“This from the lofty way in which it towered above the surrounding hills I named Mount Remarkable.” Edward John Eyre, June 1840
By ioMerino Outsider Sarah
When you’re a trail runner you inevitably find yourself in the hills and mountains. I’ve run hills, walked mountains, climbed stairs…sometimes I’ve felt like crawling them. But I’ve never been particularly good at them.
So why would someone who pretty much sucks at hills choose to run a King of the Mountain event? Good question!
I’ve been out of sorts for a while, injury after injury, struggling with my training and lacking in motivation. A while back I decided I needed to find a way to re-find my love of trail running. A month or so ago I entered the Federation Ultra trail 25km event and found the answer. I needed to start running events again.
Keen to avoid big events, for the time being, I found myself lining up for the second edition of the King of the Mount 14km event – a race to the summit of Mount Remarkable and back down again. The event is held in the beautiful little South Australian town of Melrose in the Southern Flinders Ranges. Melrose sits at the base of the imposing Mount Remarkable, around 960m above sea level and one of the highest peaks in the Southern Flinders. I’ve made the trek up Mount Remarkable plenty of times before – hiking, running a bit, but usually taking my time. It’s a steady climb, but not an overly challenging hike, so how hard could the run be?
We were treated to a sunny, but cool day, and a leisurely start time of midday. I was unsure what kit to run in because the wind was cold, but I knew I’d heat up quickly going uphill in the sun. I also knew it would be much colder at the summit. Wishing I’d got around to ordering a pair of Newton Arm Warmers, instead, I took a chance running in my Outsider Ultra V-Neck Tee with a backup Keystone Long Sleeve and Altitude Neck Tube in my pack.
I knew the first few hundred metres of bitumen road were very steep so I set off with a bit of a jog, just because it was a KOM event after all, before settling into a walk up to the start of the trailhead.
The summit trail is exceptionally rough in parts and is an awkward gradient. It feels runnable, but not really. Looking at my Garmin from time to time I was surprised to be gaining altitude so quickly, at a rate of 100 m per km. I ran what I could, clambered over boulders and tried not to do an ankle running across the scree slopes of numerous landslides. I caught a bunch of female runners and a few males before finding a guy moving at around the same pace, which helped push me to the summit ridge where I could run to the summit. After 1h:05m I made it to the summit – 6.8km, 600m elevation gained. No wonder that hurt! No time to stop for a photo, but luckily there is no view from the summit because of all the trees (the best views are from the trail on the way up).
The down track is relatively new, and I’ve never run it before. I was glad it was much easier to run than the up track, but it still gave my ankles a tough workout with a lot of running across loose rocks and uneven ground. I caught a guy and then spotted a girl in front, who I recognised as the one who’d taken off like a racehorse at the start and I reckoned she might be the front-runner. I caught her easily, but unfortunately, she wasn’t so keen to let me pass and after blocking my way, took off with a new burst of speed.
The rundown was hectic but a lot of fun. I finished in second place, 47 seconds behind the girl who I’d caught but was unable to stay with.
It was a cracking event, run by local company in the Flinders. And yep, its definitely helped reignite my passion for trail racing, so much so, I’ll be lining up a week later in the Grampians for the 36km Wonderland Run.
As for gear – I was happy with my choice. It was cold at the summit, and if I’d been moving slower I definitely would have stopped to put on my Keystone Long Sleeve. Instead, I wore my Neck Tube as a headband to keep the cold wind out of my ears and took it off again on the way down – my favourite versatile piece of kit.
Turns out this Outsider is not done yet, so stay tuned for future adventures!
(As I was racing there wasn’t time to stop for photos, so some of the pics are from my previous trips to the summit).
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