Run Forrest, Run!

Run Forrest 4

She’s mad, I tell you. Completely bonkers.

That’s me. Talking to me. I do that a lot.

I don’t listen.

Which is how I found myself lining up to run 21km through hilly rainforest* yesterday morning. Some people never learn. At least I had company. My friend Carolyn, otherwise regularly known as the Spreadsheet Enforcer, was lining up with me. Foolish woman.

(*’Rainforest’ in my part of the world does not mean ‘humidity’. Certainly not in winter anyway. It’s cool temperate rainforest.)

Called Run Forrest, it is a race described as follows: “Staged in the hinterland township of Forrest, nestled in the heart of the Otway Ranges, Run Forrest will showcase the region’s world class trails and breathtaking natural beauty – undulating hills, flowing rivers, dense fern gullies and the cool, fresh air of the Otway Ranges.”

Sounds kind of pretty, right?

It was. Pretty damned hard is what it was.

Now, before I get into the whole torturous saga, let me pull my Pollyanna act. On the plus side, for a winter’s day in one of the wettest places in the state, we miraculously scored a mild and sunny day. Also, I did not score any leeches. (That’s for Joanne.)

So, here goes on the rest of the story:

After a meandering loop that took us almost back to the start line (wow, that was a quick 21k!), we were sent up a steep rocky track. Nice.

There was some rather pleasant ferny rainforest with a bit of a hill before a quick jog along the road to the local reservoir.

Run Forrest 1

The run across the dam wall was pretty easy. (Taking this photo, I said to my then-patient friend, “Sorry, this is what happens when you run with a blogger.”)

Run Forrest 2

And then off we went into the rainforest proper. And it was beautiful.

Run Forrest 3

Run Forrest 5

And that’s it for the photos. Because after that it got nasty. Nasty, nasty hills. Steep, muddy and endless. I ran them at first until I couldn’t any more. Besides, I’d reached a point where a long-legged walking stride (I do this weird, doubled-over thing where my face is almost on the ground but it works) was just as fast as the grandma shuffle I had been doing.

At the top, we crossed a road and then! Oh glory! Downhill!!

We’d moved onto the famous Red Carpet, a well-known, heart-stopping mountain bike trail with sharp twisty turns. (No mountain bikes – the beauty of this run is the chance to take to this track without worrying about getting bowled over by Evel Knievel wannabes.)

Well, this was fun!

Until we noticed runners coming the other way. Oh, are you lost? Or are you doing the 10km run?

It took a few minutes for the truth to dawn.

We had to run back up the hill.

Here’s what went on in my head at this point:

Me: ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!

Other Me: Get a grip!

Me: But we have to run back up! We have to run back up! I can’t! I can’t! ohmygod! ohmygod! ohmygod!

Other Me: Oh, for heaven’s sake, chill!! Yes, you have to run back up. But remember that nasty uphill you just ran? You get to run DOWN that one.

Me: ohmyg…. Oh. That’s true.

I wanted a photo of our loop around Lake Elizabeth at the bottom of the hill but I nearly fell in just trying to enjoy the scenery so I concentrated on my feet instead.

We made it back up that hill, actually not as bad as I’d remembered and then it was down the other side, whooping and hollering and doing the ‘flappy bird’ thing around the bends until we emerged near the finish line.


But…..but……the finish line is that way. Why are you sending us in the opposite direction?

Okay, we’re on the wrong side of the creek and you’re sending us up to the bridge. Okay. Breathe.

We crossed the bridge and looked for the markers to point us to the finish line. Nope. Still in the opposite direction.

I nearly lost it at this point. I got very sooky.

Pfft. That was nothing. Rounding the corner we saw………

……one more hill.

Really??? A hill?? 500m from the finish line??? You evil, nasty, sadistic…..

Nothing for it but to push on. Muttering obscenities under our breath.

Somehow we dug out enough energy to make a (not super fast) sprint to the finish line. I’d joked about joining arms and skipping across the finish line but that was early in the race when it seemed like a fun idea. Twenty-one kilometres later…. not so much.

Run Forrest Result

Equal 70th out of 134 starters in the Female 21km runners, 21st out of 49 in our age group, 50m40s behind the winner. I can live with that.

Would I do it again?

Are you mad?

Hm. Well, you may not be but I clearly am so…………

THANKS: I’d like to express my deepest love and gratitude to my friend Carolyn who is not only the Spreadsheet Enforcer but Mentor and Encourager Extraordinaire. I think I would still have finished the race (given my inherent stubbornness), but I would not have done nearly as well and I certainly would not have had anywhere near as much fun. (Yes, bits of it were fun.)

Postscript: I got up at 6.30am the next morning to go rowing. She’s mad, I tell you. Stark, raving mad.

Postscript Two: It was my father’s birthday yesterday. Our first without him. As I wrote on Facebook that morning: “I’m not sure what he’d make of me spending it running for two hours through the Otways but I think he would smile encouragingly and bemusedly, wish me luck and then segue into a story about that time he was driving through Forrest and…”

(ICYMI: My memories of my father on the day he died are here.)

Dad and his wine



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The Flying Beetroot: Still Flyi….er….Flapping

The Flying Beetroot Still Flying

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the vegetable crisper.

[puts on sing-song voice] She’s ba-ack.

I see dead-tired people.


Okay, enough of the scary movie references. It’s bad enough you have to face the aviated vegetable again as it is.

I thought you might be thinking that the purple running shoes had been hung up for good – or at least for winter – post-mildly-acceptable-half-marathon-running-event.

However, if you were really paying attention you may have picked up in a post (way back when) that before I even knew if I could run a half marathon, I’d signed up for another one. It was a moment of momentary insanity. Or, given my usual state of insanity, perhaps a moment of weird sanity.

But being a Bear of Very Little Attention Span, running yet another half marathon on asphalt (or bitumen or whatever you call that black stuff) roads or bike tracks would be boring. If I was going to tackle this distance again it had to be something different.

Enter Run Forrest. (Yes, yes, let’s get the movie reference out of the way early. All together now: “Run, Forrest, run!” Thank you. Can we move on now?)

Here’s a description of the course:

The 21km course will start in the township of Forrest at the beautiful Barwon River.

The trail run will follow the Barwon River along the famous Red Carpet to Lake Elizabeth. The Red Carpet is a favourite amongst mountain bikers for its dynamic technical sections, fern covered single track and fast downhill corners.

Now we get a chance to run it…..

Run Forrest also gives trail runners access to the beautiful fern banks surrounding the majestic Lake Elizabeth.

The course is tough with tight, off cambered turns, fast down hills and undulating with plenty of flow.

The course is a circuit ending at the race village on the banks of the Barwon River.

I’m rather attracted to the phrases “dynamic technical sections” and “fast down hills”, providing, of course, that there are no “very slow up hills” to go with them.

Naturally, a course of this description has necessitated the purchase of more er… grippy shoes (otherwise known as trail runners) and a modified training regimen.

Unfortunately, trail-like running tracks are not immediately handy – the most suitable being at least a twenty minute drive away – so in these time-pressured days of work and family life, I have had to make do with running on nature strips* and gravel tracks where available. Fortunately, footpaths* are in short supply close to home so running on grass is readily available.

(*See International Vocabulary Reference at the bottom of the post.)

Winter has also arrived so as the days have become more heavily discounted, I have often found myself running in the dark. This actually has some advantages, mostly in regard to speed:

  1. Racing the light home with the darkness hot on one’s heels can tend to make one pick up the pace.
  2. In the increasingly chillier weather, one is compelled to move a little quicker to prevent certain extremities from freezing.
  3. Running along the river in the dark by oneself adds a feeling of “thrill” that does make the legs move faster. (I prefer the term “thrill” to “shit-scared”.)

Racing the light

What I keep forgetting is to bring along a head torch so I can see properly once the darkness inevitably catches up with me (a speedy runner I am not as evidenced by my first half marathon time). Here’s a stretch of nature strip near my home that is ripe for running along:


Sorry, that’s in the dark without a flash. Here it is with a flash:


Hm. Not much better, is it? Do you want to see what it looks like in daylight?


Yeah. A head torch is probably a good idea. One inconvenient wobble on that stretch…..

Before you ask, yes, I have a training spreadsheet. No, I will not be publishing it.

Because I don’t want to.

Because, unlike the glorious evergreen of the previous spreadsheet, this one is widely stained with the blood red of failure.

One week into the set training I came down with a bad case of “Falling Into A Hole” with a side order of “Losing The Plot”. There was no running for a week while I clambered my way back out of the hole. I got back on track (figuratively and literally) but was left with a debilitating dose of the “Can’t Be Bothered”s. Add some cold and wet winter weather and a stressful workload and it’s been too easy to take the “I’ll do it tomorrow” route to non-compliance.

I’m not overly concerned about it. One advantage of choosing a second race drastically different to the first is that there is no time to beat. It’s a picturesque location, it’s something different and this one I will not be running alone. My friend Carolyn, the notorious Spreadsheet Enforcer, is running with me.

I’ve decided (for the sake of my sanity and not to be overwhelmed with regret) that it is not a race on Sunday. It is a (admittedly hopefully rather rapid) stroll through the beautiful southern Victorian rainforest on a lovely winter morning.

Lake Elizabeth

Lake Elizabeth in the Otways. (Photo:

I’ll let you know exactly how that works out…


International Vocabulary Reference

Nature Strip –  berm, curb strip, devil strip / devil’s strip, parking strip, planting strip, sidewalk buffer, utility strip, verge, neutral ground

Footpath – pavement, sidewalk, footway, platform

(With thanks to Wiktionary)




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