The 10th edition of the Surf Coast Century is cementing its reputation as one of Australia’s must-do ultra trail marathons, attracting a number of past winners from ultra running events across the country.
Held on Saturday 11 September 2021 in Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Region, the Surf Coast Century will see previous winners Kellie Angel (nee Emmerson), Ash Watson, Ross Hopkins, David Eadie and Sarah Hedger all from Victoria line up on the 100km start line.
The fast five will be up against a formidable trio from Western Australia – Justin Scarvaci, Claire O’Brien-Smith and Meghann Coffey all of whom have won the Margaret River Ultra Marathon (MRUltra) which is also organized by Rapid Ascent.
The WA trio of Scarvaci, O’Brien-Smith and Coffey were lured by the race’s spectacular course, prestigious reputation and for the chance to have a hit-out against many of Victoria’s best ultra runners. Each have their eyes firmly focused on a podium finish.
“I want to push the pace in Victoria!” said 2019 and 2020 MRUltra male winner, Scarvaci.
Coffey set a new MRUltra course record earlier this year and is excited for the chance to race in Victoria; “It’s in such a spectacular place and there will be so many amazing runners, but I’m hoping to do WA proud!” said Coffey.
2020 MRUltra female winner O’Brien-Smith said she’s well prepared for the 100km; “I’m looking forward to more kilometers at the Century and feel I’ll be well prepared for the course – I’m including some sand running, hills, intervals and getting out on the trails as much as possible.”
The Surf Coast Century and Margaret River Ultra Marathon have a brother/sister relationship where the winners of each event are invited to race in the adjacent event. 2021 will be the first time the Century will feature a stacked field of Victorian past winners racing against past winners from the WA sister event.
Kellie Angel (nee Emmerson) of Victoria won the Century in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and still holds the female 100km course record at 9hr03.24. Kellie had some sound advice for the west Australians.
“I would be wary about Urqhart’s beach during Leg 4; I was running so hard to try and make sub 9 hours in 2016 but the soft sand on Urqhart’s got the better of me!” said Angel.
The Century’s male course record holder Ash Watson is also returning for the 10 year anniversary after twice winning the event in 2018 and 2019 where he reset his course record to an eye-watering 7hr57.
Watson hasn’t raced much since 2019 and struggled with motivation through COVID times. But he’s back with a vengeance now and will leave nothing to chance as he prepares for another tilt at the title.
“It was very difficult for me to train hard through 2020 with the uncertainty of COVID. There were times I was able to get fit for events but having them cancelled left me feeling quite unmotivated at times,” said Watson.
“I went in with the goal of breaking 8hr for my 2019 Century race and it was extremely satisfying to be able to accomplish the goal that I had set out prior to the race,” added Watson. “I would like to win the race again this year but there’s definitely plenty of competition and anything can happen in an ultra marathon so I don’t take anything for granted.”
2020 Century winners Ross Hopkins and Sarah Hedger have nothing but praise for the 100km course and can’t wait to share the experience with other runners.
“This is a ripper of an event; incredibly well organised, stunning scenery and a very supportive and encouraging atmosphere,” said Hopkins who also won the event in 2017. “Much of my joy and exhilaration from running comes from being immersed in the natural environment that the Century encompasses.”
Hedger says, “The course far exceeded the expectations I had of myself and I love running in beautiful environments – they’re a big motivator.”
“It was a good day where things went my way (in 2020) and I was very grateful and happy about that,” added Hedger.
To celebrate 10 years and to welcome back past winners, the event has a number of new initiatives in place that will enhance the runners’ experience such as a post-race athlete lounge, and recovery activities and celebrations the day after racing.
The course takes competitors from Anglesea to Torquay along the beach and then along the clifftop tracks and hinterland trails to Moggs Creek and Aireys Inlet, before returning back in Anglesea on the Surf Coast Walk, via Point Roadknight.
The event is expected to attract over 1,300 runners from around the state and nationally and offers both the 100km and 50km solo options, or competitors can compete in a relay team of two to four over the 100km course covering approximately 25km each.
To register or find out more about the Surf Coast Century visit www.SurfCoastCentury.com.au