Hoka One One trail event #5 – Night run @ Studley Park

I have thoroughly enjoyed running in the Hoka series of trail events this year and was really, really looking forward to the night run. Just to add to this, the weather forecast was for perfect running conditions (not always guaranteed in Spring).

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The Yarra River looking serene and beautiful at the end of a perfect Spring day

I trekked over to Melbourne quite early – I had some things to do on the way and assumed that, being a Friday night, traffic might be a bit of an issue. This was indeed true – traffic was a big issue. In the end, what should have been a 1 hour drive took just over 2 hours. Still, thanks to me leaving ridiculously early, I got there with time to spare and wandered the event village, soaking up the atmosphere and getting into my zen mood. I also bumped into a work friend who I haven’t seen for ages which was great. Half of my running friends arrived and we headed to the start line (the other half were still stuck in traffic and arrived a bit after the start).

We had to be quite creative about our start line selfies this time as night time had descended but we managed it then it was time for me to go. After we started, I wanted to get the road bit done as quickly as possible and just get onto the trail. And once I was on the trail, I absolutely loved it. I had wondered whether it would be a bit creepy or whether I’d feel unsafe (not from the bogeyman but more likely from tree roots!) but I didn’t feel either of those things. I just loved it. After about 3km, I caught up with a running friend and we ran together for the rest of it, over the bridge (shaky as ever!) and through the bushland circuit onto the single track very close to the river.

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Start line selfies, made slightly more complicated in the dark

The finish line actually crept up too soon for my liking – I found myself finishing and wishing I’d done the medium course instead. The atmosphere at the finish was great – the finish line literally delivered you to Studley Boathouse where the kiosk was awaiting with lots of energy replenishing goodies while we waited for our other friends to finish.

This event and this series gets a huge thumbs up from me – I loved each of the courses and found the whole thing to be really well organised. Most importantly, the events had a very friendly, welcoming and inclusive atmosphere which is probably what I’d worried most about at the start, being new to trail running and not particularly speedy. I needn’t have worried – great events, friendly volunteers and fellow runners and amazing locations. See you all again next year!

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Hoka One One trail series – event #3 Silvan

It’s a busy time for running events and this weekend was no exception with both a parkrun launch and the third event in the Hoka One One trail series, this one at Silvan Reservoir.

I was really excited about this one which shows how far I’ve come – hills used to terrify me, now I relish the challenge. It was also another chance for a great weekend away with my husband and running friends so definitely something I was looking forward to.

Our accommodation was only about 15 minutes drive so it wasn’t too early a start; it was definitely rather chilly as we got out of the car at the top of the hill and headed down to the event village. The long, medium and short courses had much closer start times for this event which made things a lot better – not so much standing around waiting after we’d waved people off. I waved off friends in the long course then, 5 minutes later, the medium course and had time for a toilet stop before I headed off for the short course start 30 minutes later.

The short course at Silvan was simply gorgeous. We headed up a road as we left the start then turned onto some single tracks which wove through the bushland, fringed by tree ferns. The weather was absolutely perfect for running – cold but not ridiculously so and spots of blue sky here and there.

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One of many logs, trees and branches that needed to be negotiated

The short course runners were bunched up for a little while but soon spread out and I felt for a long time like I was running on my own which was wonderful. I felt no pressure to run a particular time or keep up with anyone – just wanted to be out there, enjoying it. There were 2 women close by who I played leapfrog with for most of the event and it was good to share a quick laugh then get back to it.

There were some undulations but nothing too terrible – some good downhill stretches complete with mud for me to test out my new trail shoes; I’m pleased to say they acquitted themselves perfectly. While others around me were very carefully weaving down the hills, I just went, confident that I wasn’t going to slip and slide my way to the bottom.

And then, after what seemed like rather a short time, we met the hill we’d all been waiting for. The hill from hell. I knew it would be bad but actually found myself laughing when I saw it as it was so much worse than bad. But not impossible. As I climbed it, it was funny to hear people’s reactions as they turned the corner and saw it for the first time – there were definitely a few expletives shared although talking pretty much stopped once they started up it. Breath could not be spared for such things. I had to stop multiple times although, again, was glad of my trail shoes as at least I wasn’t slipping and sliding my way on the clay surface. However I didn’t stop grinning. Yes, it was hard. Yes, I walked it and yes, I had to stop a lot. But I felt amazing when I got to the top and even better as I was enjoying the feeling of flying down the other side.

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A photo cannot possibly capture the pain of this but perhaps the body language of the others runners gives a better idea

The last part involved running along a creek then crossing over a road before heading back to the finish chute where my friends and husband were waiting. Overall, it was an absolutely stunning course and I was really happy with my run. It obviously wasn’t the fastest but that just meant I got to enjoy the scenery for that bit longer. Bring on event #4 at Anglesea!

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Lots of single track magic at Silvan

 

#hokaoneoneseries = time to hit the trails

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!

First trail event but clearly didn’t try hard enough – not enough mud!!! #running #traillove

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