Zero to 100km – A first timer’s journey

While the talk of the town has been UTA over the last week or so, there are plenty of other great races to enjoy across our fair island. Former Victorian State cricketer, Julie Savage takes us on her journey to reach her first 100km at the Surf Coast Century.

“One of reasons I undertook to run the Surf Coast Century as my first 100km was to create a journey that would allow me to explore. To explore the amazing natural environment we live in, to explore my limits, and meet others on their own journeys. To develop the ability to run anywhere, whenever I want to.”

If you’d have asked Julie Savage, former Victorian State cricketer, dentist and mother of two what she thought of running back in 2010 – she’d tell you she wasn’t at all enthusiastic – it hurt to run 5km.

But the need of a motivational goal, and exercise when on the road as a Southern Stars (Australian Women’s Cricket Team) selector, Julie put her running shoes back on, and the journey began; The Great Train Race against Puffing Billy, the Great Wall of China Marathon 10km, a half marathon or two, and then the Gold Coast Marathon in 2013.

“Training for the marathon was a real turning point for me, I loved the structure of the training program from the coach of my regular 2XU run group and it changed my relationship with running: running became an integral part of what I do – who would have thought?”

Getting hooked on trail running occurred after Julie ran her first trail race at 2Bays in 2014.

“The running community has such a beautiful, inclusive and encouraging camaraderie and the sense of calm, belonging and pure joy that I feel while moving through beautiful landscapes is what makes trail running for me.”

In late 2015 Rapid Ascent, a small adventure events company based on the Surf Coast in Victoria put the word out for expressions of interest to runners who were ready to tackle their first 100km ultra marathon, and be willing to share their journey through blogs as the official Surf Coast Century Trail Running Rookie Ambassador – a way to inspire other first-timers.

For Julie, it was a natural progression, it was the “what’s next?” after progressing through 10k’s, half marathons, marathons, and a shorter ultra or two. She was enjoying her running and looking for the next challenge.

What was to follow was seven months of running, training, travelling and planning to prepare for the Surf Coast Century as my first 100km.

January saw Julie run up Mt Stirling, explore Leg 2 of the Century course, run around Canberra and cross-train on the slopes of Hakuba, Japan.

“Running your first 100 km event may be somewhat similar to your first pregnancy. There’s the long lead up. Nutrition becomes a constant topic of discussion and you are SO, SO hungry. Parts of your body ache. And you fluctuate between extremes of utter fatigue and bubbly “I can do anything” energy. There are the doubts about what you have embarked on, the worries on how it will all pan out, that big day, it sometimes seems so far away and sometimes feels like you haven’t got enough time to get ready, if in fact you ever do…….”

But then it’s February. And then March. Julie runs the Roller Coaster 43k in the Dandenongs, Brewster’s Beer Run 21k in March and prepares for the Buffalo Stampede Sky marathon in April.

She runs up Mt Donna Buang for the first time, explores the trails of Tasmania, heads on a running trip to Wilson’s Prom, and returns to the Surf Coast Century course to run Legs 1 and 2.

“I am so excited for this race – the course is beautiful. Running along the beach under the cliffs on Leg 1 is experiencing the majestic Victorian coastline at its best.

“My preparation for SCC has turned into an excuse to go on amazing running adventures all around the country. Setting the goal of doing my first 100km has led me to create a very fulfilling journey exploring and immersing myself in our stunning natural environment.”

Julie engages a coach to make sure her training program is the most efficient it can be and that rest is incorporated.

first 100km

Injuries hamper part of Julie’s preparation in May, but she’s still smiling as she’s just traversed the Larapinta trail to build up her weekly distance. She uses the enforced hiatus to improve areas that she’s normally too busy to work on intensively – core strength and ankle mobility/strength.

She signs up for the Prom 80k in June.

“It’s been a fabulous journey so far, with much more play time to come! It’s 100% immersion in the environment, the presence that often escapes us in the busyness we set up for ourselves as adults, and the contentment that comes when we find that flow. Playing on the trails has given me time, space and perspective and loads of pure joy.”

Three months out from the big day – Julie uses June to do some track work, and spontaneously enters the Surf Coast Trail Marathon half.

Through July Julie locks down her shoe plan, and spends more time out on the coastal trails, mentally rehearsing how she might feel during the race and working out where the tough points are.

Then a few more recce runs on the course and a long distance 11-hour outing at the Prom.

Julie’s final month before the big day includes a forced rest week, but a quick recovery sees her head back to the Century course for one final practice, then to Thredbo to finish off her major training.

“It’s so exciting to be on the home straight. Not long to go! I can’t wait! All that’s left to do now is finalise nutrition and get my support crew (my family) organised!”

“At this point in time, I’m looking forward to Saturday, knowing I have prepared as well as I could, although due to my knee injury, not as well as I would have liked.

“I have loved the journey – meeting fabulous people, getting out and about in our amazingly beautiful natural environment all over Australia: we are fortunate to have such landscapes to play in.

“And so, now all that remains is to embark on the adventure into the unknown that for me is a 100km event at 5.30am on Saturday. Apart from not being over-enthused about the start time (mornings are not my strong point), the anticipation is gradually building towards a crescendo, I can feel the excitement simmering inside me like a pot of water about to reach a boil, gradually increasing in energy. BRING IT ON!”

first 100km
Winners are grinners

To read Julie’s Surf Coast Century Race Report – CLICK HERE

And to read her journey in depth head to the First Timers page of

Since ticking off the Surf Coast Century 100km in September, nothing can stop Julie.

With her 2017 run sheet already stacked with the Bogong2Hotham 35km (January), sweep for the Oscars Hut2Hut 100k run in February, a trail tour taking in Cataract Gorge, Derby, Freycinet, Fortescue Bay and Cape Huay (Tasmania) in February, a third place in the Razorback 64k in March and most recently the Prom 44km.

“Yes, I have signed up for another 100k run – GOW100 in October. It’s the week of my 50th birthday, so it’s my birthday present to myself. I will run the 50 at Surf Coast Century both as part of my preparation for GOW and because I love it.

“To any first timers out there thinking of doing SCC, I would say DO IT! It was the most amazing and wonderful experience on so many levels. The scenery alone is worth it, not to mention the supportive atmosphere, amazing vibe, it’s super well organised and so much fun. Surf Coast Century is a very accessible challenge for all those reasons. I have such fond memories when I think back to both the day itself and all the preparation – it makes me smile.”

For more information or to enter, head to

Surf Coast Century is also part of the Ultra168 Supporters Club list of races. As a member, you can save a whopping 15% off the entry fee, which can save you up to $85. For more information on the Supporters Club visit:

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I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

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