I’ve had ‘try out a trail event’ on my list of goals for the last 2 years and finally made it to my first trail event today. The Hoka trail series kicked off this morning at Melbourne’s Studley Park, somewhere I had already fallen in love with via the parkrun launch I attended there.
I headed up to Melbourne with a carload of friends who were covering all of the distances on offer (5km, 10km, 15km). My chosen distance was 5km – I figured I was stretching enough out of my comfort zone with the terrain and didn’t want to push it too much. I was surprised and so pleased to bump into some other friends there – always better to run with friendly faces around.
We saw one friend off on the 15km and then hung out for our 5km start. (The 10km start was 40 minutes after this so it was a long wait for our other friend, unfortunately). Soon enough, it was time for our warm up then time to go. The course starts out on the road which is wide enough for people to get into their rhythm and find where they fit. After about 1km, you head onto the path and down towards the river on a trail of mostly gravel (with a few mud spots), along the side of the freeway. I was glad to leave the road behind and get amongst the trees – such a gorgeous part of the world. I frequently wanted to stop and take a few photos but was enjoying the run too much and didn’t want to break my zen-like state.
Getting down to the river, I remembered that what goes down, must go back up again and we headed up then down one of the ‘undulations’. Going back down was a bit slippery and I was stuck behind quite a tentative runner, picking their way amongst the mud but I didn’t mind slowing down and taking it all in. More gorgeous glimpses of the river then time to head back up the hill towards the bridge. We ran past the 10km runners milling at their start and I saw my friend then ran across the wibbly, wobbly bridge (which really is much easier to run across than walk!). We then turned left for the last loop – a run through bushland where you feel a million miles away from the city and civilisation. This was my absolute favourite part – a quiet and serene gravel trail through the bush on the out section before heading back on a single track of pure muddy awesomeness, constantly threatening to slip you into the Yarra. Add to that the complication of having fast 15km runners wanting to pass and it definitely makes for some fun times!
Almost too soon, it was over and we headed under the bridge and along to the finish line. Having my name announced as I crossed the finish was pretty cool and I’m sure I had the biggest grin on my face – simply can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning.
My friend and I then hung out in the drizzle for the rest of our crew, cheering them each over the line and rewarding ourselves with a couple of coffee stops in between. It wasn’t a chore to hang out for them as the event village had a good vibe, even in the typical Melbourne Winter weather.
Verdict? I absolutely loved my first trail event experience and am really looking forward to the next event in the series that I’m running in Silvan in a couple of months time. Bring it on!