The Great Ocean Road Marathon is a 44km (44.5km according to Garmin!) run from the coastal town of Lorne to Apollo Bay and was on my ‘marathon bucket list’ for quite a few years. The course has breathtaking views, plenty of undulations to make it challenging but not too difficult and there’s also something special about having the opportunity to run along such an iconic and popular road…yes you should put it on your ‘bucket list’ if you haven’t already done this one!

I had planned to run the Great Ocean Road marathon in 2015. Training for the marathon was going well until a couple of weeks out from the race my breathing became difficult and I was getting light-headed when I was running. These were the first signs of my pregnancy and then morning (all day) sickness hit and I couldn’t tick the Great Ocean Road Marathon off my marathon bucket list just yet. I was in no shape to run in 2016 after having my little one, and I ended up with a hip injury that ruled me out for 2017. Three years after my first attempt to make it to the start line I was able to run the Great Ocean Road Marathon for the first time in 2018. Despite the relentless headwinds last year, I had a great race and ran with the previous winner all the way to the end where we had to battle it out over a sprint finish. To this day I’m still in disbelief that somehow, I managed to cross the line first and tick the Great Ocean Road Marathon off my bucket list.

Roll around to 2019 and I finally join RMA. Yeah, I’m a little slow! After being inspired by the RMAs completing ultras I decided to run my first 100km event to raise money for my cousin Rhonda, a mother of 7, who had a severe stroke and now requires a full-time carer. I scheduled the Great Ocean Road Marathon into my training plan for the Tan Ultra in June because the course is simply amazing, and it breaks up those long solo runs on the weekend. I went into the race feeling like I wasn’t as fit as the previous year because most of my weekly training consists of running 6.5km to work and home again each day with some longer runs on the weekend. Considering my lack of high intensity training I knew that I would blow up if I went out too fast and decided to run my own race regardless of who else turned up or what pace they ran. This strategy worked well. I was in second place until around 15km which is where I took the lead and I managed to maintain my pace well and enjoy the scenic views and serenity of running along the great ocean road.

At around the 30km point a motorbike came up and asked if I was first female. It’s always difficult to assume your position or accept that you are in the lead until you cross the finish line, so my response was simply “I think so” (e.g. don’t blame me if I’m wrong!). The motorbike and a cyclist escorted me into town which drew quite a bit of attention from the half marathoners out on the course and other spectators who cheered for me along the way. It felt amazing to have such wonderful support, especially since I travelled down by myself this year, and I tried my best to wave or say thanks when I could. Coming into the town of Apollo Bay and the finish line was amazing. There were people cheering everywhere, the atmosphere was phenomenal and was probably the best I have ever seen at a running event. It was great to have the time to take it all in this year (instead of sprinting at the end of a marathon) and celebrate my achievement with the crowd (and my family when I got home).

A massive thanks to all the RMAs and spectators that cheered me on and congratulations to everyone who ran in one of the events at the Great Ocean Road Running Festival.