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Race History


History of the Bogong to Hotham Event 
by former RD Geoff Hook

In the days when technology didn't count for very much, a lone skier, Charles Derrick, attempted a marathon ski trek from Mountain Creek to Mt. Hotham.  An arduous journey at the best of times.  An impossible one in a blizzard.

In September 1965, Charles Derrick set out in a late winter burst of foul weather using equipment that lacks the sophistication of modern day technology.  His endurance and tenacity were supreme as he kept skiing through horrendous gales, fighting fatigue.

Graeme Wheeler, in his book "Walk The Timeless Land", poignantly writes, "He had pushed almost thirty miles of terrain beneath his skis, had gained and dropped over 9000 feet.  Within a mile and a half of his objective the weather had pounded him to a halt, frozen, exhausted".

A cairn now marks the spot close to Mt. Hotham where Charles Derrick perished.

The Footrace

The first footrace was held in 1984 over the same course as Charles Derrick attempted but during summer, not winter.  Traditionally it has been held during late December or early January.  Even so, the weather can still be foul, as it has on a few occasions, and it can just as well be extremely hot where heat exhaustion is a worry.

Russell Bulman, orienteer competitor and organiser, and founder of the Rooftop Runners (a group who like running mountain trails) devised the footrace to follow the Charles Derrick course.  The challenge of the tough course soon drew quite reasonable numbers of competitors.   The Australian Ultra Runners' Association Inc. has now taken over the conduct of the hardest and most difficult footrace in Australia.

The brief results of each event are:-

 Dates            Starters Finishers Winner Time
 ?/12/1984           5      2 Neil Hooper   7:14
 28/12/1985       6      6 Neil Hooper   6:58:52*
 27/12/1986       9      3 Robin Rishworth   8:16:46
 27/12/1987     16       3  Peter Le Busque   7:57
  8/1/1989     23      5 Jonathon Broxap   9:10:10
  7/1/1990     44    19 Neil Hooper    7:11:10
         Sue Dreveman  10:20:08
  5/1/1992      23     12 Neil Hooper   7:16:10
  3/1/1993      32     12 Bruce Inglis   7:44:50

*course records

The Course

The course has an overall climb of more than 3000 metres and an overall descent of about 2000 metres.  In a total distance of approximately 60km, this equates to the toughest trail run in Australia.  The start is particularly tough in that after an initial 2km of undulating 4 wheel drive track, the trail climbs over 1300 metres in the next 6km to the summit of Mt. Bogong.  After losing a lot of body fluid through sweat on the way up, the steep descent into Big River down T-Spur wrecks the legs.  The "relatively" easier second half of the race becomes tortuous as the runners push their sore and tired bodies across the high plains, down into the Cobungra Gap and finally up to Mt. Hotham.

The best places to get a feel for the character of the event is at the start at Mountain Creek;  the energy sapping ascent of Mt. Bogong, particularly above the tree line near the summit;  the ankle twisting rocky descent from the summit;  the even steeper descent down T-Spur;  and the Big River crossing normally raging at calf to knee deep.  Other vantage points along the course may not be quite so dramatic but the look of pain or weariness on the faces of competitors is a common sight.