Getting to the Start to Check Point 2 Torquay Point Danger.
A sick feeling of dread flowed through my entire body while I was standing in the Virgin Australia Que at Sydney Airport. I thought I was totally organized for the inaugural Surf Coast Century 2012. It was my first time I was traveling inter-state for a race and I was so pumped. I was flying from Sydney to Melbourne, then hiring a car from Melbourne Airport and driving to Anglesea on the Great Ocean Road. I’d packed my inov8 x-talon 190,UltrAspire Surge Back pack, 2XU Inov8 and barefoot Inc Branded elite compression shorts, bra and presentation jacket (all thanks to my awesome sponsors Barefoot Inc), socks, calf guards, tri-belt, TNF visor (why don’t other race organizers make awesome caps like TNF cap?) running sunnies. That was just what I was racing in. I had the mandatory race kit including the most extensive first aid kit I’ve ever had to carry, wind proof jacket, whistle, mobile, all my nutrition that consisted of Hammer Electrolyte Fizz, Hammer Tropical Gel, Hammer Expresso Gel, Hammer Perpetuem, Hammer Recoverite
I also painstakingly printed out the course notes fully colour coded so I could easily understand the course descriptions on the run.I then laminated these and printed them out x10 so I could pass them out to runners at the registration of the event hoping that the “Trail Running gods” would be on my side.
I had my race splits all sorted out from the race profile. I decided that I’d be able to achieve 10 hours 30 minutes over this course, even though I’d never seen any of the course in person. From this estimation of the course section splits I decided how much hydration and fuel I’d need for the 100km. My Hammer nutrition was divided up into gel flasks, bottles and all put into individual baggies for each check point. I did not have a support crew. My hydration and nutrition had to be spot on so my race ran seamlessly.
I was as organized as can be. Yet the one thing I forgot to check was my drivers license that I totally took for granted that it would be in my wallet. I was standing in the queue for the baggage check in and I was just hoping that my license would magically appear in my wallet. Stopping short of tipping my wallet out on the floor of the airport I checked and re-checked but my License was not in my wallet.
I only arrived 30 minutes before the flight. I was running out of time. I called Mikey my husband.
“Hey, can you please check the centre console for my drivers license?” I calmly asked.
Mikey, being Mikey went off his head at me. He is use to me being some what a scatter brain when it comes to flying. I’ve missed many a planes due to many different reasons. He was not a happy guy to say the least. He’d only asked me an hour earlier if I’d had packed my drivers license.
I was making him pull off a freeway, and check the car for my license. Even if he did find it I would not have enough time to retrieve my license and still make the flight. Mikey could not find the license anywhere in the car.
“I’ll just try and get on the plane and then I’ll worry about how I am to get to Anglesea when I get to Melbourne”. I said to Mikey.
“They won’t let you on the plane, you’ll have to come home, you’ve stuffed it, I’t will cost you a fortune if you miss your flight. You not going”. Mikey angrily replied.
“I’ll just see if I can talk my way on.” I positively replied.
I stepped up to the baggage check in counter and presented my pre-printed boarding pass.
“Do you have any ID?” The check in counter staff asked.
“No, I can’t find my drivers license, I have my boarding pass though.” I replied.
“A medicare card is enough”. She offered.
“How about my credit card?” I asked.
Sweet, with my credit card being accepted I was checking in my heavy 21 kilo suit case and I was catching the plane. I then went into network mode. I called Mikey, and told him I was catching the flight. I then called the rental car company who I hired the car through and informed them about my situation. I had to then cancel the car hire.
I called my contact from Rapid Ascent, and Trail Runner Magazine Director the lovely Chris Ord.
“Chris. Hi it’s Shona Stephenson. I’ve fu3ked up. I’m able to get on a plane to Melbourne and I will be coming to race but I can’t find my drivers license and I can’t hire a car to get to Anglesea. I’m flying into Melbourne Airport. Is there anyone who I can catch a cab to who can give me a lift to the registration?”. I asked slightly embarrassed.
“Hey Shona, cool. No worries. Can I post this on Facebook? I’m sure we will sort it out.” Chris replied.
“We have an hour and a half to find someone before I land, so we have some time, cool post it on Facebook. Most of my life is up there, it does not bother me”.I replied.
With this said and done, I just had to relax and hope that Chris would be able to find someone. I then contacted Jono Worswick, Andrew Vize, Andy Lee, my Sydney running friends, all of which I knew were in the Melbourne area. If worst came to worst. I was prepare to catch a taxi to Avalon Airport, to meet with who ever was going to help me out. In the end I was going to hire a car, so I was expecting to have to spend a bit of money on transport.
I boarded the plane, drank some water, ate a muesli bar and had a nice nap whilst listening to the re-peat of the finals of 1997 Western Bulldogs playing Essendon on the inflight entertainment. Listening to AFL with my eyes closed always puts me to sleep. There is something soothing about it.
On landing I checked my phone and Chris had found me a lift from Essendon with a Facebook friend of mine and a lovely trail runner called Tegyn. What luck. Essendon is only about a $20 cab fare away from the airport. Excellent how good is this. I thought.
I caught the taxi, and hung in Alice Cafe on 25 Napier Street in Essendon and waited for Tegyn to get ready.
I was soon greeted by Tegyn and Semeer and we were off and driving to Anglesea. I chatted these two boys ears off for the next 2 hours. I soon found out that Tegyn was racing the Surf Coast Century Solo then backing up the next day in SA, and running the Yarra Trail 50km on the Sunday. Nuts. I thought I was tough backing up, yet he was going to have to drive back to Melbourne at 6am, catch a plane to SA then run 50km then fly back. Crazy.
We arrived in Anglesea at about 6pm, and soon found the YMCA registration check-in. I quickly tried to organize my bag using the race sponsors water bottles, but I soon realized that after testing them they were faulty. I quickly scammed a lift with Chris Ord, to take me to the servo and buy 8x 600ml water bottles to I could have my hydration organized for my check point bags. I returned to the registration, quickly sorted out my bags, and then I was greeted Raylene from the Chamber of Commerce in Anglesea. I had not even had a chance to eat dinner. I then ran into the YMCA kitchen and grabbed my pasta for my dinner and had it packed into a container. I nabbed 3 huge pieces of white garlic bread and I was off and running back to Raylene who had kindly offered to give me a lift to my beach house.
After quickly picking up some linen I was dropped at the 5 bedroom, 3 story luxury beach house high up on the hill overlooking Airey Beach. This house was bliss. How did I manage to get so well looked after? I had this amazing beach house all to myself. I was having a great day apart from my mishap.
I ate my dinner, and tried to turn on the TV and air conditioner. Both of which I failed. Usually Mikey my hubby sorts everything out that is electronic. I called Mikey and told him I’d arrived but he was more interested in watching the Swans play Collingwood in the preliminary final on TV. Fair enough. I organized my gear again, and tucked into bed for my nights rest at about 9pm at night. Far out what a day. Looking back on the adventure I’d already had I was pretty happy with how my life was turning out so far.
I woke up early at 5am. Worked out how to make a coffee using a plunger. (Mikey and I have been married for 10 years. I’ve been with him since I was 19. He usually takes such good care of me. I am really quite un house trained when it comes to anything technical, cooking, washing anything domestic around the house). Drank my coffee, ate my No Excuses Breaky check out the link which I always take with me to events. Got dressed. gave myself a massage, taped my ankles, sorted out my pack, took a movie of the house and then locked up and headed down to the start of the Inaugural Surf Coast Century which I was so happy that it was only 1 kilometer away.
I spotted some friends and then spied the Geelong School Girls. I wished them the best of luck and I wanted them to know they had my full support for the 100kms.
After a warm up, a last pee I downed a Tropical Hammer Gel and walked to the start line. I found Bronte Ness, the young up and coming Ultra Endurance Runner who came 5th at The North Face 100km. She also had traveled from NSW for the event. I wished her all the best of luck. She was feeling ill, and had been sick the entire week. Bronte was doing well just to be at the start line.
The count down went off “10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1”, and we were off and running. The first leg of the event is easy consisting of only 3 climbs. Following the coast line from beautiful Anglesea to Torquay. My race plan was to lead out fast from the front staying under my an-aerobic threshold, running to my breath, taking it easy but still try and build a lead on my competitors. I knew Bronte was in the field. I had no idea who else was going to be chasing me down. I knew there would be someone who would want to win. I was just going to run to how I felt and hit my splits and just hope that that would be enough to win the Surf Coast Century.
I ran along the gorgeous coast line at Anglesea. This part of Victoria is just amazing. There is a perfect view with every turn. I found myself running next to Jono Worswick, my No Roads Expeditions Oxfam Trailwalker Sydney team mate. We chatted for some time and he complained about how fast we were running. It was pancake flat and quick. He was worried that he was running too fast. I felt like saying “slow down then”. Jono was keen to stay ahead of me, his long legs made quick work of the flat terrain. Jono ran up the boat ramp at the 6k mark. I followed him. Jono soon turned back, he’d gone the wrong way. We re-traced our steps and we collected other runners including Bronte and showed them the correct way to go. Far out, we’d only been running for 6ks and we’d already taken a wrong turn.
We kicked it on as a group and I just hoped that my natural speed would again gain me some distance on any female in the pack. After 4 ks of flat hard packed sand running next to the most amazing cliffs of Anglesea I climbed a set of stairs and reached the first drink stop of the day at Point Addis Check Point 1. I ran straight through in around 50:39 minutes then kicked it down the road with the cheers of cars passing by and descended a set of stairs passing a few runners who were only running to 21km out of the 100km in a team relay. I ran along the sand then over some rocks up another head land and then descended into the world famous Bells Beach with a crowd of surfers cheering us all on. I scooted around some rocks then hooned across the sand at Jan Juc Beach, around the Torquay Reserve, across Torquay Beach and climbed up a set of stairs and into the first check point of the Day Torquay, Point Danger hitting my splits 1:45:28 for the first 21km.