The logistics of freezing about 2000 Zooper Doopers in the great outdoors is an undertaking in itself.
While it may be a footnote in the big picture of the Stromlo Running Festival, race director Mel Bingley warns the popularity of the frozen treat after the finish line can’t be overlooked.
“The kids never tire of them after a Stromlo run,” she laughs.
“We’ve invested in our own giant chest freezer now, so they’re like an official part of the festival.”
The frozen treats are especially important on the “Sunday Funday” as it’s unofficially known.
On this day, Sunday 20 November, with the 50 km and 30 km races done and dusted the day before, every family under the sun is coaxed out of the woodwork with the promise of festival vibes.
Comprising the 10 km and 2.5 km kids’ events, the day is punctuated by entertainment with BoomBox2U at the Event Hub, delicious food from The Handlebar Stromlo, finishers’ medals and free event photos.
And while there is a competition wave in the 10 km event for those looking to run a blistering time, community vibes rule the day.
“It’s a morning of health, activity and connection and is geared to those new to trail running,” Mel says.
“For people who might do a park run religiously, the 10 km trail run is an excellent way to up the ante. It isn’t the largest leap from a 5 km park run to the Stromlo 10 and it has the same sense of community connection that people come week after week to park runs for, just on a larger scale.
“There’s no time limit so you can stroll, jog – whatever! The beauty of no time pressure is that you can walk it and take three hours or run it and win it in 40-odd minutes.”
Events are timed so parents and carers can participate in the 10 km and be finished in time to join kids on the 2.5 km run.
Held on the site honouring one of the festival’s co-founders, the Robert de Castella Cross Country Running Track (a.k.a. “Deek’s Track”) is 2.5 km of soft, manicured Santa Ana Couch grass that’s easy on little legs.
“Deek will be MCing on the day,” Mel says.
“He’ll send off every wave and welcome everyone at the finish line – usually by name, because we have a spotter’s mat.
“That’s a treat when a record-breaking marathon runner and all-around great guy ushers you across the finish line.”
Mel says whether people come for a “double banger” or sleep in and rock up at 8:30 am for the kids’ dash only, they’ll be home and hosed by lunchtime.
“Aside from the beautiful community feeling that Stromlo is all about, the takeaway for children and first-time trail runners is a sense of accomplishment,” she says.
“Deek always says we should all purposely strive to challenge ourselves; that’s what gives us resilience to face the adversity that arises in our lives. Plus, it’s just so much fun!”
Comprising four events over two days, the Stromlo Running Festival has become a highlight on Canberra’s sporting and community calendar.
The 50 km and 30 km events are contested on Saturday 19 November with the 10 km and 2.5 km kids’ events on Sunday 20 November.