04 July, 2012

Loop de Troop

This story began yesterday when I headed down to the Barwon on the bikes with the kids. As we squelched our way through the mud towards Breakwater (more of that later), I noticed some new signage displaying numbers and proclaiming itself in large yellow letters to be the "Troop Loop". What the heck was the "Troop Loop"?
Newly installed signage at Breakwater
A couple of kilometres up the track we found our answer in the form of a couple of council workers in the process of installing the new posts. The Troop Loop they informed me was a "new" running/walking trail around the Barwon ...well, the posts are new, some of the surface will be new, but the route...well, we've all been running that for years. What is also new is the decision to acknowledge the achievements and contributions to the local running scene of Geelong's own Lee Troop.
Lee Troop opening the Troop Loop
The designated starting point is at the end of Swanston St next to Landy Field and there are two distances to choose from. The shorter, 6km loop takes the jogger down to the old Breakwater Bridge, around and back along the river to a turn around point at the McIntyre foot bridge before returning to the starting point. The longer, 10km loop extends to a return point at Princes Bridge before heading back to a point a few hundred metres past the starting point.
A quick Google of the topic found City Of Greater Geelong meeting minutes in which $7,500 were allocated for the installation of the signs, but nothing else. The workmen had informed me that there would be an official opening of the course the following day but there was no sign of it in the media.
A riverside interview
With that in mind I headed out before midday for a run which covered the same territory as the Troop Loop.
All the signs were now in place, a row of witches' hats prevented entry to the top end of the car park and a few of the usual crowd were out for their daily constitutional, but there was a distinct absence of dignitaries. This was still the case when I completed the loop and headed home.
Later in the afternoon I ducked down again to see if there was any sign of action and discovered some setting up happening. I asked the appropriate questions and was given a start time of 4pm. I returned at the appointed hour and was able to observe proceedings and ask a few questions.
Lee Troop unveiling the board at the beginning of the Troop Loop
I managed to discover that the currently very muddy but otherwise picturesque gravel section of track down to Breakwater will be sealed with bitumen within weeks. This should prove better for running, but will certainly change the character of this part of the trail. I also received confirmation that the grand dream of a track extending all the way to Barwon Heads was quote "not gunna happen". At that point I pushed my case for an extension of the existing track in the direction of Armstrong Creek but can't say I received an enthusiastic response. My pleas for improved signage and better connections between riding/running tracks received a somewhat placatory response that they were getting to it.
Ready! Set! Go! Runners from the Barwon Academy put Lee through his paces
Meanwhile, speeches were made, thanks given, photos snapped and tributes paid to the man of the moment who then unveiled an information board before taking a not so quick turn a short distance up the track with a selection of the local junior talent who were then treated to a Lyons Club sausage sizzle before heading to training to run it all off. The Advertiser were of course there to record the occasion with the article appearing in Thursday 5th, July's edition here.
The lead runners return as the cameraman from
the Advertiser is hard at work
At this point the rain began. It always does when Lee organises an event - or so he informed me back in 2009 when, along with several thousand others I completed the inaugural Run Geelong in pouring rain.
On this occasion I finished snapping my shots and retreated out of the elements.

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