Mount Baw Baw Trail Run Festival

I have a new favourite trail running location in Victoria. Two weekends ago, Daniel and I went to Mount Baw Baw for the First Series of ‘Seasons of Pain’. It is a mountain bike/trail running race, which for the first race of the series, attracted an impressive field of adventure athletes from Australia and overseas. After a busy week at work, Dan and I decided to do the race as a team, with me doing the two run legs, Daniel the two bike legs and we would run the final 1.5 uphill section together.

We headed to Mount Baw Baw (approx 2.5 hours away) and arrived 30 minutes before the race start and just in time for the race briefing. As the race course was being explained I started to get a little concerned that I was going to struggle and slightly more worried that Daniel, a non-experienced mountain bike rider who was borrowing Chris Ord’s (Editor, Trail Run Mag) bike, was going to struggle even more.

As soon as the race kicked off, we started a gentle climb and I noticed that I was deeply breathing and working pretty hard to keep the pace up – I then noticed that everyone else around me was breathing heavily as well.  The elevation for Mount Baw Baw is 1,567 m and although I didn’t think about this at the time, I am sure in addition to the cool air,  fast pace and technical course –  it also played a factor in making this a challenging run. The first run was approx 9.3kms and had a bit of everything in it:  a decent/steady climb, short and sharper climbs, long descents on the ski runs, off trail scrambling and trail-like steps. To top it off we were running through the fog!!

Deanna and Pez

(Deanna and Pez – my new favourite adventure-racing powerhouses!!)

After adjusting to the conditions about 25 minutes in I started to up the pace and my enjoyment levels soared – I couldn’t believe I hadn’t run here before. I came into transition with Daniel not expecting my arrival quite yet and he did a whoop whoop and quickly got on his bike. Dan sped through both of his bike legs (despite having his seat in the wrong position) and has subsequently bought a mountain bike to be able to take part in more of the series.

Jarad Kohlar

(Jarad Kohlar – If this guy is hurting, you know it’s tough!)

Two big highlights for me were the 1.5km hill run to the finish line and the competitors who took part in this race. After the race finished – everyone ate, talked and danced away at the Alpine Restaurant. Everyone was so down to earth and had such interesting stories that I could have stayed there all night listening to them. Races like these remind me how much I love the social side of this sport.

With all of this mind I couldn’t be more thrilled to be taking part in the Mount Baw Baw Trail Run Festival in March. I am delighted to be a race ambassador with the fabulous Rich Bowles. The festival will be an opportunity to come away from the long weekend with three runs in your trail shoes. The Saturday has the option of a marathon (see the profile below) or a 1/2 marathon; the Sunday has two 12km options and Monday has the option of a 1.5km uphill or downhill mountain run. See the press release below for more details.

Hope to see a lot of people at Mount Baw Baw for an amazing weekend.




Two of Australia’s best know adventure runners, Richard Bowles and Samantha Gash, have been appointed as official ambassadors for the upcoming Mount Baw Baw Trail Run Festival, taking place on 9-11 March, 2013.

The pair have both recently come off record-breaking runs, Bowles recently completing the double of being the first to run Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail and New Zealand’s Te Araroa Track, a combined total of more than 8,000km.

Samantha Gash, known for being the youngest and first female to complete all of the 4Deserts multiday adventure runs, most recently became the youngest Australian to run non-stop across the Simpson Desert, battling sleep deprivation and dingo packs in the name of charity.

Both runners have big expeditions planned in the near future, but will first line up for the inaugural Baw Baw Trail Run Festival. The pair will be among many vying to become the first inaugural King and Queen of the Mountain, a quest that will see competitors run a total of 57km over three days, beginning with a marathon from the historic gold mining township of Walhalla and finishing on Mt Baw Baw.

They will then choose from a 12km daytime run or a 12km night-time run the following day, wrapping up with two short, technical 1.5km ‘free mountain’ runs on the public holiday Monday morning.

Other competitors may cherrypick from the half marathon, one of the 12km events or a five kilometre fun run/walk in which children, families and those new to trail running are encouraged to join the singletrack action.

“The festival line-up is a great concept,” says Bowles, who usually avoids competitive races, but considers the long weekend outing more of an adventure that happens to be organized with live music at the finishline.

“The marathon route is bound to be an instant classic and a must-do on the trail running scene, being the majority of it runs along the iconic Australian Alpine Walking Track,” says Bowles.  “I’ve already run the course as a recce and it is a simply stunning course that really puts you smack in quintessential Aussie wilderness. Of course, the difference from my usual expedition runs is that at Mount Baw Baw there’s a spa, restaurant, bar and comfy bed waiting for me at the end!”

For her part, Samantha Gash is looking forward to the festival atmosphere and entertainment between events as much as the runs themselves, with a film night and trail specific information sessions planned.

“In particular it will be interesting to see who shows for the short, sharp free mountain runs, which puts people smashing down a 1.5km technical course over obstacles and a 400-metre descent. Talk about fast and furious. And then, after a short rest, they have to run back up it again – it adds a whole new dimension that we haven’t seen on the Australian trail running circuit before,” said Sam, who will back up her on course efforts with an inspirational talk and Q&A session.

Mount Baw Baw’s Events Manager, Grant Seamer, says the festival is specifically designed to cater to all levels of run fitness and aptitude.

“We want to offer something for everyone and build a true celebration of the sport of trail running of the community that has grown up around it in Australia . And we also happen to think that we have some of the best terrain a trail runner could wish for up here, and plenty to do for supporters, friends and family tagging along, so it’ll make for a great weekend outing.

“We’re proud to welcome Richard and Sam to the Baw Baw family and appreciate their involvement given their massive running experience. Richard has already been up a few times to continue his scouting and training on the trails and Sam ran in our Seasons of Pain event a few weekends back, and both have offered great feedback on the pure quality of trail running on the mountain.”

Mount Baw Baw is putting on a free return bus service from Melbourne CBD, stopping at major eastern suburban centres en route to the mountain on the Friday afternoon prior to the event weekend.

“We want to make it as easy as possible to get to the event and also create a unique social vibe where people share their experiences and love of trail running.”

Entries are now open at:

The full festival line up includes:

Saturday 9 March
>> 42.2km Trail Marathon, Walhalla to Mt Baw Baw
>> 21km half marathon (a bus will take runners from Mt Baw Baw to Walhalla / Mt Erica on Saturday morning or runners can make their own way to the start lines)

Sunday 10 March
>>12km trail run
>>5km fun run/walk
>>12km night trail run

Monday 11 March
>>1.5km downhill mountain run
>>1.5km uphill mountain run
+ Presentations

We will be offering a FREE bus service from Melbourne CBD stopping at the following locations on the way to Baw Baw!  Seats are limited. If runners would like to take advantage of this please add the FREE BUS to your entry order online. The bus will return on Monday afternoon after presentations.

  • Southern Cross Station
  • Caulfield Station
  • Dandenong Station
  • Warragul Station
  • Trafalgar Station
  • Traralgon Station

More details to be confirmed prior to the event.

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