Race Recap: Wonderland, Rosea Radness

Event: Wonderland
Date: 24-25 August 2019
Type: Off Road, Trail
Distance: 2km, 8km, 20km, 36km, 60km-ish
Where: Halls Gap, Grampians, Victoria
Event Partners/Sponsors: VFuel, Orange Mud, Footpro, Suunto


I tend not to run local events because I can run them at any time.

However, I figured with my ultra coming up this event would be a nice little training run in race conditions and get me race-ready.

Having run the wonderland course (20) many times during training, I knew if I was going to enter this event, it would be for the 36k distance.   Yes they had just introduced a new leg into the course (let’s just call it Gnarly Gariwerd for the time being, which is a 60ish ultra-distance from Beehive falls), but I knew that there would be a possibility that this distance may not go ahead (as the track was being built), but something to keep in more for next year (?, ask me again next year, and after this ultra business is done).

I had full intentions of running the Rosea leg prior to event day.  Alas, this did not happen.  However, I still had the upper advantage as I had done the entire course, just not in one sitting.

The polar vortex had created some epic conditions just weeks prior to the event, with snow and gale-force winds.

On race day the weather gods were kind to us.  While on the cold side, it was nowhere like it could have been just weeks previous. Still, full mandatory gear was in force.  Thermal, jacket, gloves, beanie/hat were compulsory items for all 36/60k runners.

Standing in the starters shoot, I was cold and nervous.  I pulled out my mandatory thermal put that on along with my gloves.

Looking back, I realize now that hanging back and starting in the 3rd wave was a mistake.  Especially being a 36km runner. It was a conga line once we hit the stairs at Venus Baths, about 500m in.  Being single track it’s just too hard to overtake.  This meant it was difficult to get into a rhythm because when you finally did, you’d just have to slow down again.

Climbing up to the Pinnacle was slow and steady.  It would have had to have been my slowest time on the track.

At the Pinnacle, while windy and overcast, we still got a beautiful view of the valley below us.  Looking over at Mt Rosea, I could see the clouds rolling in. I was hoping that by the time I got there I would have some type of view.  I took a few selfies but didn’t want to waste too much time as I knew I still had a fair way to go.

The conga line lasted until we passed the sundial aid station.  While the 20kers veer off to the left and head down the mountain, the 36k runners like myself veered off to the right for our next adventure.  The radness that is Mt Rosea.

In 2 hours I was only at the 10 mark.  I still had a long way to go.

One thing is for certain, the event organisers sure have a sweet tooth when it comes to the aid stations.  Donuts for the win! It was sweet, sticky but oh so delicious, and would help fuel me until I got to Borough Huts.

Without the mass of 20k runners, I now felt like I was on my own. Coming into the Rosea carpark checkpoint seeing people was a welcome relief.

The climb up to Mt Rosea had to be my favourite part of the run.  You get to this section of the track where you look down into the Vic Valley, and it’s just magical.

You also can see where you have to climb too, which can be daunting but the view certainly makes up for it.

That view that I was hoping for while at the Pinnacle, was now no more.  Clouds now shrouded Mt Rosea. Combined with some wind, and it was icy.  I was thankful that I had all the mandatory gear. My buff now turned into a balaclava, just until I got out of the wind.

By now I had made up some ground and caught up to quite a few of the runners in the second wave.   With a home ground advantage and knowing the course, I advised anyone who wanted to listen. , that once they hit the track for the downhill section to Borough Huts not to let it rip and open up, even though you may want to.  The track is long, it’s 10km long, and it’s all downhill.  It’s this downhill section that can totally smash you.  Knowing that I still had the blips of hills along the Bellfield fireline to go, I just took this track in my stride.

It was no surprise that halfway down one of the guys I spoke to was now bent double over in pain due to a calf cramp.

Coming into Borough Huts was a relief.  I took off my thermal, as I knew I would get way too hot along the fireline.  I had taken my buff off during my descent down.

At the aid station, I took in some chips, some lollies, and some coke.  Under normal circumstances, coke would be the last thing I would ever drink.  However, the combination of the fizz, sweetness, and caffeine was the hit I needed.

After passing the 24km marker I sent a quick text message to Tom, to let him know where I was.

Goal A of sub 5hours was well and truly out the window.  I gave up on that goal back at sundial.  Now the goal was just to damn well finish.  I was tired.  So I walked when I could run any more and ran when I could.

Without the aid of music, or podcasts, I was lonely.  Music devices were banned by the race directors but really could have used it to get motivated and stay motivated.

I ended up falling in line with another runner Jean, and we chatted, it was actually nice to have some company.  Jean is running the 100k’s at Surf Coast Century, so I will see her again (hopefully) on course.

Rohan, the race director was at Delley’s bridge, he was surprised by elated to see me on course.  With less than 2k’s to go it was now just a matter of picking up the tempo and powering home.

Getting closer to town meant the surrounding energy levels rose.  With the cheers of the crowds, how could you not be motived to finish?

It was a leap for joy to finish.  In a gun time of 5h55, I was done.

Things I learned

  • If you want a good time, put yourself in wave 1 or 2.
  • Power Save mode on your watch means you will lose satellite in the forest, and cause for a dodge GPS record.
  • Buff’s really are versatile
  • Pack the food you know you will eat with you, as aid stations may not have what you want

Will I do this event again? Properly not.  If I do it would be the ultra distance.  In saying that I can run the course any time.  If anything I would properly run it in reverse.


Top: Salamon
Bottoms: Dharmabums
Bra: Sports Skirts
Undies: Bonds active
Socks: Injinji’s
Shoes: New Balance Hierro
Fuel: Water, Tailwind, homemade trail mix, snap harvest pea chips, huck nutrition