The Runningwild Wentworth Falls course marked a departure from the previous two events. This one was almost entirely run on single track with only a scattering of 4WD trail mixed in, in contrast to the dominance of fire trail at Mount Portal and Woodford Dam. There was a lot of mud, rocks, tree roots and steps, balanced against the splendid scenery, including perhaps the most impressive walking track in all of the Blue Mountains, National Pass.
As the course was being marked on Saturday afternoon and water was dripping onto them from the escarpment above, RW staff mused that this area was the perfect spot for someone interested in doing the Overland Track. Hopefully it would still receive the stamp of approval from competitors, given it was so different to most of the other runs in the series. The excellent weather of the weekend would surely help. At 14.5km it was 4km shorter than the previous month’s race at Woodford Dam, but had almost the same elevation change at over 800m climbing and descent. Given the terrain, slow times were expected.
21st November was a tight weekend on the running calendar, being the week after the Great North 100k/100mile races, the week before the Glenbrook marathon, and the same day as the SMC series. Nevertheless 74 runners fronted for an excursion along some of the finest singletrack in all of the Blue Mountains. With perennial top 3 Ben Artup, Brendan Davies and Mick Donges all absent with other commitments, the field was open for a new men’s winner. Perhaps the well-performing locals Terry Meehan or Ewan Horsburgh make it to the podium? Or would a newcomer snatch the title? And would there be a female challenge to the unstoppable Joanne Barton this time?
We got an idea that the race field was definitely not lacking in calibre when race official Mark walked in from the Conservation Hut to marshal the runners near Lilians Bridge and found that the first two athletes had already gone through after negotiating the Round Walk, National Pass and the Valley of the Waters. Several runners mentioned later that they had been in heated combat on National Pass and found themselves stopping to admire the environment before resuming the tussle.
Expatriate Bostonian turned Manly resident Quentin Reeve charged across the finish line of his debut Running Wild event in 1.30, showing that this course was actually considerably quicker than the organisers expected. Glenbrook adventure racer Paul Robertson defended local pride with second place two minutes behind. Joanne Barton was first woman yet again, sneaking into 10th overall in 1.44.
Runners continued to drift in for another hour, sweaty, heaving but all impressed at the scenery that they encountered. Bacon and Egg Rolls and Chargrilled Vegie Rolls were consumed by the dozen to replenish weary muscles before the runners gradually departed to enjoy the rest of a sunny Mountains day.