My run from Wangaratta to Bright

Just to do something different I decided to run the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail from Wangaratta to Bright. It was a good way to be able to do a long run outside of Melbourne without having to go through the stresses of a race and without having to run on roads, plus the advantages of someone having worked out the route for me and, hopefully, put up signposts. I did it in three stages: from Wang station to Bowser on the edge of the town (about 10 km), from Bowser to Myrtleford (about 45 km), from Myrtleford to Bright (about 31 km). I carried minimal gear in my ultra vest: tights, fleece, spare running shirt, underwear, toothbrush, phone and charger, money and glasses, plus 1 1/2 litres of water and some gels and bars. The vest was full and my pockets were full. There was no rain on the forecast so I didn’t take a raincoat. I had the map of the trail on my phone. It turned out to be extremely well signed.

The train arrived in Wang after 3pm and I was pleased to immediately find signs for the rail trail. I followed the signs through town, crossed the river and found the trail start. The route through the outskirts of Wang was along a levee and around a caravan park and then alongside a road until I reached my motel for the night. I had anticipated that the motel would be in the middle of nowhere, so I was carrying some magazines to read and my breakfast croissants for the morning. 

The motel really was in the middle of nowhere, but right on the rail trail. I had to eat, and with no other alternative I got room delivery from Zambrero, and it was a slight problem because their minimum was so high that I had to get more stuff than I could possibly have wanted.

I set out at 8am the next morning. The rail trail was very nice, crossing farmland with lots of bush by the trail and lots of cows and horses. It seemed flat and there was no wind. It wasn’t especially cold. I had a long way to run so I broke the day into stages, basically thinking from railway station to station (although there aren’t stations there any more, just signs). The stations were generally 5 to 8 km apart. Some had toilets and shelters with seats, at others there was absolutely nothing. 

After 19 km I reached Everton which is a big junction on the trail. I chatted to a couple of bike riders - I had seen almost no bikes so far - and had a brief rest. After Everton the trail was closer to the road for a while and then returned to farmland. It was getting quite warm and parts of the trail were very exposed. I much preferred the parts that were away from the road.

The only noticeable climb came towards the last 10 km of the day, following a lovely stretch through forest, but it wasn’t hard. I had a steep few hundred metres then the trail crossed the road and went back into the bush for a long downhill. I wasn’t expecting this since I hadn’t realised that I had climbed much, but it was most welcome. Suddenly as I approached the final station site for the day, Gapsted, I was tired. But the rows of vines at the winery were pretty in the sunshine and there was music coming from the winery.

Past Gapsted the trail came out to parallel the road for the last few kilometres into Myrtleford. It seemed a long slog to end the run. Then the route took me along back streets through town and I picked one of the many bakeries to have a sit before finding my motel. I had a pie and a latte.

I hadn’t realised that Myrtleford was such a big place. I had a walk around the town, located the route start for tomorrow, had a rest and had dinner at the pub.

It was freezing cold when I set out at 8.15 after my breakfast of coffee and a kitkat. It was also foggy so I couldn’t see anything in the way of scenery. The trail was largely close to the road but the road was not very busy early on. I passed lots of cows, horses and llamas. The early kilometres passed comfortably and I think I managed the same sort of pace as yesterday. I wanted to have my first stop at halfway, Eurobin. There were kilometre markers all along and I happily ticked off the distance. I played a game of trying to run on the soft shoulder beside the trail but I always ended up running on the paved trail without realising I had moved back across. I saw more bikes today. According to the map the whole way today was a gradual uphill.

At Eurobin I had a sit, and a little chat with the Highway Patrol who stopped to use the facilities. They were surprised to hear what I was doing and commented that at least I wouldn’t overheat. I was surprised how long it stayed cold.

But by the time I reached Porepunkah, with only 6 km to go, the sun was out and I was warm. The transition seemed surprisingly sudden. I could see the mountains for the first time. I sat briefly by the river and then walked the part of the trail through the small town (which I had never visited before as the main road to Bright doesn’t come through the town). There were lots of people on bikes on the trail here.

The last part of the trail was alongside a back road into Bright. I crossed the river and looked forward to finishing. I'm sure there was an extra kilometre in there somewhere. Then I found myself all of a sudden in the centre of Bright; the place looked lovely in the sunshine and it was pleasantly warm. I wasn’t completely exhausted but I was satisfied to have finished my little adventure. I sat at a cafe in the street with a coffee before changing into warmer clothes and getting the bus back to Wang. Then I slept most of the bus ride.


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