May 9, 2022

The Running Game – choosing your own adventure!

Are you keen to get amongst the distance running and walking events our stunning Surf Coast area has on offer? Do you want to shed some COVID kilos, improve your health, and perhaps conquer some demons? Are you done with the procrastinating, ready to commit, but need some direction and guidance? Should you walk before your run? Pound the roadways or take to trails? A half marathon, or baby steps? The Surf Coast is a trekkers’ and runners’ mecca, host to some of Australia’s premium distance events, and with no shortage of local experts brimming with experience and sound advice. I spoke to our very best!

Samantha Thomas from the Give Where You Live Foundation is Events Coordinator of the popular Surf Coast Trek, a 26km and 40km walking event held in April that begins in Aireys Inlet and finishes in Torquay. “There are many pluses in starting your distance running adventure with a walk like the Surf Coast Trek” says Samantha

“For starters, the focus doesn’t have to be on getting to the finish line as quickly as possible. We encourage our people to take photos, stop for lunch and take in the scenery

While that’s not as super competitive as some running events, completing 40km in a day is still very challenging and requires training. Interestingly, we always have trekkers that use our event as a lead in to a marathon. They’re attracted to the Surf Coast Trek because the distance is close to a full marathon and they appreciate the organised training we provide. For some, a walk is a great segue way into running”.

Sam Maffett, General Manager of Torquay’s Rapid Ascent, delivers some of the very best running events on offer across the continent, including the iconic Surf Coast Century in our own backyard. Sam acknowledges the value of walking events. “Walking counts! If it gets you off the couch and away from your computer, then great. “Walk with friends, walk with your dog – whatever it takes”

Walking gives you time on your legs, the experience of carrying your body weight, confronting and managing blisters and leg soreness. There’s definitely a place for walking events as a lead in to a running event. In my own training for example, I might incorporate walking if I’m preparing for a long ultra or a race in the mountains” says Sam.

Chris Ord, Director of Tour de Trails, is responsible for the much loved Surf Coast Trail Run and Afterglow Night Trail Run. Chris has a similar outlook. “There is plenty to like about walking events for a person starting out. You can build up conditioning and you are less likely to get injured. Of course, it depends what you are aiming for” Chris points out. “If it’s a 5km or 10km running event, then for many, that’s possible to train for and complete the distance first up.” Chris is cautious about setting the bar too high. “I wouldn’t hop straight into a half, full or ultra-marathon. Building up a level of conditioning makes a lot of sense”.

Nige Muscroft from the Happy Runner in Torquay agrees. “Sure, set you goals. That might be a half marathon at some point down the track. But you wouldn’t just sign up for one straight off the bat. There are so many benefits to be gained from starting out with your local 5km Park Run, like the one at Fisho’s in Torquay.

Park Runs are such a great introduction to longer running events. Build up from there – don’t risk overloading the body.”

Trails or Bitumen- What’s best for you? For Sam Maffett, the choice is clear. “I have a strong preference for trail running. I like it because of the places it takes you – into the wilderness and away from the everyday, away from work pressures. I love the fresh air and sometimes, the solitude” he says.

“Having said that, it depends on what you have access to. A big Fun Run might allow you to run down the middle of a famous Boulevard or Road, one that you usually confines you to the narrow sidewalk. So, I can see why that might be an attraction for some. There is a certainly a proportion of the running fraternity that enjoy both styles of running”.

Chris Ord looks beyond the physical benefits when asked about his preferences. “I have a really strong interest in nature-based recreation. I like to spend time in the bush so I am attracted to trails. “From an event perspective, the amazing landscape variations that trails offer is a real plus.

You are passing features like waterfalls and spectacular lookouts as you go  – all those wonderful things that nature throws at us."

Trail running provides this access” Chris continues. “You are seeing and smelling beautiful things and this is not only good for your physical fitness, it’s absolutely addressing mental health”.

Nige Muscroft has another take on the trails vs bitumen discussion. “Road running and trail running are actually completely different sports” he says. “Athletes involved in road running are often chasing personal bests, monitoring time. This is great for some runners, and obviously fantastic for achieving health milestones. Trail running is much more about the adventure and seeing parts of our coast that you would normally never see”.

Feeling energised, committed and ready to choose your own adventure? We are so spoilt for choice here on the Surf Coast.

Check out these great local events and get amongst it now!

Every Saturday Torquay Park Run and Lorne Park Run

Kieser Great Ocean Road Running Festival 15 May 2022

Brooks Surf Coast Trail Marathon 18 June 2022

The Trail Run Series # 3 31 July 2022

Surf Coast Century 17 September 2022

Black Diamond Afterglow Night Trail Run 19 November 2022

Surf Coast Trek April 2023

Keep an eye out for our next edition We’ll go back to the experts and get the lowdown on training and preparation for the big day. ‘Til then, happy running or trekking, wherever that may take you!

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