After The North Face 100 in May this year I wasn’t exactly satisfied with how I did, so I knew I needed something big to target before my build up to the Kepler. When I was talking to Grant in the Blue Mountains he mentioned a 100km race down Melbourne way in September. So off to google I was to find out about this so called race and to work out how I could get there. When I had a look over the start list there were two well-known Aussie trail runners, Beth Cardelli and Shona Stevenson, who I knew would be very tough competition. I wasn’t expecting to make the podium, as this was my second 100km race, but I wanted to make the top five women.
I arrived at the start line with my partner Aaron at 5:10am. Crazy Aussies start their races at 5:30am! Aaron thought I was a complete nutter as I got up at 3:20am to eat breakfast. But making sure that I started the race well fueled was non-negotiable. The race started on the beach where we ran about 2kms before climbing up a undulating gravel path then dropping back down onto the beach for a large 15km stretch on the sand. I was so pleased to feel the hard packed sand under my shoes, which was the kindest sand I had ever run on. Beth, Shona and I ran side by side during this first section and we were ticking along at a pretty reasonable pace considering we had 90km to go! They didn’t speak to me at all during the first hour, and I think they were a bit surprised that I was going out as fast as I was. My legs felt great and my breathing was calm so I continued to enjoy the speed while I had it in me. Shona and I pulled away from Beth and passed through the first CP at 10km together. We exchanged a few words and I then made the most of a slight downhill section and pulled away from her. I couldn’t believe that I was now ahead of both Beth and Shona. It was early days I thought to myself and before I knew it they had both caught back up on the long stretch of beach that lead to CP2 at 21km. As I ran into the checkpoint I was running in 3rd but not far behind them as Aaron made sure to tell me. He cut the corner off a glad bag of vanilla creamed rice and I squirted it into my mouth like one of those icing bags used to decorate cakes with. This method I learnt from my famous cousins Glen and Braden Currie who are elite multi-sporters. Shortly after I left CP2, I passed Beth as she took a toilet stop. What I didn’t expect was that I wouldn’t see Beth again. As the track undulated along the cliff tops I quickly caught up with Shona. My legs felt good so I pushed on to take the lead. From then on I pretty much ran by myself until about 55km. I started to feel a sharp pain in the side of my knee which I was hoping would not happen during this race. It’s an injury called ITB friction syndrome that plays up for me anywhere between 50-80km on long runs. As the pain got worse I started to get my limp on which slowed my pace down.
I took an ibuprofen tablet which I had stashed in my pack for this exact situation. I thought it was only a matter of time before the other ladies caught me. A couple of men caught up on me and let me know that there was a girl in red not far behind. As I looked over my shoulder Lucy Bartholomew was slowly approaching. At the time I had no idea who this girl was and where she had come from, but what I did notice was that she looked determined. Leading into CP6 at 77km there was a technical rocky downhill section which brightened my spirits and at the same time the ibuprofen started to do its job on my knee. I felt like I was running again! I made the most of the downhill and pushed the pace. When I got to CP6 I had made a 6 minute lead on Lucy.
For the last 20km of the race, I had the win set in my mind and focused on keeping a steady pace all the way to the end. I was dreading the final beach section as I had heard that the sand can be rather soft, but to my delight it was actually pretty hard packed. As I approached the finish line I could see Aaron in the distance on the beach. As I got closer he started to make a move and attempted to run up the beach to catch a photo/video of me coming across the line. Aaron doesn’t run much, so it was pretty funny as I started to gain on him and I was worried he wasn’t going to make it to the finish before me. Luckily he did and he got a very cool video as he was shaking with excitement.
Winning the Surf Coast Century was my biggest trail running achievement so far. I am often amongst the top ladies, but this was my first big win in the ultra-running scene. Setting a new course record put the icing on the cake for me and made the trip over to Aussie very worthwhile. I just might have to go back next year now.