Recently I competed as a team of 3 in an incredible event called the Surf Coast Century. It was a race that mapped out a 100km course around Anglesea along the Great Ocean Road. You could enter it solo, as a duo, or as a team of 3 or 4 individuals.
To state the obvious – 100km is a long, long way. To attempt to cover it on foot is a whole new level of crazy. Approximately 700 people competed in the event held down at picturesque Anglesea; it was an amazing weekend I’ll never forget.
The first thing you realise when you spend time with people that compete in distance trail running events is how positive they are. After a while it starts to rub off, everyone begins to believe, you start to think things are possible that were previously never within your reach. For someone like myself, I start to believe that there is room for improvement in these tired old legs yet, that I can work hard I might achieve anything that I set my mind to.
The course was divided up into 4 legs, the first leg which I was assigned to run was a tough 21km along the rugged coastline between Anglesea and Torquay. For those familiar with that area, it predominantly ran between the ocean and the cliffs. First leg commenced at 6am in the morning, so getting out of bed at 4:15am to prepare was a big enough challenge on its own. I was very lucky to have my wife and my two oldest children wake up to see me take off in the blackness of the beach before the sun rose. As the gun went off, all runners were lined up together behind the start line, and we took off to complete a short 4km loop before returning to the start and commencing the run along the beach towards Torquay. It was by far the most spectacular sunrise I had ever seen.
Along the way I chatted to people that were elite athletes, international travellers, amateur runners, first time runners. All these people believed in what they did, they were mentally prepared for the monumental task that lay before them. I made it to the checkpoint in good time and handed over to my team mate to run the 2nd leg back to Anglesea, at which point he then handed over to the final runner in our team who was running the final 51km to become something he had dreamt about for the last 12 months – an Ultra Marathon runner. It was inspirational.
We completed the course in 12 hours and 5 minutes. The fastest ‘elite’ solo runners completed it in less than 8 hours, with the majority of solo runners taking between 10 and 20 hours to complete the course. When the weekend was completed, we hardly needed to speak to each other to know that we all harboured a deep, crazy, stupid desire to complete the full 100km course on our own next year.
So 19th September 2015 is already marked in the calendar :)