Cool? Well what about the 100s part? Well that's easy. The distance of the trail, give or take (as is the nature of trail running events) is 100km. Why is the 100 pluralised with an 's'? There are two events running concurrently on the day, a 100km solo race and a 100km relay race, where two runners run approximately 50km each to make up the distance. Since the race originated in 2009 there were two events; a 100km and a 100 miler, however the 100 miler was removed in 2010 and replaced with the relay. Phew! Now that's out of the way, let's get into my race report.
Damien Smith and I had decided to travel down together by car, it made for great conversation and a relaxing journey stopping regularly for coffee and food at the outlets along the Hume Hwy. As was the plan, we rendezvoused with Shona at Avalon Airport at 15:00 on Friday, who had sensibly decided to fly down. While Damien and I had packed over cautiously, throwing in multiple shoes, gear and way too many supplements, Shona had fit everything into one big suitcase, strategically and confidently leaving a little room in it for booty. She wasn't going to get stung again by the Jetstar 14kg luggage policy as apparently after Surf Coast Century the trophies had put her 'over the limit'. Funny policy that. Even with her, her luggage and concrete boot she would weigh under the average Australian female.
We got out of the airport and soon found our way to the coast where Shona was pointing out parts of the route of the SCC. I was enjoying listening to the retelling of the race. No other runner I know can give as much detail as Shona can. Soon we passed under the Great Ocean Road gantry and were appreciating the brilliant scenery of this lovely drive. I have driven it before with Nadine a couple of years ago, but it was nice to see it all again. We arrived at Apollo Bay and after a bit of pfaffing around decided to check in our gear, then go back to our hostel before the briefing. Time was a little against us and it meant that I had not prepared my drop bags before we got to the briefing at the hotel. I was definitely looking like a rank amateur hastily spooning Hammer Perpetuem into my bottles (and on the floor) that were going in my dropbag, and chucking in an unprescribed amount of Hammer Gels into each one, along with some of the mandatory gear. Looking at Shona's dropbags, with flourescnet, easy to spot signage, told me I really should have prepared this earlier. But even the best made plans can go awry, as I counted Shona's dropbags to total 6. 6 bags don't fit into 4 checkpoints I told Shona, who had evidently been using an old map of the course when it did have 6 checkpoints to organise her bags. So at least now we both looked like rank amateurs and she went to work on her bags. Meanwhile Damo was relaxing enjoying his dinner reaping the benefits of being properly organised!
Back to the hostel, it was time to pack the race bag and lay out the gear. All the buzz was about the mud on the track and I was glad that I had packed my Inov-8 190's. I had planned to run in the new Inov-8 Trailroc 245s but the deal was sealed after seeing some photos that Race Assistant Brett Saxon had put up on Facebook (oh the benefits of social media!). Sharing the dorm with Damo, Shona and I was another runner Ruth and a Canadian backpacker who had to put up with hours of us (well mainly Shona and I) being indecisive about what pack to use. I switched from the UltrAspire Omega to the Surge, only then to settle on the Omega. Shona did the opposite and settled with the Surge. Ruth on the other hand was the epitomy of minimalist, to the point where 'shoes shmoes' was her mantra-yes she ended up running the track barefoot!
In with the earplugs and on with the eye mask, hostel experience coming in handy and thanks to Nadine for reminding me to bring them. Glad I did too as Shona was less than impressed with the Canadian girl the next morning who had quite the snore on her apparently! A brekkie of porridge, honey and coffee and I was ready for the day ahead. Dawn was lovely and still, a bit of moisture in the air but not terrible, all in all fantastic running conditions. Walking to the start line, we were picked up by Barefoot Ruth who gave us a lift to the line. A bit of pfaffing around as we assembled in the park at the start line. A huge anchor marks the starting position. The coast down here is nicknamed the 'Shipwreck Coast'. I was hoping that there would be no 'shipwrecks' on the run!
|The Inov-8 X-Talon 190's were the shoe of choice for both winners and
the 3rd place male too!
I had planned to run through CP1, starting with a full 2L bladder and well stocked up on Hammer Gels and Perpetuem, it was enough for me to get to the marathon distance of CP2. The guys at CP1 were still getting organised when I arrived and were a little shocked not to see me stop. Whippet escorted me up to the trail entry for the next leg with the departing words promising sweet windy single track all the way. He didn't disappoint either, it was the most wonderful little journey around the headlands and up and over the lush rainforest covered capes. The environment was stunning, it's here I encountered the first wallaby of the day, just one of a plethora of wildlife seen throughout the day.
Going down the stairs of Parker River Inlet I spotted Brett Saxon with his camera, and found I didn't really need to smile, I was enjoying this part of the track so much it would have been written all over my face. I was loving the soft, muddy surface and the 'hippy' manoeuvring I had to employ along the windy, twisty trail. It sure beats running endless kilometres on hard pack firetrail. I found my whole body was getting a huge workout, even my arms and shoulders as I used them as levers to swing me around tight turns.
|Descending into the Parker River Inlet
I didn't mind the beach running; although hindered by a strong headwind, it gives the legs a chance to run at a good steady rhythm. I crossed the river at the lowest point I could find but it was still high enough to soak the Inov-8's and I found the cold water a great relief for the achilles and calves. I shuffled up the soft sand and along the little road section to be met by Mel Gamble, Brett Saxon and a few others at the next checkpoint. I popped on the reflective vest and again reloaded the Perpetuem and Hammer Gels into the front pockets of the brilliant UltrAspire pack. I started up the climb and what a deceiving long ascent it is; all runnable but with a few sneaky false summits, it seemed to go forever. Turning onto the road to Malenesia Beach, it was like being back in a comfy chair, running on the smooth dirt road past the grazing fields. The long downhills approaching the beach were hurting the quads and I was noticing that the 4 minute kms were becoming harder and harder pull out, even on the steep descents.
The last section was again very tricky, but at least the footing had turned to crushed gravel instead of mud and I was actually now finding the X-Talons a little unnecessary. It was a long last 20km, just ticking off the kilometres on the gradually ascending hillocky section . With 5km to go I viewed the brilliance of the 12 Apostles in the dimming sunlight that the overcast day was offering and knew it was almost mission completed. Coming off the trail and onto the sealed road with a kilometre to go I was a spent force, reduced to a pretty slow jog up the last hill. I rounded the bend into the car park avoided a near miss with a tourist bus and crossed the finish line with hands raised in the air. A mix of joy and relief!
Once into some warm clothes, I got stuck into some food and drink and watch Damon and then travel buddy and good mate Damian Smith cross the finish line in a fine 3rd place! He is having a massive year, and as far as I know the only runner doing all the grand slam events this year. Not long after in came Shona, a mighty effort to back up only weeks after the Surf Coast Century. She looked pretty smashed but got the job done in fine form too by also beating the course record. She is having one hell of a year!
Back at the Port Campbell hostel, the host with the most, Tony, made sure we were all treated like running royalty and welcomed every runner back with Mars Bars and good humour. A quick shower and we went out for beer and pizza, no better way to top off a great night! We ended up eating with Mikio, the Japanese born American runner and a few others too. Back at he hostel, Tony organised a little beer collection and he ducked out and came back with a case of Victoria's finest. We all set around and had a couple into the night and recollected the day's events.
The next morning breakfast and presentations went smoothly and it was great to see all names of finishers recognised by Andy. It was surely a hard earned belt buckle! Damon Goerke and his wife Fleur offered us a lift back to Apollo Bay which we gladly accepted and we had a great time hearing about Damon's and Fleur's many adventures. A flat battery, jumper leads and half an hour late we were on our way back to Sydney.
|The coolest trophies ever!