The BoomBox2U DJs are locked and loaded and the Zooper Doopers are on ice – the countdown is on for Stromlo Running Festival 2023 registrations, closing on Tuesday 31 October.
The festival has always had a strong focus on inclusion, but this year it’s coming in hot with two brand-new events.
First up is the new 5 km. Aimed at a demographic not quite ready for the 10 km event but still wanting to challenge themselves, plugs a gap in Stromlo’s family-friendly Sunday program, according to Stromlo coordinator Mel Bingley.
“The 5 km is another avenue for all ages and abilities to participate, with children under 13 just needing to be accompanied by a guardian entered into the event. For many people, it’s something you can bite off that’ll be a challenge but at the same time is a very viable distance for those who are comfortable in the range of 2 km to 4 km and ready for a challenge off-road,” she says.
“Crossing the finish line after a bit of trail adversity creates a wonderful sense of achievement and a lovely memory.”
Saturday is still reserved for the 30 km and 50 km long course events long course events but the second new event, a 15 km with no time limit and a summit of Mt Stromlo is set to entice more into longer trail running.
Already proving popular, this event will challenge and reward participants with views of Canberra and surrounds and is a great step up from the 10 km.
The fun continues on ‘Sunday Funday’, the day everyone gets a medal.
Stromlo co-founder and marathon champion Robert de Castella will return for the duration of the event, to send everyone off at the start and greet them at the end.
“He’s loved in the community and an inspiration for the next generation coming up to carry the trail running torch,” Mel says.
“He loves a selfie, too. You can always come up and say ‘hi’ to him.
“The entire day is so fun and vibey.”
The morning kicks off with the 10 km, then 5 km and finishes with the kids’ 2.5 km, which caters for children of all ages up to 13 with accompanying adults free (with registration) to run alongside the littlest legs.
None of the events on this day have time caps, meaning participants not looking to compete can take their time to complete the course.
“I’m a mum of three and an avid amateur trail runner myself, and I know how important it is to ensure there are events that include children but also something that activates the community,” Mel says.
“Particularly as we come out of the pandemic, we’ve unfortunately seen many events not returning.
“Sunday is not about timing – it’s about those connections trail running affords.”
Those taking on the 30 km and 50 km events on Saturday can do so knowing the courses are evaluated by the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), meaning they attract points on participants’ ITRA profiles for difficulty and distance and are deemed “true distances”.
“There’s nothing worse than signing up for a 30 km and it winds up being a 34,” Mel says.
“It can be absolutely soul-destroying when you reach what ought to be the finish line and discover you have kilometres to go.”
Stromlo is also indexed, which has knock-on effects for entering other events. A participant’s finishing time becomes a formal qualification recognised by both ITRA and Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), the world’s ultimate trail-running circuit.
This potentially opens doors worldwide and can be used to qualify and determine start-line placements and more.
“For elites vying for podium positions, this is significant because every place counts,” Mel explains.
“For example, Stromlo is the last qualifier event for the Six Foot Track – a beautiful event in the Blue Mountains. As soon as our event is over, Six Foot opens up their registrations.”
Though registrations are nearing conclusion, the call for volunteers remains for several positions and various times during the event.
“We’ve built such a culture around our volunteering teams that we have people who return year after year to help out,” Mel says.
“From registration to bib pick up and pack down at the end, they’re such a lovely aspect of the event.”
“It’s also a nice social opportunity if you can’t run yourself, or if you have friends and family running, it’s a nice way to show your support.”
To register, volunteer or for more information visit the Stromlo Running Festival website.