RT Journal – by Julia Minnucci, Tasmania

As the temperature has now dropped to zero, out comes the winter gear found from the bottom of the drawer. The track season has come to a halt and the cross country season is in full swing. Running through the muddy, wet and slippery tracks that Tasmania has to offer is very different to the warmth of Perth nights, the beach at Scarborough, the scenic synthetic athletics track and the excitement of the Australian Junior Championships and Perth Classic earlier in the year.

I was lucky enough to recently be supported by both my employer the Running Edge and Saucony so I have been able to shelve my worn out running shoes and trial some new performance shoes and extra running gear which has added colour and enthusiasm to my June training and competition sessions.

Winter season means working hard to build up endurance and stamina while keeping fit, healthy and injury free. Getting out of bed is a struggle as my first preference is to hide under the warmth of my covers and sleep in but the effort is definitely all worth it. What you get is the experience of running on one of the beautiful picturesque courses that Tasmania is able to offer.

Running through paddocks, over mountains, along beaches, apple orchards and on sealed roads around the suburbs and Hobart CBD are just some of the fun courses you can typically find – and all this is no more than twenty minutes from our central training hub on the Queen’s Domain. Each week around 250 athletes return to challenge both themselves and the weather conditions that can alter from a cool refreshing winter breeze to a drenching rain in a matter of minutes.

Due to the extreme cold weather, the importance of a good warm up and stretching program is essential for all. Being warm before the start of the race is the preferred option as the cold air bites into any exposed areas when clothing layers are slowly peeled off. I still like to run in a crop top and shorts but some athletes, maybe the more sensible ones, opt for the thermal tops, long pants, beanies and gloves.

The scene of running along crystal clear water and the fresh sea air can easily take you to another world but the tracks need your full attention as rocks, rabbit holes, tree roots, and low hanging branches are all part of the challenge. As the race heats up literally it is all go with each athlete vying for that opportunity to overtake up those hills or in the open spaces and race towards the finish marshal to register that better time.

Looking around the finish area is a hive of activity as everyone dives in to their bags for those clothing layers, warm gloves and beanies. The line at the urn for that hot chocolate, coffee or tea is just as thick as at the start line. Athletes group and discuss their performance, that tricky corner, that sprint to the finish and they all beam with satisfaction and achievement. Our cross country members are the “running tribe”. Not one of them slept in and we all had another great day!

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