Rafferty’s Coastal Run – Shannon Clark
Race Date: July 13th Results: 2019
Given that my previous race reports are now so old to have been ‘archived’, I thought it a good time to pause and reflect with a race report from Rafferty’s Coastal Run 36km on Saturday 13th July 2019. I always enjoy reading others race reports and figure the more the merrier!
After a somewhat unplanned FIVE YEAR, (absolute) lay off from running due to ‘children’, I returned to running in October 2018. I started with 12 weeks of soft sand and grass only to build up strength and form before hitting the road. Many thanks to local run coach Trev Scott for his soft sand (because it’s guaranteed I wouldn’t have been doing those unfamiliar and unforgiving sessions without him!) My cardiovascular fitness at that point was fair due to swimming right through pregnancies and beyond; but never the less it was all hard going. My first Flyers Sunday long run in late December was a baptism of fire as I was promptly shot out the back end of the blue train. Suffice to say I’ve been a content White train subscriber ever since!
Late 2018 I decided I would do the sprint triathlon at the Sparke Helmore triathlon festival. However, given that my last race to then was Port Macquarie Ironman, I just couldn’t bring myself to enter anything short of the Olympic distance. Long story short: I did that, it went well (despite gale force winds putting the kibosh on the bike leg)… and so I thought I might as well bump up the longer runs and do the Half Marathon at NewRun. That race cooked me good and proper and I felt burnt (literally!) by the whole experience. It was a hot day, I went in dehydrated, things started to go awry within the first 5kms and by the end I was delirious. So to make amends with running events I entered the inaugural 25km Coastal Ascent – a few friends were doing it and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. One 15km trail run prior and I was good to go! Despite an absolute lack of trail specific training, I had a (surprisingly) good race. 2:34, not too shabby. Most importantly I loved being out there. So, with the trail seed planted I decided to do a ‘just in case’ 6 foot qualifier in Rafferty’s 36km.
During the 8 weeks leading in I managed to accumulate 5 x 30km long runs. Most of these were reasonably hilly, and all under 5:30/km average – a good pace for me. Fortunately fellow Flyers Emily Carey and Andrew Maher were also up for some extra kms pre- and / or post- White train long runs which helped a lot!
Race day it was blowing an icy gale. Excellent! It was neither hot nor raining, so I was happy! Unfortunately the first 10km felt terrible. I knew I was working so much harder than I should have been. In fact, I was worried everything was going to fall apart. A friend in Pete Ansted rode alongside me on his MTB for a while and I could barely speak, I was breathing so hard. A combination of being so cold and overly wound up prior to the start I feel were most likely the cause. Never the less, after 10kms I started to relax into a nice rhythm. I know I’m going well if I’m talking those around me!
The course itself was everything you could hope for in a trail run. The scenery was nothing short of spectacular. There had been times in the past five years when I truly thought I might not ever be a runner again so I was incredibly grateful to be out there doing 36mk in natures finest. The skills required included everything from mountain goating, rock-hopping, hill-climbing, rut-dodging, to sand-running and mud-sludging. In fact the terrain was a lot more varied than I had anticipated. The dry conditions made everything a lot faster and safer than it could have been, but even so I was making sure of every step, as a twisted ankle felt only one wrong foot placement away in some sections.
I carried 2.5L from the start and filled up with an additional 1.5L at the 20km aid station. Fiddling around with the bladder of a borrowed pack took some time (the exasperated volunteer eventually taking the bladder from me and doing it himself). In total I had 4L on course and still did not pee for 8 hours! But most importantly no post-race migraine, worth every kg for me to carry.
I raced conservatively, walking most of the steep bits and chatting and laughing along the way. The moment on the return journey when I descended down onto the beach at Catho (approx. 22km in) and Ethan surprised me there with Eamon and Isaac was honestly one of the most emotional moments of my life! To have such a wonderful surprise, I burst out crying, gave the two boys a quick cuddle and then Eamon ran with me to the jetty. It was just the boost I needed to knuckle down on the long sand section to follow before heading for home.
Having left a bit in the tank I was able to indulge on a few 4:45/kms to the finish. I had set a very rough target of 4 hours so it made for one happy little lady to be crossing the line in 3:43 and as 8th female. I would love to do Rafferty’s again next year. Between now and then there are definitely some more trails to run!