Thursday, December 08, 2005



The drive up to Mt Hotham at 20km an hour in thick fog, stopping frequently to see which way the road was turning should have been an indication of what the weather held in store for the inaugural Mt Feathertop Skyrun, a 50 km circuit for the tough men and a leisurely jaunt for those only tuff enough for the 30km out and back course in one of the best Alpine running areas in Australia.

15 runners started on Saturday 3rd December with four completing the 50 km course in horrendous conditions which included temperatures at 4C, strong winds, poor visibility, rain and snow ,while 10 runners completed the 30 Km run to the summit of Feathertop and back to the snug warmth of the Trapdoor Ski Lodge and its warm roaring fire.

Prior to the run, the briefing covered off a range of safety issues but deliberately omitted to warn about the dangers of snakes - it was to cold for them to be out.

Runners set off at a brisk pace along the road for 5 km from Hotham Heights to the start of the Razorback. Then it was into single track running with stupendous views of the clouds - this was a real sky run - visibility was all of 20 metres. Runners quickly settled into their stride and spread out over the length of the Razorback with the front runners meeting the slower runners on their descent from the summit of Mt Feathertop. It was great to see the tough men speed down the steep descent before disappearing into the mist. Of the front runners, two - Brett Worley and Ross Litherland, continued on the 50 km loop down Swindlers Spur to Dibbins hut, across Cobungra Gap for a slow and torturous ascent of Machinery Spur. Brett Worley completing the course in an amazing 6.23, as Brett later said, if he'd known where he was going, and hadn't had to check the map so often he could have shaved off 10 minutes - Next year!! Andrew Baker and Nick Thompson also completed the 50 km in 8.12 and 9 hours respectively. Such were the conditions that a "go see if Nick is OK" party refused to get out of the car at Mt Loch carpark, waiting while the wind and snow buffeted the car until Nick finally can into view chirpy as a butterfly on a spring day - it must have been his English blood!!

Dan Kirby was the first back to the lodge on the 30km loop in an amazing 3.16.28!!!, followed closely by Jules Crawshaw 3.23 and Grant Dewar 3.25. At the back of the field were Julie Flynn and Paul Ashton in 4.30.

Not to be outdone, the semi tough runners of Robyn Fletcher, Julie Flynn and Paul Ashton, worked out a novel approach to completing the 50km run - they would do it over two days. And so these intrepid heroes set off in brilliant sunshine, albeit with strong winds for a scenic run down Swindlers Spur and back up Machinery Spur accompanied by stupendous views of Mt Feathertop and the Razorback. The wildflowers were out, the bees were buzzing and you could almost forget the horrendous conditions of the day before. Needless to say they couldn't just do the standard run and as a penalty did an extra 6 km up and back along the road, creating another leg for the run.

Saturday night was a pizza and pasta pig out as runners talked about the days events and their travels - with runners from Pakistan, Nepal, South Africa, UK and Australia it was a truly international affair.

Watch for the Mt Feathrtop Skyrun coming soon in December 2006.

Special thanks to all those who participated and for AURA for supporting the event with insurance .

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