New Years with a Difference

For most, the new years period is about spending time with family, celebrating and looking forward to the year ahead. But for Australia’s distance running community it’s a time when you head to the Victorian High Country and train your ass off! The annual pilgrimage to Falls Creek has been going on for years and it’s a tradition that’s as strong as ever, just ask Olympic marathoner Jeff Hunt.

“I’ve been coming up here for about the last 10 years, and it seems as though it just keeps getting bigger and more popular as time goes by.”

DSC_0809-LSeeing in the New Year at The Man (The local pub) is as customary as heading out to Pretty Valley for the Sunday long run. Nowadays, you’ll find over 100 of the countries best athletes taking part in the ritual. From old heads and champions like Collis Birmingham and Ben St Lawrence, to rising stars such as Jack Stapleton and Kate Spencer, there are more elite runners here than you’ll find at the biggest races in the country. Why do they flock to Falls? Well, there are many reasons. It’s a myth to think the altitude has an impact, as it’s only around 1,600m high. It’s more about the Mabo….or vibe. Hunt explains his views.

“I like it for the peace, community atmosphere and training environments. There’s no distractions and the runs are all on soft ground, plus the scenery is spectacular. You start each run with a group of likeminded individuals and then share the experience of working hard to achieve your goals. It’s incredibly positive.

For the younger ones, the camp is more about learning and being inspired than it is about training hard. Many of the juniors are blown away by seeing and training alongside runners they’ve idolised, while for others it’s an opportunity to ask questions and learn by observation. One such young athlete is Jack Stapleton, a rapidly improving 1,500m runner with eyes on the 2014 World Junior Championships.

“This is my second year coming here and this time around I’m not as wide-eyed as the last. That said, I love turning up to a session and seeing the likes of Liam Adams and Jeremy Roff toeing the line in the same workout. The hardest thing is avoiding over training.”

That’s sound advice for such a young fella! The reality is, the Falls Creek routine is hard to avoid, and doing more than you’re use to is easy. Here’s how a week might look:

Monday AM: 16km    PM: 8km

Tuesday AM: Mona Fartlek or 6-8 x 1km reps    PM: 8km

Wednesday AM: Spion Kopje (approx. 90 minutes mountain run)    PM: 8km

Thursday AM: 8 x 400m off 200m float    PM: 8km

Friday AM: Tower Run (Approx 55 minutes)

Saturday AM: Fitzy’s Hut (Approx 65mins Hard running)    PM: 8km

Sunday AM: Pretty Valley (1 hour 45mins to 2.5hours)