I was challenged to ‘do it twice’ by a friend. Meaning run a half marathon twice in one weekend. The Lamington Eco Challenge is a boutique event that was on every year in the Lamington National Park. What sets it apart form other events is the back-to-back events and the fact that most of the course is on private land, so it’s not somewhere you can run unless you’re part of the event.

The event celebrated its 5th birthday and had a variety of options for the ‘Do It Twice’. An 8.5km each day, a half marathon each day, a full marathon each day or a combination of those distances. Or if you didn’t want to do it twice, you could choose to enter just one event. My friends and I chose our distances and booked an apartment at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.

Sunset view at O'Reilly's Retreat

I had done a half marathon the month before on the Gold Coast and knew my training had kept me fit. The great thing about trail running is that you can expect to walk in parts. It’s a totally different beast to road running. And the Eco Challenge for me was always going to be about finishing the challenge, not running for a time.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, after a 45 minute drive from the Gold Coast, checked in, got our numbers and got settled for the night. Saturday morning was not an early start to allow people to drive in for the event. In hindsight, I think it would be better to arrive on Saturday morning and stay Sunday night – because by then you’re knackered and really need a bed!

It was a little cool to start and I kept my long sleeve running top on. Mistake. I had removed it by about the 3km mark. I must admit to being pretty impressed with myself that I managed to take it off, whilst running but still wearing my backpack. The changing into a bikini at the beach training finally paid off.

The course had been altered from previous years due to storms earlier in the year and we had a loop at the beginning. It was a long glorious downhill section that flattened out and then came back to have a disgusting uphill back the way we came. Yep, I was walking within 5km.

Open plain running trail

We then ran along the road and into the rainforest. As we were coming through you could see a clearing and brightness and it opened out to an amazing field with magnificent views. I had a love / hate relationship with this field. It was beautiful and ugly all at once. It gave me the chance to run fast, whilst trying not to trip in any divets, but that lovely downhill meant an ugly uphill. And not just once, but twice, each day.

Then there was an out and back section. The reward for getting out there? Laminations, of course. And more amazing views, this time of Mount Barney.

Cow on the open plain running trail

The out and back section was through beautiful rainforest. It was almost like the calm before the storm, because as you came to the end of it, you were back at the field. And it was incredibly deceiving. It was 5km till the finish but it was the longest 5km ever. Downhill, uphill, swooping magpies, cows, a wrong turn, more uphill to more magnificent views and then a crazy uphill that needed a crazy motivator running beside to get you up there. And once you got to the top there was a bar! But with no beer 🙁

The crazy part of the event was the last 100m uphill. No one wanted to run it, but there were lots of supporters cheering everyone on. And over the 2 days I did not see a single person walk that last 100m, even those that had done a marathon twice, still ran that last little bit. The power of the mind and the pressure of supporters shone through.

Would you do it twice? You can have an ice bath aka pool swim with a magnificent view! I chose just to enjoy the view.

Relaxing by an open edge pool with a vie of the mountains at O'Reilly's eco Retreat


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