Warburton Trail Fest – Multi-Day Madness 2021 Report

  • Location: Warburton, Victoria, Australia
  • Time:
    • Lumberjack Ultra (50km): 04:44:00
    • Double Donna (22km): 02:15:49
    • Little Joes Night Terror (9km): 00:47:37
    • Lilo Dash ‘n Derby (1.5km/1.5km):00:22:44
    • Multi-Day Madness (Combined Times): 08:10:13
  • Date: 19-20/02/21
  • Overall Place:
    • Lumberjack Ultra (50km): 12/167
    • Double Donna (22km): 7/128
    • Little Joes Night Terror (9km): 2/93
    • Lilo Dash ‘n Derby (1.5km/1.5km):00:22:44
    • Multi-Day Madness (Combined Times): 08:10:13
  • Full Results

Coming off my first DNF due to injury a week prior at Run the Lighthouse (115km) I had something to prove, not to anyone else but myself. I felt this is where character was built, I could soak in negativity; whinge, whine and feel sorry for myself or get back on the horse and get after it. I was injured, fatigued, tired and hadn’t slept more than 5 hours since the DNF but luckily the injuries although uncomfortable and annoying weren’t anything serious. After a few days of no running or leg training I was able to run again without making the injury/niggles worse, it was just a consistent ache. Honestly even though the leg was feeing better, running again so soon was not a good idea (especially a 50km), it risked making it worse which could of put me out of service for longer, however I’d paid to run the Warburton Trail Fest Multi-Day Madness, was determined to make up for the week priors DNF and was looking forward to attending another one of Tour de Trails events, I needed that positive community vibe Tour de Trails brings. Whats does the multi-day madness consist of? The multi-day madness consisted of 3 main running races and 2 novelty races, all taking place over 3 days (Sat-Mon). There was the 50km Lumberjack Ultra on the Saturday, 22km Donna Double Sunday morning, 9km Little Joe’s Terror Sunday night and the 2 novelty events, the 100m dash Three Thong Thang (get it? your sprinting in 3 thongs, one for each foot and the other…. you know) on Sunday afternoon and the Lilo Dash ‘n Derby (1.5km run whilst carrying a floating Lilo followed by a 1.5km float/paddle down the river) on the Monday morning. Due to my injuries although I entered the multi-day madness I was content with just finishing the 50km Lumberjack Ultra and maybe walking the running part of the Lilo Dash ‘n Derby, I didn’t think I’d be able to run for quite a while after the 50km, but with that being said I’m an optimist, and didn’t completely write the other events off. So in summary I came into Tour de Trails Warburton Trail Fest injured and felt like s**t physically and mentally, however there was a spark in me that wanted to make up for the previous weekend.

Camp Set Up

Being a three day affair accomodation had to be made for the Saturday and Sunday night at a minimum, luckily Tour de Trails are awesome and have this sorted. Tour de Trails organised an opportunity for participants to camp out at the Warburton Primary School oval for one or all three nights. I along with my two good running mates, Cam & Mel decided to take up this opportunity and camped out for the three nights which meant we left for Warburton on the Friday afternoon for our first night on the Friday. By the time we got there, put up our tents and marquee, cooked and ate dinner it was 9-10pm and bed time. First race up was the big one Saturday morning, the 50km Lumberjack Ultra and I needed as much sleep as I could get.

50km – Lumberjack Ultra

4am and I was woken by my traumatising iPhone alarm, instantly anxious those pre race feels. Time to get the show underway! Breakfast, check, brush teeth, check, gear check, check, numerous toilet pit stops, check. We had to be at Warburton Recreation Oval to take a bus to the start line by 6:15am. By the time I’d gotten ready it was around 5:15am so I had plenty of time to spare, Warburton Recreation Oval was only a 2-3 minute drive from Warburton Primary School. So with the spare time I just chilled out and relaxed and before I knew it I found myself on the bus sitting next to Mel leaving Warburton Recreational Oval on our way to the Powelltown start line. The bus ride to the start line takes a solid 40-50 minutes, but pre-race nerves comes with a magical power that makes time fly! We were there before we knew it! I’ll give anyone who’s interested in running this race a quick suggestion here, especially males, make sure you’ve completely emptied your bowels before arriving at the start line! Theres one toilet for males and the queue becomes enormous to get to use it, I got off the bus at around 6:45am and went straight to the back of the line and didn’t get in until 7:20am, 10 minutes before the start, just as the race briefing began and I was one of the lucky ones!! I still had to grab my race bib too! That’s the kind of stress I try to avoid at the start of a race! Anyway Chris from Tour de Trails got the race briefing started at around 7:20am and around 10 minutes later we all found ourselves anxiously cheering and watching the operator of the “start gun”? Why were we watching and cheering “the starting gun operator”? Because this wasn’t any gun operator, it was a crazy lumberjack hacking away at a piece of log, once he cut all the way through the log it’d drop to the ground, once it hits the ground we the runners start! Pretty awesome way to start an ultramarathon hey? Also a nice warm up for this lumberjack because after he finished cutting the log he was running the race with us this year! Apparently with his axe??….. Not sure if this was a rumour but its what I heard.

Off we went making our way out of the small mining village of Poweltwon and straight onto the trail, I went out hard in an attempt to stay at the front of the pack and quickly found myself alternating between 1st, 2nd, 3rd and then 4th. I rarely go out hard but I had something to prove to myself, I was angry at myself for the previous weeks DNF. Let me tell you this right now don’t start an ultramarathon in this kind of mindset, the fire is short lived and before you know it your bonking and hating life. Key to an ultramarathon is start calm and at peace, this was not me! Anyway after 5km I was left to dead by the fast runners that I really have no business trying to keep up with, and after being brought to a stop and dodging and jumping over and under numerous fallen trees I was already out of gas! Not what you want when you’ve still got another 45km to run, it also didn’t help that the hamstring was already starting to flare up, good news was it wasn’t radiating down to my knee which is what happened the week prior, at Run the Lighthouse – 110km. This is when I reminded myself I wasn’t here to try and win, I was to here to finish so let’s finish. I took a little bit of gas off the pedal to allow me to get my breath back and continued on my way. Still though I struggled, I couldn’t get my heart rate down like I usually could, I wasn’t sure if it was all the obstacles we had to go under, over and around or if it was my body telling me it needs a good rest. Still though I had to keep moving forward.

I was about 5km in and honestly can’t remember much from the 5km mark to the next milestone of the race, the start of the only big climb of the course “high lead” (approx. 14km). High lead is the only real climb of the course and it feels like it never ends!! It just keeps going and going, when you think you’re at the top you realise your not even close. To think the old lumberjacks used to work on this trail, cutting down tress on terrain we were struggling to run up, they must’ve been pretty damn fit. At least 3-4 runners past me as a hiked as fast I could up the hill, it was a little disheartening and it felt like déjà vu from the previous year as the same thing happened. Once again I had to remind myself to just enjoy the run and I was there to just finish. My hamstring/glute was getting quite sore at this point but it wasn’t debilitating which was promising, so at least I had this going for me. I started chatting to a couple of blokes near the top who were running together, for one of them it was his first trail run and he was crushing it, he was using it as a training run for Port Macquarie full Ironman! The three of us got to the top together before starting the descent down the other-side. Trying to make up for lost time I pushed the down here a little too hard, which I payed for later on…. I eventually separated from the other two runners and found myself on my own and for the next 10km or so as I run along the slippery, “obstacle course” by myself with tree roots to jump over, wooden pathways to slip on and ferns to run through. I joke around calling the course an obstacle course but it really was crazy how little momentum you could get on this course, especially from the 10-40km mark. The ground is covered in fallen ferns and roots, it’s wet and theres trees to duck under and get over every 100-500m or so (so it felt). Once you hit the 20km mark theres a little out and back segment that takes you to the infamous Ada Tree (one of Victoria’s largest living trees) and back, this adds an additional 7km. You reach the Ada Tree right after passing an aid station, I enjoyed running back the way I came from the Ada Tree because I got to see the other runners who where making their way towards the tree, its always uplifting to see other runners.

Once the out and back segment was over I found myself by myself again, 24km in and feeling abnormally tired and exhausted…. I felt like s**t! My mood deteriorated and my heart rate felt elevated, the next 10km felt horrible and I was in full survival mode. I believe it was due to a combination of problems, first one; I went out too hard at the start, trying to compete with runners with whom I had no business to compete against, second one; the terrain, again, it was impossible to gain momentum and ducking and dodging ferns and fallen trees had taken its tole and lastly; I was exhausted, this was my fourth ultra in 2 months, I was understandably tired. Anyway runner after runner past me, which only made me feel worse. I pushed on though, and slowly but surely the km’s passed. Eventually I was at 30km, then 33km, I passed another aid station and eventually I was at 35km. I should mention I kept falling over too! Fall after fall, I would fallen over at least 10 times during this run, not just because of the terrain but because of my mindset and fatigue. However I made it to 35km where the terrain stated to clear a little bit and a long and gradual descent started, for at least a couple km’s I ran downwards, which allowed me to recover a little bit and gain some momentum, which in turn improved my mood. Before long I found myself off the trail and onto some road, Big Pats Creek Road I believe the name of the road was, this marked around the 40km mark of the course. I’d run this race the previous year so now knew the rest of the course was run on road and gravel trail, with a nice river crossing at around the 44km mark. Knowing this uplifted my mood as it meant I had done the hard part of the course, their was no longer any pressure because I was no where close to the lead so decided I’d try and enjoy the last part of the course. However for this race thats hard to do because although its a lovely area to be running (even on the road) my legs were dead, theres something about the terrain on this course that takes it out of your legs. Combine this with my glute and hamstring and it wasn’t the most enjoyable 10km to the finish line. It really is a beautiful area though, running alongside the Yarra River pretty much all the way to the finish. From the road to the gravel trail and through a caravan park, it creates an awesome atmosphere. And as mentioned above there’s a nice river crossing at around 44km, which is a nice little touch. Luckily the weather was perfect, sun was out and temperature was pretty perfect. I ran the last 10km mostly by myself however there was a runner who I chatted with briefly for a good 1-2km before he eventually took off, leaving my slow a** behind. Still not feeling great but much better than I was a couple hours previous 45km turned to 46km which turned to 47km , then 48km, then 49km and before I knew it I was crossing the finish line at Warburton. My performance was not great but I was happy to improve upon my previous years time by 18 minutes and 33 seconds, finishing this year with a time of 4 hours and 44 minutes and in 12th place out of 167. If I could describe the course in a couple words it’d be “beautifully, painful”.

Double Donna (22km), Little Joe’s Night Terror (9km) & Lilo Dash ‘n Derby

These were only shorter races so I won’t do a full race report for either, but I will say I started and finished both better than expected.

The Double Donna was held the morning after the 50km Lumberjack Ultra and to my surprise I’d woken up in less pain than I had the day before I started the 50km Lumberjack Ultra. Sometimes ultramarathons can seemingly aid with the recovery of injuries. Still though I was nervous about my hamstring, and it still ached but there was nothing I could do. I’d now decided I was ok to race the Double Donna, so there was no point thinking about it. Anyway when the race began and I thought I was in big trouble, I stumbled to start (you can see in a video recording) and I couldn’t help but hobble as I warmed up whilst running the flat part of the course. However luckily the Double Donna was pretty much a run from Warburton to the top of a small mountain called Mount Donna Buang and back, which meant majority of the run was up and down the mountain, which my injury/niggle liked. My injury was most painful and debilitating on the flat parts of the course so having the mountain to run up was a good thing. Also the sun was also out, it was a beautiful morning so I couldn’t let the niggle/injury ruin the day! Once we left the flat gravel path part of the course and the little bit of road at the start it was mostly all beautiful single track trail, all the way to the top of Mount Donna Buang. It wasn’t easy but the struggle was worth it, the trail was just awesome. I made it up and down in 2 hours and 15 minutes which placed me 7th out of 128. And somehow the climb had made my hamstring feel better, somehow the climb and descent helped my niggles! On a side note I discovered I was currently placed second for the Multi-Day Madness (overall time for the Lumberjack Ultra, Double Donna, Little Joe’s Night Terror Run and Lilo Dash ‘n Derby), I was only down by a couple minutes too. With my hamstring feeling better (although far from healed) I’d thought maybe I’d be in for a chance of winning the Multi-Day Madness, I needed to give the Little Joes Night Terror Run (9km) a real hard crack.

After making a fool of myself during the Three Thong Thang, sprinting 100 metres with green booty shorts tucked up my a** crack, a bike helmet, trekking poles and of course thongs it was time for Little Joe’s Night Terror (9km). Like every other race I went in anxious about my glute/hamstring however this time I was a little bit more confident that I’d be all right. I’m not going to lie now I knew I was in for chance of winning the Multi-Day Madness, I was pretty anxious about my performance. 8pm hit (the starting time of the race) and off I went, along with 74 other runners. As you might gather from the title of the run and the time its ran, Little Joe’s Night Terror is a night run where you pretty much run up a mountain known as Little Joe and back (although its kind of a loop), its a combination of single track and fire trail. From the start to the finish I went out hard, somehow managing a 3:39 /km pace for the first km before hitting the ascent. Anxious about other runners passing me (specifically Oowan, the current leader of Multi-Day Madness), I pushed the accelerator leaving no fuel in the tank. It was a great course, great atmosphere and a great run, my glute/hamstring had once again held up. I ended up finishing second to Corey (an absolute freak!) with a time of 00:47:37, definitely no complaints. And now I believe I was less than a minute behind Oowan with the Multi-Day Madness, it would come down to the novelty event! The Lilo Dash ‘n Derby!

It was perfect, the winner of the Multi-Day Madness would be decided by the Lilo Dash ‘n Derby (a complete fun and novelty event). Taking this “race” seriously was a complete joke! Running 1.5km up the Yarra River whilst carrying your flotation device (Lilo) and then floating/paddling back, this was the race that would decide who was gong to win the Multi-Day Madness, it was pathetic and I loved it. The flotation device I brought had a puncture so I ended up renting one from Warburton Recreational Co (the best thing I ever did). The one I rented was the real deal, and although it sucked to carry for the 1.5km run, it made up for it on the 1.5km paddle/float back! Out of the 88 starters for the Lilo Dash ‘n Derby, I ended up winning, beating Oowan by over 12 minutes which got me the Multi-Day Madness win, which was hilarious. After struggling a little with the 1.5km run and carrying the large awkward lilo, I was able to paddle/float myself down the river at a good pace. It was ridiculously fun, definitely my favourite event of the whole weekend. Hopping over rocks and branches, paddling like I was on a surfboard, it really was good fun.

In summary this is one of the funnest ultra-running/trail-running events in Victoria, who knows maybe even Australia. The atmosphere is fun, the community is great and the organisers at Tour de Trail (thank you Chris, Andy and Simon) do a fantastic job at facilitating the epic-ness. Theres plenty of races over the 3 days to choose from, along with plenty of other activities to enjoy such as massage sessions, seminars and movie screenings. As aways a huge thank you to the volunteers who along with the race organisers really do create the awesome atmosphere of the weekend, whilst of course keeping is runners going at the aid stations. Without these guys such events would not be possible. And lastly a huge thank you to Endurance Medical Services and The Eventurers (the medics and photographers of the event), both not only play out their roles perfectly, keeping us runners healthy and safe, and capturing the special moments. But both are part of the trail/ultra running community and it wouldn’t be the same without them.

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