(Posted - 25 Jun 2012)
“God is a trail runner," was the welcome proclamation on Sunday by the course announcer at the first round of the Salomon Trail Running Series. The agreeable judgement was made with an eye to an unexpectedly clear blue sky, which forecasters had instead predicted to bring showers and plummeting temperatures.
Instead, more than 1200 trail runners gathered on the banks of the Yarra River in mild running conditions, the only environmental challenge a spattering of mud along the 10.8km and 5km courses, the dirt and grime only widening competitors’ grins: that’s what they were there for.
Despite plenty of slippery patches, the course proved fast, especially for technical runners with the latter steep undulations and rocky ground suiting Newport-based adventure racer, Jarad Kohlar (pictured), who pushed past the lead pack to eventually take the line less than a second ahead of Northcote’s Andrew Mock (who is obviously a multitalented outdoorsman – he came 13th Rapid Ascent’s gruelling Kona Odyssey mountain bike marathon earlier this year).
Coming home third was Daniel Trevena, who is looking now to a shot at the series and even raised an eyebrow at the prospect of competing in all four races plus the Surf Coast Century 100km event (meaning he’d run the 100km, rest for a few hours and then tackle the final 15km Salomon Trail Run Series event). Organisers are offering a concrete boot trophy (he’d be a hard man) to him and anyone else who completes all four (long course) Salomon Trail Run Series events plus the Surf Coast Century.
“I had a lot of strength in the legs built up from competing in Geoquest (adventure race held last month). I was still with the lead pack six kays in and then on the technical stuff I managed to gap three or four of the lead runners. Then when we got back onto the short bitumen stretches they’d catch me back up. My heart rate would go through the roof and I’d hang on and hang on. I was just lucky that at the end it was quite technical with some stairs and tight single track sections, so I managed to get back in front and just kicked it in the end to just get the win."
Jarad says he didn’t expect to take the win. “I thought I’d be at least two or three minutes off the pace." While Kohlar downplayed his win, his time of 00:39:18 was in fact only 1 minute 39sec astray of last year’s Race One (and series) winner Ben Ashkettle who raced the same course in 0:37:39.
In the women’s long course, it was a fresh face at the head of the pack, Rebecca Rosel (pictured) smiling as she crossed the line in first place.
Rosel looks set to be a rising star of trail, having recently won the 30km event at the Macedon Trail Running Festival a few weeks ago, and now this, her first win in the Salomon Trail Run Series. “I just kind of cruised – there was a girl in front of me and I wanted to shadow her for a bit. I got to some narrow bits and thought that I had to overtake as I know how hard it is to do that later on singletrack. So I overtook and then tried hard to push out and maintain the lead."
Rosel ran the course last year, registering 14th female placing in a time of 51.20. This year she stormed her top podium place in 45:33, stripping more than five minutes off her time and showing what a year in trail training can do.
“The trail today was great – a bit slippery – but they felt easy and fun," says Rosel who hails from the Yarra Valley where there are plenty of trails to train on. “I’ve only been running for two years – I was more of a horse rider, but I thought ‘I’m getting older, I need to start doing something different.’ So I started with shorter runs, then did a half marathon and got into the trails and I love it!" Rosel, who came an impressive 30th from the entire field, male or female, will be back to take a tilt at the Series title, competing in Rounds 2 and 3 in coming months.
“I’d also love to have a go at the Surf Coast Century by myself, but we’ll see. Maybe next year!"
Coming home second barely thirty seconds behind Rosel was U/20 competitor Emily Cust, with notable multisport athlete Elizabeth Dornom in third.
Competing in his first Salomon Trail Run Series event, V8Supercar motorsport star Rick Kelly showed that he’s no slouch when motoring under his own steam rather than that of a mega-horsepower engine. His competitive streak and in-car fitness came to the fore racing over the mud in an impressive athletic display to register 37th overall and 30th in the 20-39 age category, finishing only six and a half minutes behind race winner, Kohlar. The past V8 Supercar Series champion and his Kelly Racing co-drivers and crew will be back to race a number of the Salomon Trail Run Series events in coming months.
And a prize for the biggest commitment to trail running goes to the Indigenous youths and their teachers from the Rawa Community School. They travelled more than 4420km over three days to reach Melbourne from their remote outpost in northern Western Australia, just to run in the trail event. Located deep in the very heart of Western Australia, Rawa Community School is an independent Aboriginal School situated within the Punmu Community, located in the Rudall River National Park. The Great Sandy Desert is their suburb and the nearest shop is a 7 hour drive away (on a good day).
The kids enjoyed their morning run along the evergreen banks of the Yarra – a world away from their sandy landscapes in the arid zone of Australia – before heading off to enjoy watching a game of AFL.
The Salomon Trail Run Series resumes with Race Two slated for Sunday, 29 July, at Plenty Gorge (Yellow Gum Park) near Plenty in Melbourne’s north east. Round two again features two races, the short course at 6km and the long at 12km both on a brand new course for the series that will have competitors scooting down into Plenty Gorge, with two creek crossing and spectacular gorge views.
Online entries are open for Race 2 until 27 July. Entries are available on the day, albeit at a higher fee.
All-series entries for those who raced in the opening round and who wish to sign up for the remainder races at discounted rates and qualify for a series tee, are available online until 18 July).
R#2 Sunday 29 July Plenty Gorge: 6.4km / 11.8km
R#3 Sunday 26 August Silvan, Dandenong Ranges: 7.3km / 14.3km
R#4 Sunday 23 September Anglesea: 7.9km / 14.6km
+ new Surf Coast Century, 100km ultra marathon (Sept 22) www.salomontrailseries.com.au . www.surfcoastcentury.com.au .
LONG COURSE MEN – 10.8km
1. Jarad KOHLAR 00:39:18
2. Andrew MOCK 00:39:18
3. Daniel TREVENA 00:39:21
LONG COURSE WOMEN – 10.8km
1. Rebecca ROSEL 00:45:33
2. Emily CUST 00:45:48
3. Elizabeth DORNOM 00:46:58
SHORT COURSE MEN – 5km
1. David JIMENEZ 00:18:21
2. Nick SHERIDAN 00:18:33
3. Rob GRUMMITT 00:19:03
SHORT COURSE WOMEN – 5km
1. Bronwyn Humphrys 00:19:03
2. Penelope SOMERS 00:2