Warburton Trail Festival Race Report – Shane Winzar

Race: Warburton Trail Festival

Runner: Shane Winzar

Race Date: 03/12/2022

Location: Warburton, Victoria, Australia

Results: 2:33 in the 27km “Redwoods Rush” which is about top third of field.

Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/6809519958

Photo: The Eventurers

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • The location – this is a stunning mountain town 90 minutes out of Melbourne.
  • Atmosphere – a 3 day event with so many options run by a great crew .
  • The downhill let it all go section in the Redwood Forest with a Cellist playing “Eye of the Tiger”!

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

Honestly not much to complain about, haven’t run anything under an ultra in 4 years so keeping the higher pace up for 27km!

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

  • A dude playing a Cello at the midpoint in the middle of a Redwood Forest.
  • Overall the event has many races including “The Three Thong Thang”. Thong being Australian slang for a pair of flip flops and a G-string, all of which need to be worn to enter and win the cash prize. (modesty shorts allowed!)
  • The 50km event is started by local legend Beau Miles (look up his you tube channel) cutting through a pine log with an axe Lumberjack style – you can’t start until the wood is split in two.

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

This was my first non-ultra race in 4 years, highlight for me was pacing well over the whole course, and being able to take on most of the competitors on the few technical sections, and really letting go on the downhill in the Redwoods. Managed to finish strong in the last few kms.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

This one is reasonably fast out and back, not a lot of technical and perfect for new to trail or anyone wanting a very runnable 27km in stunning scenery.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

Tried a race belt instead of vest for first time. While it worked well ended up with some soreness where some items must have been rubbing. Possibly stick with a vest next time.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • The first 500m has room to maneuver, then it’s narrow riverside single-track for a km with not much space, you hit a pretty steep hill, 20-40% grade for a km half on road half on narrow single-track – then it opens up wide enough to pass for most of the rest of the race on undulating forest trail. When you hit the Redwoods there is a short but awesome downhill section with a photographer at the bottom so put the foot down.
  • Oh – it sold as 25km but its not, actually 27.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Hell yes! Temperate rainforest, simply stunning. Warburton is on the Yarra River on Wurundjeri Country when its still a fast flowing clear mountain river, looks completely different to what you see in Melbourne.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

Not this one, however the 50km Lumberjack has a decent climb and a lot of single track with leaf and bark litter, the 22km “Donna Double” includes 1000m of climb in an 8km section, which you need to go back down on generally muddy single track.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

  • As well oiled as it gets. Tour De Trails runs several events in Victoria and the RD, support and volunteers are first class. This is a multi day event on a long weekend offering plogging, 2.5km, 5km body positive walks and multiple distances up to 50km and a multi day madness where you compete in 4 of the events over 3 days – including the Lilo Derby on the last day, that’s where you run with a blow up floatation device for about 1km, then float 3km down the river rapids back to the finish.
  • Event also includes seminars on topics such as nutrition and training and a movie night, and a night run finishing at a café with some music and beers at end.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

In some events yes – the 50km was won in 3:45 by a guy who runs sub 2:20 road marathons so if you want to be on the podium be prepared to go hard!

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Can sign up on the day. Accommodation in the area books out early, you can camp on the school oval and its 90 mins from central Melbourne.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard fare for this one.

Weather and typical race conditions

This year – warn during day up to 25ºC, cool at night. Warburton can cop some big storms and nasty weather though – its at the base of a mountain range.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

It’s Australia, most of the events need a snake bandage and a phone to be carried, except the shorter ones.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

There are spots they can get in and the event hub is a great location.

How’s the Swag?

Event merchandise is on offer and the designs are generally great for T-shirts etc, medals for finishers, photographers on course, free beer at the sponsors tent this year!

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?

Yep 5 stars check it out, something for everyone.

Thinking of running your first ultra? Check out these 7 steps to get started!