Swell times at Surf Coast Trail High

Exciting conditions greeted a record crowd of more than 700 runners at this year’s Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon, a monster swell creating challenging coastal conditions including giant waves turning parts of the course into an adventure coasteer as much as a trail run.

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While some of the world’s best big wave surfers reportedly hopped their lear jets from locations across the globe to take on mountainous waves reaching over six metres at Bells Beach, marathon and half marathon runners took on a rollercoaster ride along the Surf Coast Walk between Torquay and Fairhaven, the extra high tide forcing participants to rock hop along beach sections, including Bells, much to the amusement of surfers and big wave spectators.

While the swell pounded, the sun still shone and the racing up front was hot with Geelong’s Brett Coleman and Francesco Ciancio duelling for most of the length of the marathon course. Coleman was battling for his second podium title having won in 2014, while Ciancio was chasing his first win having registered second and third placings previously. Come the final finish line climb up the stairs at the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club, it was Coleman who proved faster on the day registering a time of 3:04:15, little more than five minutes in arrears of his first year winning time. It was a close fought contest, however, with Ciancio, Australia’s current 100km champion, only 59 seconds behind. In third place was Surf Coast resident, Sam Maffet in a time of 3:09:40.

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“It was brutal,” said Coleman at the finish line. “The main difference from when I first ran it was back then it was a King Tide. This year it felt like a super king tide with massive swell. I was above my knees in water at times!”

Despite walking some of the rockier sections, Coleman still registered a super fast time on what many regard as a deceivingly tough course even when the swell isn’t running. “I was hooping to actually sneak in under the three hour mark, but not today, the conditions were just too tough. Frankie and I ran together most of the time and had a great little battle, it was a fight for sure!”

In the women’s marathon, Glen Huntly based runner Nicole Paton, who earlier in June won the Mount Macedon 50km, backed up with a solid win in a time of 3:52:29, seven and a half minutes clear of Hannah Clark from Abbotsford who took second place in 4:00:26. South Melbourne’s Amanda Meggison was third in 4:09:12.

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It was a satisfying win for Paton, who was bedridden in the days prior suffering a cold virus. Hers was a last minute entry that panned out perfectly, but not before being pushed early on by Clark.

“I have never run against her and she took me out of my comfort zone as I had been planning to start out easy,” said Paton.  “I tried to push the pace on the few technical downhill sections as I thought that would be my advantage with my mountain running experience. I think the difficult conditions with the high tide were also in my favour as they made the race much harder for everyone, which made it more like an ultra and most likely set the road runners back more than it did me.

Paton began her ultra trail running journey less than a year ago with a background in hiking and backcountry snowboarding. Her move to the trails has paid off, the weekend’s win adding to an impressive scoreboard to date with a win at Macedon, another at Wilsons Prom 100km which included a course record, and a 10th place at Ultra Trail Australia 100km.  She next plans to tackle another local event, the Surf Coast Century, in September.

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In the teams event, it was a pair of athletics runners – more used to the soft sponge of the track or a short cross country field courses than that of the Surf Coast sands – who came out triumphant. Team Richterson, made up of accomplished cross country runners Sven Richter and Stawell Gift Carnival winner (1600m handicap) Oscar Robinson. The pair put in a stellar run to cross the line overall first in a time of 2:56:48.

In the half marathon, past full course champion and recent Australian trail running representative at the World Championships in Italy, Kellie Emmerson, took line honours, her 4:53/min per kilometre pace – impressive given the conditions and sand stretches – spurred on by last year’s marathon winner Tameka Day giving hard chase. Emmerson’s 1:43:11 was in the end enough to hold back Day who crossed four minutes in arrears in 1.47:11. Keeping them both honest was Sara Dingle who took third a minute and a half further behind (1:48:41).

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In the men’s half marathon it was Geelong Cross Country Club runner Ron Thomas who put his off road running skills in frame, but extended his usual distance specialty of 15km to the half marathon to take the line in a winning time of 1:33:57. His was a slim win, however, with on the day entrant, Sho Waller, from Fitzroy, snatched second place barely 8 seconds behind. Taking third place was elite triathlete, Sam Hume in a time of 1:36:10.

Created to throw a spotlight on the Surf Coast Walk, the Saucony Surf Coast 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.

One such runner was Jamie Moxham from Upwey in the Dandenongs, who despite a severe injury to his foot, took on his first-ever full marathon. Inspired by mentor and coach, Frank Welburn, who once ran the event (and finished) with a  broken foot, Moxham battled it out at the rear all day, but never looked like giving up despite being in constant pain.

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“I got to the start line with one goal: make the 21km cut off  (which) I did with seven minutes in the bank,” recounted Moxham. “From there all I had to do was as Frank told me: put one foot in front of the other. Perpetual forward motion.  More times than I can count I had to say to myself ‘My yes is bigger.’”

“I was not giving in. Everything hurt, my foot almost numb. Less than a kilometre to go and around the corner there was Frank (Welburn) holding a medal yelling ‘This is yours but not yet. I’ll give it to you when you get to the end’.”

“The last instruction from Frank was ‘When you hit the sand you run, you sprint up those stairs and this medal is yours.’ I gave it everything I had, and followed his words. Not only did I get the race medal but Frank also presented me with the amazing award in his name,” said Moxham.

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Each year the local Surf Coast Trail Runners group hands out a special award named after Welburn to honour a competitor who epitomises the spirit of trail running through their strength of character, determination and humbleness. This year, Welburn personally handed the award to Moxham amid the cheers of well-wishers who agreed that he had shown courage out on course and represented what trail running was about.

Says organiser, Chris Ord from Anglesea-based, Tour de Trails: “The thing I love the most about the event is that it not only attracts so many people looking to achieve a first marathon or half marathon or even their first trail run, but that it creates a crucible for moments like when Jamie crossed the finish line. There were tears. There was a lot of hugging and people were genuinely happy for Jamie. It was quite literally like a family celebration.

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“While the athletic feats at the front are absolutely impressive, just as impressive and equally inspiring are the efforts like Jamie’s. And this weekend there were many examples along the Surf Coast, none of them dampened one iota by the menace of the odd King Tide wave roaring in – in fact, I reckon they loved the experience all the more for it.  After all, that’s what we’re out here for – to appreciate Mother Nature in all her wild glory. And perhaps push ourselves outside the comfort zone in doing so, and come out the other side our lives a little richer for it.”

Runners travelled from across Australia and the globe to participate in the Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon, with entrants registered from afar afield as the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and New Zealand along with every Australian state represented. It was, according to organisers, the largest field ever hosted at the event “along with the largest waves ever encountered!”

Full results are available at: http://tomatotiming.racetecresults.com/Results.aspx?CId=16&RId=28502

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.

IMAGE credits Supersport Images (competitor imagery available)

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Surf’s up for Saucony Trail Marathon

Sporting a new headline partner, the Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon is returning on 25 June with hundreds of runners set to roller coaster along the spectacular cliff tops ranging between the surfing mecca of Torquay and Fairhaven, in Victoria’s south-west.

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Now in its third year, the event is expected to attract more than 600 competitors tackling a choice of 43km or 21km distances.

Last year’s competitive field saw a record-breaking and back-to-back win by Australian trail running marathon champion, Kellie Emmerson, in the women’s, and a record-breaking win by Mathieu Dore in the half distance. This year, Dore is stepping up a rung to attempt a swipe at the marathon crown while the absence of Emmerson due to travel commitments leaves the women’s title wide open.

In the men’s marathon, racers will be chasing the unbroken record time of 2 hours 58 minutes, set by Brett Colemen in the inaugural event in 2014. The women will chase Emmerson’s 3 hours 38 minutes mark from 2015.

Both are impressively quick times given the course is judged by most as a tougher than it looks on paper, with two beach sections and the undulating nature of the trail testing legs and lungs.

“Of course there’s plenty of coastal beauty to pull you alongthe course in between,” says organiser (and Trail Run Mag editor), Chris Ord.

“In particular the section from Urquhart’s Beach up to and underneath the towering Split Point Lighthouse I think is a great running section with awesome views,” says Chris nominating his favourite stretch when marking the course. Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

This year’s event will bring a small but for many, welcome, change with organisers testing a new finish line.

“Traditionally we finish atop the stairs at the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club,” says Chris. “And while for many that is a favourite, quirky if tough finish, we have decided to make this year a little ‘easier’ finishing on the sands of Fairhaven Beach – great for sprint finishers and for the finish line photo, given the lighthouse looms on the horizon.”

Created to put a spotlight on the Surf Coast Walk while also raising funds for the local Anglesea Primary School – last year raising $2000 –  the Saucony Surfcoast Trail Marathon appeals to both trail and road runners, with a high percentage of first time marathoners and half marathoners signing up. The event also injects solid funds into the local economy, with patronage resulting in an estimated economic stimulus spend of more than $135,000 by visitors in a traditionally quiet period for tourism on the Surf Coast.

This year there will be the addition of an after-party sponsored by the Aireys Inlet Pub and local Rogue Wave Brewing Company, with live music featured.

Organisers are encouraging runners to sign up immediately with a cap on race entries and more than two thirds sold.

logoEnter at www.surfcoasttrailmarathon.com.au and stay up to date on event news by subscribing to the Facebook feed at www.facebook.com/surfcoasttrailmarathon.

The Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon is supported by Saucony, the Surf Coast ShireIO MerinoBomboras KioskSurf Coast Trail RunnersTrail Run MagThe Happy RunnerThe Running Company GeelongTailwind Nutrition, and Kongo Industries. The event is produced by Tour de Trails.

EVENT WRAP: Surf Coast Trail Marathon

The second instalment of the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon proved a watershed event for many participants running the half and full marathon distances along the coastal cliff-top trails of south-west Victoria.

From the course record-breaking and back-to-back win by Kellie Emmerson in the women’s, to the course record-breaking competitive comeback win by Mathieu Dore in the half distance, to the multitude of extraordinary achievements by everyday runners in the mid and back pack, it was a day of celebration and trail community come-together. Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

For those with an eye to the pointy end, the overall win was taken out by Damien Angus, from Brighton, Victoria, in a time of 3:10:04, a quick time on what most regard as a tougher than it looks course. And elite triathlete, Damien is an Age Group Ironman World Champion having won his category at Kona, Hawaii.

It was an early duel up front with Francesco Ciancio – a notable runner finishing top ten at Two Bays and second at the recent Coburg Six Hour Champs – out front early on. He took a mis-step at Checkpoint 3, briefly heading off course. His seven minute disparity to first place indicated it may have been a closer call otherwise, although winner Angus remained strong all day to take a deserved victory. Third in the men’s marathon was Andrew Smith in 3:21:37.

In the women’s, Victorian Kellie Emmerson came off her 19th placing at the World Trail Championships in Chamonix a few weeks prior, to register a new record course time, crossing the line 3:38:31, near-on ten minutes faster than her 2014 winning time. Less than ten minutes behind was Freya Scott, from Bonbeach, Victoria, in 3:47:01, followed in by Karen Sharman in 3:53:59.Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

Both first place marathoners follow the annual tradition to sign their names and times on the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon Perpetual Trophy, a beaten-up antique surfboard that also records last place, who signs the fin each year.

In the teams division (where two runners take on half the course each, changing over at half way), it was triathletes who conquered again, with elite mixed paring of Annabel Luxford and Mitch Anderson winning the day. A professional triathlete once ranked World’s number one, Annabel is an ITU World Cup Champion, an Australian team representative and off to Kona again this year, while Anderson is a long time professional triathlete with five Kona ironman’s under his hydro-belt. They took the title this year in a combined time of 03:07:11, setting a new overall teams course record, beating last year’s time of 03:25:23 set by an all male team.Mt Buller

While the pace was set by elites up front, behind them all manner of stories and legends were unfolding, including a certifiable legend from last year’s outing, Frank Welburn, who brought up the rear, finishing last but certainly not least in 7:55:14. Frank also finished in last place in 2014 (meaning he has now signed the Perpetual Trophy fin twice!), in a gutsy effort completing the task with a broken foot.

This year, Frank crossed the line to applause and then promptly was charged with presenting a newly established award named after him, the Frank Welburn Award.  Local crew, the Surf Coast Trail Runners inaugurated the award this year for the person judged by volunteers to have shown the biggest heart on trail, as Frank had done last year. This year, that award went to Joanna Maidment, who finished her first ever marathon despite ITB issues.Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

There were plenty more ‘firsts’ out on course with record numbers stating that it was their first ever trail run, half marathon distance or marathon distance.

Special mention also goes to Shaun Hall, who made the difficult decision to run in the event despite the fact that his mum, suffering from cancer, was in palliative care. He tells his story (with permission):

“It has been very hard looking after her,” said Shaun in an email after the event. “I entered with the risk that it may not work out with Mum’s illness. In the lead-up I arranged accommodation for the family as Mum was not doing to badly. Then she went downhill Tuesday leading into the event. We sat by her bed all week, but all agreed I had to run regardless.

“The run was amazing and it was a great thing for my soul after a tough week at palliative care. When I finally made it to the finish line, my wife was there and told me that Mum passed away during my run. It would have been at about the 26km mark, which strangely I experience this big burst of energy and took off for about 3km. Mum really would have wanted me to run as she knows what it means to me and I believe it was a fitting tribute to her. I will now enter every year in her memory.”Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

Organisers paid tribute to the volunteers and runners alike who through their energy and passion have created what many are saying is a unique event in its supportive, community feel.

“Last year was special as the first, but this year seemed to up the ante in terms of people being so encouraging of everyone, and so damn happy,” says Race Director, Chris Ord, from organiser Tour de Trails. “And the number one feedback we’re getting is that the volunteers were out-of-this-world friendly and made all the difference when runners were hitting their walls! It is they who really make the event experience top notch for everyone, and as an organiser, I couldn’t be more grateful.”

“The whole reason the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon came into existence was to offer an inclusive, supportive event that enticed runners onto the trail and down to experience the stunning environs of the Surf Coast in particular. We believe we have a special place here in terms of the coast and the trails along it and we wanted to share it, while also creating an event that was as much about just participating as the winning. People like Frank Welburn, who is now an integral part of the legend of this race, are representative of the spirit of this race – people who smile and have a go and love the journey along the trails.”Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

More than 560 runners crossed the line on event day making the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon one of the bigger trail events in Australia. It will return in 2016 on 25 June.

In the meantime, organisers Tour de Trails will present for the second year running the famous Afterglow Twilight-Night Trail Half Marathon on 28 November, also on the Surf Coast. The event became famous in its first year as a night run with a difference, that being plenty of 80s retro music and a truckload of fluoro costumes on course. Entries open 10 July at www.afterglowtrail.com.au.

The organiser has also announced a new Trail Running festival to be held in Tasmania on the Labour Day Long Weekend, 5-7 March 2016. It will highlight the newly established trails in the forests surrounding the township of Derby, in the state’s north east.Surf Coast Trail Marathon 2015

“The event will again focus on celebrating the trail running lifestyle and will be an inclusive weekend based on the $2 million network of mountain bike trails established there over the past year,” says Race Director Chris Ord.

Details are yet to be announced, but distances are likely to be 5km, 10km, 21km, 42-50km in the first year, enjoyed across a three-day program, with plenty of off trail entertainment and functions. The focal distance will be the marathon, but an ultra up to 80km is being considered in the second year of its operation.





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Catching the Surf Coast Trail Marathon Bug

A sell-out in its first outing last year, the Surf Coast Trail Marathon, in Victoria, is returning to the trail running event calendar with an updated title and promises of yet another upbeat event designed to lure runners off-road.

Now be known as the Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon, the event has welcomed aboard Swedish shoe brand Icebug which recently launched its range of trail shoes onto the Australian market.

“The Surf Coast Trail Marathon is an ideal stomping ground to introduce our trail running shoes to Australia,” said Icebug Australia’s Andrew Shaw. “Reflecting the nature of the event, our range caters for runners of all abilities from first time trail runners through to ultimate trail adventurers looking for the very best trail performance,” said Shaw.DANDYRUNNER_SCTM2014_1471-(ZF-3222-77984-1-034)

The Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon will again ply the trails between the coastal town of Torquay – famous for its surf culture – and the equally stunning seaside village of Fairhaven, 42km further south down the coast.

The course will remain in most part the same as the 2014 version, with slight course amendments including a new start line at Bomboras Kiosk, in Torquay.

It will then wend its way along clifftops, through hinterlands, along beaches (including world famous Bells Beach), past a lighthouse, and around an estuary, to finish with a sting in the tail: a set of stairs to be climbed, the finish arch perched at the top.

Last year the event sold out with 500 participants taking on either the full or half marathon distances. The latter starts at Point Addis, which is also marks the changeover for those completing the marathon as a team of two.DANDYRUNNER_SCTM2014_0483-(ZF-3222-77984-1-006)

“It’s a cracking course,” said, Mitch Anderson, a pro-level triathlete who used the event to run his 39th marathon on his 39th birthday.

Last year’s marathon distance winner, Geelong-based Brett Coleman, agreed on the course being a stunner, with a caveat: “It’s a beautiful course, but I didn’t expect the rolling clifftop trails near the end, and the final stairs – they are killer.”

Brett smashed the inaugural course to record a sub three hour marathon (2 hours 58 minutes) on what most regarded as a tougher than expected course.

“It offers an impressive variety of terrain with well groomed walking trails, some gnarly single track sections, hills, lots of sand, the most beautiful views, and the whole vibe at the event is so exciting and infectious,” says 2014 women’s marathon winner, Kellie Emmerson (pictured).

Created to put a spotlight on the Surf Coast Walk while also raising funds for the Anglesea Primary School – last year raising $2000 – the Icebug Surfcoast Trail Marathon will appeal to both trail and road runners, with a high percentage of first time marathoners and half marathoners signing up making for some emotional crossings of the line at the stair-top finish at Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club.

ENTER AT:  www.surfcoasttrailmarathon.com.au and stay up to date on event news by subscribing to the Facebook feed at www.facebook.com/surfcoasttrailmarathon.

The Icebug Surf Coast Trail Marathon is produced by Tour de Trails (a sister company to Adventure Types which publishes this magazine) and supported by Icebug Australia, the Surf Coast Shire, and Visit Surf Coast, IO Merino, The Running Company (Geelong), Runners Kitchen, Tailwind Nutrition, Emma Carney Training, Brewsters Running and Kongo Industries.

IMAGE CREDITS: Erwin Jansen / www.dandyrunner.com.au


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Surf’s up for new trail marathon(ers)

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A newly launched trail marathon will shine the spotlight on Victoria’s stunning Surf Coast Walk, with runners being enticed off road by a course that takes in impressive coastal scenery, including a short run along world-famous Bells Beach.

The inaugural Surf Coast Trail Marathon will take place on Saturday, 28 June, 2014, with marathon runners starting at Torquay, an hour south west of Melbourne, and finishing 42.2km further west on the beaches of Fairhaven, located on the world-renowned Great Ocean Road.

There is also a half marathon course being offered, beginning from Point Addis, and a relay team option allowing two runners to complete half of the marathon course each.

“This is the perfect event for any kind of runner eyeing off one of the two quintessential running distances,” says Chris Ord, from trail running tour company, Tour de Trails, which will manage the event. DISCLOSURE: Chris is also the Australian editor of Trail Run Mag.

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“For road marathoners, it offers a first taste of what trail running is about, without being intimidating as it is a relatively non-technical, non-remote, non-mountainous course. For experienced trailites, the route still features stunning wilderness with coastal viewpoints and it represents a truly go-fast course with plenty of twists and singletrack turns.”

The event is expected to attract both the trail running and road running fraternity along with Ironman/woman and triathlete competitors looking for a target run in their off-season.

“This is an inclusive run where the inspiration is more about participation and enjoyment than winning, per se. It’s all about celebrating the trail running lifestyle and the fact that we are lucky enough to have such beautiful trails at our doorstep to run on.”

From iconic Bells Beach to the clifftops of Point Addis and Anglesea and on to Split Point lighthouse at Aireys Inlet, Chris believes that the course will become renowned for the sheer experience of journeying through the unique Surf Coast environment.

“We thought that a run along the Surf Coast Walk, encapsulating its entire length from Torquay to Fairhaven, was a good way to highlight just how good the walk itself is. Hopefully runners and their supporters will come back to the coast to enjoy it again and again,” says Chris, who believes his home region offers up some of the best non-alpine trail running in the state.

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He notes that the Surf Coast has already been put on the trail running map by established trail running events the likes of the Surf Coast Century Ultra, Bells Bash, Tim Gates Memorial Run and the Roo Run in Anglesea.

The Surf Coast Trail Marathon will benefit local organisations with a percentage of each entry fee going towards three Surf Coast beneficiaries, including the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club, where the event finishes, and the Anglesea Primary School.

“I wanted to ensure locals benefited,” says Chris. “My daughter goes to the Anglesea primary school and they are constantly having to put on fundraisers to pay for things like teachers aides, school garden food programs and the like. I wanted to do my bit. And the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club has been kind enough to host us at the finish line, and they do amazing work keeping the beaches safe in summer – they deserve to be supported, too.”

Some funds will also go back into supporting the trail and environs via the Great Ocean Road Coastal Committee.

Entries have opened for the Surf Coast Trail Marathon and can be purchased through ticketing partner Eventbrite at www.surfcoasttrailmarathon.com.au.

Runners can stay in touch on Facebook at www.facebook.com/surfcoasttrailmarathon

What:              Surf Coast Trail Marathon, 42.2 + 21.1km off road marathon

Where:           Surf Coast Walk, Torquay – Fairhaven, Surf Coast Shire, Victoria

When:             Saturday 28 June, 2014

Enter:             www.surfcoasttrailmarathon.com.au

The Surf Coast Trail Marathon is supported by the Surf Coast Shire, Patagonia, The Running Company (Geelong), Runners Kitchen, Kongo Industries, Lisa Tamati Bespoke Jewellery, Adventure Host, Adventure Types, Trail Run Mag, Tour de Trails and Eventbrite.

DISCLOSURE: The inaugural Surf Coast Trail Marathon is being sponsored by Trail Run Mag and its publisher, Adventure Types, and in part is has been created by Trail Run Mag Australia editor, Chris Ord.