Two Bays Trail Run – 56km 2021 Report

  • Location: Cape Schanck, Victoria, Australia
  • Time: 04:37:22
  • Date: 17/01/21
  • Overall Place: 4/269
  • Full Results

First ultramarathon for 2021! And what a great one it was. Rohan, Kate and crew has once again pulled off another spectacular Two Bays, even amongst the COVID-19 craziness. The Two Bays Trail Run community spirit was alive and well, from the amazingly cheery and helpful volunteers, encouraging spectators, good spirited competitors, spectacular views on course, perfect conditions and even a pirate traffic marshal! Such a quirky but positive vibe! This was my second Two Bays Trail Run and both times theirs been a unique quirky but positive community vibe that no other event could replicate, it really does kind of feel like a family get together with over 1000 members! Rohan, Kate and crew have something really special with Two Bays, and not even COVID-19 could ruin it!

My original plan for the weekend was to complete Bogong to Hotham 64km on the Saturday and back it up with Two Bays Trail Run 56km on the Sunday. Racing neither but just trying to finish back to back ultras, however due to COVID-19 related issues Bogong to Hotham was cancelled which to be honest was a blessing in disguise. With Bogong to Hotham cancelled I decided to set myself two goals for the Two Bays Trail Run, first one; beat last years time and sub 5 hours with the optimistic hope of maybe subbing 4 hours 45 minutes, and second one; place top 20. I thought both goals where optimistic but also realistic if I pushed. Quick spoilers, I managed to achieve both goals and actually did better than anticipated, coming fourth and getting a time of 04:37:22.

Alright enough of the intro, time to get to the race report.

It was a mild Sunday morning perfect running conditions, sun out but fresh. I arrived at the 56km start pen near the infamous Cape Schanck Lighthouse at around 6:50am, after a quick 25 minute drive from my house in Mount Martha. The Two Bays Trail Run is the only local ultramarathon on the Peninsula so it was great to have a little bit of a sleep in (4:30am), and to only have a short drive. Even better my amazing mum woke up early to drive me down. Soon as we arrived I was instantly hit with the familiar Two Bays Trail Run vibe, you know the one, that positive, quirky, family get together vibe. Hundreds of friendly faces, many familiar, many not so familiar were gathered around the starting pen area. On arrival I had a quick chat to some mates (shout out to Cam and Tiann), took a few photos, talked to my mum a little and before I knew it, it was time to get ready to start. Due to COVID-19 we’d be starting in waves with wave 1 starting at 7:10am (I really liked the wave starts). I was in wave 2 which was set to take off 2 minutes after wave 1, to be honest I’d hoped to be in wave 1 as I thought my goal time would put me amongst the wave 1 runners, however I wasn’t sure I could actually get my goal time so didn’t want to harass the organisers to be moved from wave 2 to wave 1. I also thought it’d be arrogant of me to think I’d be faster than any other runner in wave 1, I mean what makes me think I’m so special I should replace someone else in wave 1? Anyway I knew I had no hope of a podium finish so reminded myself that being in wave 2 wouldn’t hinder my actual time, as the times were still based on our timing chips, not gun start, gun start only mattered for top 3 places. So at 7:10am I watched the wave 1 runners take off with a little bit of envy which kind of shows my immaturity. I used that envy as fuel though, it gave me a little bit of an underdog feeling, a chip on the shoulder. Anyway after hugging my mum goodbye I got myself to the starting pen for the 7:12am wave 2 start and before I knew it we were off!!! I took off pretty quick, letting out that pre-run anxiety and was surprised to see myself leaving the other wave 2 runners behind me. It feels so odd and wrong to be at the front of the pack, it feels like I’m an imposter, like what am I doing at the front? I must be pushing too hard, I don’t belong here. Anyway it was what it was, and I did the best I could to let go of those negative thoughts as I followed the coastal, single track trail of sand and ups and downs along Bushrangers Bay Walking Track…..quick pause to take a moment for the amazing views of the coast at Bushrangers Bay. I overtook quite a few wave 1 runners over the first 5km along Bushrangers Bay which surprised me, but at the same time motivated me and kept the inner fire burning. After passing some more runners I finally settled in and was shocked to notice I already ran 10km (how time flies!), I had no idea what position I was in but I was feeling good and was happy about how fast time had past. It was around here as I ran through Greens Bush bushland I started running with a new face, Andrew. Andrew and I were running around the same pace and it wasn’t long before we started chatting.

Usually with these race reports I’d describe my thoughts and the terrain as this is what I remember most about the race, however this was not the case with Two Bays 2021, I don’t remember much because I hardly paid attention to my own thoughts or the terrain, I was having too much fun. So it’s going to feel like I’m writing in fast forward, bear with me.

From around 10km all the way to the top of Arthurs Seat (23-24km) I chatted with Andrew, I remember at around 20km I started thinking we were going to finish this race together. At times he pushed me to keep up with him (not sure if he knew this) but I didn’t want to lose him even if it meant I’d crash later on, I just wanted to keep talking! So I chatted away with Andrew along the beautiful, undulating, classic Mornington Peninsula bushland trail through Green’s Bush, even the sandy part of the trail didn’t bother me too much. We continued chatting as we smiled and encouraged the 28km runners as they did to us whilst running down (up for them) Hyslops Road before crossing Browns Road. Where at the crossing a whole heap of smiley spectators and volunteers cheered everyone on. More km’s past and before I knew it we were at Mclarens Dam and were hiking up Arthur’s Seat! We chatted to a few other runners whilst going up Arthur’s Seat which only past time even quicker, and after a few minutes of a combination of running and hiking we were at the top. Down we went, oh so I thought. I always seem to forget about the little climbs whilst on top of Arthurs Seat. You think once you reach the top its flat and then down but really once your at the top you’ve got a few km’s left of ups and downs, before really going down. So for a few km’s of skipping over rocks and running up and down some steps we started to truly run down Arthurs Seat. That is, right after an amazing view of The Mornington Peninsula and Port Philip Bay from the lookout, you can basically see all the way from Portsea to Melbourne and across the bay. Sadly this is were Andrew and I separated.

Coming down the infamous Arthurs Seat steps can be quite precarious and honestly scares me, I’ve had a lot of close calls whilst training at Arthurs Seat, all of which had the potential of ending quite badly. The steps are uneven, theres rocks everywhere and it’s pretty damn steep however I wanted to make the most of the downhill momentum so I pushed, taking the risk that it could end badly. However I think Andrew wisely was a little more careful, and as a result I ended up losing him. Going down I even passed another couple runners who also had a bigger brain than me and were being a little more careful. However the risk paid off, I concentrated, watched my step and found myself down Arthurs seat, off the Two Bays Walking Track trail and running down the asphalt road (Bayview Road) leading us to the Dromana 28km turn around point (Dromana Recreational Reserve). This is also where I discovered I was coming 7th or 8th, I couldn’t believe it. As I was running down Bayview Road I ran past the leaders as they were coming up. To no surprise Matt Whitaker was in the lead, I’ve spoken to Matt quite a few times and even got to run with him a little bit during Brimbank 50km in 2020, he’s a great bloke, Matt was followed by a new unknown face to me who I now know to be Travis Boyle and behind Travis was Zack Beasley another familiar face, we’d run the first 15-20km of Wilson Prom 100 together. Once past them I noticed a few other runners such as Ross Hopkins (an absolute weapon!) making their way up the hill and then before I knew it I was ringing the infamous Two Bays Trail Run bell, marking the halfway mark and turn around point at Dromana, it’d taken me 2 hours and 11 minutes, now to go back.

I was disappointed in losing Andrew as a running partner, having someone to run with especially as you get towards the end of an ultramarathon is definitely desired, I even considered stopping to wait but I had to remember its a race, and I was making good time to sub 5 hours and didn’t want to risk losing it. I was also still feeling good, hamstrings and hips a little sore but overall pretty good. I started making my way back up Arthurs Seat, starting with the gradual ascent of Bayview Road. This time it was my turn to greet the runners coming down as I ran upwards, hundreds of smiling faces were running down some doing the 56km ultramarathon and some others running the reverse 28km (a unique course/distance due to COVID-19). One of the first people that ran past me though was Andrew, I kind f hoped he’d catch me going up Arthurs Seat! Anyway running back was actually really great. Being cheered on and cheering on fellow competitors whilst making my way up Arthurs Seat helped me forget about the tiredness and soreness in my legs and the fatigue in my lungs, it was relaxing and took away the stress of trying to reach my time goals. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I past a few runners running up Bayview Road, and then even a couple more once back on the Two Bays Walking Track trail, even though I walked most of the steep, gravelled steps. Around the top I ran past Cam who was doing the reverse 28km and Stavros Michael (a mate who I speak with online) he was running the 56km. Before I knew it, after I greeted those two I was making my way back down Arthurs Seat again towards Mclarens Dam! Time was flying and besides my hamstrings and hips I was feeling pretty good. There was so many runners running up as I was coming down, running past and seeing how much of a good time many of them where having put a smile on my face. A reminder on how great the community is. Once down everything started moving in fast forward again, I don’t really remember much besides running past the pirate traffic marshal who was still in character!! Next thing I really remember was as I crossed Browns Road and started running up Hyslops Road, in the distance I could see another runner making his way up the road, it was Zack!! I couldn’t believe it, what’s he doing? Something must be wrong for me to be catching up? As I caught up I asked if he was alright in which the answer was yes and then before I knew it we were running together. As mentioned above Zack and I ran the first 20km of the Wilsons Prom 100 together so I was keen to chat some more. Luckily Zack was just running to run not to win so once he picked up his pace when I caught him I could keep up. At this stage we were around 40km in, so had 16km left I was fortunate enough to hang onto Zack for around 10km. For the next 10km as we ran through Green’s Bush he pushed the pace, I managed to keep up and we chatted. Time flew by and honestly I don’t remember much, again I can’t even recall much of the terrain besides there was plenty of bushes, trees and the trail was undulating. I do remember the aid stations though because from this point on I stopped at every aid station for some coke and sports drink. After about 9km of running with Zack to my amazement we were one; nearly back at Bushrangers Bay and two; had just past third place! Yeah that’s right third place! What was going on?! The biggest reason I wasn’t fussed about waves was because I knew I had no business thinking about placing, and here I was draw third with 6-7km to go!! Technically I was even 2 minutes ahead of Zack because I was wave 2 and he was in wave 1. However with that being said I honestly didn’t care that much I was having a great time, was making my sub 5 hours goal and even my optimistic sub 04:45 goal. Strangely I had no desire to try and push to get ahead of Zack to take third spot, now with that being said I didn’t have much left in the tank to push anyway which showed over the next 6km. Once Zack and I got in equal third position I’d hoped we’d cross the finish line together, however this is a race and as Zack started pushing a little faster I didn’t have much desire or fuel left to try and chase him. So before I knew it, just before we got to Bushrangers Bay Zack was gone. I didn’t mind though, I only had 6 km’s left and I was going to achieve both my goals. Unless I crashed badly I was going to sub 4 hours 45 minutes and I was going to come top 20. So to be honest I just reeled in those last 6km, I didn’t push but remained steady and took in the beautiful coastal trail and views of Bushrangers Bay for the second time that day. At the start of the Bushrangers Bay Walking Trail the amazing volunteers had set up an aid station with plenty of coke, so I downed some of that, an awesome kid gave me some melted Zooper Dooper icy poles and I took off. It had really started warming up so these luxuries were amazing! It was a beautiful day, sun shining however it did start getting a little hot, lucky I was about to finish. Before I knew it I saw the first sign of the finish line, The Cape Schanck Lighthouse, then I started hearing the microphone and music and then I was nearly sprinting towards the finish line. Like most of the entire race, not much thoughts went through my head, I just ran, crossed the line and enjoyed myself. Zack along with Matt and Travis where all at the finish and it was great to see them, congratulating each other on our runs. We chatted a little and took in that amazing Two Bays Trail Run atmosphere, what a way to end the race.

Thank you to Rohan, Kate, staff and volunteers, you guys really are the heart and sole of Two Bays, along with the spectators. As mentioned above theirs a unique atmosphere to the Two bays Trail Run and its because of you guys! Thank you Andrew, Zack and everyone else who really made this run enjoyable through and through. Chatting and having fun most of the whole race has turned it into one big blur, no significant lows or highs just a constant good time. Lastly thank you to my mum who woke up early to drive me to the start, supported me and picked me up, aren’t parents amazing?

For anyone interested in what I ate and drink, I drank 2L out of my Camelback which was filled with 2 electrolyte tablets and low sugar cordial. I also consumed 4 gels which I bought from Woolworths and ended up having around 3 cups of coke and 3 cups of 32GI sports drink along with two halves of melted Zooper Dooper icy poles, which I got from the aid stations on the way back.

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