7 Trails // 7 Days
Written by : Mick Chapman | Photography by : Lyndon Marceau
With 2020 proving it was going to be a tough year, there was an opportunity to reassess what was happening & change perspective a little. Watching the key races fall one after another, in late June, I started to plant the seed for something else completely. The Speed Project, Red Bull Defiance, City2Surf, UTA and then finally Noosa Triathlon were all on the cards and then stripped away for obvious reasons. I was thinking how can I still tick off some goals this year considering we’ve had bushfires, floods, a global pandemic and more recently closed borders; something that didn’t rely on race registrations, flights or participant numbers to complete.
I remember watching a concept first implemented by triathlete & Red Bull athlete, Courtney Atkinson, back in early 2019 tackling a trail in each state in the week. I knew that wasn’t possible so wanted to modify it so it was doable in Covid times. The more I wrote down, the more came to fruition and the more people got onboard. That’s when I approached the legends at Running Heroes to see if we could get more people moving that week overall, regardless of location. My background is in Public Health & Nutrition and know this pandemic has taken its toll by speaking to a lot of the cases and close contacts in NSW and Victoria over the past 6 months. Adding to that, mates here in the hospitality and fitness industry, stuck overseas and more recently in Melbourne being in lockdown has all been pretty tough. If this gave anyone the motivation to get moving, or research some more trails when they got out of lockdown that was going to be an added bonus to this run. Overall, we had 2,680 Running Heroes join in and get moving that week with the virtually 7in7 challenge which showcased the strength of this community, regardless of how shitty a situation may be.
This was initially set up as a personal challenge and something I wanted to bring as many people along as possible. The reason I tackled these runs was all based on a few things I wrote down in the early days of planning. They had to appeal to the following:
- new to me (never run any section of them before),
- challenging enough to push myself in one way or another,
- be somewhat different to the rest of the runs (that definitely delivered with snow, trail, beach, distance, rain & elevation)
- Showcase what we have on offer in our own backyard and that we don’t need expensive flights overseas to enjoy beautiful parts of the world!
Below is a short breakdown of the days we ran. Hopefully this provides some further information on what we went through as well as some more information if you fancy doing any of them yourself.
Day 1- Mt Kosciuszko (Charlottes Pass to Thredbo)
Elevation gain: 842m (total 2228m)
Plenty of snow at the top after a dump the week prior and a very windy day (upward of 100km winds at the peak). We had the right gear (gloves, buff, beanie, good jackets) as it gets very cold when it sweeps off the snow so just be prepared. Paths were snowed under & wind was pretty dangerous so came back through Thredbo village and had to hitch hike back to Charlottes Pass Campground as the weather was set to roll in. Suggest doing this with a mate if you want to reach the summit, research the weather for the day and also look at the snow cams in the week leading up to it. There is also a park fee for your vehicle on entry which is similar for most days on the run. Fun day out. Best way to start the week.
Day2- Light to Light- Ben Boyd National Park (modified due to bushfires)
Elevation gain: 478m
Some really fun single-track through Bittangabee and Saltwater campgrounds. We started from Green Cape Lighthouse (south end) and got to Saltwater before having to turn back. This is a 30km run one way usually. Some pretty badly affected bushfire areas through here but they are slowly on the mend and a good reason to visit and help out the locals. This should all be open from November and it’s a beautiful part of the world. Would have definitely liked to stay another night or two at the campground and enjoyed the beach and some snorkelled in the crystal clear water.
Day 3- Mount Gulaga- Tilba Tilba
Elevation gain: 867m
A place of Aboriginal significance; this was a really fun day in the misty rain and a lot of green canopy. This was probably one of the most brutal days of the week even though being one of the shortest. We covered a large majority of the elevation gain in the first 6km (up) and anything over 100m per km will sort you out pretty quickly. This mountain all depends on how you tackle it but it will definitely get the heart rate up and keep it there. Pretty much 6km straight up to the top and then enjoy the descent back down to the town of Tilba Tilba for a coffee. Apparently there is a lolly shop too, which we somehow missed. Great for training if you’re in the area.
Day 4-Jervis Bay (point to point)
Elevation gain: 283m
One of the more fun days of the trip. First day the sun really came out and we could open up the pace a little on the flatter open trails. Most of this is fire trail and although a few lefts and rights is a really easy run to follow. Unsure if it has been run point to point before but glad we did it. Lots of kangaroos through here. Just make sure you have someone to pick you up at the south end when you’re done (The Cove). This was a beach finish for us- 700m or so. If you’re really feeling it, you can enter the beach earlier and there is roughly 12km of it.
Day 5 – Mermaid pools & Tahmoor Canyon Circuit
Elevation gain: 233m
Spectacular place to visit and run. Another shorter day but this run still took around an hour with some pretty handy runners in tow. This was mainly due to how technical it was around the back of Tahmoor Canyon Circuit. Lots of rock clambering and some beautiful swimming spots along the way (just don’t jump from Mermaid Pools). This isn’t that far from Sydney and is good for a run and then chill/lunch on the rocks afterwards.
Day 6- Glow Worm Tunnel Wolgan Valley
Elevation gain: 433m
This is a really good run and something to tie into a weekend out that way in either Wolgan Valley or Newnes campground. The run actually follows a half marathon course from Newnes Campground up and into the Glow Worm Tunnels and then back to the campground. We just did a little extra toward the end but it’s pretty close to 21 depending on where you start (suggested in front of the Newnes Campground Homestead). Its pretty much 7km to the fork in the trail, starts to climb around the back of the loop which is also 7km and then 7km back to the campground on the same single track. This is a false flat so don’t stress if your pace is slower on the way up, you’ll find it on the way back down. Note: there are a lot of larger trees down through here so be careful and definitely bring a strong headlamp if you plan on going through the tunnels. Worth turning the lights off mid-way through the tunnel and waiting for your eyes to adjust. No reception in this valley so make sure you tell people you’re going and have everything sorted before you get to the start line.
Day 7- Bundeena to Garie Beach Royal National Park
Elevation gain: 430m
This was a really good way to end the week. Close to home for me and with a few mates jumping in to run or meet us at the finish. We started down at the Bundeena Ferry Wharf which is directly opposite Cronulla. You can jump on the ferry if you don’t have a car. A lot of boardwalk on this run which is kinda cool and different. Rolling hills as you come up and over each headland along the way and each time you do, you’re reminded how beautiful the coast and national park are. Views for days and you go past some key spots which would be fine for an out and back if you want a shorter run (rather than the point to point to Garie that we completed). Wedding Cake Rock, Marley Beach, Wattamolla & Eaglehead Rock are all check points along the way. Gaire Beach is super close to Figure 8 pools too if anyone is interested. Note: there is a 30k race usually held in September (December this year) that runs the opposite way called Coastal Classic from Otford to Bundeena if you’d prefer to race it.
Written by : Mick Chapman | Photography by : Lyndon Marceau
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