Cobwebs and Spiders

One of most popular posts on Coolrunnings Trail and Mountain Running forum, in case you missed it: “Whilst running today through the bush I realised we need more trail runners – this has not come from some altruistic feeling of getting the nation fitter – I have purely selfish motives. I ate no less than five cobwebs today (thankfully ingesting no spiders but sampling a few spun flies) and it made me realise that even at 12pm I was the first runner to tread this Kuring gai chase trail today.

If we had more runners there would have been much more activity on this trail and I would not have had to crash through these spiders’ homes. I have devised a strategy to ward off webs which other runners in the same predicament may find helpful – a very light three foot stick waved in front whilst running anticipates and destroys any sticky obstructions – as long as the stick is light and you don’t mind looking like some tribal soothsayer laying rights then this is a highly effective remedy.

Anyone have any better solutions? Who will join my campaign to save the sticks and run the trails?


We have a mate who, on early Sunday morning trail runs, has been known to pull aside to ‘tie his shoe lace’ upon seeing a spider web ahead while leading the run, leaving the unsuspecting person behind him to crash through and clear the way for him.

I am terrified of spiders, so I am a stick wielder myself!!




What an unchivalrous coxcomb! If I knew a web was coming I would use any or all of me to clear the path.

Of course, there would be some ladies who might proffer a gentleman forward without telling him of the possibility (much like she might do with a stick) – but thankfully, these individuals are few and far between.



Perhaps you guys should run on roads!!!

I have always found it a pleasure to break through spider webs on a run. Lots of old spider webs is a good sign that nobody has been through recently, and so there is probably a better than normal chance of meeting some unsuspecting wildlife. Spotting a couple of wallabies, a diamond python, an echidna or a couple of lyre birds is often a highlight of a trail run.



Don’t get me wrong, I love the wildlife I see, but I have a overwhelming fear of spiders for some reason, just looking at pictures of them makes me feel ill!

I love the water monitor dragons we have here in Glenrock, but I also regulally see echidnas, blue tounges, a scrub turkey, and snakes.



That’s why you are meant to run in groups in the bush – karmic retribution – the faster runners get all the cobwebs and wet branches.


Whippet gal

I’m more interested in having a fail-safe method of clearing the track of snakes before I get there. The high pitched squeals I emit upon seeing one could wake the dead. They do, however, force me into some fartlek training!


Paul Every

Felisaffie and LBP, if you wish to overcome your fear of spiders, I would suggest you check out Taronga Zoo’s “Fearless at Taronga” program. The Zoo runs highly effective courses enabling those genuinely phobic of snakes or spiders to overcome their fears.

Next dates for spiders are 7/2/08 and 9/2/08, and for reptiles on 6/2/08.

If you are interested, check out and follow the links through Education/Taronga/Public Programs. I’ve never been to any of the courses, but work with Warwick, who initiated the spider course, and previously worked with several of the guys involved with the snake courses. They have recounted various stories of extremely phobic people leaving the course comfortable with handling spiders and snakes. I understand that this level of success is the norm. On one occasion a woman had severe physical and psychological stress upon seeing a stylised metal ‘spider’ broach on another attendee, and at a reptile course, another woman was deeply disturbed when the letter ‘S’ (because of its snake-like) was written on a whiteboard. Both were content to happily fondle the little beasties by the end of their evenings at the Zoo.

The process and progress through the courses is gradual and each participant is given individual attention. Courses involve a psycholgist working in conjunction with experienced and knowledgeable keepers.

I don’t want this to sound like an ad for my employer, but rather I just wanted to let you know that there is opportunity to live the rest of your life feeling at ease and comfortable when in the presence of spiders, even on those sudden, unexpected occasions that inevitably occur.

Perhaps Melbourne Zoo run a similar course for you Felasaffie? Or perhaps you could see if the Fearless course coincides with a Sydney race you may wish to run? (Six Foot Track?)

Maybe it could be a suggestion if friends and family are asking you “What do you want for Xmas?”

Just on an aside, one of the reptile keepers involved is sh!t scared of flying. He is a great keeper, and extremely relaxed and competant with handling venomous snakes. But put him on a plane, that REALLY petrifies him. When the movie “Snakes on a Plane” was released a couple of years ago, I think he was the only one in the cinema quivering in his seat and covering his eyes every time a plane came on screen!



I work as a landscape gardener, and I have found that the spider is the natural enemy of the landscape gardener and that the shovel is the natural enemy of the spider. Either way, take me out on a run and the spiders and I will duke it out til the bitter end leaving you safe to run spider free.




Loved that story!

Nothing to do with running but some years ago I had a business friend whose inability to fly was causing him career problems. I arranged with Qantas for us to spend time at the airport, to sit in empty planes, watch take offs etc. It took some time but we did take a flight together and he no longer has a problem. Not sure if the airlines allow this any more with increased security but could be worth a call. No-one should have to live with such fears



Long ago and far away in the land of Aotearoa (the long white cloud) (yes that’s nz) – and before the miracle of modern drugs encouraged us to buy our health fix at the local chemical superstore – Maori used to gather cobwebs from the bush deliberately.

They used them to cover wounds because they have an anti-bacterial effect – so cobwebs could actually be doing good on those cuts and scratches you pick up in the bush!



Paul – Could you tell us whether any of the usual suspects for trail spanning webs are venemous and/or aggressive to the point of being dangerous? I like trail running and often go at either dawn or after dusk and have scraped many a sticky web (and its inhabitant) from my face. While I get the heebies from it big time, I comfort myself with the thought that the dangerous ones are all on the ground. Am I wrong?


undercover brother

nasties are…

1. red backs: 1 reported death in the last 50years (a small child with multiple bites), quite a few need antivenom for pain++. arent in middle of the trail – hang around in garden sheds, under pots and bins etc… where youre unlikely to check befoe touching!

2. funnelwebs: more general symptoms such as nausea and abdo cramps, sweating etc… a few deaths from these. there are a few in brissie now mainly to the west/northwest. similarly not in a web in the middle of the trail. if they get cross they have been known to chase runners down the trail doing 3min/kms tho!



I get bitten by spiders at work on an almost daily basis. Usually the bites are quite malign, slightly more annoying than a mosquito bite. Sometimes you get a slight infection. Even a redback bite doesn’t really do that much to me (probably because of my size). And though I have ‘terminated’ a few funnelwebs, none have managed to bite me yet. But after all these spider bites I am still waiting to develop some super powers