Surfcoast Century 2014 - Relay - Race Report

Opting not to run the full 100km this year I was looking forward to covering one of the later sections of the course without a whole bunch of kilometres already in the legs. Then the plan changed. One member of team Bumdogs decided to go and break his foot before the race. Down to three runners, the solution was a reshuffling of who ran which leg, and I was the lucky winning the esteemed privilege of running two legs. What's an extra 21km?

Since I was coming off a rehabilitation program rather than race training, 21km was definitely a lot more. My focus changed from going out at a solid effort, to just taking it easy, enjoying the run and covering 49km without doing any harm to my hamstrings. A different style than my usual race approach. I was looking forward to soaking up the Surfcoast Century in a much more relaxed way. So those two legs were the first two. In a short description, leg 1 is 21km of mainly beach running, sand and some rocky sections. Leg 2 is 28km taking us up onto the cliff tops mixing it up between some rolling smooth trail with some slightly bigger hills and a little bit of rougher sections.

For the third year in a row the weather was perfect. A bit of wind chill for the bit-before-dawn start meant I just needed some gloves for a bit of warmth. With a somewhat subdued style we started with just enough light to check our footing over the rock outcrops along the beach. There is an extra relaxed style to this race start than most other events. Part of it is that most will be running 100km, but I think the wide, flat and smooth beach start helps. It is a near perfect way to begin. This year the water seemed to up the beach a little more, forcing us a bit higher over the first couple of rock scrambles. Everyone discovered some of those rocks were ridiculously slippery. I learnt from the mistakes of others and worked my way very carefully, avoiding a fall that seemed to be all the rage around me.

Picking an intensity level that just simply felt easy I enjoyed opening leg. It was a much more social occasion than I am used as I chatted with plenty of different runners. The brilliant scenery of fairly hard packed sand, rolling waves and towering cliff tops combined with a spectacular sunrise highlighted why I will keep coming back. I felt good, the only issue I noticed was I didn't have the agility I am used to through the technical rocks and reef. That was fine, just meant I took it slowly. On a note for self, it will be something to make sure I am top off for next year.



Making the checkpoint and end of leg 1 at Point Danger in about 2 hours and generally feeling good. There was only one issue and that was the smallest amount of tightness in my glutes. A small warning sign perhaps. The transition took about 2 minutes as I refilled a bottle and talked rubbish with the team. I estimated a bit over 3 hours for the next 28km knowing I was going to be careful so as not to aggravate my hamstrings.

The next kilometres took me over the clifftops and smooth undulating trail, offering a number of spectacular views over the beaches I had already run over. More socialising and this section went quickly before I found myself entering the Jerosite section. The trail was rougher and presented some steeper gradients. It was through this section the tightness in my glutes increased and progressed further down my leg. It was far from pain, but it was how things started go bad back in the marathon. I wasn't going to put myself out of running again, so I had to work what to do.

It was the uphill running that was aggravating the issue. I slowed a lot, keeping my stride within the limits the tightness was providing. As the kilometres progressed lesser gradients and eventually even the flat contributed to the hamstring tightness. To play it safe I resorted to walking the hills and flats. I did enjoy passing quite a few on the steeper uphills (even some who were running), but was passed on the easier grades. Luckily I still had the fun bits left... I could run down hill, and the steeper the better.
 

After more socialising on the course I eventually found myself back on the sand and back into my final checkpoint at 49km. While I travelled way, way slower than the last two years when I covered the full 100km, I enjoyed the run a lot. Plus I was otherwise feeling pretty good. The next leg was handed over to Jerome, a man who has been hitting Ironman triathlons, talks about running in a classic swimmer style. However, he ran his leg as a runner and smashed it.

 
For the fourth and final leg, Jess had the honour of taking it out with a flying start. I love my individual races, but being part of a team adds some other elements of awesome to the day. Despite my slowness, the team overall put down a good time, going under the coveted 12 hour mark. I also developed a greater appreciation for those who make the effort to come down and support the runners. The logistics of getting to all the check points and assisting are big. It definitely is not an easy day for the supporters. A couple of days later I am happy to confirm I got through without re-injuring myself and have just the usual tightness from a run that is much longer than I am trained up for. The plan is to get back here next year, but back in for the full 100km. Might have to aim to beat the relay team too.

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