Adventure Race Training in the Grampians

grampiansGrampians Training

Back on the 21st and 22nd of December I was lucky enough to stumble upon the opportunity to accompany Chris Ord to do a bit of running, riding and paddling in the Grampians.

Something about doing a story for Nat Geo “Outdoor” mag regarding an Adventure Race concept in the Grampians…and what it?


The details were sketchy but that was just the way I liked it, let go of knowing and just do!


Having never met Chris before, I was totally jumping in the deep end.

Sharing a room with him at the Halls Gap YHA, all I hoped for was a non snoring type that kept his smelly farts to himself.


Thankfully Chris was a great guy, easy going and fart free and we got along great.

He’s a freelance journo who likes to jump in the deep end and wing it mostly based on a good upbringing and being a good genetic specimen of a man.

Organised? Well…sort of!

That’s were I was able to make up for my lack of experience in Adventure Racing and bring in my experience of preparedness for long expeditions.

Yep, I had the food, the electrolytes, the equipment, the whole kit and caboodle.

I was already realising my important upcoming role in the new AR team. That of an organised female type, thinking ahead of logistics.

Phew…even if I could not run or paddle as good, I would still be a valuable team member.


mt_disappointmentDay 1 began in the northern Grampians, with a light mtb ride, get the legs started and check mind, body and equipment was all working.

Starting our first run of the day up Mt.Stapylton and down the other side, to be met by our support – Aaron, who offloaded bikes each time and had fuel and water for us to refill if needed.

So far so good, not too long, but great views, and very different trail running to what I had been used to. Not even the East – West trail at the You Yangs is rocky and scrambley in comparison.

Back on the MTB’s for a quick spin of open dirt road ready for our ascent to Mt. Difficult. Wow! More fun…can it get any better? I learnt that I LOVE running up hill, but am yet to train the wobbly knees on how to suffer the constant downhill load on the legs.

I loved the total brain workout, what rock looks good to use next?

Just land lightly on the top of that right hand boulder, push off, that should give enough bounce to get up that ledge without having to use my hands, niiiiiiceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Constant thinking, just like mountain bike riding on technical terrain.

No wonder some people never get into running, if you just run on paths or roads or at the track, its no where near as fun as this.

Now Chris and I were having so much fun we took the wrong turn that we knew we did not want to take. It took us basically down a cliff where we were scrambling down rocks and in-between boulders and a very steep incline/decline.

It was only meant to be 1.8km to our meeting point from the lookout and we were beginning to wonder if 1.8km felt longer than usual due to the terrain…until we hit the bottom and then clicked that we did in fact take the wrong turn.

I was sort of contemplating going back up, but Chris was like, “no way!”

With lack of mobile coverage and 2way radio that would not work with the range between us and our pick up, we were lucky to get a message to Aaron via the mobile phone. We got a pick up and made out way to Borooka lookout where we rode back to Halls Gap after some photo opportunities. 15km of downhill on bitumen was pretty fun way to wind up the day.

Day 1 done and dusted, dinner at the Kookaburra Restaurant, 2 glasses of red, hit the pillow and fell asleep in an instant.


abruptDay 2 – More running, more MTB’ing and a bit of paddling.

Starting off each day on the bike is a good thing. It allows for the legs to warm up, the body to accept exercise without the load. We started on a nice little trail along the creek and rode all the way to Lake Bellfield.

A beautiful morning – still waters on the lake and a quick 40 min paddle just to add it in, because we could. Having not paddled a lot, I found it hard on the wide, plastic sit on kayaks with no rudder to get a straight line going. A puff of wind and a paddle stroke a little heavy on one side and you could almost do a 180 degree spin on the spot.

Nice to get a bit wet, now back on the bikes for a 20km leg, some more pics, a few big hills to climb and lots of locusts today out this way.

We headed toward the front side of Mt William to finish this MTB leg and refuel with Aaron’s assistance.

I will always remember the flick, flick, flick feeling of big, hard locusts hitting me as I rode past them.

The run up Mt William was pretty awesome with ever changing terrain. Starting off very dry and open, the scenery soon changed to something you might see in the alpine region, with rocks and low lying shrubs. Soon turning into a sub tropical fern garden.

Sometimes striding and scrambling was more efficient than running.

Once we got to the Mt William car park, with limited time, we decided to just run the final 6km down and not worry about the lookout.

Tough gig running 6km downhill on day 2, so I gave myself a number counting game.

Count 1 -100 equals 100mts, use 1 finger and count to 100 again, no have 2 fingers up, count to 100 again, 3 fingers. All the way to 1000, equalling approx 1km, start again. All the way for about 3km and then I could not be bothered anymore.


Back at the bottom, Aaron was waiting with our bikes again.

This time we had a challenging fire trail to contend with.

I had a quick look at the map and realised that the first km went straight up a side of a hill to meet this fire break trail and then the trail itself cut through the contours of the bottom of one of the ranges. This meant some big downs and even bigger ups!

We were meant to try and ride this for about 40km, but with the time of day, the effort required and what we still had to try and fit in, we pulled out early and got a pick up on the main road after about 20km.


Final drive to Mt Abrupt, boom! Straight up! Nice climb, nice scrambling and awesome views at dusk. This was my favourite climb and descent.

By the time we got back to Halls Gap, tidied up and off to dinner on day 2 it was 9pm!!

Thankfully the Kookaburra took us on and Chris and I were both keen to down 2 glasses of wine, hoping to dull the pain in our legs so we could sleep well tonight.


Thanks Chris Ord for giving this opportunity, your connections and your reason for being there gave me a great time away training and finding out about a new piece of training ground that I had not been to in years!


In the end, we did about 40km of trail running, 100km of MTB and a small chunk of paddling on the lake.


On Thursday I left at 6:30am to get home for my Midday Christmas ride in Forrest.

My legs were the deadest ever!!!! Could I climb a hill? Nope. Did I hurt? Yep.

I took Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday off the bike to recover.


That’s where my Tathra adventure begins…but that’s a whole new story.

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