‘True friends are there for you when they would rather be anywhere else’
It has taken me a few days to process the experience that was Surf Coast Century and work out exactly what I wanted to share in a race recap. 100km is a long way, conditions were extreme, but the take away from the weekend is the power of friends, the power of this community and the power of that deep genuine love and bond between sisters.
I went into the race with a degree of nervousness as trail running is not my strong point. As an average road runner, I embarked on my first trail event in 2017, completed 22km at UTA in May last year and three other 50km events since then. I’m not saying this to say I have done anything remarkable but really to highlight that I’m quite inexperienced. I am very slow, very cautious but I absolutely love the adventure. There is nothing I love more than being out there running with the aim to finish without any time expectations.
There is no doubt most people reading this will have heard anecdotally about what happened on Saturday. We had it all, we were swept into the sea, we had 2 hail storms, the single trails were ankle deep rivers, it was freezing, it was windy, it was slippery, we were cold to hypothermic, we fell but we got back up. You couldn’t make this stuff up and other than snow we probably experienced it all.
You can dwell on the tough conditions but really, it’s a great analogy for life, shit happens, it can be out of your control, what defines you as a person is your ability to keep going. At no point on Saturday did it ever cross my mind for one second to pull the pin. The only way I wouldn’t make the finish line was if I was taken to hospital or I didn’t make the cut off. I wanted to suck everything I could out of this amazing adventure and I refuse to look at it with any negativity. It was simply one of the best days of my life. I learnt how strong I could be but mostly I experienced the true depths of friendship.
On Thursday Laura and Nicole drove for 10+ hours to be with me. On Sunday after the race and after getting to bed at 3am they woke at 8am to drive 10+ hours home again. For 18 hours, my crew raced from check point to check point in crazy weather and late into the night to be there for me.
So, let’s start at the beginning. A very wet start on the beach at 7am where four friends huddled under blankets and umbrellas and wished me well. Let’s go to the first checkpoint where they strapped my feet and change my shoes in pouring rain. At the half way point again in the rain where Rita and Dani-Marie ran me in and told me how strong I still looked. Where my crew AND their families were waiting to redress me, warm me, feed me and send me out. Let’s fast forward to the 70km mark where I was so cold I didn’t know where I was and Sophie’s husband found me in the dark, in the forest and lead me to the checkpoint where they stripped me completely and dressed me again in 8 layers and warmed me and fed me. At my most vulnerable, at my most disorientated they were there. They were unfailingly there. It was so late and Sophie had work at 4am but she didn’t waiver. Kids, husbands all of them there for me. At the finish line with a negative wind chill factor, in the rain and in the early hours of Sunday morning they were still there. This is at its core the true essence of friendship.
On Saturday Laura ran her first ultra 9 months post-partum after giving birth to a still-born little girl, Luca. She smashed it. Did she go home and shower or bath? Did she sit down and take in the moment? No, she jumped straight into the car and out to my nearest checkpoint. In the dark and in the cold she ran to me medal around her neck and hugged me, that knowing hug of what was to come. In that moment, I knew she would be with me for the next 30km and more importantly I knew Luca was also with me. If anything on Saturday gave me strength it was that one moment. With Nicole there is an unbreakable bond between the three of us, something deep and lifelong that words could never explain.
We laughed, we cried and we were one. At no point did I feel I couldn’t because I had a community of women that had my back. What a great thing for my young family to witness and to learn from. Friendship, strong will and finishing what you start. Running Mums Australia is a sisterhood. Its power is endless. The bonds are unbreakable and as a group there is nothing that is unachievable.
Before I started writing this article I googled the essential traits of good friends. Good friends are:
- Supportive in good times and bad
- Can see the humour in life
- Are fun to be around
My friends are all these things and so much more. Nicole, Laura, Sandra and Sophie I owe you so much but because of who each of you are you would never expect a thing in return.