Monday, 21 April 2014

Surf Coast Trail Runners

I first met Dion and Matt at a Salomon trail running clinic about a year (May 2013) ago.

My first impression of them:
Dion - This guy is freaking tall! What the hell is he doing trail running? He should be playing basketball or something.
Matt -  This guy is like a freaking energizer bunny. Pulling ahead catching the faster group in front and doubling back to the slower group to make sure we don't get loss. It was like he was doing tempo runs throughout the whole run!

Let’s hear what they have to say about this group. Enjoy!

Interview with Surf Coast Trail Runners Founders

Gary: This is Matt, one of the co-founders for Surf Coast Trail Runners. As you can see, he loves his run. Even in his jeans. Give us a smile Matt.

Dion: Blowing a bit hard. We did offer to drive him home to put a pair of shorts on, but...

Gary: Nah

Gary: Well hello Matt. I’m here with the co-founders of Surf Coast Trail Runners, Dion and Matt. How’s it going fellas?

Dion: Not too bad Gary

Matt: Good

Gary: Alright, let’s take a walk along the trail and tell me a little bit about yourselves actually. Dion

Dion: I’m not much of a runner been running just under 2 years. Took it up for a bit of weight loss. Yeh, pretty much got into trails probably not long after that. Matt and I sort of bumped into each other probably late 2012 and sort of been running many Ks together since.

Gary: Oh wow ok Matt?

Matt: I am a kinda a bit of an unusual case I suppose. I hated sports in high school, never wanted to do running, always hated the idea of it, but da picked it up with some friends and did a corporate triathlon and sort of work from there, started off on the short stuff and I am converted to trails and since Dion and I have been running a bit together that’s where it took us. Ever since the Salomon Trail Series at Anglesea which sort of been looking for more and more that we can get out of it. There is some great stuff around here as you can see, but there has been awesome stuff around Victoria that we got into now and some great people that we’ve met.

Dion: Yeh, this is probably our home trail

Gary: Excellent

Dion: Up and down the Bellarine Rail Trail, probably where everything started.

Gary: Alright. So how do you guys know each others?

Dion: We both were doing personal training sessions with a personal trainer friend in separate sessions.

Matt:  Yeh, it’s funny because we sort of have the group going and have quite a few for a bit and then it was very quickly just me and Dion and then just us for the next 6 months.

Dion: Yeh. So it was like let’s do 5km, let’s do 10km, 15, 20 and we just kept going.

Gary: Alright. So now, I know you guys are co-founder, who’s actually behind, the brainchild of this Surf Coast Trail Runners group?

Dion: We couldn’t tell you him or me. I think it has just been a natural evolution between 2 people’s ideas really.

Matt: Yeh, Dion is definitely the figure head though, he’s certainly that the man that represent exactly what we all want to be. And I found that for me as well, it’s been great especially even when I first started running with Dion it has good balance. I started out with sort of fastest stuff on shorter. I mean that sort of mindset it tends to be you know very easily could lead you to it, I’m not saying people are, you can get into this things which is just about the paces you know and how well you did.

Dion: I’m a natural slowing. I slow him down a bit.

Matt: He takes time to go and look at things and gives us a good perspective I think that sort of even trying to inspire to as a Surf Coast Trail Runner is to have that perspective and really enjoy what we doing. Not just get it done the fastest. I mean not to say that we don’t want to get out there and give it a good crack. Dion’s got a good grasp on that. He’s definitely a good leader I would say for what we’re doing in that regard.

Dion: I’m probably at the back 25% of the field. Matt’s probably in the front 25% of the field, so, we try to incorporate those sections and everything in between I suppose.

Gary: That’s alright, I’m at the back 5% of the field almost of the time anyway.

Dion: We have shared a few kms at the back.

Gary: Yeh we have. Now Surf Coast Trail Runners. Just you know let me zoom in a little bit on this logo thing. So how did this come about?

Dion: Pretty much through the Facebook group. Just sort of threw it out there and say “hey we are thinking about getting a logo, what do you guys think”. And someone not even in the group, but a husband of a female runner in the group, Warren Wilson. He sort of threw something together, that wasn’t too dissimilar with the final product. So, basically everything you see except for the “man”, he did himself and I sort of did a little bit of tailoring work on getting the vector and image right in the middle and also added a little bit of impact. Even the colour was pretty much what Warren chose. He’s now a runner. He’s now doing his 5km in the Trailblazer.

Gary: Excellent!

Dion: Colours come about at a barbeque at my house one day. Yourself Gary, was involved.

Gary: Was I? Ok.

Dion: Probably about a dozen people in there and we threw out some colour swabs and stuff like that to basically put together what you see in front of you.

Gary: Cool. Now you guys have just done the tops and all, so what else is in the pipeline in terms of merchandise?

Dion: I’ll say that’s about it from merchandise really. We have got a banner in the pipeline just to take to events and stuff for the early group shot. Also, we put our hand up to do quite a bit of volunteering with some of the local events. The race directors around here are pretty cool and they will have no problem with us putting our banner up in front of an aid station if you know if we got full of Surf Coast Trail Runners there helping out. As far as merchandise, we are not really gonna push in to any of that. So we want to sort of say with the shirt, hey we are at the event, “oh god, there’s another Surf Coast Trail Runner. Oh yeh I remember that person, I remember they gave me some advice” or something like that. So really hard. It’s more of an identity thing rather than a look at us thing.

Matt: Yeh, we still gonna stay fairly organic and rather than trying to get to commercial and have all the stuff showing “here’s the Surf Coast Trail Runners”. It more about the reverse of that. It’s like what Dion said something we can help the people just to you know get involve and recognise others that are in the group. Because you don’t always know their face to the name. Especially when you are looking I mean running gear compare to what they might be on their profile and vice versa. So it’s just enough to get it out there might just be a little bits and pieces we do, but it’s just enough to keep things moving and you know, help the members out more.

Dion: Basically we don’t try to raise money, we don’t try to make any money. The tops and all were pretty much done at cost. Just really as minimal as possible. Basically we like our Facebook, which you can reach us at from Facebook. So search for our group. That’s probably our biggest catalyst as suppose to the merchandising side of things.

Gary: So, do you guys organise events or runs or anything like that?

Dion: Not events as such. We do have like pretty informal group runs, with structure, I supposed. If that make sense. So an informal group run with structure.

Gary: Yup.

Dion: So, we got a couple coming up. And night runs, probably some of the biggest night runs going around, 43 to the one last month. Usually held on a Tuesday night towards the end of the month, 8 o’clock. So 29th of April this time. Got 43 on the acceptance. So it’s gonna be around that 40, 43 mark. You know, some don’t come, some come but don’t accept. So yeh, the night run is 29th and Lady of the Trail as well.

Matt: Yeh, just a head up too for anyone who is taking those up, they’re fairly easy going, so really does, it’s pretty inclusive to everybody and we usually stop at several points and all group up again. It’s not a matter of getting to the end of it and we have a chat when we finish. It’s more focus on getting out there to enjoy the trail as a group. So if you are looking for a really hard training session, it’s probably not your thing. But then again, it’s a great opportunity to meet people who you might be able to do those sessions with. So, it’s more of a meet and greet type arrangement than it is something your weekly training in. It’s a bit of good fun and a way to get everyone out there and meet people to see people in the club that they might not seen before.

Dion: Some of the group runs have 2.5hrs marathoners through to 5hrs marathoners. They all tend to enjoy the same piece of trail and get exactly what they need out of it. With the fast guys might to do a couple of hill repeats while they’re waiting for the slower guys to catch up. Yeh, the Lady of the Trail is a big one for us. It’s something we’re trying to tap into with creating a safe network for the women in our group and for anyone else who wants to join the group. Introducing the women at the Lady of the Trail. There will be a brunch provided for them. Husband will be doing the BYO on the brunch. There won’t just be eggs and bacon rolls. I’ll make sure I get a hold of the other guys and we do a little nicer than just eggs and bacon rolls.

Gary: That’s good. Cheese?

Dion: Yeh. So that one is on 4th May. It’s a Sunday 9am.

Matt: Pancakes on a barbeque.

Dion: Yeh. Pancakes on a barbeque. That will be at the You Yangs, which everyone knows where we predominately use.

Gary: Excellent. Basically we can find Surf Coast Trail Runners on Facebook. And everything else is from there actually.

Matt: That’s it.

Dion: Pretty much.

Gary: Ok. Anything else that you guys want to add on?

Matt: I think the main thing as we keep eluding to is that be really out there to just try and help grow the trail running community. Not just in the surf coast, but a bit beyond that. Because trail running is still relatively new and it’s something that I think you can really get a lot of enjoyment from and it’s fairly inclusive to a lot of different people that have got fairly diverse range of interest. For starting we are trying to keep growing and make sure that we there are plenty of support not only for the events, but  just trying to keep the trails out there and keep all that expanding. It really helps people get into areas that might not have the time or ability to appreciate before. For me, I have never been to the You Yangs prior to getting into trail running. It’s really, I think it helps the community, not just in trail running, but in community overall. Helps people get into things that they might not otherwise done.

Gary: Excellent.

Dion: So come along. Join us up. We’ll show you guys a good time, and we’ll show you some hard times as well. There is pretty serious training outside the group run, help preparation for events. Training on a flame. Training on a flat pancake out here is, one friend like to elude, the guys still get enough hills out here to do pretty well at some of the mountain events. .

Gary: Cool. Alright guys, Thanks very much for your time. Until next time...

Dion: Hang loose.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

My Lifelong Marathon - Angelena is 2!

Happy Birthday Angelena! As they say, time flies... I cannot believe that it has already been 2 years! Here's a little something that we put together. Enjoy!

Friday, 20 September 2013


So, I attempted this 100km CCC race, where I was allowed 26hrs to complete. Unfortunately or fortunately, I pulled out after 42km to record my first ever DNF (Did Not Finish). The mountains had triumphed over me. Not something that I am proud of, but definitely an experience / learning that will be staying in my head for a long while.

The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) has 4 races. They are (1) UTMB 100miles which is the main event; (2) Courmayeur Champex Chamonix 100km (CCC); (3) Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS); and the crazy La Petite Trotte à Léon 300km (PTL). See following link for more information

Have a look at the race course profile, time chart and map 
Race day -2, Wednesday, 28th August:
The 3 of us (Lena, Angelena and I) arrived in Chamonix via Geneva at late afternoon. By the time we settled into our accommodation, registration was closed and I can only complete registration the next day. It is summer in Chamonix and there was still daylight up until around 8pm. We wondered around the village centre, soaked in the atmosphere, did some touristy thing, before heading off for dinner and bed.
The finish line
Nice view.
View from our apartment
Race day -1, Thursday, 29th August:
Got onto the streets and headed to registration as soon as we finished breakfast. Already, there was a queue as UTMB runners were also doing their registration on this day. The processing was a bit slow and it took me about 40mins to complete the entire registration process.
Queue outside registration

Finally, some action...
Direction to the shuttle bus
Spent rest of the day exploring the village centre. Throughout the day, there was constant flow of TDS runners coming through the streets for their finish. I can feel all the different emotions of the runners running towards the finish. The atmosphere was electric. People on the streets literally stop what they were doing and clapped and cheered them on. I have never experienced anything like this before and was a bit overwhelmed and touched by the support shown. It was unreal.

Race day, Friday 30th August:
Woke up at 4:30am and do my usual pre-race routine. The start of the race was in Courmayeur, Italy and there was shuttle bus service for CCC runners staying in Chamonix. Left the apartment around 6am and got to the shuttle bus pick up point after a short 10mins walk.

Arrived at Courmayeur after 30mins of bus ride. From here on, it was a case of monkey see monkey do for me. I followed a group into a sports centre where everyone were either taking a nap or having a munch.
 At round 8:15am, people started to pack up and headed towards the start. It was a short 10mins walk to the start. Dropped off my finish bag and squeezed into my starting wave (9:15am), which was according to race bib number. I was filled with anxiety and excitement. I still could not believe that I am starting this race!
Time to get on for business
All in all, there were 1,900 runners with 3 starting waves. First wave was off at 9am, followed by 9:15am and 9:30am.
Are you ready!!!
Courmayeur to Tete de la Tronche (10.4km)
Ran along the streets of Courmayeur for the first 2km and it was fantastic. Supporters cheered us on with ringing of cow bells and the constant “Bravo” along the way. We then hit a winding road up before entering into the forest. It was basically climb, and more climb up the mountain.
Go go go!
This first stretch was congested. There was constant stoping along the way to wait for people in front to either cross a stream or go down some slippery rocks. I didn’t mind it, but was a bit annoyed with the occasion queue jumper. I was trying to enjoy myself with the amazing views.

Up, up and up.
After dunno how long, we were out of the forest and we were on single tracks where the trails opened to the sky. There was still a lot of climbing to do. My legs and my breathing were getting heavier with each step. The constant climbs sucked my energy bit by bit and before I know it, I was feeling hungry and weak. I shortened my feeding timing in an effort to replenish the loss energy. This was a constant fight all the way to the first check point (CP).
Looking back at my climb. 
There were sections where I can see what lies ahead of me and I was able to prepare mentally for the climb. There were sections where you can only see the upcoming climbs only when you arrive at the turns. Those ones drove me nuts! The constant “are we there yet” in my mind did not help. 
Tete de la Tronche after 3hrs
I was so damn happy to finally see the marshal. He scanned our race bib and I took a few moments to enjoy the view from the top. Looking at the elevation, I can understand why I took almost 3hrs to complete this leg of only 10.4km.
Another look before heading down.
Tete de la Tronche to Refuge Bertone (4.4km)
I was relieved that I got over the first big climb, and was looking forward to CP2 where there will be food and drinks. Although it was downhill, I couldn’t go too fast as I was still recover from the previous climbs.

Took me 30mins for this leg, but I spent at least 15mins at the CP, eating, drinking and resting. I was enjoying the stunning views and was so reluctant to leave this CP. 15mins is a long time to spend on a CP but I just couldn’t get my bum off the seat any earlier.
Refuge Bertone to Refuge Bonatti (7.4km)
This stretch was pretty “flat” in the sense that there was no massive up or down. Don’t get me wrong, it was still tough! I managed to run parts of it, but at a slow pace. The sun was smiling (or maybe laughing) at us and my feet began to feel warm.

I spent 1hr 5min on this leg. And again, I spent almost 15mins at the CP, just feeding and daydreaming. My mind told me to keep on moving, but my body just want to stay there a bit longer. So folks, mind over body did not work here.
Refuge Bonatti 
Can you now understand why I spend so much time at a CP?

Refuge Bonatti to Arnuva (5.1km)
Although this leg was only 5.1km, it still took me a little over an hour to complete. The last 2km of steep downhill took a toll on my feet. I could feel several hot spots developing on my feet. I had to slow down on the downhills (arggg!!!) so that I can avoid blisters being formed.

When I reached the CP, I sat down and put tapes on the hot spots. This time round, I was conscious not to spend too much time at the CP. But, I still spent 15mins here, which included taping and feeding.
Getting ready for the big climb
Arnuva to Grand Col Ferret (4.6km)
So, only 4.6km for this leg. But wait, this will take me to the 2nd highest altitude point of the race. Wahahaha... Crossed a river shortly after leaving the CP and there she was, up, up and away.

2 freaking hours for a 4.6km stretch. Yes, I was slow. My legs were getting heavier and my feet were hurting. I was constantly hungry and thirsty. But when I got to the CP at the top, it was all worth it! I was amongst the clouds. What an awesome feeling!
Grand Col Ferret
I was feeling a bit cold but was manageable. When I saw people putting on their jackets, I decided to do the same. This proved to be a costly mistake later on. There was no replenishment at this CP, but somehow I still spent at least 10mins resting before heading off.

Grand Col Ferret to La Fouly (9.3km)
It was all the way downhill to La Fouly from here. Yeh right! But no, I could not run fast downhill and have to constantly break my pace with a bit of braking here and there. Although the taping helped to keep the blisters away, my feet were still sore and my ugly downhill technique made it worse. My knees also decided to join in the boycott and I have to stop occasionally to give it a bit of rest.
Think the cows were laughing at me.
Halfway down to the valley, I began to feel warm, then hot. I was cooking inside the jacket. Had to stop to remove my jacket and hydrate. The mind was wandering a bit and the body was ready to call it quits. I continued to put one leg in front of the other and see what happened when I reach the coming CP.

I made it to La Fouly after spending 2hrs for this downhill leg. The race cut-off for this CP was 20:00. I checked in at 19:47. Daylight was almost gone and I could start to feel the cold air settling in.
Switzerland - La Fouly
I was left with 13mins to organise myself and get back out there. I took out my gloves, headtorch, buff and jacket, refilled my water and food supply and kept my visor and shades. I then headed to get some pasta soup to fill the tummy.

Then I heard the announcement “Runners, you have 5mins to exit this CP”. My heart sank. I needed more time, I was not ready to move again. Many thoughts, both positive and negative ones clouded my minds. There were runners hurrying to get organised and get out there. There were also runners that were just sitting down, with looks of despair on their face.

With less than 3mins to spare, I made the tough decision to pull out of the race. I was weak, both physically and mentally. So that was it, the end of my dream of completing the race. Did the “walk of shame” and took the next bus back to Chamonix.
P.S. The bus was packed with mostly dropped out runners like myself (self consolation :p).

Race Summary:
Weather: I prepared for a cold race, but the weather was beautiful with the temperature around the high teens. No rain, snow or hail like the previous year.

Course: I will let the pictures and course information speak for themselves.

Check points, staff and volunteers: The CPs were well stocked with food such as cold meat, cheese, cakes etc. However, I could only get energy bars and not gels at the CPs. Maybe I didn’t look properly. Not all staff can speak English, but I pretty much did not have any problem getting what I need from the CPs. They were friendly and ever willing o assist. Thanks guys!

Click here for more pics. 

I have reflected on my race and here are my final thoughts:
·         Training. To really enjoy the race, I need to put in more hills or mountain sessions.
·         Need to carb load!!! I did not have my usual carb loading (I so missed my rice...) prior to the race. I was enjoying all the fabulous food in France and they proved to be not adequate for my race.
·         Bring extra pair of shoes. I should have brought an extra pair of shoes for warmer conditions. My Salomon Speedcross 3 CS is great, but somehow the heat and friction created from this course were cooking my feet.
·         Spend less time at CPs. I failed miserably in this race. Spent way too much time slacking at CPs.
·         Listen to my body. I was saving my fuel and sticking to my race plan. What I should have done was to increase my feed and hydration frequency much earlier on.

I was truly beaten by a worthy opponent. I am pleased to at least make it to Switzerland (La Fouly). Rest assure, I will be back for revenge / redemption hopefully sometime in the not too far future. For those who are thinking about doing the race, don’t think, DO IT!!! You will not regret it. Register for it and everything else will fall in place.

Although there is no future race in my calendar at this point in time, Gary will still be running...