23.09.2022 | Run the Riverkeeper

Sep 23, 2022 4:50 am

We protect what we love


FRIDAY . 23. 09. 22.

Happy Friday, folks! Welcome to the end of another eventful week. I'm back again this week and am excited to bring you trail chat & takayna updates and yet more inspiring ultra adventures. I loved being back amongst the trail community at Surf Coast Century over the weekend - huge congratulations to everyone who explored the beautiful Wadwaurrung trails in rain, wind and (occasional!) sunshine.

Whilst waiting for my turn at the SCC relay, I was keeping a close eye on Dave's efforts down in lutruwita for takayna 300. Like all good adventures, things didn't go to plan and Dave suffered debilitating stomach issues. In true trail community form, his support team took over relay-style, with Dave joining them for the last few kilometres into Corinna. We are looking forward to bringing you an update from Dave shortly.

Earlier this week, we caught up with the Bob Brown Foundation crew in Naarm for an update on the takayna/Tarkine campaign and to get excited and inspired for takayna Trail 2023. Later in the week, we caught up with trail running veteran Krissy Moehl from Washington State, to talk all things training, longevity, race directing and life post-pandemic. Read on for more from this great chat, and to check out the recording.

This Sunday, another epic adventure is underway. FWP Member and friend, Karin Trager is traversing the Birrarung/Yarra River from source to sea, covering 280 kilometres across Wurundjeri country from the Central Highlands to Docklands for 'Run the Riverkeeper'. I am very excited to be crewing Karin for this never done before adventure, kicking off on World Rivers Day. Read on for an interview with Karin ahead of this endurance adventure.

🧭 πŸ›Ά πŸƒπŸΌβ€β™€οΈ πŸ™ŒπŸ½

Run the Riverkeeper

A 280km traverse of Birrarung/Yarra River


This Sunday, Karin Traeger will set off from the start of the Yarra River in Victoria's Central Highlands, following its winding shores to Port Phillip Bay in Naarm/Melbourne. Karin spends her days working as the CEO at Yarra Riverkeeper, her weekends moonlighting as 'The Plastic Runner' and her holidays hiking and bike-packing. Karin encapsulates the FWP ethos of celebrating and exploring wild places and is a proud FWP Member. I caught up Karin to hear more about the where, who, how and most importantly, why of this next adventure.

HM: What is your relationship with the Birrarung/Yarra River?

KT: My relationship with the Birrarung/Yarra comes from when I first landed in Melbourne. As a Chilean, I am a Mountains and Rivers person. I grew up swimming in creeks, dams, and lakes. From exploring the Andes, I have seen the importance of water sources and the protection of catchments. Having this spectacular river crossing through one of the most liveable cities in the world convinced me to move down here. Little did I know that I would be later exploring the trails, collecting litter from its banks and now connecting its corridor with a single run. The Birrarung has not only given me the luxury of incredible trails but also of good friends, a home away from home with the trail family, mental health, and so much more.

HM: Has this journey, from source to sea, been done before? What resources did you have to work from to plot the route?

KT: Maya Ward did a similar thing back in the day. You can read more in her book "The Comfort of Water - a river pilgrimage". The difference is that she and a group of 3 friends did a walk from the mouth to the source, taking 21 days. I was super lucky to meet Maya a few weeks ago. A run like this, from source to sea in only six days, has never been done before. While we all know the incredible non-stop runs we have seen lately, I decided I wanted to give myself enough time to share the experience with the community, the people that work to protect it, and of course, the Birrarung. This project is more like a stage run, which is entirely new for me. 

Regarding resources, I have been mapping out different sections of the River and the connecting trails for the past two years (Thanks, COVID! hehe). Additionally, my former coach and friend Mike Cardiff gave me some of his intel from his FKT from Baw Baw to Warburton. A huge thanks to Mike for all. From support, inspo, adventure weekends, and motivation, I wouldn't be here without his help. 

The whole run will go using public trails, and we have confirmed access to all tracks with Melbourne Water and Parks Victoria. This is the most ethical way to put something like this together, as I wanted to avoid any disturbance of native vegetation or entering the closed catchment area (which is protected). I also used the heat maps in Strava to see any trails available within different parks. It was a lot of weekends away, driving up some gravel roads and exploring on my own. 


Karin and Maya next to the Birrarung at Warburton

You're starting on World Rivers Day. What is the significance of this day for our waterways both in Australia and globally?

World Rivers Day (4th Sunday of September) is a day to celebrate and acknowledge our Rivers and the benefits they bring to humans and the planet. Without them, we wouldn't have access to drinking water, water for crops and animals, well-being and connections, and many other benefits. Water is life, and Rivers deserve not only one day of the year but hopefully a daily appreciation for what they give us as a community and humanity. With the climate crisis putting pressure on our ecosystems, the water crisis we are experiencing is one of the symptoms of how our Rivers need help. While we like to celebrate, we also need to use this day to bring awareness to the issues affecting our waterways and encourage people to get involved in their local watersheds. This can be through supporting your local friends' group, organising a community cleanup or donating to the grassroots organisations working to support waterways' health. 

How has the training been going? What have you been doing to prepare both the body and mind?

Training has been intense but good for the body and the mind. I am privileged to count on a good support network: running buddies, a great coach, a non-shocked podiatrist, and a family overseas that isn't surprised by my crazy ideas anymore. While I have been prepping this stunt for the past two years, due to life taking an unexpected turn, I decided it was time to "submerge" myself into this project and get it done. Honestly, it was the most healing and healthier way to reconnect with myself, my passion and find my inner strength on the personal side. Anyone who has experienced the challenge of an ultra will know how this stuff changes you physically and inside. And when life gets hard, these runs are just what we need to keep standing up and showing up for what matters to us. 


280 kilometres, six days, one river

What does a healthy Birrarung/Yarra River look like? How can we contribute to seeing this vital waterway thrive?

A healthy Birrarung/Yarra looks like a river recognised and acknowledged for its cultural significance and ecological value. It's a waterway with a sufficient level of protection for the future. A healthy River is a safe haven for the many species that call it their home. It is a waterway that Melbournians are proud of. A River looked after the local communities, businesses, government and organisations. One of the campaigns we are using to showcase this is the "Swimmable Birrarung by 2030" with our friends from Regen Melbourne and Swinburne University. By activating swimming experiences along the River, we can change the current negative narrative while seeking to improve river health. More on this here. 

Chile is your homeland, and now Australia is your home. Do you feel your resonance and attitude to protecting Australia's unique ecosystems are influenced by your Chilean background?

Having this "developing country" lens gives me a great perspective on seeing local issues, such as the lack of TLC we offer to our Wild Places. Chile is an incredible country with mountains, glaciers, rivers, and unique endemic fauna. Pretty similar to a few things from here in Australia. Sadly, the reality in Chile and many other developing countries of the Global South is that our Wild Places are under a lot of pressure or up for grabs to the highest bidder due to a lack of resources and strong regulation. We have seen how mining and fossil fuel companies have greenwashed projects affecting unique ecosystems while compromising community access to ecosystem services (Read more on mining destroying glaciers here). 

Australia is lucky to have a better space to advocate for these local wild places. My message is to not wait until they are gone. Australians have a mind-blowing country with species such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum (seriously…how cute but also special are those little friends! Did you know they depend on the Bogong Moths' population? Read more here). However, there is a disconnect between the community and their impacts on those natural spaces. We need to remind ourselves that the bush is not only there to serve "us" but that we need to serve it instead. We need to be better stewards while enjoying our playground. Educate yourself and get involved to make sure we can keep enjoying those places. 


Community planting day between Yarra Riverkeeper Association and Friends of Yarra Valley Parks

There are some pretty great rewards for donating on your Pozible fundraising site, including experiences for businesses and brands. What's your pitch for people reading this to encourage their workplace to get involved?

What's good for the Yarra is good for all! Supporting this campaign is in your best interest if you have a business or organisation located in Melbourne. Without a healthy Birrarung, Melbourne wouldn't be the city it is today. Some rewards include personal experiences to connect and learn from the River, my favourite places, and the main issues affecting it. Riverkeepers are essential to the advocacy needed to protect our local waterways. By supporting us, you help us work towards our mission of a Healthy, Protected and Loved Birrarung/Yarra River and its tributaries. We can also work closely with businesses to share that connection with their teams. Finding ways to help is not hard, after all, I'm doing the hard bit and clocking the kms :) 

I'm pretty darn excited to be crewing you for this adventure. What trail snacks should I have on hand to keep you fuelled and happy?!

I am super excited too, to have you and the FWP team on board. This will be an adventure of a lifetime. I am grateful to have my community backing me up on this journey. What better way to combine the sport we love with a cause so great as advocating for a healthy Birrarung/Yarra? We will 100% have the best trail party out there, so if you see me coming, make sure you have your trail bells and fluoro. 

The best snacks are the ones in my belly, hahaha. I somehow become a Cookie Monster and eat all the foods when doing these long runs. I will need about 6500+ calories on day one! Faves are:

And finally, but most importantly - how can people follow along, donate or be a part of this epic traverse of the Birrarung/Yarra River?


You can follow the tracking here from 5am Sunday 25th September 

Donate here via Pozible 

Or follow our adventure on the socials!

Follow Karin here, or via Yarra Riverkeeper here.

πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈ πŸ›Ά 🐨 πŸ€™πŸ½


with Krissy Mohel


On Wednesday, we caught up with American ultra-athlete, Krissy Moehl from her home in Bellingham, Washington USA. Krissy has been a part of the trail and ultra community for over 20 years, as an athlete, race director, coach and ambassador. This wide-ranging chat covers many aspects of her experience, including how to ensure longevity in running, her time at takayna Trail (then takayna Ultra) in 2019 and her summer trail adventures. If you're US based or will find yourself there in March 2023, be sure to check out the Chuckanut 50 in beautiful Bellingham.

You can catch up on the trail chat via Youtube here.

🐢 πŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈ β›° 🚐

takayna Trail 2023

Join team For Wild Places!


There are only 29 spots left at takayna Trail 2023! If you are keen to head down to the beautiful takayna/Tarkine rainforest in February 2023, now is the time!

Some of the FWP team are excited to head down again and would love for you to join team For Wild Places. Register now to secure your spot on the start line, and be a part of this incredible, impactful event.

🌳 πŸ’š 🌳

And that's it for another week! Be sure to RSVP to our Trail First Aid Course on 08/09, and sign up to become a FWP Founding Member before 1st September, when we will be winding up the 'Founding' part!

As always, thank you for your continued support. We hope you have a great weekend exploring and celebrating wild places. Stay tuned via social media to hear more from Karin & I this week for updates from the river and as always, thank you for taking the time, for wild places. πŸ™πŸ½

Hilary & the For Wild Places team




30/09 Run the Riverkeeper Finish Line | register

08/10 Trail First Aid Course, Arthurs Seat | register

16/10 TRS Silvan | event info

20/11 Great Forest Trail Marathon, Healsville | register

11/02 Trail First Aid Course, Arthurs Seat | register

25/02 takyana Trail, Waratah, Tasmania | register


We acknowledge the the First Nations people who have been custodians of land, waters and culture for tens of thousands of years. We pay respects to First Nations Elders past, present and emerging.

This email was written on Dja Dja Wurrung country. To these people, we pay our respects.

Always was, always will be.