Tuesday, January 11, 2011


The high country.

On the weekend I travelled to Mt Beauty in the Victorian Alps to take part in the 26th edition of Bogong to Hotham, a 64km mountain run widely considered to be the hardest trail run mile for mile in Australia.

 Figures according to the Garmin - 

Ascent - 3336m
Descent - 2086m
Distance - 63.7km

Yep, this run is a beast! Full details here http://connect.garmin.com/activity/62921336 

At 5:30am Andy sent us off from the Mountain Creek campground towards our first challenge, Mt Bogong, Victoria's highest peak at 1986m. After an easy jog along two km's of undulating firetrail we turned off onto the Staircase Spur trail for a 1300m/6km climb to the top of Mt Bogong. I had decided not to use my hiking poles from the start as I was concerned about jabbing someone as we ran in a bunch to the start of the climb. Instead I picked up a couple of sticks and started a slow and steady hike to the top of the mountain. (I will just start with my own much lighter sticks next time, others did without issue). The Staircase Spur trail was not as steep as I expected but I stuck to my plan and took it nice and easy to the summit where I stopped for a minute and took in the vista.

The next few kms are a really nice fast section of trail down to Cleve Cole hut, a beautiful spot which I'll come back and camp sometime. The next section drops steeply down to the crossing at Big River, the cold water felt great on my already sore knees. After crossing Big River Duane Spur rises like a wall in front of you, this is a shorter but much steeper climb than Staircase Spur and the hardest part of the course in my opinion. By the time I had reached Roper hut (23km in) and the top of the climb the cloud and temperature had dropped which limited the great views but made for ideal running conditions. 

The next 12km into Langford Gap are very runnable but I had some stomach issues here and walked quite a bit eventually arriving in around 5h40m. Langford Gap (35km in) is the first cut-off point in the race, those starting at 5:30am have 6.5 hours to get there and the 6:30am starters have 5.5 hours. Only 17 of the 64 starters didn't make the cut-off. I stopped for a bit here and had something to eat from the incredibly well stocked aid station. Oranges are by far my favourite aid station food, everytime I had some orange I felt great for the next little while. I wish I could carry oranges instead of gels. I shuffled along for the next 6km to the Bogong High Plains road crossing where Sal was waiting for me in near whiteout conditions. I spent a while here eating and changing into dry shoes, probably too long actually, my total time was 10h06m but moving time was 9h31m so I spent a while dicking around at aid stations.

I headed off into the mist across the high plains feeling good, it's mostly flat here so I jogged a bit and walked a bit with my knees feeling pretty good. Then came the descent to the Cobungra river which I should have run a little more slowly to save my knees. 
Swindlers Spur (55km in) was definitely the low point for me, my knees ached and I started to feel drained so I just tried to keep moving and get to Mt Hotham. At the Derrick Hut aid station I had an orange and immediately felt better, managing to run a bit on some flat and downhill bits and even mustered the energy for a burst to the line.

Everything about this event impressed me, the mountains, the course, the volunteers, the other competitors and the race directors. The amount of work that goes into this run is substantial, some of the aid stations are many hours walk into the mountains yet volunteers and race directors packed in radio equipment, water and food and without exception were all helpful and encouraging. The entry fee is also ridiculously cheap.

Many thanks to Andy, Brett, Mike, The Albury Wadonga Radio Club and all the volunteers.


Shoes - Inov8 Roclite 295 - Great shoes, probably as light as I would go on this course.
Pack - Nathan HPL#020 - The best small running pack I've used.
Jacket - OR Helium - mandatory.
Thermal top - Patagonia Cap 1 - mandatory.
Poles - homemade - Awesome, 100gm each! definitely helps my knees, but a pain to transport due to the fixed length. Note: by the end of next month the new Black Daimond Z pole ultra will be here. These poles borrow BDs avalanche probe technology to make a super compact collapsible pole that weighs around 140gm. Set to become the standard bushwalking/trailrunning poles.

Done. An idea I had for next year (body willing) is to continue on over Hotham and pick up the Razorback trail to Mt Feathertop then descend Bungalow spur to finish in Harrietville. Would be an epic day for sure.


  1. nice to catch up trev.
    saw your post linked from the b2h site.
    see you at mt glorious or alpine!