Race Review- Warburton Trail Fest 50k

The achievements started small and early.

After my last registration at Warby trail fest last year and subsequent tantrum, just showing up felt like something to be celebrated.

I arrived the night before, registered, purchased a buff I didn’t need and headed back to my accommodation with a pizza a size bigger than I needed.

Tick tick tick

I went through my bag and made sure I had all my gear. Not that it mattered, there was no where to go to get emergency items without driving the hour back into Melbourne.

There was no real rhyme or reason to my packing. I just threw the usual stuff in a bag and hoped for the best. The only thing I was particular about was my shoes (after suffering for way too long at the snowies because of poor shoe choice) and my SquadRun buff. I’ve carried it around on all my big races and with Kerry’s recent accident, I just really want to have that with me.

The random assortment of shit

I set my alarm and went to bed early.

I was a bit complacent the next morning. Having breakfast and a coffee and fluffing about before having to hurry park (sorry if I blocked you in!) and run, literally, to catch the bus to the start line.

I hadn’t run Warburton Trail Fest before. I’d always intended to because it’s a Tour de Trails event and they are always amazing and so well run, easily the best in Victoria, but the timing was always wrong with me often returning from Nz after running Old Ghost or Tarawera the week before. But with Covid and borders being closed, I now had the chance.

The course is a bit of an odd one, starting in the small town of Powelltown. You take a bus to the start and make your way back to Warburton via some amazing single track, a stretch of bitumen road and a tour of the caravan park.

The bus got us to the start super early, maybe 45 minutes before the start. There were public toilets, not porta loos which is always a massive win for the ladies, since ultra running is generally a middle aged white man sport. The line for the gents was about 3 times as long as the line for the ladies!

The race started with an olde time story about some lumberjacks running from Powelltown to Warby to get drunk and play footy on a Friday night and a short wait whilst the resident trail lumberjack chopped into a log to start the race. No start gun here folks, you don’t get to run until the log falls.

From the Warby Trail Fest Facebook Page

The course starts on the ‘Walk into History’ track before linking onto the VHC track up to the historic Ada Tree.

This track is beautiful and really runnable. It had clearly been recently cut and trimmed as there was clippings on the track as well as the usual leaf litter. It was hard to run on and you really had to concentrate and make sure lifted your feet so not to trip on the sticks and rooty areas. I was probably a bit overly cautious but I wasn’t in a hurry and kept reminding myself that I was building a base of long days and not out to “win” or PB.

At about 12 or 13 km in, there is a rather large hill. A curse everyone you have ever met, question all your life decisions, cancel every race entry you have pending, kind of hill.

But once you are over it, it’s all smooth sailing from there. A quick trip to the Ada Tree, one of Victoria’s largest tree’s and believed to be about 300 years old.

I really enjoyed this section of the trail and got to run with some great folks including Chris who was ticking off the only race at Warby Trail Fest that he hadn’t done and Roz who was running her first ever ultramarathon and was a boss on the poles she only purchased a few days before.

I was not remotely in a hurry and happy to shuffle along with people and chat. I actually had no idea what my pace was and I didn’t really care. When I first started I thought I would be happy to shuffle along at “Freddo pace” which is about 6:30 to 7:00 minute k’s. I was going a fair bit slower than that and didn’t really care.

I had also developed an annoying section of chafe on my chest that I couldn’t figure out how it got there. I kept applying paw paw and adjusting my shirt and my pack but nothing seemed to help. It wasn’t until I saw the race photos that I realised my pack was a little skewy and that was probably causing the problem.

Why is it that something random always chafes?

The downhill section from Starlings Camp ground to Big Pats Creek Road was the best. It was great to just open up and bomb down the hill for about 7 km. It was smooth and easy to run, I just kept saying “lift you feet” over and over again as I cruised down to the road.

And that’s about when I lost interest and where the race should have stopped. But that would not be very interesting, so the run continued along a bitumen road (that gave me epic anxiety as it has no markings, no shoulder and is an 80km/h speed zone!). It was a quite road with only a few cars coming through but still, I didn’t rate it. After the 3-4km road section it was into the Warby Caravan Park for what felt like an eternity and then onto the river walk along the Yarra River to the start line.

Once again I talked myself out of a successful finish. Two races in a row I’ve either walked or run walked it in when the trail was perfectly runnable and flat.

I could have done a much better job in this whole section. It wasn’t hilly, it wasn’t technical, I just wasn’t really all that interested and it was a bit deflating after how good the trails were. I shuffled along and whinged to myself about going past the finish line.

I managed to finish in just over 7 hours, but I think I could have done it way quicker and maybe one day I’ll come back for another dip now that I know what I’m in for. I was pretty happy with the way I fuelled and generally felt pretty good for most of the run.

Location:Warburton, about 72km east of Melbourne, Victoria
Distance:50k, 25k, 22k, 14k, 2x 4.5km, Body Positivity Stomp, 9k night run, Thong Thang, Lilo Derby
Price:$250 for multi day madness, down to $10 for Thong Thang
Inclusions:Medal, aid stations, medical. There’s also a whole heap of free festival activities and add ons
Course:80% off road, includes fire trail and single track
Shoes:Trail shoes incase its slippery when wet but road shoes would be fine if it was dry
Max elevation:800m

The good thing about this event and festival is that there is literally a race for everyone. Even those who like to run around in their undies!

I have Tarawera Miler on the cards for this time next year, but I would love to have a crack at the multi day madness. Even if it means doing the Donna Double and overcoming my fear of fast moving rivers for the Lino Derby.

2 thoughts on “Race Review- Warburton Trail Fest 50k

  1. Matilda says:

    I love reading race reports from people who run the same event as me. Just love hearing other people’s perspectives.
    Bummer I didn’t see you are the start line. Oh well, I’m sure we’ll bump into each other in another event.

    Liked by 1 person

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