There are some races that people just bleat about. Oh the course is so amazing, the views are epic, the volunteers are incredible, the medals are the best ever, I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.
The Two Bays Trail run, comprising of a 28K one way and a 56 K round trip option on the Mornington Peninsula, is one of those races.
Whether they have run it or not, every fun runner in Melbourne has heard of the famous ‘Two bays’. I don’t know how or where the legend of ‘Two Bays’ started. Maybe it was the climb in the middle up and down and back up and down Arthurs Seat or the infamous qualification standards, but whatever it’s origin story, The Two Bays Trail Run has legend status in the Melbourne running community.
The legend status can attract or repel runners and if I’m being honest, I was kind of avoiding it. Hype is always something I instinctively avoid, be a leader not a follower and all that. (Quite ironic that I end up at the back of the pack following 500 people through the bush!)
But last year I bit the bullet and signed up last minute. I both loved and hated it. This year, I loved and hated it but for completely different reasons.
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you’ll know this run was the tip of my Tarawera 100 Miler training. My super Sunday long run of 3-5 hours was replaced with a 56km trail run which in 2017 took me 7 hours and 44 minutes. I felt it fit the bill.
But as you know there has also been that little issue of the niggle that refuses to go away.
I wasn’t going to let that stop me, so at a bright an early 3:50 AM, I got up for a pre-race hot cross bun and coffee. We left at around 4:40AM for the two hour drive to Cape Schank.
Another quick toilet stop and the race started on time at 7:10 AM. There’s always a bit of a bottle neck heading into the trail and this year was no different. I was happy with my position at the start line as I felt that not as many people felt they were desperate to pass my slow arse and I didn’t feel like the pace on the single track in the long, long line of runners was too slow.
My little leg niggle ached from the start. I knew it was going to be a long race, especially since I was ok to run but walking hurt. Last year at full fitness, I struggled mentally and was stressed out by the cut offs. I let it get to me and put so much pressure on myself. It just wasn’t a good time.
I made it a point to not care this year. In my mind it was a training run. The main goal was Tarawera. If the niggle got so bad I thought I was going to ruin my chances at Tarawera then I would pull out. If they pulled me off the course because I didn’t make the cut off, oh well so be it. I had cut the cord and had a much better time. It was still there though at the back of my mind. In 2017 I was fully fit and in the peak of training for the Tarawera 102 km. I planned to walk the hills and run the rest.
This year, due to the little niggle, I was trying to limit walking all together. I ran up hills I had never run up before. I ran parts that I would usually walk but when I had to walk, it was so much slower than I would usually walk. The “walking with purpose” that I had made a mantra at the You Yangs 50k and Surf Coast Century 100k last year was not even a consideration.
I made it through the first half with only a few breaks from my running buddy only 15 minutes ahead of the cut off. Cutting it a bit fine sure but almost exactly the same time as last year. I felt good. I wasn’t going to let this niggle beat me. I was going to be the happiest person on the trail no matter what.
Seeing the elites fly past at around the 25k mark was a highlight and helped me push up the hill and towards that half way point. They fly down the steep terrain like it’s nothing at all. To see Lucy Bartholomew in the flesh, smiling and chatting to everyone she passed as she flew down in hot pursuit of the top 4 blokes and the course record was one of the highlights of the race. If you need some Insta-inspo make sure you check out her Instagram, food, running and smiling.
I have to admit, I’m pretty sure me and my running buddy Elise are the runners that 12 months ago I would have wanted to shoot and kill on a trail. You know the ones, the ones that talk the entire way, barely catching a breath. I’m sure people wanted to just scream at us “shut the fuck up” but lucky for them, we are generally at the back of the pack and there is not many people around to annoy. I make no apologies. We have a great time. I’m sure we could go faster but to be honest, I’d rather have a good time. It’s not like we are going to win anything and the middle of the pack people don’t look like they are having much fun! I mean trying to PB looks like it hurts!
We made it to the 50k mark with a 50k trail PB for me, 6 hrs 47 min but not after going past a photographer on the up hill (seriously why do they do that) so we pretended to trot for a bit. That photo is a prime example of running with your arms out because of the insane under arm chafe!
I kinda dropped the ball a bit after that. We struggled through the next 6 km to finish two minutes slower than last year in 7 hrs 46 minutes. At the time, I was a little disappointed but stoked to get it done and qualify to have another crack next year. The disappointment only lasted until I checked my strava.
In comparison to 2017, I was 2 minutes faster to the half way point and there were 27 PB’s! Yep 27 gold cups and most of them were on climbs! My overall time might not be better but the improvement on last year can’t be ignored. It sounds cheesy but I am so proud of myself. My weakness as a trail runner is hills. I know I can keep going no matter what. I’m not a quitter. I’ve DNF’ed once and that was more out of spite that anything else (it’s a very long story). But hills are my nemesis and I’m the first to admit I don’t even try, I just walk. Well not this time. I made those climbs at Two Bays my bitch and I can’t wait to go back next year and smash my overall time.
Post run it was down the beach for a soak in the cool water and sun at Rosebud and a quick stop at Olivers for some vegan post run goodness (veggie pocket, sweet potato chips and a green smoothie).
If you haven’t run the Two Bays trail run, what are you waiting for? Don’t let the hype get in the way of this beautiful course. You can run it for free, but why would you, when you can run it with 1000 other crazy trail folks and watch the likes of Lucy Bartholomew fly past you.
3 thoughts on “Two Bays 56k Trail Ultra- race recap”
Wow! That is amazing! I am an American visiting the peninsula. I have slowly been walking the trail piece by piece. It has been a week and I’m almost halfway done. It is such a beautiful and enjoyable trail. I can’t imagine running it though. Well done!