Surf Coast Century Winner Shona Stephenson

Surf Coast Century CP2 to Finish

by Shona Stephenson on October 11, 2012

Torquay CP2 to The Finish 100km Anglesea and Winning the Concrete Shoe!

At the the Surf Coast Century Torquay CP2 I quickly switched over my gels and water bottles in my pack. Up to 49kms I was running on Tropical Hammer Gels for my energy and Fizz for my Hydration. I also added in a small bottle of Perpetuem to add in around the 30km mark. I’d pre-made my water bottles, and my gel baggy’s so all I had to do was swap over my CP bags and water bottles. I then headed out of the check point.
The next section was made up of mainly rolling hills on a single man track or dirt path. We had been warned that the trail could be confusing through this section of the track. I ran back towards the beautiful Anglesea across the cliff tops, past Jan Jac Beach, Bells Beach where I was lead astray by a misplaced pink marker but I was lucky that I found another runner who was also turning back up the climb who had found his mistake. We pushed on together, chatted and were happy that we spotted another marker only 50m later. We then told two spectators to swap the pink marker to this trail and hopefully we helped any runners coming behind us. I then headed inland towards the check point 3 at Iron Bark Basin.

The Surf Coast Century trail became steep, twisted and technical. An existing ankle injury showed its ugly head at 30ks as it always does, I adjusted my running technique and I started to count my way up all the climbs. Before long I was at the 32km CP3. I washed my feet then I ran straight through the checkpoint with white foaming bubbles all over my inov8 x-talon 190.
I drank some Perpetuem and kicked it on. I was on time and loving the trails. Before long a sick feeling of dread went through my body. I had not seen a marker for a few hundred meters and the track turned into spaghetti land. I desperately read the trail in front of me. Running as fast as I could while spotting foot prints on the dirt track just before my feet was not ideal but I had to make sure I was following the correct track. After about 15 minutes I was ever so relieved when I was caught by a relay runner.
“Is this the right way?” I asked.
“Yeah, just keep going. Your doing well”. He replied as he sped past.
The track continued to bend, twist, turn, loop, curl and I enjoyed the ride. I was making really great time through this section, under 6 minute ks for most of it. I concentrated on driving my knees upwards and forward on all the climbs. I enjoyed the amazing views. This really was a nice way to clock up 100k.
Before long I was rolling down a climb for 5kms and I was making my way back onto the scenic beach at Anglesea. I lifted my knees on the soft sand and hooned into the checkpoint at the Anglesea Riverbank Parkland. At the check point there was a massive crowd. The format of the event with the 4 person relay, 2 person relay and solo events meant that the spectators were numerous and noisy. The whole region really got behind the Surf Coast century. I really enjoyed the encouragement that I was receiving. I’d run 49ks in 4 hours and 27 minutes. I think I was still 3 minutes ahead on my splits.
I quickly found my drop bag and swapped over my nutrition and hydration for the next 28ks. Jono Worswick’s partner, Kate kindly hung around at the check point to help me out. She offered me pancakes which I avoided.
“That’s right you not an eater”. She commented.
Too funny. I just can’t stomach any solid food when running. I can only digest sports nutritional products when I’m out there. Those people who can eat real food while racing; I admire you.
“Thanks Kate. I’m cool with my gear”. I said.
I was allowing 500ml for every hour that I was racing which I had Fizz pre-made up in water bottles and a Hammer Gel or Perpetuem every 30 minutes. I was using Coffee flavour Gel for the next leg every hour and Perpetuem on the 1/2 hour hoping that I would get a kick up the climbs through the toughest section of the day.
I calmly walked out of the Surf Coast Century check point, sorted out my kit and I was off and running down the footpath along the river. I soon was turning back on myself and heading under the Anglesea River Bridge. I was carrying gels and gel flasks in my hand left hand, and I had to crawl under the bridge on my hands and knees. I was not use to the crawling under such a tight gap between the bridge and the ground of less than 50cm. I found it a bit tough. The minute I cleared the bridge I could feel my hamstrings tighten as I started to run again.
I kicked on and started the first of 3 major climbs of the day.
The track soon widened and became a fire trail of sticky clay in some sections. I smiled to myself when I spotted a kangaroo foot print in the hardened clay surface. The heat was radiating out of the clay ground it was hot and I was drinking through my water stores. I reached the top of the climb and soon rolled down the other side and like the roller coaster of a fire trail and I started to climb back up the other side again. I counted my way up to the top and used this opportunity to ask other relay runners who were passing me if they’d seen any other Solo female runners. I’d dared not ask any earlier.
“About 15 minutes back”. One runner informed me. “I don’t know how you do it?”
I also had a bit of a peak behind me on the long hot and exposed fire trail and I could not see any other red bibbed females chasing me down.
At the 57km mark I’d reached the top of the 2nd climb in this section and I turned right onto the single man track. I was then thankfully shaded by the forest fort he next 3ks along the Distillery Creek Circuit. I noticed that my shoulder was starting to hurt. This was a total new pain and injury to me. I’ve had a spinal injury that has effected this shoulder in the past, and it is on my “Broken Arm” side, but it did not really slow me down.
The track then began to climb again and I was thankful that even though I was ascending the biggest climb of the day I was still able to run most of the way up to the top of the 225m climb. I was joined by a local runner who said that he was also prepared to pick me up from the airport if needed.
“Do you want to pass?” I asked.
“Nah, you are going fast enough for me”. He replied.
“What’s your goal time? I’m aiming for 10:30”. I asked thinking we could pace each other.
“I’m going for 10 hours”.He replied “I think my goal is slipping away”.
We pushed on together. My stomach was starting to cramp. We were running in the most exposed, hottest ridge of the day in the hottest part of the day and I knew this climb was going to drag on for 7kms along a tight single man track.
I finished the last of my water stores and my new found running mate offered me some of his. I refused his offer thinking he probably needed more than me if he wanted to run 100ks in 10 hours.
We made it to the top of the climb and we crossed a fire trail where I spotted mountain bike riders spectating the race. They gave us a huge cheer and we rolled on down the single man track to the 70km mark at Distillery Creek 6 hours 47 minutes.
This was where the Nutrition Plan went a bit wrong. I’d consumed too much caffeine in one dose at a time using the Coffee gel which had 50mg of Caffeine in it. I thought that if I had only one serve/ hour I should be okay with this strategy. It was fine for a 3 hour training session. I guess you just don’t get to test out Ultra Nutrition Plans very often. (Ultra Running Legend Andrew Vize after the event recommended to me to mix the Vanilla and the Coffee flavour Gel together, so I would only be having 25mg/serve and only fill up to 4 in the gel flask and the rest with water, this combination I’ll use for my next event. 3rd place female runner Many-Lee Nobel suggested that I eat Perpetuem Solids as I run taking small nibbles every 15 minutes or so). Even though I was only having 50mg my body weighing 52kilos, 50mg per hour it was too much in one hit.
My stomach was not happy but I still felt really good. I was full of energy and my hydration levels were still okay. I was just wasting a bit of time with toilet stops. I kicked on up the next climb and I was again able to ask how the other Solo Female were doing. I worked out that I was able to hold my 15 minute lead. I was happy with how I was running and I was able to pump out a consistent rhythm. I used the faster relay runners as pacers up the climbs and before long I was at the final drop bag check point for the day Moggs Creek 77km 7 hours 40 minutes.
I took my time here. Making sure I was fully hydrated before I left the check point. My shoulder was starting to protest a little bit more and getting my pack on and off my back became a struggle.I decided that I was switching back to Tropical Gels and I also decided that I’d be able to try a Hammer Choc Chip Bar. Maybe I needed some solid food in my gut. I also had thoughts of getting my period. I was due for it. Maybe this was also my issue I don’t usually have such bad gut issues. (I ended up getting my period the Tuesday after the Surf Coast Century 100km! Crazy!! I guess I’m still healthy).
I then started to notice some female spectators who were following my progress in the Surf Coast Century. I later found out they were running in the 4 manned all female relay team. They were encouraging me. I was a bit confused. I was not quiet sure what why they were so impressed with my effort. I guess my solo efforts were matching their team of four females and they were just amazed that I was able to match it with them.
I happily exited the check point with a smile on my face. Feeling really fresh considering I’d run 77km. My energy levels were great. I felt good. I’d forgotten about my shoulder. I was in the lead. I only had 3 climbs in the next section over 23kms, and I’d already covered the hardest part of the course. All I had to do was turn my legs over and I was going to be a winner.
With a wave to the crowd, I kicked it on and I was soon joined by a few relay runners up the next climb. I enjoyed the chit chat and I again asked on who was following me.
At the 79km mark of the Surf Coast Century I was blessed with the most breath taking view I’d ever seen almost on any trail event at the Ocean View Look out. I thought how this point in the Surf Coast Century totally contrast The North Face 100km 79km. This was heaven on earth where at The North Face 100 I was in hell. I could see for miles down the coast in either direction and it was just the most amazing way to run the final 20ks of the 100km.
I rolled down the hill and spotted some houses. This was a reality check for me. My guts were still a bit crampy. I took 3 gastro stops, and had some food 15 minutes later then decided to have 2 more. About 15 minutes after this I then hungry. I realized that I had not eaten for about an hour. Possibly more. Ahhhhh finally. I’d hardly felt the need to eat in the last 10ks. I think my body has finally become efficient at using Fat for a fuel. I decided to try the solid food and hoped for the best. I relished feeling hungry. I ate 1/2 a tasty Choc Chip Bar. I then waited another 1/2 an hour and ate the rest. I do love my food……
I was still feeling really good. The terrain was much easier and cooler than the last 30ks. I was being passed by more relay runners and I was again loving the chit chat.
I exited the fire trail and hit the foot path, then descended under the Airey’s Bridge at the Great Ocean Road. I was running with another female at this time and I then totally discovered how injured my shoulder was. We had to scramble out way under the bridge. I was not able to hold onto the rugged, stone blocks that was foundations for the bridge. I had to craw and balance on a 45 degree angle under the bridge with one hand. My agility paid off even with one hand and I faired much better than my new friend. We popped out onto the footpath on the sea side of the bridge and I really felt my shoulder seize up. I sent her on and tried to punch out my own pace now using only one arm when I was running. My shoulder on my left side was killing me. I decided that I’d hold onto my pack when I ran to prevent the sharp stabbing pain that I felt with every arm swing.
I arrived at the final Surf Coast Century check point, CP7 Airey’s Skate Park 86km in 8 hours 44 minutes. I tried to re-fill with water, but my whole arm now was buggered and could not turn a tap on a water tank it was so painful. I was laughing at how sore it was. The female spectators that I saw at Moggs Creek CP offered me help. I was clearly injured but I was in the lead and the pain really is not that bad when you are leading. I refused their help and just did my best to re-fill my water bottles and add my Fizz Electrolytes.
My shoulder hurt like hell. I just had to hold on and turn my legs over. The immobility in my shoulder was slowing me down. I could not break into my natural stride. I was having problems getting my water bottle out of my pack. It even hurt to to check my splits on my watch. A few kms later I’d run out of water in my front water bottle pocket of my pack. I desperately wished that I’d see a walker who could swap my bottles over for me. I was hurting, sharp stabbing pain flowed through my entire arm with every subtle movement. I couldn’t even undo my pack without and shock of pain. No body appeared. I eventually swapped my bottles over, grimacing , and almost crying. It was so important to keep my fueling and hydration flowing even in these late stages of the race.
I rolled my legs over. I climbed up to the light house and rolled down the hill happy that I’d made it passed the last climb of the day. I was starting to get tired. I began to count. I counted my way along the cliff tops along the Surf Coast Century Walking Track. I ran down the stairs to Sunnymead beach and I was joined by another runner who I ran with up through the private property chatting the whole way. At the top of the climb I wished him luck and he hooned off out of site.
The light started to fade and removed my sunnies. I then ran out onto the Great Ocean Road and again I spotted my female friends who were following my progress. I had my own personal cheer squad. This was fantastic I thought. How cool is this. Cars were tooting, people cheering. I enjoyed the easy road kms and rolled down the hill on a switch back to Govo’s Beach.
On Govo’s Beach I just did my best to turn my legs over as fast as I could. I tried to spot runners out in front on the endless stretch of sand. This beach just seemed like it went on forever. I think it was a 3km beach. I was still in the light of day, but it was soon going to be dark. I did my best to run sub 6 minute ks, but my shoulder injury and the sand was not helping me. Again my female mates came out onto the beach to cheer me on. I was starting to feel a bit self conscious. In my tired state, I felt like I was running so slow.
I welcomed the set of stairs at the end of Govo’s Beach and enjoyed climbing them knowing I was going to win. I rolled along the street and down the hill past the Anglesea SLSC and onto Anglesea Beach. I turned the corner after a few hundred meters of running, lifted my feet across the soft sand. The crowd was still full. All the Salomon Team were amazing and were still waiting for me to cross the line. They too had been cheering me on the entire way too.
I crossed the line of the Surf Coast Century in 10 hours 18 minutes with a massive cheer from the crowd just less than a minute after the female relay team of 4. I was stoked. It was a fantastic win. Amazing course. Great organization, with heaps of spectators. The course crossed the start finish line 4 times which meant there was so many opportunities to gain a cheer from the a crowd.
After the event interview with Rapid Ascent and Trail Runner Magazine I was kindly looked after by the entire Salomon Crew including my mates Andrew, Gretel, Mick, Matt and the Victorian Salomon Team. They drove me back to my beach house to pick up my clothes and I was driven to their Post Surf Coast Century Race Party. I was showered, fed and hydrated. I was so lucky to be so well looked after :-)
Just before I left the event I spotted the Geelong School Girls coming through the 49km mark. They looked knackered. A few injuries had been suffered, a few tears, but they seemed to be in good sprits on the whole. We all thought about them through out the night. They finished the 100ks in 25 hours 16 minutes.
As I was leaving the Surf Coast Century, 2nd placed female Amy Hinds from Tasmania was coming across the line in 10 Hours 38 minutes. I would have loved to stay and see Mandy-Lee over the line but i was freezing and my body was starting to show signs of hyperthermia. Just after I left Mandy-Lee Noble from Queensland finished in 10 hours 52 minutes. It was a great show of National Trail Running strength from the top three female runners.
The winning male was Rowan Walker
from Geelong 8 hours 25 minutes. 2nd placed male was my No Roads Team Mate from Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney Jonathan Worswick and winning the final sport on the podium was David Hosking.

Backing up to win the Concrete Shoe 14.5km plus the Surf Coast Century 100km.

At about 10pm I took the opportunity to leave the party and I was given yet another lift back to my house. There I jumped into bed and tried to sleep. At 3am I woke up and hydrated myself. At 4am I ate breaky, my pre-made oats, yogurt and berries and then almost fell back to sleep. I remembered that I’d promised that I’d be at the finish line for the Geelong Girls at 5:30am. At 4:45am I dragged myself out of bed and packed all my things ready to head back to Sydney. I knew that if I’d fell asleep now I’d never get back up. I still wanted to have the opportunity to race for the “Concrete Shoe” the fastest accumulative time over the 100km and the 14.5km the next day proving that I was the master of backing up. If I was not down at the start line I would not be able to race. My thoughts were just to get to the start line now.
I packed and cleaned the house and locked it up. I rolled my legs down the hill to the start line and I cheered a female runner who I’d met the day before over the line at about 5:30am. We chatted for some time before she left. I then found another person to chat too before it started to rain heavily. I was freezing. It was less than 10 degrees, and I was a bit knocked around from the day before. The Geelong Girls were running a bit late and would not be arriving for a few more hours so I decided that I needed to have a second breakfast of 2 eggs, toast, avocado, mushrooms, spinach and a hot chocolate at the cafe. This all went down well so I decided to then have a coffee about 30 minutes later.
It was pissing down outside. Just like true Melbourne weather an absolute contrast to the day before. I’d worn mascara for the first time in months for the presentation and I did not want to have it running all down my face after the 14.5ks. I sent a text to Chris Ord to tell him that I was going to pull out of the “Concrete Shoe Event” of running 14.5ks at 9am I thought it best that someone else won an award.
I spotted some friends in the cafe and chatted for some time and at 8:45am I decided to go to the toilet at the start line and look for the Geelong Girls. I then started to get racy. Seeing everyone with their race bibs on just set my adrenaline going. I went up to the registration and after a bit on to-ing and fro-wing, and because I was so bloody cold, and because I still had 1.5 hours to wait for the presentation I decided to race the 14.5kms for the Concrete Shoe.
I was still putting my bib on when the first wave took off. I did not have a water bottle, I had my designer sunnies on. I was not Race Ready, but who cared. I was just going to enjoy the run, meet some new friends, have a chit chat and win the Concrete Shoe.
I lined up in the second wave and took off with the guys, we ran for about 3ks and then a group of 15 of us all took the wrong turn and like lemmings followed each other through the YMCA reception area because I was talking too much to the leading guys. I was hoping that one of these locals knew the way. Clearly I was mistaken.
Too funny. After a few directions from the YMCA staff, I headed back to where I last saw a real marker and started my race again. I had dropped right back to last position with the last wave runners and walkers.
Oh well, this meant I could just chat to more people along the way. The entire 14.5ks I spent passing people on the right and ignoring any pain that I was feeling. The track went through my most disliked section of the 100km Surf Coast Century but in reverse. My time was dismal, I have not even looked at it. It is especially bad because I spent at least 5 minutes running around the YMCA but I did enough to win the Concrete Shoe.
After the event I then had to switch back into network mode and find a way to get my suitcase down to the start line and a lift back to Melbourne Airport by 2pm. Raylene from the Anglesea Chamber of Commerce kindly grabbed the beach house keys off me and drove back to the house and collect my things. Mandy Noble the 3rd place female introduced me to my ride back to Melbourne.
Winning the Surf Coast Century meant that I won $1000 and an amazing Suunto Ambit Watch which I love. I’d like to thank Rapid Ascent, Salomon, Suunto and Trail Runner Magazine for sponsoring the event. The prize money was much appreciated by myself and my family. I am a mother of two, the main bread winner of the household with my personal training business and my chosen sport of Ultra Running can get every expensive. The prize money from the event is a nice way to ease the financial burden on my family. I must also thank everyone who looked after me on the weekend and inov-8 for their great shoes. I would have been lost with out the many lifts I managed to scab off everybody, you are the best and may the “Trail Running Gods be on your side”.
I will be back next year to give it another crack and hopefully get everything done right and break the 10 hours for the Surf Coast Century 2013.