Good vibe, good view, good cider.

Earlier this year, I participated in the inaugural Flying Brick Bellarine Sunset Run with a PT client of mine. It was a very unique event and certainly worth shining the light on. This is the second, in a short series of my fun-run reviews. Distances offered: an “extended” half marathon – 21.8km and a 10.7km. (my client and I took on the 10.7km).

This run was heavily and from all accounts, successfully, promoted amongst the Bellarine locals and holiday makers (it sold out within 5 weeks). Organiser Dion Milne shares an attitude to running (trail running in particular) that is akin to my own – just get out and have a go (the waiver included a clause to the effect of I am willing to stop and walk to appreciate the scenery that the Bellarine coastline has to offer – LOVE. IT.). This outlook, combined with his own personal story of depression led Dion to initiate the event, encouraging people to use running as personal outlet for emotional stress and to raise funds for Headspace. From what I am told Dion was very dogmatic, enthusiastic and passionate to get the event up and running (pardon the pun) and his efforts were well worth it.

For a regular early morning runner, starting a gallop at 6:00 PM was both novel and annoying.  Even though my approach to running fuel is far from scientific, I did have to be conscious of what I ate during the day. And, as I pulled into the Portarlington caravan park to meet my running partner, I had to protest against the thought of opening a cold cider and spending the evening on the beach.

The 21km runners started off near the Portarlington pier while us 10km runners had to make our way to St Leonards. A bus was available if you prebooked and paid for your seat, but I had a husband and kids who were willing to do the drop off (right before they tucked into some fish and chips for dinner mind you… biastards).

The vibe at St Leonards was great, with lots of people huddled around in the Flying Brick running singlets that had been available to purchase. I had underestimated how good they would look and rather than doing what Personal Trainers probably should do (rev up my client, help her warm up, give her a pep talk, sing Eye of the Tiger… ?) I spent a fair bit of time discussing my annoyance at not purchasing one. It has become very evident to me that judging people’s running attire is my go-to pastime to calm any run event nerves or bolster up any wavering energy. JCNI startline

Before our starting siren went off, the lead runners of the 21km event had to plough through us. And plough is the most appropriate term; they had a bit of sand to trudge through before hair pinning up a hill and negotiating their way through a slightly oblivious 10km crowd. If I was a front runner of a 21km event, I may have been a little p.i.s.s.e.d at this point. But thankfully, I’ll never wear that crown, so I’ll continue my running career in blissful ignorance.

As we set off, it was obvious that my opportunities to assess, critique and admire others runners’ gear was going to be limited. The narrow track was pretty busy and crowded with 10km runners starting off and the remaining 21kms runners coming through. There was a lot of hopping, passing, slowing down and speeding up. It interrupted any potential conversation my running pal and I tried to have. Some of the 21ers took the crowded track quite literally in their stride and just dealt with it; others were a little frustrated at us piddley shorter distance runners and barked for us to “move over”, “hurry up”, “get out of the way”. Pfft, I don’t think they read all the clauses.

It took a while for the field to spread out a bit, but when it did it certainly was worth admiring the scenery. The gentle beach breeze fluttered at our side and the setting sun was slowly making tracks for the majestic You Yangs. The path, mainly flat, was a mix of slightly sandy and bitumen. The camaraderie amongst runners and the support from sidelines (warning, you run alongside a few caravan parks where deck-chaired settled campers clap while simultaneously drinking wine, beer and champagne) was one of the best I’ve come across. I haven’t personally met Dion, but I feel like his attitude towards running/exercise/life was somehow engrossed in the runners and spectators alike. jode scenery

Drink stations on the Bellarine Sunset Run were unique, innovative and respectful to the surrounds. It was made very clear in the lead up that disposable cups would not be provided on course and that runners had to either carry their own water or drinking vessels. Drink stations were on course to fill up camel packs, drink bottles or well cupped hands, but collapsible cups were for sale pre-event for about $3. These amazing little inventions fitted tidily into the palm of one’s hand when not in use. I’m all for a bit of environmental-friendliness, so think that this was just a super idea. (Mind you, if I had to carry one of these “amazing little inventions” on the marathon, I envisage myself piffing it at a well-meaning spectator anywhere between 28 and 40 kilometres).

Whilst most of the course was reasonably flat, there was a bit of undulation in the final kilometre. However, the anticipation of the finish line (directly below) was enough energise us up and over and down the other side.

The finishing chute was pretty exciting (I haven’t run through a non-exciting finishing chute yet). We were awarded with a pretty snazzy anchor shaped medal and the Flying Brick tent was only metres away for me to finally have that cider.

This is what my running colleagues had to say about the run:

“Being held in the evening, and my first Fun Run in 18 months, I was a little daunted to begin with. It was hot out on the course, but the scenery got me through. To get across the finish line was the best feeling in the world. I will be back to do it again next year.” Jodie, 10kms (that’s Jodes in the pictures above :) )

"I totally loved the Sunset run. The course and the view was spectacular. The atmosphere was amazing and the enthusiasm of the residents at the caravan parks was fantastic. The organisers and volunteers did a brilliant job. I loved the fact that it started later in the day because it gave it more of a party atmosphere than early morning events. The only negative was the lack of toilets on the course, but overall it was an awesome event that I will definitely do again." Jo, 21kms.

Next run I'll review is the Great Ocean Road Full and Half marathon....