RAO Trail is a unique offering for trail runners, ultramarathoners and road runners who are looking to add variety or specificity to their training. The basic RAO principle of training together as a group still applies, however, these sessions place an emphasis on power and endurance by switching from the flats to technical terrain with pronounced elevation changes. This approach will allow athletes of all abilities to work together to achieve more than what could be completed alone. 

The trail sessions will be held on Saturday mornings at 7:30 am fortnightly, beginning in July, at local and accessible parks close to the Adelaide CBD. The sessions will be appropriate for all levels of running ability. To get you ready for South Australian and interstate trail races these sessions will include: steep hill repetitions to build running power and strength; trail tempos aimed at improving agility and balance; as well as race-specific long runs to practice nutrition while extending our athlete’s endurance.

It is important to remember that these sessions will complement, not replace, the normal Tuesday and Friday workouts designed to keep increasing your overall running fitness. For those with no intention of racing on trails, and sceptical about how these sessions might align with their road running goals, one must only look to elite runners from Kenya and Ethiopia to observe that most of their running is done on dirt roads and forest trails. In Ethiopia particularly, easy runs are exclusively moved to this soft but technical terrain that forces athletes into slower paces and varied movements to stimulate recovery and prevent repetitive overuse injuries.

This new addition to the RAO arsenal of workouts will be coached by Tom Elfenbein and Damian Espinase Nandorfy. Tom joins RAO as Head Trail Coach, a school teacher by day, he is also equipped with UESCA Ultra-running Certification. Tom has a diverse background of running accomplishments with podium finishes at the Belair Marathon (1st), Heysen 105 (2nd), Heysen 115 (3rd) and a personal best road ½ Marathon of 72min. Tom will be working with athletes targeting events ranging from short course trail races to short duration ultra marathons.

Tom is joined by Damian, Ultra-distance coach and veteran of trail marathons and steep ultra-distance racing with podium finishes including Uluru dessert marathon (1st), Five Peaks Ultramarathon (1st), Heysen 105 (2nd), Alpine Challenge 100 Miler 7000m+ (3rd), Brisbane Ultra Trail 100 Miler 8000m+ (3rd). Damian works as a Scientist, holds an Athletics Australia Level 1 Running Coach accreditation and is currently completing a PhD through Deakin University’s School of Exercise and Nutrition. He brings an evidence-based approach to compliment the RAO coaching team and will work with athletes targeting longer distance or duration races.


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