It was a day of broken records at the recent Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon with marathon and half marathon runners registering the quickest ever times along the undulating coastal course linking the seaside towns of Torquay and Fairhaven, in Victoria’s south-west.
The running weather Gods smiled as winter sunshine greeted the biggest-ever field of entrants with more than 600 runners lining up in what is one of the state’s biggest trail run outings.
The pace was sizzling up front in the men’s marathon with the most competitive field represented to date. The pack surged hard and fast early on with a resulting record winning time by Ballarat runner and former Australian mountain running representative, Ash Watson. His 2:51:17 on what is regarded as a “tougher than it looks on paper” course lowered the time bar beating the previous record held by Geelong’s Brett Coleman by more than eight minutes. Watson’s effort held off last year’s winner Damian Angus who took second (2:59:13) with Fancesco Ciancio in third (3:00:42).
In the women’s marathon, Kellie Emmerson’s course record from 2015 (3:38:31) looked safe until Tameka Day snuck in under the radar, besting Emmerson by just under three minutes to snatch a new course record of 3:35:13.
Once a professional triathlete ranked in Australia’s Olympic distance top ten, Geelong-based Day has only recently ditched bitumen and bikes to take up trail running, having come second at the Wonderland Trail Run in the Grampians last year in what was her first ever race on singletrack.
“I love what trail running is all about and I’m definitely not keen on going back to road racing.” she said shortly after finishing. “It was a stunning course and I even found the sand sections not too bad; quite good for having a chat with other runners!”
In the half marathon and fresh from winning the recent Great Ocean Road Marathon, hometown hero and accomplished road runner, Anglesea’s Julian Spence, used his local trail knowledge and blistering speed to register an outstanding course record of 1:19:31, smashing the previous record time of 1:29:44. Keeping the pointy end of the men’s half sharp was Australian 50km representative John Dutton, registering second place a little under two minutes in arrears of Spence (1:21:22), while Wantirna runner Sam Crowther – a Knox Athletics Club member and 10km course winner at the Hoka Trail Run Series – punched above his usual short-course distance weight to stand third on the 21km podium barely a minute behind in a time of 1:22:27.
Naomi Rands showed her Ironwoman endurance pedigree, the Kona competitor winning the women’s half marathon in 1:46:20 followed by Niamh O’Reilly in second (1:47:15 and Carmel Taylor (1:47:22).
Full results are available at: http://tomatotiming.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16&RId=28502
Created to throw a spotlight on the Surf Coast Walk while also raising funds for the local Anglesea Primary School – the Saucony Surfcoast Trail Marathon has developed a reputation for attracting both dedicated trail runners and those crossing over from road and multisport. In particular, it has become a favourite target for those tackling their first half or full marathon, lured by the welcoming community that congregates around the Surf Coast event annually.
The Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon is supported by Saucony, the Surf Coast Shire, IO Merino, Bomboras Kiosk, Surf Coast Trail Runners, Trail Run Mag, The Happy Runner, The Running Company Geelong, Tailwind Nutrition, Pro Feet Podiatry, Torquay Sports Medicine Centre, Aireys Pub, Rogue Wave Brewing, and Kongo Industries.