Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival – Multi-Day 2020 Report

  • Location: Mount Martha, Victoria, Australia
  • Time(s):
    • 1.5km – 00:05:49
    • 6km – 00:29:37
    • 14km – 01:08:13
    • 23km – 01:55:55 (25km 02:05:55)
    • 44km – 05:06:06 (42.2km 04:52:06)
    • 60km – 05:36:36
  • Overall Place:
    • 1.5km – 2/36 (Virtual Run)
    • 6km – 10/120 (Virtual Run)
    • 14km – 14/163 (Virtual Run)
    • 23km – 41/256 (Virtual Run)
    • 44km – 107/140 (Virtual Run)
    • 60km – 19/75 (Virtual Run)

Back in May 2020 when I completed my first virtual ultramarathon, The Great Ocean Road Running Festival #1 I thought I’d be back on the trails running with other competitors in real events by this time, but apparently not. A second COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria led to a longer and stricter lockdown which has seemingly but an end to any hopes I’d be running a real event in 2020. With that came the second edition of the Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival. This time I wanted to challenge myself beyond just a 60km run and with that came the idea of running every distance of the virtual running festival. Competitors had 10 days to finish their elected distance, so I had 10 days to finish; a 1.5km run, 6km run, 14km run, 23km run, 44km run and 60km run. It wasn’t as big as a challenge as running a 100 km ultra or 100 miler but at this point I just needed something that’d be a significant challenge. Adding to the challenge, I’d just come off a 1-2 week running break due to tightness and overuse injuries that ended up preventing me from being able to run at all. I was still struggling with these issues but unlike a couple weeks prior I could run. Another thing was I wanted to finish all the runs in 3 days instead of 10 to further challenge myself, but due to work I had to settle on 5 days. The idea was to just finish and not race these races as I couldn’t run fast. So in summary the goal was to finish all distances in 5 days.

The plan was as follows:

  • Friday the 21st of August: Run the 14km & 1.5km after work
  • Saturday the 22nd of August: Run the 44km (no work)
  • Sunday the 23rd of August: Run the 6km before work & 23km after work
  • Monday the 23th of August: Work/Rest
  • Tuesday the 24th of August: Run the 60km (no work)

14km & 1.5km

Friday – 21st of August 2020

It’d nearly been two weeks since I ran due to some chronic tightness and overuse injuries. I was still tight and running wasn’t comfortable, I really should’ve waited another week before running again but the 21st marked the first day of The Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival so I’d ran out of time to heal. The plan was to ease my way into it and run the 14km easy to see where I was at, if I was still feeling alright I’d run the 1.5km afterwards at a faster pace. So once back from work and getting in a solid meal and rolling out my hips and quads with the massage ball I started the run. Off the bat I was sore and uncomfortable, my inner thigh on my right leg giving me pain however unlike a couple weeks ago it wasn’t getting worse which in my mind gave me the green light to keep going. With that being said the run really was’t enjoyable, I was bothered the whole time with constant aches and pains across the hips, glutes and intro thighs. I tried shortening my stride, lengthening my stride, running slower, running faster, running on my toes, running on my heels, I just wanted to ease the discomfort with any means necessary. The run itself wasn’t difficult, a pretty flat route along the local footpath next to a road, pretty much your typical training road run, no trails in site. Besides the discomfort the run went smoothly and according to plan. I was maintaining a slow 4’45” pace most of the time whilst managing to not make my aches and pains any worse so it was a win. By the end I was still feeling alright so decided it was ok to add on the 1.5km. This was the only time the pain got worse and that’s because I tried running fast, running the 1.5km at a pace of 3’52”. Towards the end of the 1.5km I started to limp a little but finished just before it became a real problem, this in conjunction with the constant aches and pains during the first 14km showed me two things. The first thing, I could continue running and attempt to finish all distances of The Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival however it wasn’t going to be fun. The second thing, I need to get rid of my ego and recognise that I will not be running fast, as thats when I start aggravating my problems. So with that in mind once I finished the 14km and 1.5km I went straight home and stretched!! I stretched for a good hour or so, in particular I worked on my IT bands, quads and hips. Tomorrow I was running the marathon and I wanted to run it as comfortable as possible which meant being as loose as possible.

44km (42.2km)

Saturday – 21ST OF AUGUST 2020

Waking up early Saturday morning I was quite achy from yesterdays run and questioned whether I should be running this day. I tried running up and back in the backyard and couldn’t do so without limping, however hoped it was just because I was super tight. I gave the hips, IT band and quads a roll out with the massage ball hoping it’d help. It sure did! I got instant relief, I was still achy but my movements where much more fluid, I wasn’t getting nerve pain down the sides of thighs and my hips and glutes weren’t pinchy. Happy with how I know felt I took off, by this time it was already 8am due to all the stretching and foam ball rolling I did. It was pouring down and pretty cold, I left the house with my beanie, pants and thin layered jumper. I knew I’d warm up but I needed to leave the house warm otherwise my legs niggles and tightness would be exacerbated. I also hoped running in warm clothes would encourage me not to push it if I did start to feel better. The first 5km was not pretty, I ran the same path I ran along for the 14km, however this time at around the 5km mark I made a right turn across the road towards a local heritage railway track, The Mornington Railway. The plan was to run along the railway for a while, running along the old railway is as close to a trail run as you get in Mornington. No roads, dirt walking paths on either of the railway, no infrastructure besides the railway itself and plenty of bushes and tress. Coincidently as soon as I got on the old railway track my aches and pains numbed a little which made the run much more enjoyable. By this time even though it was hailing and cold outside I started to overheat, and had to take off my beanie. I ran beanie in hand, in the pouring rain along the railway track for a good 4km. By the time I ran 4km on the railway I was at around the 9km mark of the run. It was around here when I got off the railway and made a left into a park called the Mount Eliza Regional Park. Running straight through Mount Eliza Regional Park I made my way onto some gravel trails into an old quarry called Moorooduc Quarry. The Moorooduc Quarry is great because it offers a 1-2km loop along trails that have you running up some steep steps before turning and running around and down some more gradual steps, each lap offers around 80m of accumulative elevation. The quarry loop is a legit trail run, with trees surrounding you and an uneven path that becomes covered in puddles and mud. I ran 5-6 laps around the quarry, at first I was running up the steps but by the last couple laps I was unapologetically walking up the same steps. I should mention I met up with a mate at Mount Eliza Regional Park so we were running up and down this bloody quarry together, in the hail. Funnily enough although it was tough I really enjoyed it. By the last lap my quads were gone, not used to running up and down hills consecutively. I was also feeling pretty thirsty but hadn’t bought any food or water because I’m an idiot. Running out of the quarry and through Mount Eliza Regional Park I looked down at my watch, I’d run 23km which had taken me 2 hours and 23 minutes. The plan now was to run with my mate along a walking track called The Peninsula Link Track before getting to he’s house. From he’s house we could stop for a second and I could get something to drink. From there we’d run a local 5km loop around another local park near he’s house called Baxter Park. So with that being the plan we came out of Mount Eliza Regional Park ad began running along The Peninsula Walking Track. Running along The Peninsula Link Track back to my mates house was an approximate 5km, when you combine this with the planned 5km around Baxter park I would’ve run far enough to start running home to get the marathon distance. Running along The Peninsula Link Track back to he’s hurt, the track was easy but my quads were trashed, this had never happened to me before. I had an insane pump and had to start walking, the best way I could describe it was the last few reps on a leg press machine or barbell squat, when all you want to do is stop the burning as you feel your legs about to explode. It was still pouring down too. After a slow 5km run/walk back to my mates house we arrived at the 27 km mark. I couldn’t believe how f**ked I was, I’d run 100 miles with 10,000m+ accumulative ascent before and yet here I was struggling to run a marathon with less than 1000m! Luckily once we arrived at my mates the legend saved my a** and gave me something to drink. We were still running though so only stopped a couple minutes like you would an aid station. So with 15km left we left his house and starting running the 5km loop around Baxter Park. Baxter Park was a large park that was home to 3-4 football ovals in addition to a horse obstacle training area, however more importantly to us it offered a decent trail to run along on the outskirts which would give us a 5km loop. Slightly hilled we made our way around the loop, it was muddy as hell and still pouring. The first part I had to walk a significant amount because my legs were still trashed, luckily the last 2km was on a slight decline so for the first time in a couple hours I could run without my legs feeling like they were blowing up. The one positive thing was my aches and pains had subsided since running up and down the quarry. Once we finished the 5km loop around Baxter Park I’d ran around 32km, which meant I only 10km left until I reached the marathon distance. This worked perfectly because if I ran the same way back home as the way I came I’d easily get 42km. So thats what I did, once we finished the Baxter 5km loop I said goodbye to my mate and made my way back along The Peninsula Link Track. I was also lucky in that The Peninsula Link Track ran alongside the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, this was lucky because there was a petrol station along the freeway which meant I could make a stop and get something to eat because I was starting to get dizzy. I felt like a ghost as I made my way into the petrol station, like I really was going to collapse. I bought a zero sugar monster energy drink, a Carman Oat Slice bar and a Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar to get some glucose in me. I walked the next 1-2km, eating and drinking to give me some energy to finish the run, I instantly felt better. Once I’d eaten everything I took off once again, in the rain that only seemed to get heavier. I ran back along The Peninsula Link Track before passing Mount Eliza Regional Park and making my way back onto the railway. Running along the railway my aches and pains started coming back as I got tighter, come on I said to myself only 4km more to go. I knew I’d make it at this stage but I was exhausted and hurting, this would be my slowest marathon in my life by over an hour. It was a reminder of how tight and messed up I was but I was happy I could at least run again, unlike a coupe weeks back. 38km, 39km, 40km I was nearly there and by 40km I was off the railway and back onto the path next to the road. I was stoked to find I wouldn’t need to run all the way home and instead could stop after only 2 more km and then call my dad to pick me up. So in the pouring rain I dragged my sore ass for the last 2km. 42.2km I did it, marathon done, I stopped called my dad and drove home. Marathon done, once home I stretched for two hours. I was hurting but it didn’t feel I’d done any damage so gave myself the ok to run the following day. However on a downer note I realised that for the Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival the marathon was 44km not the standard 42.2km which meant I was 1.8km short, f**k!!! So with that in mind I decided I’d add an extra 2km when running the 23km half marathon the next day, which meant I’d be running a 6km in the morning before work and 25km in the afternoon afterwork. This was not going to be fun.

6km & 23km (25km)

Sunday – 22nd of August 2020

To my surprise I woke up Sunday morning feeling pretty good, I was actually tighter and sorer the previous day before the marathon. This was greatly appreciated as it’d make todays runs a lot more enjoyable. I had half a days work this day so the plan was to run an easy 6km in the morning, go to work and then run the 25km in the afternoon. So with that being said once I had breakfast and allowed the food to digest a little bit I head off slowly to run the 6km. The plan was to run an out and back, 3 km along the streets and back. Starting at 6:30am I head off, it wasn’t raining like the previous day and although I was still tight it felt better than the start of the the previous days run too, so that was good. Nothing really exciting happened, it was a quiet, easy 6km. Hardly any people out running or walking, This 6km run was probably the best my body felt out of all the runs thus far, so for that I was appreciative. Run 4/6 done.

Coming back from work (a construction site, site clean) it was time to get in the second run for the day and fifth run of The Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival. I started the run at around 2:30pm, the plan was to run another out and back. Keeping it simple I was going to run the exact same way for 12.5km as I did with the marathon, however I wouldn’t run the quarry loop or Baxter Park. So that meant I’d run along the streets until I got to the turn off which led me onto the railway which then took me past Mount Eliza Regional Park and onto The Peninsula Link Track. Since it was an out and back I’d turn around as soon as I hit the 12.5km mark, which I predicted would be somewhere along The Peninsula Link Track. It was a decent afternoon constantly changing between sunny and overcast however it was windy. The part that sucked however was I was mentally pretty drained and my hips and thighs had tightened on me again which gave me nerve pain and inner groin pain. Just like the 14km these pains never went away. The whole run was a mental grind, I didn’t want to run, I wasn’t enjoying it but it had to be done. My knees also started to ache as I ran along the railway as the uneven, rock filled surface made my knees constantly buckle and my legs stumble. It was slow going but eventually I’d ran 12.5km which ended up being just past the petrol station on The Peninsula Link Track along The Mornington Peninsula Freeway, the petrol station where I stopped to get food during the marathon. Soon as I saw I’d run 12.5km I turned around and starting making my way back. There was a lot of people on The Peninsula Link Track unlike the previous day. The previous day there was no one which made sense as it was hailing down. Running so slow with people in my presence hurt my ego, I’m not going to lie and this made me hate the run even more because I felt embarrassed, which I know is really stupid but its how I honestly felt. Eventually though I got off The Peninsula Link Track and made my way back onto the railway. Slowly but surely I ran along the railway and eventually got back to the streets where the last 5km home began. Around 30 minutes later I arrived home, mentally drained but happy to have finished 6/7 of The Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival Runs. One more left, the 60km.

60km

Tuesday – 24th of August 2020

The longest and last run, having had work all day the previous day I had to skip Monday and run Tuesday. Although it would’ve been nice to run all distances in 4 consecutive days I was secretly happy I had the Monday to heal. I’m not sure how the 60km would’ve turned out if I didn’t rest the Monday because my right inner thigh and hip weren’t doing so well, to the point were I didn’t have the strength to bodyweight lunge on that side, so rest was nice. Although training chest and shoulders, and being a bricklayers labourer isn’t much of a rest day, at least my hips and legs got some healing time. I spent a good 2 hours on Monday stretching and rolling out knots around my quads and hips with the massage ball. On Tuesday I got up at 4am to get in breakfast and do some more rolling out with the massage ball before the 60km. By this stage my hip and inner thigh were not pain free but a lot better, at 6am I took off starting the 60km. The plan with the 60km was to run a 20km loop which took me up and down some local hills before getting me to run along a gravel path above the beach, from there I’d make my way back onto the same railway I ran on for the 23km and 45km and keep going, eventually making my way back onto The Peninsula Link Track. Then I’d continue running along The Peninsula Link Track until I got to my mates who I ran part of the marathon with, where from there I’d turn back around and make my way back along The Peninsula Link Track, onto the railway and head back to my house the same way I came back on the 23km run. Once back home I should’ve run approx. 43km which meant I had to add another 17km to make 60km. So the plan was to then start the loop all over again running up and down the local hills which took me back to the gravelled path above the beach, however since I’d only have 17km to run I’d cut the loop in half and run back home early, by this point I should’ve run 60km. So off I went, I was slow but was feeling pretty good, averaging a 5’00” pace for the first 20km. It was a beautiful morning as I took off in darkness and as the sun began to rise, perfect temperature for running. I should mention here that I brought no food or water once again however brought my debit card and planned to stop at petrol stations when needed. Before I knew I’d ran the first 20km loop, made my way onto the railway, The Peninsula Link Track and then to my mates. I didn’t make any stops for food or water. Running past my mates had me at the 29km mark, I’d been running for approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes and needed a drink at this point and some food, so as I made my way back onto The Peninsula Link Track from my mates I stopped at the same petrol station I stopped at with the marathon and bought the exact same food items, a Carman Oat Slice bar and Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bar, however for drinks instead of buying a monster energy drink this time I bought a Coke Zero because I didn’t want to crash halfway through the run. Once I downed the food and drink I started running again, it was still a beautiful sunny morning but as I hit the 32km mark I was really starting to feel the overwhelming fact that I still had 28km to go, and I’d been running for nearly 3 hours at this point. I feel like you get to this stage with every ultramarathon, when your a little over halfway and feeling pretty tired and come to the realisation you’ve still got a fair way to go. It sucks but with experience you know the feeling goes away and eventually you forget about it, as your mind seems to numb the thought of the daunting task ahead. So with that being said before I knew it I was at around the 38km mark and taking my second stop at another petrol station to buy another drink just as I got off the railway tracks. From there I made the run home where I again stopped for another drink and had a quick toilet break. 43km down, 17km to go, this is when I could start to feel the finish line, I’d been running for nearly 4 hours at this stage. My hip/inner thigh niggles had stayed consistently quiet for majority of the run so far which was nice. There was some discomfort but not pain however I was feeling an overwhelming feeling of fatigue. As an ultra-runner though you get used to this. So at the 43km mark I left my house and started the run all over again however this time it was daylight and I’d already ran 43km. I followed the exact same route, up and down some hills before making my way back onto the gravel path above the beach. However this time I cut the loop short and started making my way home after running 4km along the gravel path. I’d ran 56km at this stage and was feeling horrible. Luckily there was a milk bar by which I stopped at and got a another Coke Zero from, quickly downing 600ML in under a minute. I only had 3-4km to go but the way I felt it could’ve been another 20km. On my last legs I dragged my a** home and was relived to discover that I wouldn’t need to run any further to get the 60km. By the time I got home I was a little bit over 59km so just had to run up and down my street a little bit to get the 60km, it felt I couldn’t have run any further than that, which I knew wasn’t true but the point is, I was completely fatigued. In 5 hours, 36 minutes and 36 seconds I’d finished the 60km. I walked inside and was to exhausted to grab a drink and wasn’t hungry, all I had was the urge to lie down and close my eyes, just talking felt like a chore. And there you have it run 6/6 done! I’d finished every run The Great Ocean Road Virtual Running Festival had to offer with 5 days to spare. It was not my best work, in fact it was incredibly slow and none of the runs actually felt good. The whole time I was tight and sore and also uncharacteristlcally fatigued. This whole “race report” make me feel like a little bi**h with all my complaining. It was a poor performance but I was proud I finished all the runs in those kind of circumstances. It reminded me that I was nowhere near my limits and still have a long way to go before I even come close.

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