Hooray for the first race of the year! I was super nervous going into this one given I’d just hit the 5k distance the week before. I’d been tracking well on my recovery plan, running longer intervals. For this race I was going with a ratio of 1min run: 1min walk just so I didn’t blow my legs out.
One of the things that I didn’t account for going down there was a delay in my flight, which saw me land in Melbourne close to 9pm – leaving me a drive to what Google Maps said was about 2 and a half hours along one of the most famous roads in the country.
After an eventful trip (yes, so much windy turns in the dark) I ended up getting to my motel at 1am. Thank gosh that this was a later start time of 11:30am! It’s really funny as I definitely wasn’t happy earlier in the week that the time was so late in the day, but as I pulled into Apollo Bay I was happy I could get a decent sleep.
One thing that I liked about the organisation of The Great Ocean Road Marathon weekend races was that the race bibs were sent out (if registered by a certain date) prior to the weekend. It’s awesome not to worry about getting there to pick up the bib, but also not so good if you forget. I know I checked about a zillion times between leaving my house and putting it on as to whether I actually had it!
One thing to notice about my outfit as above, I wasn’t ready for the cold. I also wasn’t ready for there to not be any bag check for the smaller races. I’m assuming that many runners are there for the larger events on the Sunday, so have people who can hold the gear. I spent the morning running around with my winter jacket on until it was time to brave the cold and leave it in the car.
For the “expo”, it was done a little differently with a Health and Wellness Fair set up outside in the park running alongside the main street in Apollo Bay. There were tents set up from the main sponsors of the weekend (Tom Tom, Mizuno etc.), as well as a huge range of food vendors. What I liked about the set up was that it included the Apollo Bay Saturday markets which allowed access to some amazing locally made produce/goods.
The run itself was an out and back from the main street in Apollo Bay, heading inland rather than following the ocean. It’s certainly an interesting and scenic course as we head away from the beach, and downhill into open farm fields. I had to make the mental note on the way down of the effort needed to get back up the hill and towards the finish line.
As the crowd maintained pace I ran the first three minutes until the crowds started to thin and then settled into the run/walk pace. I knew this wasn’t going to be the fastest time, but I decided to enjoy every minute in a location that I had never visited before. From the scenic ocean views to the farm inland – Apollo Bay is definitely a beautiful place!
Coming up to the halfway marker, there were some horses that were running with all the runners up and down their paddock. It was magical as they galloped beside me for a short time.
The course had a turnaround point which utilises a cross street, funnelling runners into this street and past the only water location on course then joining back onto the main street for the remaining 3k (and back past the horses!).
I did a quick mental check to see how I was faring, I was pretty much in the back of the 500 or so runners, but I was taking pictures and really not expending a whole lot of energy. The legs felt pretty good.
There were no issues on the way back, with the exception of me almost cutting the course (by accident of course) near the end (with about 200m to go). Thankfully the traffic marshals were able to lead me on the right track and onwards to the finish.
I ended up doing this run perhaps a little easier than I would have liked, but I had a heap of fun and got some awesome pictures along the way. I guess sometimes it’s great to do it this way to get the confidence back.
Post-race there was a water table set up as you exit the runners chute, no food offered for the 6k. Normally not an issue, but given that it was lunch time and I hadn’t really eaten anything (other than a Blue Dinosaur Bar) for breakfast or dinner the night before I was starving!
I definitely think that the race medal is one of the coolest souvenirs that I could have received from The Great Ocean Road/Apollo Bay. The medal appeared to be the same as all the other races, with the exception of the ribbon and the inscription on the bottom.
I had to leave Apollo Bay shortly after the race ended to make my way back to Melbourne, covering the windy road this time in daylight and driving the Marathon/Half Marathon course. Let me tell you, it’s a challenging one but would be such an amazing feat to accomplish. The amount of turns, ups and downs is crazy but the scenery is second to none. I’ll definitely be back – I’ve got a half or a full to run in future years!
You can read my review of The Great Ocean Road Marathon 6k on BibRave here.