For its 14th anniversary, the Stromlo Running Festival will return on 18 and 19 November with an action-packed spread of races that cater to all runners. This year’s event will host a brand new 5- and 15-kilometre race, complementing the continuing events of 10, 30, and 50 kilometres. The idea is to give more of the community a chance to dip their toes in the pond of trail running and motivate those seeking a greater challenge to work towards the 30- or 50-kilometre races.
Race director Mel Bingley, who has organised and run the weekend with her husband since 2019, also wants to remind the public that the team will have “our famous Zooper Doopers at the end of every race, which I believe will confirm another record year of attendance”.
“We’ve also got ‘Boombox 2 U’ coming back, so the entertainment is going to be alive and well,” Ms Bingley says.
The event was founded six years after the 2003 Canberra bushfires, with the intention of bringing Canberra together in celebration of the community’s strength and resilience through a sport that demands it of you.
“In Canberra we’ve got some great mountains and hills with elevation, which definitely adds to the challenge. It hosts trails that work for new runners and really seasoned ones,” Mel says.
“Then you’ve got the centenary trail connecting all of the major reserves in Canberra, which is about 140 kilometres and very unique to the city. It shows how interconnected the city is to all these different communities, which is typical Canberra in there being only two degrees of separation between everyone.”
A self-professed “gumby”, Mel has sought to make the event feel more inclusive. Alongside the two new races, the event will continue with generous cutoff times for the 30- and 50-kilometre runs so that more people feel capable of stepping up to those bigger events.
Saturday will see the 15-, 30- and 50-kilometre events, which all include the summit of Mount Stromlo, adding that extra vertical challenge and beautiful view to pay off the effort. Then the Sunday is dedicated to being friendly and fun, with the 2.5-kilometre race for kids and 5- and 10-kilometre races for newcomers.
“Sunday is all about enjoying the trails and having a really good fun day,” Mel says. “There’s no time limits plus it’s open to all ages, fitness levels, and abilities.”
Registration opens in late February, but all the relevant information is available now. For those who sign up in the first couple of weeks there’ll be special early bird discounts, plus all registrations before 30 June will receive a free T-shirt which Mel says are “Olympic quality and made of recycled fabric”.
Mel says the best reason to get registered early is for setting training goals and providing some structure in preparation for the run.
“Whether you’re doing that by yourself or with a training group or buddy, it can be incredibly motivating.”
Interstate visitors make up about 30 per cent of participants, which Mel believes is a testament to the strength of the race and how spoiled Canberrans are. She recommends that everyone try trail running because “you don’t have to master a tennis racket or catch a ball from 25 metres out. It is a great sport because you can just put one foot in front of the other and you’re doing it.”
For more information on the event and where to register, go to the Stromlo Running Festival organisation’s website here.