The Inaugural Bouddi Coastal Run (Half Marathon) – Jordi Bates
Race Date: October 28th Results: 2017
I’ve really enjoyed my road running year this year, having set PB’s over all 4 standard distances. But I’ve also enjoyed dabbling in trail running, namely with the Wooters Owls and Possums crew in Glenrock on Friday nights. So when the opportunity came up to enter the inaugural Bouddi Coastal Half Marathon on the Central Coast, I grabbed it. It’s a beautiful trail, I’ve walked it before but I must admit it’s not until I’d finished the race that I realised just how tough a course it is.
I also made the decision to run in a Wooters shirt (thanks Will for the loan), and while I’ll remain a Newcastle Flyer for road events, sporting a Wooters singlet on the trails is appropriate given my history with the Owls & Possums (not to mention that I’d recently been inaugurated in as the 1000th Wooters member, a massive honour for me).
I left home just after 5am and got to the start line at Kilcare with more than an hour to spare before the race. I tried to suss out the competition but could hardly recognise anyone. Most runners were obviously from the Central Coast or Sydney. Finally I ran into Mim from the Wooters. After the obligatory wooting selfie together, we line up on the start line on the beach for the 8:20am start.
The first 1.5 km is on the sand along Putty Beach and two runners head the pack at sub 4min/k pace. I settle in behind them at 4min/k, hoping there won’t be too much more of this terrain. If only I knew this would be one of the easier sections. From there we enter Bouddi National Park, it’s mainly single trail with plenty of ups and downs, and lots of steps.
It’s already quite hot and I sense it’s going to be a tough race. The race instructions were that there would be three drinks stations along the course but no cups so we had to provide our own. I’ve decided to run with a small 150ml running bottle strapped to my shorts which I’ll be able to fill up at each station. I don’t tend to drink (or sweat) that much during runs, so this should be enough for me, even in this heat.
At 4km we hit the beach again at Maitland Bay. The two front runners have slowed down a bit and by the end of the beach, I’ve caught up to them. From here it’s a tough climb along single trail and fire trail along the coastal fringe of the national park. The first climb is a 100m elevation gain, followed by two more 50m climbs. By now, we’ve dropped the third guy. The other runner, Geoff from the Central Coast, has a faster straight-line speed than me, but it seems I’m a bit more daring on the tight trails and stairs. The rest of the run turns out to be a ding-dong battle. We go through the 7km drinks station together but by the 11km station, he’s ahead of me by 30 seconds. I tell myself I could happily settle for second but I keep pushing hard nevertheless.
After a long downhill at the eastern end of the park, it’s time to head for home and we run back along the familiar coastal trail. I cross Mim and we share an energising Woot, much needed as by this stage I’m getting tired, it’s hot and I’m sweating much more than usual during a race. I also don’t really know what the course has in store for me from here on in (maybe that’s a good thing!). At 12km my heart sinks as the course marshal points us away from the main trail and up the steps to Mount Bouddi. We’re taking the hard way home. Over the next 1.2km, we climb another 140m.
To my surprise, I catch Geoff on the way up. We’re both exhausted and we walk some of the steps together for a while as we catch our breath. The last kilometre ticks over in 7 minutes! By this stage we’ve caught up to some of the 14km race runners, they must find it strange that the front runners in the half marathon are walking. About halfway up, I sense Geoff is struggling so I take the opportunity to skip away and gain time on him, even though I’m doing it tough as well. It’s a brutal climb and I wonder if I’ve overdone it by the time I get to the top but I go through the final drinks station at 14km with a healthy lead of 30 seconds on him. I can’t help but start thinking about the win.
Back at Maitland Bay and with less than 4km to go, I settle into a steady rhythm on the main trail but to my disappointment, Geoff catches up to me. He must have pushed really hard on that last descent and I kick myself for not having done the same. From here he just sits on my back and I sense the opportunity for a win may have slipped me by. I reckon he’s just going to bide his time before a final attack. We arrive back onto the sand at the eastern end of Putty Beach and we can see the finish line at the other end, 1.5km to go. I’m wondering when Geoff is going to attack. I can’t wait until a final 100m sprint because I know he’ll be too quick for me. So with about 700m to go, I kick up a gear, it’s my only chance to break him. But I don’t. He’s too strong and he just uses that moment as impetus to kick away himself. He wins by a reasonably comfortable margin in the end. At least I tried.
I cross the line in just under 1hr 49min but the time doesn’t mean much. It’s more than 30min slower than my road half marathon PB but in many ways this was actually a harder run. I’m very happy with my second place and congratulate Geoff on his win. We both agree it was a great battle and look forward to our return encounter next year.