Running to save the forest
Updated: May 2, 2019
In an effort to raise money to have the takayna/Tarkine Forest protected as a World Heritage listed site, the Bob Brown Foundation organised its first official marathon, taking dedicated runners through the threatened area.
The inaugural ‘takayna Ultra’ saw 120 trail-runners pass across sand dunes, through iconic temperate rainforests, navigate rough coastal vegetation and observe significant Aboriginal landmarks.
The event took place on April 5, raising money for the Bob Brown Foundation who are campaigning to have the takayna/Tarkine area protected as a World Heritage listed National Park, and hand the land back over to its indigenous owners.
The area is home to many native, iconic animals like the wombat, bandicoot, platypus, Tasmanian Devil and rare, threatened birds like the Orange-bellied Parrot.
An extract taken from the Bob Brown Foundation website described the details of the rugged and picturesque environment runners traversed:
“Starting beside the dark brown buttongrass tannin-stained Nelson Bay River, the run immerses you immediately in rolling native grass plains and stands of dry eucalypt forest. Open beaches, dunes, and impressive low rocky sections, and more dark rivers and creeks to cross, are dispersed occasionally with fishing shack settlements and extensive Aboriginal heritage. Traversing complex coastal country and a stand of remnant old growth forest adjacent to the Arthur River, this run takes you across wild takayna – an experience you will never forget.”
A Hobart local Max Hopwood, along with his father participated in the event, raising a little under $2,000 between them.
Max placed sixth in the event with a time of six hours thirty seconds, but his main focus was not on times or placings, but more about combining his love for endurance running and supporting a worthwhile cause.
“I thought this is a good reason to kind of combine my passion with a conservation effort. And I’ve always wanted to be an activist, but I have always felt uncomfortable annoying people,” he said. “I just thought this [event] kind of resonated with me.”
A strong headwind devastated runners for a significant portion of the race. Max mentioned that “you had [your] head down…hat as strong as it could go, and just watch your feet on the beach.
“It was a little bit challenging with the wind. Very very very strong north-west wind. I reckon it probably slowed everyone down by at least thirty seconds a kilometre.”
However, it was not just the wind that bothered runners on the course. Local protesters delayed transport vehicles access to the start line by at least 45 minutes.
A total of 20 individuals against the push to have the Tarkine listed as a National Park blocked busses with four-wheel drives, preventing them from departing the Marrawah Hall.
Max, who was camped in Arthur River did not see the blockade. “There were thirteen runners that didn’t actually start at the same time we actually started. They [protesters] vandalised tent poles and cut tent ropes.”
They also interfered on the trail, although Max was not a victim, he said first-aid volunteers were verbally abused.
This was the first Ultra event held in the Tarkine region, and it will not be the last. Apart from the incident in the morning, the event proved successful for the Bob Brown Foundation, raising a total of $102,000 so far.
All proceeds will go to helping keep the takayna/Tarkine region a sacred place full of untouched wilderness and history of prominent Aboriginal archeology.
People interested in keeping this precious piece of land free from recreational 4WD tracks, logging and mining can donate before May 3 at https://takaynaultra.raisely.com/donate
Intended for online media
Cover image from: https://www.bobbrown.org.au/
Copyright © Will Boddy 2019