Sunday the 31st of August saw the running of the inaugural Southern Highlands Challenge. I was proud to be the women's ambassador for this event and through our Business Summit Sisters, Gretel and I spent a good amount of time in the lead-up working on getting a large attendance of women to participate. Race Director April is very passionate about getting women out on the trails. April, like myself, recognises that there are quite a few barriers that stop women from making the leap from road running to trail running and she saw this event as a way to remove some of those, and so did I!
With loads of Summit Sisters and their families registered, I headed down to the Wingello State Forest for a fun weekend on the trails! On Saturday evening we shared a wonderful meal at the Bundanoon Hotel with runners and committee members. There were many familiar faces and an excellent pre-event vibe!
Sunday morning I arrived at what can only be described as an electric event hub! I immediately noticed loads of women, and stacks of light blue Summit Sisters shirts bouncing around and smiling, AWESOME!
I ran back and forth amongst the runners for the first few km's then decided to settle in to the run with Summit Sisters member and friend Lea. She was running strong and I was keen to help her get to the finish in her goal time! Lea was moving so well, which meant we were able to chat with and cheer on many runners as we passed by. Every single runner we passed seemed happy and up for a chat.... Brilliant!
The trails in the half were wide and mostly easy (non technical) running, which was perfect for those new to trails. There were also a few decent hills to test people! The last few km of the race was rolling, open and groomed fire road which made for some fun running. Lea powered home, and I had to moderate my joy for her... I felt like I had won the race, it was a brilliant reminder of how genuinely rewarding and uplifting it can be to see others achieve their goals! Lea and I were greeted on the finish line by my son Tom who had just completed the 6km and nabbed 2nd in his age group. We laughed and drunk water whilst we cheered home the rest of the Summit Sisters, my 2 other children Rowan and Tessa and Man Joe.
Hanging out in the Summit Sisters tent with an amazing group of women, drinking cider, eating yummy food and chatting trails left me with a feeling of contentment. This event and others like it are important stepping stones to changing the gender balance in trail running. April and her team should be really proud of what they achieved in this event. If this is what they can do in their first year - I can't wait to see what is on the cards for next year!