Coastal Classic – 29km

This is a one way run from Otford through the Royal National Park to finish in the usually quiet and beautiful Bundeena. It’s one of the most scenic races I’ve done.

It was a surprise to be able to run this race because it had been postponed from September due to heavy rains. Now, five weeks relaxing after GNW I was ready to get back into it. I saw Patrick Hallinan’s from NRG wasn’t using his race entry so for the $20 transfer fee, I was too good an opportunity to pass on – thanks Pat! I’d entered to run this race in 2013 but been so sick I couldn’t get from the couch to the bathroom without stopping for a rest. It felt like karma to get to run three years later.

A note on trail toilets

Over time, with trail running, I’ve had to accept that at some stage I will be put in an awkward bathroom situation. It was one of my greatest concerns starting out, ‘where do I go to the toilet?’. Trust me, no matter how iron your stomach, at some stage, you’ll be caught with the dreaded runners poo. It could even happen on your local training run near home.

On race day, my bathroom humiliation kicked off early. Waiting for the train I popped into the disabled toilets at Sutherland train station. Now those door locks are tricky, ‘cause I definitely locked the door…but before you can say ‘toilet paper’, some dude flings the door open and we’re both mortified.  Fail!

The race

The excitement on race day kicks off on the train to Otford which is packed with runners. I saw a bunch of runners I know and chatted to Richard Bettles during the trip. I felt sorry for the two people on the train with hiking packs. Today wasn’t the right day for a peaceful hike with hundreds of people running past.

It’s a self-seeded start and runners are sent off in pairs every five seconds to break up the field. The early section of the course is narrow and technical.

I saw Joanna who I’d passed towards the end of Rafferty’s Resort Run in August. We started together and had a chat. I started off steady and took things easy. I hadn’t trained for this. I’d run a total of 75km in the five weeks since GNW.  It could be a great day or my legs could revolt after a few kms.

The early palm forest and technical section was really fun. I had some good momentum and enjoyed running along with Danny White. The trail opens up and you run past some cottages at little secluded beaches. It was a beautiful day and one of the local residents offered me a coffee. I said I’d come back for it another day. I’m not sure how you’d get your shopping in from the car, but what a spot to live or visit!

I motored along to Garie Beach and ran straight past the aid station. I ran with a hand-held bottle with 500ml of Tailwind and didn’t need to fill up yet. I ran along the sand. There’s lots of sand sections on this run. Then climbed up the hill where there we some beautiful views along the coast.

There are some great boardwalk sections on this run. I was enjoying bouncing along them as I ran along.

It seemed like the kms were going by pretty slowly today and the temperature was rising. I was pleased to reach the aid station at Wattamolla (16km down!) and refill my drink bottle. I caught my pacer from GNW, Lachlan, and we ran together for a few kms but the heat was getting to him.

As we were winding up and along the coast line I saw Luke Nuttal, another NRG runner. He was taking photos and documenting the great atmosphere of the race. I had 8km to go and the leading lady was just meters ahead.

Lots of people were slowing down as the heat and the early pace caught up with them. I tried to run consistently and headed for the finish. I hit the 3km sandy track to the finish line. I was still feeling good but thought this part of the trail would suit a sprinter from a surf lifesaving club. I ran past Jibbon beach and had to resist the urge to jump in the water. It was hot now!

I happily run through the finish line and found some shade. I was satisfied with my race but had to wait to see the final results. It’s hard to know how you’re doing in a race with a staggered start.

I caught up with all the NRG runners at the end, had a swim and enjoyed the atmosphere. There was a great sausage sizzle thanks to the Rural Fire Brigade and a free beer from Four Pines brewing. What a great race!

Result: 2:51:17, first female and 17th overall

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