The Road Trip Down Un­der

IF YOU WANT TO GET MORE OUT OF YOUR NEXT HOL­I­DAY, WHY NOT RE­TURN HOME WITH A MEDAL AS A SOU­VENIR? OUR WRITER GILBERT WONG CHECKS OUT THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD RUN­NING FES­TI­VAL IN VIC­TO­RIA, AUS­TRALIA.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - TRAVEL -

I love work­ing out and stay­ing in shape, but run­ning is some­thing I was never good at. If you asked me if I’d rather run long dis­tance or do a hun­dred burpees, there’s a good chance I’d pick the lat­ter over strug­gling to com­plete a few laps.

But when I first got the news about vis­it­ing Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia to take part in the Great Ocean Road Run­ning Fes­ti­val (GORRF), I felt like it was an op­por­tu­nity that I couldn’t pass up. Yes, we’ve had a great num­ber of run­ning events and marathons in Sin­ga­pore through­out the years, from the Stan­dard Char­tered Marathon to newer and more in­ter­est­ing fun runs like the Star Wars run. But run­ning in such a dif­fer­ent cli­mate and ter­rain is a whole new ball game.

GREAT OCEAN ROAD

The GORRF takes place an­nu­ally at, you guessed it, Great Ocean Road. Famed for its beau­ti­ful, scenic views of the Bass Strait and South­ern Ocean, the road stretches from Torquay, Vic­to­ria to War­nam­bool, Vic­to­ria for a stag­ger­ing 243km.

Lo­cals and vis­i­tors alike will tell you that it’s def­i­nitely worth mak­ing the three­hour drive from Mel­bourne CBD to the fa­mous Twelve Apos­tles; the nat­u­rally-formed eroded lime­stone stacks just off the shore of Port Camp­bell. There are even he­li­copter tours that you can take which will give you an un­be­liev­able view of the coast­line. Along this vast stretch of road, there are

walk­ing trails to go to, brew­eries to visit, and wildlife to see, so it won’t ex­actly be a bor­ing and straight drive to the other end. If you’re ever tired of the city and feel like get­ting back in touch with na­ture, you can’t go wrong go­ing on an epic road trip with friends down Great Ocean Road.

THE RUN­NING FES­TI­VAL

The GORRF of­fers a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent race types suit­able for any­one, young and old. Shorter walks and fun jogs are avail­able for ca­sual par­tic­i­pants, while more se­ri­ous com­peti­tors can par­tic­i­pate in the half, full, and ul­tra marathon events. I’ve taken part in ob­sta­cle course races such as Tough Mud­der and Spar­tan Race, but run­ning an ac­tual race was an en­tirely dif­fer­ent or­deal. So, nat­u­rally I opted for the half marathon as it seemed like I would suf­fer the least, yet still feel like I ac­com­plished some­thing. Hav­ing said that, the of­fi­cial dis­tance of the half marathon is 23km com­pared to the usual 21.1km, so that’s some­thing you should keep in mind when you’re do­ing race prep.

The event be­gins in the town of Lorne which serves as the start point for both the full and ul­tra marathon. If you’re ever plan­ning a trip down in Jan­uary, Lorne is also fa­mous for their an­nual Pier to Pub 1.2km open wa­ter swim­ming race which was in­cluded in the 1998 Guin­ness Book of Records for be­ing the largest open wa­ter swim in the world.

RACE DAY

For me, the half marathon start point was along Ken­nett River, which is coin­ci­den­tally a great place to spot koalas in the wild if you head up Grey

THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD FES­TI­VAL (GORRF) TAKES PLACE AN­NU­ALLY AT, YOU GUESSED IT, GREAT OCEAN ROAD. FAMED FOR ITS BEAU­TI­FUL, SCENIC VIEWS OF THE BASS STRAIT AND SOUTH­ERN OCEAN, THE ROAD STRETCHES FROM TORQUAY, VIC­TO­RIA TO WAR­NAM­BOOL, VIC­TO­RIA FOR A STAG­GER­ING 243KM.

River Road. But only the race was on my mind on that cold and dark morn­ing, and boy, does it get cold. Ar­riv­ing there around 5.30am when the sun hadn’t come up made me ques­tion my­self for agree­ing to do this. My phone told me it was around 13 de­grees Cel­sius, but it felt more like five. Warm­ing up prop­erly is a must.

How­ever, once the sun had risen and the crowd had grown, the full fes­ti­val at­mos­phere in the event could be felt and I just wanted to get go­ing. Run­ning against a head­wind in cloudy and rainy con­di­tions, the run was sur­pris­ingly en­joy­able de­spite the chal­leng­ing ter­rain. Rest and re­fuel stops were sit­u­ated ev­ery 5km or so, and the views of the coast and open seas en­sure that you’ll never feel bored at any point of the race. There will be plenty of photo op­por­tu­ni­ties as you make your way up wind­ing roads and rolling hills, and the sound of crash­ing waves adds a sense of seren­ity, mak­ing you al­most for­get that you’re tor­tur­ing your­self. As I made my way through hilly ter­rain and sea­side homes, lo­cal sup­port­ers were out in force cheer­ing ev­ery­one on, so even if you feel like you’re tak­ing this on by your­self, you’ve still got some­one en­cour­ag­ing you all the way to the fin­ish line.

The GORRF may not be as pop­u­lar or large as the Mel­bourne Marathon or Gold Coast Marathon, but it’s def­i­nitely one race you can check off your bucket list if you’re look­ing to get away from the busy city streets and want an un­for­get­table run­ning ex­pe­ri­ence.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.