In April this year, I ran my first 100 miler. It was also the first time I trained with a coach and so I left nothing in the tank. I gave everything I had in those months of training and I was really happy with my finish time, but when I returned to Australia I was flat and I was bored.
I had run every trail I knew of in the lead up to my miler and now they all bored me. I was too poor to enter any big thrilling overseas races. Poor and bored – a terrible combination.
So I thought, why push it? I’m not getting paid to do this, so why do it if it’s not making me happy. I took the pressure off and decided I would just run when I felt like it.
After years of having giant and exciting adventures to look forward to, I must admit it was hard when people said “what’s next?” to me with a look of expectation and excitement. The look of disappointment on their faces when I responded “I’m not sure” was difficult to digest.
Slowly however, I started to realise that I don’t do these races for other people, I do them for me. If they are disappointed in the fact that I’m a little tired, then perhaps it’s time they signed up for their own adventure.
And so I life went on. I found myself looking forward to my CrossFit sessions more than my runs and that was okay. I was going with the flow. When I got the Rapid Ascent email about the Surf Coast Century, I put a post on the CrossFit facebook page casually asking if anyone would like to put a relay team together.
The response was quite overwhelming. Within a few weeks we had three teams registered. Most of these guys had never run a race, never run a trail race and never gone near the half marathon distance. And I left out a lot of details. I didn’t tell them about the hills. I didn’t tell them about carrying a pack with all their mandatory gear while they ran. I also didn’t tell them that only three of them would be running a half marathon. The rest would be running 23-28km. These were all just minor details, best kept secret.
I was quite shocked by the enthusiasm of these new runners. They had gone from walk one minute, run one minute to running 12-18km loops in the Dandenongs including Glasgow Track! I didn’t push the training. I didn’t want to force them to do more than they wanted to do, yet every weekend, at least one of them was asking to come along to a trail run.
Whilst they were running hilly loops in the Dandenongs on a regular basis, the common phrase thrown around was “but I’m not a runner.” This all changed one night when we joined in with the Surf Coast Trail Runners Night Run in the You Yangs. Everyone had a ball and finally, it hit home that everyone in the team was now a runner.
At the last minute, we had to recruit two new team members. This didn’t give anyone time at the box to train up for the event so I relied on my trail running community and they didn’t let me down. Olivia and Chantelle joined the team. It was such a joy to have both women on board – not only did they allow the teams to compete by filling in, but they fully embraced the team mentality we had gone into with this event. I think everyone soon felt like they had always been part of this team, it all just felt so familiar.
Soon the big day was here. As I expected, everyone surpassed their own expecatations of themselves. I won’t recap the entire day as I can’t really put into words the hurt and the joy everyone felt – individually and as a team. Here are my highlights in no particular order.
1. Paul losing his car key at the beach minutes before the race start.
Despite a frazzled start, Paul certainly got his shit together and annihilated most of the course in the final 15km.
This also is a reminder of how good the trail running community is because someone found Paul’s key!
2. Luke pushing through the pain to finish his first half marathon.
It would have been really easy for Luke to pull out when he started to feel an injury coming on and his race wasn’t going to plan. But he knew his leg 2 runner was waiting for him so he pushed on. Time is irrelevant, he just completed his first half marathon and a pretty brutal one at that!
3. Kirsten going from a non runner to a friggin amazing runner in 3 months!
When I first met Kirst, she could only run one minute walk one minute. Three months later, she ran her first half marathon on sand!
(leg 1 runners Paul, Luke and Kirst)
4. Carolyn finishing 28km
When I was organising the teams, Carolyn said she couldn’t run 28km. I pretended I didn’t hear (sorry Caz), but I did that cause I knew she could AND she did!
Yep, she hurt and yep she broke down but that’s just what happens. What differentiates winners from quitters is what you choose to do when you hit hell. Caz pushed on – she’s a winner!
5. Brian getting the doctor’s approval the day before race day to run and seeing him cross that finish line all smiles.
6. Seeing Roisin’s beautiful smile all over the course – what a motivator.
(Leg 2 runners Brian, Caz and Morv)
7. Morv crossing the finish line – her smile and her spirit, the essence of trail running.
8. Andy fanging it to the finish line so we didn’t miss David cross the finish line.
9. David crossing the finish line and me saying “I’ve signed you up for your next race” and David nodding and saying “Yes, Ok.”
10. Luke catching me on leg 3 despite me having a huge head start. I knew he would and I was so happy he did – a great runner and a great guy.
11. George taking Olivia pizza and beer out on the trail – about time he repaid the crystal glasses and moet on the top of kozciosko favor!
12. Chantele running through the finish chute with a beer in her hand and an enormous smile on her face.
13. Liam offering to carry one of the 100km runners to the finish, not because the guy was injured but because he looked like he was suffering and Liam didn’t like seeing him suffer and wanted to help.
All these highlights capture what trail running is about. If there was any doubt in their minds before, I hope it has now been cemented that you are all runners!
Concluding with my own story. I was motivated to organise this relay because I had grown bored with my own running. Seeing the joy as these guys embraced everything new about trail running – the beauty, the cammraderie, nature and pushing your own limits, well it all reminded me just how much I love running.
So thank you all team!