Two endurance runners are set to run 180km from Baw Baw mountain to Bourke Street Mall, in an attempt to follow a route that stays almost entirely on trail and off road, taking in both wild national and suburban park landscapes.
Beginning on Wednesday 26th February, adventure athletes Richard Bowles and Jarad Kohlar, will leave Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort – usually a 2.5hour drive away from downtown Melbourne – running part way on the famous Australian Alpine Walking Track before hooking west towards the city, linking up bush and then suburban trails to arrive at Bourke Street two and a half days later.
The Baw Baw to Bourke Street Challenge won’t be the first time the endurance athletes have put their bodies and minds on the line to cover impressive distances.
Richard Bowles is known for massive run missions including being the first person to run the length of Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail (5330km), the first to run New Zealand’s Te Araroa Trail (3054km) from top to bottom, and the first to run the Israeli National Trail (1009km).
Jarad Kohlar is one of the nation’s best-known adventure racers. The one time Australian Multisport Champion is used to running in wilderness for days on end as a veteran of the Adventure Racing World Championship and winner of the Mark Webber Challenge.
The Baw Baw to Bourke Street attempt officially launches this year’s Brooks Trail Run Festival, a three-day event (8-10 March www.trailrunfestival.com.au) that celebrates the ‘trail running lifestyle’ with a range of trail running events from marathon and half marathon to shorter fun run distances.
“In developing the Trail Run Fest, the team at Baw Baw were discussing whether it would be possible to run all the way from the CBD to Baw Baw purely on singletrack,” says Bowles.
“The idea resonated and our aim now is to prove how accessible trails are by running them from country to city.”
The route will track through the Baw Baw and then Yarra Ranges National Park, cutting from the resort village towards the small townships of Powelltown and Warburton. The runners will then follow the Warburton Rail Trail into the outer suburbs, passing through Mt Evelyn, to the northern part of the Dandenong Ranges National Park. After hitting and then following (on parallel pathways) the Eastern Ring Road, the route forges toward the Yarra River following its banks all the way into Federation Square.
The route descends from a high point of 1536 metres to a lowpoint of nearer 20 metres, with a small elevation challenge as the runners hit the Dandenong Ranges midway.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” says Kohlar who along with Bowles will run 80km on the first day and then follow up with two 50km days – a distance that in the endurance world doesn’t actually raise that many eyebrows. “The latter stages when we are tired and the trails are flatter will be tough. The Bourke Street finish will be as welcome as the cold beer at (iconic CBD pub) Young & Jacksons.”
Kohlar and Bowles will be supported by a small crew for the run who will manage hydration, nutrition and film the challenge as it transpires. The two runners are expected to reach Bourke Street to complete their mission by lunchtime Friday 28th February.