More than 400 runners – including a healthy interstate and international contingent – descended on the small tin mining town of Derby in north-east Tasmania recently, the influx inspired by the inaugural Saucony Tassie Trail Fest and $2 million worth of fresh trails to be run.
The three day event was conceived to celebrate a love of single track and the trail running lifestyle with feature distances ranging from 44km through 21km, 14km, 6km and 2km making best use of all-new mountain biking trails created within quintessential Tasmanian wilderness. Keeping runners entertained and informed off trail was a roster of running seminars, a trail running film festival and live entertainment.
In the premier King and Queen of Tassie Trail category, which required runners to complete a 44km marathon, a 14km run and a 2km time-trial, the honours were shared between a local running gun from Launceston and a German itinerant known in his hometown as ‘the fastest moustache in Cologne’.
Elite Tassie ultra runner, Amy Lamprecht, won the women’s crown and a cash purse, registering a cumulative run time of 05:46:48, beating home Yvette Edward (West Hobart; 06:00:34) in second and Victorian, Kellie Emmerson in third (06:07:08).
In the men’s, Germany’s Felix Weber held the King’s of Tassie Trails trophy aloft, but not before cycling all the way from Hobart to attend the event, via Freycinet Peninsua where he ran the long trail circuit (30km) to warm up, and volunteering with event organisers throughout the event in between competing. His total time for the King category was 05:13:54. The short sighted runner known as ‘the fastest moustache in Cologne’ and now ‘the fastest ’tash in Tassie’ has already decided what to spend his prizemoney on:
“Riding up here I lost my glasses. I have very bad eyesight and ‘run blurry’ so I’ll be buying a new pair of specs!”
Also on the dais was American runner who had come all the way from a stint working in Antarctica, Curtis Moore (06:00:38), and Hobart-based John Schuringa (06:10:48).
While the King and Queen was the premier racing category, the most impressive endurance competition was Multiday Madness, a category that challenged runners to run every single event possible across the duration of the event. That entailed a marathon, two 14km runs (a day and a night), another half marathon and the 2km time trial ‘Dash for Cash’.
The Madness women’s title was swept across the Tasman with New Zealand runner Amanda Broughton running consistently for the win, her performance surprising even herself as a short to middle distance cross country specialist in her hometown of Wellington. Broughton took the win in a cumulative time of 10:24:19. In second was Jessica Collins (Margate, Tasmania; 11:43:43) followed by Victorian, Louise Crossley (13:21:48).
In the men’s Multiday Madness, John Schuringa added to his King of Tassie Trails third place by winning the endurance competition in a total time of 10:12:22. Antarctic Station worker, Curtis Moore, added to his second place in the Kings with another in the multiday in a time of 10:15:37, with Launceston’s John Cannel registering third place (10:33:31).
Of course there were individual distance winners throughout the weekend, with special mention going to husband and wife team Reece and Jacqui Stephens, who juggled parenting duties to run in all events between them, each taking out a half marathon win and Jacqui taking home the $250 for the Dash for Cash title, her husband pipped at the post into second by Jerome Whitley who nabbed a time of 7:07 for the 2km (and likely a smidge) ‘sprint’ trail run.
The inaugural Saucony Tassie Trail Fest brought together trail runners from across the globe, with representatives from Chile, Mexico, Belgium, New Zealand, UK, United States, Netherlands and Germany joining running crews from every state and territory in Australia.
The host town of Derby has quickly become famous in mountain biking circles with the installation of up to 80km of new trails weaving through majestic stands of wilderness.
“The running experience is divine and like no other in Australia in my opinion,” says Race Director, Chris Ord from running tour and events company, Tour de Trails. “The huge stands of ancient forest, moss-covered rockeries, giant fern tunnels, and dam busting views make it a spectacular place to run, while the rollercoaster undulations, switchbacks and a few beefy ascents make the running challenging, especially for those taking on the multiday which is essentially 100km over the weekend.”
Runners were particulary impressed with the trails, the close knit community vibe and many noted the 14km nightrun as a highlight, with runners finishing under an arch erected inside a town hall, beer bar to one side and a live band in full rock mode playing on the stage just in front of the finishline. Impressively, the lead singer, Launceston’s Tim Gambles is also a trail runner and ran in a number of the events during the weekend.
Reviews by participants:
“What a privilege to be able to run through that bush and have those epic views!” – Multiday Madness winner Amanda Broughton, New Zealand.
“I volunteered and participated in the Tassie Trail Fest. It was an excellent and authentic experience with fantastic program on and off the trails. I can highly recommend this event to everyone who love to run in the bush.” – King of Tassie Trails winner, Felix Weber, Germany.
“Loved every minute of the Multiday Madness, stunningly beautiful but challenging course...Wow. Just wow.” Asha Mahasuria, Northern Territory.
“A fantastic event, a big thank-you to the organizers for putting on a fantastic event, hopefully everyone will get behind this wonderful event and it will grow bigger over the next few years.” – Tim Gunton, Tasmania
“Absolutely fantastic event. Loved every minute of it. Lovely people, amazing location, great trails. Thanks so much to everyone involved in organising the event - you guys were fantastic. Roll on 2017!” – Philip Judge, Queensland.
“Can't wait to do it again! It was a tough course...that's what made it so good! Thanks guys see you next year!” – Tracy Cron, Tasmania.
“Brilliant event. Well organised. Great facilities. Amazing track. Definitely doing it again next year.” – Kirsten Aylmer, Tasmania.
“We had a brilliant time. Great festival and a well organised inaugural event.” – Emma Pryor, New South Wales.
“We believe that the Tassie Trail Fest has installed itself as an slightly quirky, challenging, upbeat and iconic trail event for Tasmania and indeed Australia,” says Chris.
Also featured at the festival was Tasmanian local trail running heroine, Hanny Allston, an elite athlete who presented a seminar on training and nutrition, while fellow elite runner, Mathieu Dore, presented a masterclass on strength and conditioning for runners.
Organisers also screened the international Trails In Motion Film Festival as part of proceedings.
The weekend’s run festivities concluded with a 2km final time trial, a virtual sprint event in trail running circles, with the starter setting runners off at 30 second intervals and the winner not decided until every runner had laid down a time. That included the race organisers who downed organisational responsibilities for the morning to join in the trail fun and madness.
Organisers have confirmed the Saucony Tassie Trail Fest will return next year on the same Labour Day Holiday Weekend, which in 2017 will be 11, 12, 13th March. They are encouraging runners to enter once entries open in a few months and, importantly, book accommodation in Derby or surrounding towns early, as it is limited.
See www.tassietrailfest.com.au for more details.
FULL RESULTS: www.tassietrailfest.com.au/read-me/
Tassie Trail Fest is supported by Dorset Council, Saucony Australia, IO Merino, Black Diamond, The Running Company Launceston, Find Your Feet, Run Goat Run, Cheeta Recovey, Little Rivers Brewing Co., Kooee Snacks Australia, SOS Hydration, Break O’Day Council, Veolia, Weldborough Hotel, VFuel, Wildplans, Adventure Types, The Corner Store Cafe – Derby, S Group and Tour de Trails.