Sporting a new headline partner, the Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon is returning on 25 June with hundreds of runners set to roller coaster along the spectacular cliff tops ranging between the surfing mecca of Torquay and Fairhaven, in Victoria’s south-west.
Now in its third year, the event is expected to attract more than 600 competitors tackling a choice of 43km or 21km distances.
Last year’s competitive field saw a record-breaking and back-to-back win by Australian trail running marathon champion, Kellie Emmerson, in the women’s, and a record-breaking win by Mathieu Dore in the half distance. This year, Dore is stepping up a rung to attempt a swipe at the marathon crown while the absence of Emmerson due to travel commitments leaves the women’s title wide open.
In the men’s marathon, racers will be chasing the unbroken record time of 2 hours 58 minutes, set by Brett Colemen in the inaugural event in 2014. The women will chase Emmerson’s 3 hours 38 minutes mark from 2015.
Both are impressively quick times given the course is judged by most as a tougher than it looks on paper, with two beach sections and the undulating nature of the trail testing legs and lungs.
“Of course there’s plenty of coastal beauty to pull you alongthe course in between,” says organiser, Chris Ord, from Anglesea-based Tour de Trails. “In particular the section from Urquhart’s Beach up to and underneath the towering Split Point Lighthouse I think is a great running section with awesome views,” says Ord nominating his favourite stretch when marking the course.
This year’s event will bring a small but for many, welcome, change with organisers testing a new finish line.
“Traditionally we finish atop the stairs at the Fairhaven Surf Lifesaving Club,” says Ord. “And while for many that is a favourite, quirky if tough finish, we have decided to make this year a little ‘easier’ finishing on the sands of Fairhaven Beach – great for sprint finishers and for the finish line photo, given the lighthouse looms on the horizon.”
Created to put a spotlight on the Surf Coast Walk while also raising funds for the local Anglesea Primary School – last year raising $2000 – the Saucony Surfcoast Trail Marathon appeals to both trail and road runners, with a high percentage of first time marathoners and half marathoners signing up. The event also injects solid funds into the local economy, with patronage resulting in an estimated economic stimulus spend of more than $135,000 by visitors in a traditionally quiet period for tourism on the Surf Coast.
This year there will be the addition of an after-party sponsored by the Aireys Inlet Pub and local Rogue Wave Brewing Company, with live music featured.
Organisers are encouraging runners to sign up immediately with a cap on race entries and more than two thirds sold.
The Saucony Surf Coast Trail Marathon is supported by Saucony, the Surf Coast Shire, IO Merino, Bomboras Kiosk, Surf Coast Trail Runners, Trail Run Mag, The Happy Runner, The Running Company Geelong, Tailwind Nutrition, and Kongo Industries. The event is produced by Tour de Trails.