14 January 2015

Skyrunning Evolves in Australia

Skyrunning Evolves in Australia
The "mildly intimidating" Clearpsot from Mystic
Mystic towards Mt Buffalo with
Clearspot climb in the immediate view 
the first glimpse of whats ahead.

Having arrived home from a training weekend in the Victorian high country based out of, my view of Skyrunning has definitely gotten a whole lot fonder. I was able to get out on the trails included in all 3 events at the Buffalo Stampede in 2015 covering around 90km in 12hrs with over 4200m of up and 4200m of down. Summiting Mt Buffalo, Mt Porepunkah, Mystic and Clearspot, as well as running both the Canyon and Cherry Walks and a quick spin on the rail trail to Porepunkah throw in the keep things moving towards the big goals for 2015.
Descending off Clearpsot looking out 
to the valley and Bright below

The Buffalo Stampede in 2014 for everyone involved was like nothing seen before in Australia. Although I have only been running for a couple of short years the race left an impression on the trail running community for its great atmosphere, beautifully brutal trails, ringing cowbells and breathtaking location. It was the first official Skyrace held down under and in many ways the catalyst for the newly announced ANZ Skyrunning Series covering 8 events across 10 months in Australia and New Zealand. The Buffalo Stampede in 2015 is the Oceania Championships and as such will be a massive racing weekend with runners of all levels converging on Bright to ply their trade on one of the 3 courses on offer.

A wet and slippery Mackey's Corner

First off the Ultra and Marathon; these races were a challenge for all in last years event. They tested the front to the back of pack runners with such a varied and testing course for all to complete. My advice for this year, the course is no easier than last, you still have massive climbs, long draining descents and either 42 or 75km to cover so they both will require dedicated preparation if you wish to finish.
One of the steep gradual climbs up
Mt Porepunkah

The changes to the course are small with the ascent up Mystic at the beginning of each event slightly different this time around. The trail follows the creek to base of the White Star Firetrail and this 3km flat section of single track gives you a glimpse of the first hill that still has over 500m to climb but this time in just 2km. The climb weaves in and out of the firetrail on the downhill track and there are no breaks until you hit the launch pad, it took me 40min 12sec to run from Howitt Park to the top and I was pushing the climb so it’s a real lung busting start again in 2015. Other wise from that point it is the same as 2014.

More climbing up and up Mt Porepunkah

The 26er Skyrace; a new event and the shortest option on offer and to be run on a completely different series of trails than the other races. On Friday we drove to the summit of Mt Porepunkah to put out some water and mark the major junctions and it was then that I realised this was going to be a tough run. At the summit you get an amazing panorama of the highest points in Victoria, it is truly stunning up there.

Hiking up Clearspot

As for the course it covered 27km and gained 1700m with mainly firebreaks being used as the trails offering a less technical course in terms of trails but one that was still very enjoyable. The climb to Mt Porepunkah takes just a touch over 10km and gains over 1000m, it is long and on-going offering a few sections for a break but some very steep and demanding sections too, with the last 3km of the climb becoming extremely challenging, peaking at 48% and including a false summit at around 8.5km. I think anyone running this race will need to ready for at least a good hour on the way up to the summit and for most it will be much more. After going to the trig point you get a nice 4km of steady downhill where the k’s seemed to tick past quickly after the long climb.

One of the more runnable sections of
Quinn's Gap Track

From the 5 ways junction you follow the Tawoonga Gap Track and cover around 5km with another 400m of gain. This track will require a great deal of focus and strength and while it is definitely not as steep or long when it comes to climbing it does pack some real punch on the ups. I must admit when I reached the Quinn’s Gap Track turn I was relieved to set off on what I thought was to be a downhill finish.

Slippery slide into the finish off Apex
The Quinn’s Gap Track on the profile appears to be a downhill run and it is in a sense with around 1000m of descent in 8km but with the several short but quite sharp rises thrown in along the way it makes for tough running. The downhill sections are varied between runnable faster areas to sheer quad busting pinches and if your legs are shot at this point it will be a long shuffle into Bright.

When you reach the top of the Apex Lookout looking over Bright, you are roughly 1.5km from the finish and in that short distance you will further descend around 250m on a very technical and rough single track coming out onto the last and flattest section back to the finish. I’m sure all runners will feel the same satisfaction as they make this point of the race and for most that feeling will also be paired with the fact they will have finished their first Skyrace, a great personal achievement in running.
Micks Track to Clearpsot Climb

Mt Buffalo

Skyrunning is not easy, it often takes in the most challenging of trails and offers the runner the unique opportunity to test themselves against both the course and their own physical and mental ability. The range of races on offer at the Buffalo Stampede gives everyone the opportunity to put themselves to the Skyrunning test, whether it be for as little as 3hrs or as long as 15hrs, each of the races are going to be amazing for all involved.

“It’s where the earth meets the sky” Marino Giacometti, Skyrunning Founder

Clearspot taking in My Porepunkah

Photo Credits

Marcus Warner

Wes Gibson

Kel Gibson

Mel Parry

No comments:

Post a Comment