This weekend was just like most weekends for me. I was going to head out and hit the trails, except this time I had been invited to try one of Australia’s newest trail events, the sold out inaugural Bouddi Coastal Run brought to us by Maximum Adventure. When I was asked to come it took me all of two seconds to accept the invitation. I took one look at the cover photo of the event and I knew it was going to be a good event. Sweeping ocean views, sand, hills, stairs, technical trails, fire trail, this event was going to have it all.
One of my RMA friends had been training for the event and she was telling me how tough the course was. Surely it can’t be that tough?, I thought. Little did I know, this event was very similar to it’s sister race, the Coastal Classic. What it lacked in distance it made up for in difficulty, but the stunning scenery and friendly atmosphere seemed to make the struggle a little less on the day.
It’s funny really….I mean looking back, do we ever really want to sign up for an easy event where we look back and go, “Gee, that was easy”. I don’t think so, so in hindsight this event has everything that I believe trail runners are really looking for in a race.
The event is set on the stunning coast-line of the Central Coast, 1.5 hours north of the Sydney CBD starting at Killcare Surf Lifesaving Club on the Beach at Putty Beach, and running through the beautiful Bouddi National Park. The course takes in the sites of Putty Beach, Gerrin Point, Maitland Bay, Bouddi and Bombi Point. There were two options: A 14km course, or 21k course for those wanting to go that little bit further. Both Courses started off the same, with the half marathon diverting a few kilometres in for a further 7 or so kilometres and looping back to join the rest of the 14k course. I was running the 14km option, so this review is based around my experience with the short course.
The day was beautiful but we knew early on it was going to be warm. Being late in October we can get some hot days, but this was unseasonably warm and high humidity. Because of an accident on the freeway the start for the half marathon was unfortunately delayed for around 15 minutes, which meant that our 8.30am start was pushed back to 8.45.
The event had massage set up near the race precinct by Coast Sports Physio and Sports Medicine, a BBQ run by the local Scout Club, and merchandise by ThermaTech on hand, and it was an easy bus ride from Woy Woy station to the start line which was included in our entry. We picked up our bibs from the lovely volunteers (thank you RMA volunteer Zoey), and I went straight to the massage table to give my calf a little warm up as it had been an issue a week prior to running.
We wandered over to watch the half marathoners start their race. There was a lot more of them than the 14k runners, and the start area on the beach was buzzing with excitement, but the sun was blazing hot already. We took shade under the marquee before we were to begin, and I chatted to other runners who were milling about, and threw a cup of Tailwind down my throat thanks to event sponsor Tailwind Nutrition Australia. I love meeting people who are part of the Running Community and finding out about them and where they are from, and it takes some of my nerves and pressure off at the start of the event.
Before too long it was our time to start. Mark the race director gave us a quick race briefing, an even quicker countdown and we were off and running.
The beginning of the race was along the beach. I felt like I was back at Surf Coast Century all over again 🙂 I tried not to let the thought of sand running worry me, and just took it in my stride to take my time and warm up slowly and not let the waves hit my new On Runners as they came flowing in from time to time. Nothing worse than sand in the shoes from the start! There was not much breeze and it was already quite warm. I enjoyed this section which lasted for 1.5km along the beach. The sand was on a bit of a camber so it wasn’t as easy as it looked and it wasn’t rock hard like at Surf Coast, so it did take some effort, but before I knew it we were exiting the beach and up some stairs to the trail ahead.
Of course the sand towards the stairs was soft and deep so we all looked hilarious as we traipsed through to the stairs. I always try to look graceful, but I fear I look like an elephant. All I want is off the beach! Up the stairs we went. Up up up, and onto the trails above. I took a quick glance behind me as we climbed and ran some single trails mixed in with stairs and I could see all the other runners coming along the beach below. It was gorgeous.
I was moving quite quickly and every now and then I whipped out my phone and stopped for a few seconds to snap a quick photo on my phone. I reminded myself why I was here as at one point I was gasping for breath, and told myself to slow down…..! You are here for the experience and to write a report on this inaugural event, not to race…..and I drew in a nice deep breath and carried on running and enjoying the scenery around me.
I loved the next section along the coastline. In and out of the trails through some technical sections, up and down stairs and out and in along the coastline we went. The views were amazing. Just like the Coastal Classic down south, you had an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the beautiful beaches and rock platforms below. There was some boardwalk sections and then in and out of the trails.
The people surrounding me were moving in synch and we flowed well through the trail. Going inland was nice and cool and everytime we headed back out along the trail towards the ocean the heat was rising. Up and down we went and then crossed another beach crossing and then back up more stairs into the trails above.
It was so humid and I was already struggling. I really don’t do well in the heat. I just kept sipping on my tailwind and water and made sure I was taking it a little slower. Going down some of the technical sections was the most fun for me, and the we came to the junction where the 21k was to turn off.
We turned off to the left following the green signs and the 21k runners had already turned off to the right. Part of me wished I was them as I really wanted to see what was down there, but that can be for another day.
As we turned right we soon came to stairs. Now I had been warned about the stairs, but little did I know what I was in for. If this days was the first day to start UTA training, I was going to benefit! They just went up and up and up and up and they didn’t stop going up. I put my hands on my quads and off I went pushing up them one by one. A guy behind me and I stopped every now and then for a few seconds to take a breather and laugh and comment that this was not in the race briefing, and how unexpected and cruel this was, but we kept on moving as strong as we could. It was quite difficult as it’s been a while since I had done any type of stair training, and I didn’t even take any pics because all I could concentrate on was breathing and thinking that the 21k runners were going to have to do this section after their 7k loop! I was thankful that was not me this day!
When we reached the top we were directed by a lovely volunteer that it wasn’t far to the first (and only for the 14k) aid station, which also had toilets available. A few more kilometres of beautiful rainforest up and down rocks and single track and we came out at the aid station. It was well stocked with fruit, lollies, Tailwind and water, and the lovely volunteer used the hose to fill up my bottles for me while I stood and caught my breath for a bit.
After I had had my little recovery break I started back off again. Knowing I was half way was a real boost. This time we headed off along a short section of road before heading back into the trail.
The next section of trail was fire trail. It was undulating, but manageable and much needed respite from all the stairs earlier. I used this section to just look around and take it all in and try to find what rhythm I could. My calf was starting to tighten, something that has been happening for the last week, but I tried to adjust my stride, and engage my glutes as to not aggravate it. A few people passed me, and then some of the front runners of the 21k came running past. I admit I felt like a bit of a turtle at this point! I wished them well as they flew past me, and kept on moving.
When I came to the next junction and saw a volunteer. I looked up and saw it was Pip Candrick. We were fellow UTA Ambassadors, but we hadn’t met in person. We had a quick hug and a hello and she alerted me to a bubbler right next to her. I threw the water over my head and quickly wet my buff. I was so so so hot! It was such a welcome cool down, and really helped me to get through the next section to the finish. Pip also made a note to tell us that it was a nice downhill stretch from here, and she was correct! I love a good downhill so I was really looking forward to this section.
Back into the cool of the forest we went and down some really nice runnable single track. It was interspersed every now and then with stairs, but not like the stairs we had to come up early on. I enjoyed running freely and tried not to pull my calf in the process. By this stage it was really starting to tighten.
I passed one of the ladies who was in the older category above me. Her name was Anne. She would have been in her sixties. She looked really fit. She explained she was no good on the downhill. I told her I loved it. We smiled and kept running. Out to the coastline we came back to part of the trail we had run earlier. Now I knew where I was, I knew it wasn’t far to home. I tried to keep running strong along the boardwalks and took some more pics. Then I could see Putty beach below where we first started our adventure. Down the stairs I went. There was a lot more people along the beach now enjoying the day and the sun was blazing in the sky. it was HOT.
The sand felt much harder to run on and it was a lot softer than before, the waves came crashing in and I didn’t have energy this time to outrun them so I just ran right through. The finish line seemed so far away as I inched closer and closer with each brutal step. My calf was just holding on. About half way along the beach I turned to see the Anne who I had passed come zooming past me. I told her she was amazing, and she said she was good at sand running! I said I wasn’t clearly! haha! I thought to myself, if I can run like that when I am that age I will be a happy woman. She went on to claim first place in her age category. 🙂
Along the beach I tried to push on. It was so hot and I was spent. I took two walk breaks in this section for about ten seconds each. I wouldn’t allow myself any more. Then I was almost there. The crowd was cheering. I thought it was awesome. Then a fit gorgeous young lady came running past me. It was Emma Just, the first place lady in the 21k! They were cheering for her! I was happy as I really felt like they were cheering for me too 🙂 I ran in just after her and was called by Mark the Race Director, “Miss Running Mums Australia herself….Nicole Bunyon”. Funny 🙂
In the end I came in in a time of 1:45:36 and 10th in my veteran category 🙂
After a quick photo by the professional photographer I headed to the aid station to grab myself some refreshments. I met the two ladies that had zoomed by me so gracefully, Emma and Anne, and chatted to some more people before heading back to the finish line to cheer more runners and RMA in.
We spent ages on the beach lapping up the vibe of a great finish line and a wonderful event. So many people kicking goals… and I met so many RMA I had never had the chance to meet before.
A dip in the ocean and a massage, and the best veggie burger I have ever had from the BBQ and we were heading back home to Sydney.
I would recommend this event to anyone who wanted to try out trail running. Yes, it was tough, but there really were people out there from beginners to more experienced runners and it is a very inclusive supportive event. The elevation was decent. Just over 400m elevation gain for the 14km, and a gain of 775m for the 21k. Lots of technical running, sand, stairs and fire trail, coupled with amazing scenery. It really had it all.
For more information head to www.bouddicoastalrun.com.au. The 2018 race will be held on Sat 27th October 2018, and entries open on 23rd July 2018.