I love Melbourne and all of her restaurants, and cafes, and bars, and shops, and hidden gems, and activities and..........
Being a little sick of the same four drab walls of my gym, I took to the internet to look for something a touch more inspiring than a treadmill. I stumbled across an event that isn't quite mainstream, but seems to be growing rapidly in popularity - the Salomon Trail Running Series. The website outlined to me that the series has 4 events held over a season which increase gradually in distance. For round 1, I could choose a leisurely 5km short course or 10.8km long course and upon reading the entry details it promised to not only give me something different to a 'road run' but also help me get into one with nature.
The first run was being held in a weeks time on a Sunday. A wash of emotion fell over me. The last thing that generally comes to my mind on a Sunday morning in winter is to get out of bed before sunrise. I felt a pang of guilt at the same time knowing that come summer my fitness (and bikinis) will suffer for my being a sloth during these months. The responsible adult in me won and I went straight from the run website to the Bureau of Meteorology website. Was there rain forecast? Frost and howling winds? Snow perhaps? (This was Melbourne afterall). I gave up and closed the site down, deciding to let it linger in my internet favourites bar until, after eating half of the menu on my much loved 'date nights,' I promptly went home and booked myself in for the long course before I had a chance to think about it again. I told myself it was for my own good and the punishment of frozen toes was for that extra glass of Shiraz and chocolate pudding I had greedily consumed just hours before.
I arrived for the run not sure of what to expect. Upon arrival, I found a professional little set up – sponsorship tents, an MC announcing information and over 100 people standing in line to enter. (They had obviously looked out of the window, decided the weather was good enough for them and shown up that morning)
The race organisers had noticed the spike in 'on the day entrants' and promptly took action to reorganise and amend the start line up (bravo to them). A warm up was arranged before the 5km short course group set off. I settled into the medium pace 10.8km start group and found that the runners were much more experienced (and faster) than the average 'fun runner' I was used to. As the track weaved and wound through some scenic trails I felt a long was away from Inner urban Studley Park. It was my first off road run, so I found the single trails and small sections of puddles and mud daunting at first, but as I ran I quickly learnt how to navigate around them. It turned into a totally exhilarating experience and upon the finish line I puffed and panted across the line with many more blisters and a big smile.
As I crunched on my bacon and chatted with my husband later on that morning, we looked at the chunks of mud I had trailed into the cafe and agreed that my new shiny runners and compression tights were probably best left at home for the next round – but I had decided there and then that I had enjoyed it so much I was certainly going to be back for the next round - .rain, hail or shine!
Dates and locations for the 2012 series are as follows:
1 Sunday 24 June Studley Park, Kew, Melbourne: 5km / 10.8km
2 Sunday 29 July Plenty Gorge: 6.4km / 11.8km
3 Sunday 26 August Silvan, Dandenong Ranges: 7.3km / 14.3km
4 Sunday 23 September Anglesea, Great Ocean Road: 7.9km / 14.6km the new Surf Coast Century, a new 100km ultra marathon (on Sept 22).