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Jacksons Track

Countryside near Jacksons Track.
(© Bardaster)

Looking through an old training diary, I was reminded of one of my all-time favourite running routes.  It was from our shack at Labertouche, about an hour's drive east of Melbourne, where we frequently spent running weekends and holidays with groups of running friends.  There were lots of opportunities for running on quiet forest trails and rural roads, and I previously wrote a post about another favourite course there, the Labertouche North Run.

Jacksons Track today.

The 19km Jacksons Track - Aqueduct Run started out with the same gradual descent out of the forest into a pretty rural valley along an unsealed road, before turning east and joining Jacksons Track, a quiet rural road (gravel in those days) made famous as the birthplace of the Lionel Rose, who in 1968 became the first aboriginal boxer to win a world title.  I never saw Lionel there or knew exactly where on the Jacksons Track he lived, but I liked the idea of running through this little bit of history.  Years later, a book was written about the history of the area "Jacksons Track" by Daryl Tonkin & Carolyn Landon, which is a good read in its own right, but which I particularly enjoyed because after years of running in the area I could identify and picture most of the locations referred to in the book.

Lionel Rose (left) on his way to the World Bantam Weight
Championship against Fighting Harada in Tokyo in 1968.

Jacksons Track incorporated quite a long climb before I would turn northwards towards the forested mountains on Nangara Road.  After a short distance, I would turn left on to what was known as the Aqueduct, which followed the course of a buried water pipeline running from Tarago Reservoir to the southern suburbs of Melbourne.  The Aqueduct trail was almost level, following the southern contours of the mountains and the Bunyip State Forest for 8km all the way back to our shack.  Some of it was in tall mountain ash forest, and some of it was in farmland offering beautiful views to the south.  It was probably mostly on private land and there were a few gates and the occasional cow to negotiate, but I stuck to the trail and never had any trouble.

I often used the course as a time trial to test my fitness, because it was both invigorating and fast.  I quite often ran it in around 67 minutes and can remember one time running it with friends in that time and then running a second lap in exactly the same time on my own.  Those were the days!

Looking at the satellite photos, I see that Jacksons Track is now paved and there are now some houses right on the Aqueduct, so the course is probably extinct.

After yesterday's long road run, I just walked 5km today.  I felt good, though my right Achilles tendon was quite stiff and sore.