrition, Surf Coast Trail Runners, Bomboras Kiosk, The Happy Runner, The Geelong Running Company, Kongo Industries, Adventure Types, Tour de Trails and Trail Run Mag.
TOUR DE TRAILS’ next event is the inaugural three-day Tassie Trail Fest in Derby, Tasmania. Check it out HERE.