They are much shorter than the distances he usually races over in classic Blue Mountains events, but elite Warrimoo runner Andy Lee has taken a very successful liking to the Sydney Trailrunning Series fixtures around Manly Dam this summer.
The 43-year-old has used the three summer races on the scenic 10.2km bush track around the dam to prepare himself once again for assaults on the Six Foot Track Marathon from Katoomba to Jenolan Caves (45km) next month and the North Face 100 in the Upper Mountains bush (100km) in May.
Lee has previously won both celebrated events and if his form in the Sydney Trailrunning Series is any guide, he is in good shape to claim them again this year.
He was first home in the first Manly Dam race of the summer season in December, fourth in the second race in January and third in the third and final race of the season on Sunday. And Sunday’s result was against a field that boasted about a dozen athletes who have represented Australia or New Zealand in endurance sports.
Lee, who works in logistics for the Defence Department, also claimed the prize for best aggregate time over the three races. He said he loved the Manly course and it was well worth the early Sunday morning wake-up and journey to have the run.
“I’m really enjoying it, it’s good fun,” he said of the Sydney Trailrunning Series.
“There’s a nice bunch of people doing it and a good bunch of runners.”
The series has been established by Wentworth Falls-based organisation Mountain Sports to give Sydneysiders a chance to engage in mountain-style trail racing on a regular basis close to home. More than 400 runners signed up to tackle the race around the dam on Sunday — more than double the number for the first race of the season back in December, said Sean Greenhill of Mountain Sports.
Sunday’s race boasted plenty of other Blue Mountains pedigree as well. Second place was taken by Springwood runner Jim Perrett, 24, who is studying to be a physical education teacher at the University of Western Sydney and works for the AFL. Perrett was also third in last year’s popular 25km Woodford to Glenbrook Classic on The Oaks fire trail.
But unlike Lee, he is still uncertain about testing himself in next month’s Six Foot Track Marathon.
“I don’t think I’m quite ready for it,” he said. “I’ve never run a marathon before.”
The winner of Sunday’s Manly Dam race, 34-year-old Crows Nest runner Vlad Shatrov, won last year’s Woodford to Glenbrook Classic.
The autumn season of the Sydney Trailrunning Series will be held at Bobbin Head, with the first race on March 17. Go to www.mountainsports.com.au to enter.