This event was a first for me! I was registering for the Central Cost half marathon and noticed some advertising about a sand dune run over Stockton beach. I thought to myself it would be bloody tough but it was only 10ks and only $30.00 to enter, so without another thought, I entered. Shortly after I thought, I'd better go run on some sand and see how I feel...
A week before the event I went down Redhead beach for my first and only sand training run. I ran from second creek down to third creek and ran up the main dune of third creek a few times before heading back to second creek. In all it was a 4km loop with about 500m of actual dune running. Suffice it to say I was freaking knackered! How the hell was I going to do 10ks of this stuff completely up and down...
The morning of the event I gathered myself and drove to the meeting place. Walking out from getting my bib I saw and all too familiar face—my mate Bluey. I wasn't surprised to see him there as he was always a bit of a maniac. It was great to meet his lovely wife and two awesome kids. We chatted for a while before hopping the bus to the start line. Looking out from the start line the first dune was pretty bloody intimidating. There was both an equal measure of fear and excitement over how this was going to go. With a couple minutes to go we headed for the start line.
On the start line a local Aboriginal care taker of the land blessed all the runners and told us a story about the land and his people. It was really quite interesting and great that the native people allow the event to be run and for others to enjoy their land. A few short seconds later we were off and racing!
Heading for the first dune we were setting a low 6:00km pace, which was just way too fast for me. I let Bluey press on ahead and I slowed to a more manageable pace. Heading up the second dune I was already struggling for breath! What have I got myself into! The sand was really soft and hard to run on, especially after lots of other runners had chopped it up. I soon realised it was easier to try and run in other's footprints where the sand was compressed somewhat.
Turning at halfway I hoped the toughest part was over but boy was I wrong. The wind was belting back into my face and the dunes got a–hell–of–a–lot steeper. The dune at the 7th kilometre was so steep I had to get my hands dirty to climb up it. Reaching the top the wind felt like it was pushing me back down as well as a good sandblasting just for a giggle. It was at this point I nearly popped. I could feel the sickness rising but I just kept moving. Thankfully I recovered quickly so it was game on again.
Struggling up the last few dunes I was able to see the finish line and man I was happy to see it. There was a commentator at the top cheering everyone on and a DJ just to give one last piece of motivation. I dug deep for the last dune and crossed the line! Wow, what and effort. I was completely and utterly spent and almost about to pop again. Bluey came running over with a big high 5. We each grabbed a bottle of water and an apple before walking over to chill with his family.
Soon after the presentations were awarded to the winners we made our way back to the shuttle bus and off to the main venue for a well earned BBQ. I sat with Bluey and we chatted and had a good recovery time. I really need to keep in touch with this bloke, such a great guy. After lunch we parted and headed for home and further recovery on the lounge.
I really enjoyed this event, as tough as it was. I will definitely be back next year for another round, although, hopefully with a bit more preparation!
Race day stats: