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Previous event : Great Ocean Walk 100, 13th October 2012, Appolo Bay, Victoria Read more
Next event: Marysville Marathon Festival, 11th November 2012, Gallipolo Park, Marysville, Victoria
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Welcome to DandyRunner

Two of Australia's most famous distance running sons, Ron Clarke and Rob (Deek) de Castella have immortalised this amazing set of running trails in beautiful temperate rainforest just an hour's drive from Melbourne.

Back in the '70s and '80s you could join packs of up to a hundred runners, all members of Melbourne's club running fraternity and doing their obligatory "long run" for the week. Each pack would have a favoured route through the forest; each would know when to apply the pressure to test the legs, hearts and lungs of even the hardiest of runners.

The meeting place is a car park at the far end of the picturesque little village of Ferny Creek, on towards Sassafrass and just off Main Road. In winter it can be quite daunting to emerge from the car, with the mountain often shrouded in low-lying cloud or misty rain. But that's all part of the adventure. Once you're in the forest and running, who cares about the mud and the rain and the cold! And in summer the forest is a cool, leafy respite from the hot plain below.

The trails (and there are dozens of them) criss-cross through the forest and it is easy to get lost. There are maps located in strategic entry points and the trails are all signed, so make sure you have a rough idea of where you want to go.

Once inside the forest and running, you enter another world. Everything becomes much quieter, even your footsteps are hard to hear as you are running on forest detritus for much of the way. The only sounds are those of your lungs sucking up the air and the occasional lyre bird calling out to a mate.

If you have arrived with the intention of doing your long run, it is easy to cover 25 kilometres minimum and not retrace your steps over the same trails. Some of the features of the run have been tagged with nicknames, such as "Clarke Hill", a famous 3.6 kilometre gradual incline where Ron Clarke used to put the pressure on his mates running with him.

Then there's "Areoplane Hill", a short, sharp almost vertical incline that leaves you gasping for air when you get to the top. But if you run down it instead of up, you could just about become airborne! I guess that's where the tag comes from.

Most of the running though, is along gently undulating trails that wind through the forest, sometimes following mountain creeks and waterfalls. The amazing thing is that you hardly feel you are running uphill at all, except for the occasional climb like "aeroplane".

So if you are visiting Melbourne some time in the future and you would like to experience a truly great trail run, you can't go past "Ferny". You might just run into one of those packs, especially on a Sunday morning. And afterwards you can indulge in a well-earned devonshire tea at one of the local friendly tea house establishments.

Latest from the blog

Marysville Ultra Marathon Festival 2011 - Report

This is my third running of the Marysville Marathon Festival, and without any doubt the best and most memorable race yet. On the previous two races I competed (if I may call it that) in the half marathons, but year I decided it was time for the Ultra (50 kilometer, well 51 and a bit according to the Garmin). So why the most memorable running so far?

Easy. This year the weather made for an absolute spectacle. True to Melbourne tradition the weather had it’s own saying this weekend, by ensuring to dump the area with a splashy 100mm of rain on the Saturday before the race. The result, I am sure you can imagine, were super duper muddy trails! Read more
October 23, 20115 years ago

Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 is go!

Today was the very first training run of our new, still to be named Oxfam Trailwalker 2012 teams. This morning we did meet at the Olinda Reserve (CP4) for a leisurely run to CP5-ish and back. Along for the ride we had Sammy (red), organizing the two teams we plan to get ready for the race, Mat (making the photo) and Nicki (white) who are both keen on running the Oxfam for the first time, and Eliza (black), who is (yet) not running the Oxfam. Read more
October 15, 20115 years ago

A day on the trails : GOW100 2011

I was too late with registering for this years 3rd time running of the GOW100 Trail Run. But since this run is held at one of Victoria’s most stunning national parks I came down to volunteer and to try to capture the action on ‘film’. The images below I hope gives you an idea of what it takes to run a 100 kilometers ultra marathon over muddy trails. Walkers, so we were told by Parks Victoria, normally take 8 days to complete the full Great Ocean Walk! It is tough to do it in a single day, but it provides the runners the opportunity to see some of Australia’s best. Many places you can only reach on foot. Read more

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October 5, 20115 years ago

Run with a Beat - 180 BPM

One way to practice running with a consistent cadence (or pace) is to use a metronome. But really, who can stand the monotonic ticking of such device? A much more pleasant way to run with a beat is to listen to music. Unfortunately simply listening to your best songs will likely have your cadence changed every 5 minutes or so. What you are looking for is music that last long enough and has a consistent beat to it.

So far I have been able to find sources that provide regular mixes, lasting around one hour in general, and stick to a single bpm. This post is all about long lasting running mixes at a consistent beat of 180 BPM. Below you can have a quick listen to the mixes, and if you like them follow the link for downloading from the original source. Read more

New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail Shoe Review

I have found the right shoe that I am happy with to take for long distance runs on smoother trails and forest (Adam Altra)”. However, to tackle the roughest of the roughest (read rock, and sharp pointy large gravel) I must have something that protects the feet just that bit more. There are people who say that any surface can be tackled with minimalist shoes, or even barefoot, and they might be correct, but after 50km of roughing it on a trail, your feet are starting to transmit a different story to the brain. At least in my case. Read more
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