• Elliot Cooper


Updated: May 23

I’m scoping out a trail. I’m running sections, and finding my path around it. This trail links the main centers of Canberra together in a 145km loop round the city. There are trails that are tougher, longer, more scenic, but this is The trail of Canberra. Many people have ridden it on mountain bikes or walked a section. Some walk it all, a section at a time. A few have even walked it in full over three or four consecutive days. But as far as I know no one has done what I plan. My current project is to run the Centenary Trail. In a single push.

I’ve only known about the Centenary Trail for about a year. The first thing that had me interested was the distance. It’s tough, but definitely achievable in a single push. On the other hand, I knew instantly that there would not be much climbing. While the course does take in several of Canberra’s hills (Mt. Ainslie, Mt. Majura, One Tree Hill, Black Mountain, Red Hill and a few other bumps), none require more ascending than 300 meters. Climbing is definitely my strong point in this sport. On the other hand what I’m doing is not a race. I’m just doing something to do it, and to be someone who has done it. And if I can do it in a shorter time than anyone else, then that’s really something.

Like any long trail there are going to be navigation problems to be overcome. The trail is marked with special markers that mostly tell you the direction to go, but sometimes have arrows pointing in two different directions (the larger hills don’t have mountain bike access, and so there are alternative routes around these for riders). That’s fine and makes sense. But some places do not make sense. South of the Arboretum there are posts with no signage at all (whether this is a case of trophy collectors, or just an unfinished job is unclear). Some markers that have no relation to the map (e.g. Dairy Farmers Hill, or a marker I found way off course on the south slope of Tuggeranong Hill). In other places the trail has been rerouted (Horse Park Drive / Federal Hwy), and either the markers or the map have not been updated to match. In such places I’ll just have to decide which route to take in advance. But these navigation problems are the main reason why I’m doing as much of the trail as I can as part of my preparation.

The sections I have run are 10km starting from Hall, Tuggeranong Town Center to Kambah Pool, War Memorial to Horse Park Drive, UC to the northern end of Lake Ginninderra, UC to Coombs, Coombs to Kambah Pool Road, Forde to Horse Park Drive. This still leaves out the south east corner of the course. But while this mitigates navigational problems, it lessens the adventure. There will be very few places on the course that I will be encountering for the first time. I feel ready. Maybe it’s time I just got out there and did it!


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