Surf Coast Trail Marathon – 42km 2021 Report

  • Location: Torquay, Victoria, Australia
  • Time: 03:34:51
  • Date: 26/06/21
  • Overall Place: 9/238
  • Full Results

I don’t usually do race reports for marathons but I felt compelled to highlight the awesomeness of this event. Brought to you by Tour de Trails The Surf Coast Trail Marathon is run on a beautiful course and brought to you by passionate race directors, and made possible by a community of awesome volunteers. The atmosphere is positive, supportive and super fun!

Starting off at Salty Dog Cafe at Fishermans Beach, Torquay the course takes runners along pretty much the entire Surf Coast Walk. From said Fishermans Beach, Torquay to Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club, Fairhaven. Along the way you’re running along stunning coastal cliffs, sandy iconic surf beaches such as Bells Beach and beautiful trails amongst The Great Otway National Park. Constantly hugging the coastline you get to take in the stunning views along the whole course. Combine the stunning course and views with the atmosphere Tour de Trails brings and you’ve got yourself a trail party!

Alright, so I went into The Surf Coast Trail Marathon with one purpose and one purpose only, to have a good time. I was coming off Unbreakable, an ultramarathon in Victoria thats based off the notorious Barkley Marathons. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it I was timed out and was unable to finish, however I still ended up running around 140km with a solid 6000m+ elevation gain. As a result I was pretty tired, and legs definitely were’t 100% recovered for the Surf Coast Trail Marathon a week later. I was also burnt out mentally a little bit after Unbreakable, as the mental stress of such a race takes its toll. So with all that I really just wanted to have fun and enjoy the trails with some like minded people…… I’ll say now I most definitely got this with The Surf Coast Trail Marathon.

Right from the start as over 200 hundred of us gathered together on the beach you could feel the community spirit. Everyone so happy and excited as they anticipated the race, it helped that it was a beautiful sunny winters morning, it was fresh and cold but beautiful nonetheless. Starting on the beach with the ocean on our right the water was calm, like glass. With it a beautiful sunrise that brought a sense of awe and tranquility. Race start was 8:30am and after a solid 30 minutes of taking in the community spirit, talking to familiar faces and absorbing the the picturesque ocean views it was time to get going. A quick race briefing took place by race director Chris Ord (a legend). Then before we knew it all 238 of us were off, running across the firm sand along Fishermans Beach. I felt great, high from talking to some good friends and taking in the Tour de Trails positive and fun vibes. I was instantly surprised to find myself running with guys I really had no business running with, (the usual place getters) but the pace felt easy so I rolled with it. However to no surprise 3 minutes later all I could see was their backs in the distance, “now it’s making sense” I thought to myself. I was still kinda shocked to find myself near the front of the pack though, as I said earlier I was here predominately to have fun, and even if I was racing I wouldn’t expect to be this far in front of the pack. I didn’t think about it much though, after a solid 2-3 minutes I zoned out, forgetting it was a race and enjoyed the movement of running whilst taking in the winter sun. We ran a solid 2km along the beach heading in the opposite direction of the finish line before turning around and moving off the beach, running back towards the start line just on an asphalt path now. The next 5km or so was ran along the same asphalt path as we ran past Torquay Front Beach, Cosy Corner and Point Danger (popular tourist attraction of Torquay). It brought back some childhood memories as I had quite a few lifesaving carnivals/competitions at Cosy Corner, back then I’d be swimming or on the lifesaving boards and I sucked at running! So it was weird to think I was now running along this area years later as an adult. Anyway I continued with some runners passing me, it was back and fourth for quite a while there. Before long we where off the asphalt and onto gravel paths, majority of the run was like this. You’d run along the undulating gravel paths that ran atop of the beach cliffs, the ocean and the sand down below on your left as you constantly passed different surf beaches and carparks.

It was such a beautiful winters day, perfect running conditions, the sun was blazing down but being winter it wasn’t hot. Continuing to run along the Surf Coast Walk it wasn’t long before I’d passed the suburb of Jan Juc at around the 12km mark, then I found myself running down and along the infamous Surf Beach “Bells Beach”. From there the Course took us back up along the clifftops and inwards, away from the beach, where I ran amongst the coastal trees and shrubs. The terrain was continuously undulating, there was a few decent little climbs! After 4-5km the course took me back towards the coast where after another 3-4km of running along the coastal track I found myself at the halfway mark at Point Addis! Point Addis was the starting place for the 21km runners whilst also doubling as an aid station, there was a lot of people here, I’m assuming majority was family members and friends of some of the 21km runners.

From Point Addis I made my way straight down some stairs and onto the beach, where I ran along some horrifically soft sand for 1km or so, I’m not gonna lie this sucked and I was so happy to be running back up to the clifftop gravel paths at km 22. Next stop Anglesea! Continuing to run along the Surf Coast Walk I took in the views and beautiful surrounds of the beach, the cliffs and the vegetation…. It was all so nice and peaceful, tranquility at its finest. Also because it wasn’t on an isolated trail I felt completely relaxed, like I could turn the brain off and just run. Before I knew it I was 26km in and at Anglesea! This brought back some memories, the starting area of the popular Surf Coast Century, my first ultramarathon and also the race that’s given me my 100km PB the second time I did it. It gave me a buzz running through Anglesea, remembering old memories, and I held that for a good couple km’s, riding the highs of old memories. But then I was ground to a sandy halt, at around 31km the course took me off the beautiful hard surface of gravel trails and asphalt paths and instead had me running along soft sand whilst being chased up the beach by the increasing high tide, Guvos Beach I believe to be the name of this beach. At first I tried to avoid my feet getting wet however once a wave got me I went full f**t it mode. After 2km of soft sand beach running after 31km already on the legs I was feeling pretty tired, and the legs heavy. Looking along the beach I saw no end to the madness! To make it even funner, the disgusting stench of seaweed corroded my nostrils with 2km of beach running left. Although slow going I trudged through it and actually ended up passing two other runners, who were worse off than I was. This gave me a little ego boost. Once off the sand I passed an aid station and made my way back onto some single track trails that had me running amongst the coastal vegetation again. I could start to smell the finish line at this point, I was around 35km in now and the next mental checkpoint was Aireys Inlet, which was only 2km away, where from there it was an easy 3km to the finish line at Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club.

Some more clifftop running, a few stretches of assault road pathways and a Lighthouse pass-bye later and I was nearly at the finish line. Feeling pretty good I pushed the pace a little, getting some of my fastest km’s at the end. I passed another couple runners before finding myself only a couple hundred meters from the finish line. The course took you back down onto the beach for 50-100m or so where you then had to run up some stairs to finish line at Fairhaven lifesaving club. I found myself finishing with a time of 03:34:51, which had me in 9th place, which shocked the s**t out of me, I was stoked with that time.

Thank you to the volunteers, a shout out to Melton City Runners in particular, as I noticed quite a few volunteers were repping Melton City Runners. A race this awesome wouldn’t be possible without you guys, and all volunteers! Another shout-out to The Eventurer’s, the best trail running photographers in Victoria, Ian and Velta also so happen to be some of the most awesome people I now too.

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