Tag Archives: Trail running

Whoops Witch Way are back in training

Off-track exploration by Andrew Gills
Off-track exploration, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Team Whoops Witch Way took the winter off adventure racing and training. It was a way to keep balance in our lives. I walked The Great North Walk and completed Cycling for Hope. Suwati spent time with her family and did a lot of cycling with her 8yo son (he can ride up to 40km a day and still beg for more).

But the weather is warming back up so it’s time for us to get out into the bush together as a team. I never really left the bush but it’s different hitting it as a team to doing my own thing.

Today we went out for a trail run. Within 500m, Suwati had found us a wallaby track to follow and, before long, we were fighting our way through long matted scratchy reeds and then an eerie she-oak forest. It was grand fun. We just wandered into the bush for about 10 minutes and then decided it was time to find the track again. With just the sun for a compass we tracked east north-east for about twenty minutes to find the track (not the one we started on). Afterwards we checked our path on a GPS and discovered we did a great job walking in an almost dead-straight line.

After our time in the scrub we ran some single tracks and fire trails. It was a grand way to start the day.

Total: 8.2km trail run

Playing tour guide

I love the trails in the bush near my home. They are one of Brisbane’s best kept trail running secrets. I think you can run about 20km of single trails, maybe more. There’s also about 15km of fire trails and six different entry points, making for plenty of running options.

Today I took a group of three runners on a tour of my neck of the woods. We met about 500m from my home and had an easy trot. It was fantastic to have company and to introduce Bayview to other trail runners.

We twisted our way along winding single track. Had a laugh as one of the guys jumped over an MTB jump, ambled up some hills and scooted down a steep loose gravely fire trail.

Total: 10km trail run

Running the single trails

Vegemite Trail by Andrew Gills
Vegemite Trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Spring is for trail running. It’s getting light earlier and the air is not yet heavy with humidity. My run today wasn’t earth-shatteringly fast. In fact, it was quite the opposite. But that just means I got to spend more time enjoying the bush.

I ran a 5km loop from the Days Road end of Bayview Conservation Park. All but about 500m was single trail. There were plenty of wallabies and the bush is alive with flowers.

Here’s a video of the Fluffer trail:

What’s not to like about starting the day like this?

Total: 5km trail run

Drinking from an ocean of inspiration

Sunshine and space by Andrew Gills
Sunshine and space, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Twice a year, I reassess where I’m at in my life. I consider my health, work, finances, spiritual well-being and the way I spend my time. Those two times are my birthday in September and the start of the new calendar year in January. They’re not quite six months apart, but they are both significant triggers that mark the passing of another spin around the sun.

Since completing The Great North Walk and Cycling for Hope I have felt a little bit lost. I put so much energy and passion into both adventures that I needed to drink again from the well of inspiration. I didn’t know what to do next or where to start looking.

But, as always, inspiration strikes when you stop looking. It started with the arrival of my bikepacking gear and a decision to test it out with a weekend camping trip on 21-22 September.

Then I saw that the 2013/14 Audax Australia online calendar was published (our Audax season runs from November – October). I thought I’d like to try for the Year Round Randonneur award. So I started entering events into a calendar to tally up the necessary 200km brevet every month for 12 months.

At the same time, the XPD adventure race started. And between Geocentric Outdoor and Ridgeline Adventures my Facebook page and Twitter feed were awash with scenes of adventure racers (some of whom I actually know so could relate to) mountain biking and trekking their way through the South Australian outback. This wasn’t just the well of inspiration; I was sitting on the shores of a whole ocean of soul food.

So I went over to TriAdventure’s blog to see what Team Mountain Designs’ Kim Beckinsale and her crew up the Sunshine Coast have been up to (incidentally, Kim and Team Mountain Designs won XPD 2013 just an hour ago after traversing 700km of gruelling Australian outback). The TriAdventure Aunties are always up to something exciting and show that adventure racing is not a sport; it’s a way of life. And I got even more inspired.

I had already been following Richard Bowles’ running adventures through Twitter and Outer Edge Magazine. So the inspiration from the more recent sources was added to the ideas my subconscious had been developing based on seeing Richard complete some epic long-distance running adventures (think running the length of whole countries).

And so it is that I found myself populating the Upcoming Events page on my blog. A page that had become unruly and unkempt with constantly changing priorities. Gone is the Year Round Randonneur goal, being replaced with more personalised goals that reflect my need to explore my boundaries. I’ll still be riding Audax but it will have to fit in with my team Whoops Witch Way adventure racing and a desire to get out on more weekend camping trips, both on my MTB and on foot. I even ditched the Hobart Marathon in favour of some side trips to wild places while I’m enjoying long daylight hours on the Tasmanian Trail.

So now I am off to purchase an OMM Marathon Classic 32L backpack and OMM Trio Map Pouch 4 chest pack so that I can make my dreams of dropping tent, sleeping bag and food into a pack, and running the trails a reality.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Do you regularly reassess your life?
What are your current goals?

Mt Cootha trail run

Mt Cootha trails by Andrew Gills
Mt Cootha trails, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I have been following Brisbane Trail Runners through WordPress and Facebook since they were established a year ago. But today was the first time I’ve been able to join them for a run. It certainly won’t be the last.

We met at the Gordon Street entrance to the Mt Cootha bush. This massive bushland area is just 5km (3 miles) from the Brisbane CBD but you could be way out bush; it’s that peaceful and rugged. Our run followed rocky single trails, first up to a ridge and then back down again. There’s been some fuel reduction burns up here in recent months so the bush looks charred in places. This just means it’s going to be stunning after we get some rain because our bush needs fire to regenerate.

It was a fun group run. Everyone could run their own pace knowing that we would regroup at each intersection. Running with a group pushed me to run a little further than I have been on my own and, at times, to run slightly faster. But I could still also walk up the steeper uphill sections when I needed to.

Total: 9.5km trail run

Morning trail run

Benson & Blinkey Trail by Andrew Gills
Benson & Blinkey Trail, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

It’s only 6am but already the world is quietly anticipating the warm day ahead. The birds are quiet and the leaves on the tree branches are still. All I can hear are my footsteps trotting rhythmically along the dry dusty single trail. It’s just glorious.

I made a video of the Grass Trees trail as I ran down it. The quality is not so great (I’ll use my phone camera next time because it’s better than my photo camera’s video) but it should still give a good idea of just how lovely my morning was.

Total: 7-8km trail run

A long time between trail runs

Trail running by Andrew Gills
Trail running, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I dragged my sleepy body out of bed two hours before the sun. The ground was wet from overnight rain and the track through the grass paddock had turned into a creek. It didn’t take long before my feet were soaking wet.

I was meant to do a 24km training run late last week but after my 11km mid-week run my hip and back played up a bit so I took the rest of the week off.

This morning I decided to go for a 2-3 hour run / walk along the bush trails near home. It was just what I needed before work: some time out amongst the trees.

For almost two hours I ran in darkness, my vision restricted to the narrow beam of my Ayup headlamp. I ran along single track and fire trails, getting soaked by the water drops that I brushed off the tree branches I ran through. The she-oak forest was the worst – the furry leaves like car wash brushes soaking my skin and clothes.

As the sun came up I followed a new single track I’ve not noticed before. I thought I was heading home but ended up running an extra three to four kilometres instead. Not that it mattered – I was enjoying myself.

Tonight my shins are a bit tender and my sacroilliac joint is a bit twingy. So I will take another day off tomorrow to recover. I doubt my body will ever be up to high mileage (it’s never handled it in the past) but I enjoy running so I’d rather keep working on my base fitness and inching my way towards the Brisbane Marathon. Even if I do end up running at 8:00 kilometres like I have been training at.

Total: 17.27km trail run / walk

Trail running

Trail running by Andrew Gills
Trail running, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

They say the only run you regret is the one you don’t do. With that in my mind, I decided to squeeze in a quick trail run this morning before work. My bed was so comfortable and the first kilometre was tough as I rubbed sleep from my eyes. But the run was fantastic and once I was going I didn’t want to stop. Alas, I had to go to work.

Total: 5.2km trail run

MTB and trail run

Team Whoops Witch Way had our Thursday night trail run tonight. With each of us having challenging events this weekend (she has an adventure race with her friend Saturday and a women’s obstacle race Sunday, and I have the 200km 2 Lumps Audax ride), we decided to take things easy on our run.

I had to borrow Mum’s ute (pick up truck) to get to the Audax ride on Saturday so I rode my MTB through the bush to my sister’s place. I just took it easy for the ride and enjoyed the experience.

Our trail run was easy. We walked up the hills and jogged slowly for the rest of the run. Our pace was just 7:30mins per kilometre (12:00 mins / mile).

Tomorrow I’ll be taking the whole day off training. I also have no plans to train on Sunday after Saturday’s Audax ride. But I will be picking the Purple Monster up from the shops tomorrow after getting the front forks replaced (they are seriously bent from when the bike fell off the car in December). More on the new-look Purple Monster tomorrow.

Total: 7.1km night MTB and 5.36km night trail run.

Feeling smooth on the trails

Whoops Witch Way went out trail running tonight with our third team member, M. We had a fantastic smooth run along some beautiful flowing single track and across some shallow creeks. The 7.05km flew by so quickly and easily that I’m wondering whether the trick to my running is to do it infrequently and well. Because every time I try to run more than once or twice a week I start to feel the old injuries flare up. But when I run once or twice a week, those one or two sessions always feel so good; like I could run all day or night.

I probably won’t blog again until sometime Sunday because I’m going on a two-day kayak camping trip out on Moreton Bay with my son. He and I haven’t been camping together since September 2011 so we’re well overdue for a father-son weekend away.

Total: 7.05km night trail run