Surf Coast Century- my first 100km event by Belle Campbell

After 6 long months of training, race morning was upon me! My alarm went off at 4:30am after a very restless night sleep. I got up & had my usual pre-event breakfast of coffee & peanut butter toast, then checked through all my mandatory gear for the millionth time!

We left the house for the start line & arrived about 5:45. The energy in the cold, beachside air was absolutely amazing, even at this early hour!! The race announcer was already pumping up the crowd & before I knew it, we were at the 30 second countdown! I kissed my hubby goodbye til the first checkpoint & headed into the starters chute. We were off!!!

Leg 1- Anglesea-Torquay-0- 21km

After about a km race nerves had settled & I’d found a comfortable, consistent pace. We had to climb over a few sets of rocks which slowed things a little, but there was no rush. There was a lot of chat between myself & my fellow running crew from Oscars100 & of course the obligatory selfies (or “runfies”!). We were running along the beach on some of the most beautiful coastline in Australia, with sheer cliff faces to our left & the open ocean to our right. We were then treated to one of the most amazing sunrises I have seen. It felt great to be alive! My quads were definitely starting to feel this constant flat beach running when we hit the iconic Bells Beach at about 15km in, & I was looking forward to getting off the beach at the checkpoint. We arrived at the 21km checkpoint in good spirits. Excited to see hubby & my three kids, I quickly changed my wet runners & socks, topped up my small bottle of electrolytes & got some more energy gels for my pack. Then we were off!

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Leg 2- Torquay-Anglesea-21- 49km

We headed off along the foreshore trail back towards Anglesea, passing Jan Juc & Bells Beach. Beautiful views of the ocean now from on top of the cliffs. The trail was undulating, which gave the legs a bit of a mix up after the dead flat of the beach. A few stops for more selfies & the beautiful views. After about 12km of the coastal trails we were heading inland. A quick stop at the 32km hydration station, then we hit single trail winding through bushland. I was still feeling good, but the winding single trail which all looked the same km after km started to get to me a bit mentally. I then had my first tumble of the day! I think it was a tree root, maybe just my own feet, but I hit the trail hard, & even worse, had about 6 witnesses!!! We all had a good laugh about it, I brushed myself off, & luckily only had some small grazes. I must’ve set as precedence because 2 of my other mates also fell soon after. Chuckling to myself that things had evened out a bit, bang! I had fallen AGAIN!! No damage again thankfully, just grazes on top of the grazes that were already there. Stay focussed I told myself! Before we knew it, we were back at Anglesea & the half way point of the race. We spent a bit more time at this checkpoint, re-filling the bladders in our hydration packs & re-fuelling the body. I ate a bit of honey & oat slice but didn’t feel like much more as the energy gels & GU chomps I’d been having throughout the race had been working well & I didn’t want to mess with things too much. Some of my gorgeous friends from my personal training group had made the trek from Melbourne to come see me, as had my parents. My spirits & energy levels were high.

Leg 3- Anglesea- Currawong Falls-49-77km

We headed off inland again, knowing that this was to be the hardest leg of all with some killer hills. We had already planned to walk a lot more of this leg than we had the previous two as it was all about conserving energy now. We walked all the hills, which was actually a nice break. I was still going along quite well for the first 10km or so, when I started to feel an old ITB injury in my left leg whilst going down a steep hill. Please no! It had given me no grief at all in the whole 6 months training, now it was rearing its ugly head? I tried to adjust my stride on the downhill so as not to put too much pressure on it. It seemed fine on the uphill & flat. On top of my ITB, I had hit a wall BIG TIME. I felt depleted, even though I was keeping up with my gels & chomps, & my mind was all over the shop. Now the mental game began. Don’t give up, I kept telling myself. You got this! We had been going for close to 8 1/2hrs now so of course it was going to get tougher, but I really started to doubt why in the hell I had signed up for this! Then I fell AGAIN! Only a grazed hand this time, but, SERIOUSLY?!!! Thankfully there was an intermediary checkpoint at the 69km mark & it was a rolling 5km down to this point, so we tried to make up a bit of time & get there as quick as we could! At the checkpoint, I inhaled a Red Bull, attempted to nibble on half a ham & cheese sandwich & got more electrolytes. Ok, time to get going again, we knew we had the 77km checkpoint where our support crews would be at & the opportunity for some proper food at the camp kitchen. The Red Bull kicked in a little & I was able to walk a bit faster & even get some running in. Finally we made it to the 77km checkpoint in just under 11 hrs. Relief was huge. I took some Nurofen Plus for my ITB pain, chatted to hubby, kids & my parents, who all gave me a mental boost. I attempted to eat some risotto, but it tasted like Clag, so I went for some Savoy crackers instead. Time to get moving again, just a little over a half marathon to go! Home straight now!

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Leg 4- Currawong Falls- Anglesea- 77-100km

The first 3kms I was still struggling a little, but the Nurofen kicked in & I finally got on top of things mentally. I came good again around the 80km mark, & actually started picking up the pace again! Two of mates were feeling it, so we broke into pairs, with me & another mate going ahead. A bit more single track through bushland, then some more open trails, yet another tumble from me, this time a spectacular roll (no damage, yay!), then we were heading to the Airley’s Inlet township along a coastal trail again. We knew the final intermediary checkpoint was at Airley’s Inlet at the 86km mark….wait, road running? Hang on, this is a trail event right? It was probably only a km of road, but my trail shoes do not like bitumen!! We stopped briefly at the checkpoint to say hi to some support crew, but we were keen to get going, knowing we only had 14km to go! Support crew told us to go on ahead & finish & that our other fellow runners wouldn’t be far behind. I started to get really emotional at this point, after dedicating 6 months of training & preparation, I was going to do this thing! We had to put our head torches on at about the 90km mark, it was nearing 7pm & getting dark.

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Head torches on, we then were back on some coastal single track, very tricky to run in the dark. This went for about 4km, when we then had to hit the beach & SOFT SAND! What? I’m expected to run on soft sand after running 94km?!! And in the DARK?!!! With only head torches lighting our way, we followed other head torches in the distance, each km getting closer but the legs & breathing starting to labour. We stopped to briefly text our support crew of our impending arrival at the finish line & shared a can of V energy drink. I have to admit I wasn’t very good company in the last few kms, there were expletives, whingeing (what kind of people put soft sand running at the end of a 100Km course, it’s cruel & unusual punishment…blah, blah, blah) but when I saw those race volunteers waving us towards the red lights in the sand marking the way to the finish line….a massive rush of adrenalin kicked in! I sprinted towards that finish line, double fist pumping & whooping like a crazy woman as I crossed over the timing mats!!! I HAD JUST COMPLETED MY FIRST 100KM!! 14 hours and 9 minutes….that sub 16 hour Finisher’s Stein was mine! We were presented with our steins by the race director (yes he was still there 14 hours into the event, so impressed!) & briefly interviewed, before joining our supporters. I posed for photos, gave out & received hugs & absolutely soaked up every moment. Talk about a natural high!

If someone told me 3 ½ years ago when I started my running journey that I’d be running in a 100km event, I would’ve laughed in their faces. What I have learnt is that you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to. Believe you can do it and you WILL!

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