With the backing of the guys at Salomon, this Warburton Trail Fest has a 50km cracker option, the Lumberjack Ultra, known as the “Walk Into History” track due to its heritage as an old lumberjack’s route the linked Warburton and the mountainous logging forests between Big Pats Creek and Powelltown to the south.
But before we launch into a preview of the ultra, there’s an awesome opportunity for an under 25 female to be part of Salomon’s national reserve trail team. All you need to do is be the first U/25 female across the line at the challenging Donna Double, a 22 km technical trail race up and down Mount Donna Buang. As part of selection you’ll bag yourself a whole host of goodies in your 12 month contract – for more details have a gander over here.
Back to the 50km ultra, which event organisers have dubbed the Lumberjack Run in honour of wild tales of wild logger men who used to fell giants – some of the biggest trees in the world at the time – and then literally run out of the bush back into the small valley township of Warburton so they could play Aussie Rules football (on the oval that will be the event HQ). They’d then get drunk that night, and plow back up the track into forest after church on Sunday (hard drinkin’, hard playin’, hard prayin’ men these were! They had sins to make up for…), ready for another week of saw milling.
The Warburton trail fest will see runners begin in the small milling village of Powelltown, located over in the neighbouring valley, where the run jumps straight on to the Walk/Run Into History trail, paralleling and twice crossing the main road to Noojee (take care). This 11km or so of trail is relatively flat, following old tramlines through thickets of forest once out of the village. Turning north, the trail gets spectacularly pretty in amongst giant ferns before getting spectacularly steep: a near 500m vertical ascent in only 3km with grades of around 30%. Reckon you can run it?
At around 25km, runners reach a T-junction, taking the sharp right to complete an out-and-back to the famous Ada Tree. This is one of the largest living trees in the state (as opposed to the tallest). A giant Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), it is estimated to be over 300 years old and towers over the surrounding rainforest in the headwaters of the Little Ada River. There is a spectacular loop run to Ada that passes old milling relics from the days when lumberjacks ran these trails.
From the Ada Tree, it’s a return run to the junction on onward back west, heading to Starlings Gap, and a major aid station at roughly 30km, before a long gentle bomb down for a quad-testing ten kilometres before you pop out at the small, beautiful settlement of Big Pats Creek.
Now steel yourself – there’s a little bit of unavoidable (quiet country) road to pace yourself on as you head towards Warburton along Big Pats Creek Road, taking a left at Riverside Drive. Not too far along (a few kays) we’re punting you through a river crossing (hello soothing waters of the Yarra!), and back on to trail (ahhh), which you’ll stay on until the end. From here it’s a meandering, flat, riverside run, coming in to the rear of the Warburton Caravan Park. Run through it – be respectful of its residents (which may be you for the weekend if you’re camping!). Soon enough you’re punted under a bridge, onto more riverside trail leading you eventually to the Warburton Football Oval and the finish line. If you’re as tough as the loggers of yore, lace up some boots and have a kick of the footy. If not, just have a beer… you running lumberjack you.
The Lumberjack Ultra is the longest outing over three days of trail celebrations, with a 25km, 22km ‘Donna Double with 1000 metres of ascent, a 14km, a 9km night run with live band finish. There’s also a few 5km outings as well as the rather unique a Lil Dash ‘n Derby, where runners will dash 1.5km on trail before taking a lilo (or tube) floating down the Yarra River to the finish line.
So there’s the overview of what’s going on at the Warburton trail fest. If you’re an Ultra168 Supporter, you can also grab 20% off this run, just see the members page for details on the code to enter.