It’s no secret, this race is a standout event on the calendar.
When I did it solo, 4 years ago, Bec was there as part of my support crew and we thought it looked so much fun for the teams doing it as a relay. After all the giggles and frivolity last year, we could barely wait to line up Team Runphoria for our second year as a relay.
Getting to the island always adds to the excitement of the event, as it’s by ferry (barge) only. We’d been a bit unorganised this year and snagged what we’re sure was the last available Airbnb on the island. With the kids snuggled up at Grandmas, we headed over on the last ferry on Friday night. It’s a unique race even before we start as it’s always held on a Saturday.
We were so lucky to have another brilliant team this year… Elaine joined for the first time, Naomi coming back for another round, us and Kate crewing.
The game plan:
We decided to start at 8:30am – another unique feature of the race is you can start anytime after 4:00 as long as you finish between 12:30-14:30 – but Bec and I had a 40min drive to the start line which turned into 70mins due to our expert execution skills! Plus, we kept slowing to cheer on all the solo runners and teams who had started earlier.
After doing between 6-8km legs last year (and running in pairs) we wanted to try our hand at the mighty 2km rotation… 4 team members meant we’d all have 8 x 2km efforts and could all jump out for the last 2km together up to the lighthouse..
I put my hand up for the first leg, then it was Bec, Naomi and Elaine…
Now this deserves a mention of its own… the weeks leading up to the race had been recorded as the longest stint of warm, sunny days for the state in 150years. So when the forecast was 12 degrees with downpours… we weren’t stoked to be jumping in and out of the car every 2km… but it certainly made for all the more giggles..
After finally organising ourselves (and making sure we were actually registered for the race 🤣 Naomi), I lined up for the 8:35 start…. when I say lined up.. there were all of two of us… I’m guessing we were some of the last teams to kick off for the day. The clouds circled over and it’s started to bucket down with rain.. haha just in time..
The race is 64km, literally from one end of the island to the lighthouse at the other end. There are a mix of soloists and relay teams which can comprise of any number of runners doing any combination of 2km.
So you could have teams of 32 doing 2km each right down to pairs doing 32km each. We just love this about the day as everyone is on a different journey toward the same goal.
The first 2km was up, up and then up… but I quickly found my stride and tried to keep the foot down… I had been curious about how the day was going to play out. Running 2km hard then jumping back in the car for about 22mins and then out to do it all over again. As I pushed up the hill, our car came cruising past, the girls yelling and whistling out every possible window.. it was great to have them supporting as passing by and this didn’t falter all day.
I was surprised just how quickly the first 2km went, before I knew it the girls were around the corner at the first 2km transition. I gave Bec a high five and she shot off for her 2.
This was the start of what was to be a giggly, quick moving relay.
Passing the baton:
We’d been a bit dubious about how to manage our GPS for the day and decided to lap and pause after each leg…. this still managed to run riot with Strava as it stitched the legs all together with some ridiculously quick 6km in between each leg while I was in the car…. I really should go into Strava and fix that up 🤔
We jumped in the car and set off so we’d reach the next 2km before Bec to get Naomi out and ready for her first leg. Naomi being in the middle of Marathon training planned to do a couple of double up legs (4km) throughout the day to get her (long run day) km up a bit.
We passed Bec and hung out the sunroof to take some pics and cheer her on.. then we pulled up and waited for the handover…
Naomi was off and Bec jumped in the car…
Elaine was next and we made our way to the 8km transition point, passing Naomi along the way we cranked up the tunes and cheered her on as we crawled slowly past. We had pulled away from the team we started with now and caught up to two new teams. Another thing that stood out on the course was the number of juniors. We caught one at the 8km Mark who would’ve been no older than 12-14year olds.. We cheered them on every time we went past, definitely inspired us to enter a kids team in the future…
Naomi flew up the next rise and we cheered as she tagged Elaine for the handover. Elaine (the foxing queen) sped off for her first leg.
This became the rhythm for the day…
We jumped back in the car and cruised past Elaine, leaning precariously out the sunroof and every possible window to cheer her on.
10km done and a with solid routine in place we were starting to wonder when we’d see the solo runners.
We knew we’d started later than most teams but hoped to start catching some of them soon.
The standout of this event is definitely being able to run with and support all our fellow runners on course… and with a record number of individual competitions this year we couldn’t wait to see them.
Before I knew it Elaine was zooming up the hill and it was my turn again.
Now, getting out for the second 2km leg was interesting.
I hadn’t warmed down in between, just jumped in the car, but the legs were good and I just told myself it’s a hard hit out. Just go hard because a couple of corners and it will be transition again. It was true, I just pushed out hard, kept the legs turning on high cadence only to look up and see the 12km market up ahead and the girls jumping around taking photos and giggling.
We’d been running closely with a junior team for a few of the legs now. We loved cheering them on and mostly they reciprocated.
As I sidled up to the guidepost getting ready for my turn, I turned to the young guy waiting for his runner and casually (I thought) said, “looks like it’s you and me mate” as he stared cautiously he took a calculated step away from me. I turned over my shoulder to see Kate, Bec and Naomi giggling like a pack of hyenas. Gabbyfail, what I thought was friendly was apparently intimidating.. I snarled at the girls to “ssh” before pretending to focus on the road ahead.
After the next 8km we saw Toby and Stu.
They had planned to ride the island while we ran but given the weather was incredibly shit they opted for lattes by car…. which turned into beers at the Bruny Island Pub.
We were pumped to see lots of familiar faces on course, soloists and teams. It was really interesting to see how fellow runners were tackling the relay. Simon and Ryan in a team of four, doing 16km each at once. Gene and Damon, a pair doing 2km repeats.. and fast.. Mandy and Kristy’s junior team of 15 doing 4km each was so amazing to see. Everyone was tackling it their own way.
As we relayed our way to the half way mark, through some pretty epic downpours, we started to realise just how quickly the race was flashing by.
No sooner did you finish your leg, jump in the car, refuel and cheer on the others than it was your turn again. And it incredibly easy to get out again and push hard for 2km.
We caught up with another team and started the 36km leg at the same time. I love a little bit of competition (no? 🤭) so made it my goal to finish the leg ahead of them. I sped off but as the road climbed up and up I heard him closing in on me. He passed me and I thought I was done. I passed a couple of soloists, breathlessly cheering them on. Then as the hill flattened I found my stride, and stretched out to pass him on the slight downhill. He wasn’t far behind me and even though I was pushing 3:45s I kept the pace on, remembering transition would come around sooner than I’d realise. It was really fun bringing a little bit of competitiveness into what is justr a really fun race. Funnily enough this leg was a little longer than the 2km standard, but as I pushed around the next corner I made out the familiar shape of our car complete with the girls hanging out every window…
As we reached the 40km mark the boys caught us up, delivering lattes all round.
It’s safe to say the next couple of intervals flashed by thanks to the caffeine injection…
Driving to the 44km mark it was incredible to take in the beautiful surrounds. The gravel round winding through luscious farmland with cows either side just going about their day. The weather had eased up and it was here we saw Ben Moroney, doing the massive 64km solo, and absolutely killing it. He was looking strong with a smile on his face. We hung out the windows offering him fruit cake, chips, chocolate, gels and drinks as the car slowly crawled past him.. he seemed pretty good so we wished him luck and continued on to the meet Naomi at the next stop.
This race is a reminder of why we do what we do, we just love running, for the endorphins, the thrill, the hype….. the Runphoria. We feel truely blessed to have found likeminded people to share our passion with.
As we drove toward the 56km mark someone said we only has one more leg each! I was pretty shocked, unsure where the time had gone. It was a little sad. Over so quickly.
We realised we’d probably missed seeing a few of the solo runners we would’ve like to catch. Ben, Wendy, Drew, Maddie, Annabel and Gosso… just to name a few, were all doing their first Ultra and we were so excited for them.
As I ran up to the 58km there was a familiar face at the transition point.
“Where’s Ben Hirst?” Blurted Kevin.
I was slightly confused and questioned back.. “um.. not sure?” Turns out, Kevin – crewing for soloist Ben – had taken a sneaky (bush) toilet stop at the last transition point and as a result somehow misplaced his runner. Kevin leapt into his car and pelted off down the gravel road. I tagged Bec and as she shot off the other girls proceeded to fill me in on the story. We were in hysterics as Kevin left us in a cloud of dust. It wasn’t until later at the presentations – when Jill got wind of it – that we had a really good giggle with Kevin about the saga. We were glad to hear he found Ben in the end..
It was after this leg that we saw a familiar pair up ahead… yep, it was Courto (and Nat crewing). We were so pumped to have caught up to her and excitedly jumped out of the car to smother her in cuddles. What a bloody legend. First Ultra this year, after about 3 marathons. She’s so amazing..
Kate had done such an awesome job crewing for us during the day and she (and the baby she’s baking) planned to run the last few kms with us so we could all finish as a team.
Naomi had the second last leg which meant she was doubling up on the last leg. We parked the car and made our way up to the lighthouse.. it was such a lovely feeling running together, other teams cheering us on as we climbed the concrete steps and up onto the flat at the lighthouse.
64km of awesomeness… it was over way to quickly but we can’t wait to come back next year and the year after that and the year after that…