With over 2000 runners and supporters in attendance, last weekend’s 14th annual Stromlo Running Festival has been hailed a massive success by runners and organisers alike.
Spanning 18-19 November, this year’s festival introduced two new 5 km and 15 km races alongside the traditional 50 km, 30 km, and 10 km competitions. This year also saw the return of the popular 2.5 km children’s cross country.
Beginning at 6 am, the 50 km ultra-marathon was the first race. Local runners Michael Daly and Patricia McKibbin took first place with a time of 3 hours 34 minutes and 4 hours 11 minutes, respectively.
As for the 30 km event, Canberra’s own Rowan Lewis took out first place. Speaking about his victory, Lewis says he was aided by “his local knowledge of the course, which really helped me push over the hills”.
Lewis’s race time of 2 hours 3 minutes and 17 seconds also marked a new personal best – 5 minutes faster than last year.
Despite temperatures reaching the low 30s, organisers reported no major presentations to first aid, which race director Mel Bingley put down to the use of ice at aid stations to help manage heat and exhaustion.
Maurice Kelter was one of many runners who made the journey from interstate for the festival. Reflecting on his experience, Maurice says he “may have fallen in love with trail running”. He also says he plans “to bring a big crew with me next year”.
“My day was made even before we started because I saw kangaroos in the wild for the first time,” he added.
Adding 5 km and 15 km courses accommodated the festival’s increasing popularity with young families. “We really pride ourselves on being an inclusive race, so we wanted to bring something in that was a bit more entry-level, and it proved extremely popular,” says Mel.
“A 10 or 30 km run can really be quite daunting compared to a 5 km, which is just a really nice bite-sized dip into trail running. We definitely saw that with registrations – those two events were quite popular, so I think we will see them return next year.”
Kicking off Sunday morning, the final race of the festival was the 2.5 km children’s cross country. The highlight of this event was the participation of 50 young children from five remote indigenous communities as part of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation’s ICAN program, which participants donate to in the form of voluntary contributions when registering.
Mel noted, “It was very inspiring for everyone involved.”
“These children have come a long way from a very remote part of the country, and while the large crowds and loud music would have been a bit daunting, it was very clear they had a ball. I actually overheard one of the children say they’d like to come back next year, and another placed first in the race.”
Festivities continued at the finish line, where participants were met with Zooper Doopers and a meet and greet with local Brumbies players. Adult finishers were also treated to the Capital Brewery’s Alc-less Pacific Ale to help cool down after their race.
The Stromlo Running Festival is set to return on 16-17 November 2024. Mel says participants can “expect to see record numbers and more of a party vibe” for the festival’s 15th anniversary.