Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Two Bays Trail Run - 27th Nov

by Kevin Cassidy

“A Ten Year Wait”

Few would be aware that a Two Bays Trail Ultra was originally planned for February 1996 as a result of some exploratory running from John Harper, a keen ultra runner at the time. Deciding that an out and back crossing of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula would make an ideal course, John set about organising an official race. Sadly, a paltry three entries [which included Kelvin Marshall and I] was insufficient for anything to get off the ground.

It’s now barely three years since my first visit to the trails of the Mornington Peninsula National Park that have captivated me beyond description. For as long as time has existed, Melbourne’s runners have been heading east to the Dandenong Ranges oblivious to the insurmountable beauty that lies just an 80 minute drive south of the CBD.

Running the trail in August with Brendan Mason was the catalyst that reignited the idea of a race. We had barely cooled down at Cape Schanck when the November date was decided upon and word spread rapidly via the “coolrunning” website. A “reconnaissance” run across the course with Sydney visitor, Sean Greenhill, took place just three weeks prior and all was ready for the first ever “Fat Ass” style Two Bays Trail Ultra.

A good sized field looked to be on the cards as I headed down the Peninsula Freeway passing a couple of temporary road signs advertising the Australian Open Golf Tournament and a local “Pet and Pony” show. It was great to see so many faces, both old and new. A total of 27 runners had gathered at the Dromana boat ramp on the Nepean Highway at the 32km mark of the Frankston to Portsea course, but their was to be no running down the highway to Portsea today. After a group photo, our intrepid and outstanding gathering vanished into the bush, picking up the trail that rises up the highly prominent mountain known as Arthurs Seat. On the other side of the Peninsula, 28 kilometres away, Cape Schanck lay in wait as the final destination for 18 runners while the other nine remained determined to complete the double crossing.

Kelvin Marshall soon bolted to the lead in an action that had Peter Bignell quietly asking “What are the chances of Kelvin getting lost today?” An expectant smile was all I mustered in reply. The ascent quickly afforded the spectacular view of the Southern Peninsula and Port Phillip Bay before the rapid descent down to McClarens Dam and the small negotiation of some of Rosebud’s back streets. It was at this point that Kelvin came charging up behind me complaining of having already taken two wrong turns!

The course then took in a few kilometres of an agreeable dirt road before leading into the lush green forest that is home to much wildlife, twisting trails and numerous creeks and waterways. I had been running for about two hours when the sound of approaching feet had me glancing back in surprise. Yes indeed, it was Kelvin again after a third wrong turn!

Approaching the Boneo Road crossing at 22km, the first sight of Bass Strait greets your line of vision and what an arresting sight it is. The six kilometre stretch to Cape Schanck twists along the cliff tops providing spectacular and rugged views of Bushrangers Bay and the prominent rocky outcrop that is the cape. Reaching Cape Schanck is a sense of accomplishment all on its own and I arrived to the greeting of several 28km runners enjoying a form of post run relaxation! Over the years, I have become accustomed to the sight of ugly sweaty bodies around the ultrarunning scene, so imagine my delight to be greeted by the family of Race Director, Brendan Mason. Brendan’s lovely wife and two young children were tirelessly serving up fruit cake and drinks in the most welcoming of manners.

Knowing that Robert Boyce was only minutes ahead of me, I attacked the return journey with haste and pushed solidly, constantly thinking that he may appear around the “next” corner. Running out of the bush and onto Hyslops road, I had a clear view of over a kilometre yet still no sight of Robert, I appeared to have the trail all to myself. With barely 10 kilometres remaining, I basically gave up trying to reel him in. I struggled on back to McClarens Dam and slowed to a walk up the treacherously long climb over Arthurs Seat. The slower pace was to prove irritating as it allowed numerous flies to settle on my face, neck and a variety of other places. One even wished to crawl up my nose. I quickly sank into that annoyed state that comes with a prolonged encounter with flies. In tired frustration, I doggedly swiped and swatted only to have them move casually out of arms reach, wait patiently until I stopped my ridiculous thrashing, then land back in the exact same positions. One particularly persistent little fly decided to explore my right ear. I took a huge swing at him in a manoeuvre that wasn’t particularly clever on my part for two reasons. Firstly, I almost gave myself a severe form of concussion. Secondly, the fly managed to escape harm by taking refuge deep into the ear canal! I freaked out in an increasingly hopeless manner as my ear buzzed furiously while trying desperately but unsuccessfully to remove it with my little finger. Eventually, a small stick proved useful in the completion of the surgical removal.

With freshly cleared ears, I descended down the final kilometres without missing the opportunity to take in the glorious birds eye view of the rich blue waters of the bay. With a summer of swimming events almost upon us, I looked forward with relish to reacquainting myself with this desirable aquatic resource.

The big surprise as I finished was that my attempt to catch Robert Boyce proved completely futile as he still hadn’t arrived. Later, he appeared from the south coming up the highway, an obvious wrong turn being the culprit. Although tired, his spirits soon sparked up when his car radio delivered the Cricket score. Apparently, the Australian team had scored three googlies and a duck since the last meal break and the excitement was at fever pitch.

The success of the inaugural Two Bays Trail Run was a credit to the unwavering efforts of Brendan Mason. He produced course instructions, delivered water drops to various points and had chalk marks on all the corners.

Despite a lengthy wait that consumed a large chunk of my adult life, the fishburger from the local takeaway barely hit the sides of my stomach as I meandered home.

1 comment:

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