In 2009, Australia’s marathon great, Robert De Castella united with 28 Sporting Innovations and the YMCA of Canberra Runners Club in a strategic partnership to host the inaugural STROMLO Running Festival. This event was unlike any other running event held in Australia and was centred within the recently developed world-class facilities of Canberra’s Stromlo Forest Park.
Stromlo Forest was where ‘Deek’ and many other Australian and International running greats did much of their training through the 1980’s and 1990’s. In 2003, the entire forest was destroyed in the bushfires that also claimed the lives of four Canberrans. Deek was one of the 500 families who lost everything in those fires and was a key member on the ACT Government’s Bushfire Recovery Taskforce. Stromlo Forest Park was one of his ideas; to not just replace what had been lost, but to make it better and to leave a legacy for future generations. Stromlo Forest Park has already become Australia’s best and most sought after dedicated off road running and cycling venues.
The world-class multi-use, recreational sporting facility is available to both recreational and professional users hosting a variety of major events annually. The venue is managed by Territory Venues and Events, Enterprise Services within the Department of Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS).
The event slogan – “Get Off The Road” – is highly appropriate given the running events comprising the STROMLO Running Festival will be held on the purpose built Stromlo Cross Country Course, as well as the fire trials and single tracks within Canberra’s nature parks surrounding the Stromlo area.
Robert de Castella needs no introduction when it comes to the area of running. As an athlete, Robert reached the absolute pinnacle of the sport by becoming a World Champion and World Record holder for the marathon and competed in seven World Cross Country events. Following on from his own athletic career, Robert has worked within elite sport as the Director of the Australian Institute of Sport as well as in the area of community and adult health and fitness, as Director of Smart Start. In this role he has helped to improve the quality of life and health of Australian adults and children. On a personal note, Robert has worked tirelessly to continue and further the important role running plays within the Canberra community. After the 2003 bushfires, he worked with the ACT Government on the Recovery Task Force, and was integral in the initial idea, and the development of a dedicated Cross Country running facility at Stromlo Forest Park facility. The world class facility is now established and he continues to be committed to ensuring that it is utilised by the ACT community and all local, national and international runners.