I arrived at Wilsons Promontory with two key objectives in mind. Firstly, I needed an enjoyable run after having lost some motivation in the two months preceding it. Secondly, it was important that I minimised damage as I had a 100-km race at The North Face 100 only two weeks later.
Wilsons Prom is one of the favourite parts of my home state, and an ideal trail running destination, so I expected it to deliver on my first objective. In order to ensure that I didn’t run too hard I had decided that I would stop at the lighthouse (37 km into the run) for a picnic lunch.
Starting in the dark with a road climb to the Telegraph Saddle carpark, I then stepped off the paved surface, and would remain on a combination of trails, beaches and gravel roads for the remainder of the run. I turned off my headlamp not long after starting the amazing descent towards the campsite at Saddle Cove. The beautiful run through temperate rainforest on soft trails in pale light conditions was magical, so despite running slightly faster than intended I was enjoying myself too much to consider slowing down.
As I ascended from the cove I encountered another runner stopped to take a photo, and offered to snap one of him. Soon enough there were four of us standing around like a bunch of trigger-happy tourists. We set off once again discussing that this was a run, not a race.
I continued to the stunning views of Refuge Cove and practiced my sand running with a long stretch along Waterloo Bay. I first glimpsed the lighthouse from a few kilometres away, feeling amazingly fresh and strong, but upon arriving I sat down at a picnic table as planned.
Backing up to the evening before the race, I received plenty of comments as I prepared my running pack. As opposed to the combination of gels, bars and energy drinks being crammed into packs by other runners in the 30-person lodge I was staying in, my nutrition and drink options were slightly further from the standard. Earlier that same day I had gone shopping for my picnic lunch. I explained to the cheesemonger that I needed a selection of cheeses that could handle six hours being unrefrigerated while bouncing around in a backpack. There were some interesting logistical challenges involved, but I greatly enjoyed my cheese and crackers, chocolate with salted caramel, and mandarin, all paired with a nice drop of cabernet sauvignon.
After 30 minutes of sitting my legs were quite stiff when I restarted my run, but they eventually loosened up once more. By the time I reached the gravel Telegraph Track for a long gentle downhill I was feeling extremely good and started to lengthen my stride. I turned towards the western coast of the promontory, reached the water and followed a combination of beaches and coastal trails back to the start/finish line in the hamlet of Tidal River.
It had been a magical day, and importantly I had finished feeling like I could have easily turned around headed out for some more running.