A few months back, we gave the chance for one lucky reader to gain free entry into the Bouddi Coastal Run and now that reader, Helen Beard gives us her thoughts on the race and how it went down.
Everyone would have to admit that this instantly got your attention when announced back in July that the Maximum Adventure group had a new trail run on their agenda. It was a run that I put on my “to do” list for when I returned from a 4-week holiday. Oops. I was wrong about that one, so when I saw Dan’s email offering one lucky person an entry I pressed the button not expecting to be that lucky person at all. Lucky me! I had far from the ideal preparation but was looking forward to the adventure into the unknown. I didn’t know anyone who had entered nor had I ever run on any of the trails around Bouddi National Park.
Race morning came and I ventured north from Sydney. There was an option given to those that had entered to meet at Woy Woy train station for a free shuttle bus or risking a lack of parking at Killcare Surf Life Saving Club. All ran very smoothly. There was plenty of room at check-in where there were sponsors selling Thermatech clothing or Coast Sports physiotherapy for a free massage.
There was a slight delay in race start whilst the first drink station was being set up, but nothing an extra long briefing standing on a beautiful beach as distraction couldn’t fix. Maybe this added to the suspense as we stared at the 1.5k of soft sand running that began and finished our day. When was the last time a ran on soft sand? Not sure I can remember that far back. With the sun beaming and the ocean breeze slight the start gun went off. First to leave were the 21k group (that being me and around 300 others) followed 20 minutes later by the 14k group (another 150 or so). Huge numbers for the running of a first event.
Off we ran through the teardrop flags marking start/finish then straight for the water’s edge hoping for hard sand which really didn’t exist at all. Some survived and managed to keep their feet dry, others didn’t worry too much about that. 1.5ks later we reached the end of the beach and headed for our first flight of stairs. Not too bad as we headed up single file reaching the top and slotting into position as we ran along a board walk/ocean path for about a kilometre. Heading for more undulating track with more stairs up and down before reaching yet another beach for about 500m of more sand running. Then stairs up and down again. They type of stairs that every National Park has, some stone and stable others crumbling and then let’s not forget the ones that you need to climb out of because water has washed away half of them and the treated timber edge is not worth the risk of balancing on.
We finally reached a fork in the trail (5k mark) where 14k goes left and 21k goes right to continue along the trail hugging the coastline towards our first drink station (7k mark). Of course, this is also where the lead guys come flying in the opposite direction. Yes… they are fast and always make it look easy. The drink station appeared along a nice open fire trail in perfect time. The heat had turned up quite a few notches and shade was quickly disappearing. The drink stops had perfect supplies of oranges, bananas, lollies, water and Tailwind. Very glad I had remembered my flip cup as this was a “no cup” event. In saying that, we all know it’s dangerous to stop for too long so off we all headed along the fire trail for an out and back. The slow decline out meant a slow incline back, urghhhh. Reminding myself that walking only prolongs the pain. Wishing I had kept up more training.
The next section we headed off onto trails with a nice canopy shielding us from the sun. Turning off onto more single track with a mix of stairs but mostly runnable. We even came across a sealed path for a great downhill. but we all know what happens when you go down hills…. you need to go up hill. Popping out onto a road we headed up hill for about 100m then turned off onto more fire trail in the sun heading for the next drink station at the 11k mark.
Winding back along the coast track we got to enjoy what seemed like one of the few downhill sections before more stairs and a right hand turn towards the next drink station (14k). Leading to the drink station was the steepest and longest of the stair climbs of the day. Thankfully it didn’t match the climbs of Furber or Golden Stairs in the Blue Mountains. I somehow managed to pass a few on this climb. I can only think this was because I hadn’t been neglecting my strength training, only my longer runs.
Back into the canopy and undulating fire trail. This was my favourite section as a few of us shuffled along together keeping a steady pace. We reached the “5k to finish” mark which was confirmed by a trusty volunteer. Fantastic! A nice track leading back to the coast, a few more short but steep stair climbs, some single track and boardwalk before the 1.5k soft sand run to finish the day. Definitely no sprinting to the finish line in this race.
I would say that this is a great event for all – the more experienced after a fast run with a mix of terrain or the road runner / new to running wanting to have a go on the trails. I only heard a few say they would have like to have taken their pack to carry a little more water as it was a hot day but otherwise it was perfect. At the finish line there was fruit and “Go Natural” protein bars, the Scouts sausage sizzle and also the Killcare Surf Club kiosk for refuelling and the perfect beach for a swim.
If you thought this event was easy then you didn’t run fast enough. Thanks to Mark and the Maximum Adventure team for another fantastic event!