Duval Dam Buster

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Combining a healthy outdoor activity with fun, scenic views and even a bit of a challenge for the hardier amongst us – the Duval Dam Buster event will see over 100 runners of all ages compete over three courses with varying degrees of difficulty. Lee-Anne McKinnon runs us through the finer details of this inaugural event, which will take place on September 23.

Hi Lee-Anne. What’s your background with running, and how did you become involved in helping to organise the Duval Dam Buster event?

I started running in my mid-20s and used to train each year for the City2Surf. It was my goal race every year. I had a 10 – 15 year break until a few years ago, and after moving from the city to the country, I discovered parkrun in Armidale and it sparked my interest again. I then increased my distances, completed quite a few half marathons and discovered trail running. 

I really love the whole experience of being out there in nature and just running, no matter how fast or slow. I completed the Ultra Trail Australia 50 km event held in the Blue Mountains in May this year. While training for this event, I was trekking up our local Mt Duval with a few other local runners and chatting about how it would be an awesome place for a trail run. When someone said to me, “Why don’t you organise it?”; it was just the spark I needed, and I knew I just had to do it so others could enjoy it as well!

The Dam Buster is set to take place on September 23. Where and when will competitors meet on the day? 

The DDB, as it is now known, will start and finish from the Dumaresq Dam Recreation Area, which is about 12 km west of the Armidale CBD. Race bib collection and check-in will be from 6:45am on event day. The 30 km runners will be the first to get away at 8am.

There are three separate trail runs on the day. What distances are each of the events?

We will have the Duval Dash, a 2.5 km event for kids, families and lovers of a short flat(ish) course. There will also be the Duval Dam Buster, which is a 15 km course from the dam up to Mt Duval for a loop at the top, and finishing back down at the dam. We will also have the Double DDB, which is a 30 km event, and is two laps of the 15 km course.

Take us briefly through the run course … what’s the terrain/scenery like? How challenging is the course – especially over the longer distance?

The 2.5 km track around Dumaresq Dam, which will be used in all events, is a lovely course with some undulating sections and mostly single track. There will be a small amount of boulder-hopping near the dam wall. It is a relatively easy (although not pram friendly) course and very scenic. Competitors should be able to see some of the dam’s water birds, including cormorants, moorhens, heron and swamphens.  

The longer courses, 15 km and 30 km, take in the beautifully forested Mt Duval and with a starting elevation of 1,000 m above sea level, competitors will be challenged with an elevation to almost 1,500 m within the first 6 – 7 km. The course is single tracks and fire trails, has an open grassland section, as well as a heavily forested Stringy Bark area up on the mountain.

As an inaugural event, how many competitors are you expecting on the day – and who are some of the competitors you think we should keep an eye out for on the course? 

Being our very first event, I originally thought if we had 100 participants, it would be amazing. We still have over a month to go and we’ve already passed 100 registrations, which is absolutely fantastic. I’m now aiming for 200!  

Our local favourite in the men’s 30 km is Mike Carroll. He won’t like me talking about his talents, but Mike recently won the half marathon (21.1 km) at the Tamworth Running Festival in 1:12:56. He also competed in the 100 km Ultra Trail Australia (UTA) event in May this year and was the 14th person to finish in a time of 10 hours, 50 minutes. I think he’ll be pretty hard to beat. 

In the female 15 km event, we should keep an eye on Armidale’s Ada Klinkhamer. Ada came third in the women’s half marathon in Tamworth and also competed in the UTA 50 km and finished in 6 hours 46 minutes. I think she’ll be up there with the front runners.

Who are some of the organisations/sponsors that have helped get this first time event off the ground?

We have been tremendously supported by the local community. Our major sponsor, Armidale Town & Country Real Estate, were on board immediately as our Platinum supporter, followed by JNC Group and Armidale Regional Council as our Gold sponsors. 

We also have SportUNE, New England Locksmiths and APJ Law as Silver sponsors. 

We have Bronze sponsors Rose Villa Motel, LGHM Home and Garden Maintenance, New England Hotel, Altitude Physio and Regional Australia Bank.  

We also have some fantastic prize partners in Sportspower Armidale, Skirt Sports Australia, FlipBelt Australia, Injinji Performance Sports and Tailwind Nutrition. I’m extremely grateful for all our sponsors, who have supported the event from so early on.

What facilities are available for competitors and spectators on the day? 

We’re really fortunate to be able to host the event at Dumaresq Dam Recreation Area, where there is a lovely picnic area, plenty of parking, an amenities block and also a kids’ playground. The local Lions Club will be providing a BBQ for breakfast and lunch, and we’ll have Little Birdy Coffee providing much needed coffees and hot drinks!

Where do we register/sign up – and how much will it cost?

Entry fees vary, but we’re currently in the Standard Entry period until 31st August, and fees range from $10 (2.5 km) up to $45
(30 km). Fees will then increase during the late entry period until 22 September. People can register on the website: www.duvaldambuster.com.au

Thanks Lee-Anne.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

Photo (left) courtesy of Simon Scott.

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