A 75km trail run through the Noosa hinterland towns of Pomona, Kin Kin and Cooran
The trail passes by my property and it has always beckoned to follow its winding paths. For years now I’ve explored each of the Noosa Trail Network trails the Noosa Council has established throughout the hinterland and for some time I have thought about linking most of them up for a one day outing. I’ve completed long days on the mountain bike, in fact I’ve ridden the entire trail network, but until recently I had never linked them up and ran them within one day.
I like doing loops, as opposed to retracing steps on the same trail, and I enjoy linking trails and mountains together and being self-powered by foot or bike. I’ve done a lot of focused training in the past but these days its more about adventures. Pushing your limits on new terrain. More importantly it’s about shared experiences.
A morning mountain scramble up Pomona’s Mt Cooroora with some friends cemented the idea to a point of saying, “ok, lets do it”. Let’s do a trail run around most of the Noosa Trail Network and complete it in one day.
I wanted the focus to be on our beautiful hinterland towns. Noosa is incredible and stunning, but so too is its hinterland.
Starting in Pomona we would follow the trail to Lake MacDonald, moving through pine plantations, dry eucalyptus forests and rainforests. From there we would head to Kin Kin, on to Cooran and back to Pomona. In total we would need to cover 75km, climb nearly 2000 metres vertically and after starting at sunrise we planned to finish as the sun was setting on Pomona.
In the back of my mind was also the thought, “this could be an event”. This could be something different. A trail run that not only passes through great trails and national parks but also runs right through the heart of three great historic towns. But firstly I wanted to test the idea. No use creating an event in your own mind if its not a shared passion of other people too.
Well, slightly before 6am on a recent Saturday, the second day of Spring, 12 of us gathered to test ourselves on a route that I named The Three Town Classic, the 3TC.
On the trail you can always tell when others are happy and running within their limits. The jokes flow easy and so too the laughs. The miles just click over and when you’re in the moment, not thinking of how far you have to go, time just slips away and before you know it, 20km had disappeared behind our feet. When things get tough, body language changes, heads either look down or eyes get fixed on a distant point and silence surrounds everyone. But not today.
We met up with a few more friends at Lake MacDonald, our group slightly swelled and we continued on our way. A long winding single file of laughing and talking as we ran slowly on the trails in the rainforests and walked together as the trail transformed into the longer climbs on the path to Kin Kin. Views over undulating paddocks towards Lake Cootharaba. Noosa Heads behind us as we climbed and followed the ridge line towards the valleys of Kin Kin.
We descended down to Sheppersons park where we had a brief stop for water. A couple of horse riders passed us on the way up the hill towards Cootharaba views lookout. The casual movement of horse and rider seemed more suited to these trails then runners with small packs, water and an array of energy food in our pockets. But somehow this network of trails provides a beautiful blend of scenery and challenge for anyone wanting to test their limits or who seek adventure through endurance.
We looped around the north of Kin Kin through paddocks with curious cattle, up hills and finally dropping into the town where we stopped at the friendly general store for a well earned break and some tasty food.
After lunch we would tackle the largest climb which would see us reach the highest point of the day in the rainforests of the Woondum National Park and be met with some of the longest views of the day at the Tablelands Lookout. After over 55kms of movement, seeing views south over the entire sunshine coast is a special thing. Our group was getting tired but not once did the laughs stop. I guess it’s a testament to the mentality of trail runners. We run for the love of it. We love it so much and tiredness is expected. When you love what you’re doing, it’s easy to be happy.
Down yet another hill with even more long views of rolling hills and ancient volcanic mountains, almost tripping over with the distraction of the beauty around us. Our group moved towards the township of Cooran and another, although shorter break at the local store. Only 10 km remained now as the sun was slowly starting to disappear behind Mt Cooran. For the first time we let our minds think of the finish.
Finishing a long day on the trails in the dark seems fitting. Head torches create a circle of light on the ground and suddenly the world around you shrinks. Everything is within that circle and as such your mind has less external distractions and in a way, its calmer.
Your own rhythmic breathing, the sound of feet on the rocky, dusty trail. We are quieter now. Our group is quieter and so is the forest around us. Slowly the lights of Pomona appear and before long we finish our day under the arch dedicated to the annual King of the Mountain race. Not with a thrust though finishing tape with hands in the air. No, we finished by quietly returning to a walk with big smiles on our faces.
Hugs, quiet congratulations. For some, it was their longest run. For all, it was an experience not quickly forgotten. An experience that brought us all closer together.
If you missed this year’s version – keep an eye out in 2018. The Three Town Classic will be back bringing an even larger group of people together to share in the delights of the Noosa hinterland.
This article was written for Sunshine Coast Health and Fitness