Two Bays Trail Run – my first ultra


This post was mostly written in the early part of 2013 following my first ultra marathon – the infamous Two Bays Trail Run .  For a host of reasons (none of them very good) I didn’t get it finished but having signed up for my next crack at the race, I felt compelled to complete it!  Why so long to complete it?  Thousands of reasons, but in the end, all excuses – the important thing is it’s completed!

Since completing Two Bays in January this year I’ve backed it up with the following races:

  • The Great Wall of China Marathon
  • Gold Coast Marathon
  • Run Melbourne Half Marathon
  • Rapid Ascent Trail Running Series
    • Studley Park – 12km
    • Plenty Gorge – 17km
    • Silvan Dam – 21km
  • Brisbane Marathon
  • Sandy Point Marathon
  • SurfCoast Century Ultra Marathon (solo) – 100km (which the Two Bays Trail Run race director also completed… might I say quite a bit faster than me!!)

I’m currently completing this Post on a plane to Cairns to participate in the Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival.  I’ve (foolishly) signed up for the Run to Paradise Ultra Marathon – 74km.  Hills, humidity and heat – should be a challenging combination!

Amongst this list of events were numerous long training runs ( I think the longest was around 64K) and the first half of Surf Coast Century with Shona Stephenson
( @ShonaStephenson ) as my coach!  I’ve certainly got the trail bug and am constantly on the look out for new runs – so let me know what you recommend.  😉

Meanwhile back at the ranch there’s a partially written Post to complete.

So here it is pretty much as I wrote it back in the early part of 2013 with the finishing touches added.   I hope you enjoy and that you get down to the Mornington Peninsula and join the fun in 2014!!

I would like to be saying – I came, I saw, I conquered the Two Bays Trail Run – but I can’t.  Yes I completed it, but my time and form during the race suggest I certainly didn’t conquer it!  More like a draw between me and a pretty tough track.   😉

Even if I was a bit slower than I had planned, it was still a good feeling to put away my first ultra marathon – 56km on fantastic trails and some of the best scenery you could hope for.  But then again, I’m a pretty slow runner anyway.

The event has to be one of the best running events I have participated in.  Brilliantly organised, amazing volunteers and support crews and a great camaraderie between runners – before, during and after the race.

As the location for the run was more than a short drive from home, Diane and I decided to make a weekend of it and headed up the day before the run.  This meant we could pick up the race kit, check out the starting area and find somewhere decent to grab a feed of pasta that evening.

It’s not bad to get to the race location early and get some small insight into the level of work that goes into preparing for an event.  It’s quite extraordinary – and if you get to see it – you’ll never complain about fees for events again!

IMG_0900  IMG_0901

Picking up the race kit and information was an easy process and there was already a buzz building in Dromana.

Diane and I had lunch in Dromana at the Two Buoys Tapas and Wine Bar.  The name just seemed right and it was a busy place so we figured the food would be good.  And we weren’t disappointed!

Great service (even though it was über busy) and delicious food.

The Mornington Peninsula is always a busy place during the school holidays so I had booked accommodation a fair way out from race day to ensure we were as close as possible to Cape Schanck where the race began.  We were incredibly lucky to find Views Resort, and independent boutique style place tucked away within the golf course complex.

I wasn’t expecting much, but what a great little place and fantastic hosts in Steele and Yu Jing.  The rooms were excellent and the views of the coastline quite spectacular (check out the pic I took from our balcony at the start of this post) – and only 5 minutes away from the race start.  Steele cooks up a mean breakfast as well which was most appreciated the day after the race!

Once we had checked in we headed down to Cape Schanck to get our bearings and see what was happening.  Cape Schanck as was Dromana was a hive of activity with people setting up for an early morning kick off the next day.


The plan was load up with carbs get an early night then fire up with the sparrows ready for a 56km trot from one side of the Mornington Peninsula to the other.

Dinner was at Rose GPO in Rosebud ( ).  I would love to tell you that dinner was fantastic and service was awesome and it was good – but for one table with a painfully naughty kid that wanted to scream for the sake of making noise.  She wasn’t distressed and thought her high pitched scream was a great laugh.  Her parents did nothing.  Grrrrr.  It got so bad the staff were regularly apologising and we found ourselves constantly repeating ourselves as we couldn’t hear each other speak.  Then the guy in charge took control and went to the table and asked them to keep the kid quiet .  It’s weird you know, they make you sit a test to prove you should be allowed to own and drive a car, but they let anyone procreate.

Anyway, I digress.  A big serve of pasta later and a couple of beers (well they are high in carbohydrates) we headed back to the room so I could get all my gear ready for the next day.  The alarm would be going off at 4:30am.

The iPhone alarm kicked into life with the standard blaring noise that sounds like a submarine about to dive signal from a World War II movie.

Sleeping is rarely a problem for me, but I was wide awake when the alarm went off and up and at it straight away.  Breakfast wasn’t quite a normal pre-race brekky but did the job.  Breakfast consumed, back to bed for another 20-30 minutes powernap/rest.  I like to have eaten a good 90+ minutes before the race; avoid dairy completely; minimal fluids inside 45 minutes before the race starts.

2b11 IMG_0911   2b6

The run itself starts off with quite a few sections of tight tracks with a few minor congestion points, but generally there were no major issues.  It is necessary to run single file for a while, so if you are an elite runner or chasing a time, whack on some Hawaiian kit and get yourself to the front at the starting line.  If you are like me and just happy to finish, chill out and go with the flow.  Take in the awesome scenery and enjoy a chat with a fellow runner – conserving some energy for later will be worth it!


The race brief was motivating and the assembled crowd of runners were all toey and keen to get going.  It’s a weird feeling at the starting line – I find it a little unsettling and at the same time very rewarding.  All the training, preparation and conditioning is all done for that moment when you are at the starting line.

For me there is one thing harder than running a marathon or an ultra marathon – getting to the starting line.  The hard work is done over many days, weeks, months and sometimes years – the race is the easy bit 😉

When you check out the race website it gives you an elevation profile – I suggest you look at this carefully.  It is pretty hilly and there are a couple of rippers to test the glutes, calves and hammys before you have to tackle the climb up and then down Arthur’s Seat – twice!

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It was great to see some of the 28km runners on their way to Cape Schanck.  A few “hail fellow well met” greetings and warnings about steep hills were heard as the runners paths crossed.  You gotta love the camaraderie amongst trail runners.

Going up and over Arthur’s Seat was tough, but the downhill run into Dromana to ring the bell was good reward from a tough climb.  But I must confess I couldn’t help thinking as I was coasting down the hill, that I still had to climb this sucker to get back!

At the half way point there was plenty of action a cheers from enthusiastic supporters.  Diane was there with a pre-prepared energy drink and ready to take a snap of me ringing the bell.  I rang it twice but was so keen to keep going that I didn’t pose long enough to get the picture.  So the only shot of the bell is it swaying in wind after it had been rung by yours truly.  Next year 😉


Running back up towards Arthurs’ Seat and the finish, I saw a few racers stop by their support crews to pick up some walking poles.  “I wonder what they want those for?” I thought to myself.  About 20-30 minutes later I understood exactly why they stopped to collect their walking poles!

The climb back up the uneven steps was a grind for the average weekend warrior like me.  I saw quite a few spills and a number of hands on knee rest stops (me included) as we all marched up the hill.

If you choose to run Two Bays there are some strict requirements, not just qualifying, but also what you need to carry in the form of health, safety and hydration – be sure to check out the guide on the website.  Even though the aid stations are well placed you need to be self sufficient.  Btw, the enthusiastic support and encouragement by the volunteers at the aid stations is brilliant – just the tonic for tired legs and waning spirits.

I was quite pleased not to bump into any brown snakes on the trail (quite often you will see a curious kangaroo or wallaby).  The amount of jokes about snakes on the trail discussed on the FB group and photos from runners had me a little wary.  I was sure that the front runners would scare them away… or piss them off so they went after the stragglers.  But no need for concern, cool snake-free runnings all day 🙂

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Having never run further than a marathon, I was extremely curious to find out how I would respond, both mentally and physically as I crossed that magical milestone of 42.2km.   Surprisingly well.  Although, I managed to screw up my hydration and trundled in to the finish line somewhat dehydrated having run the last 10km or so under a fair bit of duress.  Lesson learned for the newbie!! 😉

There are some technical elements to the course, some very tough sections, some absolutely delightful running trails and brilliant scenery.

On the Two Bays Trail Run it is not the “done” thing to listen to music during the race.  At first I was thinking this would detract from my run.  But as it turned out – I really enjoyed it.  I got to have a few chats with some fellow runners along the way and could listen to the sounds of the bush during the times I was running alone.

And, I must say, hearing the PA calling in the runners and whoops and hollers from the crowd was a good tonic for tiring legs as the finish line got closer.  I’m glad that the organisers wanted me to run without my normal running playlist.  I think it enhanced the experience and made me appreciate what was happening around me.

So the upshot is no song to reference on my run as this post’s favourite.  But, the song that popped into my head the most – and perfect for this run…

Run To Paradise – by The Choirboys.

Two Bays Trail Run on 13 Jan 2013.

So how did I pull up?  I was a bit sore, dehydrated and absolutely stoked to have finished the race.  Just over 6 hours and 30 minutes, whilst not overly quick, was a time I was still happy to achieve.  My feet were a bit worse for wear, but nowhere near as bad as what I thought they might be.

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The winners medal looks awesome and has an additional benefit of being a bottle opener.  Mine got christened that night at the bar in Views Resort at Cape Schanck having a chat with Steele.

I think the Two Bays Trail Run will be a preferred fixture on my running calendar, much the same as the Gold Coast Marathon and Puffing Billy have been.  I’ve  convinced  some mad running mates to have a crack in 2014 – and even Diane is thinking about the 28km.

Feel like a bit of motivation?  Check out this unique perspective shared on Tegyn Angel’s Latest Wildplans Video Trail Report:

If you are thinking about it and not sure, remember what Mark Twain said:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

gp2bays  Happy Running!! Happy Trails!!

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2 Responses to Two Bays Trail Run – my first ultra

  1. Rohan Day says:

    great report and photos. especially curious about the one looking down on the finish line.

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