13 Lessons: UTA mid-pack perspective

Everyone loves hearing the inspirational feats of the elite runners. Our jaws drop as we hear the winner’s time (9.20…how is that even possible?). But what went down in the middle of the pack? Is there anything to learn from those runners for whom a silver buckle is a distant dream?For anyone who is more likely to crawl up the Furber Steps than sprint, and who maybe had a little meltdown on Nellies stairs, this is for you. Here are some lessons from middle of pack runner Nicki Letts from www.runoldgirlrun.com:Taking in the View at the top of Tarros Ladders

  1. Plan nothing else for the day

Stop seeing the run as race, and instead think of it as something you are doing for the day. As explorer Lawrence Oates famously said, “I am just going outside and may be some time”. Okay, he never returned, but the point is 100km is a bloody long way. Accept that this is something that will take all day and night. Once you can get your head around this, the rest of these lessons are a breeze.

  1. Choose accommodation close to the start/finish line

The last thing you want to worry about is how to get to and from the start/finish line. Especially if you don’t have a support crew. We stayed at Katoomba Falls Caravan Park, less than 1km from Scenic World (book early!). Walking to the KCC and Scenic World is far easier than dealing with shuttles, taxis and car parking. And when your brain isn’t functioning pre- or post-race, easy is exactly what you need.

  1. Get tech tips from the second oldest runner in the field

At T minus 24 hours, we were eating our brekkie in the campsite kitchen when Alf walked in, munching on a bowl of cereal. He quickly pegged us as runners and humbly introduced himself as the second oldest runner in the field, at 73 years old. If this wasn’t inspirational enough, he then taught us how to use the UTA app. Alf told us the app is especially comforting for him, as he could pinpoint his exact coordinates if he wandered off course. Who can argue with that? We downloaded the app.

  1. Invest in the right compression bandage

It’s no secret that UTA guys are strict on the mandatory gear list. We enjoyed a very thorough safety briefing explaining why. But there’s nothing quite like a real-life encounter to drum home the message. On a pre-race morning walk along the trail to Echo Point – the very same track we would be running along – we came across a rather real, big anguish. That’s Latin for snake. And very close to the word ‘anxious’, closer still to the word ‘anguish’. Needless to say, we packed a snake bandaged and passed mandatory gear inspection.Gear Check

  1. Devise a bulletproof nutrition strategy

Ultra runs are really all about the food and drink (and not just the celebratory drinks at the finish line). They can actually be won and lost by fuel choices – or lack thereof. We went into this run knowing what we would be eating and why.

We train with Clif Bars, so that was a no-brainer, and a choice of four flavours meant we wouldn’t get bored. Kooee beef jerky for protein goodness. Mars bars for the later checkpoints when everything starts to taste the same. Electrolytes and salt tablets would keep the cramps at bay. And 2 minute noodles would provide the perfect mix of salt, sugar and warmth at the final checkpoints. Admittedly, we don’t train with 2 minute noodles, but everything else passed the high-energy no-reflux challenge with flying colours.

  1. Drink to your uni days

There’s not a lot of nutrition advice I’d take from my 19-year-old self. Which is why it’s probably surprising that there are two things we consume during the run that once only passed my lips as a hangover cure. The first is flat coke – it gives you all the sugar and caffeine you need for a final push, without any unwelcome bloating. The second is Red Bull. We never drink this stuff, so downing a can at the final water stop gave us wings for the last 5km.

  1. Soak in the views

“The colours are magnificent”, said David King in the Welcome to Country. He hit the nail on the head. I’m not saying you should stop and pull out your selfie stick at every viewpoint, but you are in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful spots in Australia – if you don’t bask in the views, you might as well be running around your local footy ground.Beating the Sun

  1. 8. Train on stairs 

Confession: when running this two years ago, I had a meltdown in the middle of what’s best described as the waterfall section (Leg 5). I simply wasn’t prepared for that many stairs at that stage of the race. It didn’t help that we were running in the dark and could only hear what we presumed were very beautiful waterfalls (this wasn’t good for bladder control either!). This time, not only did we train for stairs, we made it our goal to get to this section in daylight. Meltdown averted.

  1. Don’t count the Furber Steps

There are 951 uneven stairs climbing up, up and across the finish line of UTA100. But do yourself a favour: do not count them. Sometimes it’s just better not to know.Mt Buller

  1. When all else fails, dance up the hill 

As trail runners, we don’t run with music. We talk or enjoy the silence and the sound of waterfalls (sigh). But there’s nothing like your favourite tunes for a pick-me-up. I carried it the whole way and only used it to pull me out of my darkest moments (specifically between 85-95km).

That said, I am incredibly grateful to my co-midpack-runner, Mat, who told me halfway up the Furber Steps to turn off my music. I did, and my reward was the sound of cowbells and realisation that the end was really, really close.On top of the world CP1-CP2

  1. Hide a treat at the finish line

After 15+ hours of drinking and eating, more food and drink is usually the last thing you crave. But crossing the 100km finish line puts you into a whole new mentality. You want to celebrate before you collapse into a post-run coma. But being a mid-pack runner, there’s no guarantee the bar will still be open when you rock up. That’s why this year we popped a mini bottle of wine and beer into our finish line bag. And man, did it taste good!

  1. Don’t anticipate a good post-run sleep

The night’s sleep after 100km must be the best of your life, right? Wrong. Your brain is asleep but your legs are still out there on the trail. Get ready for a night of twitching, dancing and kicking. They will even start running at one point. You’ll dream about falling over twigs on the trail and wake up in frenzy. Do yourself a favour, enjoy the finish line for a few hours – stretch, relax and cheer other runners across the line. There’s certainly no sleep waiting for you back at the hotel! Oh and if you usually share a bed, warn your co-habitant that they won’t be getting any sleep either.Into the Wild

  1. Forget what you said at the finish line

 Remember when you swore you would never do this ever again? You lied. You’ll stew for a couple of hours/days/weeks. Then the pain will fade. And only the good bits are left. Like when you were running through Leura Falls and the sky turned purple. Or when the volunteer at the final water stop told you to “get out of here, we don’t want you to hang around!” Or when, halfway up the Furber Steps, you were fighting back the tears and the runner behind gave you a pep talk. Or when you grabbed your partner’s hand and sprinted across the finish line to cheers and bells. Oh yes, you’ll be back. And next time, while it will still hurt, you’ll know just how incredible it feels to reach the end.

Read more of Nicki Letts’ musings on a trail running lifestyle at www.runoldgirlrun.com 

RESULTS from UT: http://uta.livetrail.net/classement.php

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Edition #20 launched: Download free now!

Edition #20 of Trail Run Mag (AU/NZ) has been released, and is once again packed full of dirty goodness from trails Down Under and across the globe!

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.57.11DOWNLOAD your free pdf edition at www.trailrunmag.com/magazines or subscribe for iPad / Kindle Fire (access via same link).

In this edition: 

HIMALAYAN REDUX – a return to the front line as Tegyn Angel takes on the Himalayan 100 //
FRENCHMANS FORAY – the magic of Marlbek, Tasmania by Majell Backhausen //
FAMILY MATTERS – journey on the Heysen Trail, South Australia //
PLANT POWERED RUNNING – fuelling your run with green power//
INTO THIN AIR – running Shangri La’s Snowman Route, Bhutan //
NATURAL BORN HERO – Born to Run author Christopher McDougall on being a natural //
FASTEST ’TASH IN TASSIE – itinerant international Felix Weber //
RETURN TO FORM – trail technique //
SPUTNIK’S SPRAY – claims to fame //
PLUS: AU & NZ editorials ‪#‎gearreviews‬‪#‎trailguides‬‪#‎shoereviews‬ & ‪#‎trailporn‬

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EDITORIAL: Technique of Ages

Technique is about the little things, but also about the big things, like keeping you in the game in the first place, says TRM Australia Editor, Chris Ord. [This is the AU Editor’s editorial from the recently released TRAIL RUN MAG #19, out now. Download for FREE here.]Mt Buller

A general thirst for adventure led me to trail running. But technique has kept me in trail running.

I was a generalist outdoorsman – expert at nothing, dabbler in everything. Trekking, paddling, mountain biking…whatever it was, so long as it was in the Great Outdoors.

Blame a youth spent in scouts under a scout master who threw notions like uniforms, badge collecting and honouring the Queen and Country out of the tent flap in favour of midnight madness mega-hikes and coasteering without ropes or helmets. Thanks for that, Dad (he’d never get away with it these days).

If there was a running influence, perhaps it was that same scout master (I was never allowed to call him Dad, it had to be his scout name – Suba – taken from the first half of the name of his work car. His lieutenant’s name was, of course, Roo). Suba/Dad punched out eight or so Melbourne Marathons in his day. Never broke three and a quarter, however (3:17 was his peak performance). Perhaps the trail thing was seeded obliquely back in a youth spent cross-country running, the only sport I was anything better than below average at.

But I was not a runner. At least I didn’t call myself a runner.IMG_6184

So when I came to trail running – not much prior to the beginnings of this magazine – I had long lost the elasticity and supernatural recovery powers of youth. I loved being out on trail, in the bush, an environment in which I had spent so much time. But my running was hopeless. I could headstrong it through the distance. But I soon paid the price of absolute ignorance: ongoing, unabated injury. ITB was the worst, but my knees felt like I had severe osteoarthritis (or what I imagine that to feel like) – something akin to metal grinding and ceasing. It sounded bad, it felt worse. Running to the top of some steps I clearly remember stopping, and inching down like a decrepit old man. I was in my mid thirties at the time. My boss of the day bounded off ahead. He was around the same age. I thought that was me done with running before I even really started. That realisation was wrenching. I wanted to run. I’d spent a mid-life doing all sorts of adventurous things, but not running. And now I’d found it (or rediscovered it if you count the cross country), I wanted it badly.

So I did what any idiot runner does. I bulldozered on through the pain. I ran anyway. No idea why things just got worse. No idea why I didn’t consult anyone. Not a physio, not a biomechanist, not a coach of any description. Not even a running buddy.

Then I did what any other runner does do. I consulted not someone, but something. Hello Doctor Google.

Now, Medi-Googling is not to be recommended. But somehow it did indeed start the journey to rehabilitation by exposing me to one important thing: the idea of technique. I didn’t even know there was such a thing – as stupid as that sounds. I read up on how to run, even though I thought I knew. I mean, we run from the day we can walk, why do we need to learn any more about it? Okay, if you’re an elite, I would accept that technique makes you faster. But I wasn’t trying to get faster, I just didn’t want my knees to lock up whenever I took ten paces.

Following the black hole of tangents that can swallow days on the Internet, I ended up reading about form, Chi running, gait, cadence, barefoot, body position, breathing, core, arm swing. And I took none of it in. This is the danger of the Internet: awash with so much information, yet so little of it sinks in.

One thing that did stay with me was the danger of overstriding and heel strike. I leant forward a little. I started stepping on my mid-to-fore foot. Smaller, more nimble steps. It felt awkward, wrong, laborious. But then I left the screen and started my studies in real life. On a hill in Victoria, I watched elite runner Matt Cooper glide through the bush. Easy, with grace, and a smile. I wanted to float like he did.

In the mountains of Nepal, I watched, me the broken runner still ascending on an out and back, ultra star Lizzy Hawker springing down the boulder field, rock to giant rock, her wrists limp, arms out in front like a kangaroo, feet tap dancing. It was a flow of easy, efficient movement I instantly likened in my mind to Fred Astaire, Singing in the Rain. This at 4000 metres and 100km along the trail. She, too, was smiling.

And so it was that I decided to take my running lessons in the school of observation. I soaked up other’s technique  – watching, feeling, and admiring. I chose my subjects by their lightness of being and their smile.

I banked away in my mind images of those runners. On a downhill bomb, I’d project visions of Lizzy’s (and Fred’s) dancing onto my own technique. Weaving along flowing singletrack, I’d get my shoulders back, engage the core, float over the earth, just like Coops. And, of course, I’d smile.

For me it was not about speed, nor winning, nor times, or even comparing performance against performance. It’s not even about being the best runner I can be, in a way.

What it has been about is seeking a more natural, effortless flow so that I may tap into and enjoy the more ethereal aspects of running: the seeing, the smelling, the feeling. If I make it easy on the effort, through technique, I get to relax and enjoy the ride a whole lot more.

And it’s about longevity. I’m not alone in not getting any younger. And the older I get, the more aware I am of my limited lifespan. Not just generally, but specifically as a runner. And my worry is that my lifespan as a runner will end before my lifespan as a human. And I don’t want that. I want to die on my feet. Running. In the wilderness. With a smile on my face. Thankful for the technique that allowed me to pass away while still moving freely in the environment that makes me feel so alive. Yes, I’ll die running and smiling wildly. Until that time, I’ll keep watching others who radiate effortlessly through nature and try my best to follow in their footsteps, so light they are.

Your observant editor,
Chris Ord, AU

Mt Buller

Larapinta strip


Shoe Review: Salomon SLAB X Series

Does Salomon’s cross-over shoe have the The X-Factor? TRM steps to the dark side and trials a shoe that takes the dirty secrets of our trail world and transfers them to…(cough)…the road*.

*No roads were actually run in the making of this article. The tester couldn’t bring himself to it. Testing remained on trail and fire ROAD. There, we said it. We did it. This review first appeared in Edition #16 of Trail Run Mag. available for free download (along with all editions) HERE.

Offended or intrigued? I’m not sure which to feel. They sent me a road shoe.

A road shoe goddam it! That’s like sending Kryptonite to Superman, or yellow daisies to the Green Lantern (yellow nullifies his super powers, according to my research). Not that my trail running displays any sign of superhero-ness to be de-powered in the first place, of course. Unless you count someone with all the running prowess of Star Wars’ C3PO as a super trail runner type.

But a road shoe? From a brand at known best for their trail running clobber? Seriously…? Okay I’m curious enough to lace up.

So what have we here in the Salomon SLAB X Series, then? Certainly looks like a trail runner. Or in the least like most of the other Sense series shoes doing the singletrack rounds and indeed Salomon have sucked the DNA from their other Sense line-up to create a shoe that is their first foray into the road market. Why? Because of City Trail, that’s why. This is a new movement, for lack of a better word, that bridges road and trail running by trying to replicate the trail running style in an urban environment: constant gear shifts in effort with more technique involved as you traverse changeable urban surfaces. Think tight and twisty cornering through back alleys and play parks matched to a multitude of surfaces from smooth gravel, paving stones, brick, concrete and road asphalt with plenty of ups and downs entailing stairs and short hillocks found in undulating cityscapes. It’s kind of a hyper road run style or, alternatively viewed, a sedated trail running experience.Screenshot 2015-08-03 11.09.00

So what is the deal with the shoes made to pace us through jungles of concrete?

The signature red paint job, super lightweight construction, string-thin pull-tight lace system, and to be fair, the superior instant comfort that Salomon is rightly known for, all are there in spades.

The main injection of change comes first in the upper featuring a 2-way lycra, which is very stretchy and lets feet spread out as they swell over the longer distance (and a result no doubt of harder pounding). The upper is also super breathable, perfect for combating the fact you’ll likely get hot slabs as you speed over warmed asphalt.

The Endofit construction gives a sock-like feel, wrapping around to hold your foot securely in place.  I reckon Salomon have always been good at minimising foot movement inside their shoes while still giving decent room up front for toe splay, a delicate balance.

As a road-marketed shoe, the 19mm heel to 11mm forefoot delivering an 8mm drop gives good stack height for added padding, yet maintains that midrange heel-toe to attempt to keep you on your forefoot with good feedback from what’s happening below.

The mid sole is different to the trail cousins built sans rockplate (or Profeel film equivalent in many Salomons) and with a much softer heel it adds up to what has been described as ‘buttery’ ride.

That butter analogy doesn’t extend to any slip and slide on the outside, however, the Contra-Grip package – Salomon’s own grip solution – featuring multi direction lugs giving more grip that most road shoes. The grip channels underfoot are deeper, while the horseshoe-like heel gip is soft and spongy, ready to combat harder impact running for the heel strikers. Overall, traction on the liquorice allsorts surfaces found in city environments is superb.

Mt Buller

Click on the image to DOWNLOAD the latest edition (17) of Trail Run Mag for FREE!

Looking back, Salomon actually led the reverse crossover from trail back to road establishing the idea of door-to-trail running, where a shoe was needed to be able to cope with the wide-ranging demands of both dirt and concrete as runners left their suburban front door striking out in search of dirt trail for at least part of their run – the realities of city lifestyles and limited time.

Although this shoe is sold with a story of ‘urban adventuring’, I thought it remiss not to test the to-trail aspect. What I found is that they are actually a versatile shoe, well suited to moderate singletrack and fire trails and any dirt munching that is relatively consistent in terms of being non technical. They fill that gap where the other Sense models with meatier lugs would be uncomfortable on more regular terrain.

When the going is relatively smooth – be it dirty or concrete clean – these shoes come into their own. They feel comfortable enough for long hauls, yet remain light and floaty enough to give your a racer feel.

I did also venture onto more technical (if soft underfoot) trails and they performed as well as any other mid-range trail ranger, handling creek crossings (they drained and dried well), bush carpet and slippery rocks with aplomb.

My only complaint about these shoes (when worn in appropriate context in general – they are no mountain muncher) is that I tended to get hot spots on my outer toes. This, however, would be down to the very personal shape of my own foot versus yours. Most will likely remain comfortable, but do be aware of that zone as a potential problem patch when trying them on in-store.

TAKEOUTS: Salomon SLAB X Series

Great for: door to trail, long training runs on mild terrain, road (cough)
Not-so-great for: mountains and technical terrain|
Test Conditions: Technical and non technical single track, some fire road and as little actual road as I could do while still getting to grips with their performance on asphalt, 68km
Tester: Chris Ord, Trail Run Mag editor
Tester Mechanics: mid foot striker, tends to more technical style running routes, mostly 15-30km range outings.
RRP: AUD $209.99
Website: www.salomon.com/au

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Ed’s word: choices of an Angel

Larapita new (1 of 1)-6 medGrowing up I was interested in a lot of things that my peers weren’t and a fairly mundane chain of decisions led me to university.  I’ll never forget going back to the town where I grew up, having a beer with a mate who’d decided to be a tradesman.  He couldn’t wrap his head around how I could “be so smart”.  That is, how I could get through the lectures, readings and assessment involved in being a tertiary student.  I tried to tell him it was simply a choice I’d made, that the only difference between him and me was that I’d decided to go to uni and he’d decided to be a tradie.  Clearly there’s a whole lot more to this; preferences, loyalties, priorities, nature, nurture etcetera, but in the end it all comes down to a solitary decision made at a particular juncture of life.

After leaving university I spent some time working an office job, moving freight around the world, sitting behind a computer.   My vision was to end up a logistician for some aid organisation in some ridiculous, undefined humanitarian crisis.  I couldn’t hack the office life and so chose to become an outdoor instructor and guide.

For the last four or five years I’ve travelled and worked around the world, living from a backpack; a sparse and lonely life recorded in the idyllic photographs that I chose to put out into the world in order to tell my story.  Again, my friends and peers begged to know how I’d managed to find the dream job, how the hell I get paid to travel.  I tried to tell them it was simply a choice I’d made, that the only difference between them and me was that I’d decided to become an expedition leader and they hadn’t.


When I first ran a mountain in the foothills outside of Santiago de Chile, in part it was because I was embarrassed at how hard I’d found a recent class hike.  I was on a student exchange and enrolled in a mountaineering subject and had struggled to keep up with the rest of the group.  That led to a decision. I chose to be fitter and more capable in the outdoors.

When I first ran an ultra it was because I wanted to do a multi-day hike and was impatient with how long it was going to take me.  I chose to train to the point where I could run it instead.  Those members of this obscure family of trail and ultra runners are often asked by outsiders how we’re able to run for hours, away from the comfort and security of urban spaces, through the night and extremes of weather.  We try to tell them that it’s simply a choice we’ve made, that the only difference between them and us is that we’ve decided to be trailrunners and they haven’t.

For me this issue of Trail Run Mag represents the power of decision.  The incredible results of choosing to run the length of Tasmania; the strength that comes from deciding the battle with illness and disease is one worth fighting; the decision to respect a millennia of culture and custodianship in spite of our individual goals; the apparently ludicrous plan of running 50 off road marathons and climbing 50 peaks in 50 days.

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Every article in this issue represents tells the story of a decision made by those with enough self-belief to move toward their goals and dreams.  Don’t spend your days wishing you were someone, or somewhere, else when all that really stands in your way is a decision.

As Goethe wrote, “Choose well.  Your choice is brief, and yet endless.”

Your decisive editor, Tegyn Angel

THIS EDITORIAL is from Edition 14 of Trail Run Mag, now on the digital stands, downloadable for FREE or on subscription via iPad and Kindle. See www.trailrunmag.com/magazines to get your copy now. 


Time bomb: Edition 13 Editorial

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

I look at my daughters, four and six. I watch them dart around the garden. Doing everything at once and nothing at all. And I yearn so badly to be a child in that moving but endless moment again.

That moment is one where time exists as a broken metronome. Tick. And the tock takes hours to show up, despite it only taking a second.

134580515064971As an observer – a supposedly ‘grown-up’ parent – my kids’ two hours running around barefoot, climbing the apple tree, laughing, bickering, sulking, crying, laughing, takes but seconds. I look down to my computer screen. I look up two seconds later and they have had five lifetimes of adventure (I can see it in their smiles and the grass stains on their knees). Yet I have only half written these first paragraphs.

The universe, apparently, is expanding at an accelerated rate and so to my life is accelerating; time is speeding up, robbing me of my life, stealing my children’s childhood, running me out of time faster than I could ever have imagined back when I was up that backyard tree plucking at the juicy apples of my own ‘when I grow up’ dreams.

Life. Slow. Down. … … … Please.

Tired of lying in the sunshine
Staying home to watch the rain
And you are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

No one told me when to run. I missed the start, absolutely. But when I did start to run, properly run, I tried to (and still try to) do it like I was a child. Like I wasn’t late to the party. Like life had only just begun. Like my kids. But you can’t outrun time. Nevertheless, I try. I run more. And in the moment it works. When I am not running, I am going faster. Everything swirls around me – life, family, work, friends, events, words, jobs, happenings, dishes, renovations, crises, dinner, stop, stop, stop. Give me a moment. And I run. Into the trees. And my watch, thank Christ, doesn’t work. And so I am timeless. I’m running but I am going slower than I have for decades. Maybe I haven’t gone this slow since I was darting around the backyard as a child. And so I run further into the trees, away from time.

And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death
Every year is getting shorter

Technology, the pace of connected life, the number of emails, the rate of my Facebook updates, the sheer number of things I am now plugged into…everything is being crushed under the weight of having access to the entire world and its vast store of information. I can talk to anyone on the planet, yet I don’t think anyone is listening, really. Everyone, including me, is just talking. Louder, quicker, more. I eye off the trees. They look quiet. There’s no-one there. Not even time Herself.  

Never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to nought
Or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone
The song is over
Thought I’d something more to say

There remains sixty seconds in a minute and sixty minutes in an hour. But that doesn’t mean time hasn’t sped up. For thousands of years, the Schumann Resonance or pulse of the Earth has been 7.83 cycles per second. Since 1980 this resonance has reportedly risen to over 12  cycles per second. Even if you don’t subscribe to the theory, look at it the perceptive way: what you can fit into 60 minutes (or sixty seconds) today, took much longer yesteryear. Communicate to your friend in England? Three months back then. Today, a millisecond. Travel from Melbourne to Sydney? Months once upon a time. Today, you can get there in a few hours by plane. And what you are expected to achieve in any one time span today is much, much more than ever before. Just ask your boss.

Effectively, time has sped up because we squeeze more action (if not result) into each tick of the clock. More, more, rush, rush, squash it in. It is no wonder our perception is one of accelerated  – or looking at it another way, lost – time. And the feeling that we have no time for anything. Especially the important things.

Perhaps, then, it is a good thing, that I am not a runner who tries to go fast. In fact, running for me is all about slowing down.

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
When I come home cold and tired
It’s good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells
–       Time, Pink Floyd 

Your rushed editor, Chris Ord

Mt Buller


The latest edition (13) of your favourite dirty mag is out now, packed full of grit and sexy single trail. Take the time to read it! You can:

get it for FREE by downloading the PDF
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(COMING SOON: we’ll make it available on Google Play)


Latest Trail Run Mag blazes new trail

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The new-look Trail Run Mag: edition 10 cover, imagery by Lyndon Marceau, design by Jordan Cole.

You know that feeling when you run a trail for the first time? It’s all new, fresh dirt, exploding the senses – makes you wanna steam through the jungle… Well, get ready to feel the same bolt of change when you open up the pages of the latest Trail Run Mag, Edition 10, hitting the e-shelves right now, because you’re in for a surprise.

Last edition we checked in with new editors (welcome Rachel Jaqueline as our Asia Bureau Chief and Vicki Woolley, our New Zealand Chief). This edition we welcome to the singletrack fray a new designer in Jordan Cole. And boy has he stamped out a fresh track with his approach to the look and feel of Trail Run Mag.

At this point we have to say a big thanks to Heidi and Pete Hibberd from The Bird Collective, who forever remain co-founders of Trail Run Mag and will always be a part of its success. Heidi’s design and Pete’s direction resulted in works of art across our pages. Thanks guys for the late nights, heart and soul that you bled willingly. But change blows through everywhere and as the dynamic duo takes a well earned breather, Jordan steps to the breach and we’ve let him play like Matty Coops dances a mountain jig. We hope you like his style…we certainly do.

So, get your copy now. We’ll pay our respects to those of you who have or are about to subscribe via iPad or Kindle. Get your copy from the – e-newsrack while it’s still burning hot zeros and ones. Subscribe here (Apple Store) or here (Kindle/Amazon) if you haven’t already. If you have, you’ll already have the mag on your digi device.

For those still hanging out for the good old FREE pdf download, your dirty goodness comes a few steps down the trail. Check out www.trailrunmag.com/magazines on Monday. It’s free, all you have to do is register. No charge. Amazing.

 Mongolioan lead spread 400pxSO WHAT’S IN THE MAG?

PROFILE: Colour of Ruby > an insight into Ruby Muir

INTERVIEW: The Moment > trail snapper Lyndon Marceau


Manaslu Madness > getting’ singletrack high in the Himalayas

Mongolian second spread 400pxBig Red Heart > overcoming odds in the Simpson Desert

Black Dog Days > what is it with the downer after an ultra?

Mongolian Multiday Magic > in the footsteps of Khan

Beyond the Wire > thought your run was tough? Try Afghanistan…

Rhythms of the Trail > a German physicist unlocks the secret of trail running


Editors Columns – AU, NZ and Asia editors all have their say

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 1.32.44 PMPLUS: Rich’s Rant – Richard Bowles gets angry


Throws at you four big upcoming events, across AU, NZ and Asia

Trail Porn > so dirty, it’ll blow your mind

Now’s a good time to buy… all the good gear

Shoe reviews > a pearler and one we fell in love with

PLUS: TRAIL GUIDES – four of the best

Trail Run Mag, your fave magazine dedicated to trail running in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, now available online via:

iPad – check it out at Apple Store (subscription)

Kindle Fire – for tablets (subscription)

FREE PDF – for the skint 🙂 (email address required)






The calling: editoral

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Ultra legend Pat Farmer prowls the Big Red Run campfire telling tales to fire adventure runners’ hearts.

The man prowls around the desert fire, beating his chest.

“It’s in here,” he thumps fist to heart hard enough that you can hear the thud from the back row.

“You gotta have it in here (thump). You gotta want it like nothing else (thump). No excuses (thud). If it’s in here (thud), nothing can stop you (glare).”

The man, shorter in stature but larger in life than you could imagine, pauses for practiced dramatic effect, circling his stare around the gathering. He has each and every one of us captured in his story net and he knows it. The glint in his eye is magnified by the light of the soaring cratefire flame.  He has held us enthralled by tales of a running life that no one could make up. But rather than intimidate with boasts of superhuman feats, he has used his life spent putting one foot in front of the other a million times over – and then some – as the fuel to make us all feel invincible.

His injection of inspiration is timely because tomorrow is marathon number three in three days. And out there, beyond the halo of fire light, awaits the Simpson Desert and a running course that will beat, scratch, bake and curtail that invincibility to within an inch of its being, to within one more desert thorn sting of quitting the Big Red Run, an inaugural 250km adventure run odyssey through the Australian Outback.

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Tongan-Australian, Mark Moala on his way to his first multiday multiple marathon adventure and into the great Book of Inspiration for all first-timers to follow at the Big Red Run.

The choice of Pat Farmer, the campfire pacer, as event ambassador was smart. Sure, he’d bring some promotional attention, some credibility – he is one of the world’s most accomplished ultra adventure runners after all, his pinnacle feat after decades crammed with them, being to run from the North to the South Pole.

But his credentials for this event run closer to the fencewire than that. Pat holds the record for being the fastest man to run across the Simpson Desert, a record he captured twice. Beating his own record for number two. That’s Pat all over. A hard man. Who better to come and chaperone nearly sixty runners to run through the territory of which he is running king?

But it is less so the feats of endurance that impress so deeply. Not once you’ve met the man. It’s his presence as a person brimming with raw passion and hard earned experience, both of which he’s willing to share.

But this is no hagiography. Rather it’s paying respect to one of our trail elders and the importance of listening. Yet Pat’s story begins with one older than himself.

A young mechanic standing in a workshop in western Sydney, he watched as an old man ran past the tin shed door. Pat couldn’t believe a grandfather (although technically at that point this guy was no grandfather) was out there running. He looked at the spanner in his hand and then listened to the clomp of a potato farmer’s boots fading into the distance down the road.

TRM Australian editor, Chris Ord, chats to Mark Moala on the morning of the final day of the Big Red Run.

TRM Australian editor, Chris Ord, chats to Mark Moala on the morning of the final day of the Big Red Run.

It was Cliff Young.

For Pat, it was a calling and he heeded it.

Eventually he would run much further than Cliffy could or would have dreamed about.

The point: Pat looked to his elders, listened to the message of moment, and ran with it. Literally.

The day following Pat’s fireside speech in the Simpson desert, every runner trotting the sand took Pat’s message (and so Cliffy’s by osmosis), and ran with it.

One competitor, a 100kg-plus Tongan-Australian called Mark Moala, heeded the message to knock over more personal firsts than anyone would think possible in one week: first half marathon, first marathon, first back to back marathon, first triple marathon in three days, first double marathon in one day, first multiday, first desert run. Not bad for a bloke whose only running of any note prior had been a dash on a rugby field chasing a patch of leather. He had all the excuses in the world to call on if he wanted to stop: not a runner, not enough training, overweight, bad knees… yet he leaned on none.

On the final day, as Mark reached the finish line that many thought he’d never step across, Pat approached, hugged him and paid tribute: “You’re my hero mate.”

A man who ran from Sydney to Melbourne runs past a mechanic’s workshop. A man in that workshop runs from the North Pole to the South. A man listens to that story and runs six marathons across a desert.

One day, Mark Moala will run past another someone … and I wonder: where will the inspiration take them?

Your inspired editor, Chris Ord

This is the editorial from the latest edition of Trail Run Mag, your fave magazine dedicated to trail running in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, now available online via:

iPad – check it out at Apple Store (subscription)

Kindle Fire – for tablets (subscription)

FREE PDF – for the skint 🙂 (email address required)

Run Israel back on track

It was always a big ask – to run more than two marathons a day, day in and day out, in arid conditions, for 12 days straight.

Prior to leaving Australia, Rich had sat with Trail Run Mag out on trail and while the words coming from his mouth were the usual confident, give-it-a-crack vernacular of the Rich we know and love, the look in his eyes was somewhat different. There was caution there, a glint of doubt. Even Rich, who had knocked off the Bicentennial National Trail and the Te Araroa to cover more that 8000km in under nine months, was unsure if he could really hold that daily distance for that long. You could tell the enormity of the ask was starting to seep in and niggle at his confidence.

And so it was that as he clicked over at the halfway mark, Rich stumbled, literally, in his mission to run the Israel National Trail. At the time his partner and support crew manager Vicki Saunders wrote to us:

Spring at Ein Zur near the Zihron Valley “We are dealing with some pretty heavy hearts (the whole Run INT Team), and badly infected and blistered feet (Richards!)…….and have had to take a break from the run. Rich ran 520km in just 6 days, before being admitted to hospital in Jerusalem where it was discovered that his foot was badly infected (he already had blisters that had turned into open wounds, but they were not the problem).
After having his foot drained, and antibiotics and strong painkillers prescribed, against doctors orders Rich was out on the trail again within the hour, and managed to run another 40km. The next day, yesterday, Rich ran 45km, the final 15km was with me as I needed to see what he was realy going through. He was in agony the whole time with his foot turning inwards uncontrollably causing him to stumble and fall avery few metres. I asked when it would be enough, he said he couldn’t allow himself to stop while he could still stand up.
Within 10km, he could barely stand, and I saw him break down as he stumbled down the dirt track, he screamed out in pain and sadness, it broke his heart, but he admitted he couldn’t continue. However, we still had 5km to go, and they took about 2 hours to complete in his broken down state, I tried to hold him up each time he fell.
He said his body from the ankle up was completely strong and healthy, as was his mind, but the infection made it impossible for him to walk let alone run.
Ben Shemen ForestThere is a chance that Rich will continue running, but as I need to get back home, the support crew will not include me.”

That was more than a week ago now. Rich, as stubborn and brave as he is, took some time off his feet, knowing to continue would likely not just slow his progress but stop it altogether. The rest may have frustrated him somewhat – he’s not a man to sit around and sip cocktails while reading a book – it also worked. Rich has been back on the trail for a few days now, Vicki picking up on his progress:

“Richard  is back on the INT, going for the northern section of the trail.  Is his foot back to normal? No, not quite, but he felt ready to push himself to complete the trail that nearly broke him just 9 days ago.

He is [still] going for two marathons a day. And all that just a week after the infection in his left foot literally brought him to his knees.

During his days of rest in Tel Aviv, Richard turned into somewhat of a celebrity in Israel. The media has been keeping up with him, interviewing him here and there. The big international Jerusalem Post newspaper covered his comeback with another big story, even the German MSN website featured Richard’s spectacular journey.

He met with Tourism Minister Uzi Landau who presented him with a Tourism Goodwill Ambassador certificate, acknowledging Richards enthusiasm and positive contribution to promoting Israel as a great tourist destination.

During his week off, Richard hosted a talk in a Pro Sport shop downtown Tel Aviv, where he answered curious questions from fellow runners in the crowd about his technique, his nutrition, his hydration, his ‘secret’… The essence of his answers and advice being: “Focus on running.” Listening to him talk, it really seems like he was born to run. He will host another talk in Jerusalem on Sunday.

 Now back on the trail, Richard has been keen to increase the mileage originally set for this final 400km, and today saw him complete 94km from Tel Afek to just north of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coastline. Many local runners joined Richard for sections throughout the day, and this kind of support has been constant and much appreciated throughout the entire project.”

Keep up with Rich’s ongoing progress at: www.facebook.com/UltraRunnerRich

Dirty kilometres: who’s counting?

Trail Run Mag’s New Zealand Editor, Mal Law, signs off on his last edition as chief honcho with bigger projects about to be crammed into his running schedule. We’ll keep Mal on (if he’ll let us) as an Editor-At-Large, which simply means he’ll contribute as and when he can and tell us when we need to pull up our socks on New Zealand-based content. In the meantime, his editorial asks the question…who’s counting? (He is and he’s not gonna apologise).

P1010317Remember the days before we all (ok, most of us) had GPS watches? When a run in the bush was accompanied only by bird call, trickling water and the steady thud thud of our non-minimalist (why did we never call them maximalist?) shoes? It seems an inconceivably long time ago when I trawl through hundreds of Garmin Connect Activities on my laptop, yet it’s only a few short years back.

The advent of the GPS watch and the possibility it creates for all kinds of geeky logging and analysis raises an interesting question. Has it enhanced or eroded the sport trail running? Are we now too fixated on the numbers and becoming oblivious to the pure essence of trail running that got us hooked in the first place?

At the start of this year I was feeling a little low on motivation and without any huge new goals to set my sights on I decided to declare 2013 to be the Year of the Streak. I would attempt to run every day for a year, no rest days allowed. I also set a target of running 5,000 kms during the year and so have been tracking my progress using my Garmin.

At the end of January I posted my progress on Facebook and was rather taken aback when someone commented that because I was counting kilometres I was corrupting the spirit of the sport.

“What happened to just going for a trail run for the love of it?” was the rather provocative remark that got me stirred up and yes, thinking about whether or not I was in any way stepping away from the essence of the sport I love.

Having had time to reflect on this I can now emphatically answer that question – NO I’m not. The joy of the trail and the reasons I do it are the same as they’ve always been. The simple act of running on beautiful tracks with great mates is still feeds my soul and replenishes my spirit. The fact that I’m counting kilometres as I go has in no way taken away from the enjoyment. In fact, if anything, it has provided me with the motivation to get out there more, experience more, discover more and further cement my addiction to what for me is a massively rewarding pastime.

GPS technology is there to be used if you want to, for whatever reason you want to use it. And if you’re not interested in using it then that’s fine too. Each to their  own I say – and if that’s not true to the utopian spirit of trail running then I don’t know what is.

Happy trails everyone – whether you count the kilometres or not.

Your streaking NZ Editor, Mal Law

AU ED’S NOTE: Quite simply, without Mal Law, Trail Run Mag would not exist and for all his efforts, time and sweat, we’d like to thank the man, the legend, the runner, the writer for everything he has contributed to the title over the past two years. It’s been a slow build by passionate people and none more passionate than Mal. Most of you who read Trail Run Mag will also know of Mal through his trail running endeavors and we can promise you that there will be plenty more by this man. We encourage everyone to follow Mal on his continuing singletrack journey.

On FB via Running Wild: www.facebook.com/runningwildnz
Via Running Wild website: www.runningwildnz.com
And of course buy his brilliant book* ‘One Step Beyond’ HERE.
(*We’ll run a chapter excerpt in the next edition to entice those who haven’t already bought it to do so: an investment in inspiration)

The team at Trail Run Mag would like to thank Mal profusely for being Mal: passionate, dedicated and a true runner in that he runs with his heart and thankfully for us, also writes with it. We hope he’ll continue to grace the pages of Trail Run Mag with his adventures and thoughts on the world of trail running. Thanks Mal. Beer’s on us. Always.

REMEMBER: nThe latest edition of Trail Run Mag has landed! And it’s free for all you dirt-loving trailites to get an eyeful of the best singletrack tales, mountain madness and back of beyond running you can imagine.

Download your FREE COPY here (right click, save to desktop or go here).

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