GOW 100K Trail Race 2012

Isobel Bespalov Trail Running nearly-there

The GOW 100k was my second 100k trail race, after my first, The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains. I still felt like I didn’t know what I was doing! I expected the course to be much flatter and with a lot less stairs. Also, the mandatory gear requirements were less stringent, which, thankfully, meant I was carrying less.

This race was run along the Great Ocean Walk coastal trail, which is located along the Great Ocean Road on the Victorian coast. The course itself was a mixture of fire trails, beaches and single track. The commonality of all of those was the beautiful scenery. The race started in Apollo Bay and wound its way around to Port Campbell.

Of course, being on the coast, we were subject to some tough weather conditions. We were faced with rain that came in sideways, and then warm sun that made me feel very hot! These two conditions kept swapping all day, but part of the challenge of an ultra race is dealing with different and difficult conditions. Such changes in weather also make a race more memorable, the coast is even more beautiful when the weather is blustery and wet.

Isobel Bespalov GOW 100k Trail Runner 92km bridge
92km bridge

The first section of the race was mainly on 4WD trails, and they were very muddy! Of course, living in the Dandenongs I am quite used to this! After about 10 or so kilometres, I started catching and passing the people who had passed me at the start. That’s always a good feeling!

The single track came next, and was great fun, but I managed to trip four times!! You really need to pay attention to where to put your feet rather than on the beautiful views! The single track itself was beautiful: pretty flowers scattered along the ground and breathtaking views when I looked up. I found the hardest section of all was running across Johanna Beach: my feet were sinking, there was a terrible head wind and I had no idea where I was going!

As the race progressed, I came across stairs and lots of them!! I couldn’t believe it! Not as bad as TNF, but still! Why am I always surprised by stairs?? Once again, not enough stair training!! Not only that, but there was lots of pinch climbs, and some steep slippery, tricky downhill’s. It certainly challenged all my trail running skills!

I had been feeling really good, but after about 60kms I was starting to feel a bit weary. Not too bad, but definitely looking forward to the finish! My family was my support crew, and I really loved seeing them every checkpoint. They kept me well-supplied with nutrition, a very important component of ultra running.

Isobel Bespalov GOW 100k Ultra Runner finishline

At about 80kms, I really felt like I had had enough. 100kms is a long way! I knew I was getting closer to the finish when I could see the huge cliffs and Twelve Apostles that are the famous tourist attraction of Port Campbell. It truly is a beautiful part of the world!

I finished my second 100k, in second place in a time of 11hours and 47minutes! I was 7th overall, and very pleased with my result! It’s funny, as soon as I finished none of it seemed as hard anymore, and I didn’t feel quite as weary! The mind certainly likes to play games!