A few months back after an RMA social run, one of my friends mentioned how much she would love to run the half marathon at Kangaroo Island. As soon as she mentioned it I was interested as it’s been on my bucket list since it first began 5 years ago. There was also a lot of talk that this would be the last one held on the Island.

The next day I decided I was in and it didn’t take Cindy much convincing either. A quick mention to Katie Wood and within a few days The Woods Family, myself and Cindy had our ferry tickets booked. The course runs through the national park in Flinders Chase. I’d seen many photos of the road and driven it once a few years back so I knew when they say it’s an undulating course they were telling the truth. Mix in the fact that it is on the coast line of the Southern Ocean, then there is a big chance it is going to be windy. 

All distances, full, half and 10km’s all start at the entrance of the National Park, however it’s the full marathon that is the pinnacle event as this is the one where you get to see all the sights. The course takes you past The Remarkable Rocks, Cape Du Coudeic Lighthouse and the amazing southern coast line, so this is the one I registered for, this is the one I always wanted to do. However I am also taking part in the 5 fifty series. Which is 5 ultras between April and October, the problem being KI marathon would only be two weeks before the next ultra. I kept telling myself it would be fine, however the more I thought about it, the more I knew it would be crazy to do because of the difficulty of the course.

I’ve been learning to listen to my body and how it feels and didn’t want to risk the chance of injury and not taking part in the ultra. I also knew I wasn’t going to get another opportunity to run this course, so I made the decision to change to the half distance. I would run it as a training run as if I was running hills on the trails – speed walk up the hills and run on the flat and down the hills.  

The week came of the event and it wasn’t going to be good weather. It’s a well known fact in SA that the crossing from Cape Jervis on the mainland across to Kangaroo Island can be prone to winds and rough waters. This also means that in these conditions there is high chance the ferry can be cancelled. We were due to catch the Ferry on the Friday at 3pm, the run was on Saturday and then head home on the Sunday. On Wednesday and Thursday there was a lot of talk that the ferries may get cancelled and we went to bed with the news the 6am & 9am were, however there was chance that the later ferries would still go ahead, so we headed off on the 2 hr journey to the ferry. Other runners from the earlier times still headed down hoping they could get on one of the later times, while others made the decision to pay the extra and fly across. The 12pm ferry left at 2pm just as we were arriving and seeing it head off was a daunting sight, watching the waves crashing up against it. We were told our ferry wouldn’t be leaving until 5pm, and then an hour or so later were advised it would be 7pm. Long story short we finally arrived at our accommodation at about 9pm ready for a 4:30am wake up. 

The morning came and at 5am we left ready for the 75min drive to the other side of the Island. The drive was taken with much caution due to the large amount of wildlife around which we had been warned about. We did see our fair share crossing the road in front of us, including kangaroos, a koala, echidna and geese! We arrived at the start line and collected our bibs. We heard there were runners who still didn’t make it across due to the weather which as a fellow runner you know how heartbreaking that would be. There were still approximately 200 runners and RMA represented well both from SA and Interstate.

on course

The weather ended up being perfect running weather for the half marathon, but because of the nature of the course apparently the full marathon runners coped a fair bit of wind. I loved every bit of the run, I stuck to my plan from start to finish. I speed walked up the hills and ran on the down and flat. However I soon came to realize there really wasn’t many flat sections at all! Everything about the morning was spot on. I loved the out and back course and being able to cheer the faster runners coming back the other way, and I’m pretty confident there wasn’t one runner who didn’t at least smile back.

crossing the finish line

The volunteers were so supportive and cheering everyone on. I started out running with Cindy, however after a few kilometres she was off! The run felt great the whole way and as I got to the turn around point a little part of me wished I was running the full marathon as I wanted to keep going. I turned around and headed home. I picked up my pace a little and could see Cindy in the distance. I finally caught up to her with about 1 km go and from there we ran and finished together. One of the best ways to finish a run!  So I’ve left the Island with a smile, happy I got to tick this event off my list knowing that it may not happen again on this part of the Island. Happy that running is allowing me to run places I only dreamed of. Most of all I’m grateful for the friends it has brought into my life, and the ones I get to share these unforgettable experiences with.   

the team

By Louise Maier

For more information on the Kangaroo Island marathon visit www.kangarooislandmarathon.com