30 Jun 2013


Warrnambool Crater 2 Coast 50km Ultra Marathon 2013

The Koroit to Warrnambool Half Marathon has a long history (20-plus years?) and was one of the first events that I ran beyond 10km. Being a local event, and a standard part of my local Warrnambool Athletics Club race calendar, I couldn't miss it! The Ultra distance was added last year which I ran as well only a week after the 2012 Adelaide Marathon! The Race used to run regularly on the 3rd Sunday in August, however as the course changed to incorporate the Port Fairy to Warrnambool Rail Trail, flooding became an issue on sections of the trail and as a result it was brought forward to June.

The Crater 2 Coast Ultra was something I was super excited to revisit, planning to smash my time from the year prior on the theory that I was much better prepared especially since I haven't killed my legs by running Comrades and Adelaide Marathon prior!
Although things had been busy at work, being a local race I was feeling really well prepared and in the days leading up, I had a few runs and fuelled up properly, I was feeling ready to tackle this beast!
Race Director (center) John Keats gives runners the pre-race briefing in the early hours...

I know it seems to be a regular occurrence, but I've been super lucky with weather and this one was no different. There is no real solid race start time here, only when the RD John Keats feels like sending us all off. There were about 20 of us stupid runners who had assembled in the football club change-rooms to take on this wondrous event! It was warm in the rooms, but cold, wet and dark outside. Even though we stood at the start line in puddles as the rain was drizzling away in the darkness at the Port Fairy football oval, it was almost perfect running conditions all day. The weather fluctuated constantly during the race but for the most part it was cool and calm with minimal rainfall.

The course for the Crater 2 Coast Ultra Marathon (or Warrnambool Ultra as I know it) is essentially the rail trail walking track from Port Fairy to Warrnambool. We start off running a small loop though the streets of Port Fairy up by the beach before heading back through the town and onto the trail which travels through farmland (for the most part) onto Koroit. It is a constant gentle climb into Koroit until the old Koroit Train Station where it effectively descends the rest of the way into Warrnambool, passed the smelly abattoirs and finishing at the Warrnambool Athletics Club rooms near the Warrnambool Beach and waterfront. Many local runners describe this course as boring - which I generally agree with - although I actually enjoy the course for that reason, its calm, quiet, and simple. Although, Fiona Aulsebrook (1st Female, 4th overall) still managed to get lost, taking a wrong turn during the race and running an extra kilometer unnecessarily!

Half-Marathon runners come down the trail from Koroit in 2012
source: Facebook

My race

I was running this time with a clear race plan in mind. 21km right on 2 hours, then kick it up a gear to try come in as far under 5 hours as possible. Last year, I found myself running with my now good friend and training buddy, Raj, for the whole 50km. This year didn't quite happen the same. Raj was running again, and as we set off, he bolted out, still on his runners high from completing his first Comrades Race only 2 weeks ago!

I was fairly disciplined and held my pace between 5:30 to 5:40 per km at the start, with less than 20 runners in the field, finding someone to chat to was fairly unlikely unless I kicked my pace up (or down) to match someone else!
Being a local event, and due to the fact it clashed with a much more established event (Victoria's longest running marathon) in the Traralgon Marathon, pretty much the only runners in this race were locals. So as I passed or was passed by other runners, I generally knew them enough for a quick chat, but otherwise I figured I was in for a nice quiet solitary run.
I caught up with Raj again at around 10km and took the chance to hear his version of the Comrades Race.
We settled into a rhythm and made it through the Half Marathon point right on my planned time, just under 2 hours. My gorgeous Little Miss J was at the half way mark along with my Mother and Brother, after some hugs and kisses and a restocking of my fuelbelt, I was off and ready to attack the next section of the course!
Raj bid me farewell as I was feeling strong and ready for the downhill out of Koroit. I popped my headphones back in and cranked up some Pendulum as I bounded off from Koroit onwards to Illowa. I felt like I was flying and absolutely cruising along comfortably. I had my phone cranking out tunes whilst my Garmin was ticking over the km's.

This is Raj and I in the 2012 race, I'm convincing Raj to run Comrades in 2013
source: Facebook
This is the point where I started to catch and pass the Half Marathon walkers and slower runners who started from Koroit too. It was also about the same time where the faster Half Marathon runners were passing me! Sounds strange, but with the staggered start times it makes sense ;)
I ran well with just me and my tunes for the rest of the way, with nothing much interesting happening other than the sound of my feet pounding the pavement as I kept moving forward...
The 50km course runs through the finish area at 42km before we head out for a further 8km loop that returns back to the finish for an official finish time. As you could imagine, it is pretty tough coming into the finish area, and running through only to head out for more running!
I was absolutely stoked though as I had managed a 3:56 marathon! I stopped at the finish area for a minute or so to celebrate my second best ever marathon time, then stuffed my face with jelly babies, before I headed out for the last 8km, on an absolute high!
Knowing I had over an hour left to break 5 hours, and the fact I was feeling pretty good, I only backed the pace off slightly for the last 8km, cruising in for an official time of 4h48m44s, 13 minutes faster than last year!
this is me finishing this race in 2012
source: Facebook

Crossing the finish line I was greeted by several close friends, and then I found out I had placed 7th! I quickly checked on progress of my friends still out running, got changed, hydrated, and found something to eat then back to the finish line and waited for Raj and a few other friends to finish.

Sadly we received only a BLANK certificate for our race efforts, no medals and no other goodies. Aside from the copious amounts of lollies and beverages available on course and at the finish line, that was all we had to show for our mammoth efforts, a blank certificate. Apparently T-shirts will also be sent out when they arrive.
Last year we got a medal, a bottle of wine and a t-shirt - I'm hoping the committee can do something a little more memorable for us next year. This is the first race I've done longer than 21km that didn't earn me a medal!

As my Brother always jokes, Marathon runners REALLY do like their medals!!

Race Details
Website: http://warrnamboolathletics.com
Location: Port Fairy to Warrnambool, VIC, Australia
Date: 16th June 2013
Distances: 50km, 21.1km

General Race Stats
Total Runners in Field: 14
Winning time: 3h 52m 16s

My Race Stats
Overall Place: 7
Gun Time: 4h 48m 44s
Net Time: n/a
GPS Details: 50.18km in 4h 45m 53s (link Endomondo Stats)