surf coast trail marathon – not a race recap

It was one of my running goals this year to not run. Odd, I know. I wanted to make sure I gave up some of my potential runs and chose to volunteer instead. The running community has given me so much over the last few years, I wanted to be able to give something back and make sure others could experience what I have. Hence why I didn’t run the Surf Coast trail half marathon today but instead chose to don a high vis vest and volunteer instead.

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Sunrise from our briefing point in Torquay

For those who haven’t volunteered at a running event before, it’s not hard. I was a marshal today which involved turning up for briefing (easy), finding my given marshal point (quite easy) and raising my arm every now and then to point in the appropriate direction, accompanied by cheering and words of encouragement (very easy). The hardest part was probably not running although I did quite a lot of pacing around to keep myself warm while I waited enthusiastically for some runners to cheer on.

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My marshal point

In fact, I’m actually quite enamoured with this whole volunteering thing. You get a whole different perspective on running, events and the human spirit. I saw fast runners today for whom the whole thing looked completely effortless. And many of them gave up some much needed breathing time to thank me for volunteering.

I saw a whole range of different runners with different styles and different levels of concentration and pain on their faces. I saw some runners at the back of the pack who I thought were just amazing. It’s one thing to run with a group of people around you for motivation or with crowds awaiting you at the aid stations. It’s quite another to be out there almost alone, knowing you’ll be out there for twice as long as the ones at the front. All running requires you to draw deep but I feel like that sort of running requires you to draw into a magical well of miraculous depth. A well that most of us never have to find out whether we have access to. So my loudest and most enthusiastic cheers of the day went to those runners who had been out on the course the longest.

And, when the sweepers came through, letting me know that my shift was over, I headed along to the next aid station to continue cheering people on and gaining further appreciation for the human spirit as I watched runners wading across a river on the course which they probably hadn’t realised was going to be there. Resulting in my very wet feet thanks to the king tide that engulfed them when I was paying more attention to the runners than I was to where I was standing. All in the name of running fun.

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So, all in all, a very successful volunteering experience. If you haven’t volunteered at an event before, do it. Not as daunting as you’d think and a great way to spend a few hours. A huge congratulations to every single runner out there on the course today – you’re all simply incredible 🙂

 

 

Hoka One One Trail event #4 – Anglesea

After adding ‘run a trail event’ to my goals for this year, I’ve managed to not just run one but quite a few, thanks mostly to the Hoka series of trail events. Last weekend I ran #4 of the 5 event series at Anglesea. This was timed to occur the day after the Surf Coast Century event so it was a massive weekend for trail running and had an atmosphere to match. I was running this without the usual crowd of running buddies so it was a little different for me – not bad, just different. Start lines with friends are about shared chatter and excitement, motivational talk and lots of pictures. Start lines alone are about quiet contemplation, positive self talk and taking it all in. This particular start line was on the beach which added to the whole zen thing. Again, it’s funny to think how far I’ve come as beach running used to terrify me. Now it’s just a bit of a pain but nothing I can’t handle….slowly!

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Start lines don’t get much more picturesque than this

Warm up done, we were off and running along a bit of the beach before turning back past the start to then head up into the trees.

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The first part of the course looked familiar from the Surf Coast trail half which was good as I don’t know Anglesea in general and really couldn’t picture where I was. After running along the edge of the caravan park, the trail took us into the bushland and, after a short while, up a rather steep hill that started at the football ground. It certainly wasn’t as sharp and nasty as the hill at Silvan but was challenging enough and slowed me right down.

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Photo courtesy of Supersport Images

Once we were on the other side of it (and I had more oxygen to spare), I could give more attention to the scenery around me, especially as I was pretty much out there on my own. It was a real mix of very skinny single tracks and wide roads as well as some weaving amongst buildings at the local Scout camp. Very scenic.

Soon enough, I rejoined the main trail where the long, medium and short courses converged and was heading back along the Surf Coast walk. Back down onto the beach then along the soft sand and into the finish chute. Thanks to the location and it being part of a trail festival weekend, there were more people at the finish than usual which gave me the motivation needed to get myself over the line.

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Another great event in a fantastic location. What I’ve been loving about this series of runs is the variety of scenery and terrain that you run through – challenging enough for the experienced and fast mountain goats but also perfect for trail newbies like myself. One more event in the series to go which I am looking forward to immensely – the night run back at Studley Park later in September.

More exploring on the surf coast trail

I find it harder to get myself moving and out the door for a run during school holidays. That seems really odd – after all, I have time on my hands but I think that’s actually the problem. With all that time, there’s no hurry, no need to cram a run into a small slot. I can procrastinate to my heart’s content, knowing I can always get it done later. Then later comes and I don’t feel like it.

Today was like that. I didn’t make it to parkrun yesterday so knew I needed to get out there today but couldn’t decide where. There’s a chunk of the surf coast walk I’ve wanted to do for ages (since I started on the trail a looooong time ago) but wasn’t sure if I was up to it. I let my husband convince me that I was.

This section, from Bells Beach to Ironbark Basin, is not particular challenging and is very different to the previous sections I’ve done, running inland after a very short bit of sand running. It’s a gradual climb up some steps and mild hills into the trees then it’s gentle undulations from there.

It was exactly what I needed. Closely blanketed all around by trees and bushland and with a light rain falling, it was the perfect day and perfect trail to clear my head and remind me why I do this.

 

back on the trail…

When I saw that today’s weather was forecast to be a sunny, blue skied day (coming at the end of a week of Autumn drizzle), I knew I had to make the most of it and get back out on the trails.

I headed down to Torquay and picked up where I stopped last time I went on the Surfcoast walk. There were lots and lots of families, walkers, runners and riders out enjoying the sunshine so the first part through Torquay was a bit of a ducking and weaving exercise. However, once I was heading away from town towards Jan Juc, the people mostly disappeared.

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The scenery on this part of the trail is absolutely stunning. Once you’re around the boardwalk at Jan Juc, the trail climbs slowly up onto the cliffs and you are rewarded for your efforts with frequent, breathtaking views of the Southern Ocean.

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This part of the trail is a combination of surfaces – concrete, dirt and sand. The sand parts in this section are short and easy – they were actually a lot of fun as I can’t say I have huge experience of running in sand and it took me a while to figure out the best technique (in case you’re wondering – landing on my forefoot, like I do when going up hills!). I still ended up with shoes full of the stuff – I’m assuming that’s just an accepted hazard that I’ll have to get used to!

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There are also some hills on this section but not particularly big ones and the downhills make up for it 🙂

My achilles was starting to make its presence felt on the last km coming into Bells Beach so I was glad to be stopping there and waiting for my husband taxi service to collect me. Bells is as popular as ever with the car parks full of temporary wetsuit changing techniques (mostly involving a towel and the occasional accidental flash of flesh) and the waves dotted with surfers, bobbing up and down, waiting for the next amazing wave. I can’t say I like swimming in the ocean but I found it very relaxing sitting and watching them.

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So, another section done. I believe the next part heads into much more of a traditional trail – away from civilisation and into more rugged territory. Bring it on!

out on the trails

On Sunday, I decided to give trail running a try, something I’ve wanted to do for ages. I headed down the coast to Torquay where the Surf Coast Walk begins. Having driven the Great Ocean Road many times, I knew how stunning the scenery was down there and looked forward to getting out on the trail.

The trail starts at the end of a dirt track at Point Impossible which is a hidden spot, popular with surfers and the odd fisherman.

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There is a good car park and a toilet at the start of the walk along with a map and information about the trail.

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The first section to Torquay is 6km and starts out on this…

wpid-20150503_134223.jpg… a loooong trail disappearing into the surrounding scrubland. I had the trail to myself and felt like I was alone on the planet, with just a few birds and mysterious animals scrabbling in the bushes for company. Bliss.

After a short way, the trail joined a corrugated road which brought back some semblance of civilization in the form of a couple of cars but there was plenty of room for all of us. Still no glimpses of the ocean with a large, scrub covered sand dune between me and it. And a ‘clothing optional’ beach on the other side, if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

wpid-20150503_135850.jpgAbout halfway along the section, I ended up at White’s Beach and hit the outskirts of Torquay, with sneaky beach views on one side and stunning beach houses on the other as I wound through the sculpted paths.

wpid-20150503_140925.jpgI really liked this section – windy enough to make me not feel like it was an endless path and with enough variety in scenery to distract me.

wpid-20150503_142949.jpgWeaving down closer to the beach, you can detour and have some sand running (if that’s your thing!) but I stuck to the path and just stopped for a picture or two.

The last part of this section takes you pretty much past the main street of Torquay and, if you were after a break, would be the perfect place to stop at one of the tempting cafes or restaurants.

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So, for a first trail experience, I loved it. I know it was a very tame trail but has given me a taste for it and I intend to head back and pick up where I left off, taking on the next few sections. Stay tuned for more adventures!