Christmas Night Trail Run with a Few Brave Reindeers

So running in the bush at night hey?!

Image source: Trail Run Magazine

Image source: Trail Run Magazine

Annablogia: national park night run

I’ve heard of these crazy people running through Aussie national parks at night; however never thought I’d dare to try it myself. There are a few fair reasons I stay in when it gets dark in Australia – the most venomous spiders and snakes are inhabiting Australia. Moreover, the number of getting lost in the bush English backpackers doesn’t make me feel any easier about night bush walking.

This is it. I got it all wrong. Of course, bush walking and bush wondering can be dangerous. Bush running is the answer (giggling).

As you’d probably know I’ve joined a bunch of crazy trail runners in Northern Beaches who come together every Sunday to conquer a new trail, bush around through more known tracks and have fun socializing.  Although I’ve only started trail running about a year ago I feel like I’ve been doing it for my entire life – it feels incredibly right.

Last Sunday 20 brave Trailblazers took me through some unknown to me Manly Dam’s tracks  followed by a quick and cozy brunch at the Wakehurst Golf Club accompanied by two kookaburras hungrily watching us. If you are around, swing by – stunning views from this very nice pub.

It was our Christmas themed run so a few runners were dressed appropriately – I regretted not introducing Grandpa The Cold, The Russian Santa to the clueless group. Well, let’s keep it Australian in this case, shall we (giggling).

While sharing a few beacon and eggs rolls after the Xmas trail blaze, one of the group’s leaders talked about exploring new tracks the following night. I thought to myself: “Whaaaat? New tracks? At night?”

Annablogia: Xmas trail run

Trailblazers Christmas run through Manly Dam, December 21, 2014 – Wakehurst Golf Club

Next day, excited and not very well prepared I was at the Seaforth Oval waiting for the running ‘reindeers’ to conquer my first ever night trail run.

Anna Kochetkova: trailblazers night run

Trailblazers @ Seaforth Oval, ready for a night trail run, December 22

Annablogia: running at night in the bush

Somewhere, a few minutes away from Seaforth Oval – Trailblazers night trail run, December 22

Australian news are soaked with the stories of people going for a bush walk and never coming back. These people get lost under the Sun all the time. You can imagine how nervous I was. Moreover, a few years ago (in the early 90s) Ivan Milat, a well known serial killer, was inhabiting the Belanglo State Forest offering local backpackers a lift never delivering one of course. On top of that, Australian bush is a home to venomous spiders, snakes and I am scared of darkness.  You get the picture!

We took off a little after 8pm and it got pitch black at around 9pm (I wasn’t checking my watch as I didn’t want to take my eyes of the trail not even for 1 second). My borrowed head torch went off about half an hour into the run. The trailblazers spotted me with another one (well prepared!) and we continued the trip.

I will go as far as saying that it was the best run I’ve ever had. It was tough. It was picturesque (despite the fact it was pitch black). It was fun. It was adventurous. It made me feel like I had an adrenaline shot and I just had to run as fast as I could. A few guys ran off despite the detailed technicality of the course (magic runners!). We had a few seriously steep hills, numerous descending stairs, one robe climb, a few short dirt bike roads jogs and single path swirling bush tracks I am absolutely in love with.

Running at night requires some serious focus in order to come home in one piece. Apart from good eyes I’d recommend really good torch (better two or three with you!) – it is dark out there. Close your eyes for a moment – this is how dark it gets in the bush (giggling).

I will certainly be researching into head torches and devote a post of two on how I go. I will also be looking into trail shoes to stop myself from slipping in my falling apart road runners. I am considering extra support for my ankles; however I am persuaded that my legs will get used running on the trail reducing my ankles soreness. I must say quitting road running sorted my knees problem, my shins are also painless. My new challenge is to stop twisting my ankles while trail running and focus a little bit on calves and ankles during my leg training days. If you are still unsure of running at night, don’t hesitate – find a few partners in crime and head to the bush!

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY RUNNING!