Runners look ahead to the Lilydale Lope

No parking: Runners Zane Carr and Richard Pickup get in some training watched by Lilydale Lope race founder Brian Baxter. Picture: Paul Scambler

No parking: Runners Zane Carr and Richard Pickup get in some training watched by Lilydale Lope race founder Brian Baxter. Picture: Paul Scambler

Richard Pickup has run competitively for half a century and is intimately aware of many of Tasmania’s iconic runs, but reckons the Lilydale Lope remains unique.

The 67-year-old retired librarian from Karoola ran with Launceston Church Grammar School, Newstead Harriers and Sandy Bay, winning four state marathons and a 3000-metre steeplechase title and representing Tasmania at national cross-country championships.

He has completed the Triple Top at Sheffield and endurance runs across the Tasman Peninsula and Freycinet and in 1981 set up the Cradle Run which ever since has seen ultra-runners completing the Overland Track in a day.

But among his proudest Tasmanian running achievements is being the only athlete to contest the Lilydale Lope across four decades.

“I enjoy it and it’s one of the great runs in Tasmania,” said Pickup, who achieved a creditable 12th place over the undulating 16.6km in 2015 in a time of 81.42.

“I’m emotionally attached to the race, it’s a great event. It’s hilly with varied scenery but challenging and I just set myself the goal to beat the person in front of me.”

I’m emotionally attached to the race

Richard Pickup

Run by North Launceston Athletic Club in conjunction with Launceston Running Club, the Lope was created in 1974 by Pipers River farmer Brian Baxter.

“I loved distance running and designed it for myself,” recalled the 69-year-old former Tasmanian cross-country representative whose 1975 time of 60:19 has him in 34th place on a record list topped by David Thomas’s 52:59 in 2015.

“It’s still good to see guys coming along and enjoying the competition and camaraderie.”

Among those preparing for the May 27 event is Zane Carr, a 43-year-old Beauty Point stonemason returning for the first time since his twins were born 12 years ago.

An accomplished runner with Brooks High School and Newstead Central Athletic Club, Carr won a coveted Burnie Mile at the Christmas Carnivals and was a regular placegetter at state fun runs before retiring for a decade.

“I’m more of a 5-6 kilometre runner but this is a good distance,” said Carr, who finished 14th in 64.03 in 2005. “I remember it as being quite hilly and you need good stamina to complete it.

“I’d love to give it another go as I have renewed enthusiasm and am building up my training to see what I can do in the fun runs this year.”

Carr was encouraged to record the fastest time of 24:26 in Launceston Running Club’s 7km Perth handicap.

Loping about

  • WHAT: Lilydale Lope 16.6km run
  • WHERE: Start and finish in Main Street, Lilydale
  • WHEN:  Saturday, May 27