We were jetting south from naarm as a group of running misfits. The work crew and I were flying to lutruwita to join over a hundred fellow punters for the Bob Brown Foundation’s takayna Trail, the off-piste running event for all those who enjoy some wholesome type-2 fun. You could pick your poison: a 22km half, 62km ultra, or a split ultra-distance relay. I took the former, thanks.
Why was I there? Was it for a new challenge, or was I simply there in Tassie to Come Down For Air? I tend to bikepack our great backyard, and trail running seems to be the mountain biking of the running world… just a little more hectic. That enticed me. Combined with the prospect of helping to save takayna, I was mentally there. The physical part we’d work out later.
Potential and imminent physical struggles aside, we were all there for the purpose of running to save wild places. takayna, (colonially, the Tarkine) was under threat yet again from Captain Planet's arch nemesis, the Logging and Mining Industries Corp™. In its fifth year, the takayna Trail continues to make great strides. This movement of passion and purpose-driven folk is growing. This year was its most successful yet, supporting efforts to have takayna World Heritage listed and returned to its Traditional Owners.
Few of us knew what we were running into. The takayna Trail course presented a range of obstacles under thick blanket canopy. Over log, under log, squeeze past tree trunk, down the gully, up the gully, down a steep face, dodging trees and slipping on loose leaves. The leafy lid then opens up and we meet the valley floor, only then to have a steady climb back out of the valley, the climb out almost half the length of the entire course. But this is sensational. Who in hell would want to do a city run after experiencing this?!
The ghosts of mining’s past were close, however. What was once an access trail to an old silver mine was now our path to fighting off the same threats a hundred years later. Look just south to Queenstown, a testament to what unregulated man-made land exploitation can do to a landscape.
One of the hardest parts of the run is to stop and take it all in. This forest journey sets the same challenge we often face in our regular nine-to-fives – to take a breather, stop and look around. We’re always compelled to just keep moving. You’re in this crossfire of feelings as you contend with the degradation on your body that distance running inflicts while taking in the sheer magic that surrounds you visually, luring you to look around, perhaps up through the canopies of a hundred-year-old myrtle, only then to potentially trip on that very same myrtle’s tree root just below your feet.