Wallygrunta long distance female winner Rachel Brooks takes on the hills at Walyunga National Park. Image – Dennis Tan/Paparazzi on the Run.
Weekend storms didn’t hamper Sunday morning’s (January 31) Perth Trail Series Wallygrunta trail race at Walyunga National Park, 40kms north of Perth; in fact, heavy rainfall from Saturday made the paths a lot more pleasant in the eye of competitors.
The course was faster than ever, with the previous day’s rains compacting the soil and dust on top of the pea gravel tracks, and runners got to jump over or rush through varying muddy puddles for a splash of fun.
With the early morning start to beat humidity, 125 runners took to the 9.4kms short course, while a staggering 166 competitors took on the 13.6kms long course.
Wallygrunta, a Where’s Wally themed race, was a very quickly sold out event.
A total of 291 runners completed it, and with the Perth Trail Series’ summer events gaining popularity in the WA community, race director Melina Mellino said the ethos of the trail running scene was unique and special.
“It’s awesome to see the events grow so much, everyone hanging around at the finish and whooping for runners coming in,” she said.
“And what’s really cool is seeing people improve in time, like Ollie (Oliver Martin, second overall placing, short course, 44:01); he’s under 18 and just smashed his previous Wallygrunta event time by over 30 minutes!
“Ollie has been running with his dad Andrew (short course, 55:41) at these events, and it was always a bit of a competition between the two of them.
“In 2014 he ran Wallygrunta in 55 minutes, then in 2015 it was 1.21, but now this year he hit it in 44 minutes, just awesome.”
In overall results, long course men’s division winners were Alistair Munro (1:00:05) in first, Stephen Stockwell (1:00:27) second and Barry O’Shea (1:01:25) third.
For the ladies, Rachel Brooks (1:03:59) took the podium finish and was followed by Katherine Stockwell (1:07:26) and Alice Mcgushin (1:12:05).
In the men’s short course, Brett Tucker (41:14) sped through the finish line to take the trophy, but it wasn’t long before Rafael Kimberley-Bowen (43:35) grabbed silver and Oliver Martin (44:01) closed in behind them.
The competition was extremely close for the women too – Jo Anna Maynard (43:56) secured first female, Elyse Cripps (51:27) claimed second and Claire Mueller (52:27) finished third.
Resting on a picnic bench with her family and taking in the sights of runners coming through the finish, long distance female winner Brooks revealed to Runglobal that Wallygrunta was only her fourth official trail race, but she had been training at Bells Rapids (Swan Valley) in the lead up.
Brooks, 29, who looked like a machine as she charged into the clearing, had also won the long course event at PTS trail event Stay Puft two weeks prior.
“I felt really prepared, especially with the hills I’d been practicing on,” she said.
“Racing up in Yanchep two weeks ago was so incredibly different, it was more sandy and there was no elevation; the views at Wallygrunta at the top of the hill were very rewarding.
“I run health retreats, where I take clients out for hikes in the bush, and do personal training so felt I was in peak condition for the race; I also trained twice a week on gradients similar to that of Wallygrunta.
“The Bells Rapid hill and the big hill today both have the same elevation, but at Bell you get to the top at about 1.85kms.
“At Wallygrunta, you reach the peak at about 3kms into the race so it was harder, and I wasn’t necessarily looking at getting first place, but I’m very competitive and was really happy to cross the finish line in the time I did it in.”
The next PTS event in the Summer Series will be Snakes n Ladders on February 21 at Serpentine National Park.
To register, click here.