By Kate Dzienis
One of Australia’s most spectacular and scenic trail ultras will soon be upon us, and you don’t want to miss out on this beauty of a race.
The Great Ocean Walk 100s in Victoria is the ultimate in stunning trail ultra marathons, and is described as not just a race, but an event because of its significant social aspect that gets everyone together and becoming mates.
From the moment you become a GOW100 participant, you are welcomed in to a family. Race director Andy Hewat explains that following registrations, bib pick-up and a briefing at the Apollo Bay hall, runners head to the local for a get together and to compare pre-race notes as well as past experiences and tips to newcomers.
“This is a great opportunity for everyone to get excited and all fired up for the day of the event,” he says.
“After the run on the Saturday night, the majority of runners hang around the finish line to support everyone coming through, and then later head out to Port Campbell, which is just a short drive away, and stay at the backpackers there or head to one of eateries to swap stories and war wounds.
“Sunday morning we have the breakfast presentation, which has a great atmosphere, and it gives everyone a great opportunity to catch up with people they don’t really get to see or see new friends they’ve just made.”
The GOW100s course is considered to be one of the most scenic in the country. Incredibly diverse, participants can expect to log kilometres on a variety of terrain and in a wide range of weather conditions – from running through single track in lush rainforest and passing dairy farms to taking in cliffside views and kicking up pristine sand along the beaches; from clear blue skies to arduously horizontal rain. Nature is at its most raw along this part of Australia, and you can expect to experience the unexpected.
Starting at Apollo Bay, the event is a 100km solo race or a 55/45 two-person relay – bar the odd koala or snake passing by, and it just gets better according to Hewat.
“It’s dedicated walking track, so you’re not going through towns or running on roads, and yes you can get a bit lonely at times but it’s all part of the experience,” he says.
“The course is deceptive so there are no real big climbs, but it has an accumulative amount of about 2,500m of vertical gain over the 100km and is perfectly achievable for entry level 100km runners.
“Checkpoints, of which there are four, are fairly well spaced out so there is a bit of self-reliance out there but they’re close enough for participants to be adequately supplied between each one.
“Because it’s a fairly boutique event and has the reputation of being a quality event, I want to make sure we use good quality t-shirts, collapsible cups, buffs, and buckles which are made by a family company in Tasmania.”
The GOW100s is the only race held on this trail in this particular part of the world, with local government quite protective and permits very difficult to acquire, and leaves participants with the greatest opportunities to stop for a moment to take in the views, the scenery, and the moments of being a part of the coastal landscape.
“By all means, take photos and enjoy it because it’s not only a very scenic area but a very historic one,” Hewat reveals.
“There’s a lighthouse from the 1800s, there’ve been hundreds of shipwrecks along the coast too, you go past a small century-old cemetery, so I absolutely encourage people to take a moment and is one for the selfies for sure.”
The GOW100s will be held on Saturday, October 19 and registrations are now open. Click here for more information.