Pound for pound there are few races in Australia as challenging and fun, as this great little event. So to find out more about it and what runners can expect, we caught up with Matt Cooper, race director, top bloke and an awesome athlete to boot!
- What inspired you to create the event?
Getting people into the mountains and experiencing what it feels like to run to the top and back was a big driver. As simple as it seems, there’s so much you can learn from doing it. The other inspirations were competing in Skyrunning races overseas in the bigger mountains and realising that what we have to offer here in Australia’s is actually pretty good. Although our hills aren’t anywhere near as big, the amount of climbing, descending and variability of technical terrain is definitely on par. To us it’s all about You and the Mountain.
- What makes it special?
The terrain, location, local support and the fact that all profits are donated to the local primary school for the kids to have an adventure day at Mt Buffalo.
Maybe also… 27km and 4500m of elevation change?!? I’d say what really makes this event is its location. Wandiligong is a quiet little sibling of Bright (which is just the way we like it) but it holds some of the toughest terrain features within it. It’s a very mystical valley at the base of the Vic Alps.
- What is the greatest challenge runners face?
‘The Goat’. Every event takes on this climb of almost 500m vertical in only 1200m distance. Don’t know the maths, but let’s just say it’s slightly steep! A few years ago another local runner and myself were training for a Skyrunning extreme race in Europe. We looked for the shortest route to the top of Mystic Mountain and that was it… The Goat was created. Aside from this, I would say the technical terrain and the fact we ask runners to keep their run technology free so they can just be in the mountains for the time.
- Briefly describe the courses for those who have no idea what to expect.
Steep, technical, anything from mud to snow! The Wandi valley runs north to south at the foothills of the Australian Alps. In the 27km course you summit two high points in the first 16kms on the eastern side of the valley before heading back through the start/finish (Alpine Park) and tackling two more high climbs on the Western side. Loads of single track, mix of native forests and pine plantation. Your hands will be on the ground in areas and you WILL come back with dirt on your clothes. We also have 5 check points for the 27km so that runners can run with as minimal gear as possible. We go to a big effort to ensure the course is marked well so that runners can come from anywhere and not feel disadvantaged by not ‘knowing’ the trails. Many of the trails we use are not even known by locals.
- What are the five ‘Must Do’s’ for people while in Bright?
– Run up ‘The Goat’
– Take a tandem paraglide off Mystic and get a panoramic view of the Australian Alps
– Go for a walk or adventure at Mt Buffalo
– Drink/Eat awesome locally produced Coffee/Beer/Gin/Sourdough
– Look for Gold!
- What advice do you have for runners?
Forget about times, splits, tight clothing… throw on your finest mud shoes and be ready to get dirty in the hills!
For more info, visit:https://www.wandicross.com/